In the early days of film, most cartoons were geared towards families. However, because there was no strict guidelines or censorship in place, many were able to sneak in adult humor. In 1922, the Hayes code was introduced that created guidelines and codes for films to follow. By the 30’s, the code was being enforced and profanity, nudity, violence and sexuality were absolutely nowhere to be found. In the late 60’s/early 70’s, things began to relax a bit but not for animation. It was still viewed by many as a medium for only children and not adults. Ralph Bakshi played a very important role in establishing animation as a way that any story can be told rather than being specific for children. 1972’s Fritz The Cat was the first animated cartoon to receive an X rating. The film was noted for dealing with race relations, political tensions, drug use and nudity. The success of adult animated films expanded into television. These animated series are massively popular but in many cases, are unsuitable for children. These shows are often sophisticated in their storytelling. They also feature adult content, nudity, profanity, sexuality and dark humor. Also, they will tackle social, political and philosophical subjects. Here is a look at 12 awesome adult animated sitcoms that your children shouldn’t watch.
12) The Simpsons December 17, 1989 – Present
The Simpsons is considered one of the greatest shows of all time. The series revolves around the many mis-adventures of The Simpsons Family and the residents of Springfield. It’s a groundbreaking series that helped change television. At the time, it was the most successful animated sitcom that was geared towards adults and teenagers. As time has gone on, the series is certainly not nearly as controversial as some other series. However, when it first debuted, it caused an enormous amount of controversy. Many criticized the series for its subject matter and adult humor. However, a majority of the controversy was centred on a mischievous 10 year old boy, Bart Simpson. He was rebellious, didn’t care about school and talked back to parents and teachers. Many felt that he was a poor role model. In fact, many Bart Simpson t-shirts were banned from being worn at schools by kids. However, the series is now universally praised. Perhaps, it’s the one series on this list that is somewhat okay for children to watch. Most importantly, the rest of the series on the list probably wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for The Simpsons
11) King of the Hill January 12, 1997 – May 6, 2010
King of the Hill was created by Mike Judge and Greg Daniels. The series centered on a middle class family living in Alen, Texas. The series was a massive hit for the Fox Network and was the second longest running animated series on the network. The show was more like a Prime Time drama than a typical cartoon, as it dealt with everyday life and problems. The humor and storylines were directed towards a mature audience, such as teenagers and adults.
10) Wait Till Your Father Gets Home 1972-1974
Wait Till Your Father Gets Home was a Hanna-Barbera production. It is considered the first adult animated sitcom in prime time. Although, The Flintstones is considered an adult animated sitcom that had aired about 10 years earlier in prime time. Wait Till Your Father Gets Home was inspired by the massively successful and highly controversial series, All In The Family. The series usually dealt with the generation gap between the main character, Harry Boyle and his kids.
9) Futurama March 28, 1999 – September 4, 2013
Futurama is a science fiction animated series that follows a 20th century New York City Pizza boy living in a futuristic New York City, in the 31st century. The series was created by Matt Groening. The series features, dark, satirical humor and a drunk robot. The show is better suited for teenagers and adults. The show has received universal critical acclaim.
8) Duckman May 5, 1994 – September 6, 1997
Duckman was created by Everett Peck and aired on the USA Network. The series centred around a private detective/duck, Eric T. Duckman who is voiced by Jason Alexander. Duckman is a terrible detective who is lazy, incompetent and to top it all off, is a sexual deviant.
7) The Ren & Stimpy Show August 11, 1991 – December 16, 1995
The Ren & Stimpy Show focused on the lives of Ren Hoek and Stimpson J. Cat, an unstable Chihuahua and dimwitted cat, respectively. The series is considered groundbreaking and helped pave the way for adult animated sitcoms. The series was known for its sexual innuendos, gruesome violence, harsh language and crude and dark humor. Regardless, it’s considered one of the most important and greatest animated sitcoms.
6) Drawn Together October 27, 2004 – November 14, 2007
Drawn Together follows the lives of parodied cartoon characters on a reality show. The series is known for its dark humor and dealing with taboo subjects, such as, rape, incest and racism. The series has dealt with homosexuality and abortion, as well. The series and humor is geared towards a very mature audience.
5) The Boondocks November 6, 2005 – June 23, 2014
The Boondocks follows the lives of two African-American brothers who move to a mostly white neighbourhood. It was created by Aaron McGruder and based on his controversial comic strip of the same name. The series deals with the mixing of lifestyles, cultures, stereotypes and racism. The series is noted for its profanity and its sometimes excessive use of racial slurs. The series caused controversy when it lampooned the B.E.T Network. The series won the 2006 Peabody Award for the controversial episode, “Return of the King”.
4) Robot Chicken February 20, 2005 – Present
Robot chicken is a stop-motion animated sketch comedy series that was created by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich. Seth Green also voices many of the characters on the series. The show is known for its crude humor and dealing with taboo subjects. One recurring sketch, parodies America’s Funniest Home Videos Hosted By Bob Saget. The parody ends with the host committing suicide each time. The series is universally critically acclaimed.
3) Family Guy January 31, 1999 – Present
Family Guy follows the lives of the Griffin Family living in Quahog. The series is created by Seth Macfarlane and is known for its crude sense of humor, adult content and sometimes, being very mean spirited. The series is often criticized for its jokes about religion, rape and domestic violence. The series has been a target of the P.T.C (Parents Television Council) and is often on their list of “Worst TV shows to be viewed by a family.” It’s certainly a show that is not suitable for children. Despite that, the series is very popular with adults and teenagers. Seth Macfarlane also created the controversial shows, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. Both shows received the same criticism as Family Guy.
2) Beavis and Butt-head March 8, 1993 – November 28, 1997
Beavis and Butt-Head is considered a classic adult animated cartoon. The series was created by Mike Judge. The series revolved around two rock-loving, social outcasts. The series is considered an important part of 90’s youth culture and was known for its crude humor. The series has caused a ton of controversy during its run. Many critics at the time felt the series promoted bad behavior amongst kids and teenagers. One episode had Beavis chanting fire repeatedly. A real life incident occurred when a 5 year old set fire to his home, killing his little sister. The series was blamed for the incident. The word “fire” was then banned from the show by the network. Regardless, the series was universally praised for its writing, sense of humor and depictions of Generation X. The series was highly influential, especially on South Park creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
1) South Park August 13, 1997 – Present
South Park centers on the lives of four best friends living in Colorado. The series is rated TV-MA and is meant for a more mature audience. The show features profanity, nudity and deals with taboo subjects. The series is created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who consider themselves to be “equal opportunity offenders.” Basically, nobody is safe from their mockery and being the butt of a South Park joke. The series has caused a lot of controversy and has been criticized for its sometimes negative portrayal of Jesus and its excessive use of profanity. The episode, “Proper Condom Use”, centered on teaching proper sex education to young children. Upon its initial success, South Park t-shirts were banned for being worn at schools. Regardless, it remains one of the most popular series of all time. It’s been both critically and commercially acclaimed.