Who says that animated movies are solely for kids? Going back to the 1929 cartoon Eveready Harton in Buried Treasure and through the years of sex-symbol Betty Boop and gross-out Howard the Duck, animation has attempted to appeal to adults in different ways over the years, though without much mainstream success until the ’70s and ’80s. One of the first and undeniably filthiest animated films of all time was Fritz the Cat, a 1972 adult black comedy that became a pioneer for future animated works for adults. From that point on, animated flicks in the mainstream weren’t just a children’s medium.
Over the years, film studios have gotten more brazen and open-minded with the content they release. Some of cinema’s most famous (and infamous) flicks just so happen to be animated pictures aimed at a more mature audience. The genre and style of storytelling gives adults the best of both worlds: the nostalgic feeling that comes with watching a cartoon paired with outrageous and downright dirty humor.
Updated September 11, 2022: If you love raunchy animated films, you’ll be pleased to know we’ve updated this article with additional content and entries.
Since Fritz the Cat’s debut fifty years ago, studios have fully embraced adult animated farces, which have proven that they can be just as profitable with grown-up audiences as with children. Many beloved animated television shows have gone on to release big-screen adaptations, such as The Simpsons, which brought adult-geared animation to the height of its popularity, along with obscene Comedy Central darling South Park and MTV classic Beavis and Butt-Head. However, those adaptations only scratch the surface. These are the raunchiest animated movies for adults.
10 Heavy Traffic (1973)
Fritz the Cat director Ralph Bakshi once again served up an entertainingly filthy flick when he helmed the 1973 adult animated drama Heavy Traffic, which follows aspiring cartoonist Michael Corleone as he attempts to find inspiration for his craft through various interactions with unsavory individuals he meets on the streets of New York City. Joseph Kaufmann stars as the 22-year-old pinball loving virgin Michael, who crosses paths with an array of colorful characters including a masochistic nymphomaniac named Snowflake and violent Italian mafioso; the film also depicts the young artist as he and his love interest Carole turn to a life of crime in order to survive.
Despite its X-rating and bawdy content, Heavy Traffic became Bakshi’s greatest critical success and earned positive reviews from critics, and the filmmaker became the first person in animation history since Walt Disney to release two profitable films back-to-back (with Fritz the Cat having been released the previous year). The provocative and boundary-pushing picture remains an early example of adult animated content that would go on to inspire future projects.
9 America: The Motion Picture (2021)
2021’s Netflix original film America: The Motion Picture is an animated comedy that is loosely based on the Founding Fathers of the United States and the American Revolution, and is a parody of George Washington’s battle against the British. With an ensemble voice cast including Channing Tatum, Jason Mantzoukas, Will Forte, and Simon Pegg, the film is a tongue-in-cheek take on the American Revolution and is jam-packed with outrageous characters and rude, crude humor.
America: The Motion Picture is well-aware of its own ridiculousness, turning George Washington into a chainsaw-wielding hero alongside a beer-chugging Sam Adams. Though many critics condemned the film for its juvenile jokes and writing, the animated comedy earned appreciation for its cast, animation, and unique concept.
8 Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie! (2013)
It was inevitable that Kevin Smith would release a Jay & Silent Bob cartoon film, wasn’t it? And the end result is a hoot. Jay & Silent Bob’s Groovy Cartoon Movie! turns the comic of “Bluntman & Chronic” into a reality when the stoner duo is gifted with power. The comedic storyline follows the two as they navigate their new lives and manage “The League of Shitters,” a hilarious group of villains formed against them. View Askew fans are advised to tune in if they haven’t already, but general viewers might be disappointed in comparison to gems like Dogma that include a fun spread of A-lister cameos.
1981’s animated anthology flick Heavy Metal depicts various science fiction and fantasy stories tied together by a glowing green orb that is the embodiment of ultimate evil. The film was adapted from the Heavy Metal magazine and original tales, and like the publication features an immense amount of sexuality, nudity, and graphic violence. Heavy Metal stars the voices of Rodger Bumpass, John Candy, Eugene Levy, and Joe Flaherty, and was met with a lukewarm response by critics.
Many criticized the picture for its blatant sexism and for romanticizing violence, but its impressive graphics, killer soundtrack, and sharp wit were praised by fans. Since its release, the movie has garnered cult status and is considered a pioneering film and time capsule of the ’80s. Interestingly, David Fincher and Tim Miller were set to remake it, but their reboot turned into the popular Love, Death & Robots. Now, Heavy Metal is expanding into live-action and animated films with the ‘Metalverse.’
6 South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (1999)
Comedy Central’s foul-mouthed animated hit series South Park made its way to the big screen with 1999’s South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, following Stan and the gang as they sneak into an R-rated movie and emerge with a penchant for swearing, causing their parents to blame Canada for their children’s corruption. The film satirizes the Motion Picture Association of America, due to creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s dispute with the MPAA over the project’s profanity. The brazen comedy includes everything the show is famous for: crude sexual humor, vulgar jokes, and perverse social satire.
