Top Animated Sitcoms
List of the Top 20 Adult Cartoons
While traditionally cartoons, or animations, have been more towards the target audiences of children, there is a genre of television the tends to be more for adults, animated sitcoms. While as kids we all enjoyed the days of Nickelodeon or classic cartoons like Looney Toons, Scooby Doo, or even Marvel comics turning into live action television shows, but as many of us grew older the love for cartoons never went away. Even though many still love to view the classic cartoons we watched as children, the market for adult cartoons, or animated sitcoms, has been growing ever since the arrival of the Simpsons and Family Guy.
Top 20 Animated Sitcoms
The Simpsons is an adult animated program that, in the more than 30 years that the show started airing, has become one of the most iconic animated series of all time. The Simpsons follows the titular family — Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart and Maggie — in their various misadventures in the fictional town of Springfield. The series, which premiered on December 17, 1989, is the longest running animated series as well as the longest running scripted primetime program in the United States. As of 2021, 706 episodes of the series have aired.
2. South Park
South Park is an animated comedy intended for adult audiences that follow four young boys — Kyle Broflovski, Stan Marsh, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick — through their adventures in the titular Colorado town. The series, often considered controversial due to its dark and profane comedy, is one of the most popular animated series of recent decades, and, at the time of this writing, 309 episodes have been released. Like many shows of its kind, South Park sometimes can take a joke too far but, on the whole, the series is a sharp and surprisingly insightful parody and satirization of American life and culture.
3. Family Guy
Perhaps only behind The Simpsons and King of the Hill in terms of iconic, recognizable adult animation of the last 30 years, Family Guy is an animated sitcom created by Seth MacFarlane. Set in the fictional city of Quahog, Rhode Island, the show follows Peter Griffin and his family: his wife, two teenage children, a talking dog and talking baby. The series is perhaps most well known for its intricately set up cutaway gags that often rag on American pop culture.
4. Rick and Morty
One of if not the most popular adult animation programs currently airing, Rick and Morty is a comedy series that focuses on the intergalactic and interdimensional adventures of Rick, a crazed, self-obsessed alcoholic super-scientist and Morty, his high-school aged grandson. The show’s mix of comedic cynicism, mind-bending premises and impressive animation have made it a certified modern hit. The show’s fifth season premiered in 2021.
From the mind of Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Futurama is an animated series that aired on Fox and then Comedy Central between 1999 and 2013. The series is a parody as well as an homage to many science fiction stories and properties. The show one 12 Emmy awards during its run, and is regularly found near the top of lists that chronicle the best animated shows of all time.
Following the misadventures of a poorly-run, haphazard intelligence agency, Archer is an adult animated comedy that began in 2009. The show is famous, in part, for its constant reinvention — what once began as a workplace sitcom turned into a spy thriller turned into something else entirely and all the way back again. The series has won four Primetime Emmy Awards and four Critics Choice Awards, and is largely well regarded among critics and fans alike.
7. Bojack Horseman
Created exclusively for Netflix, Bojack Horseman is an animated comedy that is most known for its dark, depressing humor and its scathing satirization of Hollywood and the entertainment industry more broadly. Set in a world shared by humans as well as anthropomorphic animals, Bojack Horseman focuses on the titular character: an alcoholic, nihilistic washed-up actor named Bojack. The show’s final season aired in 2020 to widespread critical acclaim.
8. American Dad
Created by Seth MacFarlane, Matt Weitzman and Mike Barker, American Dad is an animated sitcom that often draws parallels with shows like Family Guy and The Cleveland Show, in large part due the creators of the series being the same. However, while McFarlane’s other shows find much of their comedy in cutaway gags, American Dad instead focuses on more traditional sitcom tropes, finding comedy in zany characters and wacky situations. The series is ongoing at the time of this writing, and is renewed through its 19th season.
9. The Boondocks
Based on the comic strip of the same name, The Boondocks is an adult animated comedy that tells the story of the Freemans, a black family who move into the white suburb of Woodcrest. The show, from the beginning, uses this dynamic to tell impactful yet comedic stories about the intersections between race, class, culture and more. A reboot/reimagining of the series is set to premiere on HBO Max in 2022, and original creator Aaron McGruder is said to be involved.
