Fans have waited over two years to be reunited with Rick and Morty, and luckily, the season-four premiere didn't disappoint. With more schwifty Easter eggs than you can shake a squanch at, there was plenty going on to satisfy newcomers and diehard fans alike.
However, that's not the only reason why 'Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat' is so special.
At the end of the episode, a short animated video starring a man and his dog appeared with the caption: "In loving memory of Mike Mendel."
But who is Mike Mendel and why is he so important to the show?
Mendel worked as a line producer on Rick and Morty ever since it first debuted in 2013. Tragically, he died of natural causes on September 22, 2019, just two days before his 55th birthday.
The network Adult Swim released a statement soon after which read:
"All of us at Adult Swim are devastated by the untimely passing of Mike Mendel. Mike was the heart of the Rick and Morty production family, his fantastic talent and wit will be sorely missed."
"Mike was a universally respected Emmy-winning producer with over 25 years in the industry, who guided and supported a generation of artists, writers and creators and his absence will be felt by the entire community."
"Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time."
Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland also shared his own personal statement on social media: "I don’t know what I’m going to do without you by my side Mike. I’m destroyed."
My friend, partner, and line producer Mike Mendel passed away. I am devastated. My heart breaks for his family. I don’t know what I’m going to do without you by my side Mike. I’m destroyed.— Justin Roiland (@JustinRoiland) September 23, 2019
Before Mendel joined the Rick and Morty team, he worked as a producer on The Simpsons for over ten years, helping to shape the show during what many perceive to be its golden era.
Before that, Mendel worked on The Tracey Ullman Show, which originally launched The Simpsons as a series of animated shorts.
During his time with America's First Family, Mendel won three Emmys for the episodes 'Lisa’s Wedding' (1995), 'Homer’s Phobia' (1997) and 'Trash of the Titans' (1998), the last of which doubled as a 200th-episode extravaganza.
It's no wonder then that The Simpsons also honoured Mendel earlier this year in the season-31 premiere which aired September 29. A special title card featured him drawn in The Simpsons-style with a caption that read "In Loving Memory of Mike Mendel."
Following his groundbreaking decade with The Simpsons, Mendel also received a nomination for his production work on another animated comedy called The PJs before it was eventually cancelled after three seasons.
Years later, the Emmys would recognise Mendel's talents again for the Rick and Morty episode 'Pickle Rick' (2018), an instant classic which won the award for Outstanding Animated Program.
Through his work on this and hundreds of other fan-favourite TV episodes, Mendel has helped redefine what animation is capable of while bringing joy to countless viewers. It's only fitting that the last show he worked on would pay tribute to his legacy in such a heartfelt, loving way.
Mendel is survived by his wife, the Emmy-winning casting director Juel Bestrop, and their two children, Jacob and Jesse.
Rick and Morty season 4 airs on Sundays on Adult Swim in the US, and premieres in the UK on Channel 4 November 20.
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