Top 20 Best Adult Swim Shows Ever

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Top 20 Best Adult Swim Shows Ever

VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny
Adult Swim has given us some great shows over the years, and these are the cream of the crop! For this list, we'll be looking at the best shows that were created for or aired on Cartoon Network's more mature programming block. Our countdown includes "The Eric Andre Show" (2012-), "Metalocalypse" (2006-13), "Rick and Morty" (2013-), "The Boondocks" (2005-14), and more!
Transcript
Adult Swim has given us some great shows over the years, and these are the cream of the crop! For this list, we’ll be looking at the best shows that were created for or aired on Cartoon Network’s more mature programming block. Our countdown includes "The Eric Andre Show" (2012-), "Metalocalypse" (2006-13), "Rick and Morty" (2013-), "The Boondocks" (2005-14), and more! What’s your favorite Adult Swim show? Let us know in the comments!

#20: “Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule” (2010-16)


John C. Reilly is both an Oscar-nominated actor with numerous acclaimed dramas on his resumé and an incredible comedic talent. On “Check It Out!,” Reilly plays Dr. Steve Brule. Despite his title, this is one doctor you wouldn't want examining you. This spoof of ‘80s programming sees poofy-haired Brule interacting with actual people and demonstrating his decidedly unique takes on the world. The purposefully crude production value gives the show a surreal homemade quality. In every episode, Reilly's unflappable demeanor makes it clear that Steve Brule is one of the greatest roles he’s ever played.

#19: “Delocated” (2008-13)


Entering the Witness Protection Program is about shielding yourself from danger. So, the last thing you would want to do is star in a reality show. However, that's the premise of this hilarious show. Jon Glaser plays a witness who testifies against the Russian mob and then decides to star on a TV show. While he hides his identity with a ski mask and voice changer, his nemeses, the Mirminskys, are still after him. His family is also frustrated with his idiotic television decision. With a great supporting cast that includes Eugene Mirman as a low-quality hitman, we can testify that "Delocated" is one funny show.

#18: “The Eric André Show” (2012-)


While late-night talk shows are a traditional staple of television, they’re usually a lot more normal than this. In a spoof of public access shows, André plays a version of himself that should probably be in an institution and not on his own show. The program also co-starred Hannibal Buress as André's co-host. After Buress left, a clone made from Buress' nose hair named Blannibal stepped in. Along with all of this madness, the show also finds time for guests like James Van Der Beek, Tyler, the Creator, and Wiz Khalifa. “The Eric André Show” is the talk show that keeps on giving…something. It’s still impossible to tell what this funny show will give you every time you tune in.

#17: “Frisky Dingo” (2006-08)


Despite its name, this Adult Swim series isn’t about a mischievous wild dog. It focuses on an arrogant superhero named Awesome X and his archnemesis and occasional friend, the gravelly voiced, red-eyed Killface. If those names sound ridiculous to you, the show’s doing its job. “Frisky Dingo '' skewers the tropes most associated with the superhero genre. World domination schemes and billionaires moonlighting as crime-fighting vigilantes and both made fun of. If the show’s animation style and humor reminds you of another show, it’s no coincidence. The creators went on to make the hilarious genre sendup: “Archer.” While “Frisky Dingo '' may have only lasted two seasons, it gave us laughs of heroic proportions.

#16: “Loiter Squad” (2012-14)


When Odd Future hit the mainstream, they got as much attention for their antics as they did their music. So, an Adult Swim show was the perfect fit for their sensibilities. “Loiter Squad” features members of the rap collective making us laugh. Famous names like Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt star in all sorts of ridiculous sketches. Although we already knew how clever they were based on their music,“Loiter Squad” gave us a glimpse at their comedic timing as well. There are also memorable appearances from guest stars like Johnny Knoxville, Snoop Dogg, and Seth Rogen. You don’t have to be an Odd Future fan to enjoy hanging out with the Loiter Squad.

#15: “Tom Goes to the Mayor” (2004-06)


Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are two of the most important figures in Adult Swim’s history. “Tom Goes to the Mayor” is where it all began for them. Originating online, this series features actors who are photographed and have their images filtered with blue outlines. There are also some truly cartoonish live-action segments. Tom, played by Heidecker, approaches the Mayor of the town of Jefferton with various ideas. Once the Mayor then puts his own spin on various concepts, chaos ensues. The show’s peculiar humor was definitely not for everyone. However, others were extremely enchanted by the absurd magic of Tim and Eric.

