Rick and Morty puts the fun in dysfunctional. This animated Adult Swim darling follows the mishaps of Rick, the smartest man in the universe, and his hapless grandson, Morty, on their interdimensional adventures while navigating domestic family life. The show’s irreverent humor, off-the-cuff style, and surprising emotional depth made it an instant hit upon its premiere in 2013.
But the show was also touched by scandal. In January 2023, the network cut ties with and fired one of the show’s creators, Justin Roiland, after domestic violence charges against him surfaced. The series continued production without Roiland, who previously voiced Rick, Morty, and numerous other characters who are helmed by soundalike actors in the new seventh season.
Since Rick and Morty spans not just space and time but also the multiverse, how do you choose the best episodes in existence? The good news is you, dear reader, don’t have to! Here are EW’s picks for the best Rick and Morty episodes.
“Meeseeks and Destroy” (Season 1, Episode 5)
If you’re new to the series and need a perfect starter episode, this would be it. Blending sci-fi and fantasy with quippy chaos, Rick leaves the family with an annoying invention that conjures the most note-worthy of side characters, Mr. Meeseeks.
The loyal, blue, bulb-headed humanoid exists to serve and represents the heart of this series: loveable obnoxiousness and kinda good intentions gone awry. Jerry enlists the helper to solve the “simple” task of improving his golf game, only for things to spiral out of control and into colorful absurdity. At its core, this episode captures the comedic (and cosmic) insanity that makes the show so enjoyable.
“Rick Potion #9” (Season 1, Episode 6)
The first few episodes of Rick and Morty were fun little sci-fi adventures — by contrast, this David Cronenberg-inspired episode is where things really got serious. Morty’s teenage desire for a pretty girl to like him inadvertently transforms his whole world into a horrorshow thanks to Rick’s shoddily-made potion.
Unlike other episodes, where Rick might pull a deus ex machina out of his sleeve to fix everything, this time, his solution is literally abandoning their original dimension for an extremely similar one. In addition to being a horror showcase in its own right, this episode has had far-reaching consequences throughout the series: There have been occasional return visits to Cronenberg World, as well as the ever-present threat that Rick and Morty’s fun adventures could easily spell doom for those around them.
“Rixty Minutes” (Season 1, Episode 8)
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to watch what feels like a completely improvised cartoon? Introducing: Interdimensional Cable. This episode serves as a spiritual equivalent of The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” series, wherein the show breaks its usual mold and introduces some “what if” style storytelling.
Tune in to see Rick and Morty consume eyegasms of multidimensional media while the rest of the family takes turns glimpsing alternate versions of themselves. Juggling themes of abortion, divorce, and breakfast cereal mascot murder, the Smiths learn the valuable lesson that everybody’s going to die, so they might as well watch TV.
“Something Ricked This Way Comes” (Season 1, Episode 9)
Tuck in for a supernatural take on the age-old warning to be careful what you wish for. While Rick deals with de-cursing haunted objects out of spite, Jerry’s curse of being an absolute flaccid human is on full display when he gaslights himself (and some aliens) into believing that Pluto is still a planet.
Meanwhile, Rick’s scheme to outwit the Devil at his own game is a prime example of the show’s masterful meta use of parody to spoof Stephen King’s Needful Things, which itself is a twist on Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.
“Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind” (Season 1, Episode 10)
One of the most important episodes of season 1 first introduced the concept of the multiverse to Rick and Morty — nearly a decade before multiverses became an inescapable element of movies and TV, to boot.
Drawing inspiration from Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four comics and the Council of Reeds, the Council of Ricks gave a whole new dimension to the show’s storytelling and permanently increased the stakes — though the writers have been smart to only intermittently deploy their Big Bad, Evil Morty with the eyepatch, after first introducing him here.
“A Rickle in Time” (Season 2, Episode 1)
Picking up where season 1 left off, Rick, Morty, and Summer unfreeze time and experience a majorly fractured f—up. Playing with probabilities and parallel timelines, Morty and Summer’s sibling rivalry causes a rift not only between them but also in the space-time continuum.
While splitting alternate realities and literally splitting the screen, this episode is notably ambitious for its elaborate story and especially impressive animation. The sheer audacity of this undertaking is like watching Schrödinger’s cat get high on catnip.
“Mortynight Run” (Season 2, Episode 2)
One of the most endearing things about this show is how much fans can love a character as pathetic as Jerry. Rick and Morty drop him off in a “Jerryboree” adult daycare full of other Jerrys in order to spend a day at an intergalactic arcade.
There, Morty grapples with his own morality and mortality while befriending an… interdimensional fart. This episode is also notable for offering backstory on Rick’s feud with the Galactic Federation, but it’s worth watching even just for the Jerrys’ timid tale of learning to love themselves.
