Our companion list of the most soul-crushing episodes of Rick and Morty can be found here.
Rick and Morty season seven kicked off on October 15 with a raucous party starring Hugh Jackman, and the party will keep going for 93 more years if Rick Sanchez has any say in the matter. The groundbreaking Adult Swim animated series is equal parts sci-fi brilliance and lowbrow humor loosely modeled on Back to the Future. You’ve got an old mad scientist, who looks like he shouldn’t be allowed out in public, taking a youngster on wacky adventures. Except rather than whatever Doc and Marty’s weird dynamic was, it’s a teenager and his estranged grandpa. This grandpa hates time travel, though, and he’s a brilliant enough scientist to do literally anything he wants, including travel anywhere in the multiverse in an instant.
To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty, but anybody can find the antics of its alcoholic, abusive grandpa and his hapless grandson to be pretty amusing. Even middling episodes have one-liners you’ll randomly chuckle about in bed years later (e.g., “You keep your awesome friends away from my canapés!”).
For a time, the show mostly focused on the sci-fi gimmick of the week and only seldom explored more serialized — and serious — canonical story lines. These days, Sanchez is able to have his booze and drink it too, adding a soul-crushing emotional depth to the multiversal antics. One thing that’s been consistent since the early days? This stuff is just plain funny.
Rick and Morty is full of absurdist wit with charming characters in a chaotic, endless, meaningless void of a multiverse. These are the funniest episodes ever to revisit now that season seven has begun.
“Mortynight Run” (Season 2, Episode 2)
“Oh boy! Here I go, killing again!” says Krombopulos Michael in this brilliant, chaotic episode of Rick and Morty. Rick selling an anti-matter gun to a cheery hitman is somehow the tipping point for Morty realizing grandpa might be a terrible person. Yet instead of validating Morty’s sense of morality, the story pulls out all the stops to prove to us that Morty is the fool and that Rick’s belief in the meaningless chaos of the multiverse is, and always will be, the truth.
Every time Morty stubbornly tries to take the moral high ground, he makes things so much worse. Just to spite Rick for being an arms dealer, Morty helps the sentient gas cloud that Krombopulos Michael is trying to kill. Yet we later learn that “Fart,” as Morty calls him, seeks to destroy all carbon-based life. Watching Morty get a comeuppance in dramatic fashion is as satisfying as it is funny.
Every scene in this episode brings the laughs, whether it’s Rick taking Jerry to an inter-dimensional day care for Jerrys called Jerryboree where they have a lovable Beth mascot, or the crisp action sequence of K-Michael infiltrating a facility to assassinate his mark only to be accidentally squished by Morty driving Rick’s car. The episode also features the debut of Roy: A Life Well Lived, a video game so convincing in its simulation of life as a regular guy that Morty thought it was real.
“Rest and Ricklaxation” (Season 3, Episode 6)
Who is Rick? What is Morty? How do they truly relate to one another? The series plays with these very basic questions, often jokingly and occasionally canonically. “Rest and Ricklaxation” is Rick and Morty at its most philosophically comedic, offering heaps of character development in the process.
The pair utilize a “psychological detox” machine at a spa that “removes all your cognitive toxins.” These manifest as a Toxic Rick and Toxic Morty with all of their worst traits, who are banished to a swampy nether-realm. Naturally, the belligerent egomaniac that is Toxic Rick harnesses the science/magic of this place to escape and threaten the real world. (Somebody get this guy a “Surviving Purely Out of Spite” T-shirt.)
Equally amusing are the amicable and sober nontoxic Rick and the Über- confident nontoxic Morty, who becomes a veritable Wolf of Wall Street and “tiny American Psycho,” as Rick puts it. It’s funny both in how it breaks down its core characters and as a delicious thought experiment to imagine for ourselves: What are my toxic traits? Who am I without them?
“M. Night Shaym-Aliens!” (Season 1, Episode 4)
This was probably the episode that made most Rick and Morty fans realize Jerry was the most amusing character on the show, thanks to his naïve obliviousness. He’s too much of a simpleton to realize he’s trapped in a simulation, even when Rick saturates the RAM to cause severe glitches that Jerry barely notices because he was accidentally abducted.
Jerry’s sector of the simulation gets capped at 5 percent processing power, and he really digs the lame “human music” bopping through his radio on the way to an advertising pitch. Somehow, he doesn’t realize that every human being he encounters behaves like a Skyrim NPC on launch day, glitching through inanimate objects and repeating the same lines over and over. The most cringeworthy part is how much he adores being married to 5 percent of Beth. Like all the apple farmers of America, she says yes to everything (to a cringeworthy extent).
