Justin Roiland Justin Roiland

Since news broke last month that Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland, 42, is being charged with felony domestic violence and false imprisonment, there has been no shortage of rumor and speculation about the man, his role on several popular animated series he produced, and the impact that his dismissal from those shows will have on future production.

Today, The Hollywood Reporter published the most detailed behind-the-scenes account yet of the rise and meteoric fall of one of the most successful figures in the animation industry over the past decade.

The entire piece is well worth reading when you have the time, but for those who need the important takeaways, here’s what stood out to us:

1. Cartoon Network knew something was up.

According to THR, the criminal charges against Roiland came as a shock to his colleagues, although there had been a long-standing precedent of inappropriate behavior by the creator behind the scenes. Multiple sources confirmed that Roiland had been involved in at least one instance of alleged sexual harassment during the production of Rick and Morty season three. In 2020, Cartoon Network (the parent company of Adult Swim) conducted a formal investigation into Roiland’s alleged inappropriate behavior, although it’s unknown if any action was taken by the company.

2. A Roiland-Harmon rift has existed for years.

Sources working on Rick and Morty claimed that as far back as season two, the relationship between Roiland and show co-creator Dan Harmon had soured. Harmon, a well-known perfectionist, reportedly felt pressure to deliver improvements on the show’s first season and brought in some of his own people from Community to help write season two. The new staff didn’t have the rapport or reverence for Roiland that season one’s writers did, and that created a rift in the writers’ room that mirrored the one forming between the creators. According to staffers, the relationship between Harmon and Roiland became so embittered that Adult Swim brought in a mediator for an ultimately fruitless attempt at salvaging the relationship between Roiland and Harmon.

3. Roiland had been disinterested in Rick and Morty for years.

As his relationships with Rick and Morty co-workers deteriorated, Roiland reportedly became disinterested in the show. Sources indicated that other than doing voice work, which he recorded from home while refusing any direction, Roiland hadn’t had any meaningful creative presence on Rick and Morty for years. Show staffers said they rarely interacted with Roiland, and that the few times they did were unpleasant. Half a dozen people interviewed by THR recalled occasions when Roiland had skipped important meetings.

Many workers at Solar Opposites and Koala Man have never met Roiland.

Sources on Roiland’s Disney/Hulu shows claimed that a similar pattern was developing at both Solar Opposites and Koala Man. Staffers said they’d never met their executive producer, not even during online meetings. When stories regarding Roiland’s criminal case and his inappropriate behavior hit the internet, many employees working on his shows felt that they didn’t even know the person they were reading about.

5. Roiland was repped by Sam Lutfi, who wanted to be a Rick and Morty producer.

Since 2017, Roiland has been managed by Sam Lutfi. An industry rep whose checkered resume includes working with Courtney Love and Amanda Bynes, Lutfi is best known as Britney Spears’ former agent, and not for any good reasons. According to the article, at one point, Lutfi was campaigning to become a producer on Rick and Morty but the show’s other producers shot down the idea. THR hints that there is more to the Lutfi connection, though the rest of the story remains untold for now.

6. Fallout.

After the news and rumors about Roiland went viral, an all-hands production meeting was held at Rick and Morty where the show’s workers drafted a letter to Adult Swim and its parent company Warner Bros. Discovery. In the letter, show employees demanded that the company immediately put out a statement clarifying Roiland’s increasingly limited role in production. “To their credit,” a source told THR, “they did it.” Not only did the companies put out a statement, but they ended their relationship with Roiland. Disney/Hulu followed suit later that same week. Now, Roiland’s former coworkers have little choice but to try and move on. “It’s heartbreaking,” said a source at Rick and Morty. “Now everything is going to have an asterisk on it.”

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