Welcome back to my list of the best Aqua Teen Hunger Force episodes of all time! We covered some great episodes last time, but the best is yet to come! Well, at least what I think is the best, but then I’m always right about everything and my opinion should DEFINITELY be taken as fact! Anyway, let’s get to it!
10) Space Conflict from Beyond Pluto – S1 E6
Frylock establishes contact with alien lifeforms and is invited onto their spaceship to barbeque and share a six pack. However, the nefarious Plutonians have other plans in mind once he arrives! Not fully thought plans, but they tend to involve melting people! Frylock, realizing that the life he’s come into contact with may not be intelegent, beams off the ship but not before Master Shake somehow finds his way aboard; giving the Plutonians a much less perceptive target to unleash their evil schemes upon!
As I’ve said before, the incompetent conquerors from Pluto are two of the best characters the show ever came up with and this first appearance of them is one of the high points of the entire series. It’s not just great for establishing the Plutonians and their shtick with the show concept being the melting room which also serves as some sort of holo-deck for Master Shake to explore the wonders of a sea filled with pizza as well as a horse’s anus, but it’s also a fantastic Master Shake episode on top of that with the scam he tried to pull on Carl being sharply written and laugh out loud funny. The only thing I can say negatively about this episode is that it is in fact an early episode of the series and is at a point where Carl didn’t quite sound right which is a bit distracting, but other than that it’s a great deal of fun and a wonderful introduction to these villains.
9) Mooninites 4: Moon Master – S3 E8
Meatwad wakes up to find a new video game underneath his pillow which turns out to be the lastest scheme by the Mooninites to make some easy and undeserved cash. The plan involves pressuring people to get invested into a line of Moon Master products and to then evangelize the program for artificial prestige and chances at fabulous prizes while getting more clients for themselves. With so many weak willed individuals in this one small area of New Jersey, does their plan have a chance to succeed?
This is actually one of the more interesting episodes of the series as it highlights an actual problem that many people have had to contend with; namely getting suckered into these kinds of scams that pray on people’s loneliness by giving them a sense of false validation. The only other show I can recall that dealt with this kind of scenario head on was the King of the Hill episode The Substitute Spanish Prisoner where Peggy buys a phony PhD from a Genius Organization, though I much prefer the Aqua Teen’s version of it which seeks to maximize the humor from such an idea rather than bang on about any sort of messages. We’d get something closer to that once Tim & Eric came on the scene with Tom Goes to the Mayor and this honestly feels like a prototype for what those two would eventually build their entire career on, but as just an individual episode of this show, it’s not only one of the fumiest but easily the best appearance from the Moonintes who finally have something to do besides aimlessly wander around and cause destruction. Okay, that’s basically what the PLUTONIANS do, but they do it better!!
8) Super Hero / Super Model – S2 E2 / S2 E5
Master Shake tries to live out his dreams as a super hero and a super model in these two episodes that shine a light on his need for attention as well as mercilessly punish him for his hubris.
Both these episodes cover very similar grounds and are equally as funny, so I’m just gonna go ahead and cheat here by putting both in the same spot on this list. What, wanna fight about it? It’s MY list and I can do whatever I want!! Master Shake is at his best when he’s a creature of pure ambition who’s always working as hard as possible to get what he wants which would be admirable in someone with the slightest bit of common sense, but instead we have a character that is vain, greedy, and has a mean streak a mile long. Now I did mention in part one of this list that later episodes like Laser Lens, Muscles, and Bookie suffered by drawing out Master Shake’s comeuppance at the end which is why those didn’t make it on the list (Laser Lens was REALLY close) and we can see in these two episodes an example of that kind of ending working much better. He DOES ultimately suffer for his arrogance in these, but the episode doesn’t dwell on it and they even find somewhat creative ways to go about it; particularly in Super Hero which has an excellent build up to his horrified realization of what is going on. Both are great showcases of what can be done when Master Shake is let loose to go as far as his sense of perseverance and pride will take him; which is usually to the point of total self-destruction. Can’t blame a guy for trying though, right?
7) The Shaving – S2 E15
It’s Halloween Night and the Aqua Teens are ready for a night of spookiness and Trick ‘r Treating! However, what they failed to realize is that there’s a MONSTER lurking in the attic and he’s ready to come out and play now that the scariest night of the year is upon them! What could the foul beast be looking for, o ther than his lost mail and possibly a fan to borrow!?
Halloween is easily the best holiday when it comes to animated shows, and not just because of Treehouse of Horror! Sure, The Simpsons probably kicked the tradition off with their yearly Halloween episodes, but so many shows have managed to do some impressive stuff with their own All Hallows Eve specials. I wouldn’t say that this is one of the BEST animated Halloween specials out there, but this is certainly a very funny episodes and takes full advantage of its spooky premise and ghastly guest character known simply as Willy Nelson (not that one) who may SEEM innocuous with his halfhearted attempts at scaring everyone, but certainly has a few skeletons lurking in his closet! It’s also yet another great showcase for Master Shake who you certainly buy as one of those guys who takes Halloween not as a chance for fun scares, but to use it as an excuse for destruction and mayhem; thankfully inflicting most of it on himself in his attempts to terrorize others. If you’re like me and have a playlist of Halloween movies and specials that you watch instead of… going to parties… then this is one that should DEFINITELY be on that list! Seriously, what’s everyone else doing for Halloween? Not that I’m desperate or anything!
