TV's 13 Best Cartoons... for Grown-Ups

Cartoons—not Dora the Explorer or Jimmy Neutron or whatever toddlers are watching these days, but quality animated TV series of the decidedly grown-up variety—are having a bit of a moment. Adult Swim recently announced that The Boondocks will see Season 3. Last month, HBO premiered the brand-new Ricky Gervais Show alongside Season 2 of The Life & Times of Tim. On Wednesday, Ugly Americans debuted on Comedy Central right after South Park kicked off Season 14. And last night, Archer wrapped up its excellent first season on FX. So in honor of the cartoon resurgence, we present TV's best animated series for your adult viewing pleasure. Warning: The following clips may include cartoon nudity, gore, and other offensively hilarious scenes.

It's no coincidence that the funniest, most audacious, and most original 'toons aren't on network TV (The Simpsons, you're the exception). So thank you Spike and Mike for your legendary Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation, and R. Crumb for your first-ever x-rated cartoon film Fritz the Cat, and of course any and all Anime.Without your promoting the idea that you can get away with a hell of a lot more with animated cartoon characters than than human actors, we probably wouldn't have the whole slew of fantastic, raunchy, uncomfortably truthful adult cartoons we have on cable today. And while I love a good kids cartoon (ie. The Powerpuff Girls, Spongebob Squarepants, Samurai Jack, etc), I thought we ought to pay homage to some of the best cable network cartoons intended for an adult audience. So here they are, rounded up for your adult viewing pleasure. Warning: The following clips may include cartoon nudity, gore, and other offensively hilarious scenes. (See South Park) and shed an honest and disturbing light on what the hell is wrong with kids these days (or people who were kids in the early 90's).

13. Drinky Crow Show (Adult Swim, 2000-2005)
The name kind of says it all. This comic-based series is about an often drunk and possibly depressed crow who spends most of his time with his friend Uncle Gabby, a drunk and lecherous monkey. Antics inevitably ensue, and it's hard not to want a drink of your own after watching a single episode. Bonus points for the theme song performed by They Might Be Giants.



12. Drawn Together (Comedy Central, 2004-2007)
A spoof of MTV's The Real World, this cartoon takes the most popular cartoon archetypes and houses them all under one roof. In true reality show form, each character had a dark back story that was brought to light bye the pressure of living in a house with a bunch of strangers. From the fairytale princess/racist religious zealot Princess Clara to Captain Leslie Hero, whose only super power is degrading women, Drawn Together is delightful cartoon train wreck from which we just can't turn away.

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11. Sea Lab 2021 (Adult Swim, 2000-2005)
Where do cartoons go when they die? Many of them end up in dusty film cans in the back rooms of a museum. Not so for Hanna Barbera's Sea Lab 2020, which was appropriated into the epic series that is Sea Lab 2021. The original series (from which most of the footage for SL 2021 is derived) was created in the 1960's, in the already-outdated-idea-of-the-future style of Disneyland's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Captain Shanks, Captain Murphy, and the rest of the crew—including Dr. Quinn and the two Debbies—are quite possibly the most subversively hilarious crew ever to explore the life aquatic.



10. Robot Chicken (Adult Swim, 2005-Present)
The creators of this stop-animation series (one of whom is Seth Green) get to spend their time playing with action figures and making fun of celebrities. It's a twisted and remarkably cathartic series with wacky (and often gory) plotlines that've included Godzilla overcoming impotence in the bedroom and N'Sync's Joey Fatone seeking vengeance on his bandmates' killers. Extra points for being one of only two cartoons with a theme song played by Primus.



9. TV Funhouse (Comedy Central, 2000-2001)
Like so many greats, Robert Smigel's TV Funhouse got its start on Saturday Night Live, where cartoons like The Ambiguously Gay Duo and The X Presidents were often funnier than the late-night series. When the series was picked up by Comedy Central, it took more of live-action approach, with a real human host and animal puppets like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.



8. Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Adult Swim, 2000-Present)
So a meatball, a milkshake, and a box of fries walk into a bar... Okay, they live together next door to a disgruntled neighbor in a New Jersey suburb. Though nothing totally makes sense on this Space Ghost Coast to Coast spin-off, it is undoubtedly awesome. No words can really describe the magic that is Meatwad's voice.



7. Dr. Katz (Comedy Central, 1995-2002)
Dr. Katz is perhaps an unlikely premise for a cartoon. The show is about a psychotherapist who lives with his adult son Ben and whose patients are neurotic stand-up comics and other assorted funny people: Dave Chappelle rants to him about Aquaman's useless powers, Conan O'Brien expresses his desire to be like David Hasslehoff and to frolick on the beach, Sarah Silverman brings her family in for a group session. And they're all depicted in vibrating Squigglevision.



6. Beavis and Butthead (MTV, 1993-1997)
Beavis and Butthead were totally BFFs. Motivated by their own idiotic comments about music videos (not to mention in the women in said music videos) and fueled by nachos and sugary drinks, these two might just be TV's greatest underachievers. Show creator Mike Judge (who was also responsible for Daria and King of the Hill) inspired a whole generation of rude, lazy, fast-food eating, couch potatoes and a bunch of the other great cartoons on this list.



5. Ren and Stimpy (Nickelodeon, 1991-1996)
Yes, it aired on a "for kids" network, but before the show's humor got watered down to appeal to the young'uns, Ren and Stimpy was an especially twisted and delightful series from creator John Kricfalusi. Ren, the anxious little chihuahua, and Stimpy, the dopey Manx cat, were an odd couple with issues, and the show's Loony Tunes 60's style—complete with symphonic music and rich color scheme—made it an instant classic.



4. Archer (FX, 2010-Present)
Agent Sterling Archer's got Don Draper's looks and charisma. He's also one of the biggest mama's boys in history. And his mama, played by Arrested Development's Jessica Walter, is also his disturbingly sexed-up boss. The lines on this show are perfectly delivered by the always hilarious cast, which also includes Chris Parnell (30 Rock, SNL), Judy Greer, and Aisha Tyler (The Soup).



3. Space Ghost Coast to Coast (Cartoon Network, 1994-2001; Adult Swim, 2001-2004; Gametap, 2006-2008)
Another revived Hanna Barbera cartoon! In Space Ghost Coast to Ghost, Space Ghost hosts a talk show and interviews real live celebrities. He is aided by creatures who he is punishing for their crimes—including Zorak, an evil preying mantis who acts as the Paul Schaffer to his David Letterman, and Moltar, a disgruntled man of lava who serves as the director of the show. It's a fabulous animated/life-action hybrid where everything is possible... and most likely awkward.




2. South Park (Comedy Central, 1997-Present)
Co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone know a good thing when they've see it. They've invented a magical formula that combines offensive and politically incorrect scripts with crudely animated, googly eyed kids who deliver the lines. Oh and Primus did the theme song for this one, too.



1. Futurama (Fox, 1993-2003; Comedy Central, 2008-present)
The on-again, off-again series Futurama is another brain child of Simpsons creator Matt Groening. The premise is simple: Phillip J. Fry, a kid who gets cryogenically frozen in 1999 and revived in 2999, has to get used to life in the future. And what a beautiful future it is, filled with boozy robots, hot one-eyed mutants, amphibious creatures, and international humans from Planet Earth and beyond.



Which adult cartoons are your favorites?

Comments (181)
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South Park really isn't that funny. I mean king of the hill blew it out of the water. If you are looking just to be a di&@ about others religious views at least have humor like family guy or American dad. South Park is like their creators. So sick I can't eat chips while watching.
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I can kinda of understand Futurama being number one but when you put South Park as Second in a list the says its "... For grown-ups" and not even include The Simpsons or Family Guy. It is wrong. Very very Wrong. South Park seriously? If it was meant as a joke to make me laugh, you've accomplished your goal buddy!
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What, no Code Monkeys or Boondocks? Blasphemy!



