Original 2000s Adult Swim Shows, Ranked
The 2000s were a formative era for Adult Swim and the adult animation industry in general — an era of big risks, experimentation and a lot of throwing crap at the wall and seeing what stuck. Some of those shows are still hanging in there, having become venerable comedy institutions, while others... didn't. Here's our ranking of every show Adult Swim aired in the aughts, discounting the ones that started on other networks (sorry, Home Movies and Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos).
‘The Rising Son’ (2009)
“A satire of melodramatic soap operas, starring Jesus Christ and his family” sounds like it could have been a pretty funny idea. Could have been. Adult Swim seemed to agree with this assessment, considering they only aired The Rising Son at 5 a.m. on Sunday mornings with practically no promotion.
Minoriteam, a racially charged parody of superhero cartoons, had that funky Jack Kirby-inspired art style going for it, but it suffered from trying way too hard to be edgy and being an inferior version of like five other Adult Swim shows. It was like if 4chan wrote The Venture Bros.
‘Fat Guy Stuck in Internet’ (2007-2008)
In 2007, Adult Swim bought the web series Gemberling, renamed it Fat Guy Stuck in Internet (which the titular “Fat Guy,” John Gemberling, was “not thrilled about”), and aired 10 episodes before realizing the lofty 11-minute running time was more than this idea could sustain. This show’s biggest legacy is making people say, “There was a show called Fat Guy Stuck in Internet?” every once in a while.
‘Assy McGee’ (2006-2008)
A cop who is a butt. That’s about it. Another one that sounds like a fake show Rick and Morty would watch via the Interdimensional Cable Box, but no, it’s real. While unremarkable overall, at least it set the stage for other cartoons about antisocial assholes who are constantly expelling flatulence.
‘Saul of the Mole Men’ (2007)
An homage to 1970s live-action sci-fi shows that lived up to its premise by also being super charming but kind of a chore to get through unless you’re at grandma’s house on a Saturday and there’s absolutely nothing else on TV. Dig that Trey Parker-sang intro tune, though! Groovy.
‘Perfect Hair Forever’ (2004-2014)
One balding boy’s absurd yet strangely emotional quest to achieve perfect hair. This show aired nine episodes over 11 years, which is probably as much as they could get away with before its “anime by way of Aqua Teen Hunger Force” shtick started getting really old.
‘12 Oz. Mouse’ (2005-2020)
12 Oz. Mouse may look like a bunch of random scribbles accompanied by sounds that only coincidentally resemble human phrases, but once you start paying attention to it, you find out that it’s actually a complex psychological thriller full of dramatic plot twists and intrigue. But, admittedly, you had to be pretty bored to pay attention to the random scribbles in the first place.
‘The Drinky Crow Show’ (2007-2009)
After the success of The Boondocks (hi there, people Ctrl+F-ing The Boondocks to see how high it ranked), Adult Swim looked for other transgressive comic strips to adapt and settled on Tony Millionaire’s Maakies. The result wasn’t bad at all, but it was no Boondocks either and only lasted 10 episodes before being canceled. Not even a guest spot by Flight of the Conchords could save it (it probably didn’t help that they sound terribly bored and possibly hungover).
‘Tom Goes to the Mayor’ (2004-2006)
If you’ve never watched Tom Goes to the Mayor, the clip above provides a pretty accurate summary. It’s about a guy named Tom (Tim Heidecker) who goes to his town’s Mayor (Eric Wareheim) a lot. The ensuing hijinks are kind of hit-or-miss in terms of hilarity, but this show did lead to greater and more awesome things in the future (and further down this list).
‘Titan Maximum’ (2009)
Basically a long Robot Chicken sketch with an actual plot (inspired by Japanese giant robot shows) instead of a constant barrage of jokes, which is probably why it only has nine episodes and Robot Chicken has more than 200.
‘Stroker & Hoop’ (2004-2005)
One’s a private investigator. The other’s also a private investigator. They fight crime — poorly. This clever spoof of buddy cop movies was tragically short-lived, especially because it ended on an infuriating cliffhanger. Come on, Adult Swim: If 12 Oz. Mouse can get more episodes so can Stroker & Hoop!
