After news broke that Justin Roiland was charged with felony domestic violence in Orange County, several questions remain unanswered about the fate of his sprawling animation empire.
As NBC News was the first to report on Jan. 12, Roiland, the co-creator of Adult Swim’s rick and morty and Hulu’s Solar Opposites, was charged in 2020 with one count of domestic battery with corporal injury and one count of false imprisonment by threat, violence, fraud or deceit following an alleged incident that year with an unnamed woman that Roiland was dating. After Roiland was released on a $50,000 bond in 2020, several pre-trial hearings have occurred in the case, including one on Thursday. (Roiland has pled not guilty, and in a statement, Roiland’s attorney T. Edward Welbourn called the media coverage of the charges “inaccurate,” adding, “To be clear, not only is Justin innocent but we also have every expectation that this matter is on course to be dismissed once the district attorney’s office has completed its methodical review of the evidence.”)
Thought rick and morty distributor Adult Swim has so far declined to comment on the news, the show isn’t even halfway through a 70-episode order commissioned by the channel in 2018. In addition to his role as a co-creator and executive producer on the cult hit adult animated series, Roiland voices the show’s titular Rick and Morty. The series is consistently the most watched on Adult Swim; its recently completed sixth season averaged 560,000 viewers for initial airings, with substantial gains via delayed viewing and streaming. The success of rick and morty spawned a short spinoff series (Vindicators 2, which Roiland executive produced) and a comic book series. In 2022, Adult Swim additionally announced an anime spinoff from director Takashi Sano.
Beyond Adult Swim, Hulu has made deep investments in Roiland productions. As with Rick and Morty, Roiland plays a main character on Solar Opposites, the Hulu show he co-created with Mike McMahan about aliens living in the American suburbs. Three seasons have aired so far, and it’s been renewed through a fifth season on the Disney-run streamer. Roiland also executive produces and does voice work on Koala Man, a Hulu comedy series that debuted on Monday. Hulu didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.
Disney’s 20th Television Animation produces both Solar Opposites and Koala Man; Roiland also has an overall deal at the studio. 20th Television had no comment when reached by THR.
In 2016, Roiland co-founded a video game developer called Squanchtendo (“Squanch” referring to the name of a planet on rick and morty) with former Epic Games executive Tanya Watson. Roiland now leads the company, currently called Squanch Games, as CEO, with offices in both Burbank, California and Raleigh, North Carolina. Its latest title, the first-person shooter High on Life, was released on Dec. 13 to impressive sales, enjoying the biggest launch on Xbox Game Pass in 2022 and the biggest third-party launch on the platform of all time. He also released an NFT art collection in 2021 and mounted an art show at the UTA Artist Space (he’s a client of the agency) in December. Squanch Games did not respond to a request for comment.
Roiland is due back in an Orange County court April 27 for another pre-trial hearing.