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Ever since Rick and Morty joined the Adult Swim library back in 2013, co-creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon have witnessed the show's fanbase head down some pretty dark avenues, from the Szechwan Sauce debacle to the rabid frustration over the time gaps between seasons. Thankfully, though, Season 4 is within spitting distance – it'll arrive in late fall – and the brains behind the animated hit have finally been able to speak in vague terms about what's coming first out of their massive 70-episode expansion.
It was while reflecting on the show's years of popularity, though, that Justin Roiland expounded upon why Rick and Morty's "Wubba lubba dub dub" is the show reference that he's the most sick of hearing at this point.
[My answer] would be the ‘Wubba lubba dub dub’ catchphrase. Only because we were making fun of the idea of stupid catchphrases. [At first] it wasn’t at all that and then it was funny because it was a dumb catchphrase, and then we subverted it by making it mean something really depressing. The hardcore fans get the irony behind it. But I think some fans maybe don’t? I hate to shit on anything because I don’t want to bum anybody out. I don’t want somebody to be like, ‘I love that!’ And then for them to read that Justin hates it. I don’t hate it.
To reiterate: Justin Roiland doesn't blanket-hate fans who say "Wubba lubba dub dub" and he doesn't exactly hate the act in and of itself. So don't go sending him evil messages saying otherwise.
HIs point is totally valid, though, from a creative standpoint. Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon faced an issue that a lot of writers face with with counter-culture comedies: when certain TV or genre stereotypes are introduced ironically and are then used non-ironically by audiences. Seinfeld, for example, wasn't created with the intent of turning "He's my butler," or "Go Devils!" into fan-beloved catchphrases that would stay in use for decades.
Yet, because it's impossible to predict what viewers will latch onto with such glee, one can never tell when intentionally garbled gibberish like "Wubba lubba dub dub" will be welcomed into pop culture jargon. I mean, Rick and Morty doesn't exactly use the traditional TV success playbook anyway, so it's only fitting for one of its most-quoted lines to be gobbledygook.
Or, at least it was gobbledygook before Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon provided a dark, if brief, backstory for "Wubba lubba dub dub." In Season 1's "Ricksy Business," the character Birdperson is introduced, and he explained to Morty that Ricky's favorite catchphrase actually means "I am in great pain, please help me" in the native Birdperson language.
Perhaps Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon thought that giving the catchphrase a more negative meaning would stop people from using it in celebratory manners the way that Rick initially did. But that would be underestimating the kinds of fans who wish that Mr. Meeseeks and Mr. Poopybutthole were real people. (As if they aren't already, right?)
In the same EW interview, Dan Harmon gave his own take on answering the question about overused catchphrases, but wasn't so negative about the quotes themselves as he was about those who ends up saying them. In his words:
This isn’t really an answer to the question, but it always bums me out when somebody uses a meme of a quote for the show and it’s being used by somebody who isn’t the greatest specimen. I hate it when a line from our show is being used by the meanest person in a conversation online. But it is what it is. It’s a popular show. I don’t think, ‘Oh God, I’ve done something terrible.’ I wish only saints and cool race car drivers liked our show, but then we wouldn’t make any money.
Sections of Rick and Morty's fanbase are known to be among the most vocal and vile in all of TV-dom, which is what turned that Szechwan sauce campaign into such a backwards disaster. And Dan Harmon is among the more outspoken TV creators when it comes to sexism and online bullying, so that answer is even more on brand than Justin Roiland's was.
We still don't know exactly when Season 4 of the Emmy-winning Rick and Morty is going to arrive, though it's scheduled to premiere on Adult Swim in November. It likely won't have anything to do with Kanye West when it does, but Season 5 could possibly alter that, because that's how the world works now. But it's been revealed that Season 4 will boast guest appearances from big names such as Sam Neill, Taika Waititi, Kathleen Turner and Paul Giamatti. Wubba lubba....wait, never mind. I cannot wait!