Since the debut of Rick and Morty in December 2013, a total of 36 episodes have aired on Adult Swim, offering a myriad of sci-fi stories that dabble in action, horror, and even fantasy. The nihilistic, dark humor depresses as often as it delights, and even the worst Rick and Morty episodes have enough laughs to keep anyone entertained.
Despite being mostly procedural in nature — especially in how it subverts the Hero’s Journey with story circles — Rick and Morty does occasionally offer more serialized drama and stakes with lasting impact beyond the end of each episode. It’s no wonder these episodes tend to be some of the very best, whereas the more gimmicky “adventure of the week” episodes are often more forgettable.
I originally ranked every Rick and Morty episode after Season 3 finished airing in October 2017, but now that the first half of Season 4 has come and gone, I thought it best to update that ranking to include Episodes 1 through 5.
Here’s the definitive ranking of every Rick and Morty episode ever… again:
36. “Raising Gazorpazorp” (1.7)
Nobody wants to listen to a young teenager make love to an alien sex doll, and I still hate the joke about Morty and Rick having sex. So much.
35. “Get Schwifty” (2.5)
Keith David as POTUS is great, as is a fake Ice T personified as a literal “T” made of ice. The song Rick uses to defend the Earth from giant talking heads, however, is pretty bad. There’s also an awkward, muddled religious subplot where people worship the heads.
34. “Anatomy Park” (1.3)
“Anatomy Park” follows the plot of Jurassic Park beat by beat but it’s all set inside a hobo’s body and about diseases. It’s a bit gross and not very fun, but it shows how the series struggled early on to define the ton of its characters.
33. “Pilot” (1.1)
The first Rick and Morty episode checks all the right boxes by establishing the show’s complicated framework in an effective way, demonstrating the character dynamics, and even taking us to a crazy dimension. But opening with a story where Rick bullies Morty into smuggling Mega Seeds through intergalactic customs via his butthole is a bit over-the-top.
32. “Something Ricked This Way Comes” (1.9)
The Morty and Jerry adventure to Pluto and the debate about Pluto’s status as a planet is kind of boring and feels too timely. Rick competing against the pawn shop devil in a battle of wits is fun, but the spoof on Stephen King’s Needful Things feels really out of place in a sci-fi show.
31. “M. Night Shaym-Aliens!” (1.4)
Prince Nebulon, the leader of the Zigerion “scammers,” comes off as annoying in his attempt to get Rick’s recipe for Concentrated Dark Matter by trapping him inside a simulation. Still, fans get to see Jerry acting really dumb when he’s totally oblivious to the fact that he’s in a simulation despite obvious signs. Elements from this plot are recycled in later episodes in better ways.
30. “Ricksy Business” (1.11)
The B-plot of the Season 1 finale is among the worst the show has ever offered: Beth and Jerry go spend some time on the Titanic 2, an authentic way to relive the Titanic experience. Meanwhile, Rick and the kids throw a huge party at the house. It’s mediocre, despite an excellent joke about Rick’s canapés and the official introduction of everyone’s squanchiest character.
29. “A Rickle in Time” (2.1)
When time itself splinters into dozens of pieces, a single decent joke is taken beyond its breaking point. Sometimes that works for Rick and Morty, but here it doesn’t. The Fourth Dimensional Beings are fun, along with Schrodinger’s Cats, but this one’s hardly a classic.
28. “One Crew Over the Crewcoo’s Morty” (4.3)
Easily the weakest of Season 4’s first batch, “One Crew Over the Crewcoo’s Morty” aggressively pokes fun at every heist movie ever in an unforgiving, curmudgeonly way that makes you anxious for the whole thing to end.
Mr. Professor Poopybutthole deserved better for his grand return.
27. “The Rickchurian Mortydate” (3.10)
Rick’s final battle against the President is an awesome spectacle here as a culmination of their growing rivalry, but the anxious B-plot about Beth suspecting that she’s a clone amounts to a lazy season finale in an otherwise great season.
26. “Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind” (1.10)
This episode expands the interdimensional nature of the show a great deal, but it just doesn’t feel quite as fun as some of the greats.
25. “The Rickshank Rickdemption” (3.1)
After an emotional Season 2 finale that ended with Rick in prison, the surprise airing of the Season 3 premiere on April 1, 2017 will forever be a defining moment for the series. This is an important episode for sure; it’s just not top tier on its own merits despite the Szechuan sauce craze that a throwaway joke triggered.
