When Fandom Goes Wrong: Destructive ‘Rick and Morty’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ Fans Must Relocate Their Chill


Instead, they’ve chosen to pay tribute to the Season 3 episode “Caballo Sin Nombre,” when a frustrated Walter (Bryan Cranston), attempting to make peace with his estranged family, tosses the large pizza he’s brought for dinner on the roof before storming off. Unfortunately, fans have refused to listen to the show’s creator when playing tourist in Albuquerque, visiting key locations like the suburban house used as an exterior for the White family home. The “Breaking Bad” diehards are bringing their own pizzas to the house and hurling them up, much to the chagrin of current home owner Joanne Quintana. The Albuquerque resident is currently building a six-foot-high metal fence to keep fans out and keep her home safe. “We don’t want to gate ourselves in,” Quintana told local Albuquerque station KOB4. “We’re the ones who’s being locked up. We did nothing wrong.” For years, Vince Gilligan has had a simple message for fans of “Breaking Bad”: Please stop throwing pizzas on Walter White’s roof.

But sometimes fandom can be blinding in this respect. Sign up for our email newsletters here. After all, no one wants to think the worst of someone — or something — they love. Sign UpStay on top of the latest film and TV news!

In one much-shared clip, a potential patron jumped on the counter, screaming, “I’m Pickle Rick!”

McDonald’s has responded to the events of Saturday by promising that the sauce will be available on a much wider basis later this year. But while Rick may have a cool portal gun and a lot of brains, he’s also, well, a dick. More often than not, fandom can be relatively harmless — in fact, it can often be a force for good, bringing people together with their passion for some thing they love. But unpack the scene: The reason Walter throws the pizza on the roof is because he’s been kicked out of the house by Skyler (Anna Gunn) after she’s learned about his meth business. Musicians have fandoms. Take the “Breaking Bad” pizza-tossing, which might seem like a fun reference to an iconic moment from the show. These stories were not exactly meant to celebrate men behaving badly — while Don Draper (Jon Hamm) might have seemed like “the man” at times, he was also a deeply broken individual whose journey to inner peace only came after a number of destructive and self-destructive incidents. On Saturday, several McDonalds across the country were set to distribute Szechuan sauce, but massive lines and unruly crowds led to full-on mob scenes, as documented on YouTube. Please be cool to the employees it's not their fault
— Justin Roiland (@JustinRoiland) October 8, 2017

“Rick and Morty” and “Breaking Bad” tend to come up in conversation together for another reason beyond the intensity of their respective fanbases, as they share a problem similar to “Mad Men,” “The Sopranos,” and many other shows from a very specific era of television, when the male anti-hero reigned supreme. This is a man ignoring his wife’s wishes and invading her space in a petulant way (not for the last time — at the end of the episode, he breaks back into the house after discovering that she’s changed the locks). As far back as 2002, Aaron Sorkin devoted an entire subplot on “The West Wing” to mocking online fans of his show. Sports teams have fandoms. Read More:‘Rick and Morty’ Fans Have the Chance to Record a DVD Commentary While Eating Szechuan Sauce With Dan Harmon

Creators have often had love-hate relationships with their more passionate fans in the digital age. And of course, film and television is rich with them. A reference in the “Rick and Morty” Season 3 premiere to the 1998-era dipping sauce inspired a good-natured back-and-forth between “Rick and Morty” co-creator Justin Roiland and the fast food chain, resulting in Roiland receiving a special package from McDonald’s containing some of the sauce. And unfortunately, fandom has a bad habit of overlooking the more dick-ish side of these anti-heroes, even though their dickishness is a central part of the story being told by these creators. Not happy w/how this was handled. Last weekend, a number of McDonald’s employees had Very Bad Days thanks to a limited-time promotion inspired by the online fervor surrounding Szechuan sauce. FYI: We had nothing to do with this McDonald's stuff. This is not behavior to emulate. The power of fandom has driven charity initiatives driven by both stars and fans themselves, such as the organization Cancer Gets Lost, which “Lost” superfan Jo Garfein created as a way to raise money and awareness for cancer research. But co-creator Dan Harmon, prior to the promotion, told Polygon that he, Roiland and Adult Swim were not involved in the promotion. However, that same passion can sometimes get twisted to an embarrassing degree. Said Harmon: “I don’t see anything wrong with what they’re doing and clearly neither does their legal department.”
A few days later, though, he made a joke about how poorly it went for McDonalds:

Yes can I get a McBlatantly Unlicensed Integration Meal done not well, hold the permission, extra awkward
— Dan Harmon (@danharmon) October 10, 2017

Which was not well-received by his followers:

Hey me again, I wanted the chuckle about a corporate fumble and got 50 teenagers arguing whether my joke is allowed, definitely not my order
— Dan Harmon (@danharmon) October 10, 2017

Meanwhile, Roiland simply requested sanity from the fans. This is not a hero moment for the character. Such is the dark side of fandom, that ephemeral force born of communities surrounding pretty much anything which might inspire our interest. With “Rick and Morty,” there are many fans who seem to admire (just as they did during Don Draper’s day) Rick Sanchez’s anarchic rule-breaking behavior.