The new year has ushered in a hard fall from grace for Rick & Morty creator Justin Roiland, who in recent weeks was dropped by Adult Swim, Hulu, his own company Squanch Games, and Disney 20th Century Animation amid felony domestic violence charges and allegations of online sexual harassment. But just how long was a watershed moment like this building?
According to some of Roiland’s colleagues, for years. An extensive report published today from The Hollywood Reporter’s Lacey Rose and Katie Kilkenny (which can be read in full here) chronicles the cataclysmic leveling of Roiland’s career, which co-workers and employees claim was a longer time coming than much of his cultish fandom might have imagined.
In the piece, multiple staffers who worked with Roiland (who spoke to the publication on the condition of anonymity) recalled instances where Roiland “paraded a high-profile porn star through the Rick and Morty writers room, openly discussed threesomes and was involved in at least one instance of alleged sexual harassment during the show’s third season, notably its first with female writers.” The A.V. Club has reached out to Roiland’s representation for comment.
The report also includes quotes from colleagues who allege that “other than voice work,” Roiland “has not had any meaningful creative presence on any of the series that bear his name.” He would skip important meetings, cancel last minute or arrive drunk, and leave writers waiting until the last second to file phoned-in voice performances.
When it comes to the working environment he fostered, a “substantial number” of Rick & Morty, Koala Man, and Solar Opposites staffers say they never met Roiland in person, even over Zoom—they also detail division between Roiland and Rick & Morty co-creator Dan Harmon so bitter it excludes speaking terms, and required intervention from a professional mediator. The A.V. Club has reached out to Harmon’s representatives for comment.
Due to what one source called a “surly, petulant, uncommunicative and grouchy” demeanor, multiple former colleagues agree that writing sessions for the series were “easier when Roiland wasn’t in the room.” Eventually, it seems, they got their wish: by the third season of Rick & Morty, Roiland reportedly “simply stopped showing up” to the office. These days, most say it’s been “years” since Roiland has done more than voice a character (a strategy one source alleges Roiland pursued with the belief that establishing himself as a voice actor would safeguard his job.) In fact, THR reports that following an “emotional” all-hands Rick & Morty production meeting on January 17, staffers said they sent a letter to Adult Swim and its corporate parent Warner Bros. Discovery demanding the company publicly clarify Roiland’s involvement—or lack thereof—with the series (Adult Swim did so).
As he enters a new and desolate moment in his career, Roiland has remained mum on any and all accusations and will be back in court in late April for another pre-trial hearing. In the meantime, the latest from THR paints a painstakingly clear picture of Roiland’s volatile mismanagement, immature behavior, and blurred workplace boundaries: all qualities that seemingly reared their heads long before this year.