Rick and Morty Creator Charged with Domestic Violence


Getty Images for IMDb

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – JULY 21: 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)

Aiden Lim

Justin Roiland, the star and co-creator of the animated comedy series “Rick and Morty,” has been charged with felony domestic violence in Orange County, California, in connection with a 2020 incident, according to a criminal complaint filed in May 2020 by the Orange County District Attorney. While Roiland has already pleaded not guilty in 2020, he appeared in court on Thursday for a pre-trial hearing.

NBC News obtained the criminal complaint in the case, which charges Roiland, 42, with one felony count of domestic battery with corporal injury and one felony count of false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud, and/or deceit. The complaint states the incident occurred on or about Jan. 19, 2020, against an anonymous Jane Doe who was dating Roiland at the time. According to Orange County Superior Court records, Roiland pleaded not guilty to both charges in October 2020. Since then, the case has been the subject of more than a dozen court hearings, including pre-trial hearings.

A trial date is not currently set. Roiland was arrested in August 2020, released on a $50,000 bond, and arraigned in October 2020. A protective order filed in October 2020 and documented in the court minutes said Roiland is not to harass, threaten, or surveil the person named in the order, who is not known to NBC News. Roiland cannot go within 100 feet of the person, according to the order, which also ordered Roiland to turn in any firearms he owned or possessed. The order lasts until October 2023, and it’s not known who submitted the request for the order. Details of the case, including police body camera footage, police reports, abuse investigation reports, medical reports, and recordings of interviews, are currently being withheld from the public under a protective order.

The affidavit in support of Roiland’s arrest is also sealed. During Thursday’s hearing, Roiland’s attorney confirmed there is a plea offer available to Roiland but did not discuss details. The brief hearing concluded a moment later with an agreement to convene again on April 27. Roiland was ordered to attend the hearing. Roiland is best known for Adult Swim’s “Rick and Morty,” which has spawned a lucrative media and merchandising franchise and is one of the most popular adult television comedies.

The show’s sixth season aired in September 2022, and a seventh season was ordered by Cartoon Network as part of a long-term deal for 70 new episodes. Roiland, in addition to co-creating the series with Dan Harmon, also voices the two titular characters. Adult Swim, whose parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, also owns Cartoon Network, declined to comment. Over the past three years, as the domestic violence case has inched along, Roiland’s career has progressed.