Entertainment

Every Episode of 'Rick and Morty,' Ranked

rick and morty on adult swim
Rick and Morty | Adult Swim
Rick and Morty | Adult Swim
Spoilers for every season of Rick and Morty follow.

Ranking the adventures of Rick and Morty is a lot like having to rank the top Olympian sprinters of all time: On paper, first place is extraordinary, but all the other contestants, including those in last, are only a hair less remarkable.

Creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland have made it nearly impossible to resist the universe's most-wanted grandpa and his anxious-as-hell grandson-cum-sidekick, winning fans over by exposing their characters to gory horrors and painting a thought-provoking portrait of depression that rivals BoJack Horseman's. In honor of the duo's beloved hijinks -- and the long-awaited first half of Season 4 -- we've ranked every episode so far (not including the "Non-Canonical Adventures") from "worst" to best. Get riggidy riggidy wrecked on this list, son!

36. "One Crew Over the Crewcoo's Morty"

Season 4, Episode 3
Heist movies may be dumb blockbuster fare, but this episode is too clever by half. It pits Rick against Miles Knightly, a "heist artist, aka a hipster dick," but ultimately ends as a smarmy, convoluted ploy to make sure Morty focuses on classic Rick and Morty adventures. The music, animation, time tricks, and gags nodding to Ocean's Eleven, The Usual Suspects, and other heist movies all work in isolation, but the episode relies on that final twist to make up for the fact that it doesn't sell its villain, or Rick's revulsion toward heists, or the showdown against one of Rick's robots. It's tedious by the second of many heist montages, and in the final minutes Morty says out loud that they're all a literal waste of time. How's the audience supposed to feel after that?

35. "Mortynight Run"

Season 2, Episode 2
Jerry daycare. Gearsticles. Rick's peerless arsenal of who-cut-the-cheese jokes. As those highlights should indicate, this tale of Morty freeing a singing fart (Jemaine Clement) sure is chuckle-worthy. That's about it.

34. "Morty's Mind Blowers"

Season 3, Episode 8
Season 3's trippy, clip show-style riff on Rick and Morty's the Season 1 episode "Interdimensional Cable" might introduce a shocking new idea to the show: Rick's been erasing Morty's mind ever since we've known him. But that's not a spoiler, that's a character joke, and it's a real bummer that this half hour doesn't really rise above the joke in any way. There are fun gestures and sketches locked away in Rick and Morty's stored memories, but mostly they just feel like bloopers or unused one-off gags. Three seasons in, there's nothing particularly memorable or mind-blowing about that.

33. "Anatomy Park"

Season 1, Episode 3
Only Rick and Morty could stage a hysterical Jurassic Park and Fantastic Voyage parody, with John Oliver as John Hammond, inside a homeless guy, as a Christmas episode, and have it be basically... average? Nonetheless, it's better than Osmosis Jones, and it gave us the phrase "Naked Sky Santa." God bless us, everyone.

32. "The Rickchurian Mortydate"

Season 3, Episode 10
The Season 3 finale doesn't disappoint in terms of stakes or action. Rick and Morty call out POTUS for abusing their alien-busting services, and the result plays like an awkward break-up on steroids. Very fun, very familiar: essentially Rick goes toe to toe with a Big League adversary while wrestling with some aspect of the family's dynamic (mainly the return of Jerry). It's still an entertaining episode, thanks to all the gadget badassery. And the biggest saving grace, of course, is the post-credits scene with Mr. Poopybutthole's cheeky nod to Season 4. But, ultimately, given all the big moves that were made on the Beth and Evil Morty front, it lacks the emotional punch and satisfaction of the other two finales.

31. "Look Who's Purging Now"

Season 2, Episode 9
Rick: "It's a Purge planet. [These randomly Amish aliens are] peaceful, and then, you know, they just Purge."
Morty: "That's horrible!"
Rick: "Yeah... wanna check it out?"

What follows is an action-heavy parody of The Purge in which pointless Summer-Jerry conversations and over-gratuitous violence overshadow moments that want to say something meaningful about poverty and Morty's repressed rage. The distractions don't necessarily spoil the goods, though, as "Look Who's Purging Now" still plays like a mostly funny, tweaked version of Call of Duty's Nazi Zombies -- one that includes weaponized suits of armor and Tony! Toni! Toné!'s ever-cathartic "Feels Good."

