Remember those adorable cartoons you used to watch as a kid every Saturday morning when nobody else in the house was awake? Ah, the nostalgia of animation in our young lives makes us think of the good ol’ days. Well, just like all of us, animation grew up and matured in a number of ways. Frankly, adult animation has always been there… operating in the background and difficult to find before the Internet was a thing. Those were the dark days when people had to find bootleg copies of some of the below examples at comic conventions and seedy adult bookstores. Thankfully, society has progressed and we have regular access to the things our adult minds crave.
When it comes to animation that can make just about anyone blush, there are some prime examples. Thanks to people like Ralph Bakshi and many others, animation isn’t just for Saturday morning anymore. Now, let’s be clear: this is a family site so we won’t get into the nitty-gritty details of exactly how depraved some of this stuff is, but odds are you are just a Google search away from animated excellence. With that, we present to you these 15 Grown-Up Cartoons That Will Make Your Body Blush.
15. HEAVY METAL
For most people, 1981’s Heavy Metal was their first exposure to what we are calling an “adult cartoon.” The film was produced by Ivan Reitman and Leonard Mogel, who was the publisher of the magazine, which was used as a basis for the movie. The story is a compilation anthology centered around the mysterious Loc-Nar, which serves to drive the story.
Adult themes are rampant in the movie, much as they are in the magazine, which is still published today. Heavy Metal featured some notable voice actors including Jackie Burroughs, Don Francks, Harold Ramis, Roger Bumpass, Eugene Levy and John Candy. Accompanying the stories is one of the best compilation of ’70s Heavy Metal music featuring tracks by Devo, Blue Öyster Cult, Black Sabbath, Sammy Hagar, Cheap Trick and many more.
14. BOJACK HORSEMAN
BoJack Horseman is a series set in an alternate universe where regular people and tailless anthropomorphic animals live and work side-by-side. The titular character, BoJack, is a washed-up actor living his life in Hollywoo (that’s not a typo; they stopped calling hit Hollywood when someone stole the “D” from the big sign) and drafting his autobiography via a ghost writer.
The series is satirical, but deals in a lot of heavy issues that land it squarely in the realm of an adult-animated series. While the show does deal with intimacy between consenting adults, it also explores the difficulties people face in dealing with depression, addiction, trauma and self-destructive behavior; essentially, the human experience but told via a walking, talking alcoholic horse. BoJack Horseman features the vocal talents of Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie and Aaron Paul. It can be found on Netflix.
13. FIRE AND ICE
Fire and Ice was the 1983 epic high fantasy feature film created through a collaboration between director Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta. The entire film was shot via rotoscoping, which required it to be filmed in live action and then animated by illustrating each frame. Unlike most of Bakshi’s work, he didn’t write the story. That honor fell to Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas, who worked previously on the Conan line of comics for Marvel.
Much of the film is action/adventure oriented, but it does feature the oft-bikini clad Princess Teegra, who is the target of a kidnapping plot. Fire and Ice did poorly at the box office, only earning around half of its budget, but it has built a cult following in the years since its release.
Archer is a television series on the FXX Network about a group of secret agents working to make America safe from international terrorism, dysfunctional cyborgs and just about anything else the writers can throw at them. Sterling Archer is the main character, though it would be difficult to say his supporting cast wasn’t just as central to the story as he is. Archer is a philandering narcissist who manages to survive anything and come out better on the other side.
Archer has evolved across eight seasons having taken the main cast from controlling an Intelligence Agency to becoming an international drug cartel and finally a detective agency. Throughout it all, Archer has dealt with everything from alcoholism to inappropriate depictions of underage girls riding topless on the back of a snowmobile. Much of the content is highly inappropriate, but done in a remarkably funny way, making Archer a smashing success.
11. COOL WORLD
Cool World was directed by Ralph Bakshi, but featured more live action than it did animation throughout. It’s also an early film for the likes of Brad Pitt, but also stars Gabriel Byrne and Kim Basinger. The story centers Cool World, which has trapped Frank Harris (Pitt) for nearly 50 years. While inside, he became a private eye and confronts Jack (Byrne), who has crossed over to the Cool World after creating a comic of the same name.
Holli Would (Basinger) wants nothing more than to cross over to the human world. There’s only one way she can do it: she has to have some adult snuggle time with a noid (human), but doodles and noids aren’t supposed to do that because if they do… they become human. The film depicts some adult situations between animated characters and real people, making it a bit more adult than most cartoons.
10. HIGH SCHOOL USA!
On the surface, High School USA! is just another teenage angst-filled animated series, but peel back a layer or two and you will find a deep and entertaining program rife with explorations into human sexuality and adult situations. The series was created and written by Dino Stamatopoulos, the creator of Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole and Moral Orel. High School USA! has been rated TV-MA for language and adult situations.
The series follows young high school students in America, focusing on a small group of “stereotypical” students: Marsh Merriwether, Amber Lamber, Brad Slovee, Lamort Blackstein and Cassandra Barren. As you can probably tell from the above image, the animation style is meant to be a parody of Archie Comics, but follows a much more adult-themed high school experience than Archie and the gang.
As you can probably tell from the title alone, Stripperella is an adult cartoon. That’s obvious or it wouldn’t even be on this list, but there is a lot more to Stripperella than what is obvious. Stripperella was created by none other than The Man himself, Stan Lee, for Spike Animation Studios. The titular character is a stripper named Erotica Jones who hangs from a pole by day, but fights crime as a superhero/secret agent, code name: Stripperella, by night.
Stripperella was rated TV-MA due to the adult themes, including numerous double entendres, and salacious animation, which was blurred out when it hit television. The series only aired for one season consisting of 13 episodes, but it’s worth a watch if you are in the mood to see an animated Pamela Anderson tear off her clothes and fight crime… and who wouldn’t want to watch that?