“Tempting Fate” has one of the best guest stars ever with Werner Herzog as Shrimply Pibbles, the intergalactic alien equivalent of Gandhi. He needs Jerry’s penis for a new heart, an excellent moral predicament set against the backdrop of more ridiculous TV shows and commercials from across the multiverse of Interdimensional Cable.
23. “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy” (3.5)
In an otherwise Jerry-light Season 3, it was nice to see the hapless and foolish father of the Smith children back on the show, and in a Rick-Jerry adventure nonetheless. Their dynamic evolves as they both demonstrate character growth, a rarity for Rick and Morty characters.
22. “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez” (2.7)
“Tiny Rick!” Need we say more? Seeing Rick as a confident teenager is a lot of fun. In an equally as good B-plot, Beth and Jerry destroy the best couple’s therapy in the galaxy after the physical manifestations of their perceptions of each other team-up and kill everyone.
21. “Look Who’s Purging Now” (2.9)
Morty gets a little too into the Purge event. It’s scary, but also a lot of fun to watch.
20. “Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty” (4.4)
Individual scenes and jokes from Rick and Morty’s fantasy parody are great, along with the B-plot of Jerry traveling to Florida with a talking cat, but these horny dragons prove a bit exhausting by episode’s end — even for the viewer.
19. “Mortynight Run” (2.2)
Rick and Morty really hit its stride with “Mortynight Run,” the second episode of Season 2. The good-natured assassin Krombopulos Michael is a delight, as is Morty’s experience playing Roy: A Life Well Lived. Few episodes dramatize Morty’s naive attempts to “do good” in a chaotic universe that punishes him for it time and time again.
There’s also Jerry Daycare, one of the best B-plots ever.
18. “ABC’s of Beth” (3.9)
Rick created Froopyland as a playpen for Beth when she was a child, and they return to it in an episode that’s as twisted as it is horrifyingly fun. Even in the B-plot, fun things happen when the kids visit dad for the weekend.
17. “Rickmancing the Stone” (3.2)
When Rick takes Morty and Summer to a Mad Max-inspired universe, the kids struggle with processing anger towards their parents’ temporary separation. It’s a smart satire of toxic masculinity that makes us question how to best express and process anger.
16. “Rest and Ricklaxation” (3.6)
A spa treatment splits Morty and Rick into a “toxic” and “non-toxic” version of each, so we get to see Rick’s asshole side cranked up to 11. Free from any insecurity, the sociopathic non-toxic Morty becomes a veritable Wolf of Wall Street and ladies’ man in an uncanny way. It’s a compelling and seriously weird way to look at their psychologies.
15. “Morty’s Mind Blowers” (3.8)
Season 3’s alternative to the “anthological format” veers away from Interdimensional Cable and instead offers a new conceit: Rick periodically removes traumatic or bothersome memories from Morty’s brain. We get to see some of Morty and Rick’s worst — and dumbest — mistakes in the form of memory flashes that were long-forgotten.
14. “Rattlestar Ricklactica” (4.5)
The Season 4 mid-season finale is a dizzying whirlwind of time travel shenanigans that parody the Terminator series in a story about a planet full of sentient snakes.
After Morty kills one of their astronauts and replaces it with an Earth snake, he messes up the history of their civilization so badly that assassins from the future come back in time to kill him. In terms of high-velocity jokes per minute, not many episodes can match this one, especially when the B-plot almost has Jerry die from his own stupidity and stubbornness. (You love to see it.)
13. “Rixty Minutes” (1.8)
“Interdimensional Cable 1” gives Beth and Jerry VR goggles that let them experience their lives in alternate realities that appear better at first glance. When Summer vows to leave, thinking she ruined her parents’ lives by being born, it’s Morty that gets her to stay by delivering the very essence of Rick and Morty in quote form:
“Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. We’re all going to die. Come watch TV.”
12. “Auto Erotic Assimilation” (2.3)
A high point in Season 2, “Auto Erotic Assimilation” introduced Rick’s ex, a hive mind named Unity. The episode offers one of the series’ absolute best one-liners. After binging on booze, drugs, and sex with Unity, Rick almost kills himself in the final moments of the episode in a scene that sits with every fan as one of the show’s heaviest moments.
11. “The Wedding Squanchers” (2.10)
The whole family goes to Birdperson and Tammy’s wedding only to find that the whole marriage was a sham because Tammy works for the Galactic Federation. Rick was their main target, and rather than keep his family in danger, Rick turns himself in and goes to prison in a heartbreaking sacrifice.
