The idea of there being expansive “lore” for Adult Swim’s animated comedy Rick and Morty must seem so silly to people who don’t watch it. “Lore? You mean the goofy show about the drunk scientist and his grandson going on space adventures has a complicated canon?” Yes, believe it or not, we do mean exactly that!
While the show’s writers have historically been hesitant to fully embrace that lore in favor of self-contained episodic adventures, Rick and Morty does indeed have an overarching story featuring important backstory and a continuing plot. Through seven seasons, the series has included a handful of episodes that delve into Rick Sanchez’s origin story and his continuing mission for multiversal revenge. And according to us, those episodes are consistently among the series’ best.
Surely, creator Dan Harmon and company would prefer that you watch Rick and Morty as the complete, episodic experience it was intended as. But if you ever felt like delving into only the lore episodes to appreciate the movie-length saga of Rick Sanchez’s pain, we’ve got ahead and compiled that list for you here. What follows is a complete guide to Rick and Morty: just the lore episodes.
Season 1 Episode 6: Rick Potion #9
Original Air Date: Jan. 27, 2014
This season 1 episode kicks off Rick and Morty‘s multiverse and with it, the arrival of its lore. After Rick and Morty mess up their own universe beyond repair via a love potion that turns people into “Cronenbergs,” they decide to abandon it for another universe with a conveniently dead Rick and Morty. As Morty buries his own dead body in the backyard, we start to get an inkling of just how the multiverse will influence the show’s storytelling going forward.
Season 1 Episode 10: Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind
Original Air Date: April 7, 2014
If “Love Potion #9” cracks the door for Rick and Morty‘s lore, then season 1’s penultimate episode kicks it all the way down. Here we meet the transdimensional Citadel and its council of Ricks. This episode also introduces the character of “Evil Morty” who will be crucial to the show’s plot going forward.
Season 2 Episode 10: The Wedding Squanchers
Original Air Date: Oct. 4, 2015
Rick’s past comes back to haunt him in the season 2 finale as the wedding of his dear friend Birdperson turns out to be a sting operation for the villainous Galactic Federation. “The Wedding Squanchers” crams a lot of lore into its brief running time, not only properly introducing the Galactic Federation but having it take over Earth for good measure.
Season 3 Episode 1: The Rickshank Redemption
Original Air Date: April 1, 2017
Fans had to wait a long time for the resolution to the season 2 finale and when it arrived unexpectedly in 2017 (on April Fool’s Day, no less), it did not disappoint. Both the Council of Ricks and the Cronenberg planet turn back up in this installment that also went viral as the “Szechuan sauce” episode.
Season 3 Episode 7: The Ricklantis Mixup
Original Air Date: Sept. 10, 2017
Sometimes lore episodes happen when you least expect them. Case in point is this unassuming season 3 installment “The Ricklantis Mixup.” The title of this one is a misdirect and instead focuses on lore-heavy tales from the Citadel rather than Rick and Morty’s Atlantis mixup. This is an important part of the saga for our old friend Evil Morty.
Season 4 Episode 6: Never Ricking Morty
Original Air Date: May 3, 2020
The inclusion of “Never Ricking Morty” on a list of Rick and Morty lore episodes is probably a controversial one. On its face, this “Story Train” episode is more about how much Rick and Morty hates its own lore than it is about the lore itself. But there is still lore to be found here – it just happens to be deleted out of the canon by the villainous Story Lord (Paul Giamatti).
Season 4 Episode 10: Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri
Original Air Date: May 31, 2020
The season 4 finale features a major addition to the show’s cast: Space Beth – who is either the clone of Beth Smith or the real version who has run off to fight the Galactic Federation in space. This episode features a lot of developments for the Smith-Sanchez family, not least of which is the Beth reveal and the long-awaited return of Birdperson … now known as Phoenixperson.
Season 5 Episode 8: Rickternal Friendship of the Spotless Mort
Original Air Date: Aug. 8, 2021
At this point in Rick and Morty‘s story, it wasn’t quite clear whether Rick’s origin story of losing his wife Diane was real or just another ruse from the universe’s smartest man. This flashback-heavy exploration into Rick’s early life as a freedom fighter with Birdperson helps make it clearer that the guy has a heart.
Season 5 Episode 10: Rickmurai Jack
Original Air Date: Sept. 5, 2021
“Rickmurai Jack” is a major lore download for Rick and Morty. Once again featuring the Citadel, the council of Ricks, and Evil Morty, this season 5 finale answers one big question central to the show’s multiverse. If the multiverse is infinite, then why does Rick appear to be the smartest man in every timeline? The answer to that question informs all the lore to come.
Season 6 Episode 1: Solaricks
Original Air Date: Sept. 4, 2022
The season 6 premiere picks up right where the finale left off with Rick and family lost in the Citadel and without a portal gun. This episode was clearly intended as a lore “reset” of sorts with the malfunctioning portal gun keeping the Smiths away from pocket universes for now and Jerry reverting back to his “season 2” self. But as is usually the case with this show, lore still finds a way.
Season 6 Episode 6: Juricksic Mort
Original Air Date: Oct. 9, 2022
Like “Never Ricking Morty” this is another controversial choice for this list. That’s because, for 99% of its running time, “Juricksic Mort” is a perfectly self-contained Rick and Morty adventure. It’s not until the sentient, ingenious dinosaurs repair Rick’s portal gun and Central Finite Curve, however, that the episode’s connection to the larger picture becomes clearer.
Season 6 Episode 10: Ricktional Mortpoon’s Rickmas Mortcation
Original Air Date: Dec. 11, 2022
While all the Rick and Morty lore to this point has largely explained Rick’s past, this is the episode that sets up his future and perhaps even the series’ overall big bad. This installment also features a lightsaber gag that makes me laugh every time.
Season 7 Episode 5: Unmortricken
Original Air Date: Nov. 12, 2023
Remember what we said about lore episodes coming when you least expect them? This absolutely huge lore episode drops in the middle of season 7 and resolves many of the canon’s biggest questions and setups. Get ready for Evil Morty’s finest hour.
Rick and Morty is available to stream on Max and Hulu in the U.S. and Netflix in the U.K.