When Cartoon Network founded their adult-oriented night-time programming block in 2001, it was pretty evident they’d struck gold. After all, taking advantage of the one time of day their audience is unlikely to be sitting in front of the screen is pretty ingenious. Almost as ingenious is an Adult Swim rating archive that categorizes every single show ever aired on the network and offers additional details on each show’s history and growth over the years. In addition, of course, to each show’s original Adult Swim TV rating.
Poprojo, we salute thee.
Seeing as so much of Adult Swim’s content stems from early 2000s internet humor, they probably anticipated that Adult Swim would draw in a stoner audience. Despite this – or perhaps because of it – even stoners could have never predicted just how wildly trippy Adult Swim’s content would get over the decades.
20 Trippy Adult Swim Shows
Even before Adult Swim hit the scene, Cartoon Network was already breaking ground with stoners via shows like Courage the Cowardly Dog, Ed, Edd n Eddy, Cow And Chicken, and more. It was evident that their regular audience wasn’t always as into these shows as their other more popular ones, but they nonetheless found their niche.
This niche would turn out to be one of the weirdest, most unhinged experiences ever. In the best way possible, of course!
Black Jesus is exactly what it sounds like: a sitcom that sees Jesus alive and well in Compton, California. He brings his lifelong mission to the city, trying to spread kindness and love to all who cross his path.
The premise itself is hardly novel. We’ve seen versions of it across several media. This includes John Niven’s satirical novel The Second Coming which stars Christ as a struggling NYC musician trying to battle the evils of the modern era as he reminds common folk of the word of God, as well as Hikaru Nakamura’s slice-of-life manga Saint Young Men that sees Jesus and Budda renting an apartment in Tokyo while on vacation from their godly duties.
What makes Black Jesus unique, however, outside of its crude language rating, is its willingness to be crude at all. It’s hard to walk the line between respectful religious satire and sacrilegious amusement. The latter we’ve seen in the likes of South Park. The former is much harder to do.
Yet Black Jesus manages to do just that and more. A stoner hangout comedy for the ages, this is a show worthy of its three seasons. And since it was never officially canceled, here’s hoping for a fourth.
National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle:: is many things. Succinct isn’t one of them.
Agent Trent Hauser and his team of agents work around the clock to protect San Diego from the imminent threat of terrorist attacks. Except, instead of the usual police procedural format this is a collection of every trope across these shows rolled into one meaty spliff. And, as per the Adult Swim rating archive, this one includes every possible kind of material that would warrant an extra rating letter added to the mix.
Switching sides from law enforcement to the ones upon whom the law has been enforced, we have SuperJail. Except, these aren’t your regular criminals. And this isn’t your regular jail.
What do you get when you put a bunch of instance inmates under the care of an equally psychotic warden, a sadomasochistic guard, and an accidentally homicidal robot, and throw a volcano under a volcano on top of the prison because why not?
Well, you get a SuperJail! Or, well, a super dysfunctional one at the very least. And it’s an absolute trip in a variety of ways.
Before Adult Swim came to be, Cartoon Network was already giving us such gems as Sealab 2021.
The show’s first three episodes aired in 2000, continuing after Adult Swim kicked off, before coming to an end in 2005. The actual conception of the show happened in 1995, however, when two heavily intoxicated writers Adam Reed and Matt Thompson watched a tape of a ‘70s show titled Sealab 2020 and wrote new dialogue for it. The show wasn’t picked up.
Thankfully, it reared its hysterical head again five years later, and with the help of stock footage from the original show, a new era of adult animation was born.
Mike Tyson Mysteries
Trippy is in the eye of the bong holder. But some things are just so objectively wild that even the soberest person on the block will acquiesce to its oddity.
Mike Tyson Mysteries pairs the titular ex-boxer with a mystery-solving plot that reads like a Scooby Doo spinoff script. Except weirded. Much weirder.
Tyson’s posse includes his adopted Korean daughter, an alcoholic man-turned-pigeon, and the ghost of the Marquess of Queensberry – the godfather of modern boxing as well as the man who destroyed Oscar Wilde. Together, the foursome takes on mysteries and almost never solves them. And they do so with a pretty Adult Swim rating of DLV: suggestive dialogue, coarse language, and a healthy dose of violence.
Seth Green and Matthew Senreich. Stop-motion. Action figures. Sketch-comedy. An evil mad scientist who turns the mangled body of an ordinary chicken into a robot so he can force it to watch TV forevermore. Need we say more? Okay, we’ll say more.
