There are numerous reasons why you might get stuck watching children's cartoons. You could be babysitting or at a family gathering where there are just way too many kids around for your liking. Heck, you may even have a few yourself. Whatever the reason, in order to make the situation a little more bearable, we've put together a list of some 'toons (both old and new) with a bit more broad appeal so even adults can enjoy.
"Regular Show" currently airs on Cartoon Network, and there are several reasons why it is not just a show for children. For one, it is full of subtext that younger viewers are probably not even meant to understand. Moreover, several critics have compared the series to the likes of "Beavis and Butt-Head," which was anything BUT for kids. Yet, this show gets away with it basically because they don't swear. They come pretty close sometimes, though.
This show may have been the king of subtext, and was certainly one of the more secretly adult-oriented cartoons of its day when you look back on it. The reason it tended to get away with some of its more adult-themed jokes was due to wittiness, which was often hidden in plain sight. Plus, the show's tendency to reference movies and television before its time struck more of a chord with adults than children anyways.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
"Avatar: The Last Airbender" is probably the most tame show on this list in terms of being on the border of unsuitable for children of all ages, but at the same time, it is anything but boring or childish for an adult to watch. In fact, it had just the right mix of humor, heart, action, and amazing visuals to appeal to just about anyone.
Of all of the cartoons on this list that are currently still airing new episodes, this one is easily the favorite among adults. Like "Regular Show," the series airs short, 11-minute episodes that are often shown back-to-back on Cartoon Network to fill a half-hour time slot, and is riddled with humor for adults and children alike. To make it even better, John DiMaggio (Bender from "Futurama") voices the character Jake the Dog.
Although the adult appeal of the series dropped off in later seasons according to many, back in its heyday the show was "soaked" in innuendo and subliminal messages that adults would understand, yet kids would still find silly and fun. However, the true example of the show obviously appealing to adults is that it was canceled and revived not once, but twice. We're pretty sure children don't have that kind of clout. Plus, it was created by a guy who worked on the next show on our list right before it.
Rocko's Modern Life
The best way to showcase the broad appeal of a show like "Rocko's Modern Life" would probably be to show it to someone who never watched it as a child, and see what they think of it. Odds are they would love it. Its off-the-wall, gross out, borderline inappropriate humor made it a series that rivaled only the next entry on this list in terms of cartoons that were banned in many homes when they aired.
The Ren & Stimpy Show
"The Ren & Stimpy Show" pushed the envelop in more ways than we can count, and was the influence for adult-oriented humor in children's cartoons even to this day. Its use of grotesque close-ups, nearly impossible to misinterpret sexual innuendo and violence, while controversial, was groundbreaking. Some would even say this show was way ahead of its time. It certainly toes the line between children and adult appeal looking back on it now.
Tiny Toon Adventures
It's safe to assume that any children's television show that had episodes pulled after their first airing was probably not just for kids. This show was every bit the next generation of "Looney Tunes," and not just in premise. Much like its predecessor, the show had broad appeal. And much like the previously mentioned "Animaniacs," it was no stranger to pop culture references adults would understand perhaps better than children. Just ask Jerry Seinfeld.
Look no further than the source here. Creator Ben Edlund, who created the character originally as a comic book spoofing comic books, isn't exactly someone you would call a children's writer. In fact, some other writing credits of his include shows like "Firefly" and "Supernatural." Furthermore, this animated series spawned a short-lived, adult-themed live-action series. Clearly the material here was not only meant for children (even though adults who might enjoy it are probably a bit on the dorky side).
Next: The Dirtiest Jokes in Kids Cartoons
Batman: The Animated Series
We didn't want to bombard you with too many superhero shows, but this one HAD to be here. The general themes of the character of Batman are already pretty dark in and of themselves. And while other iterations of the show tend to pull their punches a bit for mass appeal, "Batman: The Animated Series" was more of a cartoon version of the Christopher Nolan version of the hero than anything else. For that reason alone, this show was on the borderline of being more for adults than children in the first place.