10 Great Western Adult Cartoons with Depth Over Gags

10 Great Western Adult Cartoons with Depth Over Gags
Image credit: AMC/Netflix, MTV Networks, Prime Video, Adult Swim

No unnecessary flow of jokes. Just mature storylines.

The adult cartoon landscape is constantly evolving, embracing complex storytelling and mature themes that go beyond mere humor. If you are tired of overused gags and want to delve into some serious themes, here are 10 adult cartoons that will provide you with profound narratives, deep character development, and meaningful exploration of various themes.

1. Castlevania (2017 - 2021)

Inspired by the iconic video game series, Castlevania combines stunning animation with dark, action-packed storytelling. The series follows the Belmonts, a family of vampire and monster hunters, in their epic battle against Dracula and his followers. The story unfolds after Dracula's human wife is unjustly executed, leading him to declare war on humanity.

It features compelling character development, intricate political subplots, and a beautiful anime-inspired art style, making it one of the most exceptional video game adaptations to date.

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2. Primal (2019 - 2021)

The brainchild of Gennady Tartakovsky, Primal is a masterpiece of animation with minimal dialogue. The series follows an unlikely duo – a caveman and a T-Rex – bound by shared tragedy and forming a symbiotic bond as they navigate a dangerous world.

With each episode introducing new threats, the animation in Primal shines, capturing both tranquil scenes and hyper-violent action with equal brilliance, marking the evolution of a seasoned visual artist.

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3. Invincible (2021 - )

Based on Robert Kirkman's comic book, Invincible reimagines the superhero genre by exploring complex character relationships and the implications of possessing superhuman abilities. Initially resembling a typical superhero cartoon, it quickly reveals itself to be perhaps the most graphically violent show on modern television.

By lulling viewers into a false sense of security, the show subverts the traditional superhero narrative by exploring real-world violence and its consequences, offering a refreshingly realistic take on the genre.

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4. Midnight Gospel (2020)

This 2020 Netflix series is a collaboration between comedian Duncan Trussell and Pendleton Ward, the creator of Adventure Time. The show blends surreal animation with deep philosophical discussions as it follows Clancy, a space explorer, as he travels through bizarre realms and interviews the inhabitants on topics such as life and death.

The conversations are adapted from Trussell's real-life podcast, creating an unconventional and thought-provoking viewing experience that has been acclaimed for its unique blend of philosophy and animation.

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5. MTV's Downtown (1999 - 2000)

A cult classic known for its mature themes and realistic portrayal of urban life, Downtown offers a slice-of-life narrative set in a diverse cityscape. Created by Chris Prynoski, this distinctive animated series explores the lives of a diverse group of young adults, led by protagonist Alex.

Known for its unique visual style and relatable storytelling, it has become a cult favorite for its realistic portrayal of the experiences of young adulthood and the challenges of growing up.

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6. Undone (2019 - 2022)

Brought by the creators of BoJack Horseman, Undone is a mind-bending mystery drama about a woman who gains the ability to travel through time after a car accident. She uses her powers to investigate the death of her father.

What sets the show apart is its visually inventive approach, using rotoscope animation that seamlessly blends live action and animation to tell a complex story about time travel, mental health, and family dynamics. The series is a collaborative effort involving production companies such as The Tornante Company and animation studios Submarine and Minnow Mountain.

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7. Pantheon (2022 - 2023)

This animated sci-fi drama explores deep philosophical questions raised by technological advances. Based on short stories by Hugo Award-winning author Ken Liu, the series imagines a future where consciousness can be uploaded into computers, granting almost god-like abilities, and explores the impact on families and the sinister potential of mega-corporations.

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8. Arcane ( 2021 - )

Derived from the popular game League of Legends, Arcane redefines video game adaptations by taking League's primarily multiplayer concept and creating a compelling steampunk fantasy world filled with intricate character drama and political intrigue.

What sets Arcane apart is its unparalleled visual splendor, achieved through a combination of painted textures, computer animation, and cel shading. The series features deep world-building, intricate character arcs, and a narrative that goes beyond typical game adaptations.

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9. BoJack Horseman (2014 - 2020)

Though it may seem like just another raunchy sitcom, BoJack Horseman stands out for its expertly crafted writing and emotional depth. Beneath its cartoonish facade and witty humor, it delves into a complex character study of a washed-up Hollywood celebrity, tackling heavy themes of depression, addiction, and the price of fame.

Featuring a diverse cast of intricately developed characters, this character-driven series provides a poignant commentary on the human condition and stands out as one of the best adult cartoons.

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10. Entergalactic (2022)

Created by rapper Kid Cudi as a companion piece to his album of the same name, Entergalactic unfolds a slice-of-life love story between neighborhood protagonists in New York. The series features striking art and animation inspired by the visually dynamic Spider-Verse films.

What sets it apart is its laid-back, down-to-earth tone, offering a compelling look at young adult life in the city, enhanced by visually rich storytelling.