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8 Animated Shows That Need An Adult Revamp –

 

 

Childhood is tragically one of those things you never can truly appreciate until it’s gone. Early adulthood is rough and while we’re witnessing our parents age, struggling to navigate the job market and drowning in debt, it is easy to become nostalgic for the simplicity of adolescence.

Luckily there are a plethora of cartoons for all 20 and 30-somethings to look back on with fondness. The 90s and 2000s were a golden age for cartoons aimed at children. Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network were never better, both producing programming that ranged from cult classics to international mega-franchises.

Many of these shows were great and it is sometimes best to leave well enough alone. Although most of those cartoons you remember should be left in your youth, there are some, with a little alteration, that could be adapted to an older audience.

8. Rocko’s Modern Life

Nickelodeon

Rocko’s Modern Life ran for four seasons on Nickelodeon from 1993-96, producing over 50 episodes. The show followed the titular Rocko, a Wallaby as he navigated his, well, modern life.

The early 90s was a period in which the lines between adult and children’s programming were somewhat blurry. Existing episodes are already filled with adult innuendo and hidden jokes, so the show should just drop some of the subtlety and make a return.

Rocko’s Modern Life almost feels as if it is an early ancestor of BoJack Horseman. It may have lacked the complexity and character development BoJack offers (no surprise given it was meant for children), but it still offered a humorous and charming take on our mundane existence. Cynicism is in and maybe no children’s show from its era is as capable of capturing it as Rocko’s Modern Life.

Since the end of the show’s original run, it has gained a bit of a cult following, as shows like Rocko’s Modern Life often do. Who knows if the creators would be willing to return, given that many of them have had continued success in the realm of child programming. If they were, however, there is a dedicated following already in place for Rocko’s return.

7. Johnny Bravo

Cartoon Network

Johnny Bravo was produced by Hanna-Barbera, airing its first episode on July 14th, 1997. The show ran for four seasons as one of Cartoon Network’s classic Cartoon Cartoons lineup, which featured the likes of Dexter’s Laboratory and Ed, Edd N Eddy.

Johnny Bravo was centered on the titular character as he tried to impress women using cheesy pickup lines and quick action muscle flexing. As someone that watched this show as a kid it is difficult to believe the first episode premiered over 20 years ago, but as an adult living in 2018, it is hard to imagine a show like this ever being made.

More so than any other show on this list, Johnny Bravo is a wildcard. In the past year, there has been a wave of high profile sexual harassment and assault allegations. Women feel more empowered than ever to speak publicly on their experiences and condemn harmful behavior. This is a welcomed societal change, but it is hard to imagine a character like Johnny Bravo not being problematic in today’s environment.

With this in mind, it would be important for a hypothetical Johnny Bravo reboot to become smarter and gain some nuance. If not, at least make him a character we love despite knowing he’s a bit of a jerk. If the show were to make one of those adjustments, it could prove to be an insightful look at single life, dating and relationship dynamics, or at least prove cathartic when he’s inevitably punched in the face.

6. KaBlam!

Nickelodeon

The first episode of KaBlam! aired in October of 1996, running for four seasons through early 2000. KaBlam! was the only animated program on Nickelodeon’s SNICK lineup, meant for slightly older audiences, possibly making its transition to adult content the easiest leap on this list.

KaBlam was a sketch comedy show, utilizing a variety of animation styles and creators. Hosted by two animated children Henry and June as they introduced different segments, using a comic as a framing device. Most notable shorts and cartoons included Action League Now!, Prometheus and Bob and Angela Anaconda

Perhaps what makes KaBlam! an ideal selection for a leap toward mature content is its’ format as a variety program. Although it would be nice to see the Action League Now! figures back in play, the show is in no way hitched to its previous shorts and sketches. They could offer a new group of creators the opportunity to showcase their work, giving audiences a fresh spin on a show that has an obscure following.

If you need a comparison, you can look towards Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken. In this particular case, however, an adult KaBlam! reboot could realistically top Seth Green’s creation and pave the way for a new collection of animated content.

5. Ren & Stimpy

Nickelodeon

Another show with, take a guess, a cult following. Ren and Stimpy was one of the three original Nicktoons, along with Rugrats and Doug, premiering its first of five seasons in August of 1991. The show focused on Ren, an erratic Chihuahua and Stimpy, a moronic cat as they went on gross adventure after gross adventure.

Much like Rocko’s Modern Life, this show would find it difficult to be classified as a kids cartoon today. That should make for a smooth transition to more mature content.

This show, however, was far less subtle than its Nickelodeon counterpart when delivering its more mature punchlines. Ren and Stimpy were often the focus of controversy in the early 90s, ranging from network censorship to protests from parental groups.

What sets Ren and Stimpy apart from the other entries on this list is that a more adult version of the show has already been done. In 2003, Spike TV aired new episodes of the show intended for older audiences. However, the network was underwhelming and never got its footing with original programming.

