Rick and Morty's fourth season has finally come to an end, and here is a ranking of the best episodes of the season overall. Every season of the series seems to be stronger than the last, so deciding which of the episodes stand out as the best of the best is a lot tougher than you would suspect at first. The best episodes of the fan favorite Adult Swim series combine a good blend of heart, story, and humor and this season had a lot of contenders for not only the best of this run, but maybe the series overall.
So what should you look for in a great episode of Rick and Morty? The best offer not only a good way to see another side of a central character's development, but craft an entertaining narrative and still find room to insert hilariously off-beat comedy. With that in mind, breaking down this ranking did come down to many smaller issues rather than any major ones.
Read on for our picks of Season 4's best episodes, ranked from strongest to weakest. It's still as objective as "best to worst," but ultimately easier to defend with concrete examples. But what do you think? Which Season 4 episode is the strongest of the season? Which episode is the weakest?
Do we possibly have one of the strongest episodes of the Rick and Morty overall here? What about the weakest? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! Which or reach out to me directly about all things animated and other cool stuff @Valdezology on Twitter!
The Vat of Acid Episode
It was pretty clear from the very start that "The Vat of Acid Episode" would be much different than the other episodes of the fourth season. Not only did it get a specialized title card, but it also featured one of the most mystifying reveals of the season overall. The second half of the season featured five episodes kind of like this in which a smaller premise eventually exploded into a much bigger one, but this episode stands on top simply because that ultimate reveal was built right into it.
With a literal "prestige" moment unveiling the chaotic mess Morty had been unleashing out into the multiverse thanks to the save point device, the second gut punch hilariously arrives when it's all a ruse in order to get Morty to utilize the same fake vat of acid he ridiculed earlier. Hard to beat that finale.
Never Ricking Morty
A finale that certainly comes close to the top spot, however, is with the midseason premiere, "Never Ricking Morty." This episode ushered in the final five episodes of the season, and it was great in setting the unexpected tone for the final half. With a metanarrative that not only explored Rick and Morty's relationship, this episode saw the team behind the fan favorite animated series point the jokes back on themselves. While this is definitely par for the course for this show, this meta take on the franchise felt more direct.
Rick and Morty has been getting far more commercial and commodified with each passing season, and the series not only called attention to it with the "story-train" gag but also called out the fact that many of the ongoing storylines really don't matter anymore. With that kind of nonchalance, it ushered in a wild ride for the rest of the season that no one really expected.
Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat
Season 4 also thankfully got off to just as strong of a start as the midseason. Setting the tone for its grand return, "Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat" was a welcome refresher of what the series does best. The episode broke down two types of death as both Morty tried his best to avoid a harmful death with the use of the Death Crystals and Rick constantly revived in new clone after dying repeatedly in increasingly brutal yet hilarious ways. Like many of the best episodes, Rick and Morty used this clashing theme to highlight the fraying of Rick and Morty's actual relationship.
These latest seasons have seen a much more abrasive Morty as he begins to grow tired of what his grandfather puts him through, and a Rick who is beginning to realize just how much Morty and the rest of his family actually mean to him. It's something we'd see done in later episodes (of course), but the important groundwork was set here.
Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri
Thankfully, Season 4 went out just as strongly as it came in. The finale was surprisingly explosive given how little set up actually took place over the course of the season (even it being thrown out completely during "Never Ricking Morty"). It was no less effective, however, as it picked up from the Season 3 mystery surrounding Beth and her presumed clone. This not only led to a big breakthrough with Rick as he began to see his relationship with his daughter in a new light (picking up the nuggets left behind by "Childrick of Mort"), but also brought back some of the overarching plot.
Rick and the rest of the Smith family were forced to "do Star Wars" while hilariously acknowledging their own character arcs for both the episode and the entire season overall. Seeing it be so surprisingly effective at balancing these zany new elements with its grounded character work was fantastic, but it's not higher up on the list because it tends to get messy with things.
