Adult Swim

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"Adult swim! All kids out of the pool!"

Adult Swim, sometimes written as [adult swim] or [as], is a programming block on Cartoon Network shown during the Watershed hours (9:00 pm - 6:00 am Eastern Time). Founded in 2001 by Cartoon Network’s Williams Street division, the same studio that organized Toonami [1], the block's remit is to air various kinds of adult-oriented animation including Seinen Anime and animated comedy (both originally produced and FOX acquisitions). Depending on who you ask however, one would say that adult cartoons used to be its remit, as Adult Swim has played a significant part in Cartoon Network's controversial live action shift. (See Unwitting Instigator of Doom in the trope list below for details.)

Because of its adult orientations, in comparison to the rest of Cartoon Network which is kid oriented, Adult Swim is considered to be a "separate" network from Cartoon Network proper for Ratings purposes, and often shows Content Warnings throughout the block that the programs presented are not suitable for young children. The name "Adult Swim" comes from the public pool period where the children have to get out because the lifeguards go on break and only the adults can swim, analogous to the network switching to adult-oriented programming. This reference was explicitly invoked in its early years when its Ad Bumpers and intro segment showed video clips from an adult swim pool.

The block is notable for its idiosyncratic commercial bumpers (bumps), its strange but often hilarious original programming, its habit of openly teasing and/or bashing those fans who complain about its near-weekly- and never advertised- schedule changes (especially when April Fools' Day is concerned), and being nearly the only place on American basic analog cable TV to run Anime not aimed at children. Recently, it has been going lighter on the fan bashing. It also has, shall we say, an eclectic collection of original free-to-play games on its website (Robot Unicorn Attack included).

Sundays are typically rebroadcasts of FOX cartoons (such as Family Guy) and original programs from Williams Street, Adult Swim's production studio (programs such as Aqua Teen Hunger Force). Saturdays usually mix comedic shows with North American dubs of anime, with the anime taking up the majority of the network's airtime on this night (and have recently been rebranded as Toonami). Weekday evenings are reruns of comedies, both original or otherwise.

Adult Swim plays - or has played - the following series:

Animated originals:

Animated imports/syndicated:

Note: Except for American Dad and Family Guy, all of these series were canceled and discarded by their original host networks before syndication rights were picked up by Adult Swim (this was also the case for Family Guy, but it has since been Uncanceled due partially to ratings for the reruns on Adult Swim). Adult Swim's expired rights to Futurama were picked up by Comedy Central, which led to the show's revival on that network. Home Movies was renewed as an Adult Swim original series for an additional three and a half seasons following its original cancellation.

Live action originals:

Live action imports/syndicated:

Current Anime

Former Anime

[adult swim] Specials

Anime Films Shown on [adult swim]:

  • Akira
  • The first two Bleach films
  • Dragon Ball Z movies Chiller's Revenge and Legendary Super Saiyan
  • All four InuYasha movies
  • The Fullmetal Alchemist anime movies
  • Kakurenbo (as a Halloween special in 2005)
  • Metropolis
  • Mind Game (aired in Japanese with English subtitles as part of an April Fool's prank in 2018)
  • Summer Wars
  • Evangelion movies 1.11 and 2.22

Series Shown Only on [adult swim] UK and Ireland:

Anime Shown Only on [adult swim] Australia and New Zealand:

Adult Swim is also known for unique timing of commercial breaks. Most American networks have 8 minutes of commerical breaks per half-hour block -- one 1 or 2 minute break at the top of the half-hour, two 2 or 3 minute breaks during the show, and a final 1 or 2 minute break at the end of the half-hour. Adult Swim has only 2 breaks per half-hour. Still totaling 8 minutes, but there's one break in the middle of the half-hour, and one at the end. Viewers appreciate this for obvious reasons, and they can sometimes have up to 5 uninterrupted minutes of commercial time to leave the TV and do other things before the next show comes on. Goodness knows what the advertisers think of that, but considering AS's key demographic is the advertising gold-mine of males from age 18-35, they still pony up the dollars. The only downside to the viewer would be a Commercial Break Cliffhanger in non-original programming is less effective because the show continues immediately after (unless, of course, that happens to be where the break actually hits). Incidentally, this is how all ad breaks work on UK and Japanese channels - quite fortunate given all the UK and Japanese programming.

