Adult Swim's Rick and Morty is notorious for its long breaks between seasons, but with the months now stretching on following its last new episode, fans of the adult animated series are beginning to wonder when the next chapter is coming. While an official release date for Rick and Morty Season 5 has not yet been announced, there is reason to hope it could air soon. At the very least, the show may be back within 2021.
Between Seasons 2 and 3, Rick and Morty took a nearly two-year hiatus, then a little longer in the time between Seasons 3 and 4. However, around that time the network gave the show a massive 70-episode order, allowing the creators to streamline their processes and hopefully make more episodes faster. This year may be the first that fans finally reap the benefit of that deal, as the writers and animators have hinted on social media. So far, nothing is set in stone.
We can say with some certainty that Rick and Morty Season 5 is already written, at the very least. In July of 2019, series co-creator Dan Harmon told Entertainment Weekly: "We're literally writing season five while finishing season four just to force ourselves to commit to a certain schedule. Not to get anyone's hopes up, but it is structured into our deal that if we're going strong and fast there are options to deliver more episodes at a time."
In May — around the time the Season 4 finale aired — star Sarah Chalke told Digital Spy that the cast had not read Season 5 yet, adding that the coronavirus pandemic might delay the recording process. " As it stands, we are going to most likely hold off on recording until things settle down a little bit, in terms of when... you know, maybe if there was an option that we could possibly record... you know when we could record back at the studio."
The following month, Harmon told The Wrap that the writing for Season 5 was still underway, noting that assembling the writers via video chat was going smoothly and bolstering the creative process. He said: "Everyone is equalized in the interruption sense in a Zoom writers' room. And I think that's a good thing because it really democratizes what can be an easily ignored psychological thing that could continue to go on in a physical writers' room."
However, on Twitter and Instagram, writers alluded to the fact that the writers might be done with Season 5, and breaking ground on future episodes ahead of schedule. Harmon confirmed this in November, during a digital panel at the Adult Swim Festival 2020. He said: "I think we're working on Season 7 right now, I can't even keep track. I wouldn't know if I were spoiling Season 5 or Season 6."
Sadly, while the writers may be way ahead of schedule, it's less clear where the writing and animation stands. In February, animation director Nathan Litz told Express: "You see all the great action go by and it looks fantastic. But you look at it and you think, 'That took four weeks to do, and it played out in one minute.' If you work on a fire-rescue show, you've got fire and water and smoke to deal with. On Rick and Morty, you've got fire, water, smoke, lasers, ship trails, explosions, everything you can possibly think of."
Meanwhile, the latest update on the recording process comes again from Chalke, who told Inverse last month that she did ultimately upgrade her home recording studio arrangement, after a doctor friend told her "this is going to be real, it's going to last a while, and it's going to get pretty intense." Chalke was mindful of spoilers in the interview but did not indicate whether she was seasons ahead, as Harmon did.0comments
Lastly, it's worth keeping in mind that even when the episodes are finish, it's up to Adult Swim to decide on the most profitable time to air them. Co-creator Justin Roiland told Slash Film that those kinds of decisions are "outside of my jurisdiction," despite the show's history of air time pranks and surprise drops.
If Rick and Morty Season 5 is coming in 2021, fans may want to keep an eye on conventional TV premiere dates in the spring and fall, now that the series is such a major tentpole property for Adult Swim. The first four seasons are streaming now on Hulu and HBO Max.