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

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