30. "Lawnmower Dog"

Season 1, Episode 2
Jerry plumbs the deepest depths of his stupidity to (unsuccessfully) outwit the family's hyper-intelligent dog, Snuffles. Rick and Morty abuse Inception's matryoshka conceit to plant the seed of good math grades in Mr. Goldenfold's dreams, encountering a Krueger rip-off that says "bitch" more than Jesse Pinkman along the way. Like Jerry, "Lawnmower Dog," with all its canine tyranny and dreams within dreams, is an abundance of dumb fun.

29. "Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender"

Season 3, Episode 4
Guardians of the Galaxy meets Saw in this bloody fun episode. Rick begrudgingly lets Morty cash in his I-get-to-pick-the-10th-adventure card to help The Vindicators, a band of intergalactic superheroes, defeat some asshole named Worldender. What's set up as a literal battle royale, however, turns into an introspective battle of wits. Rick gets inebriated and sets up Jigsaw-esque traps for The Vindicators, eventually wiping them out and nearly destroying the planet. The great part of this episode is we get to see Morty continuing to learn how his grandfather ticks, and Rick continuing to become his own worst enemy. The lame part of the episode is that a lot of this so-called drama is talked about or talked through in an ultimately underwhelming way.

28. "Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate"

Season 2, Episode 8
Doing a sequel to the excellent "Rixty Minutes" (see below) was always going to be tricky, but the installment's focus on Jerry, the evergreen punching bag, makes it a blast. Hospitalized in space, publicly shamed by aliens, shot 57 times, all Jerry wants is to be liked. That pathos far outpaces the humor of the improvised cable-watching. Werner Herzog even makes an appearance, which is dandy, but hardly memorable. Somehow Jerry's penis eclipses all in a raucously flawed episode.

27. "Raising Gazorpazorp"

Season 1, Episode 7
This jam-packed romp -- which features musings on puberty, gender inequality, and Marmaduke -- comes with one solid moral and one meta slap in the face. As Morty teaches a tyrannical alien he sires that it's best to channel bloodthirsty impulses into creative outlets, Rick crumples up his subplot and throws it in the trash: "Any epiphanies about gender politics were a projection of your feminine insecurity," he tells Summer, after the two of them return from a matriarchal planet. It's a funny, but deflating closing note, one that's so classically and frustratingly Rick it hurts.

26. "Ricksy Business"

Season 1, Episode 11
If you can ignore "Ricksy Business'" dumb un-Titanic subplot, which feels like it belongs to another show entirely, this twisted Cat in the Hat-esque finale gives you rare insight into Rick's near-suicidal existential pain (the meaning of "wubbalubbadubdub" revealed!) and contains some deliciously absurd party scenes. It's a very necessary piece to the Sanchez puzzle, but not quite a top-tier stand-out.

25. "Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim's Morty"

Season 4, Episode 4
"I want my dragon!" After putting up with Rick's crazy shit, Morty finally decides to cash in on his granddad's dimension-hopping genius. The request, of course, immediately backfires, as Morty's dragon cheats on him (i.e., soul-bonds with Rick), and the episode becomes an unabashedly gross metaphor for infidelity and toxic relationships. It's a bit overplayed, but watching a Voltron-style soul orgy pwn an evil wizard is… undeniably entertaining. Pity, though, that such a fun, irreverent swing at the fantasy genre got paired with such a dead-end Jerry story. Whether the talking-cat thing is a plant for something later in the series or just a jab at over-analytical fans, it plays here like a weaker "Lawnmower Dog" that feels more like random filler than anything memorable.

24. "Rickmancing the Stone"

Season 3, Episode 2
Rick and Morty has always been a referentially dense show, but rarely do its episodes dive as deeply into a callback as this one, the show's love letter to the Mad Max franchise. "Rickmancing the Stone" crams literally hundreds of easter eggs and jokes into its frames, ticking off nods to the apocalyptic film series' protagonists, villains, setting, Max's gun, and, of course, the Thunderdome, or rather: "Uhhhhh, you mean a Blood-Dome?" It's all part of a mask to hide the fact that Morty and Summer are now children of divorce, and neither of them are coping with it healthily, but what a mask it is.

23. "Get Schwifty"

Season 2, Episode 5
Massive heads that kind of look like a younger version of Herbert from Family Guy kidnap Earth for Planet Music, a battle of the bands-esque reality game show whose losers get the Death Star treatment. Rick and Morty end up improvising two so-bad-they're-amazing songs -- "Get Schwifty!" and "Head bent over / Raised up posterior" -- to save the world, while scribe Tom Kauffman also skewers the blind faith of organized religions and gifts rapper-actor Ice-T with an extraordinary (but understandable) superpower.

22. "The Old Man and the Seat"

Season 4, Episode 2
In this episode, we learn Rick is a shy pooper -- so much so he has his own ridiculously faraway bastion of solitude. But when he discovers that a fellow shy pooper (an alien voiced by Jeffrey Wright) has used his throne without his consent, he goes to insane lengths to confront the culprit. Meanwhile, Morty and Jerry try to contain the fallout from a dating app an alien named Glootie (Taika Waititi) made while Beth tries to save Summer from a series of bad romantic decisions. The guest turns are great, but it's a lot to balance. Even when Rick's story serves us a surprisingly potent tragedy, the other subplots never get the real estate they need to amount to anything worth talking about.

21. "The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy"

Season 3, Episode 5
As fun as it is to watch the show mercilessly dunk on Jerry, this episode proves just how much of a secret weapon he actually is. Note the fact that Jerry -- the show's most pathetic audience surrogate -- enmeshes himself in a plot to murder his father-in-law after, like, 30 seconds of convincing, only to think better of it after Rick admits he didn't respect Jerry's marriage to Beth. It's barely an apology, but the whole episode speaks to just how eviscerated his self-esteem is. Nonetheless, every episode without him in season three felt hollow, because if you have a shred of a soul, you can't help but root for Jerry. It also gave us the show's trippiest, most surreal animation in the sequence where time and space and Rick, Jerry, and the alien Risotto's consciousnesses collided.

20. "Rest and Ricklaxation"

Season 3, Episode 6
Introduced on the heels of one of the series’ wildest cold opens, in which Rick and Morty escape catastrophic space destruction, this episode pits our heroes against the toxic elements of their own personalities. "Toxic Rick" and "Toxic Morty" offer potent antagonists, but the episode's cooler sequences focus on what the characters would be like without their toxicity: successful, self-actualized AF, and even less willing to play God ("It's not our place, you know, to pick and choose which world gets saved from what apocalypse"). In the end, none of that matters, of course, and we even get a fun Voltron joke.

19. "Something Ricked This Way Comes"

Season 1, Episode 9
The show is called Rick and Morty, but that doesn't mean Rick's other grandchild Summer isn't crucial. Rick and Summer bond in a real way for the first time in this episode, when Summer strikes a literal deal with the devil and Rick's response is to... get jealous and beat him at his own game. Come for the Rickedness, stay for the last 90 seconds, which objectively feature DMX's finest moments.

18. "M. Night Shaym-Aliens!"

Season 1, Episode 4
Rick and Jerry are trapped in a nesting egg of Shyamalan-esque twists, in space. It's a simple conceit that rides on a lightning combination of David Cross' hysterically delivered one-liners -- "By the way, I don't have discolored butthole flaps" -- and Rick and Jerry's still-developing antagonism -- "Why don't you ask the smartest people in the universe, Jerry? Oh, yeah. You can't. They blew up." Cue "Baker Street."

17. "Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Repeat"

Season 4, Episode 1
"Goddammit! When did this shit become the default?!" Rick laments as he gets killed over and over again in various fascist universes. Season 4's premiere was the first episode to air after a two-year hiatus, and it came with both political undertones -- fascist dystopias; AI Rick holograms picketing; Morty threatening humanity as a cyborg mass murderer -- and a new set of rules for Rick. Beth stops him at the beginning of the episode and forces him to ask Morty (with a please!) to go on an adventure with him, instead of dragging him away. This status quo shift follows the end of Season 3 and defines their dynamic moving forward, but it doesn't stop Morty from making some trouble by pocketing crystals that show the boy how he will die.

16. "Big Trouble in Little Sanchez"

Season 2, Episode 7
Beth and Jerry's monstrous attempt at marital therapy is one of the best, if not the best and most intriguing, non-Rick subplots in the series. The only problem is it has to go up against one of the most giddily enjoyable Rick stories -- him sending his consciousness into a tiny clone to help his grandkids kill vampires -- making the episode an embarrassment of riches, one that might even be a tad overstuffed, with Summer's love life and the effed-up nature of ignoring depressed art as a cry for help also in the mix. (Side note: That more Tiny Rick merch hasn't been made is a crime. Sure, he's kind of evil, but dammit, he's iconic.)

