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Animated Shock Comedy

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Animated Shock Comedy is a subgenre of primarily Western Animated Sitcom that emerged in the 1990s (though it has its roots significantly earlier), towards the tail end of The Renaissance Age of Animation. A new generation of cartoons busted Western TV animation out of the Animation Age Ghetto by infusing animation with pervasive elements that are decidedly not for children: Vulgar Humor and Black Comedy. These shows typically feature heavy elements of Comedic Sociopathy, strong profanity, pop culture references, socio-political satire, and last but not least, shocking subjects used as punchlines.

In The '90s, shows like The Simpsons (debuting as early as 1987 as shorts within The Tracey Ullman Show and 1989 as a standalone show) and Beavis And Butthead proved to the industry that cartoons with an adultnote  audience could be a success, and introduced certain elements, like social satire (The Simpsons) and crudeness (Beavis and Butthead) that paved the way, but the genre really took off with the debut of the Trope Codifier South Park in 1997. Family Guy had a huge impact on the genre as well, particularly in its use of the Cutaway Gag. The massive success of these shows spawned a whole host of imitators and helped initiate a Ruder and Cruder shift within pop culture as a whole.

Animated Shock Comedies are virtually always Prime Time Cartoons, and the most common form is the Animated Sitcom. They are character- or gag-driven rather than plot-driven, and often feature Negative Continuity. As part of their "adult" nature, they eschew Zany Cartoon elements like Toon Physics in favor of a more mundane setting where characters typically have jobs and clearly defined species. While many are not afraid to dabble in other genres, like Speculative Fiction or Thriller, this is usually done through parody, and fantastical elements are incorporated in a Mundane Fantastic manner.

Visually, Animated Shock Comedies are not confined to any particular animation style, though Thin-Line Animation is probably the most common. A number of them tend to have fairly crude or "cheap" animation styles, possibly to mimic the Genre Popularizer South Park's "construction paper" style (it's actually animated on computer software and this style allows for very rapid Production Lead Time).

Animated Shock Comedy received a fair amount of backlash back in the day, both from Moral Guardians due to the genre's family-unfriendliness, and from critics for the perceived laziness of its quick gag-based humor. The latter criticism was enhanced by Seasonal Rot and perceived Follow the Leader tendencies amongst some popular examples, many of which became well past their expiry date at best. However, the genre received something of a rehabilitation in the 2010s, with a number of critically-acclaimed examples, like Big Mouth, Rick and Morty and Archer that managed to balance key features of the genre with Character Development. Remember that Tropes Are Tools and any genre can be done well or poorly.

For a long time, Animated Shock Comedies were, for all intents and purposes, the only successful Western animated works aimed at adult audiences. (The stereotype that all adult Western animation fell under this umbrellanote  was something of a counterpart to the assumption that All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles.) Part of this is parallel to the inherent issue of the Animation Age Ghetto, being the insistence that "If it's animated, it must be immature." This has begun to change ever so slightly since the late 2010s, with the introduction of the first successful non-comedy adult animated series such as Primal (2019) and Castlevania (2017), but shock comedy is still by far the dominant genre in Western adult animation. Therefore, this is not the place to list aversions.

