7 Essential Rick And Morty Episodes, According To Its Creators

If you’ve never seen Rick And Morty, this is the time to catch up. The truly insane animated sci-fi series, which is about the space adventures of a self-loathing mad scientist and his vaguely pathetic grandson, returns for a third season on July 30.

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The show was created by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, after Harmon was infamously let go from his first cult show, Community, a sitcom-esque foray into infinite alternate timelines. The pair are both executive producers of Rick And Morty; Dan’s the principal writer, and Justin (who drew the original character sketches) also writes, and provides the voices of Rick, Morty, Mr. Meeseeks, fan favorite Mr. Poopy Butthole, and more. I am convinced that they’re both geniuses.

Just like Community, Rick And Morty is not only gut-busting, but also philosophical as fuck. That’s probably because Harmon’s been using the same eight-step storytelling process (he calls it a “story embryo”) since he started writing. He explained the technique to WIRED in 2011: “1. A character is in a zone of comfort, 2. But they want something. 3. They enter an unfamiliar situation, 4. Adapt to it, 5. Get what they wanted, 6. Pay a heavy price for it, 7. Then return to their familiar situation, 8. Having changed.”

The process is a riff on the Hero’s Journey, or the Monolyth, a narrative pattern found in canonical myths and epics. It’s this far-reaching awareness of collective literary and societal memory that makes Harmon’s work feel so pertinent to contemporary storytelling; Rick And Morty isn’t too different from Shakespeare’s plays, which essentially satirized the Western canon and the very idea of the archetype, like Harmon and Roiland do now, within their show’s freaky, boundless universe. There is little doubt in my mind that authors and screenwriters and comedians will study Harmon’s process in the distant future, when we’re all Cronenberg creatures.

I’ve seen every episode of Rick And Morty at least five times. I’m pretty sure I could write a dissertation on it at this point, highlighting all of the wild, mind-blowing layers within each 20-minute story. But I won’t. Not right now, at least. Instead, I rang up Harmon and Roiland and asked them to tell me about their favorite episodes so far. “I’m so proud to have a show that it’s almost arbitrary to pick a favorite — there’s no clunkers I can think of,” Harmon said, and he’s damn right. But they still managed to name seven of their faves, and, in the process, revealed the tremendous amount of blood and sweat and madness that goes into making the wildest show on television.

“Rick Potion #9,” Season 1 Episode 6

“Rixty Minutes,” Season 1 Episode 8

“Auto Erotic Assimilation,” Season 2 Episode 3

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“Total Rickall,” Season 2 Episode 4

“Look Who’s Purging Now,” Season 2 Episode 9

The third season of Rick And Morty Season 3 premieres July 30 on Adult Swim. Watch the trailer:

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