As Prince Nebulon on the Zigerions, David Cross remains one of the funniest guest stars to this day. Funnier still is the reference to Cross’s best-known role. His entire species is terribly uncomfortable with nudity. Tobias Fünke could definitely relate.
“Rick & Morty’s Thanksploitation Spectacular” (Season 5, Episode 6)
A stunning and baffling snowball effect of absurdity, “Rick & Morty’s Thanksploitation Spectacular” is one of those episodes that takes its premise far beyond the point where sanity stops. Rick hatches a plan to receive a pardon from the president of the United States by transforming himself into a turkey for Thanksgiving.
Just like in “The Rickchurian Mortydate,” Rick and the president compete with each another against all reason, transforming into turkeys alongside a squad of marines out of sheer spite. After a regular turkey swallows the president’s tracker, however, it takes over the Oval Office, sells states, and buys off Congress’s loyalty. It all culminates into an all-out war against Turkey President’s budding army of humanoid turkey mutants with the help of the ancient aliens that helped create America. The episode celebrates the absurdity of Thanksgiving specifically, and America more broadly, in spectacular fashion.
“Never Ricking Morty” (Season 4, Episode 6)
If you think old men ripping off their shirts to reveal chiseled abs is hilarious, then this is the episode for you … especially when one of those men is Jesus Christ himself.
Morty and Rick are stuck in a literal anthology aboard the Story Train, powered by narrative potential, and they’re trying to find the engine while random characters keep generating potential stories. After the conductor gets sucked out a cracked window and cut in half, train cops ask, “Is that the ‘tickets please’ guy?!” Rick has the audacity to say, “Well, just the stub …”
You have to imagine that show co-creator Dan Harmon and this episode’s writer, Jeff Loveness, were well aware of the memed copy pasta about Rick and Morty viewers having a high IQ. Because this bonkers and extremely meta episode deconstructs the very nature of storytelling before our eyes and does it with a sci-fi concept, all while gently ribbing its fan base. Rather than bounce randomly around the multiverse with a zero through-line like “Interdimensional Cable,” this anthology diverts from the core narrative tracks for each of the vignettes.
The back-half of the episode shows us the Story Lord’s engine that tracks levels of Marketability, Broad Appeal, and Relatability. These are inane yet important factors that go into producing any show or movie, even this one. The only way that Rick can save them from smashing the Fifth Wall is to pray to Jesus Christ himself. The only thing funnier than Rick’s shamelessness in this moment is the fact that it works.
“Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate” (Season 2, Episode 8)
Jerry eats contaminated ice cream that Rick was using to brew some nasty bacteria, so the family winds up at a special hospital in space. It’s here that doctors realize Jerry’s, erm, unit is the only thing that could save Shrimply Pibbles, a dying intergalactic space Gandhi with a failing heart. Is it funnier that the galaxy’s most important civil rights leader has a name like something a stoner might mumble in their sleep? Or that he’s voiced by Werner Herzog, a man so iconically serious that he would only ever speak French with a gun to his head?
Actually, the only correct answer is that this episode’s funniest bit happens when Beth immediately erupts in outrage when the doctors explain the plan to transplant Jerry’s penis, only for her jaw to drop when she looks at the catalogue of “sophisticated prosthetics.” Meanwhile, Rick hacks the hospital TV for some Interdimensional Cable, streaming bonkers shows and commercials from across the multiverse. All of them are absurd, some of them are dumb, but they’re all over so quickly that it’s worth it.
“The Vat of Acid Episode” (Season 4, Episode 8)
Rick’s misery stems from being the smartest man in an infinite universe, but he’s still human. Seeing him indulge the mortal impulse to be stupid and stubborn is as satisfying as it is funny. Nowhere is that on display more than in this episode where he doggedly commits to staging his and Morty’s deaths in a fake vat of acid.
Plenty of Rick and Morty episodes take a stupid pitch and extrapolate the concept out to its most ridiculous potential, and it doesn’t always work (looking at you, “Get Schwifty”). But here, a silly concept reaches its full potential. After a huge fight, Rick builds Morty a device that creates save points, essentially letting him hit the reset button at any moment. The dumb, violent, and perverted stuff Morty does with it is just funny. The fact that the device creates alternate timelines condemning all of these various Mortys to the consequences of his actions is hilarious in its cosmic justice.
“Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty” (Season 4, Episode 4)
The bond between man and dragon is magical, tangible, and inexplicably erotic. The “Morty gets a dragon episode” is the closest thing we’ll ever get to full-on fantasy, and it really delivers. Few would call it one of the best, but the snappy writing and cavalcade of zingers are wickedly funny if you can look past all of the dragon slut-shaming.
Rick gets Morty a dragon but then accidentally Soul Bonds with it himself, compelling a wizard to put the dragon on trial for slutty behavior. Rick, Morty, and Summer defeat the wizard by channeling the power of the All-Slut Phoenix Dragon via a ten-slut soul orgy. This one’s so, so fun, if only for a few memorable one-liners:
“Are you gonna slay it?” Summer asks grandpa Rick in a coy way. “First off, I always slay it, queen,” he replies. And never forget: “Shadow-Jacker! You haven’t come out of your masturbation cave in eons!”
“Final DeSmithation” (Season 6, Episode 5)
Rick and Morty has a bizarre attachment to incest jokes, but the one where Jerry’s fortune cookie warns him that he might have sex with his mother is oddly brilliant and almost makes all the bad ones worthwhile.
Jerry gets a fortune cookie at Panda Express telling him he’ll have sex with his own mother. “Jerry, you’re making this funny by taking it seriously,” Beth says. The first few minutes is a hilarious montage of the kids ruthlessly making fun of their father. Jerry even starts dressing like Morty as if the fortune-based probability field might make him have sex with Morty’s mom instead (his own wife). But there’s a bona fide sci-fi mystery here that only Jerry and Rick can solve.
The company Fortune 500 has a monopoly on fortune-cookie production, and CEO Jennith Padrow-Chunt manipulates an alien that feeds on chaos into producing fixed fortune cookies. She controls fate for profit. (A Gwyneth Paltrow parody manipulating pseudoscience to make money?!) “I sleep on a bed of loose grains and begin every morning by dragging my perfect vagina across Chinese silver grass,” she says.
The alien’s whistly handler is also in love with the beast, which is somehow funny in an episode that’s one prolonged incest joke. It all culminates in an explosive battle with Jerry’s mother, where Jerry accidentally creates a singularity that sucks his pants right off and then pulls him toward her. Her innocent obliviousness makes it work.
The only thing missing from this episode is an exploding vagina-candle grenade.
“Meeseeks and Destroy” (Season 1, Episode 5)
One of the all-time classics, “Meeseeks and Destroy” sees Rick distract the rest of the family with the Meeseeks Box while he and Morty go on an adventure of Morty’s choosing. The best bit of the A-plot happens when Morty and Rick accidentally “kill” a giant who slips and smacks his head, and they have to go to court, but it’s back on earth, with the Meeseeks, where the episode is the funniest.
The Meeseeks Box can generate a seemingly infinite number of Mr. Meeseeks, bright blue humanoids with a tuft of orange hair and loud, shrill voices whose only purpose is to complete whatever task is given to them before evaporating in a puff of smoke. “What would you have your Meeseeks do?” simmers in the back of your mind while Beth’s Meeseek takes her out for wine and a heart-to-heart. The dissonance between the seriousness of their conversation (which makes her realize she needs to leave Jerry) and the Meeseeks’s ridiculous expression as it shouts genuinely sound advice is the funniest moment in a nearly perfect episode.
“Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender” (Season 3, Episode 4)
“Vindicators 3” implies two previous team-ups for Rick and Morty’s equivalent of The Avengers, the second of which, it’s inferred, the team left Rick out of because he’s a jerk. As revenge, he gets so drunk that he poops all over their command center (delivering one of the series’s funniest single frames ever) and then sets up a series of grisly games to murder them all just like Jigsaw from the Saw movies.
“I never forget a kid!” sticks out as a memorable line from a Star-Lord knockoff called Starsoldier. This episode lampooned our cultural obsession with superheroes long before it began to wane, but the way it dramatizes the formulaic nature of hero origin stories is forever timeless and hilarious. The Vindicators are somehow kind of cool despite being mostly rip-offs, making it that much more entertaining! One guy is powered by ghost trains, and another is just a million sentient ants.
Watching anybody do anything in this episode is funny as a result, even when they suffer a gruesome, over-the-top death.
“Morty’s Mind Blowers” (Season 3, Episode 8)
After a particularly troubling adventure, Rick offers to remove the memory from Morty’s mind. Rick has a whole lab designed for this purpose: Whenever something horrid happens to Morty, or Rick makes a fool of himself, he wipes the memory and stores it in a glass vial. The absurdity of it all increases exponentially and draws the two into conflict.