‘Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil’ (2005-2007)
While the protagonists are supposed to be a 21-year-old named Lucy and her DJ boyfriend Jesús, H. Jon Benjamin steals the show as Lucy’s dad, the Devil. In fact, this show is most notable for keeping the Loren Bouchard/H. Jon Benjamin flame alive in the years between Home Movies and Bob’s Burgers, which went on to make a lot of money for another network.
‘Xavier: Renegade Angel’ (2007-2009)
Despite looking like a PlayStation 2 game glitching out for 11 minutes, Xavier: Renegade Angel is actually a thoughtful exploration of religion, philosophy, psychology and other topics. It also included stuff like Xavier accidentally turning a woman into a giant sandwich and telling her husband, “I have bad news, and also a snack for you.”
A man in witness protection due to death threats from the Russian mob agrees to star in a reality TV show as long as they let him and his family wear ski masks and have their voices digitally altered. What could go wrong? A lot, but fortunately, it’s pretty hilarious.
Who could have guessed that a show about a bunch of depraved squids would have become an international phenomenon and lasted 16 years? They even got world-class musical artists like "Weird Al" Yankovic and William Shatner to sing the theme song. Ranking this in the top half to minimize hate mail from all those Squidbillies fans who apparently live all around us.
‘The Brak Show’ (2000-2007)
One of the earliest Adult Swim shows and thus responsible for setting the tone for the programming block, The Brak Show was basically Space Ghost Coast to Coast without the celebrity “interviews.” So, not quite as funny or interesting, but still solid late-night cartoon watching.
A superpowered prison where super-#$%@ed-up things happen. This one gets dark, but not as dark as...
‘Moral Orel’ (2005-2012)
What would happen if Butters from South Park went through even worse things and was surrounded by even more disturbed people and, at one point, the show stopped having punchlines and just turned into a dark psychological drama? Moral Orel, basically.
‘Frisky Dingo’ (2006-2008)
Frisky Dingo feels like creator Adam Reed workshopping this idea for 25 episodes before selling it to FX as Archer, but it’s still very much worth watching on its own. It’s also a fascinating middle point between Archer and #6 below.
‘Robot Chicken’ (2005-present)
“What if famous children’s characters said bad words and beat each other and stuff?” has proven to be a surprisingly durable premise. Yes, the jokes are all whatever a 15-year-old would come up with if given 10 seconds to think of a skit idea, but that’s part of the show’s undeniable charm.
The epic tale of history’s most successful death metal band, or any type of band, or any group of people ever. Adult Swim are fools for canceling this before anything less than five billion episodes, but they are getting a direct-to-video movie, so there’s still hope.
‘Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!’ (2007-2017)
Tom Goes to the Mayor (by the same creators) may have been a little rough around the edges, but Tim and Eric? Now Tim and Eric we can get into.
‘Sealab 2021’ (2000-2005)
An obscure 1970s Hanna-Barbera cartoon twisted and re-edited into an absurdist masterpiece, even if it gave us extremely inaccurate expectations about the number of undersea adventures we’d be going on in the present decade.
‘Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law’ (2000-2018)
Preach it, Boo Boo.
‘Aqua Teen Hunger Force’ (2000-present)
Lots of Adult Swim shows made generous use of absurd humor, but only one was so absurd that it leaked into the real world and made life just a tiny bit dumber for everyone (or at least those living in Boston, anyway).
‘The Boondocks’ (2005-2014)
Yes, it’s #3. You can go back to the start of the list now, Ctrl+F users.
‘The Venture Bros.’ (2003-2018)
Whereas The Boondocks stood out among early Adult Swim shows due to the fact that its plots said something and made sense, The Venture Bros. was just bizarre enough to blend in with the other shows while providing character development, moments of real emotion and a fascinating decades-long narrative. Objectively speaking, The Venture Bros. might be the network’s greatest achievement. But a list about Adult Swim shows doesn’t have to make sense, so the winner is...
‘Space Ghost Coast to Coast’ (1994-2004)
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Thumbnail: Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution