From Daria to BoJack Horseman: 10 of the best cartoons for grown-ups

These adult animations ponder big questions and growing pains, mixing locker-room gags with existential musings

Beavis and Butt-Head

Slackers rejoice: mumblecore duo Beavis and Butt-Head are back, with two new series recently announced after a nine-year break. A precursor to controversial topical cartoons such as South Park, Mike Judge’s creation was a strangely astute reflection of the 90s, featuring grunge-influenced apathy, critiques of MTV music videos and a lot of giggling. The first five seasons are available on Amazon.
Amazon Prime Video (£)

BoJack Horseman

Not many people would have predicted that an animated show about an alcoholic talking horse would become one of the most incisive deconstructions of our obsession with fame in years. But such is the genius of BoJack creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg, packing all six seasons with punny laughs, existential musings and heartbreaking twists.

Rick and Morty.
In a pickle ... Rick and Morty. Photograph: Adult Swim

Rick and Morty

Counting among its famous fans everyone from Kanye West to Werner Herzog, Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s show about a flatulent, time-travelling scientist’s adventures with his meek grandson is full of philosophical conundrums and razor-sharp dialogue amid the locker-room gags. There’s also guest spots from the likes of Herzog himself and Susan Sarandon.
All4; Netflix

Big Mouth

Co-created by Nick Kroll and featuring voice work from John Mulaney and Maya Rudolph, Netflix’s tale of tween puberty is, at turns, frank, grotesque and hilarious when it comes to talking about sex. Witness a group of 12- and 13-year-olds as they navigate new urges with the help of their “hormone monsters” and awkward parents.


The epitome of nonchalant teen cool, Daria became one of the best-observed explorations of US suburban high-school life in the late 90s. Created by Susie Lewis and Glenn Eichler, our eponymous heroine and her best friend, Jane Lane, are the cynical duo navigating their small town and big aspirations, providing a welcome change from the male-dominated cartoons of the era.
Amazon Prime Video (£)

Monkey Dust

The darkest of adult animations comes in the form of this collage-like sketch show from Harry Thompson and Shaun Pye. Although only running from 2003 to 2005, Monkey Dust has proved to be one of the most experimentally strange shows to come from the BBC, covering everything from work experience to terrorism.
Available on DVD

One-Punch Man.
It’s a hit ... One-Punch Man. Photograph: PR HANDOUT

One-Punch Man

Sartre meets anime in this parodic series charting the existential misery of One-Punch Man, a superhero so powerful that he kills his every foe with a single punch, leaving him deeply dissatisfied and aimless. Based on the manga by the artist ONE, it’s gory, melodramatic and overblown but the absurdist premise is enough to make it addictively watchable.

Bob’s Burgers

More quaint family affairs, this time focusing on the burger-making Belcher family and their life in a close-knit American seaside town. H Jon Benjamin voices the gravelly Bob, a well-meaning yet often haphazard dad of scheming kids Tina, Gene and Louise. However, it is his enduring romance with wife Linda (John Roberts) that forms the show’s heartwarming core.
Amazon Prime Video

Tuca & Bertie

Taking a leaf from her work on BoJack, animator Lisa Hanawalt brings a nuanced tale of female friendship to this Technicolor romp, starring Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong as the titular toucan and songbird. Covering everything from binge-drinking to sexual harassment, it is a thoughtful series clothed in the bright plumage of Hanawalt’s characters.

The Midnight Gospel

Pendleton Ward, the creator of the fantasy kids’ animation Adventure Time, brings a decidedly adult offering in The Midnight Gospel. Featuring Ward’s shapeshifting animation style, it follows interdimensional podcaster Clancy as he interviews alien creatures on everything from the nature of existence to capitalism. It’s the big questions in a psychedelic package.


Ammar Kalia

The GuardianTramp

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