15 Best Rick and Morty Episodes

With 5 seasons, 51 episodes, and no end in sight, Rick and Morty is a dominant force in pop-culture. Here are its 15 best episodes so far.

Rick and Morty - The Vat of Acid Episode
Photo: Adult Swim

This article contains spoilers for Rick and Morty seasons 1-5.

After nine years, five seasons, and fifty-one episodes, Rick and Morty shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Even with season 6 hitting our screens and seasons 7 and 8 on the horizon, co-creator Dan Harmon has mentioned that he’d love to see the series hit 1000 episodes during its run. While we wait for the adventures of Rick and Morty to continue, we decided to take a look back at the episodes from the last five seasons to determine which are the best of the best. This was no easy feat, as there are many fantastic episodes to choose from and very few duds. Just because an episode is not on this list doesn’t mean it isn’t thoroughly enjoyable! 

Here are the 15 best episodes of Rick and Morty so far:

Rick and Morty wear alien gas masks.

15. Season 4 Episode 7: Promortyus

“Promortyus” is an homage to the Alien franchise with a classic Rick and Morty spin. After detaching from the face-hugging aliens that were using their bodies as hosts, Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland) discover that this race, the Glorzo, have used Rick’s technology to advance their society. In typical Rick fashion, they destroy the society first and ask questions later – leaving the asteroid home of the Glorzo in ruins behind them.

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Upon returning home, they realize that Summer (Spencer Grammer) was in fact with them, and they left her with whatever is left of the Glorzo. It turns out that when the three of them first arrived on the asteroid and found the Glorzo eggs, Summer was spared because she had a toothpick in her mouth (if only the crew of the Nostromo had been so wise). They go back to rescue Summer and discover that not only is she the one who inspired the Glorzo to industrialize and evolve beyond their short “find a host, shit an egg” life span, but she is also revered as a God among them.

While this episode may not be as memorable as others on this list, it is a solid tribute to classic sci-fi and a reminder that Summer is a lot smarter and more resourceful than she’s often given credit for. 

Little Rick goes to high school.

14. Season 2 Episode 7: Big Trouble in Little Sanchez

This season 2 episode sees Rick transfer his consciousness into a teen version of himself as a convoluted way to spend more time with Summer and Morty. Because of course Rick could never just outright admit that he enjoys spending quality time with his grandkids, there has to be a reason that coincidentally allows him to show how smart he is. In this case, Rick starts this journey because Summer and Morty believe that their gym teacher, Coach Feratu, is a vampire. While that subplot wraps up rather quickly, Rick keeps finding excuses to stay as Tiny Rick. As his true form starts to decay in the vat his body is kept in, Tiny Rick does what most youths do and uses music to convey his existential dilemma – does he stay in this form and continue to feel the excitement of his newfound youth, or does he return to his true form and the responsibilities that come with it?

Meanwhile, Beth (Sarah Chalke) and Jerry (Chris Parnell) are trying intergalactic couples therapy to help with their marriage issues. This facility creates physical manifestations of how couples see each other, and it turns out that Beth and Jerry’s toxic perceptions of each other are strong enough to attempt a planet takeover. But this isn’t just another opportunity to poke fun at how useless Jerry is (although the fact that Beth sees him as a codependent worm is pretty hilarious). Ultimately, this B plot gives us insight into their relationship and reminds us that the person we’ve created in our head isn’t always the same as the person in front of us.

A business Morty reads the newspaper about the latest election at the Citadel.

13. Season 3 Episode 7: The Ricklantis Mixup

We first see a small glimpse of the Citadel of Ricks in the season 1 episode “Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind,” but it isn’t until season 3 that we finally get a true look at how this society, made up entirely of Ricks and Mortys from different dimensions, operates. In this episode we see a presidential campaign with a Morty as the shocking frontrunner, a fresh-faced Rick become the partner of a jaded Cop Morty, a group of Mortys in a coming-of-age story reminiscent of Stand by Me, and a bitter Rick taking the Simple Rick’s wafer factory hostage after being passed over for a promotion.

Not only does this episode show us just how dysfunctional a society made up entirely of Rick and Morty is, but it also shows us what happens to the Evil Morty we meet in the same season 1 episode that introduces the Citadel. Even though Rick and Morty’s primarily episodic format works really well for the show, it’s always nice to see little threads that connect across seasons, especially in an episode not focused on the primary Rick and Morty that we usually see.

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Long-haired Rick and Birdperson do battle in a flashback.

