Star Trek: Lower Decks Creator Compares Series to Rick and Morty

Star Trek is headed into the animated comedy business with Star Trek: Lower Decks. The new animated comedy is set for CBS All Access and is being developed by Mike McMahan. McMahan is best known as a key writer on Adult Swim’s hit series Rick and Morty. Given that claim to fame, how comparable to Rick and Morty will the new Star Trek series be? spoke to McMahan over the phone and asked him about that. He says fans shouldn’t expect Lower Decks to be Rick and Morty decked out in Starfleet uniforms.

“It is very dissimilar to Rick and Morty,” McMahan says. “I'd say that the only thing that it has a similarity to of Rick and Morty's writing style is that the characters we're allowed to be funny people. I love how many jokes are in Rick and Morty per minute. Some people on the Internet try to count them. We're trying to fit a whole Star Trek episode into a 20-to-23-minute format that involves a whole macro sci-fi story and two emotional stories that we're tracking with our leads all throughout. So we do have the accelerated pace of a Rick and Morty. I'd say that Star Trek: Lower Decks is going to feel like the one act of another Star Trek show where everything is happening, and stuff is really moving. That's like us from the first scene until the last scene.”

McMahan goes on to explain that two things make a big difference between the shows. One is that he gets to inject more of his voice into Lower Decks than he does with Rick and Morty. The other is that familiar Star Trek optimism.

“We're kind of going to be a little bit more of like an accelerated kind of chaotic, fun version of a Star Trek show,” McMahan explains. “When it comes to the existential kind of, the universe is chaotic and dark, sort of nihilistic vibe of Rick and Morty, that is not in the DNA of Lower Decks at all. A big reason for that is that Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, Rick and Morty's really their voice. The characters of Rick and Morty are so specific to that show. There is no Rick and there's no Morty in Star Trek: Lower Decks. Not only would they not work in Starfleet, but I just wouldn't be able to, nor would I be interested in writing those characters without Dan and Justin. My whole job on that show was trying to fulfill their voice as close as possible so that they could then write the characters even better than I ever could.


“On Lower Decks, it's more about that optimistic Starfleet kind of emotional intelligence. Where Rick and Morty is fun and dark and nihilistic and it's about the multiverse, Star Trek is really about exploring our galaxy and where does humanity aspire to be, both technologically, which is the easy thing, but also socially and with our politics and how we're treating the other out in space. We're not really dealing with any of the same themes, and our characters are totally different. You're not really getting the same type of Rick and Morty jokes because we're really writing towards our characters and our characters are Starfleet. There aren't any Starfleet characters in Rick and Morty. It's kind of hard to describe. I think once people see it, the tone will immediately so clearly be a loving part of Starfleet, and not making fun of Star Trek, but being about characters who are funny, who happen to also be in Starfleet. It's sort of a needle thread, but it's a really exciting thing to write. It's really fun.”

Are you excited about Star Trek: Lower Decks? Let us know in the comments, and look for more about Star Trek: Lower Decks from Sunday's panel at the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention.