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.
Over the course of two seasons, creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland have made it nearly impossible to resist the universe's most wanted blue-haired grandpa and his anxious-as-hell grandson-cum-sidekick. So in honor of the duo's saga -- and the fact that every episode is now streamable on Hulu -- we've ranked all 21 episodes so far (except for the "Non-Canonical Adventures") from "worst" to best. Get riggidy riggidy wrecked on this list, son!
21. "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.
20. "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 a better Osmosis Jones than that film could have ever hoped to be, and it gave us the phrase "Naked Sky Santa." God bless us, everyone.
19. "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 Purge parody in which pointless Summer Jerry conversations and over-gratuitous violence overshadow moments that want to say something meaningful about systematic 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 version of Call of Duty's Nazi Zombies, complete with weaponized suits of armor and Tony! Toni! Toné!'s ever-cathartic "Feels Good."
18. "Lawnmower Dog"
Season 1, Episode 2
Wannabe patriarch Jerry plumbs the deepest depths of his stupidity to (unsuccessfully) outwit the family's hyper-intelligent dog, Snuffles, while Rick and Morty abuse Inception's matryoshka conceit to plant the seed of good Morty 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 purely dumb fun.
17. "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 this entry'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.
16. "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.
15. "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-style finale gives you rare insight into Rick's near-suicidal existential pain. Deliciously absurd party scenes aside, it explains the sad meaning of "wubbalubbadubdub" and poignantly paves the way for Season 2.
14. "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.
13. "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.
12. "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."
11. "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.)
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.
9. "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.)
8. "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.
7. "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.
6. "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.
5. "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.
4. "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.
3. "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.
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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