The Adult Swim rating archive lists Robot Chicken as having a variety of colorful grades for its content. Suffice it to say, if this were a multiple choice question, the answer would be “all of the above.”
Robot Chicken began airing in 2005 and is still going strong in its 11th season on Adult Swim. And if that isn’t a testament to its comedic prowess, then the show’s ability to recontextualize the entirety of cinema in the most absurd fashion certainly is. Just be sure you walk into this experience toked up and ready to go.
A hillbilly squid out on parole hopes to raise his illegitimate son in smalltown Georgia. A son who was previously being raised crystal-meth-lab-running aunt who also runs a hair salon that sells peanuts. For some reason.
The show ran from 2005 all the way till 2021. The Adult Swim rating archive lists it under DSV, meaning like most of the other shows on this list, it has a touch of everything. Except this time it’s in the form of mud squids.
Rick and Morty
Rick and Morty needs no introduction. Certainly not for Adult Swim fans who have loved and lauded the show for its entire run, even if some are starting to feel the show slipping away from them. Its popularity is no surprise, though. An alcoholic sociopathic scientist and his anxiety-prone dimwitted grandson go on intergalactic time and space-hopping adventures. What’s not to love?
Inspired by the classic, Back to the Future, Rick and Morty’s universal acclaim stemmed as much from its originality as its unhinged trippy aesthetics and plotlines. And with a DSLV on the Adult Swim rating archive, this extends to being as politically incorrect as possible.
Freaknik: The Musical
First things first – who let T-Pain produce this musical special? Second – why are they not making every decision that needs to be made, ever?
T-Pain teams up with his buddies, the Lils – Jon and Wayne – alongside a host of others in this animated supernatural life-or-death rap competition. No, you definitely read that right. When a freaky string of mishaps prompts President Obama to hand over his position to the ghost of Freaknik, he incurs the ire of Oprah, voiced by none other than Kelis. She brings her merry band of secret society operatives to the party, and as Freaknik is backed into a corner, he finds a savior in Young Cash’s rapping.
Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
Right from the title, you know this show was made for stoners.
Comedians Eric Wareheim and Tim Heidecker star in this bizarre sketch-comedy collection of ake commercials and phone calls, among other things. And the pot is sweetened with the comedic genius and musical skills of guests and regulars alike.
Some of these include David Cross, Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Jeff Goldblum, and “Weird Al” Yankovic. But the appearances didn’t end with A-listers – the show also attracted performers from across the spectrum, including pornstars, celebrity lookalikes, and even amateur actors off of Craiglist.
Billed as “the nightmare version of television” Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Really helped shape how Adult Swim approached live-action content from there on out.
Too Many Cooks
By this point, the phrase “surreal black comedy” being tied to an Adult Swim release should already tell you you’re in for something really special. But with Too Many Cooks, no amount of preparation can leave you feeling ready for what you’re about to see.
The short film was released on Adult Swim’s infomercial block. It begins with a ten-minute freeze-frame opening credits sequence, a parody of several ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s American sitcoms. As it progresses it devolves into a slasher flick with the villain taking out several cast members one at a time with a machete.
After this unsettling and side-splitting trip down memory lane, we get about half a line of dialogue before it cuts out to the closing credits.
The cult classic viral video, for all its wonderful weirdness, was also hailed for its genius. From its use of anti-comedy to its ability to break its own boundaries, particularly by being a genre-bending masterpiece, Too Many Cooks is Adult Swim comedy at its best.
Space Ghost, Zorak, and Brak host an SNL-style comedy show. Sketches, original songs, and ad-libs galore, Cartoon Planet is a show of yore. Well not too far yore, just from the ‘90s to 2014.
The show’s focus on Hanna-Barbera’s supervillains makes it a sort of spiritual predecessor to shows like AquaDonk Side Pieces. Cartoon Planet took things a touch further, though, by including live-action segments with producer Andy Merrill in an ill-fitting Space Ghost suit interspersed with stock footage from entertainment Company Turner’s massive library.
Amid the sketch-comedy and off-the-wall humor, Moral Orel is a breath of fresh air on Adult Swim’s block. This claymation satirical comedy follows deviant Protestant Orel who somehow misconstrues every religious teaching ever bestowed upon him. At its core, the show is a commentary on fundamentalism without ever vocally stating as much.
It is noted for being a spoof of the Christian clay-animated series Davey and Goliath, though its humor sits squarely in the South Park camp.
Minoriteam is one of the more short-lived shows to come out of Adult Swim, but this is certainly not for a lack of quality.
A satire of Marvel’s superhero extravaganzas, Minoriteam is a team of minorities, each built on very distinct stereotypes. In true show don’t tell form, the show pokes fun at major blockbusters and society all at once. It certainly says a lot that this parody animated comedy hosts better representation than many superhero movies have in decades past.
And with villains like The Corporate Ladder and Racist Frankenstein to spice things up, Minoriteam definitely deserved a longer run.
From Marvel, we pivot to the DC fanbase with the next entry on this list.
Somewhere in between Sealab 2021 and Archer, Adam Reed and Matt Thompson gifted to the world the animated series, Frisky Dingo. It follows Killface, a supervillain who has recently come to the conclusion that destroying the world is hard work. On the other end of the spectrum is billionaire playboy Xander Crews – alias Awesome X – who works equally hard keeping his line of action figures in business. Together, the duo is engaged in eternal conflict as they go about their lives in their town, Town.
Frisky Dingo clearly has shades of what fans would come to love about Archer. It’s an absolute treat seeing the early version of the gags and art style that would develop into Archer, but the show stands on its own merit even outside this comparison.
Trigger-happy and unhinged Detective McGee works alongside his partner Don Sanchez to solve wacky crimes that plague the city of Exeter. He’s tough on crime and has a sixth sense that allows him to somehow always catch his prey. Despite never seeming to actually do anything to solve a case.
Oh, and he’s also a pair of buttocks on legs.
Straight from the brains of Adult Swim employees comes this off-kilter weekday interactive call-in talk show. Originally aired as nothing but a video feed of a fish tank, it later developed to include narration, and eventually a talk show with Adult Swim employees calling in. When the creators tossed in a competition element – namely one where random tasks were added in and both fish and caller were awarded points for winning – more outsiders began phoning in.
The pandemic and resulting layoffs led to the show losing many of its hosts, sadly. And just as it began, it whittled down to a video feed of a fish tank before fading away completely.
Perfect Hair Forever
Adult Swim has gained popularity among anime lovers over the years. Its lineup includes classics such as Cowboy Bebop and One Piece, particularly via its Toonami block. For fans of Adult Swim though, there’s something a little extra special in Perfect Hair Forever: a black comedy anime parody.
Much like One Piece, we have a hero and his crew on a quest to find the ultimate treasure. In this case, our hero is Gerald Bald Z. His quest: to find perfect hair. And he must do this while battling Coiffio and his minion army of cats and humans in catsuits.
Pepper in some inexplicable cameos such as a giraffe played by MF Doom and a stellar appearance from Space Ghost, as well as some zany characters such as a split personality-afflicted tornado and a former-spy-turned-ally tree, and you’ve got yourself a…well you’ve got something, that’s for sure.
Xavier: Renegade Angel
Taking it back to the early days of internet humor and rudimentary CGI that hinged on the most unhinged of visuals is Xavier: Renegade Angel.
For a show that has everything from surrealist and absurdist to psychedelic and New Age attached to its overall genre, Xavier manages to still push those boundaries and be something formless. Shapeless. Renegade.
Everything about this show screams early 2000s, from its viral YouTube video-looking art style to its absolutely ridiculous lead character: a wandering faun-like pseudo-shaman with delusions of grandeur and a surfer accent. His quest is simple: to right the wrongs of the world. His success rate is abysmal: he mostly just destroys everything in his path. A 10/10 watch, from start to finish.
Off the Air
Off the Air is a show. No that’s pretty much it, there really isn’t much to say outside of that. Psychedelic surreal imagery based on a loose general title warps in front of you and seemingly through you in one endless loop. Well, an episode is 11 minutes so hardly endless but you best believe it will feel that way when you find your brain turning to mush as a cat stares straight into your soul at 4 a.m.
Dave Hughes is the mastermind behind this enigma. His purpose for creating it was that he wanted to bring experimental programming back onto the Adult Swim block. And with the likes of Beavis and Butt-Head as his muse, he found himself crafting a kaleidoscopic feast for the eyes of a cult following.
Adult Swim Rating Archive: A Safe Haven for the Politically Incorrect
Cartoon Network’s late-night programming block has earned a reputation for its boundary-pushing antics. So it naturally attracted scores of fans from the stoner community. But if one were to assume that meant it was nothing but crass irreverent comedy, they would be only partly right.
A scroll down the Adult Swim rating archive will tell you that the block is much more than that. It is also loud, brash, violent, and deeply nonsensical. And that’s only the beginning of its charm!
Do you have more burning questions around cannabis?
Email us at [email protected] with your questions/topic suggestions and we will get back to you!