Yes, despite what many may think, there are a ton of animated cartoons for adults out there that are actually really funny, well-written, or twisted enough to break the boundaries of what we are used to when it comes to animation. Here are all the cartoons adult should watch, regardless of age or what is expected of you, socially. This is some damn fine television, people, animated or not.
One final note, this list will avoid all the mainstays, so no one comment afterward saying “where is Family Guy?” or “where is South Park?” This list is intended to turn a mature audience on to some animated shows they had no idea existed or had no idea may be aimed at them. Same can be said for Archer and Venture Bros. Great shows, but so many of you already know that. So no shows that have already run for 5-20+ years that everyone watches. Just saying -- you’ve been warned.
Okay, maybe ONE very popular show, but it deserves to be here.
Try-hard show but their version of our current president (made YEARS ago, btw) is spot on.
Now onto the GOOD stuff....
16) Son of Zorn
This is what he bought his son for his first car. How can anyone not like this?
I am so upset this show got canceled that I am not even gonna talk about it. You all didn’t watch it, and for that reason, it no longer exists. Have you not seen the majesty that is Son of Zorn? Have you not found your sides splitting after him and an exchange between his non-animated son?
Fox done and canceled the next Rick and Morty, and they don’t even know it. GUARANTEE this show shows up on Adult Swim at some point with a second lease on life, there is NO WAY Zorn’s tale is over.
(Btw, premise of show is basically what if He-Man copulated with a human, non-animated woman and had a son, then moved in with them to raise son YEARS later. Yes, you just read that correctly and it is partly YOUR fault this magical show no longer lives.
Bitter and moving on…
15) Mr. Pickles
Man’s best friend alright.
A show about a Satan worshipping dog that gets genuine pleasure from eviscerating people in the most heinous of ways and making it look like an accident (except for the ONE MAN who knows the dog is pure evil and no one listens to him because he is old and seems senile).
Twisted as hell, yes. Often accompanied by a heavy metal soundtrack, Pickles is some mind-blowing stuff (and in a few instances on the show, he literally blows some human minds, so there’s that, too).
14) The Boondocks
“Please don’t shoot me in the pecker?”
When it comes to cartoons adult should watch, this list would be naked without The Boondocks. A show about an African-American family dealing with all the urban stereotype bull smack they have to deal with in actual life, only dealing with it in the most insane and irreverent ways. A microscope at times, and a satire at others, it is deftly written and the animation style is killer.
Though Boondocks may be more well known and loved than some of the more obscure mentions on this list, I couldn’t leave it off because it is just so integral with the “adult cartoon” movement, and ways it deals with race are hilarious and also, quite eye-opening.
13) Space Ghost: Coast to Coast/ Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law
This is how I look at people who ask me to help them move.
If anyone has any complaints about a talk show where an old, animated Hanna Barbera character interviews modern celebrities then you shouldn’t be reading this list. You don’t deserve it.
If you DO, in fact, realize how genius a premise this is, you need to catch up on Space Ghost. From the straight-up lunacy of the interviews (look up Conan O’ Brien’s interview for a perfect example of said lunacy) to the quick jokes and jump-cuts, Space ghost is just pure chaos in the funniest ways possible.
And Harvey Birdman ties only because same people made it, voiced it, and it has the same vibe (A.k.A. make Hanna Barbera characters do some insane sh*t people won’t believe).
By the way, you get that thing I sent you?
Greatest running gag in all of animated comedy.
12) The Maxx
Trippy? Yes. Sublime? Yes.
This old MTV animated show got LO LOVE when it dropped because they way it dealt with reality and subconscious was just genuinely too much “brainwork” for an audience back then, which is damn shame, because this is one of the greatest things that ever came out of MTV (outside of number one on this list).
Based on a comic book of the same name, The Maxx is a homeless man who may or may not be hallucinating an alternative world where he is a superhero and his social worker is a warrior princess he is meant to protect.
Took me many viewings to fully grasp, but once I did, I realized that this show was DECADES ahead of it time, which means right now is the perfect time for you all to embrace it (most episodes can be found quite easily online, as with most of these shows).
This pic kinda nails the whole tone of the show, actually. It is like a fever dream on LSD.
One cannot mention adult cartoons and not mention Superjail. If there is one show in this list most aided by the consumption of certain “substances” this is that show.
Superjail looks like it was animated by a twelve-year-old on Adderall (which you will grow to love over time, trust me) and it is a super violent and sexual cartoon that begs to ask, what if Willy Wonka ran a SUPER jail instead of a SUPER candy factory?
Now I know you’re sold. Just be warned, quite gory at times (which is half its charm).
10) Rick and Morty
THE BEST ADULT CARTOON OF ALL TIME. ALL TIMMMMEEEE!
I know, this one is obvious but I can’t leave the greatest animated show for adults of all time off the list, I just refuse.
Wubba lubba dub dub, b*tches.
9) Clerks: The Animated Series
See, you can hardly even tell it is not the real thing.
