Mr. Pickles Creators on Satanic Cults and a New Season of Murderous Doggie Antics

We talk with the creators of Mr. Pickles about the show’s unleashed attitude and what to expect in season three!

It takes a lot to be considered a “shocking” program on Adult Swim. The network takes pride in cultivating outrageous shows that feature must-discuss moments. Mr. Pickles, the animated series about a Satanic dog and the unassuming town that he occupies, certainly pushes Adult Swim’s boundaries. It’s a brutal, surprising cartoon that is sure to leave even the most desensitized of viewers with their jaws open in disbelief.

Now three seasons in, Mr. Pickles appears to be at its most confident and comfortable with its extreme storytelling. With the new season of Mr. Pickles right around the corner, we got the chance to enter the Satanic doghouse with series creators Will Carsola and Dave Stewart to discuss the show’s aggressive tone, its slowly growing mythology, and what’s the most messed up thing the show has ever done.

DEN OF GEEK: Mr. Pickles sort of began as this twisted take on Lassie, but it’s turned into so much more than that over the years. Can you explain the gradual evolution of this show?

DAVE STEWART: When Will and I originally came up with the idea we didn’t fully see its whole world right away. Originally we wanted to make the whole show be set back in the ’50s like Lassie and evoke that sort of sensibility. We were having a hard time with that, but once we figured out that we could have the Goodman family be this sort of old fashioned ’50s family, but the rest of the town could be modernized is when the show really opened up to us. 

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WILL CARSOLA: We also just started to build off of stories. One thing that happens in Mr. Pickles’ lair becomes the next thing and then something else. Sooner or later we found different seasonal arcs, which I think was a bit of a surprise in our first season finale. We reveal that this is all meant to be serialized and not just be looked at as one-offs. So the stories in the lair would connect to Mr. Pickles’ backstory and then things would just grow from there.

I really love that there’s a real mythology to this show that slowly advances a little each season. Is that fun to indulge in? Does the series become more mythology heavy this year?

WILL CARSOLA: It is! We have a backstory for Mr. Pickles and we give little hints to it every so often. We more so use it as the backbone to build the mythology off of. We’re always adding to it, modifying pieces of it, or letting it go off in new directions and then have to figure out which piece of his backstory we want to explore.

On that note, the first two seasons of the show both end on cliffhangers. Is this fun to play around with or do continual cliffhangers cause more of a headache than they’re worth in the end?


DAVE STEWART: Yeah, a lot of the time the first episode back is spent on wrapping up and covering stuff from the past. So I think we’re always excited to just get in there and start writing fresh, new stories. So there’s a level of us hitting our heads against the wall, but it’s still fun. 

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WILL CARSOLA: A lot of the times when we have a big cliffhanger at the end of the season we know where we want to take it. Then when we get to the premiere for the next season we learn that that’s sometimes a little harder than we thought it would be. What you want to do still needs to fit into the story that you’re telling, so those are always the most difficult episodes to write every year. Things usually end up different than what we anticipated, but the story is still moving forward in the same direction.

With this show it often feels like its brutality and violent nature can be at war with the humor. Which do you consider to be more important and do you ever worry about the show skewing too far in one direction?

WILL CARSOLA: I kind of feel like the violence is becoming more of a thing that’s just sprinkled in there. 

DAVE STEWART: The violence is definitely becoming less and less throughout the seasons. We wanted to explore the more townspeople characters more and to get into more interesting territory with them. The Mr. Pickles violence stuff has just stuff of remained in there. I mean, there are some episodes where it’s in the forefront and others where it’s just in the background. Comedy is always the goal and what’s most important though.

Obviously you guys are big music fans and the show has been able to secure some really wonderful musical guest stars like Iggy Pop, Weird Al, and Rob Zombie. Are there any musicians that you’re especially eager to get involved with the show? Who would be your white whale?

WILL CARSOLA: Well we did get Henry Rollins this season, which is really exciting. 

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DAVE STEWART: There are people that we have definitely talked about, but it’s always just a matter of finding the right voice. It’s kind of a weird realm because to us what’s most important is that the voice is good before any sort of cameo. We want the voice to be right above all else before thinking of people that we admire that we’d like to do it.

“A.D.D.” the “Astronaut Dolphin Detective” experiment is one of my all-time favorites. That episode very much speaks to your TripTank and Funny or Die Presents sensibilities, but can you tell us how that episode came together?

