Justin Roiland trial: Rick and Morty co-creator charges explained - has Adult Swim cut ties with him?

Roiland provided the voices for both Rick and Morty in the popular cartoon

Adult Swim has formally ended its association with Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland, as he faces domestic violence charges relating to an incident which occurred in 2020. Details of the case were made public on 12 January, however the charging document which describes the allegations remains sealed.

Roiland was arrested and released on a $50,000 (£41,000) bond back in August 2020, and in October 2020 he pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Why is Justin Roiland on trial?

Roiland is currently awaiting trial on charges of felony domestic violence against a former girlfriend.

A criminal complaint obtained on Thursday by The Associated Press, from prosecutors in Orange County, California, charged Roiland with corporal injury and false imprisonment by menace, fraud, violence or deceit against the woman, who he was living with at the time.

The woman was not identified in court documents.

Producer Justin Roiland speaks onstage during the Adult Swim: Rick and Morty panel at the Turner Broadcasting portion of the 2013 Summer Television Critics Association tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 24, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

The incident occurred in January of 2020 and Roiland was charged in May of that year, but the charges apparently went unnoticed by media outlets until NBC News reported them on Thursday, when a pre-trial hearing was held in the case.

Emails seeking comment from Roiland’s attorney and representatives for Cartoon Network, which airs Rick and Morty in the US, were not immediately returned.

A protective order states that Roiland must keep at least 100ft away from his accuser at all time, and to not harass, threaten or spy on her. He was also instructed to turn over any firearms in his possession so police can keep them until at least October 2023.

Another hearing has been scheduled for 27 April, which Roiland is required to attend.

Have Adult Swim severed ties with him?

Adult Swim has ended its association with Roiland as he awaits trial on charges of felony domestic violence against a former girlfriend.

A statement from the channel said that the popular US cartoon would continue into season seven, despite the writer’s absence.

Along with Dan Harmon, Roiland created the animated sci-fi sitcom about a mad scientist and his grandson, and provides the voices of the two title characters.

Rick and Morty has aired for six seasons on Cartoon Network as part of its Adult Swim night-time programming block, and has been renewed for a seventh.

A statement released by Adult Swim online on Tuesday read: “Adult Swim has ended its association with Justin Roiland.

Rick and Morty will continue. The talented and dedicated crew are hard at work on Season 7.”

Did he make High on Life?

In 2016, Roiland launched the video game development studio Squanch Games, which has since developed four games - Accounting in 2016, Dr. Splorchy Presents: Space Heroes in 2018, Trover Saves the Universe in 2019, and High on Life in 2022.

Justin Roiland visits the #IMDboat At San Diego Comic-Con 2022: Day One on The IMDb Yacht on July 21, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for IMDb)

High on Life is a first person shooter game which was released on 13 December 2022 on Windows, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.

According to the Squanch Games High on Life FAQ, Roiland “has been, and continues to be, heavily involved in the creation of High on Life. From creating the original concept to taking part in design and development, this game is his (new) baby”.

Does Justin Roiland work with Dan Harmon?

Prior to being dropped from Adult Swim, Roiland and Harmon, who is best known as the creator and producer of the sitcom Community, worked together on Rick and Morty, which they created together after Harmon was approached by Adult Swim to make a new animated series for the network in 2012.

Roiland voiced both main characters, Rick Sanchez and his grandson Morty Smith, and was both co-writer and executive producer alongside Harmon.

In 2018, Harmon faced his own controversy when allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him - specifically by Megan Ganz, a writer who worked with Harmon on Community.

Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland speak onstage at the #IMDboat at San Diego Comic-Con 2019: Day Three at the IMDb Yacht on July 20, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for IMDb)

Following a Twitter exchange between the two of them in which Ganz called him out on his behaviour, Harmon went on to make a lengthy apology on his podcast called Harmontown in which he went into details about what he had done to Ganz.

Ganz called his speech a “masterclass into how to apologise” and urged her Twitter followers to give it a listen.

Harmon received further criticism later that same year after a video of a comedy skit from 2009 resurfaced online. The video, titled Daryl, was supposed to be a parody of Dexter, and portrayed Harmon raping a baby.

In a statement at the time, Harmon said: “In 2009, I made a ‘pilot’ which strove to parody the series Dexter and only succeeded in offending. I quickly realised the content was way too distasteful and took the video down immediately. Nobody should ever have to see what you saw and for that, I sincerely apologise.”