When we define adult cartoons, what we usually mean is cartoons mainly aimed for the older generation, and possibly some of the younger folk. Not to say that none of them shows are family ones. Some of them are, but roughly around the largest percent who watch them cartoons are adults. That’s my guess.
With no further ado, and before I continue, I’m only listing the ones I’ve watched, here is a personal ranking of what I regard as the Worst-To-Best Adult Animated Shows;
We begin this list with an animated take on reality shows such as Big Brother. Drawn Together’s contestants include Princess Clara (who’s a bit like them Disney princesses), a Pokemon-style monster and a lewd pig. Frankly my dears, I don’t care much for reality shows and I ceased watching Big Brother ages ago. As for Drawn Together, it’s just lewd and crude for the sake of being lewd and crude. It’s one I tend to skip.
King Of The Hill
I was eight when I first saw King Of The Hill, around the time when it was broadcast on BBC2, then the same channel as The Simpsons. Seems like it picked some competition, eh. Well, here’s my result; Simpsons scores 1, King Of The Hill, nil. As a kid, I remember my brother liking King Of The Hill, but myself being bored by it. I ain’t ranking it low, because of its conservative themes. My reason is because the show’s so bland and forgettable, in my opinion. I’m sure many other people remember certain moments, but I can’t. It amazes me that it’s labelled a comedy, but I didn’t find it that funny either.
The Cleveland Show
The famous and cheap spin-off to Family Guy starring its ex-secondary character Cleveland Brown and his family, hence The Cleveland Show. Much like King Of The Hill and much unlike Family Guy, The Cleveland Show lacks enough humour or even memorability. I don’t tend to follow what critics say much, but I don’t particularly blame them for their negativity on this one.
Rick & Morty
Rick & Morty – currently one of IMDB’s top 10 rated shows. Lots of people love it and to be honest, I don’t get it. It’s an obvious parody to the Back To The Future franchise; Rick is the Doc Brown and Morty is the Marty McFly. I find Back To The Future good, not brilliant, but at least the humour and storyline was decent. All I saw from Rick & Morty was; not-so great animation, which could be as bad as Peppa Pig, and nothing that memorable from the first few episodes I saw. The only reaction I gave to the viewing of this overrated cartoon was my head leaning in a tired mode on my fist.
Beavis & Butt-Head
The creator of King Of The Hill brings you Beavis & Butt-Head. Its blend between animation and live-action, through the boys’ TV set, is creative, but Beavis & Butt-Head would’ve been much higher on this list if it hadn’t been for the fact that they constantly snigger, even at their own humourous elements.
Popetown is what you describe as Father Ted meets South Park, starring Matt Lucas as one of the cardinals, Bob Mortimer as Father Nicholas, oh and Ruby Wax as the Pope. Apparently the show caused so much controversy around the world that it got cancelled before it even got commissioned (something to do with religious depictions I’m guessing). The show’s okay, it ain’t brilliant, but I really think it deserves a chance.
Headcases is much like Spitting Image, except with CGI models. It was broadcast during the time when CGI was proving very popular and many animation studios was switching from 2D animation in favour of the more modern technique. It’s the same humour as Spitting Image, though kinda too sophisticated and slightly more forgettable.
Now we come to a stop… -motion animated show, which parodies,… just about everything. You just wonder why they call it Robot Chicken. With that said, the puppets do walk a bit like robots and we have the entire theme tune sung solo by a chicken.
Released between Spitting Image and Headcases, 2DTV is an obvious 2D animated satire on politics, celebrity culture and popular TV shows. Lovely caricatures of Tony Blair, John Prescott and a variety of celebrities, though I find George Bush a bit more irritating than I remember him (the way he laughs, ugh).
We had fun watching it, but it did start to fall flat by the last season. The humour was starting to rely more on the censor bleeps and got less funny and I’m not too fond of the cheap intro or theme tune.
The Ricky Gervais Show
As controversial as it sounds, I was never a fan of The Office or Extras (David Bowie’s cameo aside), but I think Ricky Gervais is a great guy. The music he did with Seona Dancing is top-notch and we share the same political views. The Ricky Gervais Show is based on his radio series of the same name which sees him and Stephen Merchant bullying Karl Pilkington. It’s exactly the radio series, but this time accompanied by the Hanna/Barbera style animation. The ‘pointless’ conversations which are mostly brought up by Karl are so imaginative and well thought out.
