15 Best Rick And Morty Episodes, Ranked

Rick and Morty and their family members battling aliens
(Image credit: Adult Swim)

Who would have believed that an animated series from the creator of Community that initially looked like a crude Back to the Future rip-off would go down in history as one of the best sci-fi TV shows in recent memory? Such has turned out to be the case for Rick and Morty since it premiered on Adult Swim in 2013.

Ranking episodes of the darkly comic, enduringly inventive hit from co-creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland (who has been replaced as the voice of both title characters) is an undertaking that not even Mr. Meeseeks could alleviate. Thus, I figured it best to base my rankings on what I found to be the most unique and memorable -- in hopes that I can trust my memories as truth, of course (wink wink). Well, without further ado, these are my picks for the top 15 Rick and Morty episodes, ranked in ascending order. 

Wubba lubba dub dub!

Rick and Morty, "Never Ricking Morty"

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

15. Never Ricking Morty (Season 4, Episode 6)

Some of the best moments of Rick and Morty – or any Dan Harmon show, for that matter – lean hard into its occasional, cheekily self-aware nature. When Season 4 returned for its second half, it dedicated an entire episode to this conceit.

“Never Ricking Morty” takes a break from the show’s main continuity to follow the main duo on a train full of enemies to Rick – most notably Paul Giamatti as “Story Lord,” who serves as one of the episode's many jabs at narrative conventions. The train itself, a “story train,” is a metaphor for the creativity that goes into a work of fiction, the tropes often associated with it, and the marketing ploys it inspires (or vice versa). The episode is capped by a direct acknowledgement of Covid-19 – a last minute addition – further solidifying it as one of series’ sharpest yet.

Rick and Morty, "Get Schwifty"

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

14. Get Schwifty (Season 2, Episode 5)

Out of all the countless parodies to reality competition shows like American Idol or America's Got Talent, I think it is safe to call this Season 2 Rick and Morty episode the clear champion. When a giant alien head forces Earth into showing him “WHAT THEY GOT” for an interplanetary singing competition, it is up to Rick and Morty to come up with a perfect hit tune as the planet’s representation.

The ridiculous premise could only come from a show like this, and thankfully so, as it gave birth to one of TV’s funniest musical moments. The performance of the title song “Get Schwifty” also marks a major highlight of Justin Roiland’s improvisational brilliance.

The personification of Rick and Morty's toxins find themselves tossed out

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

13. Rest and Ricklaxation (Season 3, Episode 6)

Known for its relentlessly dark and deeply emotional story elements, this Rick and Morty episode is a shining example. After another intergalactic adventure proves particularly exhausting for our heroes, they visit a spa that releases their inner toxins – even their behavioral toxicity – which turns out to be a bigger problem than it sounds.

While relatively light on comedy, “Rest and Ricklaxation” is one of the more thought-provoking and even tear-jerking Rick and Morty episodes, as Rick’s honest feelings for his grandson are revealed through the personification of Rick’s bad side. Its deep meditation on what defines an individual’s personality offers great evidence to the show’s complexity.

The Smiths meet Mr. Meeseeks on Rick and Morty

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

12. Meeseeks and Destroy (Season 1, Episode 5)

This episode saw the introduction of one of Ricky and Morty’s best side characters, Mr. Meeseeks – Rick’s joyful, sentient solution to any person’s problems, complete with his own catchphrase: “I’m Mr. Meeseeks. Look at me!” Of course, as per tradition with this series, nothing positive lasts very long.

First, the Smiths' lives get overrun by an overwhelming amount of Meeseeks clones, who won’t disappear until all problems they have been assigned to are solved, and then one infamous scene features Morty being sexually assaulted by a giant bean. “Meeseeks and Destroy” is a testament to how quickly a Rick and Morty episode can change its tone on a dime.

RIck and Morty, "Close Rick-counters Of The Rick Kind"

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

11. Close Rick-counters Of The Rick Kind (Season 1, Episode 10)

One of the most ingenious recurring storylines from Rick and Morty is the Citadel of Ricks, where all alternate versions of both Rick and Morty reside. The first appearance of the commune was in Season 1’s penultimate episode.

