‘Rick and Morty’ Future in Doubt as Justin Roiland Faces Years in Prison
Justin Roiland, the co-creator and voice behind Rick and Morty, is facing several years in prison after being charged with multiple counts of domestic violence.
The alleged incident took place two years ago, but details of the charges the 42-year-old faces were only released on Thursday.
Roiland is charged with domestic battery with bodily injury and false imprisonment by threat, violence, fraud and/or deception. As a result, he risks up to seven years in prison.
Roiland pleaded not guilty in 2020, and his attorney told Newsweek they expect the charges to be dismissed.
Justin Roiland is facing multiple domestic violence charges for an alleged incident from January 2020. Michael Buckner/WireImage / Adult Swim
“It’s hard to overstate how inaccurate the recent media coverage of this situation has been,” T. Edward Welbourn, Roiland’s attorney, told Newsweek. “To be clear, not only is Justin innocent, but we also have every expectation that this case will be dismissed once the District Attorney’s office has completed its methodical review of the evidence.”
He continued, “We look forward to clearing Justin’s name and helping him move forward as quickly as possible.”
Roiland’s accuser is an anonymous “Jane Doe,” who police say “was in a dating relationship” with him at the time.
Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns Adult Swim, has yet to comment on the allegations. Newsweek has requested a statement or comment.
In 2018, Adult Swim signed a deal for the creators of Rick and Morty to create 70 new episodes, of which they are now part of the portion after the end of season 6.
Roiland’s legal troubles now call into question the fulfillment of that agreement as the show could not realistically continue without him.
Roiland co-created Rick and Morty with Community creator Dan Harmon, and he provides the voice for many characters including the two title characters, Rick Sanchez and Morty Smith.
Rick and Morty co-creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland attend an industry event together. Taylor Hill/FilmMagic
The incident in question dates back to January 2020, with a criminal complaint filed in May 2020 against Roiland. According to Orange County Superior Court records, Roiland pleaded not guilty to both charges in October 2020.
Since then, no formal trial has taken place, but there have been a number of pre-trial hearings since 2020.
NBC News reports that Roiland was charged in May 2020, then arrested and released on a $50,000 bond in August 2020, and charged in October 2020.
A protective order was also filed that month, which states that Roiland must not harass, threaten or surveil the person named in the protective order.
Roiland created the premise of Rick and Morty in a cartoon a few years before the actual show aired.
Since then he has remained integral to the show’s success, being credited as co-creator, writer, director, executive producer and the voice of the two main characters (and a few others).
Roiland has voiced a number of characters on TV, and has also created the animated comedy Solar Opposites, and a number of video games through his studio, including the recent release High on Life.
He spoke to Newsweek twice in 2022 to discuss Season 6 of Rick and Morty, which ended on December 12. During those conversations, he described how fans have reacted to him when they’ve seen him in public.
“If anyone knows me, I’ve had nothing but nice experiences with fans. It’s been really amazing,” he told Newsweek, before moving on to the downsides of fame.
“There’s something weird… It’s just weird that I’m known as a fan because it’s so foreign to me as a human being. We hit Rick and Morty when I was 32, and so for me it was like, I lived my whole life a certain way, and I had expectations of normalcy, and then, now it’s a little bit, it’s not a lot different, but it’s a little bit different.”
As for the future of Rick and Morty, producers often work ahead of schedule, with producer Scot Marder telling Newsweek that season 7 is in production and expected to be released this year.
“I’m in [Season 8]”Marder told Newsweek. “I’m in 8 and 9 will start at the top of next year. So we’re moving forward and it’s great, really exciting. We’re overlapping like two or three seasons in records, so from our perspective, it’s a real kaleidoscope.”
“You’ll get one every year,” Marder continued. “You’ll get a Rick and Morty every year as long as I’m around.”
This assurance was given before news broke of the charges Roiland is facing and would likely have serious ramifications for the continued production of Rick and Morty.
The maximum sentence for the charge of domestic battery with bodily injury is four years in California, while the maximum sentence for false imprisonment by threat, violence, fraud and/or deception is three years, meaning Roiland faces a maximum of seven years imprisonment. .
Update 01/13/23, 10 a.m. ET: This article was updated with quotes from Roiland’s legal representatives.