#14: “Squidbillies” (2005-21)


Sometimes, a show tells you what it’s about right in the title. “Squidbillies” is the story of a family living in the Georgia mountains who just so happen to have tentacles. This unit of "Appalachian mud squids" includes profane patriarch Early and a Granny whose walker is bigger than she is. There have also been numerous renditions of the theme song performed by popular artists, including “Weird Al” Yankovic, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and T-Pain. We definitely can’t say that the show’s premise is particularly deep or has completely politically correct humor. But for 13 seasons, “Squidbillies” showed just how far one ridiculous concept could go.

#13: “Moral Orel” (2005-08)


Adult Swim shows are generally not known for being wholesome. So, if you tuned into “Moral Orel” expecting family entertainment, you would quickly learn how terribly wrong you were. The stop-motion-animated show is about Orel Puppington, a young Christian who does his best to live a pious life and stay hopeful. But thanks to his hateful and brutal father Clay, that mission can be very difficult. The further the show goes, the more difficult it can be to watch. But it boldly tackles difficult issues without fear. As both a sendup of corny television and an examination of trauma, “Moral Orel” is divine.

#12: “Home Movies” (1999; 2001-04)


Afer “Home Movies” first premiered on UPN, it was canceled after just five episodes. Fortunately, it would go on to become one of Adult Swim’s most beloved shows. The series follows a young boy named Brendon who makes his way through life one movie at a time. Joining him on his journey are his friends, Jason and Melissa as well as his pseudo father figure soccer Coach McGuirk. And behind the scenes, one of the co-creators was “Bob’s Burgers” mastermind Loren Bouchard. Rich with clever and improvised dialogue, ambitious storytelling, and memorable characters, these are home movies worth watching again and again.

#11: “Childrens Hospital” (2008-16)


Since there are plenty of medical dramas out there, “Adult Swim” had lots of material to make fun of for this show. Parodying programs like "Grey’s Anatomy," and "ER," the series follows a cast of dubious medical experts. Everyone from Dr. clown Blake Downs to former police officer Dr. Owen Maestro stumble their way through what’s normally thought of as a dignified profession. The show makes great use of every member of its large ensemble. Rob Corddry, Lake Bell, and Henry Winkler all shine in between all the medical turns. If laughter really was the best medicine, “Childrens Hospital” could cure plenty of ailments.

#10: “Metalocalypse” (2006-13)


Co-created by Brendon Small from “Home Movies,” this series follows Dethklok, a death metal band whose fame and notoriety make Metallica look obscure by comparison. The massive influence of Dethklok, which includes members like Nathan Explosion and William Murderface, has tremendous consequences. The musical group even has attracted a few unexpected enemies during their journey. But their fans are too devoted to care about what mayhem Dethklok attracts. Despite being a fictional band, multiple albums have been released under the Dethklok name. A loving tribute and sendup of metal fandom, "Metalocalypse" is a head-banging good time.

#9: “Sealab 2021” (2000-05)


If you grew up in the 70s, you might remember the underwater-set animated series “Sealab 2020.” While it wasn’t exactly beloved, it indirectly gave us one of the funniest shows decades later. “Sealab 2021” skewers the original environmental show and others like it. It even reuses animation from “Sealab 2020.” Throughout the show, a crew led by the decidedly unqualified Captain Murphy, spends less time exploring the wonders of the ocean and more time causing chaos. It’s not uncommon for characters to be killed in one episode but return in the next one with no explanation. This kind of embrace of absurdity is what makes “Sealab 2021” such a whale of a good time.

#8: “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law” (2001-07)


Like “Sealab 2021,” “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law” takes Hanna-Barbera characters from decades past and puts a surreal twist on them. In this case, Gary Cole’s Birdman has gone from fighting crime to defending accused criminals and others in court. And these aren’t the kind of cases you’d see on “Law & Order.” Birdman's done everything from aid supposed Mafia don Fred Flintstone to defending Shaggy and Scooby from possession charges. He’s even helped Jetsons sue after global warming causes mutants to attack their house. By taking these classic characters and giving them clever new spins, we find “Harvey Birdman” guilty of being hilarious.