“Auto Erotic Assimilation” (Season 2, Episode 3)
It may have taught us more than we ever wanted to know about Rick’s sex life, but this episode also features one of the show’s smartest deployments of a classic sci-fi concept. In this case, a hive mind (like the Borg from Star Trek or the Annihilation Wave from Marvel comics) takes the form of a planet-wide society whose every inhabitant is voiced by Christina Hendricks.
While most pop culture examples of enforced conformity are portrayed as soul-destroying and evil, “Auto Erotic Assimilation” interestingly makes the case that it could still be preferable to endless civil conflict.
“Total Rickall” (Season 2, Episode 4)
If Mr. Meeseeks is the no. 1 fan-favorite side character, then Mr. Poopy Butthole would be no. 2. (Get it?) Thankfully, all the toilet humor is backed up with clever storytelling when memory parasites infiltrate the Smith’s minds, leaving them unsure who to trust.
Their locked-down house is soon filled with supporting players like Mr. Beauregard, Sleepy Gary, and a multitude of others that, in a universe of countless dimensions, are anything but one-dimensional.
This episode is a love letter to various genres — namely action via Total Recall, plus the usual sci-fi fare — that quickly turns into a colorful orgy of animation and zany side characters, culminating in an absolute fever dream.
“The Ricks Must Be Crazy” (Season 2, Episode 6)
While Rick and Morty is certainly not the first cartoon to do an episode about creating life inside of a small object (see The Simpsons, Futurama, and South Park), it definitely takes the premise several steps further. This time, we see the duo shrink down to visit the lifeforms inside Rick’s car battery and pretend to be their gods.
Why, you ask? Think Inception but with a pyramid scheme to source free energy. All this is done in an effort to power Rick’s spaceship, which is a talkative, sassy character unto herself, tasked with keeping Summer safe in an alien parking lot.
“Big Trouble In Little Sanchez” (Season 2, Episode 7)
Before Baby Yoda, there was Tiny Rick. Though not as cute, they share the same penchant for mischief. In an effort to help his grandkids rid their school of vampires, Rick possesses a younger clone of himself and becomes a student. While the new teen tackles the perils of high school and popularity, Beth and Jerry go to off-planet marriage counseling to confront their codependent relationship issues.
But when alien manifestations of their perceptions of each other wreak havoc on the facility, Jerry tries to worm his way out of things — literally. It’s an emotionally resonant episode that’s brutally honest about the difficulty of marriage and the lengths partners will go for each other.
“Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate” (Season 2, Episode 8)
So nice. They did it twice. This episode brings back the beloved interdimensional cable box from season 1’s “Rixty Minutes” for another round of impromptu insanity. While Rick tinkers with the cable box at the alien hospital where his son-in-law is seeking treatment, Jerry is stuck between his penis and a hard place.
His package could serve as a heart transplant for the universe’s most important civil rights leader, but does he have the heart to give up his heart? Find out, but more importantly, kick back, flip through the channels, and stuff your eye holes with more non sequitur nonsense.
“The Rickshank Rickdemption” (Season 3, Episode 1)
The fabric of reality is getting some new drapes. This season 3 opener is crucial for uncovering Rick’s tortured past of losing his wife and inventing the portal gun.
Not only did this episode take viewers inside Rick’s mind to fill us in about the Galactic Federation and Citadel of Ricks, but it also filled hungry stomachs when it sparked a campaign that successfully brought the return of the Szechuan McNugget sauce (which was originally a promo for Disney’s Mulan).
“Pickle Rick” (Season 3, Episode 3)
The only thing wilder than this becoming the single most iconic episode of Rick and Morty is that it wholly deserves that reputation. Rick’s goofiest escapade ever (transforming himself into a pickle in order to get out of family therapy) is balanced against the human drama of the family therapy session, with Susan Sarandon’s character offering a great explanation of why counseling is actually useful in a truly touching monologue.
“The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy” (Season 3, Episode 5)
If you’ve ever wondered what the series would be like if it were called “Rick and Jerry,” then you’re in luck. When the smartest man in the universe embarks on an adventure with the stupidest to an intergalactic immortality resort, turmoil is guaranteed.
It’s the equivalent of shaking one of those balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing bottles and watching the oil and vinegar swirling in opposition — these two just don’t mix well together. Still, they’re a flavor combo that can’t be beaten, and when an assassination attempt on Rick turns things upside down, we get to see a glimpse into Jerry’s true nature.
“The Ricklantis Mixup” (Season 3, Episode 7)
Even if you aren’t always familiar with the references in Rick and Morty, most parodies still feel familiar. This Training Day spoof episode packs a punch with some major shake-ups as the Citadel of Ricks undergoes a presidential election.
Meanwhile, a Cop Morty trains his new Rick partner and exposes the Citadel’s seedy underbelly. The storylines split into various iterations of the titular duo trying to find their place in the universe. Though it mostly omits the OG pair, this episode still offers essential world-building that expands on the multiverse, teasing its many dangers and connections to our main heroes.
