Pop Culture

Escape Adulthood For A While With Some Cartoons Made For Kids That Still Hold Up

cartoons for adulthood

This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s summer intern
Olivia Charlson. Find her on Instagram at @olivialee2000. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at thezillennialzine@gmail.com.

There are some things that you just don’t grow out of. That yearning for your Sunday morning cartoons or late nights watching cartoons on cable shouldn’t have to die! Now you can just buy whatever cereal you want, set your own bedtime and your streaming service will let you skip the ten minutes of ads. Although some kids’ shows are kind of garbage, some cartoons made for kids really do hold up when you’re an adult. Cartoons for adulthood can go beyond Family Guy and The Simpsons. And I love anime, but it also can be so tough to watch sometimes. We made a list of new cartoons for adults so you can settle into your couch and enjoy some animated shenanigans.

The Basics

Let’s go over the basics. These are shows you’ve probably heard of before and that some people spent a whole phase of their life obsessed with. Some may not be for everyone — but hey — the classics are classics for a reason. And these three were basically like the SuperWhoLock of cartoons at the time (I’m sorry please keep reading).

Gravity Falls

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My boyfriend recently started watching this with me and was pleasantly surprised at how funny it still is. This one’s just fun and the mystery that’s introduced more heavily in the show makes it great for a rewatch as well. The idea of a horror-genre for kids comes out really well in this.

Steven Universe

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This show’s like that one messy friend that you love even though they’re a train wreck. It’s got super cute LGBTQ-inclusive love stories, a fun set of characters and a whole lot of color. This one’s great if you already have a love for cartoons.

Adventure Time

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Honestly, this show used to creep me out as a kid so I never watched it. Halfway through college, I gave it a spin and I loved it. The first season is kind of too silly, but the show melts into something with a lot of deeper meaning and journeys.

The friend group cartoons

Sometimes a Friday night with friends can be boring. You run out of things to do or go and a night spent in has been exhausted of Jack’s Box and drinking games. Cartoons with friends is a classic in my opinion. Especially if you can find the middle ground between nostalgia and “wait this is actually pretty good.”

Phineas and Ferb

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Yes, this one is silly. But there’s something about the easy “Perry” or “Doofensmirtz evil Inc” lines that everyone can grab onto that makes it fun with friends. Plus it’s got bangers like “Fabulous” and “Busted” that are going to get everyone hyped up.


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I love watching the old animated Scooby Doo movies with my friends. Zombies or The Hex girls are a great formula for a good time. Plus they’re short and a really good option for Halloween so everyone can enjoy what’s on in the background.

Over the Garden Wall

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Speaking of Halloween, the ultimate spooky but comforting vibe is coming from Over the Garden Wall. This might be my favorite show, period. It’s going on the hang-out list just because it’s so easy to consume (the whole show runs about two hours) and it’s something that’s intrigued everyone I’ve shown it to.

The Summer Binge-Watch

Sometimes you need a show that warrants a full on binge sessions. Here are a few that are several seasons long:

She-ra and the Princesses of Power

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She-ra is the ultimate cartoon cross between romance and adventure (and if you’re going to binge it this summer, this one’s excellent for pride month). The characters and settings make each episode more interesting than the last. I kept forgetting I was watching a show made for children until I’m told about the power of friendship or when a unicorn starts talking (whoops).

Teen Titans

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I am talking about the original Teen Titans. This cartoon has always been my perfect version of a comic book brought to life. You may need the nostalgia for this one, but it’s got interesting villains and plot points either way.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

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Last but not least we have Avatar. This is actually probably more like saving the best for last. This show delivers on the hero’s journey on so many different fronts. It was fun being able to watch this all the way through as an adult and it might just be your next summer binge if you missed it. Just don’t watch the movie.

Do you have any cartoons made for children that still hold up as an adult? Tell us in the comments down below!

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