The catchphrase has long been a sitcom trope. Even when we thought it would slowly fade away, you get people like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory unironically yelling “Bazinga,” and the CBS-watching masses wearing t-shirts with the phrase on it.
In the world of Rick and Morty, lampooning catchphrases has arguably been one of the things that helped the show become a phenomenon. Going all the way back to New York Comic-Con 2014, fans constantly shouted out Rick’s season 1 catchphrase, “Wubalubadubdub,” during the Rick and Morty panel. Later in that panel, they showed a hype reel for Rick and Morty season 2 that featured Rick testing out all his new catchphrases. In season two, they take it a step further in “Total Rickall” when Morty ponders “He does have a lot of really weird, made-up-sounding catchphrases!”
When we caught up with Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland at the press day for Rick and Morty Season 3, the co-creators told us they’re always surprised by what fans latch onto from the show. Roiland used “Wubalubadubdub” as an example of a gag that exploded within the fanbase.
“One, we were making fun of the concept of cheesy catch phrases,” Roiland said. “It wasn’t in the script.” Instead, it was intended to be a Three Stooges homage, like Curly’s famous, indescribable sound. Originally, Rick was supposed to drop to the ground and do the Three Stooges Curly spin at the end.
“I’m going to the booth, and I’m like I didn’t understand what was there, so I did a bunch of them,” he said. “And then it became like the Arsenio joke. I was like “What does Arsenio say again? ‘Wubalubadubdub! Arsenio!’”
As the season continued, Roiland says the writing staff was hoping it didn’t catch on: “that’s the dumbest thing in the world.”
By the end of the season, “Wubalubadubdub” essentially became canon when it was revealed that the phrase is Bird Person language for “I am in great pain, please help me.”
“The fans love it even more because it’s this weird anti-catchphrase, I guess,” Roiland said.
Perhaps a symptom of waiting so long for a third season, Rick and Morty fans are already fanatical about the first episode and the teaser footage for the rest of the season. Mulan szechuan sauce went from forgotten to iconic. And Roiland thinks fans have already taken to Rick’s next memorable turn of phrase.
“I mean people were screaming Pickle Rick,” he said. “That episode hasn’t even aired yet and people are like, “Pickle Rick!” It’s crazy.”