12. Season 5 Episode 8: Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort

This season 5 episode gives us a rare look into Rick’s past and his relationship with Birdperson (Dan Harmon) as Rick tries to undo the brainwashing that turned his friend into a vengeful weapon of the Galactic Federation. In order to bring his friend back, Rick has to enter Birdperson’s mind and memories Inception-style. While there, Rick is confronted with literal visions of his past and how Birdperson remembers their time together (not all of it flattering). Once he finally fights his way to Birdperson’s true essence, it’s the reveal of a child he unknowingly had with Tammy (Cassie Steele) that brings his consciousness back. What starts as another ploy from Rick to avoid family therapy turns into a surprisingly emotional journey that reminds us that Rick still has a heart underneath his condescending and often uncaring facade.

Morty and Rick endure some acid rain in their ship.

11. Season 5 Episode 3: A Rickconvenient Mort

In this episode, we see Morty once again try, and fail, to find love. This time, he falls for the superhero Planetina (Allison Brie), who can only be summoned with the power of four elemental rings. Unfortunately for Morty, the rings start off in the possession of greedy adults who not only want to sell merchandise, but also Planetina herself to the highest bidder. But as we all know well by season 5, Morty is willing to do almost anything for a woman. He kills her former owners and future buyer, obtaining the rings for himself and freeing Planetina from their grasp. What Morty doesn’t realize, however, is that he also frees Planetina to go on a murderous rampage in the name of protecting the planet. As we’ve established, there are a lot of things that Morty will do for love, but murdering a bunch of coal miners isn’t one of them.

Meanwhile, Summer and Rick attempt some family bonding by traveling to dying planets and joining their end-of-the-world parties and escaping before the apocalypse hits. As weird as it may seem for this never-ending debauchery to be their bonding event of choice between a grandfather and granddaughter, their fun doesn’t last long. What is supposed to be a fun time free of responsibilities and attachments changes after Rick saves Daphne (Jennifer Coolidge) from her dying planet because she professes her love for him. In a classic Rick move of pettiness, Summer ends their fun by saving one of the dying planets and proving that Daphne was just interested in Rick to save her own life.

Anatomy Park on Rick and Morty

10. Season 1 Episode 3: Anatomy Park

Desperate to celebrate a normal human holiday, Jerry spends a lot of this episode trying to create the perfect Christmas celebration with his family. However, as with most things in the Sanchez-Smith family, this Christmas is far from normal. 

We finally meet Jerry’s parents, their “friend” Jacob, and learn details of their intimate relationship. But as hilarious as it is to see Jerry’s clear discomfort at his parents’ fluid sex life, it is far from the best part of this episode. While Jerry is doing his best to salvage the holiday, Rick sends Morty into the body of Reuben, a homeless man inside whom Rick has built an amusement park. Reuben’s various illnesses have threatened the structural integrity of Anatomy Park, and Morty, along with other employees of the park, have to fight for survival after Reuben dies and monstrous forms of different diseases grow closer.

This episode includes Jurassic Park references, Morty trying way too hard to capture a girl’s attention, and a giant naked Santa floating and eventually exploding over the U.S. Why would you want to spend the holidays any other way?

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Rick and Morty in a vat of acid in the Vat of Acid Episode

9.  Season 4 Episode 8: The Vat of Acid Episode

The best part of “The Vat of Acid Episode” isn’t Rick’s ridiculous obsession with faking his death in a vat of liquid that looks like acid, but rather a monologue that involves Morty and what is probably his most meaningful romantic relationship thus far. After a ruse involving diamonds and a fake vat of acid leaves Morty frustrated, he goads Rick into creating a remote that will allow him to effectively “save” his place in real life and return to that point if he makes a mistake, like in a video game. 

At first, Morty uses this as you probably expect he would – going into the girls’ locker room at school, flirting with Jessica, going into a strip club, etc. But after he meets and falls in love with this girl, things change for Morty. We see their relationship evolve through a montage, including a plane crash into snowy mountains that almost kills them both. And yet, Morty makes it through this moment without using the remote for a do-over. They both survive, but Jerry being his normal clueless self uses the remote and sends Morty back to before they met. He tries to reintroduce himself and tell her about their relationship, but she rightfully freaks out and he loses her forever. 

This episode sees Morty more vulnerable and happy than we’ve ever really seen him before or since, and we see Rick at arguably his most cruel when he reveals the truth of the remote to Morty. And this is all because Morty dared show disdain toward one of Rick’s plans. 

