After just three seasons, Rick and Morty is already widely regarded as one of the best animated sitcoms of all time. It’s hard to top the series’ winning blend of high-concept storytelling, absurd humor and emotionally raw characterization, even if fans are often left waiting for months – or even years – between new installments.
Adult Swim recently renewed Rick and Morty for a whopping 70 more episodes. Co-creator Justin Roiland said that this will allow he and Dan Harmon to start producing new seasons more rapidly and consistently. Unfortunately, there’s no word yet on when Season 4 will debut.
As we wait for the next season to materialize, let’s take a look at the 10 episodes we think are the best Rick and Morty adventures so far.
10. “The Ricklantis Mixup (S3E7)
This Season 3 episode is a case of defying expectations in the best way, Billed as an episode about Rick and Morty journeying to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, “The Ricklantis Mixup” wound up almost entirely ignoring the two in favor of a story set at the Citadel. Here we saw the plights of numerous other Rick and Mortys, not all of whom get to live a glamorous life of adventure and hedonism. The surprise ending paid off on a previous loose end in a terrific way, setting the stage for a major showdown we hope to see in Season 4.
9. “The Ricks Must Be Crazy” (S2E6)
Ever wonder how Rick powers his beat-up but amazingly versatile spaceship? This episode answered that question as it dragged Rick and Morty on a mind-bending quest through the microverse that fuels Rick’s battery. As Rick feuded with his microscopic rival Zeep Zanflorp (Stephen Colbert), the series mused on the futility of existence and the incredible sacrifices that make Rick’s dimension-hopping lifestyle possible. And while all of that was unfolding, this episode gave us a hilarious subplot where Rick’s ship worked to protect Summer at all costs.
8. “Meeseeks and Destroy” (S1E5)
This was the first episode that proved supporting characters like Beth and Jerry could outshine Rick and Morty themselves, given the right circumstances. While Morty’s ill-fated attempt to pick an adventure is memorable (and traumatizing) enough on its own, the real highlight of this episode is Mr. Meeseeks, a do-gooder whose brief existence is devoted to helping others achieve their goals. Helping Beth find emotional fulfillment proves far easier than helping Jerry take a few strokes off his golf game. Nice going, Jerry!
7. “Pickle Rick” (S3E3)
Here’s the episode that launched a thousand memes. Rick embarked on his strangest journey to date when he transformed himself into a sentient pickle in order to weasel out of attending family therapy. A few dozen slain rats and one showdown with a killer named Jaguar later, even Rick was forced to admit that maybe he had gone a little overboard. The series doesn’t get more wacky or over-the-top than this.
6. “Rick Potion No. 9” (S1E6)
Like all new shows, Rick and Morty went through some growing pains in its early episodes. However, the series truly found its voice in “Rick Potion No. 9,” achieving that trademark balance of high-concept sci-fi, absurd humor and brutal nihilism the show has become known for. Morty’s efforts to make Jessica fall in love with him go horribly awry, resulting in a shocking ending where Rick and Morty are forced to abandon their own Cronenberg-infested dimension forever. Even two seasons later, the characters are still feeling the effects of that unexpectedly dramatic turn of events.
5. “The Wedding Squanchers” (S2E10)
Many of the best Rick and Morty episodes take a few sharp turns before the end, and “The Wedding Squanchers” is no exception. What starts as a seemingly lighthearted celebration of Birdperson and Tammy rapidly devolves into all-out chaos as the Galactic Federation sets its sights on Rick. With Earth under occupation and the Smith family struggling to adjust to life on their remote new alien home, Rick has no choice but to sacrifice himself in what is easily one of the most emotionally charged moments of the whole series. Quite a way to wrap up the season.
4. “Mortynight Run” (S2E2)
In “Mortynight Run,” Rick and Morty butt heads when Morty insists on protecting a rogue alien named Fart (guest star Jermaine Clement). Naturally, there are a few major twists and turns and emotional meltdowns along the way. But in many ways, it’s the little details that set this one apart, from Clements’ amazing David Bowie-inspired musical number to Morty’s horrific experience with the arcade game Roy: A Life Well lived. This episode also boasts what is possibly the best Jerry subplot ever, as Jerry meets dozens of his alter egos at a Jerry-only daycare.
3. “Rixty Minutes” (S1E8)
Only Rick and Morty could do an entire episode about the main characters watching TV and wind up with one of its best episodes ever. Here the Smiths are introduced to the wonders of Rick’s interdimensional cable box, opening up an entire multiverse of bad television. This episode delivers a nonstop stream of bizarre clips, introducing instant fan-favorite characters like Ants in my Eyes Johnson, Two Brothers and Gazorpazorpfield. But this episode also shows a surprising amount of depth, with Jerry and Beth struggling with the glimpses of their alternate lives and Morty consoling Summer by revealing the tragic events of “Rick Potion No. 9.”
2. “Auto Erotic Assimilation” (S2E3)
This episode boasts one of the cleverer Rick and Morty storylines to date, as Rick is reunited with his ex-lover Unity (guest star Christina Hendricks), a hive mind possessing the population of an entire world. As Rick and Unity’s billions of hosts descend into a hedonistic orgy of excess, it quickly becomes apparent why the two were such a bad match in the first place. The tragic ending of this episode is a soul-crushing experience, as a lovelorn Rick literally comes within inches of suicide. It’s another powerful reminder that beneath all the catchphrases and big ideas is a very lonely and unstable man.
1. “Total Rickall” (S2E4)
“Total Rickall” truly captures everything that makes Rick and Morty great. Its premise is ridiculously clever, with the Smith household invaded by an alien parasite that takes root in the hosts’ memories. It features a terrific slate of one-off side characters, from Hamurai to Sleepy Gary to Photography Raptor. And it quickly veers from amusement to crushing emotional drama as the Smiths feel the full impact of their memories being torn to shreds. But compared to Mr. Poopybutthole, they got off light.
Which Rick and Morty episode is your favorite? Did we make any glaring oversights in our list? Weigh in below!