News

9 Reasons TV Animation Is Red Hot Right Now — From Rick and Morty Riots to a DuckTales Reboot and On

Animated shows are the some of the best of what's on TV now — and there's more to come!

by | October 11, 2017 | Comments

Are we living in the golden age of the animated comedy series? Sure, series like The Flintstones and The Jetsons got the TV trend started, but back then there were only three networks. Now that there’s Disney Channel, FX, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, and streaming services in the mix — there’s more TV animation than ever.

But why now?

Rotten Tomatoes took a look at the ratings, reviews, and cultural impact of today’s crop of animated shows to figure out why animation is so hot in 2017. Here are nine signs we are, in fact, living through a golden age of animated TV comedy.


1. RICK AND MORTY LITERALLY CAUSED A RIOT

Up 81 percent in viewership from season 2, season 3’s Rick and Morty finale had 1.5 million viewers between 18-49. Those are Modern Family numbers, and let’s face it, the only demographic advertisers care about. Big Bang Theory scores higher, but Big Bang didn’t have fast-food customers rioting.

Proof of the show’s reach: McDonald’s tried to hijack those Rick and Morty fans by bringing back the 1998 limited-edition Mulan Szechuan dipping sauce that Rick mentions in the season 3 premiere. But even the burger joint that serves billions and billions underestimated the demand of Rick and Morty fans. The Szechuan promo was a bust as locations ran out of sauce quickly or never got the sauce at all, turning unhappy customers away with the same old barbecue or honey mustard. McDonald’s has since promised to make more of the sauce to meet demand.


2. BOB’S BURGERS: THE MOVIE IS COMING IN 2020

The Simpsons have already made it to the big screen, and now another show from Fox’s Sunday night “Animation Domination” programming block is poised to dominate the box office. Now in its eighth season, Bob’s Burgers has a movie due in 2020, which all but guarantees the show will make it to season 10 or 11. The Simpsons made its movie around its 18th season, so Bob’s is on the fast track to catch up to the legendary series. Animation takes a long time — an average of nine months for a single episode — so three years for a movie sounds about right. Creator Loren Bouchard knows he’s got a lot to live up to.

“We’re thrilled to be invited to bring Bob’s Burgers to the big screen,” Bouchard said in a statement announcing the news. “We know the movie has to scratch every itch the fans of the show have ever had, but it also has to work for all the good people who’ve never seen the show. We also know it has to fill every inch of the screen with the colors and the sounds and the ever so slightly greasy texture of the world of Bob’s – but most of all it has to take our characters on an epic adventure. In other words, it has to be the best movie ever made. But no pressure, right?!”

The Bob’s Burgers movie will release July 17, 2020.


3. BOJACK HORSEMAN IS CERTIFIED FRESH

Netflix’s animated series Bojack Horseman may be the most acclaimed of the bunch with an average of 89 percent, and seasons 2 and 3 have perfect 100 percent scores. Whatever its ratings are, however, Netflix will never tell.

Bojack is about animal movie stars in a fictionalized, satirical “Hollwyoo,” but those animals have deep feelings. Take, for example, season 4 episode “Time’s Arrow,” which explores Bojack’s (Will Arnett) mother’s (Wendy Malick) dementia-plagued memories of her old caretaker Henrietta, an Inception-like patchwork of heartbreaking levels. Add in other out-of-the-box episodes like “Fish Out of Water,” which was essentially a silent comedy underwater, Bojack has earned the acclaim.


4. BIG STARS ARE DOING CARTOONS

The trend of big movie stars migrating to television is nothing new. Kiefer Sutherland, Kyra Sedgwick, Glenn Close, Jessica Lange, Kevin Bacon, Claire Danes and more have found juicier roles on shows than in movies (although most kept taking movie roles during hiatus). Previously, shows such as The Simpsons would lure A-listers like Mel Gibson or Meryl Streep to do guest voices, but now the big stars have begun playing lead roles on animated shows as well.

Look at Disney XD’s Ducktales reboot, with Doctor Who’s David Tennant as Scrooge McDuck. The cast of Netflix’s Big Mouth includes Jordan Peelee, Maya Rudolph, Jenny Slate, Andrew Rannells, and Fred Armisen along with creators Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. Bojack has Arnett, Aaron Paul, Alison Brie, and Amy Sedaris. Netflix again has Gemma Arterton, John Boyega, Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy, and Sir Ben Kingsley in the long-awaited Watership Down.

If those names look familiar, that’s because they’re some of the most famous voices around.


