While adult animation isn’t a new concept by any means, Shows Like Rick and Morty are a rare find. With its origins buried way back in 2006 as a parody of Back to the Future, Rick and Morty eventually exploded onto the screens of Adult Swim in 2013 and premiered to critical acclaim. The series revolves around the misadventures of functioning alcoholic scientist Rick Sanchez after he reluctantly moves in with his estranged daughter and her family. Rick soon recruits his grandson, the anxious but good-hearted 14-year-old Morty, on his interdimensional travels.
The popularity of the series might be attributed to its compatibility for the Internet age. Witty in a droll sort of way, it is peppered with subtle jokes that reward repeated viewings, and features punchy visuals that all but beg to be turned into gifs or fan art. Coupled with parodies and references to basically every sci-fi classic ever made, Rick and Morty has developed a fierce cult following and an insane critic score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
If you are a fan of the series, as you well should be, here are 10 more science fantasy animated Shows Like Rick and Morty.
SHOWS LIKE RICK AND MORTY
The Venture Bros.
The series chronicles the lives and adventures of the Venture family. There is Dr Rusty Venture, a former boy-genius turned washed-up, under-achieving, middle-aged scientist; his two well-meaning but idiotic teenage sons; their hyper-masculine bodyguard with a righteous blond mullet and a license to kill (which he uses frequently); and the family’s arch-nemesis, super villain Mr Monarch, among others.
On the surface, The Venture Bros. appears to be a straight-up Jonny Quest parody, but dig a little deeper and there is surprising complexity and depth to the series. Intricately crafted backstories and three-dimensional characters lend themselves to rich plots that are unexpectedly rewarding, making it one of the few Shows Like Rick and Morty. Expect plenty of nods towards geek culture sprinkled throughout the series to great comedic effect.
In 1999, a New York City pizza delivery boy is accidentally cryogenically frozen for a thousand years. He thaws out and awakens to find himself on the eve of the 31st century with a chance to make a fresh start of his life that was going nowhere. Finding employment at Planet Express Corporation, an interplanetary delivery company, he meets Leela, a beautiful one-eyed alien, and Bender, a foul-mouthed, ill-tempered robot.
The granddaddy of Shows Like Rick and Morty, Futurama is basically an intergalactic version of The Simpsons in a retro-futuristic world. Genuinely lovable characters and a clever script make for a hilarious and heartfelt show that was nominated for an impressive 12 Emmy Awards.
Boy-genius Dexter has built an ultra high-tech laboratory in his room but he must keep it a secret from his parents and his annoying older sister Dee Dee. In addition to battling his archenemy, fellow genius Mandark, and cleaning up the messes and chaos that klutzy Dee Dee often creates, Dexter still finds time to work his experiments of killer robots and super-powered monkeys.
This 90’s animation is a classic treat of cartoon slapstick and imaginative sci-fi. Originally aired for two seasons from 1996 to 1998, the popularity of the series led to its revival in 2001 for a further two years. If you’re looking for Shows Like Rick and Morty, you can’t go wrong with this award-winning classic.
The series follows the exploits of an eccentric alien soldier who was banished from his home planet after nearly destroying it. Sent to Earth, the villainous Zim disguises himself as a schoolboy with the intention of enslaving the human race. But first, he must defeat his arch-nemesis Dib, an oddball student interested paranormal research, who is the only one who sees through Zim’s façade.
Although the series met with rave reviews and critical acclaim, it was sadly short-lived due to budget issues. Several episodes were left unaired and a planned TV movie series finale was never completed. Nonetheless, its premature cancellation appeared to add to its subsequent popularity and the series later acquired a cult following.
Twins Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent to the town of Gravity Falls to spend their summer vacation with their great uncle Stan who owns a tourist trap called “The Mystery Shack”. The siblings soon realize that things are not what they seem in the small town, and with the help a peculiar journal that Dipper finds in the forest, the pair begins investigating a series of local mysteries.
A Disney production, the series was highly praised by critics for its clever and quirky writing that still maintained a heartwarming Disney-esque touch. Gravity Falls also features the voice of Rick and Morty’s co-creator Justin Roiland who also voices the two titular characters in the latter. This one is a gem for die-hard fans of Shows Like Rick and Morty.
The premise of the series revolves around three ageless, genderless alien warriors known as Crystal Gems. Together, the three – Pearl, Amethyst and Garnet – take on humanoid female forms to raise the show’s titular protagonist, Steven, a half-Gem, half-human boy.
The brainchild of Adventure Time alum Rebecca Sugar, the series has been heavily praised for its charming artistic style and memorable scoring. In addition, the series has won the hearts of many with its pro social justice themes including a cast of majority female characters who do not adhere to hetronormative sterotypes. Steven Universe is a beautiful fantasy animation, made all the more enchanting for its lack of prejudice and bigotry.
Jim is a trade-school student in New York City who awakens one morning to discover that his cranium has enlarged to mammoth proportions. It turns out that a friendly purple alien has taken up residence in Jim’s head while it tries to save Earth from an alien invasion. Together they team up with a group of human misfits (including a young woman with a tail, a Russian with a mouth in his chest and a long-limbed former freak show performer) to protect the world.
Created by the MTV network in the mid 90s when the channel dabbled in releasing its own animation shorts, The Head was a wacky miniseries that lasted for two seasons. The bizarre premise is refreshing in its novelty and held together by a surprisingly tight script and interesting characters. Although the animation work is a little rough, this one is worth a watch in our list of Shows Like Rick and Morty.
Tripping the Rift
The series is set in a universe divided by two superpowers: the Confederation and the Dark Clown Empire. The former is a supposedly democratic society but which has fallen to the domination of mega-corporations, while the latter is a totalitarian police state ruled by the evil Darph Bobo. Between the two lies a border region known as “the Rift” where a group of outlaws reside, clinging to their freedom as they perform legally questionable odd jobs and pursue various get-rich-quick schemes.
Part pop culture parody, part social satire, the show is rife with pointed barbs and a darker brand of humor than most animation series. The replay value is quite high, and the closer you scrutinize any given episode, the more details you’ll catch spoofing a myriad of pop culture icons. If you enjoy the disregard for political correctness on Shows Like Rick and Morty, this series should give you plenty of laughs.
A samurai prince from ancient Japan finds himself flung through a time portal by the evil shape-shifting wizard Aku. The samurai, Jack, arrives in a future world where Aku has amassed enough power to control every living thing. Jack must set out to right the wrongs of his enemy while he searches for a way back to him own time so he can destroy Aku for good.
Created by animation maestro Genndy Tartakovsky, the series has been lauded for its cinematic style and pacing. The battle scenes are a visual feast reminiscent of dark samurai epics. Lighting-fast combat, sumptuous vistas and extended moody sequences void of dialogue make this a treat for the eyes in our list of Shows Like Rick and Morty.
A teenager is thrown into an unfamiliar world when he discovers that his father is an alien emperor who has been on the run from rebel forces determined to destroy his family. With his parents missing, the young man has to step up to save Earth and his ancestral planet from destruction.
This little-known miniseries was actually the brainchild of Steven Spielberg. Although the series did not take off as well as hoped despite the influence of its heavyweight director, it showcases a compelling plot and Spielberg’s trademark eye for beautiful cinematography. This one is markedly more of a drama and less of a comedy than than most of the recommendations in our list of Shows Like Rick and Morty but it deserves a special mention as a daring venture in sci-fi animation.