17 Awesome Cartoons for Grown-Ups
Thanks to "The Simpsons," no one thinks of cartoons as being "just for kids" anymore. Now there are animated series that are as raw, filthy and sometimes emotionally resonant as anything found in the live action arena. And some of them have ponies and space aliens. Nothing wrong with that.
"Archer" (2010-present)Photo Credit: FX
Where to Find It: FX
Why It's Good: The Bond movies should be this rough-edged and ridiculous. Sterling Archer is an egotistical jerk, but wouldn't Bond be more realistic if he was, too? (Speaking of realism, despite the attached photo, once ISIS became a problematic name the show switched over to the spies working for CIA in the sixth season -- good call).
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: Let's just say this show earns it's TV-MA rating.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: "Archer" is cooler than any other spy TV show out there -- and, if not the least bit realistic, makes smart references and bounces merrily between high and low humor (and eras) with aplomb.
"Aqua Teen Hunger Force" (2000-15)Photo Credit: Adult Swim
Where to Find It: Adult Swim or Hulu.
Why It's Good: This weird gang of fast food items tossed conventional formats and plots to the side for surreal, stoner-friendly storytelling that was as unexpected (at the time) as it was refreshing.
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: Dr. Wongburger might be hard to explain to the kids.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: If someone makes fun of you, they're not sufficiently weird to be interesting anyway.
"Adventure Time" (2010-present)Photo Credit: Cartoon Network
Where to Find It: Cartoon Network
Why It's Good: This show is just plain trippy. In one episode, the characters switch genders, because... they do. The characters age (not a common cartoon conceit) and there's a massive backstory about how the earth was partially destroyed. More than that, there's some real poignancy to the story.
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: It's not, but grown-ups will be able to look past the candy colors to appreciate what else is there.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: Only hang out with people you meet at Comic-Con, and you're fine.
"Bob's Burgers" (2011-present)Photo Credit: Fox
Where to Find It: Fox
Why It's Good: Where this shines is in creating unexpected characters. Instead of dragging out another version of Homer Simpson, "Bob's Burgers" has a delightful family of weirdos in the Belchers. The result is a show that feels pretty fresh for network fare.
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: Well, it's not really. The whole family can watch (hey, it's on Fox). But adults will have a special appreciation for how the show veers away from well-worn sitcom material.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: Well, you're probably a little odd, so you're used to it, right?
"Cowboy BeBop" (1998-2002)Photo Credit: Hulu
Where to Find It: Hulu
Why It's Good: Sure, it's about a guy traveling through space hunting criminals in 2071, but it's more sophisticated than you'd think. A jazzy score, a brooding protagonist, manga animation -- it's the "Blade Runner" of cartoons.
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: Because it's too cool for kids.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: That's not cool, man.
"Bojack Horseman" (2014 - present)Photo Credit:
Where to Find It: Netflix
Why It's Good: It's dark. Really, really dark. And sad sometimes. But funny! Bojack Horseman is a washed-up former sitcom star with all the bitterness, boozing and self-loathing that usually entails.
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: See above.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: This is a gimlet-eyed look at Hollywood made far more palatable with the addition of anthropomorphic animals.
"Daria" (1997-2001)Photo Credit: MTV
Where to Find It: Hulu Plus if you have it, YouTube if you don't.
Why It's Good: This show might have been a spin-off of the highly overrated "Beavis and Butthead," but "Daria" was the smart, sarcastic network-mate who wanted nothing to do with two dumb guys who lived for fart jokes.
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: Well, not really. It was custom-made for bitter high school students, who are really older than everyone else, anyway.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: If you like "Daria," you don't give a crap what other people think about you.
"Futurama" (1999-2013)Photo Credit: Comedy Central
Where to Find It: Some episodes can be found on Comedy Central's website, CC.com. Otherwise, YouTube.
Why It's Good: As dark as the future seems now, Matt Groening and David X. Cohen have contemplated an even bleaker picture – and mined it for laughs. No wonder Fox dropped it (before Comedy Central picked it up).
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: Honestly, unless your kid is very bright, most of the best jokes will go over his or her head.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: If you like "Futurama," you probably have a good job in the science or tech industries. Who cares if people make fun of you?
"Family Guy" (1999-present)Photo Credit: Fox
Where to Find It: Fox
Why It's Good: Some people appreciate the mix of pop-culture references, low brow humor, and surreal tangents (Peter vs. the Giant Chicken). Others just like the poop jokes.
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: Do you want to explain to a kid why it's okay to laugh at a guy who fell out of his wheelchair as long as it's animated?