Compare Grossout Show, Rated M for Money, and All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan is technically a series of Light Novels, but the anime adaptation definitely qualifies. The story is about a cute angel who repeatedly and graphically kills the main character and later revives him, only to do it again every time she gets mad at him. Furthermore, she was sent from the future to kill him so he doesn't grow up to create an immortality potion that stops women from physically aging past twelve years old and thus creating a "pedophile's world". And there are even more raunchy jokes, including the fact that angels get chronic diarrhea when their halos are removed.
  • Crayon Shin-chan: In the franchise's native Japan, the manga is aimed at adults as it was published in a Seinen manga magazine. Oddly, its anime adaptation is considered family-friendly despite the crude, raunchy humor being kept in. In addition, the vast majority of the foreign dubs Bowdlerized the anime to make it more suitable for younger audiencesnote . When the anime finally received the more well-known Gag Dub by FUNimation, it was marketed specifically towards adults and had its raunchiness turned up to eleven.
  • When Ghost Stories was dubbed into English, the producers at ADV Films were told to do whatever they wanted to help the show sell (even though scripts were made, the voice actors mainly ad-libbed). There are many jokes that would be deemed as racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, etc. in the resulting Gag Dub.
  • Gintama has toilet humor and fourth wall breaking even though it was published in a certain shonen manga magazine (and it's not afraid to take potshots at its fellow Jump series, either). It's frequently cited as the Japanese equivalent to Family Guy due to their very similar styles of humor.
  • Hen Zemi is filled with sex jokes and bases its humor around the characters’ disgusting fetishes. One of the OVAs has a long discussion about how to eat feces.
  • Mitsudomoe focuses on the Marui triplets and their classmates, who are all kids in the sixth grade. Despite this, it's also quite raunchy, with gross-out humor and sex jokes galore.
  • Osomatsu-san is a sequel to Osomatsu-kun, a classic shonen gag manga that was largely kid-friendly, and it has a similarly cartoony art style to its predecessor. However, Osomatsu-san is marketed mainly at an teen and adult audience due to having a much more adult and raunchy sense of humor. Since the six brothers are lazy, hard-drinking, self-centered NEETs who obsess over sex but can rarely find female companionship, it has a lot of crude humor, up to and including a scene in the OVA showing the title character getting 'ridden' by the horse instead of the other way around.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is Studio Gainax's attempt to emulate American cartoons. Specifically, American adult cartoons. The main characters are named after undergarments (which they can make into weapons), and Panty is always into having sex. Word of God even says that they were watching Drawn Together while drunk and wondered why Japan couldn't make stuff like that.
  • The mid-90s manga/anime The Ping-Pong Club is 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.
  • Seitokai Yakuindomo, where at least 90% of the show's jokes either shock humor or about bodily functions. However, in comparison to the amount of sexual humor, there's very little sexual imagery or Fanservice.
  • You Are Being Summoned, Azazel mostly revolves around vulgar Toilet Humor, funny gore, and sex jokes.

    Films — Animation 
  • Down and Dirty Duck features a perverted parody of Donald Duck trying to get a sexually-frustrated blue-collar worker laid. The film is filled to the brim with vulgar sex jokes, Fan Disservice, and deliberately offensive stereotypes.
  • Eight Crazy Nights: PG-13 and filled with Toilet Humor, jerkassery, and all the sorts of crudeness you wouldn't expect in an animated holiday movie.
  • Ralph Bakshi's early films, in particular Fritz the Cat, could be considered the prototypes of this genre. However, they were also fairly grim portrayals of life in New York City, even featuring some somber moments of Mood Whiplash; the Jerkass protagonists that became common in the genre were targets of satirical mockery; and more "offensive" elements such as racial stereotypes were generally used as social commentary. While some of today's adult animation, including South Park and The Boondocks, follows up on Bakshi's satirical tendencies, this was certainly not the case with the now-forgotten Fritz the Cat imitators of The '70s.
  • Hell and Back is a rare feature film aimed at adults, as well as one of the few adult stop-motion films, with tons of sex and rape jokes.
  • King Dick involves a dwarf with a ridiculously large penis and a witch who ruthlessly pursues him in an attempt to receive 69 orgasms to regain her former beauty.
  • Sausage Party has 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. Viewers are divided on its quality, with some feeling that it tried too hard to shove crude humor into every available place it could find.
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, naturally. Trey Parker and Matt Stone specifically refused to make the movie unless it was rated R, and they used it to fill the movie with the sort of language, violence, and general depravity that the show itself could only dream of - at least at the time. (The film has ran uncensored on Comedy Central at least a handful of times, with the first being in 2001.) Not to mention it featured such charming musical numbers as "Uncle Fucka" and "Kyle's Mom Is A Big Fat Bitch". Guinness World Records gave it the award for most swearing in an animated film, and according to them, "The 81-minute movie contains 399 swear words, 128 offensive gestures, and 221 acts of violence."
  • Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle was a raunchy Tarzan parody featuring bestiality, soldiers shaped like penises, and deliberately offensive racial stereotypes.