Childrick of Mort
In retrospect, Season 4's penultimate episode hits a lot harder considering what's to come in the finale. At first watch, "Childrick of Mort" is a slightly better than average adventure for the series full of fun less explored Smith family dynamics. But then the finale brings back Clone Beth, and suddenly Rick and Beth creating a new society hits a lot harder. Rick literally fights God in order to protect the city he made with his daughter, and this capitalized on the previously mentioned work on Rick's self image over the course of the season.
Rick felt more distant to his family this season, and "Childrick of Mort" sees him challenging the heavens in order to keep his life this way. It's not from the sense that Rick was fighting to keep his family, but rather fighting against change. He's starting to realize how much work he has to put into his life with his daughter, and just hates himself for it. The higher episodes on this list just hit this home on the first time around.
One Crew Over the Crewcoo's Morty
The final half of the list actually is harder to pin down than the top five choices. Because as many fans know, an average or even subpar episode of Rick and Morty could still be more entertaining than many comedies. So unfortunately, from here on out it's going to be splitting hairs until the end of the list. The first of which is "One Crew Over the Crewcoo's Morty" as this heist parody episode also was an episode of Rick dealing with his inadequacy as a member of his family and actively working to close the distance between he and Morty.
If it weren't for The Vat of Acid Episode" doing it so well later, this episode's heist reveal probably would have been the best sting of the season. Not only was Rick's reveal that he planned all of it to get Morty's attention intriguing, but fell completely within its parody. But at the same time, it is one single joke that goes far beyond its original impact.
The Old Man and the Seat
As one of the quieter episodes of the season overall, "The Old Man and the Seat" continued the threads left over from the premiere as it broke down Rick in a new way. As Rick becomes more aware of his increasing irrelevance to his family, he begins to lash out over smaller grievances. This leads to a laser like focus on the fact that someone else is pooping on his secret toilet, and he goes to such a length to keep his toilet free of interlopers that he ends up forming an unexpected bond.
The second episode of the season certainly has one of the best endings in the season overall, and might have been placed higher on this list if everything else matched up to that level of quality. Other than the reveal that this was an introspective Rick episode, many of the gags were unfortunately falling short compared to the higher ones on this list.
The best episodes of the series usually feature Summer in an extended capacity, and "Promortyous" is no different. The reveal that Summer had initially been with them before they were possessed by aliens was a genuine surprise, and so was the resulting chaos that ensued. However, the direct references to real life events such as the September 11th attack and Pearl Harbor mixed in with shots at Star Wars' casual approach to war just left a muddied result. Some of it is far more hilarious than the rest of it. If that vague statement makes any sense?
Basically, it just comes down to your preferred humor. If you enjoy the darker side of things, then this has some of the best jokes. But at the same time, even the cartoonish stuff to balance it out (like each alien birthing themselves to avoid things) wears thin. It's a big ask that many of the better episodes simply don't put you through.
For all its talk of avoiding time travel for a reason, "Rattlestar Ricklactica" certainly takes a shot at it and many major time travel pop culture projects such as Back to the Future and The Terminator. The midseason finale of the series further splintered the Rick and Morty duo as Morty gets them into the mess when he decides to rebel. A series of failures continue to pile up until Rick is forced to invent snake time travel. But unfortunately, like some of the weaker gags of the season overall, it was a thin central premise that wears down quickly.
It certainly doesn't hold up as well during rewatches like many of the other episodes of the season because the snake bits just seem a lot longer than they do initially. Considering how much time this one gag gets in particular, "Rattlestar Ricklactica" has its funny moments but they're too drowned in the same conceit.
Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim's Morty0comments
Speaking of one-note gags that run a little too long, "Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim's Morty" is the weakest episode of the season because of this. Once again, it relies too heavily on your given tone of humor to really dig into. But even when your type of humor lines up, there's just not as much to dig into here as the others. It does have a few of those introspective moments seen in the other episodes of the season, but it's also testing the lengths of its sexual joke absurdity.
It's this type of experimental humor that's certainly fun the first time around because there's no real telling how far it's going to take the joke, but is immediately worn out upon second viewing. But if dragon sex jokes just don't work for you, none of it will. That's a much bigger ask than any other episode this season.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.