So many episodes emerge when the writers’ room comes up with a ridiculous idea and tests how far they can run with it. Interdimensional Cable offers an alternative path where even the most over-the-top ideas can be executed in short skits. “Morty’s Mind Blowers” splits the difference in a way that channels the fun-loving mania into scattershot canonical memories with outrageous outcomes.
The plot about a warrior alien doubting his faith only to wind up dragged to hell by demons gets elevated when a well-meaning Morty is the cause of his damnation. Even learning that Rick sometimes makes utterly stupid mistakes makes the entire concept a delight.
“Pickle Rick” (Season 3, Episode 3)
For a while “I’m Pickle Rick!” was an inescapable echo in the zeitgeist. If you hadn’t seen any of the show, you thought it was dumb. If you had, you knew it was dumb. But by taking the gimmick super-seriously, “Pickle Rick” becomes Emmy Award–winning funny.
It could have been any noun really, but a pickle makes it funnier because of the alcoholic connotations — for as much as he drinks, it is plausible that Rick could pickle himself.
Like many of the best and funniest episodes, here we see Rick bury himself in problems of his own design rather than face the biggest problem of all: himself. Every moment Rick spends using sewer science and tiny bits of trash to enhance his pickle body, we’re reminded that he willingly put himself here just to avoid therapy. Who would’ve thought that rocketing out of a toilet bowl would be awesome instead of disgusting?
It has the retro feel of a dazzling, epic action movie that’s so perfectly executed you almost forget the ridiculousness of what’s happening entirely. The stakes and characters are telegraphed that well. Danny Trejo’s Jaguar is the perfect nemesis turned comrade-in-arms for Rick. Their battle definitely peaks when Rick staples a pickle slice to his hip as a bandage. Some of the more outrageous Rick and Morty episodes eek into unfunny territory, but “Pickle Rick” earns its more complex level of comedy.
“Total Rickall” (Season 2, Episode 4)
Widely regarded as one of the smartest, funniest, and all-around best episodes of Rick and Morty ever, “Total Rickall” is a mind-boggling nesting doll of fun. The cold open perfectly sets the stage as we meet Uncle Steve, Jerry’s friendly older brother who thanks the family for letting him stay there. No red flags here. It’s totally plausible for Jerry to have a brother. But then Rick shoots Uncle Steve dead, exposing him as an alien parasite that implants fake memories to propagate.
The stampede of “wacky, zany characters” that follows include Jerry’s lover, Sleepy Gary; Mrs. Refrigerator; Duck With Muscles; and so many more. The whole family is present, so because there are no side stories to eat up time, breakneck pacing does a lot of the heavy lifting as the amusing memories emerge in quick succession. Before you can interrogate the unhinged silliness too much, you’re on to the next bit. Even the story’s climax, when Morty realizes Rick is real because he has bad memories of him, has a comedic payoff.
Beth shoots Mr. Poopybutthole in the final scene only to realize that he’s real. Sometime later, he turns down visitors in physical therapy, saying, “He told me to tell you he’s sorry you didn’t have bad memories of him.” You’d be hard-pressed to find a funnier bit of irony.
“Rattlestar Ricklactica” (Season 4, Episode 5)
The confident and content look on Rick’s face as he sucker punches Morty for one of his biggest blunders never gets old, especially when it’s wrapped up in more time loops than Tenet. The kid always means well, but after he replaces an astronaut Space Snake with an Earth Snake to prevent a war, he instead starts a much bigger one involving time travel and Nazi snakes that Rick has to set right. Hence the sucker punch.
But the real highlight in this underrated episode is on the Space Snake planet that parodies Arrival and The Terminator. Every bit of dialogue is a hiss, but the meticulous level of detail that goes into body language, costumes, and even environmental design makes everything easily comprehensible. Have you ever seen a snake fire a shotgun, then coil around it to pump in the next shell? What about a snake Terminator shoddily made to look like a human to put the Smith family at ease?
We’re subject to hundreds of years of societal development on the Snake planet with overlapping timelines, and Rick’s brilliant solution is to introduce time travel earlier so it becomes a big enough mess to attract the attention of the 4th Dimensional Time Cops. It makes for a fun callback to “A Rickle in Time” that solves an impossible problem.
You don’t need a case of ophidiophobia to appreciate all of the anti-snake humor, but you do need to love watching Rick and Morty take a concept beyond the breaking point in clever ways.
This episode has every piece of what makes Rick and Morty work: clever parodies of well-known pop-culture movies, stupid jokes taken to their extreme, Morty’s self-righteousness losing to Rick’s arrogance, excellent action, and a heaping dose of intelligent sci-fi — all of it in the service of comedy.