Netflix's Love, Death + Robots, a collection of sci-fi-inspired animated shorts, throws a ton of episodes at you. Eighteen, to be exact. And even though none of the episodes run longer than 17 minutes, you still don't have the time to go through them all because you have more important things to do.
Luckily, I love this kind of sh-- even if I don't actually like it, if that makes sense. Having grown up on MTV's Liquid TV and Spike & Mike's Animation Festivals, blocks of cartoons featuring a variety of styles, tones, and stories will always be my jam.
But be warned: Love, Death + Robots covers everything from the funny to the violent to the *gulp* sexy in the world of science-fiction, and is decidedly NSFW. Seriously, there's more nudity and violence in this than a season of Spartacus. If that pricks your ears up, then you'll probably enjoy most of it.
The best way to watch it to press play and let the show run through the episodes, but if you only want to dabble and skip the bad parts, use the guide below to watch the best.
The Best of the Bunch
1. "Alternate Histories"
The funniest of all the shorts posits how history would change if young Adolf Hitler, art student, died in six various and ridiculous ways. It's presented as part of a futuristic alternate history research app, making it the most unique of all the episodes. Plus, guess what? Watching a cartoon Hitler die over and over is very comforting, and you'll need that comfort since the underlying message of the episode is that humans are wretched and will kill each other no matter what happens. Ha ha.
2. "When the Yogurt Took Over"
There are a lot of similarities in tone with "Alternate Histories" here, but it's such a perfect tone for the show it's a shame all the episodes aren't like these. The silliest of Love, Death + Robots recounts how a tub of yogurt became sentient after an experiment went sideways, leading humanity to blissful euphoria and the yogurt eventually becoming president. Well, not without a bunch of growing pains. The weirdness goes up to 11 on this one, and coupled with the goofy style of computer animation, the episode's bleak message is an easy pill to swallow.
3. "Good Hunting"
Some of the episodes feel like incomplete stories in a bad way; "Good Hunting" feels like an incomplete story in a good way. It's essentially the pilot for an intriguing anime show set in ancient China that follows a man who uses his penchant for steampunk gizmos to help a mysterious creature regain a sense of self-worth after British colonialists reduce it to a shell of its magical former self. That sounds like a lot, but "Good Hunting" does a great job of packing a lot of story into 15 minutes better than any of the others.
4. "The Secret War"
Not gonna lie, a lot of the episodes in L,D+R feel like video game cut scenes that I would skip as quickly as I could by mashing every button on the controller, but "The Secret War" is a case of realistic computer graphics becoming something interesting. The premise isn't a whole lot different from several of the other chapters — men fight some threatening creature menace; in this case, it's "What if Russian soldiers fought creatures from the Upside Down?" basically — but it's the direction and technical wizardry that sets it apart. "The Secret War" looks good, from the lighting effects to the choice of shots, and is a great action piece.
5. "Three Robots"
Everyone's dead in this comedy about a trio of robots with distinct personalities who amble through a destroyed city after an apocalypse. The humor comes from the robots trying to understand what made humans tick as they step over the rotting corpses of the dead. Shout out to the grey pyramid robot who probably would have killed us all if the apocalypse hadn't.
6. "Ice Age"
The only episode to feature live-action (with Topher Grace and Mary Elizabeth Winstead) sees a couple move into a new apartment and discover a tiny, quickly evolving civilization in the ice box. It's basically The Twilight Zone's "The Little People," which means it's also The Simpsons' "The Genesis Tub" from "Treehouse of Horror VII," Futurama's "Godfellas," and Rick and Morty's "The Ricks Must Be Crazy."
7. "The Witness"
Along with the top five, this is a really good one to watch while high. Artistically, its use of detailed cel-shading and comic book-style pop-up action words is very nifty! It also has a full Rear Window-ish story about a woman who witnesses a murder that might get a "whoa, dude" out of you when it's all said and done. What might get a "WHAT, dude?!" from you is the extended sex-cam sequence in the middle of it. Like, seriously, WHAT, dude?
8. "Sonnie's Edge"
You like violence? There's plenty of violence in L,D+R, but this might be the bloodiest. A woman controls a beast in gladiatorial battles between monsters, and limbs fly while blood spatters like it's being shot out of a firehose. There's a decent twist at the end, involving more flying limbs and spattered blood, obviously.
9. "Beyond the Aquila Rift"
The character models and acting might be the best of all the episodes in this realistic CGI outing (yeah, that's not a photo above), even if the story attempts to reach mind-blowing heights but only achieves a small tap on the forehead because we've seen it before. A man and his crew get lost after going into hyper-sleep, and they find themselves in a new place that may be great (but obviously is very, very bad). Also, graphic CGI sex! It's awkward.
10. "The Dump"
I wouldn't be surprised to see this in front of a Dreamworks Animation film, as it looks like it could be part of a kids movie. Well, except for the wanton violence, gore, and full-frontal male nudity. A city inspector visits a trash dump to tell the owner it needs to clean up or shut down, but the owner has a surprise for everyone. There's no explanation, story, or anything like that, which it could have used more of.
And the Rest
11. "Zima Blue"
Worth a watch for the art, which uses minimal colors and angular animation to great effect. The story, on the other hand, is a big old bucket of bolts.
12. "Lucky 13"
Samira Wiley stars as the model for the lifelike CGI of a future military pilot who's run dangerous mission after dangerous mission in her trusty spaceship. There's actually some sentimentality in the relationship between woman and machine, but not a whole lot else.
13. "Sucker of Souls"
A couple of adventurers go tomb raiding and find a bloodthirsty creature and some pretty bad dialogue. The manga-style hand-drawn animation is refreshing, though.
The Marine call "Hooah" becomes "Awoooooooooah" when werewolves are let into the military, which makes for some allegories about racism, naturally. It's got mostly top-notch CGI and a bloody werewolf fight in it, but overall it's a step below the other video game cut scene episodes. Also, disappointing werewolf transformations, tbh.
15. "Fish Night"
Yo, this is the trippiest of all the episodes, but unfortunately not in a good way. There are some gorgeous visuals in here, but it's just a tech demo with a story that makes no sense and has no explanation.
Farmers strap into mech suits to kill aliens that are attacking their cows in a situation that you couldn't even pay me to play on my Xbox.
The animation would fit right into the 1980s cartoon block featuring G.I. Joe and Thundercats, but the story of cyborgs trying to rob a convoy is missing anything of interest.
18. "Helping Hand"
When a female astronaut gets caught drifting in space, she has to resort to extreme measures to survive. And then it ends. That's it.
Love, Death + Robots is now on Netflix,