"There's something that's called 'adult animation' and it usually means it appeals to adolescent, teenage boys and that's not really adult in my view."Good news! The mainstream American audience finally accepts that animation can also be for adults! Bad news! The mainstream American audience thinks that all adult animation is full of Black Comedy, graphic violence, sex jokes, swearing, Toilet Humor, racial stereotypes, and, to a lesser extent, Mind Screw! In The Dark Age of Animation, when the Animation Age Ghetto was the norm, people like Ralph Bakshi made vulgar cartoons out of a desire to make animation that wasn't "just for kids" by making something that couldn't possibly be shown to kids. They thus avoided the statement "It can be enjoyed by the whole family" (with the implication that it's meant for children), and a Cult Classic or two emerged during that era. During The Renaissance Age of Animation, thanks to the popularity of Beavis And Butthead, The Ren & Stimpy Show, and (to a milder degree) The Simpsons, the idea that animation could be expanded beyond the family market began to take off again. With the establishment of the TV ratings system, it also became easier to make it clear to audiences that a show wasn't for children. As the Renaissance Age began to shade into The Millennium Age of Animation, King of the Hill note became a quiet success for FOX and Cartoon Network — starting with the success of the spoof Space Ghost Coast to Coast — began to create its own adult-oriented shows, eventually launching the [adult swim] lineup. But the biggest shake-up to the ghetto came in 1997 when Comedy Central debuted the MA-rated South Park, a vulgar but often uproarious comedy that immediately became a smash hit. Unfortunately, because of this, most of the adult-oriented shows that followed in South Park's wake were similarly vulgar, envelope-pushing fare — the most successful being FOX's Family Guy. Thanks to creators following the example of these shows, people now believe that any western animation that isn't just kids' shows are either sitcoms and/or a raunchy cartoon, which is far from the truth. Thus, it's very hard for aspiring animators/creators to pitch animated shows without Vulgar Humour and Comedic Sociopathy in mind, which leads to people creating more South Park-esque shows; lather, rinse, repeat.note Many such shows have animation that is extremely ugly, extremely cheap, or both, in order to resemble South Park's own animation-style. This mentality can also work in the opposite direction, where adult viewers understand that not all cartoons are for children but think that anything not in lockstep with South Park's particular brand of Crosses the Line Twice humor is kiddie garbage—ignoring the many critically acclaimed animated series and films that are suitable for all audiences (such as Avatar: The Last Airbender or Zootopia). Who cares how well-written it is if there's no blood or swearing? Overall, this thinking is just an evolution of Animation Age Ghetto: animation may not be seen as exclusively for children anymore, but it is still seen as exclusively childish. Compare with All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles and Rated M for Money. Contrast with All (Kid-Oriented) Animation is Disney.
— George Griffin, independent animator
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is basically Japan's attempt to emulate American cartoons. Specifically, American adult cartoons. The result is like South Park, The Powerpuff Girls and Drawn Together spliced together and dosed up on speed.
- Mitsudomoe is a rare anime example of this being played straight, with gross-outs and sex jokes galore.
- Seitokai Yakuindomo, where at least 90% of the show's jokes either shock humor or about bodily functions.
- Predating any of the above is The Ping-Pong Club, about middle school boys competing to be the best at Ping-Pong so they can do whatever they want with a girl's body for a month.
- Crayon Shin-chan is an odd example. In its native Japan, the anime adaptation is considered to be a family show despite the crude, raunchy humor. When the show received a Gag Dub by FUNimation in the west, however, it was marketed towards adults and had its raunchiness turned Up to Eleven.
- The creators of The Nutshack say that their series is the very first Asian adult cartoon. It appears that Japanese animation is not adult in the slightest.
- Eight Crazy Nights is one of the few feature film examples of this trope played straight.
- Zig-zagged with Sausage Party. There's plenty of Character Development and a solid plot, but it still sold itself on being the first 3D computer-animated feature to get an R-rating.
- Averted completely by Isle of Dogs. Despite its PG-13 rating, it isn't a raunchy South Park-style comedy, and has been praised by many critics not just as an animated film but as a film overall.
- This trope might as well have originally been called "All Adult Animation Is Ralph Bakshi" for two reasons: one, when he was still making films, it was, as nobody was making animation for adults as noteworthy as him (relatively speaking). Two, the only others who were only aped the gratuitous sex and nudity, which Bakshi only included in his films as a form of rebellion. His gritty violence and themes of corruption and racism, however, all came from personal experience and are never played for laughs. To be fair, the only reason he got away with this is because he worked independently, a big part of the reason Cool World, produced by Paramount, plays this trope straight.
