With multiverses and infinite television dimensions, it’s a wonder how the writing staff of Rick and Morty can keep track of everything going on.
When it comes to callbacks and continuity from one season to the next, Rick and Morty co-creators Roiland and Harmon play the larger mysteries of the universe close to the vest and let past ideas and themes return only if it naturally fits the story they’re telling. The fact that fans almost immediately cling to anything new from the show (Roiland cited people are already yelling “Pickle Rick,” a two-second thing from a season three trailer as an example) gives them some cover to move the show forward without constantly looking back on what worked in previous seasons.
“If we have some amazing idea that would incorporate something from the past, or even if it’s a joke that we might want to tell that’d make sense to bring something back for a quick joke, we will,” Roiland said. “But I feel like the past of least resistance in the writer’s room is just fresh, fresh new fun sci-fi ideas and narrative.”
That said, Roiland did admit that plenty of easter eggs big and small will pop up in season three.
“There’s a bit of continuity in season three, more so than we’ve ever done,” Roiland said. “But there are still equally great standalone episodes. You can pluck them out of the season and watch them by themselves and not miss anything. I mean, I think most of them are that way.”
Harmon, who has been cautious of making Rick and Morty a callback-driven show much like Community became, likes to see the connective tissue manifest in more subtle ways.
“The kind of continuity that I like is like in season two we established that in the event of a parasitic infection, Rick has this dead man switch that he can throw that could blast shield the entire house,” Harmon said. “And Beth commented on it, and Rick was like, ‘You don’t want to know like how much this house has been Ricke-fied.’”
It’s in these little details we find narrative threads that develop our understanding of Rick Sanchez.
Harmon went on to tease a season three episode in which Rick will fight another version of himself throughout the house. There’s a glimpse of it in this season three trailer. Both Ricks know everything about the house, and Harmon said there’s some fun continuity from previous seasons to come out of that.
“It’s like two Jedis fighting and they both know how to use the throat pinching thing,” Harmon said. “But it’s like, oh they both know where he hid the sci-fi thing that does this that looks like a cookie jar. That’s continuity to me that’s really valuable.”