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Is Rick and Morty's 70-Episode Order Actually a Meta Joke?

Earlier today, Rick and Morty fans across the multiverse rejoiced as they learned Adult Swim's animated sci-fi comedy would be renewed for not just one more season, but multiple seasons. Thanks to a deal with series creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, the series has a legendary 70-episode renewal that calls back to one of the series' best jokes.

The series' third season premiere, "The Rickshank Redemption," ends with Rick Sanchez having reunited with his family after turning himself in to the Galactic Federation. His return angers Morty's father, Jerry, and, as the family deals with the impending divorce, Rick takes Morty aside to reveal that it was all part of his master plan. He turned himself in so the Smith family situation would be so tense that, upon his return, his daughter Beth would divorce Jerry and he'd be restored as the patriarch of the house. Towards the end of his rant, he goes on and on about how he wants McDonald's McNugget Szechaun Sauce, used to promote the 1998 animated film Mulan, which Rick raved about earlier in the episode in a dreamscape created by his mind. (Don't ask.)

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"That's my series arc, Morty!," Rick raves to his grandson, drooling. "If it takes nine seasons, I want my McNugget dipping sauce Szechaun Sauce, Morty!...Nine more seasons!!"

It all sounds like nonsense, which is nothing new for Rick on an average day, but under the context of the renewal the joke takes on a whole new meaning. Currently, the series consists of 31 episodes, with Season 2 and 3 having 10-episode orders, compared to the first season's 11-episode count. Should future seasons follow the 10-episode order, it would end the series at 10 seasons and 101 episodes, fulfilling Rick's promise and ending the show on a deep cut, which likely would've been forgotten unless someone knows every episode by heart.

The show has been meta since it first premiered, with various Season 1 episodes ending with Rick breaking the fourth wall and acknowledging the audience. Likewise, episodes in Season 2 and 3 did the same thing with fan-favorite character and talking banana Mr. Poopybutthole. The third season even took it a step further with Morty's older sister Summer referencing rumors of Roiland and Harmon's troubled production schedule for Season 3.

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With the knowledge of their show continuing for another 70 episodes, Roiland and Harmon can end the ninth season (or the whole series) on that one joke: Rick finally getting that long-desired sauce. And let's be honest -- they more than likely will. The Szechuan Sauce joke is one of the most defining things about the series at this point, and even though it led to some unpleasant behavior when the promotional McDonald's sauce was brought back last year, it's also an extremely popular one that would reward longtime fans for sticking around with the series for so long.

The only downside to this is that it'll be a long time before that joke potentially pays off. Rick & Morty as a series has always had a strange production and release schedule. Whereas most shows air seasons yearly, the second season arrived 15 months after the debut season ended in April 2014, and the third season came in April of last year after Season 2's run ended in 2015. The fourth season is said to arrive sometime in 2019. Unless the show's crew work around the clock on subsequent season, it's doubtful the series will conclude within the next decade.

rick jerk rick and morty

Still, it's a day worth rejoicing. It may feel like an eternal wait for more Rick & Morty episodes, but it wasn't all that long ago that its future as a TV show felt so incredibly uncertain, even as it was thriving in the comics. This is the cleanest win the dimension-hopping duo has gotten in a long time, all capped off with a hell of a callback.

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