Everybody who’s anybody agrees that Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s Rick and Morty has just finished up one of the most solid inaugural seasons in all of television history…ever! So if we’re going to do like the cool kids and make one of those lists the internet loves so well, there isn’t really even much room for worsts. I mean that quite sincerely. Not one straight-up bad episode has yet aired; there’s really only been weaker bits among the overwhelming amount of good.
So here are the 13 best thingies from Season 1 because thirteen is how many I could think of!
13. Abradolf Lincler
There was only room on this list for one of Rick’s party guests from the season finale and I almost went with Bird Person and his slow, calculated delivery. However, Abradolf Lincler is more conceptually hilarious. He was created by Rick, who combined the DNA of Abraham Lincoln and Adolf Hitler in an effort to produce a morally-neutral super-leader, but instead all he got was a lame, weird loser.
He also delivers one of the episode’s better lines: “Prepare to be emancipated from your own inferior genes!”
12. Jerry’s Glitchy Simulation Adventure
In “M. Night Shaym-Aliens!” Rick gets captured by aliens who try to scam him by dropping him into a virtual reality simulation of earth. By accident, Morty’s dad Jerry also gets abducted. However, the aliens are thoroughly uninterested in him, so the virtual reality version of the world he gets is functioning at minimal processing power. It’s perfect and tragic that Jerry—poor, stupid schlub that he is—has one of the most rewarding, successful days in his life making love to his immobile simulation wife and interacting with carbon copies of friendly neighbors and coworkers who do nothing but glitch through the environment and repeat the same lines over and over again.
“Mah man!” “Slow down!” and snapping, pointing, and enthusiastically saying “Yes!” are such easy references to the show that they’ve quickly become part of the fan lexicon.
11. Scary Terry
Scary Terry is a Freddy Krueger parody who lives inside a dream of a dream of a dream (“It’s like Inception, Morty, so if it’s confusing and stupid then so is everyone’s favorite movie”). He looks quite a lot like Krueger except he has miniature swords instead of knives on his hands and a decorative pair of testicles for a chin. His other defining characteristic is his use of the word “bitch.” He ends pretty much every sentence with it.
When he’s first introduced he declares: “Welcome to your nightmare, bitch!” and it seems like a lame attempt to make a parody character funny through a bit of cheap “edginess.” But then you realize Scary Terry says “bitch” after everything, even when he’s touched by an act of kindness (“Aww, bitch”) and it turns into the stupidest, funny thing ever.
10. That Part Where a Homeless Guy’s Giant Penis Destroys the Rocky Mountains
In “Anatomy Park” a series of ridiculous sci-fi events take place that eventually result in a giant, dead, naked, homeless man wearing a Santa hat floating above the earth.
It’s a ridiculous and immature moment and out of context doesn’t sound like anything more than that, but it’s a jillion times funnier when it happens within the episode and a testament to how brilliantly constructed the jokes in the show are that it makes logical story sense for the penis of a giant, dead homeless man wearing a Santa hat to be tearing through the Rocky Mountains.
9. Ants in My Eyes Johnson
“Rixty Minutes” is all about the titular duo watching television from different dimensions. My favorite thing they flip to is a commercial for Ants in my Eyes Johnson Electronics. Ants in my Eyes Johnson has so many ants in his eyes he can’t see anything: “Our prices, I hope, aren’t too low!” He also can’t feel anything. It’s a very rare disease. So he never knows what’s going on.
Is he standing, sitting? He doesn’t know.
8. X Gon Give it to Ya
The licensed music in the series goes with all seems to be charmingly pilfered from the nineties and early noughties and falls into two core genres: indie rock and aggressive rap anthems. “Something Ricked This Way Comes” is an episode that embraces the series’ more absurd side, ending with a montage of Rick and Summer pumping iron to the tune of DMX’s “X Gon Give it to Ya” so that they can go beat the crap out of Satan.
After the credits roll, we’re treated to another montage of Rick and Summer traveling the world to beat up lesser villains: a neo-Nazi, a schoolyard bully, a Westboro Baptist Church member, and a guy who pulls his dog’s leash a little too hard, all the while everyone’s (I have to assume) favorite DMX track plays. For unclear reasons, this is the best. Someone even made a 20-minute supercut of it on YouTube.