- It'd be easier to count the examples that qualify in Western European animated films, since the overwhelming majority of adult-oriented animation, while sometimes having adult humor, never reaches the extent South Park does.
- In a review in Metro (free newspaper on public transport) of Goro Miyazaki's Tales from Earthsea, the reviewer made a remark along the lines of, "but its main problem is that it's not very funny; it's a cartoon, so what's the point if it's not funny?"
- Conker's Bad Fur Day is one of the few non-animation examples of this trope, with sex jokes and grossout gags galore. This was a deliberate choice in response to critics who felt that earlier builds were too similar to Rare's other cartoonish mascot platformers.
- Lobo Webseries counts due to the high amount of violence, profanity and sex due to the R-rated DC comics character involved. However, its humor is considered to be better than other examples of this trope.
- Dick Figures with it's cheap animation and vulgar humor.
- SMG4 zig-zags this trope. While it does use a lot of swear humor and sex jokes, it does not rely on shock humor and gross-out and would put more emphasis on classic cartoon gags from the The Golden Age of Animation.
- The Cyanide & Happiness animated shorts usually fall under this category. Some of the shorts can be dark (both Black Comedy-wise and Nightmare Fuel-wise), some of their shorts can be relatively light, some of their shorts can be surreal, some of their shorts can be gross... you get the idea. In that way, they're much like the original webcomic.
- PONY.MOV is pretty much what happens when you take the adorable little ponies from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and place them inside a Crapsaccharine World that would make both John Waters and John Kricfalusi proud.
- Sonic for Hire is jet-packed with Black Comedy and Vulgar Humor.
- The later seasons of SuperMarioLogan resort to this kind of humor,being one of the few non animated examples of this trope
- South Park, the Trope Namer, is almost single-handedly responsible for creating the audacious, line-crossing brand of humor that has become so prevalent in adult animation. Hard as it is to imagine these days, in 1997 the sight of cartoon characters telling each other to "suck balls" was totally wild and crazy (the closest The Simpsons had ever come to that was, of course, "Eat my shorts!"), and the show drew huge viewership numbers purely from the novelty factor. Like all popular things, it was quickly aped and imitated, and soon it became standard practice for adult cartoons to take a page out of Parker and Stone's book.
- Family Guy is one of the primary culprits for encouraging this trope. Its particular style of pop culture-centric humor and cutaway gags proved a big hit with audiences (especially following its uncancellation), and made it arguably just as influential as its brethren, for better or worse.
- Part of the reason for The Simpsons Seasonal Rot was pressure to become more "edgy" and "adult" in order to compete with South Park. This resulted in an increase in mean-spirited humor, and gross-out gags that aren't particularly funny and don't fit the show's milder, more laid-back tone. It all culminated in the infamous panda rape scene in "Homer vs. Dignity."
- A big reason Father of the Pride lasted as briefly as it did was that it simultaneously plays this trope straight and fails at it.
- Brickleberry can be best described as every single vulgar, offensive and tasteless adult cartoon times one hundred, crammed into 22 minutes.
- One of the more notable examples of this trope played straight is Drawn Together, which is 90% Cringe Comedy. You can count the amount of jokes that are not shock value, bodily function-related or at the expense of any kind of social/racial minority on one hand. The Movie, which even people who like the show hesitate to defend, can be best described as every negative stereotype of adult animation played completely straight and stretched out to feature length, complete with a Shallow Parody of the trope namer itself to support the film's ultimate moral—that the entire point of adult animation is to be as gruesome and offensive as possible, and that morals and satire will only bog it down. Many have pointed out that this moral is a clear misunderstanding of what makes Vulgar Humor funny in the first place, if not an outright insult to the target audience's intelligence.
- While Aqua Teen Hunger Force definitely qualifies as this in its later seasons (earlier episodes were much tamer, while episodes from season 4 onwards are filled with Vulgar Humor and Gorn), the extremely short-lived Spin-Off Soul Quest Overdrive takes this Up to Eleven, featuring a non-stop barrage of crude sex jokes, random gratuitous violence, drug references, and Comedic Sociopathy crammed into every 5-minute episode.