Bizarrely, the UK's Cartoon Network doesn't show Adult Swim. Lads' gibberish channel Bravo used to show it, currently Brits are stuck with the small selection of episodes that go on the website each week, although DVDs of the shows finally started being released in the UK in late 2008. This may be related to broadcasting regulations in the UK- if your channel shows more than three hours of infomercials a day, it has to be filed under 'Shopping' and be dumped near the arse end of the programme guide. Similarly, too many dodgy Viewer Participation quizzes get you lumped into 'Gaming And Dating', just after the shopping and too much Babe Station and you're in 'Adult', right at the bottom'. It might be that Cartoon Network, being in the 'Children's' section, wouldn't be allowed to show anything Adult Swim-y. Then again, they do let MTV stay in Music...

In Australia and New Zealand, the local branch of Cartoon Network once had its own version of Adult Swim, including both comedy and anime, but the entire block was canceled at the end of 2007. The comedy series moved to The Comedy Channel, the Antipodean equivalent to Comedy Central, which still continue to air on a daily basis with consistent ratings, even though the block airs only on Saturdays from 12am-2am AEST and 6:30pm-7:30pm ASET; a few of the anime shows were picked up by the local Sci Fi Channel's Animax block. Many Adult Swim series, both comedy and anime, are available on DVD in the two countries, due to a licensing deal with Madman Entertainment.

Latin America used to have Adult Swim via Cartoon Network and later I.Sat due to negative reviews from the parents. It mostly showed only non-anime, Adult Swim-original cartoons (with a great deal of the bumps explicitly stating they would never show anime even though they did later on). Unfortunately, it ran only Friday through Sunday at very late hours, and apparently people didn't get most of the jokes, and was eventually discontinued due to low ratings.

Tropes exhibited by [adult swim] include:
  • Ad Bumpers: Adult Swim is quite famous for these. You can see an entire archive of these bumps here.
  • All Lowercase Letters: Adult Swim's branding of course, stylized as [adult swim].
  • April Fools' Day: Adult Swim has a running tradition of messing with their programs on April 1st, both the night of and the following day. Examples being mustaches drawn on characters, putting fart noises in the shows, running a marathon of Perfect Hair Forever as dated VHS with badly done subbing, playing The Room (which is what arguably granted the movie more infamy as it now had a wider audience) or even bringing back past Williams Street blocks such as Toonami for the night.
  • Artifact Title/The Artifact:
    • Adult Swim is named as such as it came from the analogy of the network switching to adult-oriented programming by showing Ad Bumpers consisting of a public pool period where the children have to get out and let the adults swim. This analogy hasn't been used since 2003, when these bumpers were replaced with the "white text on black" style bumpers seen ever since, and the "swim" part isn’t really recognized much anymore.
    • Contributing to Cartoon Network’s controversial decision of adding live action shows to the network (and thus making "Cartoon" Network an Artifact Title somewhat), Adult Swim has also controversially added a number of live action shows to the lineup. While the live action Adult Swim shows have better critical reception than their Cartoon Network counterparts because they aren’t just Discovery Channel ripoffs, these works and the decision has unsurprisingly not been well received with a good portion of the fanbase, especially if you ask fans of the anime or the classic animated comedies.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Adult Swim wished for the third season of Moral Orel to be darker than either of the previous two - and instantly regretted it. The series was then cancelled.
  • Biting the Hand Humor:

"Stupid Adult Swim only plays it [Inuyasha] on Saturdays now."

    • In Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 01 the episode "Jumpy George" has a woman hiring Meatwad to babysit her children. Her instructions:

"They're allowed to watch half an hour of television, and only cartoons. Which means no Cartoon Network."

