Adult Swim’s monster hit Rick and Morty is known for its hilarious burp-filled punchlines and raunchy sci-fi humor, but its art design is an underappreciated area where the show really shines. Whether it’s a chaotic new setting or a shot filled with dozens of intricate characters, Rick and Morty offers enough brilliant depth to entice even the most haughty of mega-fans.
The animation on the show might not be as refined as some other series, but the visual humor presented often matches the dialogue in terms of intelligence and wit. Every level of Rick and Morty’s production, from its music to its varied character designs, conveys a sense of thoughtful deliberation that’s contributed to making the show the #1 comedy on television. The framing and level of detail has played a huge part in making that happen.
Rick and Morty might be known for its surprise season premieres and Szechuan sauce controversies than for its animation, but the brilliant series delivers stunning imagery just as often as it delivers a funny new way for Rick to insult Jerry.
In order of increasing quality, here are the 14 best — and in many cases, the most iconic — frames from Rick and Morty ever.
14. Rick and Morty Bury Their Own Bodies in the Backyard
This wouldn’t be a comprehensive list without including this stand-out moment from the series, which is also Rick and Morty at its most fucked-up. The blood-soaked garage shot moments before this scene might be more jarring and impressive from an artistic standpoint, but these graves represent a visual motif for the series at large. Morty references the graves several times throughout the series, and in the Season 3 premiere, he and Summer even dig the bodies up.
13. Rick and Morty “Get Schwifty”
The last inclusion out of necessity. This frame from “Get Schwifty” is one of the most iconic to come out of the show, even if that episode is one of the show’s worst.
12. Pickle Rick Goes to Therapy
When Rick finally makes his way to therapy in “Pickle Rick,” it’s because he’s nearly dead. There’s just something about seeing a tiny pickle augmented by rat body parts sitting in a big, puffy chair while talking to Susan Sarandon’s serene Dr. Wong that strikes you as more ridiculous than usual for Rick and Morty.
When Rick has Morty roll the pickle on the workbench over for the “big reveal!” it’s pretty iconic. But that lesser version of Pickle Rick isn’t the full blown brutal monstrosity that totally shook the world of Rick and Morty with his ultra violence. Here, at the end of the episode, Rick delivers an important monologue about his frustrations with therapy, but we also get a full look at the Frankensteined mecha armor he built for his little briny body. It’s mostly stray rat body parts, and here, it’s a total mess — just like Rick himself.
11. 14-Year-Old Morty Successfully Woos an Adult Woman at a Bar
Morty without the toxic parts of his consciousness comes off as pretty unsettling, but watching him spit mad game with a stranger drinking alone at the bar is pretty great. Just seeing Morty hit on an adult women without getting even remotely anxious is bizarre enough that it strikes us as visually comical.
10. Cornvelious Daniel Enjoying Some Sweet Szechuan Sauce
Nathan be fillion’s tendrils quiver in arousal over the McDonald’s Szechuan sauce, which is that much funnier months after the Season 3 premiere when people are still obsessed with the stuff despite the fact that the vast majority of Rick and Morty fans have never consumed it. The scene itself is a total fakeout, a memory Rick created to trick Cornvelious Daniel and the Galactic Federation. Everything inside Rick’s “memories” is colored with the purple sky, and you can even see what must synapses in Rick’s brain. Were we to actually travel through memories, would this be what they’d look like?
9. Beth Living Her Best — Or Worst — Life by Totally Crushing Tons of Wine
There’s nothing more “Beth” than guzzling lots of red wine. It’s her emotional crutch when things get tough. Here, while entranced by watching alternate reality versions of herself via the interdimensional goggles, she gets sauced on copious amounts of the stuff.
8. When Toxic Rick Uses Ancient Runes and Black Magic in the Nether Realm
“Rest and Ricklaxation” has a lot of great imagery, whether its Non-Toxic Morty’s success in every facet of life or Non-Toxic Rick’s pleasant facial expressions, but few things startle more than the jarring scene in which Rick at his most Toxic seemingly teaches himself magic potion and wields mystical runes in the Nether Realm where Toxicity gets banished.
7. Chairs Sitting on Humans Ordering Phones Over the Pizza to Eat
We’re fairly sure we said it right. (Most people just call it “Furniture Universe.”)
It’s one thing for Rick to talk about the an infinite number of realities. We implicitly know that he can travel to any of them. But never has the show gone so deep into multiverse theory than when Rick and Morty ran through this insane universe.
6. Tattered Meeseeks Want to Die So Badly They’ll Kill For It
“Existence is pain!”
Despite every Mr. Meeseeks emerging from the Meeseeks Box an identical clone, the many Meeseeks included in “Meeseeks and Destroy” go crazy after several failed days of trying to improve Jerry’s golf game. Had the ruse gone on much longer, Jerry’s idiocy could have eventually destroyed the world. Thankfully, this fun plot gets resolved in a timely fashion, and the visual spectacle of an army of Meeseeks all fighting each other in the Smith home is only outdone by this final sequence in the kitchen of a local restaurant.
5. The Parasites Almost Win in “Total Rickall”
Just imagine how long it took to fill this single frame from Rick and Morty. The entire family is there, along with central characters to the episode like Mr. Poopybutthole and Sleepy Gary, but the dozens of other unique and increasingly bizarre characters all have so much detail.
“Total Rickall” is one of the best episodes ever, partially because of the visual intricacies in scenes like this one. Each character is crazier than the last.
4. Beth Shares an Intimate Wine Date With Her Meeseeks
An existentially confused woman needs to talk out her feelings of frustration, yet rather than confide in a close friend like we might expect, her companion also sipping white wine on some gorgeous looking patio is an awkward, gangly Meeseeks that shrieks sound advice at her. The tone of the scene is ultra-serious, which makes it that much funnier when Meeseeks completes his task and vanishes in a puff of smoke.
3. Everything About Mr. Poopybutthole’s Big Debut
Moments after Rick kills “Uncle Steve” and reveals that he was actually a disgusting parasite, he says, “We could be infested with these things, so we have to be on the lookout for any wacky, zany characters that pop up.” We can see purple blood on the wall as Rick reloads his blaster pistol, and we hear Mr. Poopybutthole’s beloved “Ooo-wee!” before this wacky, zany character pops up out of nowhere. “Thanks, Mr. Poopybutthole,” Rick says before the credits role. “I always could count on you.”
This is perhaps the single greatest moment of visual humor in the show’s history, made that much better when among the chaotic myriad of parasitic characters in “Total Rickall,” Mr. Poopybutthole is the only one that’s real — and Beth shoots him.
2. Rick and Morty Look Out Over the Cronenberged Reality
Few episodes impacted the universe of Rick and Morty more than “Rick Potion #9” in which a botched love potion basically destroyed the world. Rick and Morty had to migrate to a new universe, but in this one oft-forgotten shot, they survey the destruction they caused before taking off. It’s total chaos. And it’s totally awesome.
1. Rick Just Pooped Everywhere to Spite the Vindicators
In one is Season 3’s best episodes, Rick plays Jigsaw villain to a dumb assortment of galactic superheroes, but before things get truly crazy, Rick goes on an all-night bender. They find him at the command center, passed out and covered in his own diarrhea. It’s disgusting, insane, and utterly hilarious. The character designs on the Vindicators and everything else in this episode are great, but the composition in this frame is something else.
How many times have we heard Rick call Morty a “piece of shit” in some fashion? And here, through careful composition, Morty’s frame emerges out of Rick’s butt.
Rick and Morty doesn’t get any Ricker than this.
If you liked this article, check out this video on how to write an episode of Rick and Morty.