After four seasons and nearly seven years on the air, Rick and Morty has become one of the most popular shows on television and has continually pushed the boundaries on what can be accomplished in adult animation. The show has amassed a legion of fans who are extremely loyal but can sometimes get rabid between seasons. For those who have never seen the show, its cult-like following is likely all they are aware of; and accordingly, when you become a fan of Rick and Morty, you want to show it off to anyone and everyone you know. For fans who are wanting to put the show on to their friends, or for those just curious and want to get the gist of things, here are the five best episodes to watch.
PICKLE RICK (S3E3)
Chances are that even if you’ve never seen a single second of Rick and Morty, you still know about the “Pickle Rick” episode. The vegetable version of Rick Sanchez quickly became a figment of pop culture and helped the show gain a ton of mainstream exposure. But for those who have only heard of the one they call “Solenya”, it is overlooked how great the episode truly is. Though on the surface it seems like a dumb idea of Rick merely turning himself into a pickle, it is surprisingly one of the most action-packed episodes and reveals a lot of the emotional dysfunction in the Smith family as they go to therapy. “Pickle Rick” is the quintessential Rick and Morty episode and a perfect choice as an introduction to the show.
Reasons to watch: Well-known in pop culture and mostly unrelated to the overarching story; won the series its first and only Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program in 2018.
MEESEEKS AND DESTROY (S1E5)
Like any great show, Rick and Morty has gotten progressively better, but the oldest of episodes should still be explored to get a reference for how far it has come. The most popular episode of Season 1, “Meeseeks and Destroy” is arguably the earliest example of Rick and Morty setting its own bar for what constitutes as a great episode. The story centers around the Smith family seeking help from Mr. Meeseeks, who originates from one of Rick’s inventions, for a series of tasks until one gets too complicated and things spiral out of control. The episode also finds Morty taking control of him and his grandpa’s next adventure in an effort to prove he is more than a sidekick to Rick. The episode is wacky, random, and darkly funny, but also makes an effort to give some shine to each of the main characters, showing newcomers that Rick and Morty is more than just Rick and Morty.
Reasons to watch: First classic episode; Mr. Meeseeks is one of the most beloved side characters and returns throughout the show.
TOTAL RICKALL (S2E4)
If you want you or your friends’ first exposure to Rick and Morty to be completely spoiler-free where you/they will not have to worry about being familiar with any continuing story, then “Total Rickall” is your go-to episode. When alien parasites take the form of zany, wacky characters and multiply through false memories implanted in the Smith family’s heads, it’s up to the family to regain control of what’s fact and fiction and stop them from spreading outside the house. The episode essentially functions as a fake clips show while poking fun of cabin fever tropes. It might not be as popular or grand in scale as the others on this list, but it provides perhaps the best example of the creative range of the people behind the show and lets newcomers know that not every episode is going to be that serious.
Reasons to watch: Self-contained episode that shows how chaotically unexpected Rick and Morty can get.
EDGE OF TOMORTY: RICK DIE RICKPEAT (S4E1)
If you’d rather dive into one of the most recent Rick and Morty adventures and then do some backtracking (if you like what you see), then the first episode of Season 4 is a great place to start. “Rick Die Rickpeat” is one of the most well-thought-out episodes of the series that includes an enhanced dose of mayhem to go with it. After Rick and Morty find alien crystals that reveal how you die, Morty becomes obsessed with achieving his dream death instead of living in the moment. Meanwhile, Rick finds himself traveling through different realities and interacting with different Ricks and Mortys so he can get back to his own reality and stop Morty from succumbing to the crystal. This episode kicks off the new era of Rick and Morty with a bang and will have newcomers conflicted on whether to continue Season 4 or catch up on everything they’ve been missing.
Reasons to watch: Kicks off the most recent season with an epic standalone story.
THE RICKLANTIS MIXUP (S3E7)
“The Ricklantis Mixup”, also known as “Tales from the Citadel”, has the most to do with the show’s expanded lore more than any other episode on this list, but is still worth the watch even there is some slight confusion. The unique trait of this episode is that the Rick and Morty that the show centers around are hardly featured, taking an intriguing turn and exploring the lives of the thousands of Ricks and Mortys in the Citadel of Ricks. The episode provides a look at the impact of social class on the city and some of its more influential Ricks and Mortys, as well as the societal issues plaguing the Citadel. It compacts an entire season of cop drama material into a 30-minute showing and is arguably the darkest entry of the series, which is saying a lot. “The Ricklantis Mixup” probably shouldn’t be someone’s first Rick and Morty adventure but is a great choice if you/they are still feeling skeptical after watching other episodes and want to know how great the creative minds behind it can be.
Reasons to watch: Arguably the best episode in the series; a relatively autonomous story that expands upon the entire Rick and Morty universe.