Written by Jessica Gao and directed by Anthony Chun, “Pickle Rick” was a parody episode of action films and loosely inspired by the season 2 “Breaking Bad” episode “4 Days Out.” “I swear to god, we had other episodes that we thought would be more popular,” Roiland shared. “I mean, we loved the episode, don’t get me wrong, but we didn’t know, we had no clue, so when that thing blew up, we were like, ‘Holy s***, okay.'”
Oddly enough, the obsessive fandom that surrounds the Pickle Rick character completely misses the point of the entire episode. The episode shows Rick going through extreme lengths like turning himself into a pickle and enduring the dangers of a high-octane action movie, so long as it means he won’t have to come to terms with his own mental health or the way his decisions have directly harmed his loved ones. The episode is a complete takedown of those who fail to recognize that their hubris will be their downfall, and yet the message has been diluted by fans screaming “I’M PICKLE RICK!!!” at the top of their lungs.
That’s not to say that the meaning has been lost on all, as plenty of people recognize the staying power of Pickle Rick lies in the episode’s message, but it becoming a cultural phenomenon certainly wasn’t on anyone’s bingo card that year. “There was another one that we thought was gonna be the big deal and that one nobody gave a s*** about, so,” Roiland joked. Considering how ridiculously bananas people went over the McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce mentioned in “Rick and Morty’s” season 3 opener, we can only imagine which moment didn’t become a massive hit that Roiland and crew were betting on.