- The Netflix show Big Mouth, which is about kids going through puberty and features a lot of sexual bodily function humor as a result, even received as massive Internet Backdraft after only one trailer was released. In addition to the overtly crude humor, including depictions of preteens masturbating, having their periods and talking to their genitalia, it also has crude designs reminiscent of cartoons from the 1990s and 2000s that played this trope straight, not to mention proudly advertising that the head writer used to work on Family Guy. It doesn't help that Netflix is toting this as their "edgy" cartoon alongside the critical darling Bojack Horseman, a show that deliberately avoids this, making Big Mouth feel like a giant step backwards in terms of furthering the medium. Thankfully, this died down a little once it came out and got positive word-of-mouth.
- Part of the reason that Ren and Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon was canceled after only six episodes was Spike TV's insistence that the show's already vulgar humor be made even more vulgar to appeal to the post-South Park crowd.
- The main reason Allen Gregory lasted as briefly as it did (aside from being a "filler" show inbetween seasons of Family Guy) was that it was so sophomoric and the character were so needlessly cruel that nobody found it appealing.
- Bill Plympton is a noteworthy aversion as, while his films DO feature completely unfiltered vulgarity and violence, they're strictly Author Appeal and not intended to appease some kind of demographic. At one point, he was dealing with criticism that he could only do over-the-top sex and violence with no emotional substance, and challenged those critics with the sombre, personal Cheatin.
- Tripping the Rift is a rare CG example (the only other one being Father of the Pride) of this being played straight, with gross outs and sex jokes galore.
- The short-lived British series Full English was roundly panned for being a very blatant Family Guy rip-off, right down to the cutaway gags. The series featured much more graphic content than Family Guy, however, with constant swearing, nudity, sex, and shock humor in every episode.
- Good Vibes, which was originally intended to air alongside Seth MacFarlane's series but ended up airing with the revival of Beavis and Butt-head.
- Hell and Back is another rare feature film example as well as one of the few stop-motion examples besides Robot Chicken.
- Most of Animation Domination High-Definition, especially High School USA!, plays this straight.
- The Boondocks is an interesting case, as while the show does have a lot of sexual humor, tons of swearing, and some bloody violence, it never really resorts to Toilet Humor all that often. It has been compared to the trope namer, but only in regards to its biting social commentary, not its humor.
- The Legends Of Chamberlain Heights is another example, not only having loads of stereotypes and sexual humor, but even using the same two-frame animation style as South Park. It doesn't help that Comedy Central is using South Park as a lead-in.
- One major complaint about Mr. Pickles is that the show tries to cram as many sex jokes and as much offensive, disgusting content as possible into 11 minutes. King Star King and Superjail! fall under this formula as well. That said, there are hints of a consistent plot, and notably for this type of show it rarely delves into politics. Season 3 tries other types of humor besides just gross-out, like genre parodies, though it still thrives in gore.
- Archer contains loads of sex, violence and shocking subjects, particularly jokes involving Krieger, the Nightmare Fetishist. It does have a highly detailed and realistic art style, however, compared to the usual crude looks of shows of this type, and a more cohevise plotline whereas other shows would have what amount to excuse plots.
- The WB's short-lived Baby Blues was a failure mainly due to this trope, taking what was a genial, family-friendly comic strip about the everyday hassles of parents raising two young children, and filling it full of dirty humor, innuendo, and adult-oriented plots, driving away fans of the comic strip while failing to bring in people who weren't.
- Bojack Horseman both deconstructs and totally defies this trope. There are no designated heros, no Snap Back, very little grossout humor and all of the socio-political messages are well-informed (if a little heavy-handed). Instead, the show analyzes why a crude, selfish, destructive person would be the way they would. The result is a story about how love is earned and that nobody is going to like you if they have a perfectly good reason not to.
- Rick and Morty is often seen as an example of this trope "done right". A lot of the humor is extremely sophomoric, with phallic imagery, burp/fart jokes, pop culture references and violence galore. However, it's all built on a foundation of well-informed science and philosophy and, much like Bojack, plays the consequences of a lot of these jokes completely straight for the sake of furthering the story and developing the characters. The most notable of this is the writers' conscious decision to make the occasional verbal rape joke while playing every instance of the act itself completely for horror.
- While Futurama does have some crass humor and violence in it, it mostly avoids this type of humor in favor of affectionate parodies of nerd culture, especially Star Trek, along with having very emotional episodes with character development and evolving existing relationships.