A new TikTok trend has creators leaning into late-night good vibes by paying homage to the “bumps” on Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s overnight programming block that airs shows geared towards an older audience.
These bumps — transition clips between commercial breaks and featured programming — which include short films, time-lapses, or brief text sequences. These segments all end with the Adult Swim logo ([as] or [adult swim])appearing somewhere within the actions. However, bumps aren’t unique to Adult Swim, but the programming block’s transitions have become known for their conversational style. The bumps’ brevity, cheeky tone, and tendency to break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience through the on-screen text make TikTok the perfect platform to parody them.
The trend can be as simple or elaborate as a creator wants, but it typically involves hiding the Adult Swim logo — stylized through text as either [adult swim] or simple [as] — somewhere in the environment, revealing it by moving a subject’s head, exposing something, flipping a mirror, crumpling a piece of paper, or anything you can possibly think of.
The Adult Swim trend is also sound-tracked by a dreamy beat produced by user Vano 3000, whose path to TikTok fame began when he joined the app in January. On May 23, he used the now-viral Adult Swim beat on TikTok for the first time to soundtrack a video of him standing on a street corner, eating a sandwich. The beat was sampled from BADBADNOTGOOD’s song, “Times Moves Slow”, and was chopped up and pitched up in creating what’s now become TikTok’s biggest earworm. A day later, he originated the trend with a video of a person in a Spider-Man costume in the Times Square subway station in New York City, adding text and the Adult Swim logo.
Over the past several weeks, and particularly over the past weekend, the concept has grown massively viral. Adult Swim even joined in, acknowledging the trend on its own TikTok account using Vano 3000’s beat. The sound driving the trend now has over 123,000 videos to its name as of Monday, and the #adultswim hashtag has over 882 million cumulative views. Many people on different social media platforms are praising how much they love this simple yet nostalgic trend.
The format of the Adult Swim bumps is quite particular, between the rich visual communication necessary for the [as] logo reveal and the conversational tone of the on-screen text. Given the specific tone, it has raised some questions on TikTok about those who may or may not have “understood the assignment” — users who could and couldn’t properly replicate the style of the trend.
Still, the trend has established a creative sandbox on TikTok and overall on the internet: by riffing on an established format, creators play around with an existing video syntax that opens the door to endless possibilities.