Good news, everyone! Thanks to Hulu, we’re heading back to the Futurama.
It has been nearly a decade since the animated series ended its run. Created by Matt Groening (The Simpsons) and David X. Cohen, Futurama saw five seasons on Fox. It then jumped to Comedy Central a few years later for three more seasons, before ending in 2013.
Now, much like Fry himself, the show is getting thawed out once again. Hulu is reviving Futurama after finalizing deals for 20 new episodes. We don’t have an exact release date yet, but it looks to be hitting the streaming service sometime in 2023.
“It’s a true honor to announce the triumphant return of Futurama one more time before we get canceled abruptly again,” said Groening. Over the years, Groening has complained that the series got the shaft at Fox. The network felt it was “too dark and mean-spirited.”
Hey, those six Emmy wins prove otherwise, Fox. Anyway…
With the show’s “triumphant” return, it got me thinking about all the really cool animated series that are geared towards adults. After all, cartoons aren’t just for kids! 20 years of Adult Swim programming backs me up on that.
For the sake of this list, I’m skipping anime series. I love it, and I feel that it deserves its own list.
So, here we go. Here are some of the best-animated series for adults – in no particular order!
Set in a fictional Texas town called Arlen, King of the Hill revolves around propane salesman Hank Hill, his family, and his neighbors. There’s his wife Peggy, a substitute Spanish teacher; his always-awkward son Bobby; plus his odd friends Bill, Dale, and Boomhauer. While it’s a straightforward premise – a slice of Americana and simple small-town life – it’s nuanced, relatable, and funny.
The Venture Bros follows the bizarre escapades of Dr. Thaddeus “Rusty” Venture; his competent, action-ready bodyguard Brock Samson; and his two incompetent, excitable, and very gullible twin sons, Hank and Dean. Dr. Venture’s arch-nemesis is The Monarch, an aspiring supervillain modeled after a butterfly who operates out of a base shaped like a giant cocoon. It’s certainly a wild ride, which is probably why it became one of Adult Swim’s longest-running original series.
If you thought The Venture Bros sounded peculiar, Aqua Teen Hunger Force is here to make the homies say ho and the girlies say “what in the world did I just watch?” It’s a bizarre story of anthropomorphic food items – a selfish shake, some smart french fries, and an incompetent meatball – living in a house in South Jersey. They work together to ward off villains from Dr. Weird’s lair and aggravate their neighbor, Carl.
In a world where humans and anthropomorphic animals exist side-by-side, BoJack Horseman is a self-loathing, washed-up actor living in Hollywood and complaining about everything. Oh, and he’s a horse voiced by Will Arnett. The show is a mockery of show biz, but it’s also dealing with some pretty deep stuff as it focuses on someone struggling to put his life back on track. Did I mention it’s also funny?
Beavis and Butt-Head is definitely one of the best cartoons from the ’90s–and one of the most iconic shows ever, if you ask me. These two teenage delinquents love heavy metal and they think everything sucks. There’s plenty of satirical, scathing commentary on society… and gross, lowbrow humor to go along with it. It was considered so lewd at the time that MTV had to bump it to after 11 pm and include a disclaimer about how the characters were completely made up.
Daria Morgendorffer was everyone’s favorite smart and cynical high schooler in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. She uses all that sharp sarcasm to ridicule the public education system, suburban life, and American pop culture as a whole. In other words, she was saying everything we were already thinking. It was a fresh take on a high school setting, where instead of focusing on popular cheerleaders and high school romance, Daria was dealing with a smart kid’s struggle with being an outcast struggling with her moral integrity. You know, but in a funny way.
Archer takes place in an alternate universe that mixes elements from the 1960s up to the 2000s. The USSR still exists in this Cold-War era universe, but so does the internet and cars from the 1980s. Sterling Archer is an experienced and deadly spy who lives for the mission, except all that espionage and investigation takes a backseat to the personal exploits of the spies.
Adult Swim has a way with animated shows geared towards older audiences, and Rick and Morty is one of their best. The series revolves around Morty, a good-hearted 14-year-old kid, and his grandpa Rick, a cynical mad scientist who causes catastrophes as he travels through space and time. Seems pretty normal, right? There aren’t any blatant heroes or villains here, just a bunch of dysfunctional characters showing the absurdity of existence.
This adult animated sitcom features the Freemans, a Black family settling into the largely white, upper-middle-class suburbs. Riley and Huey experience culture shock when they move from Chicago to live with their short-tempered grandfather in the fictional suburb of Woodcrest. One boy is a mischievous gangsta rap fan who has plenty of misadventures. His brother, however, is the family’s voice of reason and is usually focused on social justice and politics. Together, they meet a cast of exaggerated characters, and the mix of cultures and social classes leads to a lot of important topics on the show.
An animated series doesn’t have to be filled with lewd humor to be successful, and Bob’s Burgers certainly proves that. The series is all about parents Bob and Linda Belcher, plus their awkward and mischievous kids: Tina, Gene, and Louise. They run a burger joint in an unnamed seaside community and live upstairs on the second floor. The characters are both funny and relatable. There are also plenty of heartwarming messages to go along with the laughs, too. And darn that Jimmy Pesto!
Home Movies isn’t the most popular animated series out there, but it’s still one of my favorites. I love the way it manages to create an interesting, engaging show out of something so simple: 8-year-old Brendon Small likes to direct his own films with his friends. But it is also about his life with a single mom, his bond with his soccer coach, and coming to terms with life. It’s been highly regarded by critics, and it was named one of IGN’s Top 100 Animated Series of All Time.
As someone who spent many years going to metal shows, I can say without a doubt the characters are hilarious stereotypes of every guy I ran into. Metalocalpyse follows the wild adventures of a death metal band. The exaggerated black comedy is filled with dark and macabre content, but sometimes there are kittens, too. The fact that the show is full of legitimate metal tracks doesn’t hurt, either.
Hilariously enough, Brendon Small created both Home Movies and Metalocalpyse. He voices Metalocalypse‘s Nathan Explosion as well as the autobiographical character on Home Movies. That’s two very different ends of the spectrum, there! He also voices Nathan’s bandmates Skwisgaar and Pickles.
It’s impossible to have a list of the best adult animation without including The Simpsons. Set in the fictional town of Springfield, it centers on the Simpsons and all of their neighbors. It offers a satirical look at the American family and American society in general. While it is considered kind of a family-friendly show now, I remember the controversy in the early days. I had friends who weren’t even allowed to watch it! Airing since 1989, it’s now the longest-running American animated series and the longest-running American sitcom.
Much like The Simpsons, you can’t talk about cartoons for adults without talking about South Park. I definitely knew kids that weren’t allowed to watch this show, and for good reason. It’s full of profanity, fart jokes, and dark, surreal humor. In the titular Colorado town, you’ll find friendly humble folks without temptation… or maybe just Cartman demanding you to respect his “authoritahhh.”
Here we are, circling back to Futurama. The entire show is ridiculous and hilarious. Pizza delivery guy Fry accidentally freezes himself for a thousand years and wakes up on December 31st, 2999. He gets a job with a delivery company and adjusts to life in the future with the likes of the one-eyed Leela, a robot named Bender that runs on booze, and Professor Farnsworth, his last living relative who is slightly senile.
With the show getting a revival on Hulu, we will finally get 20 more episodes of their adventures!