Justin Roiland, the co-creator, executive producer and star of the Emmy-winning Adult Swim animated series Rick and Morty, is facing domestic violence charges, it was revealed Thursday when he appeared at a pre-trial hearing, prompting the question of what will happen to the show.
Adult Swim, the nighttime version of Cartoon Network, declined to comment on the matter. An attorney for Roiland proclaimed his client's innocence.
"It is hard to overstate how inaccurate the recent media coverage of this situation has been," T. Edward Welbourn tells Yahoo Entertainment. "To be clear, not only is Justin innocent but we also have every expectation that this matter is on course to be dismissed once the District Attorney's office has completed its methodical review of the evidence. We look forward to clearing Justin’s name and helping him move forward as swiftly as possible."
Meanwhile, social media users were already speculating that Roiland's case could — or should — mean the end.
The show about the adventures of an alcoholic scientist and his teenage grandson, which first aired in 2013, has been a ratings hit for the network. When the third season finale aired in October 2017, Adult Swim said it scored the highest ratings in its history. According to Deadline, Rick and Morty was the top comedy across all of U.S. cable in 2018, 2019 and 2021, and the publication cited Nielsen ratings of more than 1 million viewers, including significant viewership gains in coveted demographics, for the show's sixth season premiere, which aired in September.
The latest new episode — the sixth season finale — aired last month. But more of them are on the way, because Adult Swim announced in 2018 that it was renewing the animated hit for 70 additional episodes, more than twice as many as had aired at that point. The move was a big deal for the show, which was co-created by Community's Dan Harmon, who's faced controversy of his own. Showrunner Scott Marder told Newsweek in November that he was already working on Season 8.
Rick and Morty is just one of several animated projects that Roiland is working on. He's also a co-creator, executive producer and star of Hulu's Solar Opposites, as well as an executive producer on the streamer's new show Koala Man. He also created and lends his voice to the 2022 video game High on Life.
Roiland's court appearance in Orange County, Calif., followed him entering a plea of not guilty in October 2020 to one felony count of domestic battery with corporal injury and one felony count of false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud and/or deceit, according to NBC News, citing Orange County Superior Court records. The charges stem from an incident the same year that was reported by an anonymous woman whom Roiland was then dating.
NBC reported that many records in the case are sealed, but what is public shows that Roiland was charged in May 2020, before being arrested and released on a $50,000 bond in August of that year. He was arraigned in October 2020, the same month that a protective order, filed against him by someone the network said was unknown to them, mandated that Roiland not harass, threaten, surveil or go within 100 feet of through October 2023.
His next pre-trial hearing is scheduled for April 27.