MTV, prior to its slow descent (or some could say decay) into the realm of nigh continuous reality television productions, it released fiction shows. One of the most notable came out in the early 1990's, known as Liquid Television. This show was actually a series of shorter clips featuring both live action and animated segments. These animated segments often featuring new and unique forms of animation, and gave birth to many new and intriguing forms of animation, such as The Head and Cartoon Sushi. This would give rise to many iconic series in the world of animation, such as Beavis and Butt-head, Æon Flux, and The Maxx. These series would also give rise to further popular animated series, such as Daria, taken from a semi-recurring character from Beavis and Butthead. While B&B was the original series, the quality of writing and humor was far more advanced in this new spin-off series, leading it to outlast its predecessor and spawn two short films.
The Head featured a shakier style of animation, and contained what many perceived as disturbing imagery. The story featured a man named Jim whose head spontaneously grew enormous, and became home to Ray, a small purple alien.
Cartoon Sushi featured a broader variety of clips, not really possessing any sort of consistent plot from one segment to the next. This animation however had a much smoother style compared to others, such as Beavis and Butthead or The Head.
Beavis and Butt-head, by Mike Judge (who would later create King of the Hill- loosely based off a character also contained in this series) became by far the most controversial of segments, as allegations arose that the blatant idiocy and dangerous acts by the title characters were imitated by youth, often with disastrous consequences. All the same, the short segments had a highly successful run, and generated enough popularity to be made into a feature film.
Aeon Flux was a very new style of science fiction animation, originally released as a series of shorts before being developed into an episodic series, often with the title character dying at the end of each clip. Though there was no specific continuous story line, the recurring characters of Aeon Flux and Trevor Goodchild were constantly at odds. The series gained something of a cult status, and was later made into a live action film of the same name.
The Maxx featured a new animation style, which mirrored the inking of a graphic novel. Taken from the series made by Sam Kieth, The Maxx follows the titular homeless superhero and his sometime social worker, sometimes "jungle queen" in a parallel world as they fight the efforts of a sorcerer of sorts known as Mr. Gone. The series addresses many very difficult adult issues, such as divides in feminism, survivor guilt, and rape culture. As such, it attracted a very intellectual audience, but never gained the mainstream appeal of other segments.
Daria, on the other hand, contained much of the same intellectualism, but without the dark edginess of The Maxx. Still, with its smart, acerbic wit, and biting commentaries of education and apathy, Daria attracted a large, broad audience. It generated two films released for television, and a handful of ads and music videos. It remains one of MTV's highest rated shows, and release of the series onto DVD generated both a renewed interest and a second generation of viewers for the program.