  • Eminem's early music (especially The Marshall Mathers LP and Encore!) was heavily influenced by late 90s and Turn of the Millennium-era shock comedy cartoons, with Eminem often rapping in South Park-inspired voices and using the common bad-taste jokes of the era (like making fun of boybands and Christopher Reeve). Eminem even attempted to launch his own cartoon in this genre, The Slim Shady Show, but even Eminem's fans like to forget that he made it. While Eminem moved further from these influences in his later work, he did attempt to promote Relapse with a Family Guy crossover featuring Stewie Griffin.
    • Eminem has a couple of music videos in this style, too, most prominently 2005's "Shake That".
  • Lil Dicky's Charity Motivation Song "Earth" and its accompanying music video prominently feature crude humour like a baboon showing off his huge anus, a zebra being eaten on screen, a disgruntled skunk who sprays his foul liquid at Lil Dicky (and makes sure to mention that it comes from his butthole), multiple Double Entendres, and references to sex, marijuana and STDs.

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • The short-lived Allen Gregory features a lot of sophomoric shock humor, such as the titular eight-year-old having a sexual crush on his fat elderly principal and Allen's father abusing and raping a straight man into marrying him.
  • American Dad! fits this trope just as well as its older sibling, Family Guy, with rampant gore, Black Comedy, Comedic Sociopathy and Crosses the Line Twice humor present throughout, and few topics that seem to be considered off-limits. That said, it does lean towards more standard (if still outlandish) sitcom plotting and humor compared to the Reference Overdosed Cutaway Gag-infested style of Family Guy and its imitators, and it does occasionally dip its toes into more serious storytelling.
  • Animals (2016) starts more or less with dudebro humor about drugs and wanting to get laid. As the show progresses, though, it mocks society but generally has likable characters and happy endings, little toilet humor, and abundant, positive LGBT representation.
  • While Aqua Teen Hunger Force is definitely one in its later seasons (earlier episodes were much tamer, while episodes from season 4 onwards are filled with Vulgar Humor and gore), the extremely short-lived Spin-Off Soul Quest Overdrive takes this further, featuring a non-stop barrage of crude sex jokes, random gratuitous violence, drug references, and Comedic Sociopathy crammed into every 5-minute episode.
  • Archer contains loads of sex, violence and shocking subject matter, particularly jokes involving Krieger, the Nightmare Fetishist. It does have a highly detailed and realistic art style, however, compared to the usual crude and simplistic looks of shows of this type, and mixes in long-running plotlines, a surprising amount of Character Development and a love for obscure Genius Bonus jokes.
  • The Animated Adaptation of Baby Blues on The WB took what was a genial, family-friendly comic strip about the everyday hassles of parents raising two young children, and filled it with sexual innuendo and adult-oriented plots. This Genre Shift is to blame for the show's failure, as it drove away fans of the comic strip while failing to bring in people who weren't.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head derives several jokes from Toilet Humour, and the title characters love to point out innuendoes. While it was controversial in its time, later shows such as South Park and Family Guy have taken their vulgar humor to much greater lengths, to the point that Beavis and Butt-Head can look tame in comparison. This may be one of the reasons why the 2011 revival was so short-lived.
  • The Netflix show Big Mouth is ostensibly centered around middle schoolers who have reached the onset of puberty and are confused about their sexual and psychological changes, something an adult would have outgrown. That said, barely an episode is devoid of dealing with mature topics like sex, drugs, crime, and profanity.
  • Bob's Burgers in Season 1—the first episode alone cracked jokes about pedophilia, autism and cannibalism. Starting with Season 2, the show dropped most of the puerile elements (barring the Toilet Humor) and settled into what is essentially a Denser and Wackier version of King of the Hill (which is very much not in this genre).
  • Bojack Horseman deconstructs some of this genre's conventions, specifically the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist. 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. While the series has some Early-Installment Weirdness in the first few episodes, where it does lean more towards the South Park/Family Guy style of animated comedy, it quickly settles on character-driven Black Comedy. For example, there's a lot of dark jokes about BoJack's Abusive Parents and addictive tendencies, and Sarah Lynn's drug abuse and sex addiction, but all of these concepts become major plot points down the line. There are also a handful of episodes satirizing current events, usually with tact but occasionally throwing in some dark jokes, particularly in "Braap Braap Pew Pew" where the conflict stems from Sextina Aquafina having to fake an abortion and she sings a very over-the-top song about killing her fetus.
