Animated shows are sometimes made for kids but always made for adults. In fact, many jokes in family animation movies and shows were made to specifically be understood by and appeal to adults. Animation is not a genre, it is a medium. Ever since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made a breakthrough in 1937, showing the real potential of animation and establishing a new medium in filmography, the animation medium was not specific to kids. In fact, it was reported that an adult audience laughed and cried, in the December of 1937, at the Snow White premiere, even crowned the movie with a standing ovation.
Like the iconic movie, the 5 best animated shows on this list are emotional, hilarious and, above all, challenging. They address and challenge a wide range of ideas and topics we face in society and our own everyday lives, then portray them with effective dramatic tension or amusing comic relief. Some of these shows can be enjoyed by children, but mostly they are made for adult fun and laughter. Specifically Archer, please do not show Archer to children of any age.
Most of the shows on this list are Netflix originals, showing how this streaming service gave a rise to some of the best animated shows in existence. And while animation as a medium has come very far from its Snow White beginnings, it hasn’t strayed from adults as its primary audience. So, what is it already that is so interesting and adult-specific about these shows? Without further ado, let’s dive into this list of 5 best animated shows on Netflix. The list is spoiler-free, so you can relax and enjoy your read.
Dragon Age: Absolution (2022 – Present)
Dragon Age: Absolution is a Netflix original fantasy show made after the Dragon Age video game franchise, originally developed by BioWare. The events of the show take place after Dragon Age: Inquisition but before the upcoming game Dragon Age: Dreadwolf. The show stars Kimberly Brooks, probably best known as Ashley Williams in Mass Effect, as Miriam and Matthew Mercer, best known as Edér Teylecg and Aloth Corfiser in Pillars of Eternity, as Fairbanks.
The story takes place in the Tevinter Imperium in Northern Theadas where a powerful magocracy keeps a tight caste system through blood magic and extensive use of slavery. Miriam, an escaped slave turned mercenary, and a freedom-fighter Fairbanks must steal an object of immense magical power from the head of Tevinter Church, the most powerful man in the country. However, their heist goes wrong and suddenly the heroes find themselves on the bad side of the worst man in Tevinter and their heist turns into a fight for bare survival.
Disenchantment (2018 – Present)
Disenchantment is a Netflix original animated series set in the mythical Kingdom of Dreamland during the dark ages. The show was created by Josh Weinstein and Matt Groening, best known for The Simpsons and Futurama. It stars John Di Maggio (best known as Bender on Futurama) as King Zøg, Abbi Jacobson as Princess Tiabeanie (called Bean), Eric André as demon Luci and Nat Faxon as Elfo. The show was written by Shion Takeuchi, also known as the creator of the animated series Inside Job.
Bean is a rebel princess who befriends Luci, her personal demon from Hell, and a clueless elf Elfo from Elfwood. With her friends under her left arm and a barrel of ale under her right, she is intent on saving her father’s kingdom from numerous threats. This dynamic trio gets in one trouble after another in this classic Groening-style comedy. Groening’s humor hasn’t aged, it seems, as he continues his comedic legacy with the same vigor, regardless of what we deem appropriate today.
Inside Job (2021 – Present)
What if all of the conspiracy theories were true? All save for Earth, it’s not flat. However, it is hollow. And someone knows all about it. It’s the Deep State and its shadowy master Cognito Inc. For Reagan Ridley and her team, keeping all these secrets a secret is more than a job- it’s their mission. The life of the entire humanity rests in the hands of these seven colorful individuals who are equally likely to run it as they are to ruin it.
Inside Job is a Netflix original workplace comedy created by Shion Takeuchi. The show stars Lizzy Caplan as Reagan Ridley, Christian Slater as Rand Ridley, John DiMaggio as Glenn Dolphman, Brett Gelman as Myc Celium, Tisha Campbell as Gigi Thompson, Clark Duke as Brett Hand, Bobby Lee as Dr. Andre Lee, and others. Takeuchi assembled an impressive cast for her show’s running debut, and the sheer experience of the cast and writing crew is felt in every second of this story.
All Hail King Julien (2014 – 2017)
King Julien of Madagascar is back! All Hail King Julien is an original animated Netflix show based on the animated film Madagascar. The show was created by Tom McGrath and Eric Darnell and stars Danny Jacobs as King Julien, Kevin M. Richardson as Maurice, Andy Richter as Mort and India de Beaufort as Clover. The story follows the notorious party animal King Julien XIII and his courtiers Maurice, Clover and Mort.
This eccentric quartet is trying to establish a lemur kingdom where lemurs don’t have to live in constant fear of their lemur-eating, arch-enemy Fossa. King Juliens solution? Partying, of course! In Julien’s opinion, they are lemurs and everything wants to eat them all the time anyway. So why worry about maybe being eaten tomorrow, when you can party the night out today. Julien’s attempts at ruling take them through hilarious sets of events that eventually culminate in the movie Madagascar.
Archer (2009 – Present)
The only show on our list which is not a Netflix original, Archer, nonetheless, deserves a special place. Archer is a spy comedy revolving around a dysfunctional private spy agency and its equally dysfunctional employees. Amid covert black ops, intrigues and espionage, this team of seven wacky characters doesn’t lack for skill. However, their kooky personalities have a habit of getting in the way and causing chaos.
Archer’s humor is black, inappropriate and often absurd. What makes it so effective is that it comes from well-established characters who go about the world in their own nutty ways. On top of that are running inner jokes. Because the audience is always let in on them, those jokes create an amazing effect of laughing with the characters, even when you are really laughing at them. It establishes a friendly bond between viewers and characters which makes Archer an absolute must-watch for everyone who loves spies and black humor.
Archer was created by Adam Reed for FX and FXX networks and is available for streaming on Netflix. The show stars H. Jon Benjamin as Sterling Archer, Jessica Walter as Malory Archer, Aisha Tyler as Lana Kane, Judy Greer as Cheryl Tunt, Chris Parnell as Cyril Figgis, Amber Nash as Pam Poovey and Lucky Yates as Dr. Krieger.
A Binge-Worthy Recommendation
These 5 best animated shows are as dramatic as they are comedic. Their genres and humor styles vary but their target audience doesn’t. Out of all the shows on this list, kids are probably most likely to enjoy All Hail King Julien, however some of its jokes would make Archer blush.
These 5 best animated shows have stunning animation, gripping stories and incredible voice acting. Their humor is layered and often challenging. Their stories evolve in unpredictable directions and their characters grow on you in the most unexpected ways. They are a whole-hearted recommendation to any animation lover.