5. DUCKTALES IS AS WELL-REVIEWED AS IT IS POPULAR

Kids in the ’80s came home from school and watched DuckTales, which sent Donald Duck’s nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, on weekly adventures with their Uncle Scrooge, turning them into a trio of avian Indiana Joneses. It doesn’t take a Launchpad McQuack to figure out that bringing back DuckTales would have both 2017’s kids and the adults who grew up with DuckTales watching it again.

What Disney might not have counted on was the critical acclaim. DuckTales has a 100% Tomatometer score on reviews from critics at Indiewire, Screenrant, Nerdist, Cinemablend, and Den of Geek. All agree the new Disney XD version captures the spirit of the original with new animation and humor befitting 2017.


6. EVEN GROWN-UPS LOVE ‘EM

It’s easy to say grown-up shows like Bojack Horseman and Rick and Morty signal a new golden age of animation, but the fact that shows for children are just as beloved seals the deal. Disney’s Gravity Falls Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time have captivated grown-ups as well as their target audience. Even Rolling Stone weighed in on Adventure Time — and let’s not get started on the Bronies.


7. ARCHER IS 5/8 PERFECT

FX’s nighttime comedy Archer is also critically acclaimed. For any show, running eight seasons is a major accomplishment. Even better? If five of those eight seasons score 100% on the Tomatometer. Even the not-quite-perfect seasons only bring the average down to 96 percent.

Archer is a grown-up spoof of secret agent and spy movies, with ladies’ man Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) leading a dysfunctional team of agents on adventures. Creator Adam Reed has even taken Archer into other genres, like the fifth season Miami Vice homage Archer Vice and the most recent film noir detective season Archer Dreamland.


8. THE SIMPSONS IS ABOUT TO BE THE LONGEST RUNNING SHOW… EVER

In season 13, there was a joke at the end of a Simpsons clip show, “Gump Roast.” The song “They’ll Never Stop The Simpsons” promised “have no fear, we’ve got stories for years.” How true that promise was: season 29 just premiered, and Fox has renewed the show through season 30. Three decades already means The Simpsons has been on the air longer than any scripted show (only talk shows and news programs have lasted longer).

The Simpsons has another milestone in sight this year: beating Gunsmoke‘s record for the most produced episodes of scripted TV. Though Gunsmoke ran 20 years, TV seasons were longer then and produced 635 episodes total. Season 29 of The Simpsons will take the show past 636 episodes.


9. AND THERE’S MORE TO COME

Animation is so hot, in fact, that it’s invaded — and, in some cases, replaced — live-action series.

The CW Seed series Constantine turns NBC’s live-action version of the comic book character John Constantine (Matt Ryan) into an animated hero who smokes all he wants and faces demons of all different shapes and sizes. Read Ryan’s interview with Rotten Tomatoes here.

Syfy’s upcoming series based on a comic book, Happy!stars Christopher Meloni as a grizzled ex-cop and hitman ad features an animated imaginary friend named Happy (voiced by Patton Oswalt). From Crank co-creator Brian Taylor, Happy! looks bloody, scatological, and funnier than canceled Son of Zorn or Imaginary Mary, which also mixed live action and animation.