10. The Venture Bros.
The Venture Bros, while originally conceived as a spoof of superhero animation, has since turned into one of the best comedy, action adventure animated series ever made. The show, which holds a peculiar record of having the fewest seasons produced per year of continuous production, follows the story of the superpowered Venture family and their host of enemies and nemeses. While the show was finally cancelled in 2020, a feature length film is being produced to serve as an ending to the series.
11. F is for Family
Set in a fictional Pennsylvania town named Rustvale, F is For Family is an animated series created exclusively for Netflix by Bill Burr and Michael Price. The series follows the Murhpys, an Irish-American family navigating life in the American suburbs. While the first season received mixed reviews, the show has grown more and more well regarded as it has continued. Its fifth and final season is set to release within the next year.
Following his genre defining work on The Simpsons and Futurama, comedian and cartoonist Matt Groening created Disenchantment exclusively for Netflix in 2018. Set in a medieval fantasy world, Disenchantment follows Bean, a loudmouth, alcoholic princess who is accompanied and attended to by a whole host of fantasy sidekicks. The series, while well received at large, has been criticized for playing it a bit too safe, especially for Groening’s standards.
13. King of the Hill
Created by Mike Judge and Greg Daniels for the Fox network, King of the Hill is one of the most popular and recognizable American animated series of all time. The Hills, a family who live in Arlen, Texas, are the focus of this series, with Hank Hill, a working-class everyman with a thick Texas drawl, serving as the series’ protagonists. Much of the show’s humor is found in the mundane and realistic matters of the Hills suburban life. The series aired for 13 seasons and an impressive 259 episodes.
14. Aqua Teen Hunger Force
Aqua Teen Hunger Force is an adult animated series that was created for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block. The series follows three anthropomorphic fast food items: items: Master Shake, Frylock, and Meatwad. Created as a spin-off to Space Ghost Coast to Coast, the show was the longest-running series on Adult Swim until it was surpassed by Robot Chicken. The show ran for 11 seasons, and in May of 2021 a film adaptation, the series’ second, was announced online.
15. Beavis and Butt Head
Created by comedy giant Mike Judge, Beavis and Butthead is an animated series that ran from 1993 to 1997 on MTV. The show consists of eight seasons, seven of which aired in the 1990s. The eighth season, a revival of the series, aired in late 2011. Beavis and Butthead is perhaps best known for its “dumb” and lowbrow humor, though the series has received consistent praise from its beginning for its scathing social critique hidden within.
Daria is an animated series that aired on MTV between 1997 and 2002. Created as a spin-off to Beavis and Butthead, Daria follows the titular character as she observes and lives through life in an American high school at the turn of the century. The series was met with almost entirely positive reviews upon airing, and many critics praised Daria’s dry and intelligent humor for being a welcome departure from the more sordid affair often found on Beavis and Butthead.
17. Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
Created by Michael Ouweleen and Erik Richter, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law is an adult animated comedy that tells the story of the Sebben & Sebben law firm, which is mostly inhabited by superheroes from previous Hanna Barbera Saturday morning cartoons. Like Sealab 2021 and Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Harvey Birdman uses old footage and characters familiar to the audience for comedic effect. 39 episodes of the series aired across 4 seasons.
18. Home Movies
Centering on an eight-year-old filmmaker who makes homemade films with the help of his friends, Home Movies is an animated series that aired from 1999 to 2004. Much of the episodes rely on improvised dialogue and ad libbed lines. The series, which developed a cult following as it aired and is still highly regarded by fans and critics, served as a launchpad of sorts for its creators. Brendon Small would go on to help create Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse, and co-creator Loren Bouchard would go on to help start the smash hit Bob’s Burgers.
19. Sealab 2021
A reimagining of Hanna Barbera’s environmentally focussed cartoon Sealab 2020, Sealab 2021 is both a parody of its source material and of 70s cartoons at large. Using footage from Sealab 2020 as well as new animation, Sealab 2021 is a surreal, violent comedy series that rarely, if ever, had an ongoing plot from episode to episode. 52 episodes of the show aired across 4 seasons.
20. Space Ghost Coast to Coast
Conceived as a reimagining of the classic Hanna-Barbera character Space Ghost, Space Ghost Coast to Coast is an surreal, fictional animated talk show. While the original character was aimed at all audiences, Space Ghost Coast to Coast was directed largely towards teenagers and adults. The odd, offbeat humor combined with the archival footage of a Saturday morning cartoon still, to this day, has a unique and engaging charm. Across channel changes and revivals, 108 total episodes of the series have aired.