Rick and Morty season 7 review: "Shows no signs of slowing down just yet"

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Rick and Morty returns with a Mr. Poopybutthole-focused premiere that’s high on laughs, all backed by assured performances by its new lead voice actors

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This is a spoiler-free review of Rick and Morty season 7, episode 1. For more from the show, check out our ranking of the best Rick and Morty episodes.

Thanks to the departure of co-creator Justin Roiland, Rick and Morty season 7 inadvertently marks the start of a new era for the Adult Swim animated comedy. However, barring new voices for its leads and incidental characters, ‘How Poopy Got His Poop Back’ doesn’t reflect the real-world turmoil that plagued recent conversations surrounding the show. Instead, it continues what has been a strong run of episodes that haven’t been scared to veer into more zany territory. 

It’s a far cry from a show that originally opted for the low-hanging fruit of meta, occasionally mean-spirited, humor a little too often. In truth, Rick and Morty is at its best when it’s wringing out good old-fashioned laughs from its kooky setups – and it does that plenty here. 

Much like most of Rick and Morty’s classic adventures, the season 7 premiere takes a high concept (in this case, the intervention of a down-on-his-luck Mr. Poopybutthole led by Rick and a friend group consisting of Squanchy, Gear Head, and a returning Birdperson) and quickly flips it on its head in madcap fashion.

What follows is a fun, zippy dynamic that ploughs through the episode like a relentless joke conveyor belt. Mr. Poopybutthole’s repetition of ‘birthday’ to elicit sympathy, and ‘F**k Yous’, the parody of restaurants that belittle its customers are just a few examples that will raise hearty laughs. It also highlights something the show often forgets: just how funny Rick is when he’s smack-dab in the middle of a group he can bounce off. Think Vindicators turned up to 11 and you’ll get the gist.

Unfortunately, the hijinks are all-too-often stopped in their tracks by an A-list celebrity character that kills the mood at every turn. Maybe someone had a drawer full of ancient gags about this individual – who we’re not allowed to name just yet, sorry folks – but they almost all feel tired and out of step with what could have been a pretty timeless caper. At worst, it has the air of a Family Guy cutaway joke stretched thin across an entire episode.

The season 7 premiere, though, saves its best for last. The fading pills, designed to point out the hackneyed cliche of friends in a high-school drama disappearing after a long summer together, are a neat comedown after a high-octane adventure that, curiously, leaves Morty and the rest of the Smith family sidelined. On top of that, it ends with a post-credits scene that could be ripped straight out of Interdimensional Cable’s greatest hits, such is its surreal brilliance.

New Rick and Morty voices, same high quality

Rick in an image from Rick and Morty season 7

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

Of course, the new voices of Rick and Morty are going to be picked apart and scrutinized endlessly on social media after its premiere. Happily, both leads – our review copies don’t have credits, so the mystery remains on who exactly the replacements are – are more than capable replacements for Justin Roiland. While this is a Rick-centric episode, Morty’s brief presence is pitch-perfect. Rick's voice actor, meanwhile, takes a tiny bit of time to get used to but, by episode’s end, has showcased enough emotion, comic timing, and wackiness to pass what could have been a tricky test with flying colors.

Mind you, keener ears will have more trouble attuning to the new voice of Mr. Poopybutthole, whose delivery ranges from being slightly flat to losing a fair chunk of the heightened whimsy of Roiland’s previous efforts. Still, it’s not a show-ruiner – and gives Rick and Morty a chance to comfortably move on from its troubled past without constant debates over which voice actor is better.

Justin Roiland may have gone, but the headline news from watching this premiere, perhaps, is that co-creator Dan Harmon’s influence is similarly on the wane. The Rick and Morty season 7 premiere is a strong, punchy episode that feels like it’s slowly tip-toeing away from its creators. It’s jokes first, story second – and is all the better for it. There’s a reason why show writer Rob Schrab, for his part, recently told The Hollywood Reporter that: "Dan is great as the person that’s going to sit on top of the mountain demanding quality, but the day-to-day management of the show needs to be done by somebody with a very special skill set."

All told, then, ‘How Poopy Got His Poop Back’ is a fascinating glimpse into a new – and maybe improved – Rick and Morty. It’s more well-rounded than previous years and, although old, frustrating tendencies such as running one-note jokes into the ground still remain, it’s a schwifty return for a sci-fi series that shows no signs of slowing down just yet.

Rick and Morty season 7 premieres October 15 on Adult Swim and in the UK on E4 on October 17.

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Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.