Justin Roiland arrives at Comic Con 2019 for Solar Opposites

FlickDirect Inc/Shutterstock (Licensed) remix by Jason Reed

Fans accuse ‘Rick and Morty’ co-creator Justin Roiland of inappropriate interactions (updated)

There are also allegations around a 'men's club' work environment.


Audra Schroeder

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 21, 2023   Updated on Mar 22, 2023, 5:22 pm CDT

In late January, Adult Swim and Hulu dropped Justin Roiland after NBC reported that the Rick and Morty co-creator and voice actor had been arrested in 2020 on felony charges of domestic battery and false imprisonment. 

The complaint, filed in May 2020, alleged Roiland “did willfully and unlawfully inflict corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon” the case’s Jane Doe, who was dating him at the time. Roiland pleaded not guilty to the domestic violence and false imprisonment charges in October 2020. A pre-trial hearing was scheduled for April 27.

Update March 22, 4pm CT: Variety reported that the domestic violence charges against Roiland have been dropped as a result of “insufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Roiland released a statement on social media, saying “I have always known that these claims were false” and that they were “based solely on the word of an embittered ex.”

“I’m determined to move forward and focus on both my creative projects and restoring my good name,” he concluded.

The full statement is available below:

In the wake of the news in January, troubling accusations of predatory behavior started circulating—or, in some cases, recirculating. Many of the accusations were posted to Twitter and include screenshotted DMs between Roiland and fans, some of them allegedly underage at the time. 

One person claimed Roiland, 43, followed them on Twitter when they were 16, and says he admitted to watching their account “for a while.” Another claimed they started messaging with Roiland at 16, and, according to screenshots, he called them “jail bait.” The Daily Dot reached out to both accounts for comment.     

Arlo, 25, was one of the people tweeting about their experience, stating on Twitter in January that they believe Roiland has a track record of using social media to hit up and exploit” people.

In a thread posted on Jan. 12, they go on to say that after opening up to Roiland about past sexual trauma, he responded by talking about his “kinks.” 

Arlo tells the Daily Dot that they initiated the conversation with Roiland by messaging him on Instagram in January 2022. He responded two weeks later, and initially, the conversation was friendly. The two talked about therapy, and they shared artwork with each other. They opened up to Roiland about experiencing childhood sexual abuse and expressed how Rick and Morty was “what kept me alive for years, and what helped me with my trauma.”

“And that’s the only reason I messaged him in the first place. Because it was always my dream to be able to tell him how much he helped me.” 

Roiland did not open up to them about experiencing sexual abuse, but Arlo says they knew he told a story on Dan Harmon’s Harmontown podcast in 2015 about being molested by a teenage cousin when he was 7. Arlo says after a couple of months of talking, Roiland allegedly started sending messages while drunk, and in texts reviewed by the Daily Dot, there are references to drinking or being drunk. 

Eventually, the conversation moved from Instagram to WhatsApp and briefly Telegram. In other texts viewed by the Daily Dot, Roiland allegedly references being in an open relationship and asks Arlo if they are interested in girls. There was also talk of meeting up in person, but that didn’t happen. 

Arlo says that when they were going through a mental health crisis last year related to a personal matter, Roiland stopped responding as much.

“He specifically asked me if I’m a very empathetic person,” Arlo says. “And I thought that he asked me that because he has so much empathy as well, and we were connecting.” Arlo now believes this was to manipulate them.

Another person, who asked to remain anonymous, thinks they might have been “one of the earlier people” Roiland was inappropriate with. 

The source tells the Daily Dot that after meeting Roiland at New York Comic-Con in 2013, the year Rick and Morty debuted, he invited them to his house while they were visiting L.A. in 2014. They were 20 at the time, and Roiland had helped them set up a character design test for Rick and Morty

They describe the visit as “almost like a speedrun of a mentorship,” though they said Roiland did allude to his girlfriend at the time being cool with him having threesomes—something echoed in other accounts of Roiland’s interactions. He was also allegedly “drinking the entire time I was there,” though the source did not partake.  

Eventually, they say, Roiland asked them to draw him Rick and Morty porn. 

“I had drawn some cartoony NSFW art in the past and agreed,” they say. “It didn’t seem like a big deal and I thought it was funny.” 

When they returned to New York, Roiland continued to ask for pornographic drawings of Rick and Morty characters, like pairings of Summer and Beth or Summer and Morty. They declined to do those particular drawings but did one of “Summer and Mr. Needful because of their relationship in the show,” and a “pinup” of the character Annie from the “Anatomy Park” episode. 

“I drew what I did to impress him and I very, very much regret drawing any of it and wish I never did.” 

While Roiland never made any sexual advances, and their communication eventually stopped, they say Roiland was “really nervous” while they were there, and they think he “was kind of testing the waters with me.”

As the Hollywood Reporter detailed in February, Roiland rarely came into the office after season 3 of Rick and Morty, and many employees had never seen him. He also allegedly sent a female employee an inappropriate late-night text. 

In 2020, the same year he was arrested for domestic battery, an investigation was allegedly launched by Adult Swim’s parent company, Cartoon Network, into Roiland’s workplace behavior, but it’s not clear what came of it or what initiated it.

A rep for Adult Swim told the Daily Dot it has no further comment beyond the statement released in January. In 2018, Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon apologized to TV writer and showrunner Megan Ganz after she called him out on his history of sexual harassment and abuse of power on the set of Community.

Heidi Butler worked on both Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites from 2019 to 2022 as a production assistant, a job she says also included getting coffee for writers and buying office furniture. She tells the Daily Dot she saw Roiland in the office “less than 10 times,” and that Roiland and Harmon “hate each other,” which was detailed in the Hollywood Reporter article.

In March 2022, while still employed, Butler posted about her experience at the shows, detailing both the workload and what she viewed as the entitled, misogynistic behavior in the writers’ rooms. She posted to Twitter as the production workers on both shows were attempting to unionize, and higher-ups were resisting. 

“It was a decision that I knew was going to affect my future there,” she says. 

Butler says that because she was involved with the union efforts (which were eventually successful), she saw “heightened scrutiny” around her work duties, including having to document each task she did, which she says was not part of her job description before that.

Butler also reported what she viewed as a homophobic joke that was made in the Solar Opposites writers’ room and says that as a result, she was moved to an office coordinator role. That was the position she had when she quit both shows last summer, and Butler says she still hasn’t been able to find work.

The Daily Dot reached out to Disney for comment and had not heard back at the time of publication. 

While Butler worked on both shows simultaneously, she says she was only allowed to sit in on the Solar Opposites writers’ room. At one time, possibly in 2019, Butler says Roiland had another writers’ room in the office for an upcoming project. That room allegedly had a sign on the door that joked about it being all men, which, Butler says, “we were expected to just shake off.” 

She says there were several male Rick and Morty writers who had been there for multiple seasons, but she noticed a “pattern” of women writers leaving after a season. 

“It was a bizarre environment where this obvious thing is staring you in the face,” Butler says. “It’s so obvious that the people in charge can make jokes about it, that it’s a men’s club.” 

As announced last month, Rick and Morty, Solar Opposites, and the newer Koala Man will continue without Roiland’s involvement. He also resigned as CEO of Squanch Games. The Daily Dot reached out to his rep for comment and had not heard back at the time of publication. 

This story has been updated to include the news that Roiland’s domestic violence charges were dropped on March 22.

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*First Published: Mar 21, 2023, 2:10 pm CDT