For a long time, children’s stories have dominated animation. It makes sense as animation removes the shackles of reality. You can use bright colors, create impossible goofy scenarios, and have dogs and cats talk to each other in the park. Kids love that stuff.
But there’s no rule that says animation is for kids, and these 25 movies definitely prove that sometimes animation is clearly for adults.
Here are 25 Animated Movies That Are Not For Kids
Born from the pages of Heavy Metal magazine, Heavy Metal the movie was a sci-fi action fantasy anthology from 1981 that heaped on violence and gore and a lot of cleavages.
As the name implies they also loaded it with heavy metal and rock music including bands like Black Sabbath and the Blue Oyster Cult, not to mention the voice acting from comedians like John Candy and Eugene Levy.
Cool World came out in 1992 and was arguably someone’s response to Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
It blended live action and animation in a sort of dark comedy noir film in which a cartoon femme fatale comes to life.
As a good portion of the plot does revolve around the idea of human and cartoon sex, it clearly wasn’t meant for the kids to watch.
In 2016, Seth Rogen’s Sausage Party pushed the limits of what the “adult” in adult animation meant, at least as far as mainstream films went.
They absolutely laced the movie with profanity, sexuality and as many low brow jokes as you could imagine a movie named Sausage Party might include.
One of the most action packed anime films of the 90s, Ninja Scroll remains one of the most influential adult anime movies of all time.
It plays out like a traditional sort of feudal martial arts film but the animation allows for over the top violence and gore which it never shies away from.
Few animated movies intended for an adult audience have achieved the fame of Akira, a movie that introduced many in the West to the idea of anime.
Released in 1988, it still stands as one of the most iconic films of the genre and an incredible intro to Japanese cyberpunk.. Studios have been toying with a live action remake for over 20 years.
Waltz with Bashir
This 2008 animated film is part drama, part war film, and part documentary. The filmmaker uses Waltz with Bashir as a sort of tool to dissect his own experiences in the Lebanon War of 1982.
It also features interviews with other soldiers and seeks to clarify his own memories of the events. Because it deals with war in an unflinching way, there are haunting depictions of violence and some sex as well.
Richard Linklater’s Waking Life was released in 2001 and is a very philosophical look at life, dreams and existence itself.
It’s not that the movie contains too much content you might think is inappropriate for children, it’s more that it clearly meant the themes and the ideas for adults. A child would probably just be bored.
Vampire Hunter D
An early example of some sci fi horror anime from Japan that preceded the modern trend, the universe of Vampire Hunter D is still popular but this was the first movie, in 1985, that was based on the novels.
As you might expect from some dystopian future monster hunting, the moving is awash in blood with extensive violence throughout.
Pink Floyd The Wall
Back in 1982, Pink Floyd released The Wall, a partially live action and partially animated music video dramatic movie based around the album of the same name and many of its themes.
It’s very surreal in nature throughout and the imagery can get pretty intense. The movie features some weird, metaphorical animated sex, sexual violence and just regular violence as well.
The Haunted World of El Superbeasto
When Rob Zombie makes an animated film it should go without saying it’s not for kids. The Haunted World of El Superbeasto came out in 2009.
It’s a sort of horror movie superhero film based on Zombie’s comic with an incredible voice cast. The sex in very overt as is the violence, not that you’d expect anything less from Rob Zombie.
The Drawn Together Movie
Drawn Together was presented as an animated reality show, sort of like Big Brother but for some cartoon knock-offs that were inspired by characters like Superman and SpongeBob.
It was also very adult-oriented. No surprise then that the movie followed suit and included a lot of sex, nudity, violence and just weird, perverse stuff that you’ll feel ashamed to laugh about.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters
There’s a lot going on in Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters, not the least of which is the gang’s origin, a slurry of obscene jokes, and some of the most absurdly graphic cartoon violence ever.
It’s an almost surreal journey of nonsense, dark humor, and childish jokes that are great if you’re into that sort of thing.
Batman: The Killing Joke
Of all the films on this list, this one seems the most like maybe it should be for kids. It’s Batman, after all. Kids love Batman.
