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It’s hard to determine the best Adult Swim TV shows, as there have been so many of them over the last decade. Adult Swim has been known for its wicked humor often referred to as "stoner humor," which doesn’t do the network any justice. It’s always more than that and there’s art to this peculiar genre of comedy that Adult Swim has truly perfected over the years. This kind of humor was almost non-existent on TV before the era of Adult Swim and its peculiar shows. Here are some of the best Adult Swim TV shows that have ever been created.
12 oz. Mouse
The genre of 12 oz. Mouse can be loosely described as an avant-garde comedy with a thriller twist. In this animated TV show we meet Fitz, a mouse with a knack for alcoholism, and Skillet, his chinchilla companion. Together they try to solve the mystery of Fitz’s suppressed memories and his lost family. The pilot episode of the show premiered in 2005 and it ran for over a year. Critics praised the experimental nature of the shows, yet others abhorred it.
Who could have thought that a show that follows the events of a creepy prison could become one of the best Adult Swim TV shows that have even been aired by the network. Prepare yourself for an incredible amount of graphic violence, dismemberment, bloodshed, extreme cruelty, and torture—all set in a psychedelic environment that changes all the time. Many fans of the show refer to Superjail’s animation as "baroque" and "impossible to take in from the first view." Whether it’s a good sign or not, one thing we know for sure—it’s one of the most unusual and deviant shows we’ve ever seen on Adult Swim.
Directed by Brendon Small and Loren Bouchard, this animated sitcom follows Brendon, an eight-year-old boy who creates funny vids with his friends Jason Penopolis and Melissa Robbins. He lives with his mom Paula and cute little Josie, his adopted baby sister. Having grown up without a father, he develops a kind of twisted father/son relationship with John McGuirk, his alcoholic soccer coach. The show premiered on UPN in the late 90s, but was cancelled after running for five episodes. Adult Swim then bought the rights for the show and it lived for another 47 episodes gaining an immense following. It is considered one of the most cult TV shows that have ever run on Adult Swim.
The list of best Adult Swim TV shows just wouldn’t be complete without Robot Chicken. Created by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, the show has become and Adult Swim staple because there’s simply nothing like it on TV. With the use of stop-motion animation and fast-paced humor, this mocking of a sketch-comedy series presents a whole new method of entertainment with action figures and toy models acting as the players in creators’ skits, relaying their twisted view on American pop culture. With several Emmy awards under its belt, this may be the most random show on TV. And that’s exactly why we love it.
Also known as Delocated New York, this 2009 TV show is packed with black humor and deadpan jokes that cater to a specific audience. The plot revolves around Jon Glaser and his family who are under the Witness Protection Program. They move to New York and decide to exploit their situation by starring (kind of anonymously) in a reality TV show. At first they have their voices changed and wear disguises to hide their faces, but that changes eventually. You’ll have to see what happens for yourself!
This stop-motion TV show follows the life of a clay character Orel Puppington and his everyday chores. The boy has strict Protestant upbringing and tries to follow all the rules to comedic extremes. He constantly deviates from the code and gets himself into the most hilarious and surreal situations that have earned the show millions of fans all over the States, making Moral Orel one of the best Adult Swim TV shows ever created. The show mocks religious fundamentalism and all the archetypes of the American suburban life. There are three seasons all in all.
Sealab 2021, along with shows like Aqua Teen, defined the voice of the network back in 2001. The creators used plenty of the original animation from Sealab 2020 with smart and funny dialogues written to match the lips of the characters. This is how the show started, yet later its creators Matt Thompson and Adam Reed decided to alter the characters completely and make them do whatever they wanted. As a result we witnessed a series of bizarre episodes with the cast of the Sealab 2021 slowly going mad and dying a variety of weird deaths. Which didn’t stop them from re-appearing the next episode.
Rick and Morty
The storyline follows Rick, an alcoholic scientist who can seemingly create anything anytime, and his grandson Morty who can’t really even exist that well. They go on exceedingly dangerous missions through space, time, and alternate universes coming across a very colorful cast of characters along the way. Some of the viewer’s most favorite are the Mr. Meeseeks, which is a name for a whole bunch of blue-skinned characters that come out of a Meeseeks Box. The first season of the show got great reviews and the second did not disappoint the viewers either.
Stroker and Hoop
All fans of the 70s shows were ecstatic to see Stroker and Hoop, which both paid homage to classics like Starsky and Hutch, and made fun of them in an absolutely delightful way. It is truly one of the best Adult Swim TV shows that has all the necessary ingredients for instant success. Stroker and Hoop features two quirky characters—the trigger-happy Stroker Strockmeyer who has ditched his job as a mattress salesman to shoot people whenever he wanted, and Hoop Schwartz, a man who actually loves his job and rarely draws his gun. Together they help those in need but without the means to pay for professional help.
Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil
The plot follows Lucy who is Devil’s daughter, just like the name of the show suggests. Lucy's Antichrist father wants her to follow in his footsteps regardless of what she wants to do with her life. Just like all young people Lucy has her own plans and she disobeys her father as frequently as possible. She even starts dating DJ Jesus who is famous for performing "nearacles" (almost miracles) and is about to become the arch-nemesis of Devil himself. People with gentle psyche should definitely stay away from this one.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force
One of the longest-running shows on Adult Swim, Aqua Teen Hunger Force might have dropped its quality a little bit during the last years, which doesn’t change the fact that it is one of the most quirky and absurd shows of the late 90s. It wasn’t, of course, the first attempt to bring surrealism to the screen, yet it has never been done in such a weird non-TV-show form. Aqua Teen was unrelentingly strange, yet introduced a number of full-formed recognizable characters with truly hilarious voices. Watch a fast-food trio of a Master Shake, Frylock, and Meatward solve crazy mysteries, fight villains and live together as roommates.
Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
Once a crime-fighting superhero, now a hard-working criminal defense attorney, he is Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. Whatever the platform, Harvey Birdman continues to serve some coldblooded justice, but this time he’s doing it in the court room. Once the star of a 60s-era Hannah Barbera cartoon, the now-retired hero is currently employed at Sebben & Sebben, a law firm where he works with (and against) classic Hannah Barbera characters like Fred Flintstone and the Jetsons. This show’s comedic premise relies on Harvey Birdman’s incompetence as an attorney and strong references to pop culture.
For all those fans of metal and people who just love mocking it, this animated series follows the impossibly popular death metal band Dethklok. What do we mean by "impossibly popular"? Well, they are one of the world’s largest economies and their fans frequently put themselves in harm’s way just to see them perform. Fame and fortune allow Dethklok to regularly engage in dangerous or illegal activities, none of which result in negative repercussions. Well, not for them, that is. But it does help give the show its black humor and make it one of the best Adult Swim TV shows that have ever run on the network.
The Venture Bros.
There’s never a boring moment with Team Venture. Between watching them face off against their butterfly-styled arch-nemesis Monarch to the various other life-threatening dangers they encounter, it’s always a blast. An homage to old-school cartoons like Johnny Quest, the show follows Doc, a former child genius/adventurer and his happy-go-lucky twins Hank and Dean. The family travels with their hired bodyguard Brock, a secret agent with a license to kill who isn’t at all shy to use it. The series just gets better with age as it builds on its intricate plot and character development. The list of best Adult Swim TV shows just wouldn’t be complete without The Venture Bros.