8. HEAVY TRAFFIC
If you thought there would only be one Ralph Bakshi film on this list, you don’t know much about adult animated films! Bakshi’s 1973 entry into American cinema was his follow-up to Fritz the Cat, and while he made several attempts to knock out an R-rated film, the MPAA ended up giving Heavy Traffic an X-rating. If you’ve seen the film, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given the overt depictions of adult situations.
Heavy Traffic explores the surreal fantasies of a young cartoonist named Michael Corleone with vivid imagery meant to depict the trials and tribulations of inner-city life in New York City. The film is similar to Fritz the Cat in the way it depicts violence and adult situations, but with human characters. Despite its X-rating, it was shown in numerous theaters across America and while it didn’t make a ton of cash, it was successful.
7. TRIPPING THE RIFT
Tripping the Rift is a CGI animated science fiction comedy series based on two web-shorts. The series is a spoof on Star Trek, though it differs significantly from the series. The main character is Chode McBlob, voiced by Stephen Root. Chode is the captain of the ship who gets his way by manipulation and overt threats to his crew. Accompanying him is Six, voiced by Gina Gershon, Carmen Electra, and Jenny McCarthy in each of the three seasons.
The characters are all over-representations of their Star Trek inspirations and the series covered everything from homosexuality to robot-on-alien intimacy. The series aired 39 episodes across three seasons, which was followed by a made-for-DVD movie released in March, 2008. Tripping the Rift was mostly satirical in nature and humorous, but lands on this list primarily due to the adult situations and themes surrounding the relationship between Six and everyone else.
6. HEY GOOD LOOKIN’
With yet another entry on this list, we have Ralph Bakshi’s Hey good Lookin’, which was the director’s 1982 coming of age comedy film. The film was shot with a number of techniques including traditional cell animation overlayed against a live-action backdrop, standard live-action and rotoscoping, which is a method of animating over live action photography.
Hey Good Lookin’ follows the adventures of the young Brooklyn leader of a gang called “the Stompers.” Vinnie, his friend Crazy Shapiro and their two girls are central to the plot. Each is animated while most of the remaining cast are shot in live action. For Bakshi, this wasn’t one of his biggest hits, but the movie went on to earn itself a cult following. Hey Good Lookin’ earned a place on this list due to some depictions of adult situations.
5. UGLY AMERICANS
Ugly Americans was a short-lived animated series on Comedy Central, which was presented as a sort of animated sitcom. The series takes place in New York City, but in a world where every possible thing imaginable is real. The main character, Mark Lilly, is a social worker who works at the Department of Integration. It’s his job to help integrate people into society whether there are zombies, koala men, robots or just giant two-headed worm creatures.
The point where a viewer might blush has everything to do with the relationship between Lilly and his girlfriend/boss. Callie Maggotbone is not only a succubus, but also the daughter of the current ruler of Hell, making her a bit of a demon. There are also some pretty obvious allusions to adult situations between numerous species, which might make the most modest of us blush at least a little.
4. SAUSAGE PARTY
If there’s one thing you can easily say about the animated film Sausage Party, it’s that it doesn’t even attempt to hide the sexual innuendo. The main character is a hot dog while his love interest is a bun. That makes a lot of sense… hot dogs go into buns, right? Well, that’s true, but not necessarily in the way the characters are hoping for. By the end of the film, all innuendo is thrown aside for a… let’s call it adult play time between just about every character in the film.
Surprisingly, the MPAA decided to throw only an R-rating at Sausage Party when it was released in 2016, though it likely would have earned a much higher rating were it released only a decade or two prior. The film was wildly successful, bringing in more than $140 million with only a $19 million budget.
3. SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER, AND UNCUT
For some series, it takes decades to go from the small screen to the silver screen, but Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s South Park managed it in just two. The television series was already wildly successful and while many felt it was a gamble to bring South Park to the big screen, it paid off in spades. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut pulled in more than four times its budget making it a clear success and it was even nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
The film was rated R and it wasn’t solely due to its liberal dropping of the F-Bomb, which happened to come about 146 times. Other than profanity, the film is incredibly violent and even has depictions of… let’s call it “intimacy” between Saddam Hussein and Satan while the two are sharing a bed down in Hell.
2. WICKED CITY
We decided to limit this list to only one Japanese animated film seeing as the genre tends to touch upon adult themes more often than North American animation. Wicked City is a 1987 film based of a six-novel series of the same name. In the film, the world exists much as it does now, but humanity lives alongside a secret world of demons who are policed by a special and highly secretive police force called the Black Guard.
The film has numerous depictions of casual affairs and crosses the line into horrific depictions of demons forcibly assaulting women. There’s a lot of perversion depicted on the screen and this is definitely not a film you should show your children. Wicked City is well-received and a good movie to watch, but don’t go into it expecting something akin to a Disney flick or you’ll be sorely disappointed… and offended!
1. FRITZ THE CAT
Fritz the Cat is an animated film directed by Ralph Bakshi released in 1972. It holds the distinction of being the first animated film to receive an X rating, which is reason enough to land on this list. The film was based on the comic book character of the same name created and illustrated by Robert Crumb. Crumb hated the movie so much, he killed off the character in his comic strip, but the legacy of Fritz endures as a telling example of how animation can be entirely adult-themed.
Fritz the Cat is a satirical look on American college life during the late 1960s and focuses on the ideals of hedonism. They cover everything from race relations to the free love movement of the ’60s and there are a lot of scenes too graphic to discuss on this site! Needless to say, it wasn’t rated X for language alone…
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