9 must-watch Rick and Morty episodes to prepare for the new season

The second half of season 4 is upon us, so catch up on some interdimensional cable, Mr. Meeseeks and Pickle Rick.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
5 min read

Rick will do almost anything to get out of family therapy, including turning himself into a pickle. 

Adult Swim

Rick and Morty fans, it's almost time. Five new episodes of the Adult Swim animated show are coming starting Sunday, May 3 and will include an Alien movie tribute, a Star Wars homage and more craziness featuring mad scientist Rick Sanchez and his grandson Morty Smith. It's been a long time, and fans stuck at home due to coronavirus can't wait for the new shows.

But while waiting, you may want to refresh your memories about life in the Rickverse. You can watch the first three seasons on Hulu or other streaming sources (we explain here), although if you missed the first five episodes of season four, you need Hulu + Live TV. 

Rick and Morty isn't like Lost or Breaking Bad. If you're willing to roll with events that seem totally random, you can drop into almost any episode and just start enjoying the craziness. (And if you're not willing to roll with the random, maybe this isn't your show.) Here are nine episodes you should revisit before the new shows start up. They're listed in order of release, not of preference.

Lawnmower Dog

In Lawnmower Dog, just the second episode of the first season, two intriguing plots manage to somehow work together. In one, Rick makes a device to raise the intelligence of the Smith family dog, Snuffles, and inevitably creates a Planet of the Apes scenario where dogs make pets out of humans. In the other, inspired by the 2010 film Inception, Rick and Morty travel into dreams, and make friends with Scary Terry, a "legally safe knockoff" of Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger. Both plots are solidly enjoyable, the dog world especially. And to think this was only the second episode of the series.

Meeseeks and Destroy

Forget the traditional genie in a bottle granting wishes. In episode 5 of the first season, Meeseeks and Destroy, Rick introduces us to a Meeseeks box, which pulls up a little blue creature, Mr. Meeseeks, whose only goal is to fulfill your one wish and then vanish. Meeseeks may have met its match when it's asked to improve Jerry's golf game. While the family battles with the wish-granting drama, Rick lets Morty choose an adventure, and they end up in a medieval fantasy world whose sweetly named leader has a horrific dark side.

Rixty Minutes

In Rixty Minutes (season 1, episode 9), the show introduces the idea of interdimensional cable, and it's one of the funniest concepts in the whole series. Rick smashes and rebuilds the family's cable box and then things get masterfully weird. Crime shows where man evolved from corn. Violent antiques shows. Commercials starring "Ants in My Eyes" Johnson, who has, you guessed it, ants crawling around in his eyes. A world where Jerry is a massive movie star -- wait, what? 

Built around the unforgettable show snippets is a nice little storyline where Summer comes to grips with her birth being an accident, and Morty manages to deliver some beautiful perspective. The concept of interdimensional cable returns in season two, episode eight, but this episode started it off.

Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind

You don't have to watch the show for long to realize that there are an unlimited number of Rick and Mortys living in different realities. In Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind, the first season's tenth episode, many of those realities spill into each other, and Morty and the viewers learn about The Citadel, a secret society of Ricks and Mortys from many dimensions. The episode's valuable to watch just to get the sense of how vast the Rick-Morty universe really is. Short version: You wouldn't want to live there, and if you had to, you especially wouldn't want to be a Morty.

Total Rickall

Total Rickall, the fourth episode of season 2, is essentially a clip show. But we've never seen these clips before -- the whole premise of the episode is that the Smith-Sanchez home is suddenly full of strange characters, ranging from Tinkles, the magical ballerina lamb to a Frankenstein's monster who claims to have fought with Rick in Vietnam. The family has memories of them and are convinced they're real, but slowly discovers that alien parasites are infiltrating their lives and making fake memories. 

Pickle Rick

Try to explain the plot of Pickle Rick (season 3, episode 3) to someone who's never seen the show before. "Well, it starts out when Rick turns himself into a pickle to escape family therapy, finds himself in a hideous sewer rat war, and somehow ends up with a sense that Rick does care about his family after all." You might lose them somewhere around "sewer rat war," but somehow it all comes together, like a nice half-sour accompanying a reuben sandwich. This is the episode that inspired Pickle Rick Pringles and even pickle-flavored Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Note: This may be one of the goriest episodes ever, and that's saying something.

The Ricklantis Mixup

In The Ricklantis Mixup (season 3, episode 7), Rick and Morty head to the underwater world of Atlantis, but except for their departure and mid-credits return, viewers don't get any info about the trip. Instead, the show dives back into the world of The Citadel, a land of endless Ricks and Mortys, where the Mortys are mostly downtrodden by Ricks -- except for one notable exception. Police brutality, political corruption and discrimination are all handled deftly in this fan-favorite episode, which is voiced almost entirely by Justin Roiland.

Morty's Mind Blowers

Poor Morty. Turns out he's had a lot of bad times with his grandpa -- so bad Rick's had to erase them from his memory and store them in a special room. Morty's Mind Blowers, the eighth episode of season 3, is like the interdimensional cable episodes in that it's a batch of random, creative clips we never get to see more of. That isn't everyone's favorite kind of episode, but it's still freewheeling and funny, especially when Morty realizes some of the removed memories are ones hidden by Rick because he screwed something up.

Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat

The season 4 premiere is the best of the season 4 shows so far. When Morty sees a vision of his comfortable, peaceful death as an elderly man, he loves it so much he's determined to make it happen. Meanwhile, Rick's consciousness ends up in a whole bunch of different clones, mostly all terrifying, with many wasps and Nazis involved. 

To no one's surprise, Morty has completely misinterpreted his happy death, and things reset to the crazy, panicked Rick and Morty world of yore. This fourth-season premiere came after an agonizing break of more than two years, but for many fans, it was worth the wait. Bring on the new shows.