The Best Adult Animated TV Shows

Story posted March 30, 2021 in

Not all animated shows are for children. Exploring many topics, like deep philosophy, dark humor, and even just straight up violence, adult animated shows provide comedic relief for those old enough to enjoy them. In this listicle, the Arts and Entertainment Department dive into some of the best adult animated shows that have been released.

Big Mouth (2017 – Present)

One of the best adult animated TV show of the 21st century is “Big Mouth,” hands down.

Many famous and talented actors voice the characters, such as John Mulaney, Nick Kroll, Maya Rudolph, Fred Armisen, and many others. As the title clearly states, the animators drew the characters with big mouths which makes them look ugly and awkward.

That’s the point, however, because the show is about puberty, growing up, and discovering what life is about. What stands out about this show is that it is genuine and blunt. It discusses important topics that just about everyone can relate to. Especially the characters. Every viewer knows a character in the show or can connect with one of the characters.

It is hysterically real, and everyone can enjoy. The show can be watched on the streaming service Netflix and There are four seasons so far. – Emily McGlynn

Family Guy (1999 – Present)

When it comes to dark, adult humor, viewers can thank Seth MacFarlane for gifting audiences with hilarious content. “Family Guy” cannot be labeled ‘unfunny.’

The show has been around since 1999, following an average American family but with a talking dog. Every character has their own quirks and political incorrectness. The satire is so random, so outrageous that it is almost unbelievable. The animators and writers are not afraid to show whatever crosses their minds.

It is so different than any other adult animated show, or any show of that matter. Viewers who like dark, twisted humor will love the series. McFarlane voices most of the characters, but other great actors are on the show like Mila Kunis, Seth Green, and Alex Borstein.

“Family Guy” can be watched on Fox or on the streaming service Hulu. At least one point in your life, you need to watch this show, one of the best adult animated TV shows. – Emily McGlynn

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South Park (1997 – Present)

Not only is South Park one of the best adult animated series in TV, it is one of the best shows in television history. To back that up, South Park has been nominated for 18 different Emmy’s and has won 4 of them, all for Outstanding Animated Program.

South Park has been dominating the animated genre for 24 years now, with 23 seasons, 2 specials, and 1 movie. South Park is officially the “longest scripted series in primetime cable history” with 310 episodes, per cheatsheet.com.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the writers, creators, and voices of the series, have made a mockery of social commentary over the past 20 plus years. In the more recent seasons of South Park, Parker and Stone have made everybody in the media look stupid and have constantly come out on top of any social or political topic of debate.

Parker and Stone are really some of the smartest writers in history, and incredibly written material is the main reason why South Park is one of greatest adult animated series of all time. – Sam Roberts

Bojack Horseman (2014 – 2020)

One of the most slept on adult animated series available is Netflix’s Bojack Horseman, starring Will Arnett, Aaron Paul, Allison Brie, Amy Sedaris, and Paul F. Tompkins. Bojack Horseman is a show about a 90s sit-com actor who is trying to find purpose in his life as he battles alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, an abusive childhood, and incredible self-hatred.

Arnett, who voices the titular character, along with the writers do a fantastic job at diving into the mind of someone who is battling a mountain of mental health issues. The series takes us on a journey through all the highs and horrors of battling mental health, while also following a character who is trying to regain his acting credibility in Hollywood.

The show has an incredible influx of tones in it, from being incredible dark and depressing to being absurdly goofy with its animation style and wordplay.

Bojack Horseman has been nominated for 3 Emmy’s and has won a handful of Writers Guild of America Awards and Critics Choice Awards. Bojack Horseman is Netflix’s most brilliant yet underrated series on the platform. – Sam Roberts

Rick and Morty (2013 - Present)

Created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, “Rick and Morty” quickly became one of the most popular animated shows since its debut in 2013. Roiland also voices both the genius scientist Rick Sanchez and his grandson Morty Smith.

The series follows the wild adventures of Rick and Morty while they travel through the multiverse and the universe, while also interweaving family drama and pop culture references.

“Rick and Morty” has been praised by critics and audiences for its originality, creativity, humor, and sharp writing. What makes the show stand out is how it balances between the sci-fi comedy and philosophical lessons.

Throughout the four seasons, viewers slowly learn that having every answer to the universe isn’t always a good thing, and the biggest takeaway of the show is to enjoy the simple things in life. 

As Morty says it perfectly, “Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody's gonna die. Come watch TV.”

“Rick and Morty” is an exceptionally well written show that can not only make people laugh, but challenges the audiences’ perspectives on different philosophical topics. – Jimmy Lu

Harley Quinn (2019 - Present)

The character of Harley Quinn has been popularized by the movie “Suicide Squad,” and DC wasted no time in developing an animated series on her. “Harley Quinn” premiered in 2019, and the story follows Harley’s self-discovery journey after breaking up with the Joker.

The show focuses on the side characters from the DC comics such as Poison Ivy, Clayface, Dr. Psycho, and King Shark. “Harley Quinn” quickly proves that it could be DC’s funniest animated show yet.

The voice cast not only captures the essence of the characters, but they all bring out the comedic sides of them, specifically Kaley Cuoco as Harley, Lake Bell as Poison Ivy and Alan Tudyk as the Joker, Clayface, and many other characters.

The show is also not afraid to make fun of its own characters and being completely self-aware. The humorous and unapologetic tone, excellent voice acting, and the colorful yet gory animation makes “Harley Quinn” a violently delightful show for the charismatic antiheroine. Season 3 will premiere soon on HBO MAX. – Jimmy Lu

Emily McGlynn is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email esm5378@psu.edu.
Sam Roberts is a junior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email sam.robertspsu00@gmail.com.

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu is a senior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email jfl5603@psu.edu

About the Contributors

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Sam Roberts

Sophomore / Telecommunications

Sam Roberts is a sophomore majoring in telecommunications who is a member in the Commradio arts department. He is usually writing reviews for singles, albums, movies, and TV shows.

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu's photo

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu

Senior / Telecommunications

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu is a senior from Taiwan majoring in telecommunications at Penn State. He is a contributing writer for the CommRadio arts & entertainment department. If you’d like to contact him, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Emily McGlynn's photo

Emily McGlynn

Freshman / Broadcast Journalism

Emily McGlynn is a freshman from Birmingham, Michigan majoring in broadcast journalism at Penn State. She is a writer for the CommRadio arts & entertainment department as well as a member of the CommRadio news team. She is on the 5:30 Wednesday news broadcast every week. She uploads about one or two movie or album reviews each week. Listening to music and watching movies are some of her favorite things to do, and she wants to share her differing opinions with everyone else. To contact her, email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).