It's been a couple of years since Adult Swim not only brought back Samurai Jack but let it breathe in the creative freedom of its adult-oriented block, arguably creating its best season yet. Even today, fans are still feeling the reverberations of both old Cartoon Network nostalgia as well as stylistic satisfaction. With Adult Swim having also brought back FLCL and even giving Genndy Tartakovsky a new series, it's beginning to seem like the late-night block has become both a safe haven and a fountain of youth for cartoons and animators of old.
Samurai Jack's critical success alone is enough to make one think what would happen if the same treatment were to be given to other old Cartoon Network shows. To feed that speculation even more and in celebration of all the good that the alternative viewing block has provided, this list will run down 10 Cartoon Network Shows that could use an Adult Swim revival.
10 Megas XLR
First on this list is a beloved mech series that really defined what the old Japanese tradition should and would look like within the west. Megas XLR is about a couple of New Jersey slackers who manage to get their hands on a giant robot from the future and fix it up...like a muscle car. It's a series that revels in its own absurdity and over-the-top action, as alien battles often lead to New Jersey being burned to the ground...until next week.
Also, in response to MTV having rejected the series a couple of times, the series also destroys an homage to them every once in a while. Just thinking about the type of action and New Jersey trash talk that would be allowed in an Adult Swim season is enough to remind anyone that everyone really does dig giant robots.
Just for reference, ThunderCats is getting a future revival in the form of ThunderCats Roar, a Cartoon Network, calarts redo that much of the internet is already not looking forward to. ThunderCats was not only a generation-defining action series from the '80s, but it also had a wonderful, serious reboot in 2011, one that had great animation, action, and actual emotional depth.
ThunderCats Roar is not going in with the same expectations. Considering that ThunderCats 2011 has reruns every now and then on Toonami, it's not too far to think for Adult Swim to actually get its hands on the license and bring back a little of what sadly got canceled all too soon.
8 Codename: Kids Next Door
This is going to be a wild one if it ever will exist. Codename: Kids Next Door is one of Cartoon Network's greatest animated series, not only for its intricate story arcs and inventive action but also for its sincere celebration of childhood. And while the series has had its final episode in spectacular fashion, creator Patrick Warburton has teased that a revival is possible in the form of Galactic: Kids Next Door, though Cartoon Network execs don't exactly seem all that interested.
With that in mind, what could Adult Swim possibly do that would change the spirit for KND and the expectations it had set after its finale? Even if there were curse words here and there (if they would even do that), it would only match the advanced age of its older audience and possibly that of Sector V.
7 The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy
Here's a reboot of a similar generation that would be going into Adult Swim with less reluctance and worry about the spirit. The tone and humor of Billy and Mandy screams the alt stylings that Adult Swim has defined itself with, and its dark nature and cartoon violence would not only seem at home in the block but also possibly see true, realized form with further creative freedom.
It's tantalizing, to say the least of what breed of horrific monster Grim could summon, of what horrific torture Mandy would be allowed to subject her victims too, and what outrageous, immature humor Billy could pull out if the trio were to be brought back on late night.
6 The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack
Let's be honest. The candy and syrup that Captain K'Nuckles and his sailor cohorts always drank and became dizzy with...was beer. It was a substitute for beer, and Captain K'Nuckles was a bloated, depressed drunk.
To see that brought into true fruition, as well as more attention given to the realism and outright absurdity of the colonial art of the show, would be quite a sight to see, as The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack would take the gloves of and be the full parody of the depressing, decrepit, yet ever festive sea life that the old-time world was known for. It was great and sometimes even horrifying seeing that as a kid but finally seeing Captain K'Nuckles cures and Flapjack's look of horror would make being an adult all the more worth it.
5 Over the Garden Wall
In all fairness, Over the Garden Wall did have a complete story told during its short run, and any additions to it do run the risk of tainting its legacy through excess. However, quite a bit of the show itself was lost in development hell, as various cuts, rewrites, and downright omissions of story arcs were made to fit the marketable season order that Cartoon Network wanted.
Taking the risk (risks being something that Adult Swim takes often), an Adult Swim version of Over the Garden Wall would not necessarily be just more content but an opportunity for the creators to truly bring all their ideas to life, bringing fans a much more realized show.
4 Long Live the Royals
Long Live the Royals is another Cartoon Network miniseries that was never really given its due. As a series that focused on suburban family life via medieval royalty, there's a lot to this series that lends itself to varied, non-linear storytelling that a series is known for and not exactly the streamlined, plot-driven possibilities of a mini-series.
If anything, it was as if they cut Spongebob Squarepants or Adventure Time to only four episodes and expected them to leave an impression. In Adult Swim's hand, even if it were to remain a mini-series, its Regular Show alum creators would still have the creative freedom to really leave the rock n' roll, rebellious impression that they wanted.
3 Ben 10
Ben 10 is a franchise that has given the earthbound hero a variety of different incarnations between a variety of visual formats. Some of them good. Some of them really good. And then there's the rest that threw the first two incarnations away. What really helped Ben 10 during its later years was its transition to serious action and animation, where Ben and his friends and family would take deeper, emotional stories in addition to the greater action, creating a show that grew with its audience.
Then, Cartoon Network threw that away with a couple of resets. If we're doing resets anyway, why not let Adult Swim do one, either giving homage to its serious years or at least creating an actually memorable version?
2 Teen Titans
On a similar note to Ben 10, Teen Titans Go! as a revival has disappointed older fans for a variety of reasons. It not only disappointed expectations of an actual return for the show but continued to throw salt in the wound by being as silly and childish as it is. This isn't to say that there isn't an audience for Teen Titans Go! but that there's definitely a vocal one for the original Cartoon Network series.
So much so, that it's a wonder that they didn't try to make one in the first place. If serious is what people are asking for, however, then think of the possibilities that the studio behind blood in Samurai Jack could bring.
1 Sym-Bionic Titan
On the note of Genndy Tartakovsky, considering that Adult Swim already gave Samurai Jack a more than tasteful send off as well as let him make Primal, why shouldn't they also let him bring back and conclude his other series?
Where Samurai Jack was an homage to samurai, action films, his other creation, Sym-Bionic Titan, was an homage to mechas, only in American form, outfitted with all of the political conflicts of the Gundam series and the teenage angst of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Genndy has already proven that he still has a lot to offer as a director. The only issue from here would be just to ask, "When?"