DAVE STEWART: Well originally “Astronaut Dolphin Detective” was just in a season one episode when we needed somebody to be watching something on TV. So we expanded the first dumb thing that we could think of. “Astronaut Dolphin Detective” – just a bunch of things that don’t go together at all. So after a few episodes of showing a bunch of clips from that show, it just felt easier to expand that world and flesh it out more. We just kind of wanted to do a weird one-off. 

I always loved that it starts with the Mr. Pickles intro, but then half way through it shifts over to “A.D.D.” and it never comes back! I think people watching the show were like, “What the fuck!” That just cracked us up in the room.

Have you talked about doing another episode of “Astronaut Dolphin Detective,” or turning that idea into a yearly tradition where each season has some new random, one-off episode?

DAVE STEWART: We have talked about it. I’m not sure if we’re going to do it yet though. But there will still be more moments of “Astronaut Dolphin Detective” in season three.

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WILL CARSOLA: In season three there’s also an episode where we do meet the creator of “Astronaut Dolphin Detective.” So look out for that!

Having Agnes back and as an ally to Mr. Pickles could have been a fun angle for this season. Did you consider keeping her around at all or was she always going to go?

WILL CARSOLA: Going back to what we were saying about going into our cliffhangers with some idea of where we were heading, we knew that we wanted Agnes to come back to the family and live with them in some way. Whether she was still Steve or just Tommy’s grandmother, we weren’t sure. 

Once we got into planning out the season though we realized that we didn’t have enough time to consistently deal with her. So we took what we wanted and needed from her character and boiled it down to just one episode. We wanted to move on from that and get into new stuff.

This show brings things like Bigfoot, mutants, devil worshippers, serial killers, and even superheroes into the mix. Is there some sort of supernatural territory that you’ve wanted to try to fit into the show, but haven’t been able to yet?

WILL CARSOLA: Our show is very grounded. Seriously though, surprisingly it is. Bigfoot isn’t really Bigfoot. We always like to tow a line. 

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DAVE STEWART: Yes, there are always rules for what Mr. Pickles can do and what kind of things that can happen down in his lair. There are certainly some things that we’d like to do that we haven’t been able to get into yet. We just have to figure out the right time to do those things. 

WILL CARSOLA: We do allow a little more to happen in Mr. Pickles’ lair as opposed to what can happen above ground. Part of that rule though is that we try to not make things supernatural. Whether it is or not, we try to keep it all grounded in the sense that he is a dog. He can’t fly, talk, turn invisible, or whatever, and that’s what makes it work.

It seems like you guys experience very little pushback and network notes from Adult Swim. What has that process been like? Is it surprising at all to see how far you can go? Does that push you to get even more radical with content? 

DAVE STEWART: I do feel really lucky that we don’t get a lot of notes. When we do, they’re often very helpful and push us in a better direction that we didn’t realize for ourselves. Usually the notes are in a more general sense rather than about a specific joke. They’re usually more story-related and making sure that the characters are doing something that we haven’t seen them done before and to still surprise the audience. 

WILL CARSOLA: Yeah, a note might not say to do something specifically, but it’ll offer up a direction to take it down instead.

I mean, I think the Sheriff losing his virginity to a wolf is going pretty damn far…

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DAVE STEWART: I remember when we were first discussing that idea and we were like, “Can we do this?” Yeah, that might be the craziest that we’ve ever gotten…

Now that Mr. Pickles has been on the air for a few seasons, have you been thinking at all about future projects or tackling anything new?

DAVE STEWART: Will and I always have a million ideas on the backburner, but we just don’t have the time that we’d like to work on them. So there’s nothing that we’re actively working on at the moment.

WILL CARSOLA: There’s also just so much that you can do in Mr. Pickles’ world that we’d like to continue exploring all of that as far as we can.

Finally, do you have a favorite episode or gag from the new season that you’re particularly excited for people to see?

DAVE STEWART: There’s one episode that features the Sheriff, but it’s like if the Sheriff was on the show COPS and there was a camera following him around all day. Like the Sheriff is this week’s guest on the show. So the whole episode is handheld style in the realm of COPS as the Sheriff gets into situations in Old Town. 

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WILL CARSOLA: Also, the character that we’re most excited about in season three…is a pair of shoes. Wait and see.

Mr. Pickles’ third season premieres February 26th at midnight on Adult Swim.