Though this one falls under the lesser known animated cartoons for adults because it had such a short half-life, everyone who saw the movie Clerks agrees that the cartoon does a better job of capturing the pathos of the movie than the actual sequel did, swears or not.
Problem was, no one watched it and it lasted like, six minutes, but if you look it up you can find the whole show and honestly, it is some damn fine animated TV that fits into the world Kevin Smith created in his first movie perfectly.
Funny thing about this article, I’m not even supposed to be here today.
8) Sealab 2021
No one pretend they do not want a bust made of themselves cuz that is just a lie and we all know it.
As soon as Adult Swim realized they could grab old Hanna Barbera cartoons from the public domain, they hit gold, and this was one of their first times. Grabbing the old show Sealab, they just added a little to it here and there and changed the dialogue of the episodes to make them more, well, insane.
There is a whole “blackout” episode that is wholly genius, and there are weekly deaths that, for no reason, are undone the next time you watch the show. Insane genius is the word I would use to describe this show.
Fits right in with the “cartoons adult should watch’ theme perfectly, as it is way too zany and sexual for the kiddos.
7) Moral Orel
Yup, it is THAT twisted.
A claymation show based off a similarly named claymation show about the bible from a long time ago, Moral Orel takes the same themes and characters but places them into situations and scenarios that you WOULD NOT have seen on the original show, the above clip being a perfectly shocking example.
It is just insane to see the character in some of the scenarios he is in, and if the old school claymation doesn’t feed your retro fever, you are far less nostalgic than I.
6) Regular Show
Don’t let the simple looks fool you, this show is pure nostalgia gold.
Regular Show was pretty popular, often airing around the same time as the hugely popular Adventure Time, and for me, both shows are just as charming (though Adventure Time gets lots of love so it doesn’t need this list) but sadly, Regular Show never quite caught the fever that A.T did, and I still have no idea why.
Featuring anthropomorphic animals and gumball machines (no, really), this show was kind of like the Seinfeld of animated shows for adults. It was kind of about nothing, but the two leads, Rigby and Mordecai make the show hugely enjoyable (and all the 80’s and 90’s easter eggs are a blast to pick and choose from, as they are abundant).
5) Black Dynamite
I actually own that book and it changed my life.
Yes, this is a cartoon based on the movie of the same name that satirizes Blaxploitation flicks from the 70’s. Black Dynamite is one of the most underrated comedy movies of the last few decades, and the cartoon captures the humor of the movie perfectly and even takes it further because it can (seeing as to how it is animated).
The shame with this one was it seemed to have appeared, ran some great episodes, and vanished after a few years, sadly. But when it comes to cartoons adult should watch, Black Dynamite is UP there. Even has same actor doing voice, which makes it even more immersive.
4) Space Dandy
The look I give when I find out my girl finished the ice cream.
So here we have an animated show for adults about a space pirate of sorts (think Han Solo crossed with Napoleon Dynamite on Viagra and you have a decent idea), and the end result, as insane as it is, can often be hilarious and irreverent as heck. They use a lot of space and sci-fi themes so fans of Rick and Morty would love it (as short-lived as it was).
It’s also an anime, so it has that style and same level of wackiness that makes those shows such fun sometimes, but Space Dandy is in a league of his own. Hell, I can’t even mention any of his adventures because they often revolve around him getting paid or laid, real talk.
3) Spawn: The Animated Series
Such lovely green eyes for a man reborn from the blistering lungs of hell.
First of all, can we say how cool it was HBO did this? Back when comics and comic movies were still kind of looked at like a joke, they gave Todd McFarlane his own animated Spawn show and they gave him full reigns to go as R-rated as he wanted to go.
If you know anything about the Spawn character, you know just how dark that is (and yes, ignore the terrible movie that came out and misrepresented the character completely).
When it comes to adult cartoons, there is a reason Spawn is this high on the list.
They call the grocery store the “food library”. If that doesn’t sell you on this show, nothing will.
Metalocalypse (if you know anything about the metal genre) is a love letter to both heavy metal and, in many instances, grindhouse horror movies. It is about a band (Dethklok) that are so popular they are like Gods to humanity, and we follow an underground Illuminati-like secret sect on the show as they try to bring the group down, only to fail, time after time.
I should also mention, the mass death scenes at the end of every episode really outdo the gore and horror in any horror movie you have ever seen, so if you like that stuff, the genius of Metalocalypse was made for you!
Now onto the final nugget of genuine adult cartoon gold…
1) Ren & Stimpy
The show made you laugh as much as cringe, and that is what made it work so well.
I know you probably know about this show’s original run on MTV and just how big the show became in the 90’s, thing is, the 90’s are long dead. Which means, there is a pretty good chance that millennials and new generations have not yet been subjected to the contained insanity that is any episode of Ren & Stimpy.
I would even go so far as to say, outside Rick and Morty and the first few seasons of the Simpsons, Ren & Stimpy is about as good as animated cartoons for adults get.
Proof, you say? Easy breezy:
So what cartoon for adults did we miss that you love? Take to our comments and let us know, and maybe we will write a follow-up with YOUR suggestions!