6) Interfection – S1 E15
Master Shake and Meatwad are playing around with Frylock’s computer when they start clicking on pop up ads; opening themselves up to so much spam that it breaks free of the computer and starts to infect their home. Frylock does his best to rid them of these annoying advertisements, but will his efforts be enough to stop whatever entity is sending them in the first place?
While this is probably the episode that will date this series more than any other, it’s also one of the best written satires from this period of time about the vast changes the internet was making in our daily lives and the dangers that lurk within. Oh sure, Freakazoid was doing the same thing five years earlier, but the take that we got from the Aqua Teens in this one episode is a fascinating time capsule and an extremely funny one at that. Nowadays, even the youngest of us have become much more savvy to the overt and glossy promises from popups and unsolicited e-mails, but there was a time where that wasn’t always the case and I can certainly remember what it was like the first time the computer told me I won a Disney vacation or that I’d gotten a free Xbox and only had to put in my parents credit card information! Maybe claiming there’s something NOSTALGIC about this episode is pushing it a bit far, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you want to remind yourself how things worked in the good ol’ days! BEFORE YouTube was a thing and when we were still asking Jeeves what The War of 1812 was!
5) Universal Remonster – S2 E11
The Plutonians have failed to take over the Earth twice now, but their penchant for EVIL has hardly been abated as we see with their latest scheme which is to steal cable from the Aqua Teens. To accomplish their ghastly goal of taking over the Aqua Teens’ television set (and to sell T-Shirts it looks like), they’ve created a nefarious creature that’s half monster and half remote with a sprinkling of adorableness for good measure. Can the Aqua Teens face this mighty creature and possibly bring it over to their side, or will the Plutonians finally have the victory they need to jump start their plans for world domination!?
And here we have the very best of the Plutonian episodes! It’s not just that the two would be conquerors of Earth have the best material to work with (their back and forth throughout the episode is absolutely hilarious), it’s just how much creativity they managed to shove into this episode that JUST SO HAPPENED to also feature two of the best characters in the series. I always loved the show’s portrayal of television which mostly consists of puppets against public access backdrops, and this is the episode that ended up doing the most with that; recreating various genres of television in this rather charming style. What can I say? I love it when a show not only mixes live action with animation but also throws puppets into the mix! And that’s just a VERY small part of the episode! They’ve also got bootleg Star Gates and Power Puff Girls, an adorable yet surprisingly powerful robotic monster made up of television remotes, and even gives Master Shake time to be a bastard once again as he uses this awesome new source of power to torture Meatwad. If there’s one weakness, it’s that the interactions between the Plutonians and the Aqua Teens are rather limited; mostly happening at the very end of the episode to wrap things up. Still, it’s hardly enough of an issue to meaningfully detract from the overall quality; especially when everything else is so on point. It even has a bittersweet moral at the end about the depressing necessity of television to cope with our miserable lives! Sure, cynicism is this show’s bread and butter, but how often does it go the extra mile to actually ATTEMPT a point in the first place!?
4) Global Grilling – S4 E7
Master Shake, in an attempt to one up Frylock, purchases a black market grill that probably shouldn’t have existed in the first place considering how dangerous it turns out to be. With greater speed than a billion coal plants polluting at full power, this grill manages to disintegrate the ozone layer and causes global catastrophes from rising temperatures to even rising oceans. Can the Aqua Teens manage to destroy the grill before it destroys all life on Earth, or will they have to suffer through an apocalyptic wasteland with nothing more than a dry husk of a planet and possibly some well-cooked burgers!?
Oh would you look at that? I JUST mention how rare it is for this show to actually have a point, and I follow it up with an episode about environmental conservation! Okay, MAYBE that’s going a bit far as the use of Global Warming in here is simply as a plot device to imagine some really messed up scenarios for the Aqua Teens to try and survive through, but at least it’s better than what South Park did when THEY tried to tackle the subject! There’s so much to love about this episode from the hilarious dialogue to the sheer scope they went for to tell this story, but what really sets this one apart is the pacing. There’s a constant ticking clock throughout the episode that dictates how urgent the given situation is and we’re given reminders constantly as to what’s at stake if they don’t find a way to turn off that freaking grill! There is a major weakness to the episode which is the mucus men who aren’t particularly clever or all that funny. Sure, the ending of the story which involves them heavily is rather interesting, but that’s mostly due to the characters we already know rather than their own presence, and the effort they go to foreshadow it in the beginning takes up time that COULD have been going to more shenanigans with the environmentally devastating barbecue. Even with that though, this is an episode that proves what can be done when the show has the ambition and drive to go bigger than what we expect from them. It’s a lot like Movie Film For Theaters in that way (a film I REALLY enjoy) which also went for a much larger scope, but manages to fit it into a very satisfying eleven minutes.
