Rick and Morty’s Epic New Cameo Was 8 Years in the Making

“I love his voice,” Dan Harmon said. “That’s why I do a dumb impression of it.”

Rick and Morty

In the Rick and Morty universe — or, at least, in one of them — Ice-T is the only famous musician still alive.

Fans may recall that in the Season 2 episode, “Get Schwifty,” Rick and Morty team up with the rapper to write a hit song as part of an intergalactic music competition after every other famous musician dies during an earthquake at the Grammys. They win the competition, but only after Ice-T (who, it turns out is secretly an alien named Water-T banished from his home planet for being too apathetic) finally learns to care again. Yeah, it doesn’t make much sense, but that’s Rick and Morty for you.

Anyway, the reason we bring this up is because what you might not know is that in “Get Schwifty,” Ice-T wasn’t voiced by Ice-T (aka, ​​Tracy Lauren Marrow). Instead, he was voiced by Dan Harmon. But now, eight years later, Rick and Morty is setting things right — sort of.

Rick and Morty: Rise of the Numbericons, explained

Water-T and Helium-Q in Rick and Morty.

Adult Swim

In Rick and Morty Season 7 Episode 7, “Rise of the Numbericons: The Movie,” Ice/Water-T finally returns to resolve the epic cliffhanger from the “Get Schwifty” post-credits scene. Back then, we saw Water-T return to his home planet and reunite with his father Helium-Q, only for an enemy attack to leave his dad dead and his planet in peril. Turns out, the letter-shaped aliens are engaged in an epic conflict with their number-shaped enemies.

The new episode opens moments after, with Water-T fighting off his attackers before fleeing to Earth for help. Surprisingly, it’s not Rick he’s looking for but Morty’s math teacher Mr. Goldenfold. Morty comes along for the ride as they’re swept up in a brisk and shockingly coherent 22-minute Star Wars parody. There’s action, there’s romance, and there’s friendship, along with quippy one-liners and a musical number. Perhaps best of all? The real Ice-T lends his voice to Water-T’s father, Helium-Q, who perishes in the opening scene only to reappear later as a Force ghost.

Dan Harmon, Ice-T, and Rick and Morty

For Dan Harmon, getting Ice-T on Rick and Morty is a dream more than a decade in the making. Or, put more precisely, a “fantasy come true.”

As part of a Q&A video accompanying a GQ profile in 2018, Harmon talks about the origins of the Season 2 episode “Get Schwifty,” where the Water-T character first debuted.

“I love Ice-T, and it would be a fantasy come true to have him come and do Ice-T or Water-T or any other character,” Harmon told GQ. “He could be Vice President or whatever. It would be great to work with him sometime. I love his voice. That’s why I do a dumb impression of it.”

Despite how much Harmon wanted Ice-T on the show, even before making “Get Schwifty,” he was worried about what might happen if the rapper said no. After all, Rick and Morty was hardly the global sensation it is now when the episode was in production circa early 2015.

“There’s a weird aspect to doing impressions of people which is, if you just do it, it’s okay because it’s parody,” Harmon said. “But if you ask them to be on your show and they say no and then you do an impression of them, it’s called ripping them off and they can sue you.” The only option, then, was for Harmon to do the impression himself. (Harmon lends his voice to many characters on the show, including Birdperson, Mr. Nimbus, and the Tickets Please Guy.) Harmon’s Ice-T impression, however, had a history long before that.

The Dungeons & Dragons connection

Ice-T confronts his old friend, Goldenfold.

Adult Swim

Before busting it out in Rick and Morty, Harmon used his Ice-T impression in Episode 92 (“It’s Not Personal, It’s Business”) of his podcast Harmontown released in February 2014 when talking about how Ice-T narrated a Dungeons & Dragons story as part of the 40th anniversary anthology. Harmon reproduces some lines from it, and the group winds up doing an impromptu D&D session with Harmon’s Ice-T as the Dungeon Master.

Just a few weeks prior, Ice-T talked on his podcast Final Level about narrating a 40-page D&D story for Audible, which is why the Harmontown crew wound up discussing it.

“I read an audiobook … They said, ‘Ice we want you to read this book.’ They didn’t tell me that this was a motherfuckin’ Dungeons & Dragons book!” Ice-T said, referring to the tabletop roleplaying game as “some of the most crazy, deep, deep, deep nerd shit ever invented” where “motherfuckas talk like Yoda.” He thought reading 40 pages would be easy. It was not. Listening to Ice-T talk about reading it is even better than listening to him read it.

“It’ll be a treat to watch me with my South Central-educated ass trying to read some Dungeons & Dragons shit, talking about Pegasuses and Pegasi (that’s horses with wings) banking to the left,” Ice-T said. “Then this motherfucker’s got a sword that talks to him and shit! … Motherfuckers live in places that don’t exist. … My god.”

Ice read R.A. Salvatore’s Comrades at Odds, one of 12 stories included in The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories (you can listen to it here). Sean Astin, Weird Al Yankovic, David Duchovny, and even Dan Harmon himself were also included in the anthology to celebrate D&D’s 40th anniversary that year. So you can see why Harmon and friends might want to talk about Ice-T’s introduction to D&D, considering Harmontown focuses a great deal on Dungeons & Dragons gameplay.

How Ice-T Found Out About Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty prepare to get “Schwifty.” Ice-T doesn’t care.

Adult Swim

Despite Harmon saying they never approached Ice-T directly about “Get Schwifty,” Ice’s people were aware of it during production.

“The word came in when we were on tour that they were doing a Rick and Morty of me,” Ice-T told Kerrang in May 2020. “I like Rick and Morty and I just went, ‘Ask them not to diss me.’ … My character didn’t die so there’s a chance for him to come back, and the only reason I didn’t do the voice was because I was on tour in Europe at the time.”

A few days after “Get Schwifty” originally aired in August 2015, a fan shared a clip from the episode to Ice-T. “This happens with cartoonists after lots of drugs…. Fn Crazy!!” he replied. Almost four years later, Ice seemed far more positive about the whole thing: “I got a lotta Love from my Rick and Morty appearance!” he wrote on Twitter in May 2019.

Interestingly enough, Harmon’s Q&A with GQ from 2018 included a very public plea: “Ice-T, this is my personal appeal to you. Please come do a voice for Rick and Morty.”

As it turns out, Ice-T was listening, and now we have one of the most epic Rick and Morty episodes ever, complete with a badass rap number. The fact that Harmon reprises the role of Water-T while Ice-T voices the character’s father just feels so right. Somewhere out there, Dan Harmon has a big smile on his face thanks to this episode.

Rick and Morty airs Sundays at 11 p.m. Eastern on Adult Swim.

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