#7: “The Boondocks” (2005-14)


Great satire needs to be two things: insightful and funny. “The Boondocks” manages to balance both sharp social commentary with hilarious character and plot development. The show follows brothers Huey and Riley moving from Chicago to the suburb of Woodcrest to live with their granddad. Episodes delve into controversial topics like racism, government trustworthiness, and perception of popular entertainers. The anime inspired animation makes every episode look great and feel larger than life. All the visuals are supported by great voicework from talents like Regina King and John Witherspoon. Featuring plotlines that are still relevant today, “The Boondocks” is a show that never ran out of clever things to say.

#6: “The Venture Bros.” (2004-18)


Although "The Venture Bros." was part of the Adult Swim lineup for 14 years, only seven seasons were produced. But these seven seasons are all worth cherishing. This series follows the disaster-prone twins Hank and Dean, father and unqualified scientist, Rusty, and plenty of allies and foes. Their biggest enemy is the butterfly-inspired baddie The Monarch. Hilariously enough, his ultimate motivations aren't actually that clear. Blending comedy, drama, and action, the show attracted an incredibly passionate fanbase. They stuck with the show even when having to wait years between seasons. With characters this memorable and world-building this meticulous, can you blame them?

#5: “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” (2007-10)


Have you ever been channel surfing late at night and come across some of the weirdest television ever made? That basically sums up Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim’s live-action sketch show. True to the duo’s nature, the humor on the show is polarizing. There’s no way to predict whether you’ll be laughing hysterically or just staring at the screen in utter confusion. Sometimes you might be doing both. If Tim and Eric aren’t enough to draw you in, the legion of famous friends they bring in to join the madness might win you over. Paul Rudd, Bob Odenkirk, and Ben Stiller have all stopped by. Despite the show’s hit-or-miss quality, it’s undeniably an awesome “Adult Swim” program.

#4: “Space Ghost Coast to Coast” (1994-99; 2001-04; 2006-08)


“Space Ghost Coast to Coast” first premiered on Cartoon Network seven years before Adult Swim debuted. But two years after ending, it was revived and became one of Adult Swim’s earliest hits. The show is centered around Hanna-Barbera superhero Space Ghost’s gig as a talk show host. And his bandleader happens to be his archnemesis Zorak. If this wasn’t enough, his production includes the villain Moltar and an adversary named Brak who later received his own spinoff. Despite his shortcomings as a talk show host, Space Ghost manages to score interviews with the likes of William Shatner, Thom Yorke, and Conan O'Brien. This unique show’s surreal and sharp influence can definitely be felt over Adult Swim programming to this day.

#3: “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” (2001-15)


What do you get when you cross floating French fries, an immature milkshake, and a buck-toothed ball of beef? You get “Aqua Teen Hunger Force? Standing as one of Adult Swim’s strangest and most entertaining series, The show centers around roommates and sentient fast food beings. Frylock, Master Shake, and Meatwad make up the main trio. Their obnoxious human neighbor Carl is also brought into the story. There's also a batch of equally strange recurring characters, like aliens known as "Mooninites" and mad scientist Dr. Weird. While the core trio started as crime solvers, the show quickly strayed from that concept. But it never stopped being an inexplicable delight that makes us crave a trip to a really weird drive-thru.

#2: “Rick and Morty” (2013- )


“Rick and Morty” is like “Back to the Future”...if reality was warped a million times further and Doc Brown was completely unhinged. The title character consists of a boorish mad scientist who drags his grandson into countless outlandish adventures. Their family is rounded out by Morty’s sarcastic sister Summer, the bold Beth and the fragile Jerry. Though it might seem like another wacky cartoon at first glance, "Rick and Morty" has earned a passionate fanbase. It has a ton of hilarious characters, celebrity guest stars and mind-bending plots. But it also has a surprising amount to say about philosophy and other serious issues. While we might not have access to “Rick and Morty’s” interdimensional cable, their show is just as entertaining.

#1: “Robot Chicken” (2005-)


As a kid, did you ever play with action figures while imagining all kinds of far-out scenarios for your characters to enter? Then “Robot Chicken” is definitely worth your attention. This stop-motion-animated show co-created by Seth Green is Adult Swim’s longest-running show. It combines action figures and sketch comedy to riff on popular culture both past and present. Where else would you see Scrooge McDuck on “Shark Tank” or Mario and Luigi in “Grand Theft Auto”? Since sketches may last for minutes or be over in a flash, we’re always kept on our toes. “Robot Chicken” perfectly captures everything we love about Adult Swim. It’s weird, hilarious, and extremely original.
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