Set in a high school of the same name which is run by chavs, Bromwell High centers on three eleven year old students named Keisha, Latrina and Natella. Among the cast are Stephen Mangan (of Green Wing fame), Stephen Merchant and Tracy Ann-Oberman (Chrissie Watts from EastEnders). Alas, the show only lasted for one season which is a shame, because I think it held up and I remember me and my brother enjoying it when it came out. Keisha was my favourite.
“Good morning USA! / I gotta feeling that it’s gonna be a wonderful day! / The sun in the sky has a smile on his face, / And he’s shining a salute to the American race!”
I first saw American Dad the same year it came out and when BBC2 started showing that and Family Guy. There are some similarities between the two shows, except that Stan is a healthier and muscular guy working for the CIA and his family are joined with a talking goldfish named Klaus and an anthropomorphic alien named Roger, who I can tell is voiced by Seth MacFarlene, because he sounds a lot like Peter Griffin.
The thing I admire most about American Dad is the conflict between Stan (the righty, if there is such a word) and his daughter Hayley (the lefty).
Rocko’s Modern Life
I never saw a lot of Rocko’s Modern Life when I was a lot younger. Yes, it’s a Nicktoon, but I had to rely on one of my neighbours in order to watch Nickelodeon, because we never had Sky. Unfortunately around that time, Rocko wasn’t shown that much on the channel. But when I finally got a chance to watch it, it was fun. And yet bizarre, hence that talking foot, the tooth that wrecks havoc in the city and them two toads with the funny voices.
I Am Not An Animal
I Am Not An Animal is another British sitcom which only lasted for one season. My guess is how expensive it kinda looks – geez, come on guys, nobody moans about the quality of Game Of Thrones. Anywho, I Am Not An Animal, which takes its name from the famous line which was stated by the Elephant Man, is about a group of animals who possess humanoid personalities, partially represented by their clothes and Phillip’s glasses, and are rescued from a laboratory which they were created from. Through the series, they attempt to extend their intellect and face difficulties living in the human world.
The characters are very creative and designed – I’m especially fond of Phillip’s design as a horse and I think Steve Coogan was a great choice for the voice, considering how low he speaks. Much like South Park, I am Not An Animal looks like a kids’ cartoon, but clearly ain’t for kids, considering how dark and foul-mouthed it is.
God, The Devil & Bob
For those who don’t know, God The Devil & Bob is about an every-man called Ball Allman who’s stuck in the middle of a confrontation between God and Satan. And yet, this one again lasted for just one season, and just because some religious fusspots complained about what they was seeing. Get over it, it’s only comedy for christ’s sake!
My favourite episode is when the Devil questions Bob’s attitude and dates his daughter Megan. I shan’t give too much away, but God The Devil & Bob is a massively underrated animated sitcom. I should also mention how God, who wears sunglasses and a simple t-shirt and trousers, and the Devil act like normal people The voice cast is also impressive. God is voiced by James Garner, Alan Cummings is the Devil, oh and speaking of Megan, her actress is Nancy Cartwright, who normally voices boys but we’ll get there later.
Ren & Stimpy
I talked quite a lot about Ren & Stimpy when I ranked what I personally considered the Worst-To-Best Nicktoons and rated this one number 2. So I’ll try and keep this brief. The possible reason why Ren & Stimpy, or what I once called Nickelodeon’s Tom & Jerry of the nineties, is called ‘adult animated’ despite being enjoyed by children, is because of the adult content included i.e. pus-blows, skin peels and hammering one another and adults don’t need to rely on accompaniment from kids during the viewing.
Futurama is the sister show to the Simpsons and another one which is also popular with the young generation. It was made during the time when animation was becoming more and more epic. You still see the characters standing in straight posture most of the time, but if you take a look at the backgrounds and compare them to the earlier seasons of the Simpsons, geez, look at how huge they are! You just wonder if Futurama was animated using the Computer Animation Production System, the same system used for the 90s Disney cartoons i.e. The Lion King, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame and Beauty & The Beast.
But the epic quality ain’t my only praise for Futurama. The pilot episode (Space Pilot 3000) is one of the greatest pilot eps in TV history; it sees Fry wake up from the 20th Century and into the year 3000 and the rest is history when he joins up with an alcoholic and jerkish robot (Bender), a female human cyclops (Leela) and his elderly and intelligent great (time way over ten) nephew (Professor Farnsworth). The humour; also deserving praise, including for Fry’s knowledge of the century he grew up in despite his limited intelligence.
Fun fact; although Fry sounds young-ish, he’s actually voiced by Billy West who was getting on middle age when he started.