15. "The ABC's of Beth"

Season 3, Episode 9
We went almost three full seasons without an episode devoted to Beth, matriarch of Rick and Morty, spawn of the multiverse's smartest bastard, but damn, did the show deliver. Violent deeds done in Froopyland, a universe Rick engineered to give Beth a safe place to play as a child, reveal her character to be one operating on the same impulses as her father. What's more, a poignant talk with Rick reveals that it's something he knows all too well. Ultimately, he gives Beth the freedom to get out of it -- all of it -- and her decision is some of Rick and Morty's best theory fodder yet.

14. "Pilot"

Season 1, Episode 1
Excepting a tragic grappling shoes snafu, the Rick and Morty pilot is more impressive than memorable -- sad because, really, it's a damn impressive pilot. Rick establishes his lovingly abusive relationship with his grandson in hilarious fashion, as a super-selfish trip to Dimension 35C, where mega trees that provide knowledge-gifting seeds, unfolds. Best: All the other main characters are introduced in a way that doesn't feel like you're watching a boring this-is-what-this-show-is-also-going-to-be-about exposition dump.

13. "The Ricks Must Be Crazy"

Season 2, Episode 6
When Rick shrinks down with Morty to fix his ship's micro-verse battery, he meets his arrogant match in the form of another scientist (voiced brilliantly by Stephen Colbert), who, like Rick, has no qualms with giving authority the finger. "The Ricks Must Be Crazy" is another dense nesting story, one that deals with selfishness, slavery, and accepting one's existence; in terms of humanity, it's not one of Rick's more admirable outings -- but that's exactly why fans of the show's more twisted comedic bits will love this one. (Sorry, Summer -- forever safe, but forever scarred.)

12. "Meeseeks and Destroy"

Season 1, Episode 5
Plenty to love in this episode, like Rick taking righteous vengeance for Morty against a would-be rapist and Beth and Jerry's (rare) happy ending, and the sheer inventiveness of Mr. Meeseeks -- a being that refuses to disappear before it's solved a task for you. Moreover, in Meeseeks, Justin Roiland reaches uncharted territory in infuriating voice acting. Just listen, and be horrified.

11. "Rattlestar Ricklactica"

Season 4, Episode 5
When Morty inadvertently violates the Prime Directive on a planet full of motherfucking snakes, hell ensues in the form of countless Terminator-like, time-traveling assassin snakes who come after the family. The B-plot sends Jerry across the skies when he gets hit with a ray that makes him lighter than air, and the whole episode beats like a tightly wound drum. This is the strongest of Season 4's first set of episodes, thanks to its batshit plot and fast-paced action animation.

10. "The Ricklantis Mixup"

Season 3, Episode 7
It's nice to deviate from expectations once in a while. "The Ricklantis Mixup" is a hilarious bait-and-switch, teasing an awesome Atlantis adventure and instead taking us inside a rebuilt Citadel of Ricks, where it's election season, and a Morty is running president for the first time. Ever since "Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind," when we last saw Evil Morty, it's been hard not to speculate over his end game. Thanks to "The Ricklantis Mixup," the picture became a little clearer, while still leaving room for yet more theories and cementing the vengeful little guy as the saga's most compelling (and dangerous) adversary. Here's hoping we don't have to wait another two seasons to see his next chess move. 

9. "Pickle Rick"

Season 3, Episode 3
It's PICKLE RICK! You know, Rick's ploy to duck out of family therapy by turning himself into a pickle. How did the Rick and Morty writers come up with 23 seemingly random minutes that manage to be just as funny ("How long have you all been eating poop?"), action-packed (a pickle channels Gal Gadot), and deep (shout-out to Dr. Wong's spiel about therapy being analogous to maintenance) as many of the blockbusters that've come out this summer? We don't know. But believe us when we say an episode with a super-silly title becomes a tale of survival on -- boom, big reveal -- more levels than one. It's impressive and satisfying as hell.

8. "Rick Potion #9"

Season 1, Episode 6
Every episode that aired before this one twisted and writhed like a worm in this entry's final minutes. Set up as a run-of-the-mill Rick and Morty adventure of the week gone haywire, Morty brainwashes everyone to like him. Rick's solution to that problem would radically shift any other show without the world-building infrastructure Rick and Morty carries in its arsenal. Instead, it's perfect, and sad, and deeply, darkly hysterical.

7. "Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind"

Season 1, Episode 10
There's something touching to the idea that, no matter what universe you're in, every Rick must have a Morty, and this episode runs over that sentiment with a bullet train over a Blonde Redhead song. A rogue Rick from another universe is slaying all the other Ricks and kidnapping their Mortys, and our titular Rick and Morty need to stop him. What they discover is a horror show.

