"Space Ghost", "Metalocalypse" & More: 7 Binge-Worthy Adult Swim Shows

Adult Swim has stepped up to combat all of this staying at home and "involuntary social distancing" by making a ton of their content available to stream for free. This is in many ways perfect, as this takes me back to a couple of decades ago adolescence, when I'd stay home most Friday nights and watch [ adult swim ] on the Cartoon Network. Ahhhh, those weren't the days – but there was always Space Ghost.

If you have a favorite show from their originals (and who doesn't), go check out adultswim.com/videos or search on Hulu, which has a dozen or so of the most popular [ adult swim ] shows. You can also stream these on the [ adult swim ] app available on Roku, FireTV, AppleTV, most smartphones, and several other places. And with that, I present to you in no particular order, 7 shows to keep you entertained during this time of social distancing.

1. "Space Ghost: Coast to Coast"

Ok, I lied. Space Ghost is first on this list because this was the first [ adult swim ] show and still the best. (Calm down, Rick and Morty stans, we'll get to you) And quite simply, nothing could be better to wile away the hours of social isolation than some good, old fashioned arbitrary and absurdist humor.

adult swim Space Ghost Snatch
From the episode "Snatch" — Space Ghost, Moltar and Zorak being trapped on the Ghost Planet by The Blob and menaced by replicating space pods who kill you if you fall asleep feels like the original quarantine comedy. Coffee. Mind-erasing kits. Steven Wright. Good times.

The great thing about Space Ghost was its limitations. Writers on the early seasons expressed that since Turner Media and Cartoon Network was still fairly conservative, there were real limits on what they could joke about. Space Ghost was nestled between decidedly G-rated fare like Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Laboratory, and reruns of the old Space Ghost Hanna-Barbera shorts. So topics like sex, violence, politics, or anything at all controversial or topical was off the table. That left really only "awkwardness" as the thing they could tap into.

So that's the show. Space Ghost is an idiot who asks dumb questions to guests and then everyone feels awkward. It's so brilliantly absurd. And sometimes Zorak has something to say. And sometimes sea monkeys grow out of control. BANJO!!!

Almost every episode is available on adultswim.com or their app. And you should watch it. Check out "King Dead" where Zorak and Moltar go on strike and steal H. Jon Benjamin and go watch Space Ghost's cable. "No! Precious cable!"

2. "Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law"

A spirital cousin to Space Ghost, this puts our former cartoon star as a lawyer solving cases involving other Hanna-Barbera characters. For instance, Apache Chief spills hot coffee on his lap, preventing him from. . . uh. . . "inyuk chuck"-ing.

Oh, and Stephen Colbert plays his boss, Phil Ken Sebben. Ha-ha! Puns!

HA-HA! [Adult Swim] Orders Up "Birdgirl" with Paget Brewster to Star

This is one instance where the full seasons are available on Hulu, and only selected episodes on the adult swim app and website.

3. "Metalocalypse"

Whether you love metal music or not, this cartoon is amazing. It also helps if you love metal, because this actually has an amazing soundtrack.

Whether going to the bottom of the Mariana Trench to record their new album or performing it for a pod of killer whales off the coast of Poland, the best running gag of the adventures of the band Dethklok is the ridiculous lengths they'll go to. Or maybe it's the illuminati group, led by Mark Hamill, determined stopping them is the key to averting an apocalypse.

Or perhaps it's hilarious side characters like Dr. Rockso, the rock n roll clown. (He does cocaine!!) It's pretty far afield from the simple, awkward humor of Space Ghost and other early [ adult swim ]. It's dark, it's brutal, it's edgy. It's metal.

And in one episode the band goes on a diet, but decide popsicles are ok and all get really fat. Anyway, every episode is available online at the adult swim website.

4. "Tom Goes To the Mayor"

Jefferton Alive!! Jefferton Alive!! Before Tim and Eric became "Tim and Eric," they made this weird semi-animated show about a man named Tom with ideas to improve the city. What ideas? Like working with "The Bear Trap Brothers" (Jack Black and Kyle Gass) to put on a musical about why the city needs to put bear traps everywhere. Or creating the holiday's hottest new catchphrase and t-shirt, "Rats Off To Ya!"

And yes, that's Flo from Progressive, who also played multiple roles on the show. It is absolutely the most absurd show of adult swim's early period, and it still holds up. . . in 11 minute chunks. They're all available on the website and app, so please enjoy.