At least they left Simpsons off the list. That show ran out of ideas about 30 seasons ago.
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What, no Code Monkeys or Boondocks? Blasphemy!



At least they left Simpsons off the list. That show ran out of ideas about 30 seasons ago.
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You know, the best part of not agreeing with a list that a website up is that you can make your damned own...
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This list sucked just for the Simpsons not being #1... but not even mentioning it!? This list is horrible, the only one it got right was #2
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WHERE IS GINTAMA!
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Family Guy is hilarious, if you have any sense of humour, and yeah South Park is pretty funny most of the time, but can get stupid sometimes.. but not having Family Guy at least be on the top 13 list is just retarded. @ShadowSpawnX King of the Hill? REALLY? I'd rather watch paint dry.
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Completely agree with Family Guy. That crap is for Guys who get a stiffy looking at fat guys.
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Thank god for no Family Guy/Simpsons/American Dad/other unfunny, overrated piece of crap mainstream cartoon. But when I think about it, those can't possibly be on the list, because they're for 13-year olds, not adults.
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No Boondocks? Wackness. Glad I didn't waste my time reading these.
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REALLY ????
no family guy ???
wow , i m pretty sorry for u u are wasting ur time on the wrong cartoons .
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No Samurai jack?? No Family Guy... and Futurerama #1 ?? This "best-of" list has absolutely no credibility. And it looks like all shows air on the same network.. what a coincidence.
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What? No Harvey Birdman?
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Superjail should have been on this list.
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I have watched just about every show on here except for like...2. But Ive got to agree with almost all of these. Ive got to watch Archer still. Is it really that good?
And for those of you clamouring for king of the hill....the show blows. Its not even funny....Its just rednecks living their lives...Booorrrriiiinggg.
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I only liked Futurrama, Dr, Cats and Ren and Stimpy on this list. Beavis and Butthead was o.k. when I was 15... And, Why isn't Liquid TV isn't on this list?
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Ugh. South Park. I don't know anyone over the age of 11 who finds that show funny/watchable.
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Oh thank god.
No MacFarlane junk.
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No Family Guy, American Dad, The Simpsons, or Cleveland Show?
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And where, pray tell, is Family Guy? Who are the people that compile these erroneous lists?
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List needs Home Movies.
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Absolutely! By far the most underrated, cartoon ever... And what a cast, including H Jon Benjamin (Archer et al.) 's first major role as the hilariously pathetic Coach McGuirk. Funny, funny shit... And its an intelligent show to boot :-)
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Aren't they forgetting other oddities for honorable mentions like:

-Daria (which they only mentioned)

-Liquid Television

-Aeon Flux

-The Maxx

-Morel Orel
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The list is misleading. Most of the shows here aren't even on the air anymore, like "Drawn Together" (thankfully). If Ms. Diamond wanted to do a "best adult shows in history" list, the cancelled shows would make more sense. However entries like "Drawn Together" and ATHF would still be out of place. Also, while I love Futurama I don't think it's #1 material.



Basically, the list sucks.
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gah, no anime (Monster? and where's KoTH, Simpsons, and although futurama is great, its not No 1 quiality.
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What the hell is so great about Family Guy? I've watched this show and it just plain sucks. Just rehashed crap taken from other shows. Nothing about that show is even close to being funny. King of the Hill is 10x better than that garbage. Too bad its not on the list.
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American Dad!
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Simpsons? Family Guy?

