The 5 gateway drug episodes of Rick and Morty
It’s crazy to think that Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s animated sci-fi comedy Rick and Morty has been around for seven years now, but even with its devoted following, there are some unsure of their interest in the series. To help those get into the show, we’ve compiled a list of the five episodes to act as a gateway drug to getting hooked on the titular duo.
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Created and executive produced by Harmon (Community) and Roiland (Adventure Time), Rick and Morty is a half-hour animated series that follows a sociopathic genius scientist who drags his inherently timid grandson on insanely dangerous adventures across the universe. The voice cast is consists of Justin Roiland as Rick and Morty, Sarah Chalke as Beth, Chris Parnell as Jerry, Spencer Grammer as Summer.
“Meeseeks and Destroy” — Season 1, Episode 5
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Originating from Roiland’s desire for a more fun-filled episode in comparison to the more serious-natured ones Harmon had been developing, the character of Mr. Meeseeks quickly became one of the series’ most popular and beloved in his first season appearance that paved the way for an episode full of gut-busting laughs and shocking drama. To keep Jerry, Beth and Summer occupied while he fulfills a bet made with Morty, Rick introduces the trio to the Meeseeks Box, a device that creates an upbeat blue alien being who fulfills whatever desire asked and immediately stops existing. The paths taken by Beth and Summer with the box offer some solid character development for both while Jerry’s leads to some outrageous antics, while Rick and Morty’s journey through a medieval fantasy realm quickly goes from upbeat and bizarre to shocking and dour without alienating the viewer, making for one of the best to start a newcomer out on.
“Rixty Minutes” — Season 1, Episode 8
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One of the greatest things about the Adult Swim series is that even with its animated genre, the creative voice cast are frequently allowed the ability to improvise in recording sessions, but none will ever top the first season episode of “Rixty Minutes.” Bored with his family’s cable setup, Rick replaces it with interdimensional cable that allows them to watch content from all across the multiverse, including one in which meek Jerry is a movie star and other worlds’ ideas of shows and movies range from the horrific to the hilarious. With an alien take on Garfield to a trailer for a movie with a title so long it makes Sacha Baron Cohen blush, what makes this episode the most enjoyable is that the majority of what we see on the TV is creator, co-writer and star Roiland endlessly riffing and the end results are nonstop hilarious, especially when we hear him break and laugh.
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“The Wedding Squanchers” — Season 2, Episode 10
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While the show is certainly one full of comedy, and this episode is not devoid of it, it does frequently deliver some of the most effective gut punches I’ve ever seen in television and the final stinger for the second season’s finale proves to be one of my favorite, one in which gives me chills just as I reflect back writing this. While the episode’s story may pick up a thread from the season one finale, its story is still self-contained enough that it wouldn’t take much for newcomers to pick up who everyone is and what their relationships are with one another as Rick and his family travel to Planet Squanch for the marriage of his friend Birdperson and Summer’s friend Tammy. Without spoiling the proceedings, things don’t go quite as planned and when the ending arrives with Nine Inch Nails’ version of “Hurt” overlaying it all, it not only offers newer viewers a major draw to want to continue their watching, but also a really deep emotional connection with the characters moving forward.
“The Rickshank Rickdemption” — Season 3, Episode 1
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When Adult Swim surprised fans and general viewers alike on April Fool’s Day in 2017 with the long-awaited third season premiere of the series, the internet nearly broke and the episode was flooded everywhere as the network streamed it for 24 hours straight on a loop across various social media and four straight hours on the channel itself. Its arrival also drove me to finally watch the show from its beginning and once I arrived to it, I was incredibly thankful for its sudden premiere and is an epic one for new viewers to dive into early into their watching. Picking up right from where “The Wedding Squanchers” left off, fans are finally able to take a breath after the gut punch finale and also get the chance to spend some time with alien Cornvelious Daniel, voiced by Nathan Fillion in one of the best guest voice appearances in the series, and learn where the recent craze of McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce spawn from.
“Pickle Rick” — Season 3, Episode 3
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After years of seeing Mr. Meeseeks reign as one of the most sought-after bits of merchandising for the series, Rick and Morty found their ultimate unofficial mascot with the arrival of the third season’s third episode, “Pickle Rick.” Simultaneously following Beth, Summer and Morty as they head to family therapy and Rick as he struggles to resolve the situation he’s got himself in after turning himself into a pickle to avoid joining the trio, the episode not only takes full advantage of the potential from its bizarre Rick storyline, but it also brilliantly uses its therapist setting to deconstruct a number of the toxic personalities on display throughout the series, which is delivered by the incredible Susan Sarandon in another of the series’ best guest star appearances. With the balanced tone of outrageous comedy and sci-fi antics, bloody action scenes and profound character development and reflection, it’s easily one of the best for newcomers to sink their teeth into as they test the waters of the series.
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In Season 4, Rick Sanchez is still living with his daughter Beth’s family and causing more trouble than ever. This season the rest of the family, his son-in-law Jerry, grand-daughter Summer and grandson Morty are dragged into Rick’s intergalactic adventures, as he faces new threats and mysteries of his secret past are revealed. Can the family survive Rick’s insanity and all the chaos the universe throws at them?
Taika Waititi (The Mandalorian, What We Do in the Shadows), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), Paul Giamatti (Billions) and Kathleen Turner (Romancing the Stone) appeared as guest voices in Season 4.
Rick and Morty had been previously renewed for 70 episodes, spread out over an undetermined amount of seasons, although a typical Rick and Morty season is 10 episodes. Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon have stated that there will be a serialized element to every episode of Season 4, while each will feature a strong story that stands on its own as well.