Ren and Stimpy deserves another chance with a better network. This show was always better served for an older crowd and deserves a proper chance at fruition.

4. Powerpuff Girls

Cartoon Network

This list is mostly comprised of shows with niche, cult followings. This is the exception as the Powerpuff Girls was one of the most popular children’s shows of its age, debuting in November of 1998. The show focused on three sisters, Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup, as they protected the city of Townsville from evil for six seasons.

The Powerpuff Girls were arguably the most recognizable protagonists in the Cartoon Cartoons lineup and have remained in the hearts of fans since. The show boasted charming humor, lovable heroes, solid action sequences and a surprisingly deep roster of rogues and villains, including the demonic Him, the girls’ male opposites the RowdyRuff Boys and the iconic primate punching bag Mojo JoJo.

The Powerpuff Girls seem like an odd choice for an adult makeover, but it really wouldn’t be much of a leap. Adult doesn’t necessarily mean violent or vulgar, just more sophisticated. Instead of stories being told in 11-minute segments, show creators could develop more involved storylines, much like Samurai Jack’s revival.

With a more complex narrative and more leniency with action sequences, a Powerpuff Girls reboot on Adult Swim could not only give long-admired characters more depth, but also be a worthy parody of superhero tropes.

3. Gargoyles

Disney Television Animation

Gargoyles aired 78 episodes over three seasons in the mid 90s. It is hard to forget, as it was one of the best cartoons of the decade.

In many ways, Gargoyles was Disney’s solid answer to the now legendary Batman: The Animated Series. The shows shared similar themes, settings and intricate narratives. With this, it would be reasonable to infer that Gargoyles would still command attention today, given the continued popularity of its rival series.

If given a revamp, Gargoyles would have a wider, more forgiving range than most entries on this list. The show could continue with a similar tone to the 90s program. Although not aimed towards adults, the art style and drama can be admired by children and adults alike.

It could also go way overboard, going ultra dark and violent. A healthy model would be HBO’s Spawn, which also aired in the 90s, or Netflix’s Castlevania. Both shows have been celebrated by critics and have dedicated followers a Gargoyles revamp could enjoy.

The former scenario is more likely than the latter, given Disney’s hesitancy to produce R-Rated movies and MA television. Frankly, there is money in not alienating kids. Still, a revamp true to its 90s roots would a welcomed addition to Disney’s animated arsenal.

2. Invader Zim

Nickelodeon

The term Cult Classic has been used plenty in this article, but no entry fits the description better than Invader Zim. It is the shortest running series on this list, only producing 27 episodes in its two seasons on the air.

Show creator Jhonen Vasquez initially wanted Invader Zim to cater to older audiences, but the show couldn’t create a wide enough viewer base. A few production difficulties later and it was cancelled before its second season finished.

Series shortcomings considered, it resonated with the audience it did manage to garner and has remained a fixture in the fan community. The show also received high marks from critics, even winning a Primetime Emmy in 2001.

With an eye-catching animation style and material that was both surreal and subversive, Invader Zim was, in many ways, ahead of its time. Similarly, Futurama experienced issues in ratings and production, which lead to its cancellation in 2003. Maybe our world wasn’t ready for a show of this nature in the early 2000s.

However, there have been adult animated shows since that have used similar settings and themes to great success, most notably Rick and Morty, TBS’ Final Space and even Futurama’s revival on Comedy Central. There is now a clear demographic for the likes of Zim.

Nickelodeon must have taken notice, as an Invader Zim television film is scheduled for release in 2019. We can only hope people tune in and encourage a mature series reboot.

1. Batman Beyond

Warner Bros.

Proving Bruce Timm does no wrong, Batman Beyond, first airing in early 1999, was a follow-up series to Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures.

The show is set in future Gotham, as Terry McGinnis carries the title of Batman and helps reclaim the city from crime with the help of an elderly Bruce Wayne. Not unlike its main protagonist, the show had quite the lineage to live up to, but delivered in a satisfactory fashion. Dark without brooding, lively and not void of depth, the show was lauded by both critics and fans.

Batman Beyond may have a better case for an adult revamp than any other entry on this list. Yes, the show was originally intended for children, but the tone and complexity made it a favorite for fans of all ages. We’ve also seen Timm produce classic, original DC stories for adults, such as Batman: Under the Red Hood and Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.

DC also has a new streaming service, DC Universe, and could use a show with a dedicated following. The service will already host the recently revived Young Justice, which will focus on an older viewership. DC clearly knows they have an audience for adult animation, so they should do everything they can to take advantage.

Warner Bros. will assuredly look for more ideas for DC Universe original programming. A take on Terry McGinnis’ Dark Knight that embraces its maturity would be a guaranteed hit.

 

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