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Rick and Morty’s coronavirus joke was so last minute that one of its stars didn’t know it was included

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

Rick and Morty returned on Sunday night for a season 4 episode that completely messed with what was real and what wasn’t – until the final few minutes brought reality crashing down for both Morty and the viewer.

The meta dive into what makes Rick and Morty so popular, and whether that level of fandom could persist into the future, also became one of the first scripted shows to directly reference the current coronavirus outbreak during its final act. It was a moment that happened so late in the day that even one of its stars didn’t know of its existence.

“That’s news to me!” Chris Parnell, who voices Jerry, tells GamesRadar+ when asked about the coronavirus joke tacked on to the end of the season 4 mid-season premiere, “Never Ricking Morty.”

“I’ve only seen the trailers so I did not know that had been put in. That’s amazing. I guess obviously very late in the game they can add that stuff.”

The scene in question sees the show pull out to reveal that the events of the entire episode were watched through the lens (or should that be carriages?) of the Story Train from the Council of Ricks gift shop.

After the stigmatic blood of Story Jesus sees the train – and the episode – quite literally go off the rails (long story), Rick launches into a tirade, telling Morty to replace it.  

“Buy another one. Consume, Morty,” he says. “Nobody’s out there consuming with this fucking virus.”

As Parnell points out, this was clearly a very late addition – but one that pretty effectively highlights that, like South Park before it, the creative team behind Rick and Morty can very much be on the cutting edge of current events.

For more from Rick and Morty, check out our list of the best episodes and a recent interview with cast members Chris Parnell and Spencer Grammer.

GamesRadar+'s Entertainment Writer. Lover of all things Nintendo, in a tortured love/hate relationship with Crystal Palace, and also possesses an unhealthy knowledge of The Simpsons (which is of no use at parties).