7 Lost Treasures Of The MTV Animation Department

MTV once had an incredible animation department that warped our fragile little minds with bizarre, witty and subversive cartoons. Between the late eighties and early 2000s, the animation department produced a couple dozen shows before being shuttered in 2001 due to a cheaper form of two-dimensional programming; Reality TV. Here now is it’s best work.

1. “Clone High” (2000)

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Before creating “Scrubs”, Bill Lawrence co-created this show about a high school attended solely by clones of familiar historical figures. Each installment was “a very special episode” that closely parodied schmaltzy teen dramas, right down to the celebrity cameos.

“Clone High” featured the voice talent of SNL’s Will Forte, MADtv’s Michael McDonald and Nicole Sullivan, and pretty much everyone from Scrubs.

2. “Downtown” (1999)

After working as an animator on “Beavis and Butthead”, Chris Prynoski created this show about a group of gen-Xers living in the Lower East Side. Although it ran for just one season, it gained an Emmy nomination for Best Animated Program.

Basically, it’s a pre-9/11 show about hipsters in New York. Still very watchable, even today.

3. “Aeon Flux” (1991)

Peter Cheung’s dystopia revolved around a tall, scantily-clad assassin with a love/hate relationship with her lover/sworn enemy. Aside from there being almost no dialogue, Aeon dies at the end of every episode (spoiler alert). Aeon would learn to speak and not die in the seasons that followed.

This one was actually popular enough to spawn a movie adaptation, but it wasn’t very good.

4. “The Head” (1994)

Originally a part of the “MTV Oddities” programming block, “The Head” tells the story of Jim, a trade school student who one day discovers that his cranium has swollen in size and a cordial alien named Roy has taken up residence within… Yeah, I know. It’s awesome.

5. “Daria” (1997)

While Daria was originally a character on Beavis and Butthead, her role as a sardonic, unfashionably intellectual girl was enough to carry a whole other show - One where an entire suburban town acts as a moronic foil to Daria’s dry, cynical wit.

At a whopping five seasons, This would prove to be the animation department’s 2nd biggest triumph.

6. “Beavis and Butthead” (1994)

Twenty years ago, “Beavis and Butthead” were a couple of glue-sniffing morons created by Mike Judge, an ex-defense subcontractor who dabbled in animation. Today, his boys are considered brilliant caricatures of teenage ennui… and Judge himself has satirized even more aspects of American life with stuff like “Office Space”, “Idiocracy” and “King Of The Hill”.

It was MTV’s most successful piece of animated work. The show was revived as a modern but wonderfully unchanged version of itself in 2011.

7. “Liquid Television” (1991)

The MTV Animation Department’s very first program was a showcase for some of the strangest animated shorts you’ve ever seen (three words: Marionette Biker Chick). It was also where shows like “Beavis and Butthead”, “Aeon Flux” and “The Head” first appeared.

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