But this is no ordinary Batman, this is based on Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke and it’s absolutely brutal. It features the sadistic torture of Commissioner Gordon, Batgirl being paralyzed by the Joker and, of course, a little Bat sex.
The Wolf House
If you’ve never seen a stop motion animation horror movie, then The Wolf House is a good place to start. It’ll become clear pretty quickly why this isn’t for kids.
Hell, it just looks creepy even before you know what’s going on. Everything on screen has an unsettling darkness to it like you’re just watching someone else’s nightmare unfold.
Paprika was made in 2006 and is a little bit Inception and a little bit detective thriller. It makes heavy use of dream imagery and features a device which allows people to enter dreams and, in this case, do some nefarious things.
There’s enough surreal imagery to make the sex and violence in the film stand out in a creepy way that most kids probably don’t need to see.
Flee holds the unusual distinction of being a documentary, something you rarely see in animation. It tells the story of a man living a secret life sharing his true story for the first time of how he fled from Afghanistan to start a new life in Denmark.
While it’s not over the top at all with sex and violence, its themes of war and prejudice hang heavy and make it not something your average kid would want to watch.
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
In 1999, Trey Parker and Matt Stone took South Park to the big screen, and it lived up to the subtitle of bigger, longer and uncut.
Aside from becoming the highest grossing animated film ever at the time, it also managed to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most profanity ever in an animated film with 399 swear words.
A Scanner Darkly
Not a traditionally animated film, A Scanner Darkly was filmed with actors and then rotoscoped, a technique to essentially make them into animated characters.
It’s a noir thriller by Philip K Dick, the same man who wrote Blade Runner, so there are some similar futuristic themes.
While things like sex and violence are present, they’re not over the top compared to some of these films, but the pervasive drug use is definitely something not intended for kids.
Ghost in the Shell
For some Western audiences they may only know Ghost in the Shell as a film that inexplicably starred Scarlett Johansson, but many years earlier it was a sort of cyberpunk thriller anime that very clearly inspired later films like the Matrix.
Anomalisa uses stop motion animation to tell the story of a man who one day meets what, to him, is the only woman in the world.
It’s a quirky film made by Charlie Kaufman and it’s at times funny and other times moving but also quite surreal and bizarre.
While it won a number of awards, you can be sure no one suggested kids should be watching it.
The 2007 French film Persepolis is based on a graphic novel, but definitely not in the same vein as some other comic book films.
It’s a hard-hitting biographical drama about a girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution. There’s no slapstick comedy or funny animals here, just the human condition, turmoil, growth and loss.
People like to name drop George Orwell a lot these days, especially online, but it’s usually in reference to his book 1984. But his other famous novel Animal Farm is also well known and, in 1954, got the full animation treatment.
At first glance one might think this is a kid’s movie with its colorful cast of critters, but it squarely aimed the heavy political themes at adults.
From Japan comes Perfect Blue, a psychological thriller made in 1997. It uses many of the familiar tropes from other such thrillers, the only difference is this one is all animated.
The result is the story of a famous singer slowly going mad as she’s stalked by a crazed fan. The movie features amped up violence and a very uncomfortable sexual assault scene.
In 1973, the mostly animated (with a dash of live action) movie Heavy Traffic was edited down in order to receive an R-rating.
These days you’ll hear of a director editing an R down to PG-13 maybe, but rarely does this more extreme case occur. It didn’t work, either. They gave the movie an X-rating although today that mostly just means an R.
The film is about an underground cartoonist and the people who inspire him. It also features a heck of a lot of cartoon nudity, violence, ethnic slurs and enough cussing to do South Park proud.
Fritz the Cat
Perhaps the most adult-oriented cartoons ever made, Fritz the Cat was produced in 1972 with a sequel that followed up in 1974.
It’s part political satire but also part shock comedy and features more than its fair share of oddly graphic anthropomorphic animal sex, a race riot, and all the cartoon cat swearing you could hope for. The sequel even managed to include Adolf Hitler.