Adult Swim’s chaotic adult cartoon Rick and Morty has no peers. There are no other shows as consistently inventive, weird, clever, honest, brutal or fucked up as Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s creation. When the show came to us in 2014, it seemed like just a zippy pastiche of Back To The Future (which in short film form, it was – with more di*k jokes). What quickly transpired was pop culture’s most palatable presentation of ‘cosmicism‘. As Morty says, “Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV.”
With season five freshly launched, we thought there was no better time than to revisit – not travel back in time, Rick doesn’t do time travel – the 15 best episodes to date.
15. A Rickle In Time (Season 2, Episode 1)
This episode sees reality fractured. The only way for Summer, Rick, and Morty to put it back together is to be sure of their next actions. But uncertainties make the situation even more complex. This episode is well regarded as it brings the core three characters together and brings out some real emotional conflict. Viewers get to see what Rick will do for his family, nearly sacrificing himself. It all makes for a very effective bottle episode structure.
14. Mortynight Run (Season 2, Episode 2)
With a guest appearance from Jemaine Clement and an adventure involving a gaseous character called Fart, there’s a lot to laugh about in this episode.
The highlight is clearly the Jerry daycare that Morty drops his dad off at. With Jerrys from all of the multiverse, they come together to work out why exactly they are trapped there and how they can get out of it.
13. Rattlestar Ricklactica (Season 4, Episode 5)
After interfering in the development of a planet dominated by snakes, Morty accidentally starts a time travel kerfuffle in the A story while Jerry has one of his most endearingly hapless misadventures in a B story where he’s given a pair of gravity-defying shoes by Rick that he quickly develops problems within this odd Christmas episode. It’s another episode that pokes fun at the tropes of time travel stories and shows that there’s still plenty of jokes left to be made about the worn-out subject.
12. Edge Of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat (Season 4, Episode 1)
This season opener sees the titular pair get back to basics–in terms of Rick and Morty‘s storylines, at least–and sees Morty become obsessed with a crystal that grants him the ability to see his own death. Morty’s nonsensical quest to appease the vision in his head showing him dying as an old man leads him on a bizarre quest, but it’s actually less strange than Rick’s journey throughout the episode as he dies in the opening and must travel through various clone bodies in various dimensions in order to get back to his old self.
11. Meeseeks And Destroy (Season 1, Episode 5)
When Rick allows Morty to lead their next adventure the two end up in a fantasy realm on a riff on the Jack and the Beanstalk story that ends very unpleasantly. The main story, that the episode’s title refers to, is about what happens with the family when Rick leaves them with a Meeseeks box. The box materializes a helpful blue entity that exists solely to solve one simple, specific, problem and disappears when it’s resolved. Jerry’s attempts to be smart naturally result in catastrophe and the cascading Meeseeks problem produces one of the show’s most iconic creations.
10. Rick Potion #9 (Season 1, Episode 6)
One of the most harrowing episodes of the show, this one sees Morty ask Rick to make him a love potion but things quickly spiral into chaos. The potion is so strong that everyone falls in love with Morty. What’s worse, the cure ends up turning many people into monstrous creatures.
With no cure Rick and Morty jump to a parallel Earth and live out their lives like normal once again, showcasing that the showrunners are not afraid to challenge the status quo.
09. Star Mort Rickturn Of The Jerri (Season 4, Episdoe 10)
This episode revolves around a cliffhanger left from a season 3 episode that proposes that Beth can leave her family and live a life of Rick-like freedom as an adventurer while leaving a clone of herself behind to look after her family. The audience never finds out exactly what happens but two Beths, the family version that’s been with audiences throughout the season and a rebellious space warrior version, end up colliding in this finale that brings back a number of running story ideas. It shows that fans have come to love the overarching plot episodes as much as they enjoy the more irreverent standalone stories.
