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Rick And Morty Almost Had This In Common With SpongeBob SquarePants

Every TV show shares DNA with TV shows that came before it. Whenever a series as bold, original, and inspiring as, say, "Rick and Morty" makes its mark, we can be certain that any number of shows going forward will take after it in one way or another. And we can also be certain that, as singular as something like "Rick and Morty" may be, it has also had influences of its own.

Although a kids' comedy about talking sea animals would not seem to be the most obvious precursor to the Adult Swim sci-fi comedy at first blush, Nickelodeon's "SpongeBob SquarePants" is one of those shows which made such a massive, seismic impact on the medium that everything that's come after it inevitably passes through it. The absurdist, existentially terrifying humor, the world-weary dryness of the dialogue, and the go-for-broke commitment to any given episode's core concept no matter how preposterous, it all opened the door for a whole league of subsequent animated comedies, kid-oriented or otherwise — and, yes, that includes "Rick and Morty."

Still, there may be an alternate reality out there in which the two shows have even more in common. What it comes down to is the episode format "Rick and Morty" chose to adopt, and the one that could have been.

Rick and Morty was originally intended to have 11-minute episodes

"Rick and Morty" became famous for the surprising depth, pathos, and narrative verve it manages to wring out of the half-hour, ever-resetting sitcom format; in fact, the show has often used its time-traveling and reality-bending concepts to mock the stifling format of traditional family sitcoms. Some "Rick and Morty" episodes are whole cinematic journeys unto themselves, with better, more efficient storytelling than whole sci-fi feature films. But, as it turns out, co-creator Justin Roiland originally envisioned the show as a much more casual affair.

According to Crave Online, Roiland's plan for "Rick and Morty" was to divide each half-hour installment into two individual 11-minute episodes separated by a commercial break. That format is the standard for a lot of animated shows, especially kids' shows, perhaps most famously including "SpongeBob SquarePants." But Adult Swim pushed for the show to be done in full half-hour episodes so as to secure more mainstream appeal, as 11-minute episodes would be harder to market. The show's creators ultimately complied. And thank the heavens for that, because the best episodes of "Rick and Morty" make use of the 22-minute runtime better than pretty much anything else on TV — just as the most classic "SpongeBob" segments were masterclasses in short-format, maximum-efficiency comedic construction.