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: Tell them that at least you didn't watch Seth MacFarlane host the Oscars, so there.
"The Ren & Stimpy Show" (1991-96)Photo Credit: Nickelodeon
Where to Find It: Hulu Plus if you have it, YouTube if you don't
Why It's Good: This grotesque, surreal and fearless cartoon never should have been on Nickelodeon -- someone was clearly asleep at the wheel when they gave this a green light. But the bizarro result fearlessly pushed the envelope of what a cartoon could be.
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: Sexual innuendo and an element of gross-out animation that would surely twist young minds.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: Given that this show redefined animation and set the bar for most of the edgier cartoons on the air today, you'll probably be seen as a thoughtful historian, not a geek.
"South Park" (1997-present)Photo Credit: Comedy Central
Where to Find It: Comedy Central
Why It's Good: "South Park" has never shied away from a controversial subject, high profile hypocrisy or any walking target of the zeitgeist. This show is an equal opportunity offender – and does it with cute little kids in parkas.
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: If you want your kid to swear like a sailor, flip off authority figures, and projectile vomit at inopportune moments, by all means, turn this on before bedtime.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: No one will make fun of you for watching "South Park." No one.
"Rick and Morty" (2013-present)Photo Credit: Adult Swim
Where to Find It: Adult Swim
Why It's Good: If you liked the wackier Dan Harmon episodes of "Community," you'll like this -- it's Harmon's post-"Community" animation project. While it starts off with a traditional structure, riffing on "Back to the Future"'s Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown, it quickly jumps the rails and thinks way, way, outside of the box -- and this world. All sci-fi should be this crazily inventive -- and funny.
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: Teens will love it, but tiny brains may explode when confronted with the concept of multiple dimensions.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: In another universe, they're probably banana slugs.
"The Simpsons" (1989-present)Photo Credit: Fox
Where to Find It: Fox
Why It's Good: There have been truly great seasons of this show, and there have been... not so great seasons. But taken as a whole, "The Simpsons" is a remarkable achievement. Visual humor stacked upon rapid-fire punchlines layered upon meta storylines and self-aware asides -- this little cartoon that could has done more for animation (and Fox) than anyone ever could have predicted. And hey, if one joke bombs with you, wait 10 seconds for the next 20.
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: Kids can watch, too, but all they probably pay attention to is Bart. Don't worry -- the show will probably still be on the air when they're in college.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: Since when is loyalty a character flaw?
"The Boondocks" (2005-14)Photo Credit: Adult Swim
Where to Find It: AdultSwim,com
Why It's Good: One of the best TV shows to tackle the issue of race, "The Boondocks" did so with a level of emotional depth, well-deserved outrage, even-handedness and, of course, humor. Yes, it was a cartoon. No, it didn't matter.
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: Actually, a cartoon that uses humor to address the complexities of race relations is probably the best way to get kids thinking about it.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: If someone makes fun of you for watching "The Boondocks," they haven't seen it. Or they're racist.
"The Tick" (1994-6)Photo Credit: Fox
Where to Find It: YouTube
Why It's Good: Talk about a show before its time -- "The Tick," based on the comic of the same name, gleefully skewered the concept of the superhero. After the billionth Marvel movie, this is a bracing antidote that came twenty years too early. Even the live-action attempt starring Patrick Warburton (2001-2) was ahead of the curve. Now comes word Amazon is taking another stab at the live-action version -- with Warburton. Third time's the charm?
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: It wasn't, but adults can probably appreciate a pompous loser of a protagonist more than kids can.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: Since you'll be watching it on your computer or phone, who's going to know anyway?
"The Venture Bros." (2004-present)Photo Credit: Adult Swim
Where to Find It: Adult Swim
Why It's Good: The show eagerly mines pop culture for both pathos and humor, and the result calls on viewers to remember the happy, future-themed cartoons of the last century (namely "Jonny Quest") and then imagine how messed-up those characters would really be as adults.
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: It's a little dark. Okay, a lot dark.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: You're probably too depressed to care.
"The Life and Times of Tim" (2008-12)Photo Credit: HBO
Where to Find It: HBO.com
Why It's Good: Though this didn't last long (just three seasons), it was a dry, low-key look at the many challenges of a twentysomething guy, some relatable and some just weird.
Why It's Just for Grown-Ups: Pretty sure watching a guy get a prostate exam by a woman posing as a doctor isn't for the whole family.
Why You Should Watch Even If People Make Fun Of You: Hey, it's HBO. Or was.