Justin Roiland And Dan Harmon Had No Idea Rick And Morty's Pickle Rick Would Be Such A Hit

Even if you've never seen a single second of the hit Adult Swim show "Rick and Morty," chances are you are at least aware of "Pickle Rick" — if only because of pop-cultural osmosis. First introduced in the show's third season, Pickle Rick is the alter-ego of main character Rick Sanchez, used when he wants to avoid having to talk about his problems in therapy. Since the character's appearance, Pickle Rick has become ridiculously merchandised, including a line of pickle-flavored seltzers and a special Super Bowl collaboration with Pringles. For better or worse, Pickle Rick has become an inescapable presence in the world of "Rick and Morty," something show co-creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon never saw coming.

During an interview with Screen Rant ahead of the series' sixth season, Roiland confessed that the Pickle Rick mania caught him completely by surprise. "Every season's got its own different, crazy, behind-the-scenes story, right?" he said. "Like I mean, every single season has something insane." For season 3, that insanity was all about Pickle Rick. "Dan [Harmon] and I and the writers, we never know which ones are gonna be the big popular episode," Roiland said. "Like we never thought Pickle Rick was gonna be some huge, jump-out thing." The Pickle Rick episode skyrocketed in popularity and ended up winning the show its first Emmy for Best Animated Series.


Written by Jessica Gao and directed by Anthony Chun, "Pickle Rick" was a parody episode of action films and loosely inspired by the season 2 "Breaking Bad" episode "4 Days Out." "I swear to god, we had other episodes that we thought would be more popular," Roiland shared. "I mean, we loved the episode, don't get me wrong, but we didn't know, we had no clue, so when that thing blew up, we were like, 'Holy s***, okay.'"

Oddly enough, the obsessive fandom that surrounds the Pickle Rick character completely misses the point of the entire episode. The episode shows Rick going through extreme lengths like turning himself into a pickle and enduring the dangers of a high-octane action movie, so long as it means he won't have to come to terms with his own mental health or the way his decisions have directly harmed his loved ones. The episode is a complete takedown of those who fail to recognize that their hubris will be their downfall, and yet the message has been diluted by fans screaming "I'M PICKLE RICK!!!" at the top of their lungs.

That's not to say that the meaning has been lost on all, as plenty of people recognize the staying power of Pickle Rick lies in the episode's message, but it becoming a cultural phenomenon certainly wasn't on anyone's bingo card that year. "There was another one that we thought was gonna be the big deal and that one nobody gave a s*** about, so," Roiland joked. Considering how ridiculously bananas people went over the McDonald's Szechuan Sauce mentioned in "Rick and Morty's" season 3 opener, we can only imagine which moment didn't become a massive hit that Roiland and crew were betting on.