It all starts when Rick is accused by the Council of Ricks of murdering 27 other Ricks and kidnapping their Mortys, which sets off a cross-dimensional search for the real culprit. “Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind” concludes with what was, at the time, a surprisingly chilling twist that would create a lasting ripple effect of haunting suspense. 

Rick and Morty, "The Ricks Must Be Crazy"

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

10. The Ricks Must Be Crazy (Season 2, Episode 6)

For a staunch atheist, Rick has a bit of a god complex that he is reluctant to acknowledge. However, he is forced to confront it when he meets someone with the same issue, voiced by Stephen Colbert, in “The Ricks Must Be Crazy.”

When the battery in Rick’s ship dies, he reveals to Morty that it is actually powered by a “microverse” of people he created – one of which has created a “miniverse” of his own, which contains another scientist developing his own “teenyverse.” As this clever, Inception-style journey of hypocrisy and existential crises goes on, Summer (Spencer Grammer)  witnesses the ship computer’s increasingly traumatic methods of protecting her in this dazzling classic. 

Rick and Morty, "The Vat of Acid Episode"

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

9. The Vat Of Acid Episode (Season 4, Episode 8)

Among the most admirable elements of Rick and Morty are its knack for creating little pockets of intense, thought-provoking drama amid more absurdly comedic main storylines and providing a valuable lesson by bizarre means. The Emmy-winning “Vat of Acid Episode” achieves both and more gloriously.

The title refers to a fake vat of acid that Rick and Morty are forced to hide inside from gangsters – a plan that Morty disapproves of, leading Rick to create a Click-style universal remote to undo past mistakes. This, of course, leads to some very amusing and undoubtedly dark circumstances that deeply affect Morty’s relationship with his grandfather and offers a haunting exploration of the power of cause and effect.

RIck and Morty, "Mort Dinner Rick Andre

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

8. Mort Dinner Rick Andre (Season 5, Episode 1)

As this list has already shed light on, sometimes a good sign of a great Rick and Morty episode is when the side story is just as interesting, if not more interesting, than the main plot. A prime example of this is the Season 5 premiere, “Mort Dinner Rick Andre,” which starts with an intense cold open in which Morty saves himself and Rick from an impending death after landing a date with Jessica.

However, Morty’s efforts attract the attention of Rick’s nemesis, Mr. Nimbus (Dan Harmon), who comes to the Smith’s home for dinner served with wine acquired from a dimension where time works differently. That detail leads to some bizarre, action-packed, and even heartbreaking circumstances that could have filled their own movie.

Rick Sanchez in Rick and Morty

(Image credit: The CW)

7. Rickmurai Jack (Season 5, Episode 10)

Several ongoing, long-pondered storylines come to a head in the Rick and Morty Season 5 finale – which opens with a kick-ass, anime-style action sequence, which explains the episode title. Soon after, we see the end of Rick’s kinship with a pair of crows he teamed-up with in the previous episode, leading him to reunite with Morty at the Citadel, where chaos quickly ensues.

From a long-awaited explanation of Rick’s traumatic origins to the beginning of a new mystery involving Evil Morty, “Rickmurai Jack” immediately established itself as a quintessential episode. Action-packed, complex, and deeply emotional, it’s a stunning send-off to an epic season.

Rick, Morty, and Summer face "A Rickle In Time" on Rick and Morty

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

6. A Rickle In Time (Season 2, Episode 1)

The premiere episode of Rick and Morty’s sophomore season picks up right where Season 1 ended, with Jerry (Chris Parnell) and Beth (Sarah Chalke) frozen in time. After time is restarted, an argument between Summer and Morty accidentally splits their reality into disparate timelines, threatening the fabric of the space time continuum.

"A Rickle In Time" is one of the more ambitious Rick and Morty episodes, depicting the events of multiple timelines simultaneously via split screen. It gets a little confusing, but that’s part of the appeal.

