Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare skin malignancy that is a paradigm cancer for solid tumor immunotherapy. MCCs associated with Merkel cell polyomavirus (virus-positive MCC [VP-MCC]) or chronic UV exposure (virus-negative MCC [VN-MCC]) are anti-PD(L)1 responsive, despite VP-MCC’s low mutational burden. This suggests that antigen quality, not merely mutation quantity, dictates immunotherapy responsiveness, and cell-based therapies targeting optimal antigens may be effective. Despite VP-MCC’s antigenic homogeneity, diverse T-cell infiltration patterns are observed, implying microenvironment plasticity and multifactorial contributions to immune recognition. Moreover, VP-MCC exemplifies how antitumor adaptive immunity can provide tumor burden biomarkers for early detection and disease monitoring.