The multiverse. It's one of the biggest words in blockbuster franchises right now. The scientific theory of alternate realities existing adjacent to our own is nothing new: Both Marvel and (more prominently) DC have always made multiverse theory a key part of their respective comic book universes, and it was inevitable that both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DCEU would have to introduce the terms to the mainstream masses. However, fans know that years before Marvel and DC multiverses started being discussed in pop culture, Rick and Morty was diving down a deep rabbit hole of quantum physics and multiverse theory.
Rick and Morty Season 6 is set to premiere on Adult Swim this fall, and the ComicBook Nation podcast had a chance to speak with creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland during the show's press day. Roiland and Harmon addressed how great it is seeing Marvel and DC TV and movies making multiverse mainstream, while also reflecting on how challenging that storytelling is – but also why it's the ultimate narrative "cheat code."
"Rick and Morty, the challenge is if this dude [Rick] can just do that, why doesn't he just leave right now?" Dan Harmon explained. "And the nice answer is usually like, 'Well, let's not avoid that. Let's not try to solve that problem. What would happen if he did leave?'"
"And so sometimes we do that, like... 'let's have him leave," Harmon continued. "Let's have him go home. He, he doesn't wanna be here if he can, let's just have him go home or to a different timeline and reach that.' You know, we had that conversation as early as in season 1... that was a big Rick and Morty birth moment for us was going, 'Let's not be afraid of jumping this shark. Let's have him move to a new earth in episode two or something."
Rick and Morty definitely puts forth the challenge of having its creators imagine an entire multiverse worth of lore, as Harmon says. But as Justin Roiland sees it, the challenge is often also the solution:
"I guess that's the big cheat code, right? When you have, when you have multiverses... that's something that we've leaned into on this show, you know. Where we were able to have characters... like... the Kronenberg version of Jerry. It's like, he's just a different person. He's not the same at all. And it's sort of fun that we got to do that and still go back to what the show is, you know? Not like the standard, you know, show, but that's still a thing we got to do. And that's all multiverses, like the safety net underneath those cheat codes."
What Roiland enjoys the most, however, is the fact that even the wildest ideas that Rick and Morty dips into with its multiversal stories aren't necessarily complete fiction. Science could one day prove them to be fact:
"It's the best because not only is it a cheat code, but it's also this cool sci-fi... Awesome thing that is, that might even be f*cking real," Roiland said. "We don't even know. It might be real, right? It could very well be. I mean, we literally don't know. I mean, quantum physics and just all the crazy sh*t, we don't know what the f*ck is going on. I mean, who knows man? And we might find out that by doing some sort of weird thing, you actually can transition into another reality. And then people are a little different around you and you're like, what the f*ck just happened? And then there's the Mandela effect. You're like, well, wait a minute. No, that wasn't that way. That was a different way. You don't know what's going on. Yeah... There's a lot of weird sh*t."
Rick and Morty Season 6 will have a special episode called "Wormageddon" ahead of its premiere.