6. "Auto Erotic Assimilation"

Season 2, Episode 3
One of the series' finest, for reasons that sit in your throat like a lump of black coal. This is what happens when Rick gets back together with his ex, and that ex happens to be an alien hive mind voiced by Christina Hendricks and modeled after Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Past the swearing, drugs, and stadium-sized orgies, it puts Rick's excesses into perspective. The only problem the genius can't solve is himself. 

5. "A Rickle in Time"

Season 2, Episode 1
This episode guest stars Keegan-Michael Key as "Fourth-Dimensional Testicle Monster" and Jordan Peele as "Second Fourth-Dimensional Testicle Monster," and that's probably the least surprising thing about it. The Season 2 premiere is a dense, (literally) multi-layered exercise that pits multiple versions of Rick, Morty, and Summer against each other as they phase in and out of their reality. At one point, dozens of different versions of the trio are mashed up against each other Brady Bunch-style -- all attempting to fix reality at once. Roiland and Harmon later said they "fucking hated" the episode for the production difficulties it presented, but no reality exists where it wasn't worth it.

4. "The Wedding Squanchers"

Season 2, Episode 10
Tammy and Bird Person get married here, but their wedding turns into a Galactic Federation sting -- also, an opportunity for Rick to sacrifice himself for the good of his family. On multiple fronts, it's a surprising episode, one that has the power to teach you something about unconditional love and to flip your impressions of Rick and his selflessness upside down. Squanch about that, broh.

3. "The Rickshank Redemption"

Season 3, Episode 1
The Season 3 premiere finds Rick breaking out of Galactic prison to reclaim his family. Using a modified Brainalyzer, the smartest man in the universe annihilates his captors, the Council of Ricks, and the Galactic government in no more than 20 minutes, returning home to find Jerry giving Beth an ultimatum: Rick, a parasite, leaves... or I, a good guy, leave. Well?

Ricky aims his response to the break-up at Morty: "We've got adventures to go on, Morty. Just you and me. And sometimes your sister. And sometimes your mom, but never your dad. You wanna know why, Morty? Because he crossed me. Welcome to the darkest year of our adventures. First thing that's different: No more Dad, Morty. He threatened to turn me into the government, so I made him and the government go away. I've replaced them both as the de facto patriarch of your family and your universe. Your mom wouldn't have accepted me if I came home without you and your sister. So now you know the real reason I rescued you: I just took over the family, Morty."

Did Rick really turn himself in at the end of Season 2 just so he could dismantle the Galactic government? Does he really want to become Morty's main male influence? Or is this all a ploy to get more of McDonald's delicious Szechuan teriyaki dipping sauce, Rick's one-armed man, his nine-season goal? Probably all of these and none of these, because Rick's an untrustworthy, unpredictable madman. And this is Rick at his most brutal and cunning. Our sociopathic hero, our unfeeling emissary of delicious depravity, is back, darker than ever. Touching, hilarious, subversive, this episode undoes the poignant brilliance of the Season 2 finale with just as much, if not more, heft and fun. It's a true masterclass in how to start a season with a bang.

2. "Total Rickall"

Season 2, Episode 4
If the show works best when it introduces a concept and sees it through to its (il)logical conclusion with respect to its cast's manic personalities, this is a perfect episode. It balances mountains of trauma with a rollicking science-fiction bloodbath and all the cylinders fire. Jerry is reminded of his loserdom; Beth is taken to task for her poor choices, Summer continues to be traumatized and play second fiddle to Morty; Morty deduces the truth behind the villain; and Rick remains acerbic when he's not borderline suicidal. Also, the episode ends on a cruel final knife twist into the family's hearts, but don't forget the emotional acrobatics they pulled to get to that point. They'll be haunted well into Season 3 and beyond.

1. "Rixty Minutes"

Season 1, Episode 8
This is Rick and Morty's "Battle of the Bastards." Almost entirely improvised, it's constructed around the characters sitting down to watch TV shows from other dimensions, and also reveals two of the series' most consequential deaths, exposes the pathological core of Beth and Jerry's relationship, and hits you over and over and over again with relentless, ruthlessly funny commercial spoofs. The madness of it all methodically comes together in Morty's lines to Summer, "Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody is going to die… Come watch TV?"

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Sean Fitz-Gerald and Eric Vilas-Boas are contributors to Thrillist. Find them on Twitter: @srkfitzgerald and @e_vb_.