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13 Must-Watch Animated Shows For Grown-Ups

13 Must-Watch Animated Shows For Grown-Ups

1. Archer

Archer

FX

Archer is such an adult comedy that it’s almost necessary for it to be animated. You have to wonder if we would find the characters quite as charming if they were live-action, what with all the scheming, insults, and completely inappropriate behavior. Plus, with all the action set pieces, the budget would be astronomical.

Watch it if: You’re into workplace comedies, and won’t mind the occasional well-placed Auschwitz joke.

Currently available on: Netflix; new episodes air Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/9 CT on FX

 

2. Frisky Dingo

Frisky Dingo

Cartoon Network / Adult Swim

If you already watch and enjoy Archer, you might want to check out the Archer team’s earlier work, Frisky Dingo. The show centers on a slightly inept supervillain bent on using his weapon, the Annihilatrix, to destroy the planet…but only if his PR campaign to get his blackmail money fails.

Watch it if: You want Archer, but just a little crazier.

Currently available on: Hulu

 

3. Metalocalypse

Metalocalypse

Cartoon Network / Adult Swim

Do you like your brutal dismemberment with a side of humor? Metalocalypse is your show. It follows a death metal band, Dethklok, made up of international superstars of questionable intelligence. And every time they play a concert, people die. Horribly. It’s both gruesome and hilarious!

Watch it if: You don’t mind when things get brutal.

Currently available on: Hulu

 

4. Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop

Funimation

If you missed this one back when it first hit the U.S., it’s absolutely worth a watch, whether you’re an anime fan or not. The show centers on a group of bounty hunters in the far future, after humans have colonized other planets in our solar system. There are a lot of fights, some philosophy, plenty of humor…overall, pretty great stuff.

Watch it if: You want to see the original Firefly.

Currently available on: Hulu

 

5. The Venture Bros.

The Venture Bros.

Cartoon Network / Adult Swim

Remember those old adventure cartoons from the ’70s, like Johnny Quest? Well, this show imagines what it would be like if those adventure kids and superheroes grew up and tried to make it in today’s world, with all the neuroses of their honestly pretty traumatic childhoods along with them. Dr. Venture is raising two kids and dealing with a supervillain archnemesis that he never asked for, so it’s understandable that he’s a little cynical about the world.

Watch it if: You ever wondered about the politics of being a registered hero, or you want to see David Bowie as a shape-shifting supervillain.

Currently available on: Hulu

 

6. FLCL

FLCL

Funimation

Do you like coming-of-age stories? Here’s one about a boy who, after an encounter with an alien girl who’s inexplicably obsessed with him, starts growing weird objects out of a protrusion in his forehead. Yeah, pretty sure that’s a metaphor. It’s a wild and weird ride, but incredibly funny and somehow perfectly relatable, even if you’ve never been consumed by a fighting robot.

Watch it if: You’ve seen a few anime shows before — that way you’ll get more of the jokes.

Currently available on: Hulu

 

7. Moral Orel

Moral Orel

Cartoon Network / Adult Swim

Don’t let the appearance of Moral Orel fool you; the Claymation show is styled after those Christian cartoons you saw as a kid, but they’re pretty much the opposite of them in every way. Orel, a boy living in a small Christian town, tries his best to live a Christian life. But as things go on and he learns more about the world, including the hypocritical leaders of his church and his father’s abusive, alcoholic nature, he starts to lose faith. It’s brutally depressing, but incredibly well done.

Watch it if: You’re a fan of Dan Harmon and any of his projects, like Anomalisa, Rick and Morty, or Community.

Currently available on: Hulu

 

8. Kill la Kill

Kill la Kill

Aniplex

Some anime series are very self-serious, introspective, and subdued. Not this one. Kill la Kill is a show that plays off of — and often mocks — common anime tropes. For example, our heroine, Ryuko, isn’t thrilled at first at how skimpy her magical outfit becomes when she transforms (take that, Sailor Moon). It might seem sexist at first, but with a largely female main cast where the women are in charge and always best the men in combat, it’s more feminist than you’d think.

Watch it if: You want some crazy-ass action and, yes, a little bit of “fan service.”

Currently available on: Netflix and Hulu

 

9. Adventure Time

Adventure Time

Cartoon Network

OK, so Adventure Time isn’t ~actually~ for adults, but the show gets surprisingly deep for a kids’ show. There’s a lot you can learn about life, love, and being bros by watching Adventure Time, so it’s perfectly acceptable for you to watch it as a grown-up person.

Watch it if: You like having something fun yet surreal to watch without having to think about it much.

Currently available on: Hulu

 

10. BoJack Horseman

BoJack Horseman

Netflix

At its core, BoJack Horseman is really just a show about Hollywood, adulthood, and the emotional baggage we all carry. The fact that it’s animated and features talking animals is just a detail. Come for the comedy, stay for the unexpected realness.

Watch it if: You’ve ever had a bad day.

Currently available on: Netflix

 

11. One-Punch Man

One-Punch Man

Viz Media

Normally, superhero stories are about a hero overcoming the odds and beating a more powerful opponent with hard work and determination. In One-Punch Man, our hero is already the strongest being alive. He’s so strong that he can beat any enemy with just one punch, and frankly it’s made his life a little boring. There’s a lot of comedy here, but the action is pretty great too.

Watch it if: You’ve ever wondered what it would be like if superheroes had to be part of a union.

Currently available on: Hulu

 

12. Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan

Funimation

If you want the ~opposite~ of bright and cheery, avoid One-Punch Man and watchAttack on Titan instead. This show is like the Game of Thrones of anime: Things are generally pretty upsetting without a lot of hope of getting better. But the action scenes are super cool!

Watch it if: You want shit to get real.

Currently available on: Netflix and Hulu

 

13. Bob’s Burgers

Bob's Burgers

Fox

Since it’s network TV, Bob’s Burgers is clean enough that it could be for kids, too. But it’s definitely an adult show, with a specific brand of humor that kids just won’t fully get. Also, sorry, Seth MacFarlane fans: It’s the best animated show on the Sunday Fox lineup.

Watch it if: You like burger-related puns.

Currently available on: Netflix and Hulu; new episodes Sundays at 8:30 p.m. ET/7:30 CT on Fox

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Comments

  • Draculya

    It's bad enough that my kids quote South Park

  • diemorondie

    I am severely disappointed by the lack of Rick and Morty. I'd also like to recommend Over the Garden Wall, a small series of shorts that Cartoon Network did a while back. You can watch the whole thing on Hulu in the time it would take you to watch a good 2 hour movie, and it is SO worth it. Elijah Wood is in it. That should hook you right there.

  • Corpsecrank

    If you want to see a real cartoon for adults just go back and watch the flintstones. As a kid the show was ok but go back and watch it as an adult and it is a completely different thing all together.

  • Vimto

    I'd like to second Rick and Morty, it has moments of pure genius. Watch the multi universe one and tell me they weren't just trying to give the animators a nervous breakdown. Personally I'm currently going back through the 90s WB DC animations on Netflix (Bruce Timm/Kevin Conroy/Alan Burnett et al) - I'd (not) forgetten how good they were, and the quality of the voice actors was amazingl.

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