The animated flick was the highest-grossing R-rated animated film until 2016 and received solid reviews upon its release. The Washington Post described South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut as “outrageously profane” and “wildly funny” farce that is “all in dirty good fun and in service of their pro-tolerance theme.” Over two decades later, Parker and Stone are now releasing 14 new South Park movies on Paramount Plus.
5 Fritz the Cat (1972)
Director Ralph Bakshi directed the animated black comedy Fritz the Cat, which became the first American animated film to receive an X rating and is a cat movie unlike any other. Starring Skip Hinnant, the picture centers on the titular character, a fast-talking and womanizing cat in an anthropomorphic animal version of NYC during the 1960s. The comedy is a satire that focuses on American college life during the era, the free love movement, and race relations. Bakshi wanted to use the medium of animation to tell satirical and dramatic stories to a more mature audience.
Fritz the Cat heavily contained profanity, graphic violence, sex, and drug use, sparking outrage from the conservative members of the animation industry.The film was a pioneer for its use of mature themes and satire, and is widely acknowledged as the stepping stone for future animated creations for adults, such as Family Guy, The Simpsons, and South Park.
4 Tripping the Rift: The Movie (2008)
Syfy’s CGI adult animated comedy Tripping the Rift: The Movie is modeled largely from the Star Trek universe and is set on a spaceship that is captained by outlaw Chode McBlob, detailing the misadventures he and his crew go on while celebrating his birthday. The film featured completely uncensored dialogue when it aired, while its nudity was obscured by “censored” balloons.
Tripping the Rift is known for its satiric content and graphic sexual depictions, along with its filthy language and humor. The raunchy animation and sexual innuendos are in full force for the animated flick, which is infamous for its spoofs of pop culture greats like The Terminator and Young Frankenstein, and its eagerness to embrace all things risqué.
3 Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996)
MTV’s audacious and ingloriously stupid slacker duo Beavis and Butt-Head take their hilarity to the big screen with 1996’s Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. The animated comedy focuses on the adolescent heroes as they attempt to locate their stolen television, traveling across the country in search of it while hoping to maybe even “score” while they’re at it.
Written and directed by series creator Mike Judge, the flick was a huge critical and commercial success, earning $63 million at the box office. The vulgar and outrageous movie showcases the idiot buddies in all their glory and features lowbrow humor, scathing social commentary, and sidesplitting satire. Three decades later, Mike Judge revived the duo, again for Paramount+.
2 Down and Dirty Duck (1974)
Charles Swenson’s 1974 animated adult comedy Down and Dirty Duck follows the mild-mannered Willard as he teams up with a lewd and crude duck on a surreal quest to let loose and possibly get laid. The story consists of a series of abstract and beautifully, bizarrely drawn sequences, with caricatures of Frank Zappa, John Lennon, and Yoko Ono briefly appearing in the farce. Down and Dirty Duck was widely condemned by reviewers, who criticized its crude humor and blatant attempt at replicating the success of Fritz the Cat.
The Los Angeles Timesoffered up a scathing critique of the animated film, calling it a “sprawling undisciplined piece of sniggering vulgarity that resembles nothing so much as an animated bathroom graffiti. [The film is] degrading to women, blacks, Chicanos, gays, cops, lesbians, and anyone with an IQ of more than 45.” Despite such an intense dislike from critics (or perhaps because of it), the filmdid well on home video and has since become a cult ‘midnight’ movie. While the provocative Howard the Duck is often remembered as the ‘adult duck cartoon,’ Down and Dirty Duck is typically forgotten, though it was released a decade earlier and has far more interesting animation.
1 Sausage Party (2016)
From the deliciously dirty minds of comedy heavy hitters Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Jonah Hill came the 2016 adult animated farce Sausage Party, which centers on a hot dog named Frank (voiced by Rogen) who lives in a supermarket and makes the horrifying discovery about what actually happens when groceries are purchased. Rogen revealed that they worked for 8 years to get the project made, but the racy content worried most film studios. After initially receiving an NC-17 rating, Sausage Party ultimately earned a final R-rating for “strong crude sexual content, pervasive language and drug use.” Upon its release, the controversial comedy became the highest-grossing R-rated animated film of all time and held the title until Demon Slayer: Mugen Train surpassed it in 2020.
Sausage Party was praised for its daring humor by critics, with the Associated Press writing, “There is no one out there making comedies quite like Rogen and Goldberg. They are putting their definitive stamp on the modern American comedy one decency-smashing double entendre at a time.” On top of its strange humor and wonderfully weird animation, the film is a surprisingly thought-provoking critique of organized religion, and remains one of the greatest animated films for adults ever made.