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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

witnail YouTube Premium thriller Martial Arts Calendar laika cats Extras international Universal docuseries Quiz Rocky Travel Channel harry potter indiana jones sag awards revenge APB Comedy toronto streaming movies comiccon biography transformers telelvision Film fresh screen actors guild Awards indie Summer CNN OWN Kids & Family spain BBC America scary blaxploitation free movies Countdown Adult Swim PlayStation DirecTV Cartoon Network The Academy hispanic LGBT Thanksgiving Captain marvel Oscars ratings franchise Disney A24 social media Nat Geo TNT Pop TV psycho Esquire legend Hear Us Out WarnerMedia Sneak Peek dark BAFTA jamie lee curtis anthology romantic comedy NBC Wes Anderson Superheroe GoT YouTube Red Super Bowl Winter TV AMC TCA 2017 suspense Song of Ice and Fire comic book movies Classic Film adaptation Best and Worst new york cancelled TV shows renewed TV shows Holidays BBC rt labs wonder woman women Nominations Amazon werewolf Ghostbusters Marvel australia true crime psychological thriller vs. Amazon Prime USA based on movie streaming GIFs Shondaland gangster cars facebook strong female leads X-Men stoner Sci-Fi sequels spanish language Food Network NBA RT21 james bond news dogs Lifetime Christmas movies italian FOX Walt Disney Pictures razzies Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt sports Holiday festivals rt archives Marvel Studios PaleyFest Family action-comedy sopranos 45 Disney Channel DC Universe 99% RT History Instagram Live Superheroes Fox News supernatural Polls and Games black comedy live event crossover TV Land 2020 video blockbuster Lionsgate The Witch Certified Fresh Broadway TIFF live action Comic-Con@Home 2021 90s MSNBC Funimation Rom-Com Marathons Avengers hidden camera Creative Arts Emmys Stephen King Turner Classic Movies golden globe awards YouTube TCA HBO Max Infographic ghosts medical drama scary movies halloween tv joker 2021 Exclusive Video 21st Century Fox comic book movie game of thrones rom-coms superhero jurassic park kaiju child's play TLC TV One Mary Poppins Returns critics American Society of Cinematographers Black Mirror documentaries Crackle Biopics stand-up comedy Endgame Apple TV+ DC Comics miniseries political drama Sundance Now spy thriller Vudu Mindy Kaling Hulu Television Academy Character Guide Universal Pictures Mary Tyler Moore die hard TCM name the review comic sequel First Reviews National Geographic Year in Review kids Paramount Network vampires comic books Comic Book TV television Fantasy Photos crime a nightmare on elm street Sundance The CW Mystery CBS All Access crime thriller stop motion discovery Sony Pictures Britbox Anna Paquin Musicals book adaptation Freeform dramedy TCA Awards Schedule Horror Country screenings The Purge Podcast Heroines reviews FX on Hulu all-time TCA Winter 2020 travel remakes Spike Mary poppins Hallmark Christmas movies nbcuniversal President royal family SundanceTV adenture unscripted adventure HBO Interview movies richard e. Grant finale Netflix Christmas movies slashers dexter rotten Red Carpet best Starz Grammys video on demand IFC Films Showtime mockumentary Tarantino Paramount japan Logo canceled TV shows Comedy Central Masterpiece chucky FX Syfy lord of the rings genre Dark Horse Comics doctor who Christmas animated Awards Tour criterion saw Disney streaming service obituary disaster WGN YA Rock south america VOD series HBO Go Watching Series politics composers Music Trivia Nickelodeon cartoon Epix children's TV Film Festival venice First Look Crunchyroll Tubi SXSW History sitcom Ovation archives VH1 festival Pride Month Pet Sematary tv talk ABC Signature GLAAD historical drama posters quibi Lucasfilm police drama Acorn TV hollywood Peacock elevated horror spider-verse 4/20 Reality Competition art house marvel comics critic resources basketball war Mudbound A&E Hallmark Neflix nfl The Arrangement french dc justice league cancelled CMT boxing cults know your critic cops scene in color mission: impossible Pixar hispanic heritage month christmas movies cancelled television USA Network Drama Amazon Studios Trailer hist mutant Musical ESPN Brie Larson TV movies Pop zombies Academy Awards biopic Alien TV renewals technology young adult NYCC Video Games Star Wars golden globes ABC FXX 007 BBC One Disney Plus spinoff game show 2015 VICE Trophy Talk Emmys spanish 1990s CBS high school toy story Toys LGBTQ 93rd Oscars mob independent marvel cinematic universe Bravo Shudder diversity aliens king arthur award winner cooking ITV feel good Animation Television Critics Association kong worst godzilla universal monsters PBS Premiere Dates Rocketman Spring TV Box Office MCU Teen natural history ID canceled olympics Baby Yoda docudrama cinemax trailers popular concert Discovery Channel 71st Emmy Awards TruTV OneApp teaser Winners satire 2018 Pirates slasher Pacific Islander dreamworks IFC black breaking bad Legendary worst movies new star wars movies target classics Cosplay japanese asian-american king kong 72 Emmy Awards TBS halloween San Diego Comic-Con Star Trek SDCC E! Lifetime football debate BET Election Apple period drama AMC Plus Columbia Pictures versus binge twilight Ellie Kemper 20th Century Fox Tomatazos DGA Emmy Nominations monster movies 73rd Emmy Awards ViacomCBS Image Comics Marvel Television emmy awards Reality 24 frames Elton John IMDb TV Amazon Prime Video crime drama El Rey superman serial killer Warner Bros. pirates of the caribbean blockbusters parents The Walking Dead heist movie Sundance TV comics Black History Month boxoffice Chilling Adventures of Sabrina science fiction Apple TV Plus robots Valentine's Day DC streaming service Paramount Plus zombie See It Skip It rotten movies we love Binge Guide Arrowverse singing competition Action theme song ABC Family what to watch 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards zero dark thirty Chernobyl The Walt Disney Company Tumblr romance comedies batman deadpool directors dceu documentary fast and furious foreign talk show scorecard latino prank Disney+ Disney Plus Writers Guild of America E3 Turner Comics on TV Women's History Month MTV green book new zealand aapi spider-man nature anime movie Western rt labs critics edition Netflix Fall TV Fox Searchlight dragons 2016 2017 films mcc CW Seed space reboot cancelled TV series Tokyo Olympics Spectrum Originals Set visit casting 2019 Cannes book Opinion BET Awards New York Comic Con