Tag Cloud

2015 El Rey robots films Winners See It Skip It satire aliens 007 Hallmark free movies BBC America Watching Series cancelled TV shows Walt Disney Pictures Song of Ice and Fire TIFF spain Teen doctor who popular worst witnail Disney+ Disney Plus Baby Yoda elevated horror breaking bad Vudu finale Tubi hispanic Tomatazos Pop Women's History Month game of thrones PaleyFest History cartoon Bravo cars psycho discovery 21st Century Fox Film mockumentary spy thriller golden globe awards emmy awards singing competition rom-coms Travel Channel ABC spider-man Britbox cults Box Office Comedy TV Land Fall TV Schedule Columbia Pictures cinemax new york Elton John green book women stand-up comedy Comics on TV New York Comic Con Pacific Islander sitcom worst movies boxing zero dark thirty rt archives zombies Sneak Peek SXSW NBC Trailer hollywood live action space Superheroes TLC mission: impossible suspense YA Action indie Tarantino YouTube vampires romantic comedy 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards christmas movies MTV toy story batman Crackle criterion Mary Poppins Returns Broadway The Witch fresh Reality halloween Quiz facebook Countdown A24 Disney Plus foreign TCA TV movies ABC Signature crime Chernobyl telelvision Super Bowl Funimation remakes Martial Arts cancelled 45 Avengers high school Western basketball Fox News natural history scary movies television social media laika historical drama video on demand Winter TV toronto ESPN 4/20 zombie TruTV ViacomCBS directors mutant unscripted Television Academy versus Pet Sematary a nightmare on elm street Endgame Legendary scorecard LGBT Writers Guild of America razzies Hallmark Christmas movies tv talk Certified Fresh renewed TV shows 93rd Oscars adventure Mystery Amazon Prime Holidays Disney Channel 2021 Disney streaming service venice TV One Film Festival Brie Larson Warner Bros. Image Comics Star Trek Cannes Tokyo Olympics superman comic books reboot Mary Tyler Moore Captain marvel child's play The Walking Dead Awards Adult Swim Marathons DC Universe Disney prank pirates of the caribbean movies CBS YouTube Red Trivia Calendar Comedy Central blockbusters marvel cinematic universe Heroines The Arrangement Acorn TV anime PlayStation festivals james bond romance Music black Classic Film TCA Awards australia war crossover nbcuniversal what to watch animated blockbuster harry potter know your critic Apple TV+ First Reviews 2017 medical drama politics aapi USA X-Men Masterpiece FX OWN BAFTA dramedy boxoffice Alien Hulu book 20th Century Fox comics Television Critics Association GIFs Marvel Studios Ellie Kemper asian-american composers Black History Month sag awards Video Games USA Network godzilla series HBO japan WGN Sundance Now OneApp werewolf dark Fantasy WarnerMedia stoner Interview Rock miniseries kong comic SundanceTV ITV Netflix Emmys Fox Searchlight chucky saw blaxploitation NYCC heist movie docudrama Arrowverse kids Musical DGA Academy Awards FOX Exclusive Video comiccon BET cops sports Comic Book Paramount cats japanese cooking 24 frames spinoff international Amazon Prime Video period drama BBC One Sundance Showtime Best and Worst canceled TV shows strong female leads Country theme song news kaiju adaptation IFC Summer Esquire Paramount Plus Podcast Thanksgiving TCA 2017 transformers Nickelodeon A&E screenings Black Mirror Comic-Con@Home 2021 Netflix Christmas movies canceled Amazon TV Rom-Com Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt political drama Lucasfilm sequel police drama travel Holiday diversity movie halloween tv Turner richard e. Grant Peacock supernatural Oscars Premiere Dates TCM NBA Year in Review critics dogs rotten movies we love Wes Anderson Drama Sci-Fi hidden camera latino italian Set visit spanish language Marvel Television classics Polls and Games cancelled television Awards Tour Dark Horse Comics Grammys 2019 screen actors guild based on movie binge BBC 90s CMT slashers reviews Photos TBS Pirates American Society of Cinematographers ratings Sony Pictures ABC Family Shudder FXX Infographic Universal AMC adenture hist Paramount Network comedies Biopics Family HBO Max joker Horror VH1 crime drama San Diego Comic-Con Pride Month Valentine's Day VOD Ghostbusters GLAAD jamie lee curtis Ovation Freeform PBS CNN Mary poppins dragons biography children's TV TNT President Cartoon Network Food Network disaster CW Seed book adaptation docuseries Kids & Family Rocky Pixar franchise HBO Go justice league concert twilight true crime Turner Classic Movies National Geographic video cancelled TV series The Purge superhero Creative Arts Emmys 2016 Apple Anna Paquin MCU casting stop motion 2018 99% deadpool Christmas Superheroe YouTube Premium Toys CBS All Access IFC Films ghosts Spring TV Crunchyroll Reality Competition Mudbound Nominations Cosplay Extras streaming movies Star Wars festival The Walt Disney Company fast and furious olympics nfl SDCC The CW documentary Discovery Channel award winner Animation Chilling Adventures of Sabrina parents Trophy Talk Musicals lord of the rings sequels king kong teaser TV renewals Epix revenge archives Lifetime Christmas movies E3 football Apple TV Plus Nat Geo indiana jones quibi Shondaland die hard technology streaming nature dc Marvel 71st Emmy Awards LGBTQ Spectrum Originals Red Carpet Mindy Kaling Logo Rocketman target anthology Lifetime Pop TV crime thriller E! dceu The Academy serial killer Binge Guide DC streaming service Tumblr Character Guide new star wars movies 2020 VICE First Look universal monsters independent 1990s south america science fiction french psychological thriller Opinion Emmy Nominations Spike MSNBC best thriller Amazon Studios DirecTV TCA Winter 2020 jurassic park APB game show trailers Hear Us Out Syfy Stephen King RT21 obituary RT History Election scene in color golden globes BET Awards name the review Sundance TV GoT spanish 72 Emmy Awards rotten monster movies ID new zealand DC Comics talk show FX on Hulu Starz all-time Lionsgate documentaries