ranking adult cartoons

I love animation. I always have, and I probably always will. I remember waking up super early on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons. I had to get my Yugioh, TMNT, and Sonic fix. Something about them that released serotonin in my head as a kid. 

Between WB in the mornings and Adult Swim at night, there was never a shortage of cartoons to watch, but as you get older, you start to outgrow some of the childish plot lines that come along with them. Don’t get me wrong, you can still catch me watching reruns of old shows I watched as a kid, but that’s more for nostalgia. 

So how do I get that fix now as an adult? Thankfully, people realized that cartoons don’t need to be just for kids. They can have darker or more severe plots with jokes that would not be appropriate for a ten-year-old. 

I was an Adult Swim kid, so I grew up watching shows that I probably shouldn’t have been watching to begin with, but that didn’t stop me. The difference between those Adult Swim days and now is that adult cartoons are getting bigger budgets and better writers. I only mention this because while I LOVE Robot Chicken, it won’t be on my list. Likewise, most of the shows from [AS] won’t be. Also, I’m not counting the big 3: South Park, The Simpsons, Family Guy. Those shows belong to a league all their own.

#5 – Bob’s Burgers

Bob’s Burgers had me cracking up from episode one. Who doesn’t love a family filled with weird kids and loving, hardworking parents that want the best for their kids? If only the show were that wholesome. 

Bob is a guy who owns a burger restaurant, and he is just trying to live his life and do the one thing he loves, make burgers. But life is always filled with some crazy twists and turns. 

Episode one is about a health inspector who shows up to inspect the restaurant after hearing a rumor that Bob is using meat from human bodies. It’s one of the funniest first episodes out there, but the humor isn’t for everyone. I have one friend who hates the show. She thinks it’s the dumbest thing ever. And while I can understand why she feels that I disagree. So if you watch the first three episodes and aren’t in love with it, you are better off trying something new. 

#4 – Archer

Queue the Backyardigans “International Super Spy” here. Archer is a wannabe James Bond. He has all the skills, and he is good with the ladies, and he is one of the dumbest smart people ever written in fiction. He has no problem dropping tidbits of information associated with an Ivy League education but will also end up in horrible situations from his dumb, ego-driven decisions. And to surround this talented dummy is the most dysfunctional intelligence agency made up of the funniest cast of characters. 

Archer is a slow-burn kind of show. One that depends on you watching a whole season to let the bits and inside jokes build from small chuckles to laughs to somehow ending up in your friend group’s inside jokes. If I had a dollar for every time one of my friends quotes something from Archer, I would retire. But, again, this isn’t for everyone, but give it a chance and enjoy the ineptitude that is Archer and his colleagues. 

#3 – Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty is the “super dark and edgy” adult cartoon. It’s cool to like this show. I think it is overhyped or over-named, but it’s funny nonetheless. It has some of the most iconic episodes with some of the most quotable lines. I love the show because it is just a running gag. The two main characters are based on a highly anxious Marty Mcfly and alcoholic Doc Brown wannabees as they travel through different worlds and dimensions. 

Usually, each episode is a parody of a famous science fiction movie or concept. I’m not doing the show justice, but I don’t know how to write or talk about the show that wouldn’t get me fired. It’s crazy and funny and dark at times. 

#2 – Boondocks

Huey is a revolutionary, and Riley is a product of modern rap culture. Still, after moving out of the southside of Chicago into a nice suburban neighborhood, they have to adjust. But they never really do. They constantly torture each other and harass the neighbors around them. All while Grandad is trying to enjoy his golden years in peace. 

While I could sit here and tell you how this show is a great insight on what it means to be black in America and some other intellectual writing breaking down the cultural importance of the show, I won’t. Just know it’s there, but the show is also mad funny. 

It’s not a show you need to necessarily watch in order if you’re into having a little chaos in your life, but the two best episodes are ‘The Fundraiser” (S3E7) and “The Trail of Robert Kelly” (S1E2). My college roommates and I probably watched those specific episodes at least once a week. They are constantly quoted in our group chat and still have us rolling on the floor in tears every single rewatch. Truly, Boondocks is a top-tier show and can hold its own against any show. 

#1 – Invincible 

This may very well be the recency bias talking, but this is one of the best shows I’ve watched in a long time. Since the first season ended, I have been going back and forth on spending $150 on the entire comic book collection to read and finish the story. I need to know what happens. 

Invincible is a perfect mix of a coming-of-age story in a world of superheroes meets “What the heck just happened?! Oh my god. Did the writers just do that?” type of plot. 

I don’t want to rant about how amazing this show is because I don’t want to spoil the twists. Go and watch the first episode. Get past the first 30 minutes that feel a little slow, and get to the good part. You’ll know it when you see it. If you get hooked and binge-watch the rest of the season, then lucky you. If you do not like the first episode, then you definitely will not like this show. Fans loved the show so much that when Amazon renewed it for a new season, it got picked up for a Season 2 and a Season 3. I cannot hype this show up enough. I loved it. 

And, if you’re into anime, check out our shone anime recommendations.

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