The Vindicators on Rick and Morty

8. Season 3 Episode 4: Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender

In true Rick and Morty fashion, this season 3 episode drops us into the middle of a superhero story without much context or backstory, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. Rick and Morty are called to join the Vindicators, for what they think is the second assembling of this superhero team, but after Rick makes no effort to hide his contempt toward the team, they reveal that they met up previously without them. 

The next day, they still team up to fight the villainous Worldender, but it turns out that Drunk Rick already defeated him the night before and also happened to prepare a series of elaborate traps that would make Jigsaw proud. These traps tear the team apart, both literally and emotionally, while Morty tries to translate Drunk Rick’s thinking and keep them alive.

This episode shows us the lengths that Rick will go to to prove a point and also how shitty Rick can be to Morty. These were Morty’s heroes and instead of just going along with the mission, he goes above and beyond to make sure Morty knows how awful their teammates really are because he’s jealous. We also get to meet the adorable Noob Noob, the only member of the Vindicators that Rick actually likes, who gets his own song performed by Logic.

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Pickle Rick

7. Season 3 Episode 3: Pickle Rick

Arguably one of the most well-known episodes of Rick and Morty, “Pickle Rick” sees Rick literally turn himself into a sentient pickle to avoid going to family therapy. After he insists that the liquid-filled syringe attached to a timer set for ten minutes after his family leaves is purely coincidental, Beth calls his bluff and takes the syringe with her to therapy. 

Chaos ensues as Pickle Rick is pawed from his work bench and thrust out into the world by a terrified cat. After fashioning arms and legs from the bodies of dead rats and cockroaches in the sewers, Pickle Rick finds himself in a secret facility whose leader wants him dead. Pickle Rick then has to fight to escape, and becomes a John Wick-esque legend in the process. 

A whole bunch of Mr. Meseeks attacking one another.

6. Season 1 Episode 5: Meeseeks and Destroy

Jerry’s incompetence enrages an entriely new species in this season 1 episode. Rick introduces Jerry, Beth, and Summer to the Meeseeks box – a box that summons creatures called Mr. Meeseeks whose purpose is to help a person with a task and then immediately vanish from existence. The Meeseeks are able to help Beth and Summer with their seemingly complicated tasks of finding self-worth and becoming popular, respectively, but helping Jerry take two strokes off his golf game proves to be so much of a challenge that an army of Meeseeks are summoned to help him with this task.

Meanwhile, Morty finally gets to choose his own adventure. However, the fantasy land he chose is a lot more complicated than he expected. Between being charged for murder in giant court and fending off the pervy Jelly Bean King, Morty ends the trip feeling worse than he started. While the Meeseeks dealing with Jerry are absolutely the best part of the episode, the fantasy adventure plot line gives us a rare and early glimpse at the lengths that Rick will go to to protect those he cares about (because he does, surprisingly, actually care about others), which in this case includes killing the Jelly Bean King without hesitation. 

Jerry checks into an intergalactic hospital on Rick and Morty

5. Season 2 Episode 8: Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate

Not only does this episode feature the return of Interdimensional Cable, but we also get to see Jerry fight to save his penis. After accidentally ingesting an alien bacteria that Rick stored in a pint of ice cream, Jerry is sent to an alien hospital to recover. While there, it is discovered that his penis is the perfect replacement for the heart of the galaxy’s most influential civil rights leader, Shrimply Pibbles.

Meanwhile, Rick connects the waiting room TV to his Interdimensional Cable box and we get to see even more absurd programming from a variety of universes. Some of my personal favorites are:

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  • Personal Space: Where the host is eager to show us just how much he loves his personal space
  • How to Make A Plumbus: We still have no idea what a plumbus is or what it does, but at least we know how to make one
  • Eyeholes: An advertisement for Eyehole cereal with its possessive mascot Eyehole Man, who will attack if you even think about touching his Eyeholes.

This combination of absurd storylines has no real purpose other than to be as weird as possible, and that’s why it’s so good. It’s the perfect palate cleanser before watching season 2’s heavier final episodes that include the purging planet and the wedding of Tammy and Birdperson.

Beth and Rick enjoy some beers.

4. Season 4 Episode 10: Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerry

Season 4 of Rick and Morty is one of the best so far, and the season finale “Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerry” is a solid ending to an almost perfect season. This episode begins by confirming that Rick did in fact create a clone of Beth in the season 3 episode “The ABC’s of Beth,” and shows us just how much of a badass Beth can be. During her fight against the resurgence of the Galactic Federation, she discovers a proximity-triggered device in her neck. Thinking that it’s Rick’s way of preventing her return, she has it removed and returns home to confront him.

