Rick and Morty concludes its third season on Sunday, and after that… who knows when we’ll see more of Sanchez and crew. 2019? 2020? 2022? We would hope “never” isn’t a possibility, but given the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into making each season combined with higher-than-ever expectations from fans (some, unhealthily obsessed) — it’s not totally unreasonable to speculate that co-creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland would decide to just go out on top.
Either way, what this means is that we’re all going to be rewatching a lot of Rick and Morty in the coming months and years, so we decided to compile a list of the best episodes from the first three seasons as a jumping off point whether you’re new to the show or a seasoned fan. And yes, as always, lists are subjective so your personal favorite episode may or may not rank as highly as you would place it, or appear altogether for that matter. Such is life. (Don’t @ me, is what I’m saying.)
13. “Something Ricked This Way Comes”
In “Something Ricked,” Summer finds herself working for literally the devil in this spot-on spoof of Stephen King’s Needful Things. (The devil’s name is even “Mr. Needful,” keeping it just out of reach of copyright lawyers.) Not only is this episode responsible for the Butter Robot and the line, “Grandpa go home and drink,” but it features one of the best training montages of all time.
12. “The Rickshank Rickdemption”
The surprise season three premiere kicked off by wrapping up the cliffhanger from the previous season in which Rick escapes from and destroys the Galactic Federation, as well as the Citadel of Ricks in hilarious fashion. (“He’s a spy. Blow him up, I’m gonna go take a shit.”) It’s also the episode that gave us Lawyer Morty, Beth and Jerry’s divorce, and launched the quest for McDonald’s Mulan Szechuan dipping sauce, which might actually be coming back now thanks to the Rick and Morty bump.
11. “Pickle Rick”
Inspired by Breaking Bad, “Pickle Rick” was an instant classic that saw Rick going to great, death-defying lengths to avoid having to go to family therapy, with casualties piling high. As Rick says shortly in, the episode also serves as a casual reminder to fans to “stop digging for hidden layers and just be impressed.”
10. “The Ricks Must Be Crazy”
“The Ricks Must Be Crazy” is — shocker! — an episode that gets really dark, really fast. Between not giving not one, but two alien universes existential crises and the lengths Rick’s ship goes to “keep Summer safe,” it just goes to show that some of the show’s most hilarious moments are also the most screwed up.
9. “Morty’s Mind Blowers”
As I mentioned in my recap, “Morty’s Mind Blowers” was one of the funniest — if not the funniest — episode of the third season. Morty is forced to come to terms with all of the horrible things Rick has taken out of his brain, from causing a high school guidance counselor to commit suicide to burying the corpse of Santa Claus. It was definitely worth skipping out on an Interdimensional Cable episode this season, that’s for sure.
8. “Anatomy Park”
This episode, which originally aired on December 16, 2013, is about as close as Rick and Morty will ever come to a holiday episode, In it, Morty explores the anatomy of a bum dressed like Santa Claus (until his untimely death forces him to flee the body), and Jerry’s parents are revealed to be in an … interesting romantic situation during Christmas dinner.
7. “Mortynight Run”
Between Jerry daycare, a magical fart voiced by Jemaine Clement, an assassin named Krombopulous Michael, and “Roy: A Life Well Lived,” this episode really has everything. And what are the odds that the memory of killing Fart may have ended up in one of those glass tubes in “Morty’s Mind Blowers?”
6. “Rixty Minutes”
“Rixty Minutes” was the first interdimensional cable episode, and — as difficult as it is to choose it over “Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate” (which also guest-starred Werner Herzog) — it’s the episode that gave us Gazorpazorpfield, Ants in my Eyes Johnson, and Alternate Bobby Moynihan. It was also the episode that proved that Jerry and Beth belonged together (even if that later turned out to be not the case) with a really sweet scene set to “Seal My Fate” by Belly.
5. “Lawnmower Dog”
Whenever I’m introducing friends to Rick and Morty I always start out with “Lawnmower Dog,” because it’s still early enough on in the series but such a solid all-around episode that’s not confusing to new viewers.
4. “Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind”
On the other hand, if you really want to confuse a new viewer, show them “Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind,” in which C-137 Rick is framed for the murdering of 27 Ricks from other dimensions and kidnapping their respective Mortys. The episode transcends from good to great when, at the end of the episode, you realize that it wasn’t a rogue Rick behind the murders after all, but an Evil Morty. This is also the episode that Doofus Rick appears in, the greatest Rick of them all.
3. “The Ricklantis Mixup” / “Tales From the Citadel”
Speaking of Evil Morty, after two seasons and 18 episodes, the character finally turns back up in “The Ricklantis Mixup,” in the newly rebuilt Citadel of Ricks (which was destroyed in “The Rickshank Rickdemption”) as a charismatic leader who is clearly up to no good. The layered, intense episode immediately became a favorite that fans will be unpacking and picking apart for quite some time.
2. “Meeseeks and Destroy”
Obviously, no “best” Rick and Morty episode list would be complete without “Meeseeks and Destroy,” which perfectly encapsulates Jerry’s buffoonery with an endlessly quotable character. The episode’s other plot, a Morty-dictated adventure, gets super dark as Morty is sexually assaulted by a character named “Mr. Jellybean.”
1. “Total Rickall”
If nothing else, it’s hard to argue that “Total Rickall” isn’t the most fun episode of Rick and Morty. In this bottle episode (or is it?), the family is forced to put their home on lockdown while they fight an alien a parasite that implants fake memories, creating a menagerie of fun, memorable characters such as Sleepy Gary, Mr. Beauregard, Photography Raptor, Pencilvestyr, Tinkles, Reverse Giraffe Ghost, and of course, Mr. Poopybutthole — the latter of whom was real all along, as it turns out.