10. “The Ricks Must Be Crazy” (2.6)
A perfect example of Rick and Morty joking about a sci-fi premise and taking it several steps too far (but in a good way here), “The Ricks Must Be Crazy” has Rick and Morty go inside the battery that powers Rick’s car to reveal a universe inside of that one. Rick’s car also has a ridiculous, deadly method of keeping Summer safe.
9. “The Old Man and the Seat” (4.2)
One of the better episodes from Season 4, “The Old Man and the Seat” has a chuckle-worthy B-plot where an alien civilization tries using a dating app to subjugate the human race and steal their water. While Morty and Jerry foil these plans, Rick spends the episode on his own, reconciling his identity as a shy pooper across the galaxy.
Similar to how “Pickle Rick” uses a ridiculous situation to analyze heavy emotional themes, “The Old Man and the Seat” reflects upon what it means for us to seek validation and control through something as ridiculous as “shy pooping.”
8. “Rick Potion #9” (1.6)
Rick lazily designs a love potion that, in theory, should make Morty’s crush fall in love with him. Instead, the serum reacts to the flu virus that’s going around and becomes a devastating mutagen that transforms everyone on the planet into monsters. Rick and Morty have to abandon the world for an alternate reality where their counterparts died in one of the series’ most horrifying scenes ever.
7. “Lawnmower Dog” (1.2)
The second episode ever establishes a successful model: Give the rest of the Smith family a sci-fi distraction while Rick and Morty go on an adventure. In this case, Rick builds a collar that lets the family dog gain sentience. Over time, the dog builds an empire of smart dogs that take over the world.
Meanwhile, Rick and Morty try to incept Morty’s teacher for better grades, offering up a hilarious satire of both Inception and Nightmare on Elm Street in the process. Both stories are strong, even more so when they converge in the final act.
6. “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat” (4.1)
The Season 4 premiere is easily the strongest season opener that Rick and Morty has ever done, delivering some of the series’ most shocking moments. Morty’s addiction to Death Crystals guiding him towards his ideal death in the arms of his long-time crush, Jessica, feels in line with his character and sets him careening on a dangerous path that almost destroys the world, Akira-style.
The B-plot is also a lot of fun, in which Rick’s consciousness is uploaded into alt-reality clones several times over after he dies in an accident.
5. “Pickle Rick” (3.3)
In Rick’s survivalist adventure to avoid family therapy, he’s left stranded as a pickle. When he winds up rolling into the sewer, he has to battle roaches, rats, and eventually even Russian secret agents and Danny Trejo’s Jaguar.
“Pickle Rick” is an insane, violent adventure that celebrates ‘90s action movies while also delivering a poignant examination at the practice of therapy itself. It’s entertaining, insane, thoughtful, and reflective.
Who thought Rick and Morty could satirize the entire superhero genre while also working in Blackout Rick as a villain akin to Saw’s Jigsaw? The randomness of this episode defies expectations in the funniest ways imaginable and delivers an immensely fun experience.
3. “Meeseeks and Destroy” (1.5)
Despite a disturbing A-plot adventure where Morty is assaulted, the drama that unfolds when Rick unleashes the Meeseeks Box upon the rest of the family gives us one of Rick and Morty’s absolute best stories. The lovable blue creatures exist only to solve problems, but when Jerry gives them the nigh-impossible task of improving his golf game he nearly gets them all killed.
2. “The Ricklantis Mixup” (3.7)
This Season 3 episode has Rick and Morty go off on “a fun, fresh, self-contained adventure” to Atlantis that we never see. Instead, we get “Tales From the Citadel”.
Presented as an interwoven collection of vignettes aboard the recovering Citadel that Rick nearly destroyed in the Season 3 premiere, these stories collectively demonstrate what life is like for all sorts of Ricks and Mortys. The most important story happens as Evil Morty seizes control of the government after winning a democratic election under a false platform of equality and inclusion, but in reality, his intentions are far more sinister and ruthless.
1. “Total Rickall” (2.4)
The single best opening to any episode ever happens during “Total Rickall” when Rick realizes that “Uncle Steve” is an evil alien parasite and shoots him in the head. The family laughs about it with Mr. Poopybutthole and then spends the entire episode on lockdown, trying to kill off all of the fake characters created by this species of parasite that wants to take over the world by implanting false happy memories.
The attention to detail as wackier characters emerge is incredible, and the quirky jokes and odd subplots make this the most entertaining episode of Rick and Morty ever.
Read our Rick and Morty Ricktrospective for an in-depth review of every episode.