3) Revenge of the Trees – S2 E13
After a very enjoyable Labor Day celebration involving a deep fried cow stuffed with cheese, Master Shake is left with a giant tub of oil that needs to be disposed off. Turning to Carl for an easy solution, the both of them go out into the woods to illegally dump it far from prying eyes. However, it turns out that the trees didn’t take too kindly to the their home being abused in such a way and summon Master Shake to Wood Court so that he may face his crimes.
Sure it’s another example of Master Shake being a total bastard, but like with Global Grilling it’s one of the few times where the majority of the story is about the fallout of his actions rather than just watching his behavior escalate. The Wood Court is hilarious with some great lines and absurd ideas at play (the wood video is a solid sight gag) which makes them one of the standout villains in the series; especially considering they’re pretty much ENTIRELY in the right. Sure, ripping Carl’s skin off piece by piece MIGHT not be the right punishment to fit the crime, but Master Shake being so stone cold busted in his misdeeds is ridiculously fun to watch play out; especially when he starts coming up with half-baked ideas to weasel himself out of it. If there’s one issue to be had, it’s that it ends kind of abruptly which isn’t THAT uncommon for the series, but the premise is so good that by the time we’re wrapping things up it feels like we should only just be heading into the third act. Still, when the only real complaint is “it’s not long enough”, that’s usually a good sign of the quality of everything else.
2) Broodwich – S2 E16
While digging for pirate treasure in the front yard, Master Shake falls into a catacomb filled to the brim with bones as well as one VERY delicious looking sandwich. A voice seemingly out of nowhere informs him that this is the mythical Broodwich (as seen in Vogue Magazine) and that finishing the sandwich will spell eternal damnation. Still… it’s one VERY tasty sandwich, and he doesn’t have to finish the WHOLE thing, right?
If there’s two things that Aqua Teen Hunger Force is good at that will get me to fall instantly in love with an episode, it’s hilariously realized moments of horror and extremely creative absurdist concepts. The number one episode I feel does it SLIGHTLY better than this one, but there’s no denying that this is one of the most ingenious concepts they ever came up with. Seriously, where did this idea come from!? It’s SUCH a great idea that is phenomenally well realized in such a short run time; giving it an edge over Revenge of the Trees which felt a bit under-cooked with the same amount of time to work with. This one has an ingenious concept, but keeps it simple enough in execution that they can fit in JUST enough great ideas to make them feel incredibly well explored while also keeping the episode feeling incredibly varied. You’ve got the out of nowhere voice over that our characters are constantly talking back to, the two demon(ish) creatures in the evil realm who are rather menacing while also being totally mundane, and even the sandwich itself with is rather well designed and exactly what you’d imagine a dish from the depths of hell might look like! If I could change one thing about it, I MIGHT want to do something else with the very ending as it is a bit of a downer, but even with that this is definitely one of the highest points in the entire series and can only be surpassed by one other episode…
1) The Cloning – S2 E23
Master Shake breaks yet another television and goes to fetch another one from the closet to find that it is empty as he’s smashed his way through their entire supply. Both he and Meatwad go to Frylock to find out what the deal is and it turns out he’s been making them in his cloning machine this whole time but is wary to continue doing so considering how unstable each successive clone has the potential of becoming. Against his better judgement he makes one more for the two of them which turns out to have been a very bad idea as there’s something VERY wrong with this television that starts broadcasting horrifying shows with the Aqua Teens as the stars. Will the disturbing imagery be enough to tear this family apart as they begin to suspect one another of wrong doing?
Take everything I just said about The Broodwich, and imagine it being even better. THAT is what The Cloning is and THAT is why it’s the best episode the series ever did. There are so many great moments in here and brilliant ideas that would be worthy of their own episode but fit perfectly into this hodgepodge of spooky shenanigans. The way the TV manipulates both Meatwad and Master Shake for its own ambiguous ends is one of the reasons it stays just ahead of The Broodwich as it gives everyone in the house a chance to not only fall victim to dark forces but to let their own avarice as well as fears further the hold that it has on them. In The Broodwich, Master Shake was simply drawn to the MacGuffin of the episode and couldn’t muster enough self-control to fight back. Here, his lust for material possessions and status symbols is feeding are being manipulated so he’ll use the cloning machine in a rather unwise manner (all those bills he’s cloning are gonna have the same serial number), and the disturbing imagery that the television is showing Meatwad nearly manages to turn him against the only person who’s ever truly cared for him and taken care of him. Even Frylock isn’t immune to the toxic atmosphere that’s building up in the house which leads to the final confrontation at the end of the episode, and it’s all just a masterwork of character driven storytelling that’s elegantly compressed into an eleven minute episode. My only complaint is that the ending is legitimately disappointing. Not in The Broodwich way where I might have wanted to tweak it but still appreciate what it does; rather it’s one of the weaker endings the show has had where the conflict doesn’t truly feel resolved and we end on a rather lame joke. Even with that though, it still manages to be the single greatest accomplishment in the entire series and is one of the funniest things that Adult Swim has ever produced.
And that’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below!!