‘Rick and Morty’ creators on the rise of Pickle Rick and being ‘your own worst enemy’

“Rick and Morty’s” Justin Roiland, Spencer Grammer, Dan Harmon and Sarah Chalke at Comic-Con 2019.
Actor and co-creator Justin Roiland, actress Spencer Grammer, co-creator Dan Harmon, and actress Sarah Chalke from the animated series “Rick and Morty,” photographed at the L.A. Times Photo and Video Studio at Comic-Con 2019.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

In a wild, wide-ranging interview earlier this summer at San Diego Comic-Con — beginning with the eternal struggle over how to hold a microphone — the cast and creators of “Rick and Morty” of course landed on the subject every fan of the Adult Swim animated series wants to talk about: Pickle Rick.

Co-creator Dan Harmon credits a clip debuted at Comic-Con prior to Pickle Rick’s first appearance in Season 3 as part of the reason the character — a sentient, brined cucumber into which mad scientist Rick transforms himself to avoid family therapy — became a phenomenon. It was “thumb-on-the-scale cheating,” he said, adding that visual artists are into Pickle Rick, “and I think it’s because — ”

“It’s shaped like a” male body part, interjected co-creator Justin Roiland.

“Well, it’s phallic, but it’s also emblematic of self-torture and stuff,” continued Harmon. “It’s the stupid thing Rick did to himself. Anyone who makes anything recognizes [that]. You’re your own worst enemy.”

“Rick and Morty” showrunner Dan Harmon, second from right, with actors Justin Roiland, left, Spencer Grammer and Sarah Chalke, photographed at the L.A. Times Photo and Video Studio at Comic-Con International 2019, in San Diego.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Harmon, Roiland (who voices both Rick and Morty), Spencer Grammer (Summer) and Sarah Chalke (Beth) dropped by the Los Angeles Times Photo and Video Studio at San Diego Comic-Con earlier this summer for a conversation that reeled from chummy laugh riot to the introspective and even philosophical — much like the series itself, which returns for its fourth season Sunday. (They’re already at work on Season 5.)

They dug deeply into their creative process and a turning point in their modus operandi. And, by the way, Roiland emerged the clear winner in the epic mike-holding conflict.

To see the entire interview, click on the video below.

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