  • The Boondocks contains a lot of profanity, sexual humor, and occasionally some bloody violence, though it seldom resorts to Toilet Humor outside the episode where R. Kelly is on trial for a sex tape of him urinating on a 14-year-old girl. It has been compared to the former trope namer, but only in regards to its biting social commentary, not its style of crude humor.
  • Brickleberry crams as many vulgar, offensive and tasteless jokes as humanly possible into its series. Its humor and art style have both been compared to Family Guy.
  • Bromwell High: The series is full of crude humour and Black Comedy and caricatures modern British society.
  • Drawn Together, possibly one of the most well-known animated shock comedies, is 90% Cringe Comedy and Vulgar Humor. 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. It frequently mocks the lack of artistic merit associated with this genre.
  • Family Guy's particular style of pop culture-centric humor and cutaway gags proved a big hit with audiences (especially following its uncancellation), and made it just as influential as South Park in popularizing the genre, for better or worse.
  • Farzar, much like its predecessors, is filled with Black Comedy, Gorn (with genital mutilation being a favourite), Fan Disservice, Comedic Sociopathy, and the team's name is "Special Hostile Assault Team".note 
  • The Freak Brothers It was inspired by an underground comic and some of the things featured in those were considered shocking when it was originally published.
  • Fugget About It, a Canadian Series about a mafia capo and his family. The show is filled with sexual references, bloody violence, foul language, and otherwise Vulgar Humor. Episode titles like "The Oracle of Vagina" and "Hate Crime Legislation Is for Pussies" really say it all.
  • 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.
  • The MTV Short-Runner 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, had some Hidden Depths and the main characters avert being Comedic Sociopaths, but otherwise plays most of the genre's tropes straight.
  • Harley Quinn (2019), despite its superhero comic origins, delights in how crude and raunchy it can get, with gratuitous violence, profanity, and jokes about all manner of off-color topics filling every episode.
  • Hoops, another Netflix cartoon. The main character is a completely unlikable Jerkass, and the humor is very crass, with lots of dick jokes and extreme amounts of F-bombs from its VERY foul-mouthed protagonist. While jerkass protagonists are hardly rare in this genre, this one's sheer obnoxiousness garnered the show many negative reviews, and likely led to its swift cancellation.
  • Britain's Channel Four had a short-lived stab at the genre in 2000 with late-night show House of Rock. It focused on (real) dead musicians coping in purgatory on the brink of Hell, including The Notorious B.I.G. portrayed as Dumb Muscle and Freddie Mercury portrayed as a Depraved Homosexual. Michael Hutchence of INXS also had a guest appearance hanging from the neck in the bathroom less than a year after his real-life death. There wasn't much in the way of violence (mainly because the characters were already all dead) but plenty of sexual humour, toilet humour, and general vulgarity.
  • JJ Villard's Fairy Tales is full of Gorn, Vulgar Humor, and has Limited Animation to the point where the character animation is just like South Park's.
  • Kevin Spencer is full of crass humor, sexual references, and tons of satire (one episode had Percy launching into a rant that specifically targeted then-American president George W. Bush) and animation that resembles South Park. Notably, one interview with creator Greg Lawrence showed that he thought the series would be the next South Park.
  • La Familia Del Barrio is an Mexican adult animated series with a lot of Vulgar Humor and Toilet Humor and one of the main male characters is an alcoholic womanizer.
  • Legends of Chamberlain Heights not only has 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 used South Park as a lead-in in its first season.
  • Deconstructed in the third season of Moral Orel. While the show is a biting criticism of Christianity and plays most of the genre's tropes straight, when the Cerebus Syndrome hits, it starts exploring how psychologically damaging the violence and obscenity can turn out to be.
  • One major complaint about Mr. Pickles is that the show tries to cram as many sex jokes and as much violent, disturbing and disgusting content as humanly possible into 11 minutes. That said, there are hints of a consistent plot, and notably for the genre, 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.