Rick and Morty, "The Ricklantis Mixup"

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

5. The Ricklantis Mixup (Season 3, Episode 7)

In a clever bait and switch, the flash of this episode’s true title, “Tales from the Citadel,” revealed Rick and Morty’s Atlantis adventure to not be the show’s true plot. Instead, we get an anthology of slice-of-life tales from the Citadel of Ricks.

Featuring an intriguing role reversal that sees a hardened cop Morty partnered with a meek Rick and a terrifying payoff to the Season 1 reveal that Evil Morty is still at large, this episode is a thrilling and engrossing departure from the series’ more traditional adventures. It is yet another example of how Rick and Morty could master drama just as well as comedy.

Rick and Morty, "Total Rickall"

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

4. Total Rickall (Season 2, Episode 4)

Our story begins with the introduction of Jerry's brother, Uncle Steve, before taking a brutal surprise turn when Rick kills him, revealing that he never existed and is a product of a memory-altering parasite. Now, Rick, Morty, and the family must figure out who in their overcrowded household is real, doubting each other’s familiarity at every turn.

This is one of those Rick and Morty episodes that cleverly riffs on pop culture favorites – this time by incorporating themes of paranoia a la John Carpenter’s The Thing, which has the inclusion of actor Keith David in common with this episode. The peak of “Total Rickall’s” brilliance is the shocking reveal that Mr. Poopy Butthole, a character long suspected as an imposter, was real all along, despite never appearing in the series before.

Rick and Morty, "Rick Potion #9"

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

3. Rick Potion #9 (Season 1, Episode 6)

As a riff on the age-old tale of an adolescent going to extremely unconventional means to win the heart of their crush, Morty enlists Rick’s help in getting his classmate, Jessica (Kari Wahlgren), to go to the school dance with him. Rick’s love potion is a success, at first, until it spreads across the entire town and the antidote only makes things worse.

This Rick and Morty episode is already on fire when it becomes an apocalyptic B-movie pitting reformed badass Jerry against the “Cronenbergs” – in reference to the body horror elements from many of David Cronenberg’s best movies – but what really makes this one a classic is Rick’s disturbing solution to ditch the current reality for a new dimension, where he and Morty assume the identities of murdered alternate versions of themselves. It is one of the series’ most haunting twists and crucial to its reputation for cleverly inserting horror into its broadly comedic storylines.

RIck and Morty, "Pickle Rick"

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

2. Pickle Rick (Season 3, Episode 3)

With her marriage to Jerry at a standstill, Beth hopes to smooth things out by taking the family to therapy. To avoid attending the session, Rick temporarily transforms himself into a pickle, hence the title, “Pickle Rick.”

This of the most worshiped, meme-inspiring, and, above all, absurd Rick and Morty episodes, and Emmy voters seemed to agree. The secret is that “Pickle Rick” is more than a violent battle between a vegetized Rick and a horde of sewer rats – it is a poignant exploration of the roots of the character’s deepest insecurities.

Rick and Morty, "Rixty Minutes"

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

1. Rixty Minutes (Season 1, Episode 8)

In one of the few episodes that sees Rick and Morty not taking heat from otherworldly evil, “Rixty Minutes” is essentially a collection of random pop culture riffs within the framing device of Rick setting up the Smith’s TV with interdimensional cable. That is, until a docuseries from an alternate reality reveals what Beth and Jerry’s lives could have been had they chosen to not have Summer, inciting a deeply reflective discussion.

The reason I would credit this personal favorite of mine as the definitive Rick and Morty episode is, for one, it might be its funniest episode (the improvised Two Brothers trailer narration always cracks me up), and it shows no fear in exploring mature concepts in a dark, yet honest, manner. Not to mention, it has spawned more than a few hilariously meta sequels.

Of course, there is no right or wrong answer in deciding which Ricky and Morty episode is the best since, like I said earlier, it’s no easy task to pick a clear favorite in a show of such profound versatility and razor sharp wit. It gives you the sense that TV this good can only happen by accident.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.