With many wildly successful animated series dominating television today, it's difficult for lesser known titles to get noticed. South Park and The Simpsons have since hit their 20th season, with Family Guy nearing the same milestone. Relative newcomers like Rick and Morty have risen in popularity, hoping to be the next adult cartoon that earns cult status and mass appeal.
Getting attention as a subversive and edgy adult cartoon isn't easy. In the past, shows like Ren and Stimpy and Beavis and Butt-Head qualified simply because they were the antithesis to My Little Pony and Transformers. Adults want a break from cartoons designed to sell toys and indulge in those that poke fun at their mundane, grown-up lives. For your viewing pleasure, here are the 10 most underrated adult carton shows of the last 20 years.
10 BIG MOUTH
While the show is bursting with more adult content than a prepubescent zit on picture day, if it was watched by more kids, it might actually spark some worthwhile conversations between them and their parents about the minefield that is growing up.
Big Mouth is buzzing on everyone's lips, but no one seems to be actually watching it. Season 3 is about to drop on Netflix this Fall, so the heartrendingly crude show all about the horrors of puberty will continue to take adults and adolescents on a journey of hilarious self discovery.
One would think that the latest animated series from Futurama and The Simpsons creator Matt Groening would be crazy popular, but alas, Disenchantment is languishing like a damsel in a tower waiting for prince charming to pucker up.
It follows the misadventures of oddball Princess Bean, who drinks like a barbarian, swears like a sailor, and has little interest in her royal duties. Together with her Elf friend Elfo and her personal demon Luci, she encounters all manner of fairytale creatures with a sword in one hand an a beerstein in the other. Season 2 streams on Netflix this Fall.
Metalocalypse premiered on Adult Swim in 2006, and enjoyed four sporadic seasons before it ended in 2013. It followed five members of Dethklok, the world's most famous death metal band you've never heard of. They were Nathan Explosion, Skwisgaar Skigelf, William Murderface, Pickles, and Toki Wartooth, who performed around the world to unprecedented levels of success.
The series poked fun at the real life tropes of metal bands like Metallica and Berserker while satirizing the music industry at large through its offbeat brand of incredibly dark humor and themes about death, greed, and self-destructive tendencies.
7 MOONBEAM CITY
If renowned '80s artist Patrick Nagel animated a television series, it would look exactly like Moonbeam City. A little bit Archer and Miami Vice, Moonbeam City featured the vocal talents of '80s stars Rob Lowe and Elizabeth Banks, non-stop gags relating to the stereotypes of the pastel-and-neon era, and a killer retro-wave soundtrack.
The series spoofed the extravagant crime dramas of the '80s by following playboy undercover detective Dazzle Novak as he tries to keep Moonbeam City safe. Meanwhile, his boss Pizzazz Miller breathes down his neck and the rookie Rad Cunningham wants to see him wash out.
6 HARVEY BIRDMAN, ATTORNEY AT LAW
An extremely clever animated series that ended in 2018, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law had something for everyone. By following ex-superhero-turned lawyer Harvey T. Birdman of Birdman and the Galaxy Trio fame, the show brought in many characters from classic '60s and '70s cartoons into the courtroom
Harvey Birdman represented the cases no one else wanted to, and though he was described as a third-rate lawyer, he often ended up winning because of his incredible conviction. He represented Hanna-Barbera cartoon icons like Fred Flintstone and George Jetson, while old enemies from Birdman and the Galaxy Trio represented the opposition.
5 THE AWESOMES
SNL vets Seth Meyers and Michael Shoemaker created The Awesomes, and it played out like an animated version of Mystery Men. After Mr. Awesome and almost every other superhero retires, his son Prock decides to take over.
Prock's team of heroes isn't on the same level as his dad's, but their hearts are in the right place. From Gadget Gal (an 85 year old woman using a rejuvenation spray to appear 25) to Frantic (the third fastest guy on Earth), it might seem like a pathetic premise if it wasn't so funny. It ran on Hulu for three seasons.
From the misanthropic minds behind Beavis and Butt-Head came Daria, the show about a cynical teenage girl surrounded by inferior intellects. Together with her equally jaded artsy friend Jane, they struggle to survive Lawndale High School and get to college where life would finally begin.
Daria ran from 1997 until 2002, with Daria becaming something of an icon for Gen X nihilists. The show represented a part of the '90s and early '00s with a sardonic perspective that wouldn't be amiss today, like slipping on an old favorite flannel shirt. We hear it may be getting a reboot.
3 SEALAB 2021
Based on Hanna-Barbera's old school animated series Sealab 2020, Sealab 2021 took footage from the iconic cartoon and put it to new plots. In this series, everyone aboard the sealab submarine has gone insane and they now actively hate each other, making collaborating aboard a multi-trillion dollar research vessel problematic.
None of the crew members make any sense to each other anymore, which lead to not only hilarious interactions but potentially dangerous scenarios. Like Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, this was a fun way to make something old fresh again, with new humor for a new generation.
2 TODD MCFARLANE'S SPAWN
Though it ended 20 years ago in 1999, Todd McFarlane's Spawn is still held up today as a grisly paragon of what adult animated series should look like. Forget Batman: The Animated Series - this had true palpable ambiance and moody atmosphere.
As the war between Heaven and Hell raged, Spawn, a resurrected mercenary now harvesting souls to free his damned spirit, was the ultimate embodiment of vengeance and a natural born poet. Unfortunately, between its visceral brutality and Spawn's philosophical musings, it was only going to appeal to a certain type of audience.
1 SPACE GHOST COAST TO COAST
What happens when a superhero is over 40, all of his arch-nemesis are dead or awaiting trial, and he faces eminent retirement? He starts his own late-night talk show to stay relevant, which is how Space Ghost Coast to Coast came into creation.
The series premiered in the mid-'90s, but after it was over it became a cult classic. Hanna-Barbera icon Space Ghost engaged in lively banter with live-action guests, including superhero television icons like Adam West and action superstars like Tom Cruise. We predict another injection of Space Ghost is due any year now.