08. The Ricks Must Be Crazy (Season 2, Episode 6)
In this episode, Rick discovers that the micro civilization he had created to produce energy that kept his car running had stopped producing said energy. He and Morty shrink down to examine the problem at close range, only to discover that the micro-universe they had created had, in turn, created a micro-universe, which in turn had created a micro-universe, all with a Rick-like genius scientist with similar ambitions. Also, Summer is left being babysat by Rick’s car, and that little side-story perhaps remains to this day one of the best side stories to ever feature on the show.
07. Pickle Rick (Season 3, Episode 3)
No episode captures just how cartoonishly intelligent and petty Rick is better than “Pickle Rick”. In this episode, in order to avoid going to a family therapy session, Rick turns himself into a literal pickle. After getting tossed accidentally onto the street and into the sewers, Rick is left with nothing but his genius intellect and his mobile mouth to find a way back home. Along the way, he takes out an army of rants, performs lobotomy procedures on insects, and fashions a superpowered exoskeleton for himself. And every one of those sequences is as grotesquely awesome as they sound.
06. Close Rick-Counters Of The Rick Kind (Season 1, Episode 10)
This episode is iconic within the fandom because of how many major parts of the show’s mythology were introduced in it. Rick is brought up before ‘The Council of Ricks’, an interdimensional cabal of Rick Sanchezes from across the multiverse who rule over their own space city. Rick is accused of killing Mortys from across various realities.
He sets off to prove his innocence, finally confronting an evil version of himself. The episode ends with a twist ending that reveals the first major villain of the entire series.
05. The Wedding Squanchers (Season 2, Episode 10)
Rick’s best friend, Birdperson, is getting married to Summer’s classmate, and the whole family is invited to the alien wedding. Things get messy when the galactic federation crashes the event to capture Rick, forcing the entire family to go on the run. With federation forces closing in with every passing second, Beth, Jerry, and the kids must decide if they should turn Rick in to save their own skins. This is one of those rare episodes where we get to see Rick do something genuinely selfless and his sacrifice to save his family is the highlight of the episode. As the season finale, it also nicely sets up the next season with a pretty big plot thread left dangling in its final moments.
04. The Vat Of Acid Episode (Season 4, Episode 8)
This is the latest–and almost certainly not the last–episode of Rick and Morty to start its own meme through its use of the Eric Clapton song “It’s in the Way That You Use It”. In the episode, Rick gives Morty a device that supposedly saves his place in time and allows him to try out various scenarios while believing that there are no consequences. Of course, there’s a dark twist to the invention that’s designed to teach Morty a lesson about critiquing his ideas. Overall, it’s a great example of how the darkest ideas from the show often end up becoming the most popular.
03. Total Rickall (Season 2, Episode 4)
Almost the entirety of this episode takes place inside Beth and Jerry’s house, and it still manages to be hilariously inventive. When alien parasites that plant false memories of themselves in the minds of their hosts infest the family, Rick puts the whole house on lockdown, declaring that no one will leave until they figure out who is an actual family member and who is a parasite. The highlight of the episode is a hardcore rap song inserted into the middle of a little girl’s princess friendship magic song.
02. The Rickshank Rickdemption (Season 3, Episode 1)
Picking up immediately after the end of season two, we find that Rick is in the clutches of the Galactic Federation, who are desperate to find a way to have Rick reveal his formula for his portal gun to them. When nothing else works, they arrange to have one of their agents’ journey through Rick’s mind, and viewers get a rare glimpse into Rick’s past and uncover some secrets that may have led him to become the way he is. Fans also get a cool little cameo by the ‘Council of Ricks’ and an explosive action sequence which demonstrates why the show’s titular Rick is the most badass Rick in all of the Multiverse.
01. The Ricklantis Mixup (Season 3, Episode 7)
Instead of focussing on the titular Rick and Morty, in this episode, fans get to follow the lives of the ordinary citizens of the Citadel that all the Ricks from across the multiverse created to live on with their Mortys. It is a bizarre tale that is told through this episode, but one that actually shows a laserlike focus in sticking to the main themes of the episode: the importance of a Morty in Rick’s life. And then it culminates in one of the most shocking endings in all of the show’s history.