5. "Frisky Dingo"

Before Archer, Adam Reed cut his teeth with both Sealab 2021 and this animated show. You can immediately see the similarity in animation styles and running gags with Archer. (For instance, the X-tacles in this show repeatedly say "Boosh!" in contrast to Archer's "Sploosh!")

This weird show revolves around a would-be supervillain named Killface and his attempts to break into relevance. Billionaire Xander Crews is secretly Awesome X who runs around with his pals the X-tacles.

And Xander's girlfriend Grace Ryan is bitten by radioactive ants and becomes the villainous Antagone, until she takes some "Ret-Con" and none of that even ever happened. That's the kind of show it is.

And you should seriously check it out. All of Frisky Dingo is on Hulu, and most of it is on the adult swim website and app. However, it should be noted the pilot, "Meet Killface," is not. And it is not only one of the best of the series, it's also pretty important for establishing the show.

6. "The Venture Bros."

Episode for episode, this may be the best series [ adult swim ] ever produced. A postmodern take on the tropes of Johnny Quest, Tintin, and other pulpy adventures from the 50's, 60's and 70's, it's really a rumination on failure, specifically the failures of one Dr. Rusty Venture, whose two sons are the eponymous brothers. Protected by hulking killing machine Brock Sampson (Patrick Warburton), they face off against their arch-nemesis The Monarch, his henchmen, and Dr. Girlfriend, who has the deepest voice of anyone in the cast.

Unfortunately/fortunately, the show expands its cast and universe so much by the end of the second season, there's a giant universe to explore filled with side characters who are far more interesting than the Venture family. Yet somehow we always manage to come back around to them.

Every episode is available on Hulu, and this is one of the few shows that is truly bingeable. Your average two hours of Aqua Teen Hunger Force is likely to give you ADHD if you didn't already have it, but Venture Brothers has a narrative and backstory that makes watching entire seasons worth it.

On the other hand, the adult swim website has a live stream of just Venture Brothers, if not every episode on demand. It's great for just tuning into and dropping in to the narrative someplace randomly and enjoying.

7. "Rick and Morty"

Don't worry. I wasn't going to ignore the best animated show currently in production. Did you see their PSA about handwashing? Get your $#!^ together, Summer.

To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty. The humour is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of theoretical physics most of the jokes will go over a typical viewer's head. There's also Rick's nihilistic outlook, which is deftly woven into his characterisation- his personal philosophy draws heavily from Narodnaya Volya literature, for instance. The fans understand this stuff; they have the intellectual capacity to truly appreciate the depths of these jokes, to realise that they're not just funny- they say something deep about LIFE. As a consequence people who dislike Rick & Morty truly ARE idiots- of course they wouldn't appreciate, for instance, the humour in Rick's existential catchphrase "Wubba Lubba Dub Dub," which itself is a cryptic reference to Turgenev's Russian epic Fathers and Sons. I'm smirking right now just imagining one of those addlepated simpletons scratching their heads in confusion as Dan Harmon's genius wit unfolds itself on their television screens. What fools.. how I pity them. 😂

And yes, by the way, i DO have a Rick & Morty tattoo. And no, you cannot see it. It's for the ladies' eyes only- and even then they have to demonstrate that they're within 5 IQ points of my own (preferably lower) beforehand. Nothin personnel kid 😎

There's only a few of these available on the app and website – but if you go to Hulu, the episodes are as plentiful as Mulan McNugget sauce at a 1998 McDonald's.

Honorable mentions that just barely didn't make the list but probably should've: The Boondocks, Samurai Jack, Minoriteam, Eagleheart, Sealab 2021, Robot Chicken, Primal, Saul of the Mole Men, Home Movies, The Eric Andre Show, The Drinky Crow Show, 12 Oz. Mouse, Black Dynamite, The Brak Show, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Loiter Squad, and a bunch of anime that I am completely unfamiliar with and I'm sure you all love dearly, but that's a different list. Most of these are available on the adult swim app and website and you should check them out.

Anyway, go watch some @#$%&# "cartoons".

About Andy Wilson

A mild mannered digital strategist working for an environmental nonprofit in Austin, TX roaming the interwebs fighting his nemeses by day, and by night consuming all manner of media. You can find him either on his couch or at the nearest Alamo Drafthouse catching the latest. Don't follow him on Twitter @CitizenAndy.

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