14 Funny Animation Bits That Beat the Pants Off Anything Live-Action

One major perk: no stunt doubles needed
14 Funny Animation Bits That Beat the Pants Off Anything Live-Action

Cave paintings were designed to create the illusion of movement as a fire crackled below. That means animation was one of the first forms of entertainment dreamt up by the human brain as it yearned, even millennia ago, to make sense of this universe. It’s time to reject modernity, and embrace tradition. Boycott cinema. Watch cartoons.

Animaniacs: Finger Prince

Yakko enlists Dot’s help in finding “prints” while playing detective. Dot obliges, and suddenly has the grinning pop star Prince cradled in her arms. Filthy wordplay ensues. Sure beats Prince’s actual cameo in New Girl.

Did Mr. Potato Head Get Cucked?

In Toy Story 3, Lotso yanks Mrs. Potato Head’s mouth off to shut her up mid-nag. Mr. Potato Head protests: “No one takes my wife’s mouth except me!” which, on the surface, is just another “take my wife, please” type joke. But knowing Pixar’s penchant for seedling adult humor, it’s not crazy to look at this joke through a more sexual lens.

The Simpsons: “Technical difficulties” Signage

The Simpsons love to throw to “technical difficulties” signs during various in-universe TV shows and news broadcasts. Some of the best feature a drunk camera operator, a caricature of Kent Brockman in a straightjacket with a cuckoo bird popping out of his head and a large bird being electrocuted by a broadcast tower.

Ren & Stimpy’s Hyperrealism

One of the hallmarks of this show is how it can jump from a goofy, cartoonish depiction of a character to a disgusting, zoomed-in, highly detailed portrait in the blink of an eye.

Bob’s Burger of the Day

Bob’s Burgers packs a ton of lovingly-crafted puns into the restaurant’s burger menu, which often sits silently in the background as a reward for eagle-eyed Easter egg hunters. Sure, live-action shows could do that, but they never seem to put in the effort. The Magna Doodle on Friends was peak Easter egg in the ‘90s, but the notes always felt more like in-universe inside jokes than a showcase for capital-C Comedy.

South Park: This Is What Scientologists Actually Believe

Lots of this top-secret Scientology lore was available online when this episode premiered in 2005, but information on the internet was less centralized in those days. As a result, this segment marked the first time lots of people started to question the popular religion, and recruitment took a major hit. It’s hard to imagine a live-action TV show pulling off this elaborate sci-fi masterpiece.

SpongeBob SquarePants: Mystery’s ‘Coin Slot’

After SpongeBob ties up his seahorse, Mystery, outside of the Krusty Krab, a couple of local yokels mistake the horse for a kids’ ride. When one of them finds Mystery’s “coin slot,” the seahorse kicks them over the horizon, where they explode into a mushroom cloud. An adult joke hidden in a kids’ cartoon, distracting you from filthy humor with explosions — this is why humans started making cartoons in the first place.

The Simpsons Opening Sequence

For the first 20 seasons, we were hit with three distinct Easter eggs per intro: the chalkboard gag, Lisa’s solo and the couch gag. In the middle of the 20th season, they updated their repertoire with a title-screen gag, a billboard gag and Lisa playing a different instrument.

Futurama’s Opening Sequence

Futurama features a somewhat unpredictable array of Easter eggs, including a disclaimer during the title card (i.e., “WARNING: DO NOT SHOW TO HORSES”), a billboard (i.e., “Bachelor Chow”) and a local business (i.e., “Girls, Girls, Aliens”).

Big Mouth: The Hormone Monsters

Has puberty ever been represented more succinctly than by these gigantic, obtrusive, extremely horny beasts who pop into and out of every storyline at will?

Home Movies

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who’d argue that this is inherently a pleasant style of animation to watch. It looks like Klasky Csupo forgot they had to hand in an episode 20 minutes before it was due. But it works exquisitely well in tandem with the writing and voice acting. It just wouldn’t be as funny if we were watching the real H. Jon Benjamin in footie pajamas, making quips with a wiggly-lipped scowl. 

Beavis and Butt-Head Do Pop Culture

Like Home Movies, the simplicity and absolute departure from realism is what makes these bits work. If they’d tried to make this show with two human wastoids grunting back and forth for several long seconds, and then MST3K-ing their way through ‘90s music videos, it’s highly unlikely the show would have survived long enough to spin off King of the Hill.

The Simpsons: All Duffs Are Created Equal

During a tour of the Duff brewery, we see a single duct feeding beer into three vats labeled “Duff,” “Duff Lite” and “Duff Dry.” Interestingly, the top of the screen is cut off when watching on Disney+, so the important part (all three vats being fed by the same source) is lost.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas: That Smile!

Even the might of Jim Carrey’s overexerted mouth muscles couldn’t come close to the devious cruelty that spreads slowly across the cartoon Grinch’s face. An instant classic.

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