“Morty’s Mind Blowers” (Season 3, Episode 8)
Akin to a third interdimensional cable episode, “Morty’s Mind Blowers” switches up the show format with a meta menagerie of memories. Instead of random channel flipping, what follows is a twisted anthology of never-before-seen moments from Morty’s past.
He rewatches erased traumatic memories that Rick previously removed in an effort to piece together the whole story, though he doesn’t have all the components. But, of course, Morty’s attempt to stand up for himself only wipes both their memories, which ironically makes for an episode that’s truly unforgettable.
“Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat” (Season 4, Episode 1)
There are few things funnier than hearing Jerry Smith pronounce “Akira.” The season 4 premiere demonstrates the danger of peering into the future, as Morty’s desire to die old beside Jessica leads him on an escalating power trip of violence that eventually causes him to resemble the titular character from Katsuhiro Otomo’s iconic manga and anime.
Premiering in late 2019, this episode was also the closest Rick and Morty came to commenting on the ethos of the Trump era, with Rick finding all of his backup dimensions overrun by fascists.
“Rattlestar Ricklactica” (Season 4, Episode 5)
Every planet in Rick & Morty has something unique to offer — even snake jazz. After accidentally killing a snake astronaut during a spaceship pit-stop, Morty tries to make up for it by bringing a new one to the planet…which just informs the space snakes of the existence of extraterrestrial life, causing their society to unite and invent space travel.
What results is a circular riff on classic sci-fi stories like The Terminator, but with almost every character speaking in indecipherable hisses? It’s delightfully wacky and mind-blowingly smart, just like Rick and Morty should be.
“Never Ricking Morty” (Season 4, Episode 6)
Even with so many stand-alone episodes, Rick and Morty has still managed to build a sizeable canon of important characters and memorable plot points. Any regular sci-fi show would milk those character beats for everything they’re with, but not Rick and Morty.
In this episode, which takes the word “meta” to a whole new level, climaxes that could’ve taken years to build are instead sped through in rapid succession so as to make a point about the greater importance of storytelling and pacing. Plus, Paul Giamatti makes a hilarious voice cameo as Story Lord.
“Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri” (Season 4, Episode 10)
Even in a show with infinite universes and endless versions of everyone, there’s still a sense of gravity to each iteration of these characters. In this season 4 finale episode, Beth has an actual clone of herself living in the same timeline.
The catch is neither knows which is the original Beth, causing chaos to unfold in this Star Wars parody where Rick is forced to stop a mega weapon from destroying the Earth. It’s an intimate look at what Beth’s life would have been like if she’d followed in her father’s footsteps as an enemy of the New Galactic Federation, plus plenty of fan service for lovers of that galaxy far, far away.
“Mortyplicity” (Season 5, Episode 2)
Don’t be coy, just decoy. Rick and Morty has showcased almost every skewed iteration of these characters under the sun, but this episode really has fun playing around with the multipliers between some crafty death scenes. When the Smiths are being hunted by mysterious squid creatures, Rick’s failsafe of fake families, designed to protect the “real” them, start getting killed.
There’s just one problem: The copies also made copies, which sets off a chain reaction of guessing who is real or counterfeit. It’s a great example of a stand-alone episode that is truly a treat, no matter how well you know the show.
“Gotron Jerrysis Rickvangelion” (Season 5, Episode 7)
At its core, Rick and Morty is really about family, relationships, and coming together — and what comes together better than giant robots that combine into one mega robot? Rick’s obsession with Voltron-esque ferret machines initially brings the family closer as they team up to pilot them as a squad.
While fighting giant monsters is hard, it’s way more difficult to battle the monsters within, as their egos create a rift that splits the team apart when they get too big for their own good. The Smiths have always been dysfunctional, but this episode demonstrates how we can still count on them to form a unified family, no matter how much they piss each other off.
“Rick: A Mort Well Lived” (Season 6, Episode 2)
Roy, the video game in which users play through the life of an average human man, was one of the funniest and most mind-bending inventions from season 2. But in its original appearance, the game was just used for a throwaway scene in an episode that was mostly about something else.
There was definitely untapped potential left over, and this episode dives deep into the possibilities of Roy — as well as doing a riff on Die Hard, because why not?
“Final DeSmithation” (Season 6, Episode 5)
Another Rick & Morty episode built around the dangers of predicting the future, this one enhances the silliness by focusing on Jerry’s terror of having sex with his mother — as predicted by an eerily accurate fortune cookie company.
Teaming up with Rick to prevent that catastrophic fate, Jerry ends up in the middle of a hilariously over-the-top sci-fi battle in the fortune cookie factory. Head-spinning and cringe-inducing in equal measure, “Final DeSmithation” represents the goofy highs of later-season Rick and Morty.