  • Colon Cancer: At least one program uses multiple colons in the name of the show, a fake Police Procedural series titled "NTSF:SD:SUV" which stands for "National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle".
  • Commercial Pop-Up:
    • During the "world premiere" of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force film, the movie was aired normally for the first 7 minutes, and then displayed without sound in a tiny box in the corner of the screen, and episodes of Family Guy and Futurama aired while the movie ran (in its entirety) in the corner. During this, humongous pop-up ads for the movie with loud sound effects also appeared from time to time.
    • One episode of Frisky Dingo had a message on the screen for 15 seconds at the start that said "This is where the network puts that mammoth bug." Then, "Enjoy the show." Biting the Hand Humor doesn't even begin to cover it.
  • Content Warnings: "Just in case that last disclaimer wasn't enough, this episode contains extreme violence. We would rather run this than cut the violence from the episode because we are American Cowboys." --Adult Swim before really bloody anime episodes; as stated, it follows a more traditional (and bland) content warning advising that Adult Swim is not for viewers under 18...err 14.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: {{[http|// Success}}]
  • Invisible Advertising: A notable form of Adult Swim’s Executive Meddling antics. Unless the work is Adored by the Network, advertising for an Adult Swim premiere program is nearly non-existent.
  • Killer App: Family Guy constantly outnumbers all other shows on Adult Swim, far more than even its more successful originals like Aqua Teen Hunger Force or The Venture Brothers, according to the ratings.
  • Marathon Running: Adult Swim usually does marathons around holidays, especially in December.
  • Network to the Rescue: If a show that Adult Swim loves is having trouble, they will do everything in their power to save it. We didn't say Adult Swim loves to show love for shows that they adore for nothing, did we?
    • Adult Swim at one point started airing a promo in which they say Squidbillies has been getting low ratings... and how clearly the reason was that the viewers were morons and hadn't yet given this wonderful show a chance. That's why now they're airing it every single night instead of once a week, to get us to watch it and see how great it is.
    • Same with The Oblongs.
    • Somewhat inverted with Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!. Adult Swim promotes the hell out of it and gives it gets the red carpet treatment, but the fanbase isn't biting and the show has low to middling ratings.
    • For the Anime lineup...uhh...well...there’s Adult Swim getting a second season for The Big O...until Adult Swim managed to screw that up.
    • Toonami, that is all.
  • Our Product Sucks: Quite a few of the Adult Swim bumpers are self-deprecating, often featuring flames and trolls from the message boards. When the network played Saved by the Bell, the network changed its logo to "[crappy 1980's live action tv show network]", after a message board user suggested it.
  • Recycled in Space: It's like Nick at Nite ON CARTOON NETWORK!
  • Running Gag:
    • There are a series of bumps calling attention to some shortcoming or ridiculous doing of the United States, followed by USA showing up with a synthesized voice reciting the letters.
    • They also point out an Epic Fail with a synthesized "Fail".
  • Screwed by the Network: Adult Swim's infamous Executive Meddling antics has not gone too well with a number of shows. Such include:
    • The Anime block in general. Anime used to air an hour or two on weeknights and weekends, and it slowly decreased to Sunday at midnights only, in which Bleach is the only on-going show that premieres new episodes and not reruns. It has been said that one of those in charge of [adult swim]'s programming doesn't like the style and was the first to go when the Network Decay began. Adult Swim has often rather been vocal about their increasing dis-contempt towards Anime and the block. Bumps regularly criticize it, commercials show their Narm moments and episode descriptions on their website tend to read like "Vampires, robots, big hats!". Perfect Hair Forever basically boils down to several hours of Take That against shonen. Observers have also noted the lack of promotion of the block and its programming, especially in comparison to their other blocks. The Toonami revival may suggest a turning of the tide on this front.
    • The Big O. Despite that it was a popular show, the premiere of the second season was around the same time Adult Swim begun its Network Decay, and they ended up screwing up the airing of a couple episodes (including accidentally airing a repeat over the finale) and ended up canceling the show before a reportedly expected third season, despite it having paid off financially. However, you could argue that this is more of Cartoon Network's fault considering that they were the ones that refused to fund the third season, perhaps due to the Network Decay that Cartoon Network was undergoing at the time.