“It seems today that all you see is violence and movies and sex on TV / But where are those good old fashioned values / On which we used to rely! / Lucky there’s a Family Guy / Lucky there’s a man who possibly can do / All the things that make us laugh and cry / He’s… a… Fam… Ly… Guuuuuuy!”
Gee I could sing this one all day. Not many people know that Family Guy originally started off as Larry & Steve, an episode of Cartoon Network’s What A Cartoon. Larry and Steve eventually became Peter and Brian Griffin and of course their personalities remained, but not the designs. Add Lois, Chris, Meg and Stewie and voila, you have Family Guy.
Of course, Family Guy is a definite adult animated show. That being said, it does sometimes go overboard on the purely adult content; the bloody violence, the profanities, fart gags… a YouTube personality named Mr Coat once labelled the show as ‘bizarre to be bizarre’ and it ain’t hard to see why. I keep thinking that this may be the reason why there’s mixed feelings among viewers. But Family Guy is a guilty pleasure for me. I find it very difficult not to enjoy that show.
I also give praise for the occasional drama involved, like, remember when Peter grew a nest-like beard and found nestling birds inside it, then had to say goodbye to them, while Brian was looking after an elderly opera singer in hospital? That scene really f***ed me up.
Oh and extra points for Brian’s liberal values.
Wait Till Your Father Gets Home
“I love my mom and dad and my brothers too / and the groovy way we get along / But every time the slightest thing goes wrong / Mom starts to sing this familiar song; / Wait till your father gets, until your father gets, wait till your father gets home”
And here we have one of the earliest examples of an adult animated show, this one produced by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home. The show was the first primetime cartoon to last for over a season, since the Flintstones (also by Hanna/Barbera), and the last, until the Simpsons.
Harry Boyle, voiced by Tom Bosley, is a surburban everyman who works as a restaurant equipment dealer. He is married to Irma and has three kids; Alice, a teen boy-mad feminist, Chet, a hippy, and his younger son Jamie who idolises his dad. Many of the episodes, which I recommend you check out, see the conflicts between the conservative Harry and his left-wing kids and Irma attempting to cover for her husband while trying to keep things together.
The first time I saw this one, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home didn’t fail to make me laugh and I totally love Hanna & Barbera. It does lack some detail picture-wise, but it remains colourful and the details don’t distract my viewing.
Here’s an unusual example, Angry Kid, created by the same guys famous for Wallace & Gromit. Angry Kid is made up of really short episodes. When I say short, I mean less than five minutes.
We know this show ain’t for kids, but many viewers can relate to Angry Kid himself. Angry Kid is a 14 year-old ginger kid with a foul mouth and obnoxious attitude and lives with his younger sister and irritable cockney dad who is divorced. He spends his time gaining enjoyment by annoying people including his dad. For instance, there’s an episode where he’s in the car eating a candy bar and drinking a cola can, then stating that he feels ‘sicky’, then makes some disgusting pre-vomiting sounds which irritate Dad so much that he harshly stops the car and warns him to stop being childish, only for the Kid to realise he really is about to vomit. There’s another one where the Kid finds out he has a weak bladder and needs to get rid of his urine, but Dad refuses to stop the car, because of his previous trip, and therefore gives his some containers to fill, to no success.
I could go through a long list of classic episodes, but enough said. Long live Aardman!
“I’m goin’ down to South Park gonna have myself a time / Friendly faces everwhere humble folks without temptation / I’m goin’ down to South Park gonna leave my woes behind / Ample Parking Day or Night, people spouting, “Howdy, Neighbor” / I’m headin’ down to South Park gonna see if I can’t unwind / I like girls with big vagina, I like girls with big fat titties / So come on down to South Park, and meet some friends of mine”
I remember when I was a younger kid, South Park was advertised on various things. It sold toys and t-shirts and VHSes, well you get the idea. I didn’t get to watch it until I was 13. The thing was, I would’ve been too young at the time (well duh!). At first, I seemed uninterested; it looked like just one of them poorly animated kid’s cartoons, but being that I hadn’t watched it yet, I was unaware of the content it included. However, some mates of mine saw it (their parents let them get away with it) and I remember listening into discussions about Kenny loosing his head. That made me want to see the show more.
Of course, South Park was so popular that a movie came out. Again, I was way too young to watch it in cinemas. However we taped it when it got shown on Channel 4 and I so wanted to see it. It was the summer vacation at the time. My mom was like; “you can watch it with dad”. She didn’t trust me to see it on my own. Our luck came on my brother’s 16th birthday and we watched it together as a family. It failed to disappoint. It was hilarious!
