There have been a lot of great TV cartoon series over the decades, but only a few deserve the moniker of “twisted.” Here are our choices for the ten most twisted cartoons on American TV.
10. Space Ghost Coast to Coast. 1994-2004. Imagine an animated late-night talk show where the host is a mostly retired superhero, the house musician is a giant praying mantis, Zorak, the director is an old nemesis, Moltar, and the guests are live action. That’s Space Ghost Coast to Coast - probably more crazy than truly twisted. (The interviews were real, but were done by a cast member that sometimes wore a Space Ghost costume.) Would that there was a real late night superhero talkshow like this. The clip below is from when The Ramones appeared.
9. Futurama. 1999-2003. Futurama has elements of creator Matt Groening’s other creation, The Simpsons, but with a much crazier cast of animated characters, set in the future, and replete with glass-encased heads of current celebrities, megalomaniac robots (Bender), really dumb lead characters (Fry), one-eyed hot chicks (Leela), supersmart but forgetful scientists, very hungry humanoid creatures, lots of celebrity guests, unrequited love and zany plots. The clip below is from Futurama: Bender’s Big Score, which is a full-length feature video from 2007.
8. Aqua Teen Hunger Force. 2000-2006(?). Aqua Teen Hunger Force (ATHF) consists of a bunch of slacker superheroes in the form of a milkshake, a meatball and an order of fries. They first appeared on Space Ghost Coast to Coast, then got their own show. Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad will save the day, if they feel like it.
In real life, Boston was shut down when the ATHF movie was promoted in such way as to make authorities believe there was a bomb scare. Stupidity or brilliant marketing? Or just twisted.
7. Celebrity Deathmatch. 1998-present. Celebrity Deathmatch is a definitely twisted claymation series pitting well-known and lesser-known celebrities against each other. Extremely violent in depiction but surprisingly funny at the same time because of little joke references for each celebrity. The clip below pits Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox and Lisa Kudrow against each other.
6. Ripping Friends. 2001-2002. John Kricfalusi outdid himself, graduating from Ren and Stimpy (listed below) to the short-lived but twisted Ripping Friends, about quadruplet superhero brothers of slightly different ages and even different races. When villains appear and logic doesn’t work, it’s ripping time. Brute force and violence wins the day.
5. Robot Chicken. 2005-present. Robot Chicken offers a constant stream of (insane) consciousness claymation and doll/ puppet segments. To wit: raptors (from Jurassic Park) that put on roller blades and do a synchronized disco skate routine around their prey. Or a Big Brother-style reality show featuring a whole bunch of movie psychos including Ghost Face (Scream), Michael Myers (Halloween), Pinhead (Hellraiser). Or violently but nutty spoofs of Star Trek, Star Wars, loads of other movies, and pop culture icons. And so on, ad infinitum. The clip below is a spoof of 2007’s 300 movie.
4. Beavis and Butthead. 1993-1997. Mike Judge made his name with this pair of annoying idiots that nevertheless endeared themselves to so many people. Personally, I prefer Judge’s later effort, King of the Hill, but it’s just not as demented as Beavis and Butthead. Uh huh huh huh. These guys even had their own Celebrity Deathmatch episode (which mixed animation and claymation). Here’s a clip from the classic Vaya Con Cornholio. Long live Beavis’ bunghole.
3. Ren and Stimpy. 1991-1996. John Kricfalusi takes the crown as the most twisted cartoon creator. He first got serious notice from us twisted toon lovers via Ren and Stimpy, about the animated antics of a chihuaha and a cat roommates with a love/hate relationship. Watch any episode of this series and you’ll probably wonder if Kricfalusi spent any time in the nuthouse. Let’s hope this series isn’t autobiographical. Here’s a clip from the “Jerry the Bellybutton Elf” episode.
2. South Park. 1997-present. I wasn’t originally a big fan of this series, epecially when kids started watching and pipsqueaks started being foul-mouthed. But every once in a while, I found myself sneaking a peek at an episode. Kinda like eating a whole big bag of potato chips when I should know better. My all-time favorite episode is when Jesus and Satan have a boxing match. Only a truly twisted mind can create such simultaneously crazy and introspective tales. Pure demented genius. Here’s a montage clip of various fight scenes, set to Disturbed’s Down With the Sickness.
1. Drawn Together. 2004-present. I used to think no one could outdo Kricfalusi, but Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein have done it with the completely demented, totally politically incorrect, sometimes sickening Drawn Together. It’s a Big Brother-like cartoon reality show that spoofs characters from traditional cartoons and comic books. Characters include an insecure, snivelling superhero; a gay elf; a battling; cute Japanese anime monster (who looks a lot like Pikachu); a sexy African-American girl who is part fox and all stereotype; a racist princess; a gluttonous Betty Boop-like character; a pig with a revolting personality (if the others weren’t enough). And there are the obligatory guests from time to time. You’ll either love Drawn Together or you’ll hate it. Here’s a mixed clip, set to Sanitarium by Metallica.