Top Kids Cartoons (For Adults)

Cartoons aren't just for kids. Adult animated shows like Family Guy, Bojack Horseman, and South Park have proven cartoons can be popular with adults… but that's not what this list is about. If the world has learned anything from bronies (other than you're never too old to dress up as a unicorn), it's that a lot of kids cartoons have huge adult followings. Many of the cartoons made for kids are just too charming, smart, or cute to appeal only to the youngest demographic. If you've never felt nostalgic or intoxicated enough to try watching a kids cartoon as an adult than you're in luck! Below I've gathered together some of the best kids cartoons for adult viewers.

Avatar: The Last Airbender & Avatar: The Legend of Korra

This nickelodeon cartoon and cultural phenomenon broke through barriers by being one of the deepest "kids' shows around. Set in a world of benders, people who can control either fire, wind, water, or earth, Avatar tells the story of a young boy named Aang. Capable of controlling all four elements, Aang is destined to save the world. Learning how to control the elements, going on crazy adventures with his friends, and his adorable giant air bison Appa make this show a treat for kids. But the incredibly emotional journey of the show as it explores spirituality, racism, war, and the struggle of personal growth is what makes this show universally appealing. Even adults who didn't watch Avatar as a kid will love this delightfully cute, emotional, and heart wrenching show.
Bonus: Legend of Korra has all of the heart of the first Avatar but even more of an adult feel to it. The show tackles even bigger issues while introducing the cutest thing to ever be animated; a baby air bison!

Adventure Time

The quintessential kids show for adults, Cartoon Network's Adventure Time is beloved by millions. With it's adorable and colorful aesthetic it is easy to overlook this show as just for kids, but underneath that shiny veneer you'll find a surprising amount of depth. Adventure Time tackles big issues like mental health, sexual orientation, the inherent goodness of people, loneliness, and countless other big ideas in ways that are appropriate for kids yet profound for adults. This is a children's show that will evolve your philosophical stance on life and open your eyes in ways you could have never expected. The icing on the cake, or candy people as it were, is that this show is absolutely hilarious. Nowhere else can you find animated cinnamon buns, Lumpy Space Princesses, and talking shape shifting dogs all sharing a laugh together.

Gravity Falls

Any fan of Gravity Falls, no matter their age, will tell you the same thing: Gravity Falls is like the best show ever. After Twins Dipper and Mabel move to the town of Gravity Falls to live with their Gruncle Stan they begin to discover the town is chock full of mysteries. It's filled with weird monsters like lawn gnomes, mermaids, unicorns, and an evil golden triangle demon. As the twins investigate the mysteries of this town, okay mostly just Dipper, the questions surrounding this town only grow. What makes Gravity Falls amazing is that it straddles the line between supernatural mystery and cartoon comedy brilliantly. One minute you're laughing at how cute Waddles the pig is, the next you're wondering how the best mystery show you've ever seen is rated G.

Invader Zim

Invader Zim’s cult status as an amazing cartoon isn't because it's a great show for kids. This darkly hilarious cartoon, originally airing on Nickelodeon, brought adult cynicism and the gothic mystique to animation. Alien invader Zim wants to destroy the Earth by any means possible. Sent to Earth, Zim goes undercover as a student at the local elementary school hellbent on obliterating the planet. Unfortunately his cutely idiotic assistant GIR and conspiracy theorist Dib constantly thwart his plans to do so. If dark humor is your thing or you just feel like watching a show that doesn't sugarcoat this world as a cutesy place where everything is magical, check Invader Zim out.

Spongebob Squarepants

The ultimate kids cartoon for adults, Spongebob is stupidly fun to watch. Emphasis on the stupid. What makes Spongebob Squarepants a hit with adults and kids alike is the simplicity of the show. Spongebob lives in a pineapple under the sea, has a sea star friend that is somehow even stupider than he is, and pisses off his neighbor Squidward so often it is borderline harassment. It's hard to explain the magic of Spongebob to anyone who's never seen the show or hates it with a burning passion. There is just something fun about watching a hapless sponge that loves flipping burgers under the sea no matter what age you are.

Steven Universe

Steven Universe is magical. There's just no other way to put it. The show is relaxing, beautifully animated, wrought with emotion, and occasionally absolutely gut wrenching. There's a reason adults all over the internets are obsessed with this show, it's amazing. Most television shows, not just the ones for kids, don't even come close to the level of heart this show has. Discussing themes of loss, prejudice, sexual orientation, and struggle while always finding a way to uplift the audience isn't easy. If you want to watch a show that feels good and will leave you with a fuzzy feeling after, you've gotta check this show out! It's not just for kids and it's a heck of a lot of fun.

What's your favorite kids cartoon to watch as an adult? How much do you love/hate the shows on this list? Sound off in the comments section below!

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Mar 2, 2018 8:54PM EST

nice one :) ive only watched the avatar series and a little bit of spongebob , but enjoyed both, alltho spongebob is aaaages ago haha :)

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Mar 3, 2018 2:53AM EST

I've been watching Star vs The Forces of Evil, since it's on one of the only english channels I have while deployed overseas, and it's pretty good. I've watched Invader Zim and Gravity Falls, but a shame that both those are done. Great shows both of them :(

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Mar 5, 2018 9:14AM EST

This is one of my favorite genres. I watched every cartoon on this list. Gravity Falls is a must watch and I LOVE Steven Universe! LOVE it!! And Avatar, I enjoyed that cartoon so much that when the movie came out I found it kind of sucky compared to the cartoon.
There are a lot of kid/adult cartoons out there. I also watch from Disney's Hotel Transylvania, Tangled and Elena of Avalor. Netflix also has a few good ones like Spirit, Dragons: Race to the Edge, Puss in Boots and Trollhunters. Of course, Cartoon Network and Nick are the masters of this genre.
TelevisionFanboy this is a great list of kid’s cartoons for adult viewers!!

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Mar 6, 2018 2:47PM EST

We bare bears is pretty fantastic too!

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Mar 8, 2018 6:56PM EST

Gravity Falls is the best! Definitely rewatchable and you'll actually LOL.

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