And so is the show. The fact that South Park does look like a crappy children’s cartoon is so part of the humour. Mix it with the swearing and political humour and the older generation will love it. Hell, did I mention Kenny’s various deaths? They’re always a lot of fun – but on a serious note, one of the gags turned out to be real dramatic. I shan’t give too much detail. But yes, the drama as well, another high point of the show.
Another British cartoon which not many people have heard of. Some of you are probably thinking “what?” “why have you placed this over South Park?”. It’s nothing personal, but I shall explain the reasons later. Like Bromwell High and I Am Not An Animal, Stressed Eric hardly receives much credit, but unlike them, it did last for more than one season (even if it did bring out two seasons).
I know there are some things in South Park viewers can relate to, but as for Stressed Eric, there’s loads, even though it was quite a short span. Eric Feeble is a 40 year old middle-class administration clerk who can’t get over his divorce from his wife Liz. He lives with his two kids; Brian, aged 10 who has the inability to speak and severe learning difficulties and as a result has been put down a few school years, and Claire, 6, who is allergic to a lot of things, plus a teenage Portuguese au pair named Maria with a serious drinking problem. Tell me these ain’t relatable, and poor old Eric, who does love his children, attempts to make the best of the situation, but is forced to juggle things around.
Even his workplace proves to be of no help. Eric shares an office room with Alison, who spends most of her work-time on the phone, even when Eric needs a hand with something. To top things all, and through a bit of British humour, the Feebles live next door to the Perfects, a family of loud mouthed upper-class snobs.
Stressed Eric is one such criminally misunderstood and underrated cartoon. The only reason it got hate mail was due to the fact that Mark Heap’s voice for Eric was dubbed by Hank Azaria for one of the international versions. But clearly the reviewers overlooked the set of emotional issues put into one element of humour, plus the classic gags involving Eric’s pumping vain and Mrs. Wilson’s constant failures to post a letter.
Before I reveal the number one pick, I’d like to give one special mention;
Now I was debating with myself whether The Flintstones, the first prime time animated show, counted as an adult animated show. Despite it being animated, The Flintstones did contain some of the typical codes and conventions for a sitcom, including a laugh-track, and apparently, it was loosely based on The Honeymooners. It did entertain adults as much as it did to children and I think Wikipedia described it as one (but it’s Wikipedia). I’m wondering if that makes The Flintstones, adult animated. If it does, I’d probably give it a number 2 position.
And the Number #1 adult animated TV show is…;
“Actually, the Simpsons are neighbours of ours and we find them to be a misunderstood and underrated family!”
And Thunderbirds they are go! Some of you probably guessed that I would label the Simpsons as number one. Of course if you think about it, The Simpsons seems to be appearing as number one on a lot of top lists, I won’t name examples right now. However, this ain’t the reason for the ranking. Out of all the adult animated shows on this list, The Simpsons is the show I watched the most frequently and grew up with the most. It has remained a favourite of mine since childhood.
Where to begin on The Simpsons…; totally unforgettable characters. Most of us all know the five main ones; Bart, Homer, Lisa, Maggie and Marge. But also many of the secondary characters including Mr Burns, Nelson Muntz, Krusty The Clown and Principal Skinner, there’s too many to name. Even the episodes are so classic. Well only the ones from seasons 1 to 12, but we’ll get there later.
As the episodes have rolled by, we just couldn’t quit laughing. The Simpsons are definitely in the funny pile. It has had plenty of elements for viewers of all ages. But it’s more than just an animated sitcom. Remember when I spoke about Family Guy and its elements of drama. The Simpsons has also covered some pretty dramatic issues and along with other sitcoms, such as One Foot In The Grave, Birds Of A Feather and The Thin Blue Line, has proved that there’s more to sitcoms than just laughter. The Simpsons made space for tearjerkers at times, i.e. the bit when Homer met his long lost mother and later in that episode had to say goodbye to her because she was on the run.
If there’s one nitpick I have, it’s that The Simpsons has been in TV production for too long. They did a movie as well which I enjoyed watching. However since season 13, the show’s been going downhill, despite some good episodes. It’s not taken my interest away from the show. But the classic era happens to belong to season 12 and before then. That’s where the tone is.
I’m hoping to one day list my personal top 11 episode of The Simpsons. The Nostalgia Critic had a go at that once and it was a really interesting review. There’s so much I want to say about The Simpsons, but that’s enough for now.
So that’s my personal ranking of my Worst-to-Best adult animated TV shows. Some readers may agree, some may not. It’s just my personal opinion.
Thanks for reading and remember, as far as anybody’s concerned, the Simpsons are a nice normal family.