7. King Jellybean
Probably the show’s most controversial character, King Jellybean is an anthropomorphic jellybean who tries to rape Morty in a public bathroom in the episode “Meeseeks and Destroy.” It’s actually a really dark and disturbing moment and is handled as such, rather than played for laughs. King Jellybean is the king of a fantasy kingdom and it’s revealed in the episode coda (after Rick obliterates him) that Mr. Jellybean’s kingdom had no clue he was a pedophile, but uncovered evidence of this is quickly burned as one of his followers explains that his people will get more from the king he represented than the jellybean he actually was.
That such a silly-looking character can have such a dark legacy is truly amazing. The introduction of King Jellybean was the first time the series clearly laid out its dichotomy of fantastical adventures with harsh realities. It shook the internet up some and it was awesome.
6. 100 Years Rick and Morty
The series found its footing amazingly quickly, but nobody’s perfect from the start, so it’s not too surprising that the pilot episode is arguably the show’s weakest. But it also ended with an obviously almost entirely improvised by Justin Roiland rant from Rick as he stands over a convulsing Morty, who’s suffering from the side-effects of mega seeds dissolving in his rectum.
Snatches (if not all) of Rick’s diatribe immediately became the victory cry for fans of the show and it’s just super fun and easy to throw in a “RICK AND MORTY FOREVER AND FOREVER, 100 YEARS RICK AND MORTY” or “WWW DOT RICK AND MORTY DOT COM” anywhere the show is discussed, just to show people you know what’s up or whatever.
5. Evil Morty
The penultimate episode of the season, “Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind” was the most tightly plotted and pulled off an amazing twist at the end by introducing an Evil Morty from another dimension, evidently more conniving and cruel than any Rick could ever be. It was a kick-ass moment that opened up lots of crazy-cool potential shizz for future episodes.
The Evil Morty reveal was also made a hundred times cooler by the use of “For the Damaged Coda” by Blonde Redhead as the soundtrack to the scene. It was one of several moments that the show gave me chills.
4. Chair-People-Who-Eat-Phones-and-Sit-on-People-and-Use-Pizza-as-Phones World
Also from “Close Rick-counters,” this is probably the most intricate and hilarious joke the series has done. It takes a bizarre premise, builds on it, and then keeps it going far past the point most other shows would’ve abandoned it.
The visuals and the writing are what make the scene great so I’m not going to waste any more of your time describing it. But you love it. We all love it. It’s great.
3. The End of “Rick Potion #9”
This is one of those episodes that suddenly goes ultra-dark on you and shatters your world up something fierce. After a number of escalating scientific mishaps, Morty and Rick have loused up their dimension so badly that they have no real choice except to abandon their reality for a different one in which they’ve died and can thus comfortably take over the roles of their alternaselves.
The episode ends with Morty and Rick burying their own partially-exploded corpses, and then Morty wanders through his alternative dimension house in a daze, the hollowness of life now dawning on him. More chills, I tells ya.
2. The Butter-Passing Robot
Many people have mentioned this little fella from “Something Ricked This Way Comes” as accurately representing the show in a nutshell and that sounds about right. He’s a little sci-fi doohickey Rick creates in the opening scene of the episode out of general disinterest and, after learning his only purpose in life is to pass the butter, the robot promptly suffers an existential crisis.
It’s sci-fi comedy and crushing, life angst all in one. And we even check in with the robot later in the episode, rounding out his mini-storyline. This attention to the continuity of smaller concepts and jokes is another staple.
1. Mr. Meeseeks
I do love that robot, but the Meeseeks are another perfect representation of this show’s worldview. They’re beings willed into existence only to help accomplish one task for a person, after which point they poof into death.
The great thing about the Meeseeks is they seem super joyful and ever-excited, but that’s only as long as they’re sure they can help someone finish up their task. They actually all really want to die, but can’t until they help a person with whatever it is they need done. The longer they’re forced to exist, the more agitated they get.
I don’t really know anything more Rick and Morty than a species of wacky, other-dimensional creatures who desire swift deaths and are voiced by a gleefully shrieking Justin Roiland. When fans aren’t filling up the web’s bandwidth with cries of “100 YEARS RICK AND MORTY,” they’re instead typing “I’M MR. MEESEEKS, LOOK AT ME!”
Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in April 2014.