It is difficult to criticize Season 6 of Rick and Morty. After literally years of fan complaints, Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s sci-fi comedy finally delivered an episode that addressed the show’s most pressing issues. In addition to accomplishing this in a pleasing manner, this season did so without sacrificing humor. On this occasion, there were no failures. Even when certain Robot Rick-related tales were uninteresting, there was always a ridiculously stupid lightsaber joke to keep the shenanigans entertaining. This exceptional show’s sixth season was one of the greatest, if not the best. Why, however, does it seem as though no one was discussing this former pop culture titan? Has intense competition, a perplexing streaming strategy, and the passage of time transformed what was once a pop culture phenomenon into “just another TV show”?
Season 6 began with a bang. Adult Swim announced that Rick and Morty Season 6’s premiere was the second most-watched non-sports program of the evening, following HBO’s House of the Dragon. This trend continued into the second episode of Season 6, which garnered 1 million live+3 viewers. However, these early ratings victories pale in comparison to the show’s historical performance.
According to the figures, it is evident that Rick and Morty’s live audience has declined. Season 4 averaged approximately 1.52 million viewers each episode. This decreased to 0.96 every episode in Season 5 and 0.57 per episode in Season 6.
This is consistent with the narrative told by Rick and Morty’s search engine interest. The premieres of the first and second portions of Season 6 occurred on September 4 and November 20, respectively. According to Google Trends, even while interest has increased around premieres, it is nowhere near the peak of 2017 (the Szechuan Sauce Dyas) or the Season 4 premiere in 2019 (after a two-year hiatus):
There are several causes for this gradual deterioration and stalemate. The first is merely an issue of rivalry. Morty and Ricky The launch of Season 6 occurred amid one of the busiest times for television in 2022. It launched on Sunday, September 4, two weeks after House of the Dragon, three days after Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, and around two and a half weeks before Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story debuted on Netflix. These were the three most-viewed and most-discussed television programs of the year. That is a great deal of competition for people’s attention in a short period of time, not to mention everything else on television. In addition, whereas these three dramas required appointment viewing, a comedy like Rick and Morty does not. A stray joke may find its way onto Twitter, but comedies often are not as susceptible to spoilage as their tragic counterparts. If you had to miss one of these four shows, it is obvious which one would be the one to skip.
Moreover, you must examine how Rick and Morty fans watch the show. Rick and Morty has become a tremendous streaming success. Warner Bros. Discovery has reported that it is one of HBO Max’s most popular shows domestically and internationally. In fact, according to the series’ parent company, Rick and Morty has been viewed 10 billion times worldwide across conventional, digital, and streaming platforms. This show has a substantial streaming audience. It’s not unreasonable to believe that many Hulu and HBO Max users who are aware that the series will eventually be available on their preferred streaming service chose to wait instead of viewing live on a Sunday night when they had other plans.
Image of Adult Swim
A less quantifiable reason contributing to the fall is that, after six seasons, Rick and Morty has become a predictable television institution. This has nothing to do with the plot, which is not at all predictable. However, Rick and Morty has shed its image for endless waits between seasons and occasional episodes. Following its third season, the sci-fi comedy was renewed for 70 more episodes. The program that has arisen from this astonishment-inducing regeneration is vastly different from the one we were introduced to in 2013. Since 2019, at least five new episodes of Rick and Morty have been released annually. As incredible as this tendency is, it eliminates the starvation that previously characterized this series.
In a similar vein, we are discussing Season 6 here. Obviously, interest is somewhat diminished; this niche program has been airing for nearly a decade. It is almost more shocking that Rick & Morty was formerly as popular as it is now, rather than the other way around. Although I would love to live in a universe where everyone appreciated smart cartoons with critical sci-fi commentary and incredibly stupid jokes, that universe does not exist. As with The Simpsons, South Park, and Family Guy before it, this show’s popularity has a ceiling, and fans are likely less impatient for more episodes because they know more are on the way.
The seemingly impossible, such as securing a 70-episode renewal or transforming a piss supervillain into an analogue for being too online, becomes ordinary when the bar is set as high as it is in this work. Even if it appeared like no one was talking about it, this season of Rick and Morty was just as sharp and entertaining as ever.