  • King Star King and Superjail! fall under this formula as well, though more so the former than the latter.
  • The Filipino-American creators of The Nutshack say that their series is the very first Asian adult cartoon. Anime aside, most of the humor is very low-brow and crude, with sex, violence, and drug use throughout.
  • Netflix's Paradise PD. Every episode is a nonstop barrage of stereotypes, graphic violence, drug jokes, grossout jokes, Toilet Humour, and Comedic Sociopathy so unrelenting it almost borders on parody. Much like its Spiritual Predecessor Brickleberry, it even uses a Seth MacFarlane-esque art style.
  • Bill Plympton's films feature completely unfiltered vulgarity and violence, though 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 somber, personal Cheatin.
  • Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon" shows us what happens when one of the most famous Gross Out Shows for children is stripped of its already-lenient network censorship. The episodes feature plotlines like Ren and Stimpy living inside a disgusting spitoon, a flashback episode where a young Ren sadistically and graphically abuses several animals, a Beach Episode with a lot of naked women, and the duo witnessing Ralph Bakshi have gross sex while they have to clean his filthy toilet. It wasn't nearly as successful as the original series, however.
  • A lot of the humor in Rick and Morty is extremely sophomoric, with phallic imagery, burp/fart jokes, pop culture references and violence galore; however, much like Bojack Horseman, it plays the consequences of a lot of these jokes completely straight for the sake of furthering the story and developing the characters, who even at their flattest are much more fleshed out and three-dimensional than a good deal of the show's contemporaries. 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, illustrating the difference between making jokes about rape and thinking rape is funny.
  • Santa Inc., an HBO Max original. It is a Christmas-themed miniseries animated in stop-motion In the Style of the Christmas specials made by Rankin/Bass Productions, but is full of coarse language, nudity, sex, violence, and Comedic Sociopathy.
  • While The Simpsons is fairly tame as far as adult cartoons go (despite it being considered edgy for its time), it gravitated towards more edgy humor and grossout comedy during its tenth season as it had to compete with the likes of Family Guy. One example is the infamous "panda rape" scene in "Homer vs. Dignity". However, this isn't a consistent tone across the show, which is generally seen as pretty laid-back.
  • While Smiling Friends' overall message of helping people with depression is more complex than one might expect from the genre, the show otherwise revels in Black Comedy, random bursts of violence, and surreal humor. Word of God is that in spite of many other late-night [adult swim] shows featuring the same kind of content, its presence in Smiling Friends is purely Author Appeal, not pandering to any particular demographic.
  • Solar Opposites uses the aliens' Blue-and-Orange Morality as an excuse to employ a ton of Black Comedy, gore (Alien Blood and otherwise), and bizarre, often sophomoric humor, as well as numerous pop culture references. However, the subplots about the Wall and the Silvercops take some of those mean-spirited jokes and spin them off into dramatic narratives that downplay the edgier comedy.
  • South Park is almost single-handedly responsible for kickstarting the trend of Refuge in Audacity and Crosses the Line Twice 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 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 Trey Parker and Matt Stone's book. Unlike many of its imitators, though, South Park's humor relies heavily on satire and mockery of weekly news Ripped from the Headlines, though Toilet Humour and crude sexual jokes still feature frequently.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks dabbles in and was marketed as this, being a lot more likely than other Trek shows to show frequent swearing, nudity, sex, and bloody violence and injury for laughs. But much like Rick and Morty (Lower Decks show runner is Mike McMahan who worked on R&M) it has a lot of character focus and heart to it as well, it's mainly a story of how several lower rank Starfleet members on a ship that itself is relegated to less glamourous work deal with the more day-to-day craziness of working in Starfleet... which just often includes violence and sex. It still typically has the optimistic core of most Trek works.
  • Squidbillies is a faithful adherent to the basic tropes of the genre. All of the humor is either sexual, violent, offensive, or just plain gross, and is also drawn in a deliberately sloppy, ugly art-style.
  • Tripping the Rift has gross-out and sex jokes galore. Unusually for the genre, it's an All-CGI Cartoon.

Alternative Title(s): All Adult Animation Is South Park


Drawn Together

Too hot and wild for TV, even back then!

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