If you haven’t ever watched Adventure Time, what are you doing here? There are ten seasons to watch of the epic Cartoon Network show from the brain of Pendleton Ward, sadly it’s come to an end now. Well, luckily for all of us, the team behind the Land of OOO have all gone on to make other brilliant cartoons and have inspired others to continue on with animation innovation. Now, we’ve got to remember that cartoons aren’t always just for kids. Many of these shows have just as many adult fans as children and some of them might be best saved for when the kids are older. Don’t be fooled by the colourful, simplicity of cartoon design, the stories are just as detailed, enjoyable and important as their real-life counterparts. We haven’t even touched on the endless world of anime in this article, it’s just too vast! So, here are eight animated television shows that we think you’ll love it you’re a fan of Adventure Time. Hopefully, you’ve seen some of them already, if not, enjoy!
Break for a cartoon nostalgia moment….
I’ve always loved cartoons from watching old Felix the Cat or Looney Tunes cartoons with my Grandad’s, growing up playing make believe inspired by X-Men and Ninja Turtles, to years of family time spent watching The Simpsons which evolved with teenage years into South Park, Family Guy and American Dad. Bring on the digital age and a vastly broader choice of channels, online content and new ways of discovering cartoons, my fandom for animation is still going strong. That’s just my animation adoration in brief, without touching on the weird and wonderful worlds of indie comic book spin-offs, Salad Fingers, Happy Tree Friends or my long-lasting love for stop-motion animation, heeey Pingu!
So, what do we watch now that we’ve watched every episode of Adventure Time a gazillion times? Here’s our list…
Over the Garden Wall
Originally aired in 2014, this dark Victorian inspired gothic fairytale has recently landed on Netflix. Created by Adventure Time alumni, Patrick McHale, the Emmy winning 10 episode series features the voice talent of Elijah Wood, Melanie Lynskey, Tim Curry and Collin Dean. Although we would love to see another series of Over the Garden Wall, this story of two brothers will take you on a heart-wrenching journey filled with magic, evil and talking bluebirds fits neatly into one series. A handful of whimsical musical numbers breaks up the darkness. It’s beautiful, it’s creepy and features some ace voice talent.
This sci-fi animated adventure landed on the internet a year before a certain sweary American, created by Adventure Time’s head honcho, Pendleton Ward. You’ll find Bravest Warriors series 1-3 for free on YouTube channel Cartoon Hangover with an additional one available on a Federator streaming service. You can basically expect Adventure Time, in space with a healthy amount of swears and adult humour thrown in, but without crossing the line in terms of taste. Enough whimsy and randomness to appeal to Adventure Time fans, enough cheeky humour to appeal to adults. There’s plenty of new adorable characters to fill in for BMO too, hello there Jelly Kid and Cat Bug! For even more cartoon discovery, hang around the Cartoon Hangover YouTube channels for things like Bee & Puppycat and many more.
Cartoon Network’s first show created by a woman comes from another ex-Adventure Time staff member, Rebecca Sugar. The story follows little Steven Universe, a human/alien ‘gem’ and his unusual family consisting of the Crystal Gems; a team of freedom fighting rebels from another planet stranded on Earth to protect it from takeover by the Diamonds. You’ll also meet Greg, Steven’s ex-rock musician human father who still lives in his touring van. Remember British rapper/musician Estelle? Well, you’ll hear her speaking and singing as the character of Garnet. The show has become particularly popular with the LGBT+ community for its diverse representation of love, relationships, identity, mental health and friendship, all of which is additionally reflected in the show’s diverse creative team. And equally, not completely free from fails and controversy.
Trollhunters: Tales from Arcadia
Based on the novel Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus, movie genius Del Toro heads up this multi-award winning Netflix Original animation from DreamWorks Animation. In case you didn’t know DreamWorks are the clever folks behind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and How to Train Your Dragon, so you know you’re onto something good with this team. The story follows James Lake Jr. and his high schooler friends as they stumble upon the world of Troll Market and Arcadia and accidentally become embroiled in the traditions and politics of the Trolls and fighting evil. This series is also one of the final works of young actor, Anton Yelchin as the lead, who sadly passed away in a freak accident in 2016. A handful of the final episodes of the current series feature the also brilliant, Emilie Hirsch in Yelchin’s place.
The Amazing World of Gumball
If you’re into the surreal and sometimes trippy moments of Adventure Time, you’re probably going to dig Gumball. Created by French-English, Ben Bocquelet, The Amazing World of Gumball was the first show to be produced by Cartoon Network Studios Europe, based out of Germany. The main storyline is your standard American style ordinary family scenario a la The Simpsons, except your protagonists are a blue cat called Gumball and his adopted goldfish brother Darwin. Gumball is an incredibly colourful show that mixes just about every possible type of animation style and texture and likes to be very self-aware and experimental whilst maintaining a massive appeal to children.
Star vs. the Forces of Evil
Following on from Steven Universe, here comes the first Disney XD show created by a woman and features a strong female lead and diverse creative team. You may recognise the voice of lead character/princess Star Butterfly as the voice of Sue Heck from sitcom, The Middle and if you have any nerd credentials it’ll make you smile to hear Alan Tudyk on the cast too. The story follows Star, a slightly irregular princess from Mewni as she stumbles around Earth fighting evil (obvs!) whilst trying to figure out humans. The design of Star vs. The Forces of Evil is very harajuku kawaii inspired with tons of nods to subcultures and a very catchy ska-inspired, almost annoying theme song.
Regular Show creator, J.G Quintel got his intro to animation when he won a Nickelodeon short film competition as a film student, he went on to successfully score a long deal with Cartoon Network with this offbeat sitcom format, Regular Show. Essentially It’s Only Sunny in Philidelphia animated, except your leads are a bluejay and a racoon and they work in a park, not a bar. Expect simple scenarios that quickly and consistently escalate into surreal, sci-fi inspired adventures with tons of pop culture references and quotable moments. Inspired by the likes of The Mighty Boosh, The League of Gentlemen (British comedy series), Beavis and Butt-Head and 1980s rock music, Regular Show is anything but ordinary but may be an acquired taste.
You’ll recognise the voice talent behind the Gravity Falls heroes as Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords) and Jason Ritter (The Event) in this cute adventure about The Mystery Shack in the mountain town of Gravity Falls. Creator, Alex Hirsch started his cartoon career down the same path as the majority of the above, working on Thurop Van Orman’s The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack for Cartoon Network. That’s still on our watch list, but for now, check out Gravity Falls on Disney XD for mysteries that run two seasons and run over into a series of graphic novels.
Do you have a cartoon recommendation for us? If you’re looking for more tips on what to watch next you might like our list of 5 Animated Movies to Watch or check out our Film & TV category for the rest of our watchable articles. You can comment below to get involved or drop me a tweet/Instagram note via @JayneKitsch.
@wearefoodscouts & @KitschInc. Digital Marketing & Creative Direction. Illustration, writing, creativity & style. Fan of films, TV, cartoons, colourful hair & clean beauty. Blogger since 2009.