Two Rick and Morty Season 3 writers, Sarah Carbiener and Erica Rosbe, spoke at length on the Chicks Who Script podcast about the writing process behind a Rick and Morty episode. Not only do they offer insight into the grueling (well, as grueling as TV writing gets) writing process, but they also came with encouraging news: Rick and Morty Season 3 is very nearly complete.
At the time of recording, Sept. 28, the writing team was done with new episodes and were waiting on their return from the Canadian animation studio for in-house screenings.
“We ended four weeks ago, I think,” Rosbe said, but was unsure how much longer the episodes would be with Bardel Entertainment in Vancouver.
“I think they’re done soon, they’re done really soon. I think in a week or two they’re going to have screenings in the production office,” Carbiener said.
Viewing the final episodes would be one of the last steps in a long Season 3 production process. The Rick and Morty writing process is intensive, beginning with 11 writers in a room, cracking the season’s stories.
“You learn so much on that show, because they fit 20 pounds of story in a five pound bag. On other shows what would be an entire episode will be the first two or three minutes,” Carbiener said. “So you have to learn how to come up with a lot of story, fast, and how to make it all turn and tie up right.”
“And work with sci-fi tropes, but find a completely unique thing that no Star Trek episode has every done in the history of time kind of thing,” Rosbe said. “So it was constantly twisting, twisting, twisting everything.”
This involved watching a lot of science fiction, of course. They singled Farscape in particular (a favorite of Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland also).
“That’s my favorite show of all time,” Rosbe said, prompting Carbiener to reflect on her favorite Pilot moment from the landmark Rockne S. O’Bannon series.
And though they described watching a number of 70s sci-fi movies, only one came up by name. “Finally watched Logan’s Run beginning to end,” Carbiener said. “That movie is so weird, everyone is so almost naked.”
Keep an eye out for Logan’s Run nods in Season 3 episodes.
Like a traditional TV writers’ room, Rick and Morty breaks stories in a large group, then sends off specific episodes with individual writers. Scripts are rewritten again and again, first in a comprehensive writing ritual with the other R&M co-creator, Dan Harmon. "There’s this little theater in the new offices and you throw the script up on the screen and you sit there for a lot of hours,” Carbiener said.
Collectively, they tear the script apart repeatedly, rebuilding it each time, hopefully better. They even do an additional passes on the script after animatics are made, essentially rewriting after visualizing the episode in a rough animation pass.
“There’s rewriting every step of the process to just make the story as good as possible,” Rosbe said. “How can this be funnier? How can this be better? Everybody would be fine with this, but it’s not good enough yet.”
And so we wait. At least it sounds like they’re keeping busy, making Rick and Morty Season 3 the best that it can be before its late 2016 release date.