Moral Orel: An animated, underrated dark comedy

Adult Animation has always had a certain reputation surrounding it. Shows like Family Guy and South Park have given it the reputation of being crude and dumb entertainment without anything substance. Now a day most people know that’s not true with shows like Bojack Horseman and Arcane being among the most popular smash hits of animation. However I believe one adult animation that has flown criminally under the radar is Moral Orel.

The show was originally released in 2005 on Adult Swim, having three seasons and then being cancelled in 2008 while season three was premiering (One episode was cited as the reason for its cancellation). People have called it one of the darkest animated shows ever put to air. With themes of religious trauma, the cycle of abuse and alcoholism Moral Orel tackles them all in equal parts humour and soul-crushing depression.

Moral Orel is the story of Orel Puppington, a young 12-year-old boy who lives in the town of Moralton. A very conservative religious town with a huge cast of characters. There are several adults he looks up to for guidance and religious advice. Orel learns that the townspeople aren’t as moral as they claim to be, especially his own father, Clay.

Season 1 of Moral Orel

Season 1 adheres to a standard formula. Orel goes to church; he grossly misinterprets the teaching of the week and shenanigans happen. It eventually ends with Orel learning the wrong lesson from Clay. Clay abuses Orel and ends with them laughing about it.

From season 1 episode 1 this show sets its insanity. The first episode starts with a lesson on god’s gift of life and ends with Orel resurrecting the dead using the Necronomicon. The humour is there from the first five minutes of the show. It’s not just religion it uses for its comedy, it also contains rauncy material. Episode 2 focuses on the sin of ‘Self pleasure’. It is by far the grossest episode of the show but thankfully the episodes are only 11 minutes long so it doesn’t take long to get through it.

It has an ‘Episode of the week’ format which does become a little repetitive, especially if you’re binging all the episodes. With this season only having 10 episodes it only takes a little under 2 hours to finish it. It still has plenty of horrifically funny moments to balance everything out.

This season serves to set up most of the characters who are important in season 2. Nurse Bendy, Reverend Putty and Stephanie. The characters are memorable and provide good comedic foil for Orel’s decent nature. I love Stephanie as she’s one of the few adults who actually cares for Orel’s wellbeing and is generally a decent character.

Season 2 of Moral Orel

Season 2 retires the traditional format and the focus is more on the town itself. While the first season set up all the characters season 2 takes the time to develop them with full stories. It follows more of the personal stories of the people of Moralton.

The whole town feels vibrantly oppressive as it focuses on the depressing relationships between the townsfolks. We learn that Stephanie is Reverend Putty’s daughter, Principle Fakey is cheating on his wife with Nurse Bendy and Clay and Bloberta’s relationship is practically non-existent. All of this is going on all while they’re keeping up their appearances.

All the episodes in this season are good but the finale is truly the highlight is the season. The 2-part special “Nature” shows Clay taking Orel on a father son hunting trip. We go on a deep dive into Clay’s psyche regarding his alcoholism and his self-hatred. For only 20 minutes in total that make amazing use of the script to convey so many different emotions and set up even more pay off when his backstory is revealed in season 3. I truly believe that Clay is one of the most fascinating villains in an animated show. He reminds me a lot of Beatrice from Bojack Horseman in terms of how his past trauma manifested into the adult he became.

This episode leads beautifully into the third and final season of Moral Orel.

Season 3 of Moral Orel

This season switches up the format a lot. Instead of being a linear season it tells the stories through an inverted timeline, showing what was happening behind the scenes of certain episodes leading up to the “Nature” finale. When it stops with the timeline we see the consequences of the finale of season 2 show that certain relationships are permanently changed.

This season doesn’t hold back with the darker elements which ultimately led to its cancellation. The specific episode responsible was ‘Alone’. The whole episode revolves around three side characters Nurse Bendy, Miss Censordoll and Miss Sculptham. All their stories revolving around different sexual traumas that they suffered in the past. It treats it with the maturity and seriousness it deserves. Nurse Bendy gives a heart-breaking monologue about being seen as a person. Miss Sculpthum’s is the darkest, showing her post assault trauma all without a single line of dialogue. It’s an understatement to say that this episode was very ahead of its time, unfortunately due to recent events becoming more relevant than ever.

Sadly it was very apparent how rushed the last season was. Certain plots were left unfinished, and character didn’t get a justified ending. Thankfully the creators made publicly available information about the plans for the show’s future plotlines and even some unreleased scripts.


All of the episodes of Moral Orel are free on More4 and YouTube. The episodes are 11 minutes long each so there’s no reason not to go watch it right now. It’s a hidden gem of a show that’s equal parts bleak, brilliant and blasphemous.