What Is the Difference Between Adult Cartoons and Cartoons Made for Children?

The difference between adult animated programming and children's animated programming varies between broadcast jurisdictions. On the whole, however, cartoons aimed at adults tend to feature more mature storylines that may include sexuality, drug use, quasi-realistic or graphic violence or adult-oriented issues like relationships, complex morality or multi-episode arcs.

Cartoons intended for younger children tend to have simpler stories with more black and white morality and little to no violence, save slapstick. Shows that are rated TV-Y7 often receive this rating due to fantasy violence, which refers to violence that is heavily stylized and not something children can imitate such as superpowers. Shows that are suitable for children receive the Y, Y7, or G ratings.Examples of all-age children's cartoons include the "Looney Tunes" shorts or "Tom and Jerry. Cartoons rated Y7 include the "Avatar: The Last Airbender" series, "Batman: The Animated Series," or "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

Adult-oriented cartoons can contain sexual innuendo or more graphic violence, as well as profanities. Adult-aimed cartoons include "The Simpsons," "Family Guy," "Futurama," and "South Park." Many anime shows broadcast on Cartoon Network also are considered adult shows and placed in the "Adult Swim" block. Cartoons intended for adults receive at least a TV-PG rating.