Archer and Space Ghost are great
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Nice. But Futurama started in 1999, not in 1993.
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How did I forget about King of the Hill. That show definitely should have been on the list. How are people complaining that Family Guy isn't on the list(I can understand about The Simpsons)? Have you watched any new episodes? Well I actually only watched a few, but that is because they are not funny whatsoever, so unlike the early episodes. Characters are now horrible, what is funny about Stewie singing with Miley Cyrus, how is that funny or for adults. That episode made Family Guy dead to me.
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I agree with those that think this list is poor. Drawn Together is about the stupidest piece of garbage I've ever seen. Family Guy should really be on this list as well. I was happy to see Dr. Katz included though.
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i can think of a few others that may have been overlooked... Mission Hill, The Oblongs and to a lesser degree Undergrads... i especially couldn't believe that Mission Hill was canned so early. :(
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I hate Futurama. in fact, I think this list is lame. Over the years, I've seen some great cartoons for adults. Unfortunately, I forgot their names, but I think Family Guy deserves to be in the list.
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Southpark and other cartoons I don't like made the list but cartoons I do like, such as The Simpsons and King of the Hill didn't. Therefore this list reeks of fail.
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I'm not surprised that this list is terrible.
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LOL Futurama 1993?! I believe a lot of the other years aren't correct either. What a poorly written list. I guess any 13 year old these days are qualified to write a top 10 list article on the Internet. Surprised there wasn't Family Guy.
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Why is Family Guy not on this list?
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Futurama is the best adult cartoon series, without a doubt. Never has a cartoon been able to move me and make me laugh at loud at the same time. :-)
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Cool.
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Some of these selections are good but a few are really terrible. Drawn Together? TV Funhouse? In other words 'We're just going to throw in the grossest thing we can think of without any attempt at actual cleverness' shows are the ones that were selected for this list. And then the glaring omissions. Futurama is 'Adult' but not The Simpsons? And Family Guy sucks now but pre-hiatus it was funny. And then, no Duckman? No Critic? No anime at all?
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No Venture Bros? No Ghost in the Shell? No FLCL? No Cowboy Bebop?

TV.com, I am disappoint.
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Venture Brothers is another fantastic, highly underrated show :-)
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The Simpsons nor Family Guy really deserve to be on here. Those shows are mainstream prime time shows. Yes The Simpsons are a great show,(i hate family guy; not funny at all) But these shows aren\'t really for ADULTS as most of the selection here was. The shows on this list were all created or being made towards the specific audience of 17 .



The only show I think that really should have been added on to here was The Venture Bros. TV Funhouse **** sucks and that made it in? FAIL on that.
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futurama - i like:p
but why no simpsons or family guy
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I agree Simpsons and Venture Bros should be on here... and C2C should be higher (it set in motion the whole [as] "thing" which is why Futurama and the vastly overrated Family Guy were revived and spawned the majority of stuff on the list)...

Also, I'm suprised the Maxx wasnt' mentioned.
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more 70s 80s and 90s babies need to invest the time and energy in venture bros ... easily one of the bests and funniest show on tv ... entertainment weekly named it one of the top 40 shows of the decade, amongst all the other liveaction heavyweights ... and its with good reason...
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no venture brothers = failure ... especially when you put unproven and mostly crap Archer at no. 4
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Ok its several years later but Archer is hands down one of the best comedies on television today.
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Futurama is a dramatically underrated show (on lists other than this one, obviously). The characters are all hilarious, and there were more touching moments in its few seasons than in most long running shows' entire run. The Simpsons definitely needs to be in the top 3, and while I'm not a huge fan of Family Guy it should probably be in the top 10, as well.
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Family Guy is frankly the best animated comedy in creation. Simpsons is a major powerhouse. Futurama is great but not for the top spot. I would put RObot Chicken near the top without a doubt.
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You leave The Simpsons and Family guy off the list, but include ATHF? Even if you aren't a fan of the Simpsons right now, the show has about 21 years behind it, and in it's prime, it was one of the best primetime shows around, much less one of the best adult cartoons. Family Guy speaks for itself obviously. Without these two, this list means nothing.
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The Simpsons still are funny... I'm surprised they wasn't listed in the top 10... come on people don't give up on them.
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