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Being a fan of Rick & Morty can be something of an emotional rollercoaster at times - from inadequate Szechuan sauce supplies to long periods with no new episodes, uncertainty and disappointment just seem to come with the territory. And so many felt defeated but not entirely surprised to hear from co-creator Dan Harmon that Adult Swim's most popular show had somehow NOT actually received a pickup order for season 4 yet. That's right - not only is the show not in production, it hasn't even been formally RENEWED by the network at all.

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Many instantly went into panic mode - wondering if the negative press around the Rick & Morty fandom was giving Adult Swim pause, or whether revelations of Dan Harmon's creepy-boss behavior (combined with Rick & Morty's fandom's, uh, sliiiiightly misogynistic behavior) was leading to problems, or maybe this was all just a negotiation tactic by Harmon and Justin Roiland to get more money for what is clearly Adult Swim's most popular show.

But - fortunately for us - two very minor slip-ups by some voice actors may have clued us all in to what's actually happening behind the scenes...

MULTIPLE VOICE ACTORS HAVE CONFIRMED RECORDING DIALOGUE FOR THIS SEASON

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via Reddit

If season 4 hadn't even been ordered by Adult Swim, then there would certainly be no scripts written - and if there were no scripts written, then it seems prettttttttty unlikely they would be having professional voice actors like Tara Strong in the studio doing voices for upcoming episodes, right? Right. But Tara Strong apparently didn't know she wasn't supposed to be speaking publicly about her work on the show, as she revealed she was voicing a non-Tinkles character "this season" during her recent Reddit AMA.

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And then, back in late October 2017 (aka long after season 3 had concluded), Reggie Watts casually mentioned recording some voiceover for Rick & Morty during an episode of The Late Late Show with James Corden.

Even if the new season is nowhere near ready to air, this does seem to indicate Harmon is not being ENTIRELY forthcoming as to the state of the show - episodes have been scripted (some, at least), voice sessions are taking place, and there ARE concrete plans for the further adventures of Rick & Morty.

So what's going on?



SEASON 4 IS HAPPENING AND THEY'RE LYING TO US ALL - PRETTY UNLIKELY

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While this would be a HIGHLY unlikely option (there were about 18 months between seasons 2 and 3, not including the substantial delay between the season 3 premiere and the normal run of the rest of the season), as Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland have only gotten MORE picky with their scripting process as the show's profile grew. The likelihood that season 4 in full would be premiering less than a year after season 3 seems completely against everything we know about the behind-the-scenes aspect of the show, especially since writers have already gone on record saying that the writer's room has not been regrouped yet for season 4.

But still - this could all be an elaborate ruse, toying with (what Harmon and Roiland know to be) an incredibly emotional, easily-manipulated audience for the sake of a good gag and getting a ton of press when the new season drops by surprise.



SPECIAL ONE-OFF EPISODE ON APRIL 1ST - NAH, PROBABLY NOT

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You may remember April 1st, 2017. It was a simpler time in all of our lives - "covfefe" hadn't even happened yet! And amongst a litany of lame April Fools' Day pranks pulled by brands, there was one legitimately noteworthy story: the surprise release of Rick & Morty's season 3 premiere...streaming on loop, for some inexplicable reason. It was an incredible surprise to behold - not only fulfilling Mr. Poopybutthole's promise at the end of season 2, but actually delivering the goods, with one of the series' best episodes to date.

...and then nothing.

The rest of season 3 didn't actually continue for months - and in the immediate days (and weeks...and months...) after the episode dropped, there was no hard evidence as to when episode 2 would arrive. The net result was that that premiere episode (while great) felt like a tease...so would it really be that surprising for them to pull something like that again?

After last year's stunt, I don't think a whole lot of people would expect them to do the exact same thing again - but weirdly, doing that EXACT SAME THING would totally subvert expectations, which is what Rick & Morty does best. This could become something of a Rick & Morty tradition (since that attempt at "mostly improvised Justin Roiland TV shows from the multiverse" tradition idea was....something of a failure and not revisited in season 3), similar to the Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror - release the premiere of each season by surprise on April 1st.

Hey, it could happen.



SEASON 3 WAS SPLIT INTO TWO RUNS OF EPISODES AND WE'RE GETTING SEASON 3.5 SOON - THIS IS IT, GUARANTEED, 100%

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If you remember the ancient time of 2017 might recall Dan Harmon revealing that season 3 was originally intended to be 14 episodes long, but in the end the creative team only delivered 10. Harmon spoke about the matter in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, saying that his perfectionism was to blame (which sounds very believable, given literally everything we know about Dan Harmon):

I'm still learning how to do the show efficiently while catering to the perfectionist in all of us. I would like to think I've learned enough from my mistakes in season 3 that we could definitely do 14 now, but then I have to say, "Yeah but you're the guy who says we can do 14 who turned out to be wrong so we're not listening to you now." The nice healthy way to approach this is I want to prove it with the first 10 of season 4 -- prove it to ourselves, to production, to the network -- that it's so easy that we'll earn additional episodes.

I know you might be skeptical - after all, we've toyed around with fan theories about season 3 not quiiiiite being finished in the past. But the thing about network contractual obligations is that they're not really casually negotiable things after they've been signed, even if you're self-effacing comedy genius Dan Harmon - if Adult Swim orders 14 episodes of a show and you deliver 10, they would still legally be within their rights to demand the remaining 4 episodes. So what may be going on (and would make the most sense) is that there's a second part to season 3 consisting of 4 episodes that are currently in the process of being produced. In this way, all the celebrity voice recording sessions make sense, Dan Harmon ISN'T a liar (because these would technically still be part of season 3, and unrelated to any potential season 4 pickup), and would also explain WHY Adult Swim hasn't formalized its order of a season 4 - because season 3 isn't even done yet.

But until some new information comes out, we're left in the dark - sucking down Szechuan sauce packets and explaining to others online that we have a very high IQ.