Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon recently took the time to explain how he comes up with the stories for his super popular Adult Swim series. Harmon, who also created and produced the NBC comedy Community, participated in a sold-out talk at Cornell University, where he elaborated on his “story circle” technique and joked with the audience.
The Cornell Daily Sun reports that when asked about the key to his success, the Rick and Morty showrunner teased that it was nothing but “banana peels and stoplights.”
“The luck part is time. Because luck is something that happens, the hard part is you do nothing.”
On a more serious note, Harmon talked about the storytelling framework he invented, which he refers to as the “story circle.” The technique involves breaking the storytelling into eight different segments in which a character “enters an unfamiliar situation and has to work their way back.”
Harmon began developing the “story circle” method in the ’90s and has used it extensively in his work. During his Cornell talk, the Rick and Morty co-creator said that he did not expect any of the writers at Community to adopt the technique, but has since heard that they have been “spreading the gospel” of the method.
“There are stories of it going splendidly and there’s a lot of ‘oh you’re one of those Harmonites.'”
Harmon also revealed that he always strives to find “a very simply, almost numerical, instinctive reason” for a story.
“If there’s something ingrained in us about storytelling, I don’t think it would be attached to ‘and we do that because we love a champion’ or ‘we saved an underdog.’ There shouldn’t be any of that in there.”
Instead, the Rick and Morty producer said that he believes stories arise from us “talking chimps” because we’re so preoccupied with change. Harmon said that he thinks human cells are “a library full of stories or one story that is simply about how stagnation is your enemy.”
“Expect the worst, and when you see the worst coming, overcome your fear of that.”
During the show at Cornell, Harmon also talked about an upcoming project—an adaptation of The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut. The event went past its original cutoff time as Harmon answered questions about his work, his life, and things like whether he preferred vanilla or chocolate cake.
Those who can’t get enough of the Rick and Morty co-creator will be pleased to know that he teamed up this year with fellow Rick and Morty writer Jessica Gao on a new podcast. Whiting Wongs has Harmon and Gao talking about things like race, minority representation, and privilege in Rick and Morty and in the television industry.
The two hosts examine the topics from different perspectives: Harmon talks about the issues from the viewpoint of a white, straight, 44-year-old showrunner while Gao talks about her experiences working in Hollywood as a young, female, Chinese writer.
Six episodes of Whiting Wongs have been published, with a new episode expected to drop every Thursday.
Rick and Morty Season 3 aired its finale in October. The premiere date for Rick and Morty Season 4 has not been announced.
[Featured Image by TBS]