Aqua Teen Hunger Force may be the most gleefully bizarre and irreverent program on Adult Swim, which is truly saying something.
Ostensibly, it follows three anthropomorphic fast food products – Meatwad, Frylock and Master Shake – who live together and thwart villains. In reality, however, the trio spends each episode getting into hilariously surreal and stupid mishaps with equally eccentric side characters.
Like many of its network brethren, the show frequently displays a huge love for metal culture, too, via comical artist cameos, badass song cues, outlandish action scenes and the like.
With 11 seasons and one film under its belt – as well as another movie, Plantasm, on the way – there’s plenty of ludicrous genre goodness to go around.
Thus, we decided to break down the 10 most metal Aqua Teen Hunger Force happy meals that masterminds Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis have served up thus far.
Loudwire contributor Jordan Blum is a university English professor and author of 'Opeth: Every Album Every Song', 'Dream Theater: Every Album Every Song' and 'Jethro Tull: Every Album Every Song.'
Danzig Drops by “Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future” (S1, E18)
Danzig is among the most memeable people in metal, so he’s a great fit for this nonsensical take on A Christmas Carol. Essentially, the trio’s perpetually annoyed neighbor, Carl, is haunted by a cybernetic ghost who demands that he sleep with the “Great Red Ape” as repentance for living in a house built over elf graves. Instead, Carl sells his home to Danzig (portraying himself). He installs blood-spewing sprinklers and then curses out Master Shake for hiding the ghost (who refuses to live with Danzig because he “doesn’t wear a shirt”). Danzig’s deadpan irrationality is peak Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
Queensrÿche Score Carl’s Brutal Interplanetary Insanitarium Battle in “Shirt Herpes” (S9, E3)
Late in the series, Carl shows off his amazing Interplanetary Insanitarium shirt to Master Shake. He asks Master Shake if he thinks it’d be cool to “be in that world” before recounting (with Heavy Metal-esque animation) how it was crafted by three primeval demons: Uno, Boggle and Yahtzee (voiced by Mastodon’s Brann Dailor, Troy Sanders and Brent Hinds, respectively). Allegedly, a beefcake version of Carl engaged in a musical fight to defeat the monsters and rule their kingdom. None other than Queensrÿche provide the soundtrack to their battle, and along the way, QOTSA’s Josh Homme voices a giant black octopus.
Josh Homme and Alain Johannes Create Theme to Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1
Speaking of Josh Homme, he collaborated with Chilean-American multiinstrumentalist Alain Johannes (QOTSA, Them Crooked Vultures, Eagles of Death Metal) on the theme for the show’s eighth season and first rebranding: Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1. At first, the season has Frylock, Master Shake and Meatwad move to Seattle and become detectives; as such, they need a suitable new tune to embody their exploits and match the vintage 1970s action-crime opening credits. Naturally, Homme and Johannes deliver with an explosively tongue-in-cheek retro banger. They chant “Unit Patrol!” and introduce each character over fiery orchestration, and it’s absolutely on point.
Zakk Wylde Co-Writes “Spirit Journey Formation Anniversary” (S2, E14)
Master Shake loves tormenting Meatwad, yet his quest to replace “Happy Birthday to You” with an original new song (for Meatwad’s birthday) is a pleasant gesture. He enlists Zakk Wylde (and Rush’s Geddy Lee) to help, only to realize that he owes Wylde $1.4 million. Soon, Wylde arrives (on his train of white stallions) to collect, promising Frylock that he’ll give Master Shake an “indescribable” beating. Indeed, he impales an ax-shaped guitar into Master Shake’s head. Still annoyed, Wylde ends up killed by his Black Mountain Scorpion Hoedown Bluegrass Experience Gang at the deserted Pizza Potamus restaurant. It's quite entertaining.
Ted Nugent Shoots Carl with a Flaming Arrow in “Gee Whiz” (S3, E4)
Guitarist Ted Nugent is – shall we say – a very opinionated, unconventional and polarizing person. Even so, his turn in “Gee Whiz” is undeniably awesome. In a nutshell, Meatwad’s stomach bursts with spiders, forcing Master Shake and Frylock to flee their home. For no reason, a feral Ted Nugent is waiting outside, and he shoots Carl with a flaming arrow because he thought Carl was “a varmint.” Beforehand, he declares: “Anybody without a gun, a knife, a handkerchief and a ChapStick” can GTFO.
It’s nice to see that the Nuge has at least a tiny sense of humor about himself, right?
Andrew W.K. Forces the Gang to “Party All the Time” (S4, E6)
Although he has other talents – namely, being a consummate pianist – Andrew W.K. is known for one thing: PARTYING! Therefore, it’s no surprise that Frylock’s roommates enlist W.K. to cheer him up as he battles cancer. During their “Get Well Asshole” commemoration, W.K. launches into frame by kicking Frylock in the face and performing a snippet of “Party Party Party.” The use of the full version of the track is particularly funny since there’s no band in the scene. W.K.’s looping animation is subtly hilarious, too, as is the gang’s need to accompany Frylock into his room and continue the celebration.
Master Shake and Nashville Pussy Serve Up Some “Face Omelette” on the ATHF: MFFT Soundtrack
There’s a lot to like about the soundtrack to 2007’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, including tunes from Unearth and Nine Pound Hammer. Of course, Master Shake’s partnership with Nashville Pussy – “Face Omelette” – is another focal point. More or less, it fuses the high-octane aggression of legends such as AC/DC, King Diamond and Thin Lizzy with traditional screeching singing. Best of all, Master Shake totally commits to laughable pronouncements such as “I’ll feed your face to my dirty goat” and “Face butter on the toast / It’s coming.” Oh, and it finishes with a blazing guitar solo.
“Totem Pole” Bring East German Metal Mayhem to Aqua Something You Know Whatever (S9, E10)
Carl is a huge fan of rock and metal, with Foreigner and Judas Priest being two of his favorite acts. Here, though, he takes the main threesome to see “the world’s greatest East German metal band,” Totem Pole (played by Viking metal troupe Wolfchant). Their concert is packed with vicious sights and sounds, and they eventually summon a horde of skeletons. The artwork, lyrics and names of their albums and songs (such as //For Whom the Bell Poles//) are wonderfully satirical, too. They even have a rambunctious mascot, Lenny the Troll, who “gets energy . . . through his butt.”
Chickenfoot Destroy the World in “IAMAPOD” (S7, E7)
The separated heavy metal quartet make a short but sweet contribution to this episode. You see, Master Shake encounters an IAmaPod (an overzealous pod creature) who plans to befriend, consume and copy him. First, the pod takes all three fast food friends to see Chickenfoot live, after which he swallows and replicates Michael Anthony while Sammy Hagar, Chad Smith and Joe Satriani watch. Back home, Carl’s lawn is populated by dozens of new pods and Michael Anthony clones, and his closing shriek mirrors Donald Sutherland’s shocking final moment in 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers because of course it does.
Mastodon’s “Cut You Up With a Linoleum Knife” Opens Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters
If we were ranking these moments, this would unquestionably be our top pick. Initially, the first Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie is preceded by a charming parody of 1957’s “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” musical advertisement. As the four concession products sing and dance, they’re assaulted by a hardcore crew (a pretzel, a gumdrop, a bunch of nachos and an “Icecaps” box) portrayed by Mastodon. What follows is an incredibly amusing torrent of brutal arrangements, vocals and lyrics. They sing about dissolving testicles with hot acid and running over babies in the street, and it’s gloriously excessive and illogical.