    • Code Geass is a notable victim of Adult Swim's constant schedule switching of shows. Adult Swim had kept changing the time slot later and later to the point that people stopped caring and their rights to the show expired after one rerun.
    • Futurama, although this was from Fox rather than from Adult Swim. The DVDs sold more than Family Guy's, fan push was apparently larger, the ratings on Adult Swim were better, but Family Guy was the one that came back first. Also, Adult Swim even offered to fund new episodes and were told no. THEN the network got screwed over when the show they helped try to bring back was ripped away from them and given to another network. In this situation, it was Adult Swim that got screwed. On the bright side, the popularity and adoration it got from Adult Swim did help push for a continuation of the series on Comedy Central.
    • Korgoth of Barbaria, one of Adult Swim's most well received pilot shows, was supposedly green-lighted for an entire season, but aborted due to lack of funds that the higher ups refused to provide.
    • Moribito Guardian of the Spirit was constantly schedule-switch later and later until it aired at 5:30 AM EST by Adult Swim, dropped after 10 episodes, restarted in a better timeslot, and then got dropped again after Geneon went bankrupt, and it was removed from the air until the licensing issues were resolved. However, the problems were eventually solved, and Adult Swim re aired and completed the series between June and December 2009.
    • The second season of Lucy the Daughter of The Devil was canned after going through two years of Development Hell. A half hour second season was planned along with a new pilot, but both of which were scrapped due to Loren Bouchard and the network having creative disagreements about the show.
    • A second season of Stroker and Hoop was planned thanks to good ratings; including a series premiere that would have wrapped up the cliff hanger, but Adult Swim thought the show was far too pricey, and as a result, it was canned with no ending.
  • Sleeper Hit:
  • Spiritual Successor: Adult Swim itself is a successor of Toonami's "Midnight Run" block, and is in fact run by the same studio that ran Toonami (Williams Street). Some might argue that it is a successor to Toonami in general since Toonami was canceled, but considering that Adult Swim underwent Network Decay shortly thereafter, many have said otherwise.
  • Subverted Kids Show: Adult Swim itself is this trope for Cartoon Network in general. A number of programs also qualify such as, Harvey Birdman Attorney At Law, Sealab 2021, Moral Orel, Robot Chicken, and G.I. Joe Resolute.
  • Surreal Humor: Most Adult Swim original programs exhibit this in varying degrees, from "wacky" to "What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs?".
  • Take That/Take That, Audience!/Trolling Creator: Adult Swim just loves to do this at times with their Ad Bumpers. On occasions, Adult Swim tends to lampshade this.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: "Attention Toonami Faithful: We heard you. On 05.26.12 #ToonamisBackBitches"
  • Timeshift Channel: With the exception of Saturdays, the "DVR Theater" and the occasional nights of programming decided by contest winners, Adult Swim's second half is usually a repeat of its first half. A thing to note is that considering that Cartoon Network has separate East and West Coast feeds, it's sometimes possible to watch something four times in a night if one so wishes to, if one has DirecTV or Dish Network.
  • Translation Train Wreck: The 2007 Adult Swim April Fool's Day gag involved 'bootleg' versions of several Adult Swim shows.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In 2007, Adult Swim launched a guerrilla marketing campaign for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie featuring battery-powered LED placards resembling the Mooninite characters being placed in numerous places around the US. However in Boston, police officials mistakenly thought that the LEDs were bombs, and treated the whole event as such. This event would turn out to known as the Boston Bomb Scare, which lead to legal implications being placed on Turner Broadcasting and their contractors, the internet to make mock "Never Forget" memes, and forced then-current Cartoon Network head Jim Samples to step down. It wouldn’t be long after until fans began to realize that Adult Swim, scratch that, Cartoon Network in general would not be the same since the incident. Not because of any legal incidents, but because Samples' replacement, Stuart Snyder, has since become the instigator of the channel’s infamous Network Decay with the increase of live-action sitcoms and reality shows on the channel.
  • Watershed/Otaku O'Clock: The entire theory of Adult Swim in general. They even have a segment called "DVR Theater" which shows cult favorites and older shows around 4 a.m.
  • Wham! Episode: April 1, 2012. You probably tuned in expecting three back-to-back airings of The Room, as they had done for the past three years. You got Toonami.

[adult swim]

  1. (In fact, shortly before Adult Swim premiered, Toonami ran a late night block from 1999-2003 called the Midnight Run showcasing uncut versions of Toonami titles, which evidently served as a test run of sorts for Adult Swim.)