Rick tells this version of Beth that the device was meant to transfer memories from the clone Beth to the “real” Beth upon her return, but it’s also revealed that he has no idea which version of Beth is the clone. Before they can truly dive into how messed up this is, the Galactic Federation appears ready to destroy Earth with their new and improved planet destroyer.

Meanwhile, Morty and Summer fight over Rick’s invisibility belt. While their hijinks begins as most sibling rivalries do with them fighting over the belt and how to use it, in the end they have to work together and share the belt to help defeat the Federation. This arc shows how well they work together despite their sibling-level hatred for each other, and also paves the way for what I would argue is the best post-credit scene in the entire series (good luck getting the “Invisible Garbage Truck Jerry” theme song out of your head).

The episode has plenty of belly-laugh moments, as most good Rick and Morty episodes do, but it’s the unexpected emotional gut punches that truly make this episode stand out.

Rick and Morty Season 1 Episode 4: M. Night Shaym-Aliens!

3. Season 1 Episode 4: M. Night Shaym-Aliens!

This surprise Rick and Jerry adventure takes place in a computer simulation created by the Zigerions, alien scam artists who are after Rick’s recipe for concentrated Dark Matter. Jerry was accidentally kidnapped with Rick, but unlike his father-in-law doesn’t realize he’s in a simulation. Instead, he thinks that he’s an advertising God when his slogan “Hungry for Apples?” wins him an award.

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As Rick moves through the different levels of the simulation to find reality, Jerry’s section continues to operate at minimum capacity, causing glitches that make it glaringly obvious that this isn’t the real world. Eventually, Rick gives them a fake recipe and they escape with the Zigerion ship exploding behind them. 

“M. Night Shaym-Aliens!” is a fairly simple episode of Rick and Morty, but that’s part of why it’s so high on the list. It shows early on in the series’ run that it can turn even the most basic stories into an incredibly entertaining half hour of television. This episode also leads to Jerry’s unemployment (he tries to pitch “Hungry for Apples?” in the real world without success) an event that strains his relationship with Beth and the rest of the family in later episodes and seasons.

A big "splash page" of kooky characters from Rick and Morty "Total Rickall"

2. Season 2 Episode 4: Total Rickall

After telepathic parasites infiltrate the Smith-Sanchez house, the family has to determine which of the zany characters that appear are real and which are the parasites in disguise. The parasites multiply by inducing flashbacks of happy memories with loved ones that don’t actually exist.

This episode gives us wonderfully hilarious scenes including the family’s trip to see Hulk: The Musical, Summer and Tinkles friendship song, Rick becoming obsessed with buying and flipping Nintendo DS’s, and Jerry and Sleepy Gary’s secret affair. “Total Rickcall” is a riff on the classic flashback episode that sitcoms like Friends have, except in this case these events never actually happened. While this isn’t the weirdest episode of Rick and Morty, it’s clear that the writers had a great time coming up with characters that progressively get weirder and weirder. And to make things even better, we get to meet Mr. Poopybutthole for the first time, who is a great guy and surprisingly not a parasite.

Rick and Morty don crude snake costumes.

1. Season 4 Episode 5: Rattlestar Ricklactica

Like many Rick and Morty episodes, “Rattlestar Ricklacta” has a bunch of weird plotlines that don’t seem like they should work together, but incredibly they do. Morty inadvertently starts a Terminator-esque time-war with a planet of snakes. He shows them proof of life on other planets when he replaces the astronaut that bit him in space with a pet store snake from Earth, and somehow that translates to snake-Skynet and snake-Terminators seeking revenge.

While Rick and Morty try to undo his mistake and stop the onslaught of vengeful snakes from time-warping onto their lawn, Jerry’s incompetence hits an all-time high when he loses his shoe and starts to float away. Rick makes him neutrally buoyant for 10 hours so that he can put up Christmas Lights without dying, but his safety relies on his ability to keep both shoes on his feet, which for Jerry proves to be an impossible feat. 

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To top it off, Summer becomes briefly obsessed with snake jazz and it’s hard to blame her, because even though the snakes’ time travel laws are incredibly messy, their music kind of slaps. 

This episode is number one because it’s almost impossible to watch it and not have a good time. Between Morty’s guilt creating snake Terminators and a convoluted timeline, no one believing in Jerry’s ability to put up lights on his own or wear shoes like a normal person, the holiday vibes, and the music, this episode has almost everything you could ask for.