10 Movies and Shows That Explore the Human Body


Inside Out, the unique children’s animated film about the inner workings of the mind, hits theaters this Friday. So far it’s received a lot of positive attention both for its creative perspective on the thought process and its emotional appeal. One of the interesting things about the film is its way of looking at the human mind, and the human body from — for lack of a better phrase — the inside out.  It may have a unique take on the concept, but it’s hardly the first time a film or television show has taken a trip inside the human body or mind.

It’s actually a trope that’s been visited fairly often, both in TV episodes and in full feature length films, and it’s not hard to understand why. Getting shrunk and accidentally eaten is practically its own genre, after all. It’s not just children’s media that’s taken an interest in the topic over the years either, adult versions of the journey into the human body were where it all began. There are plenty of kids shows and movies that have taken an educational angle on exploring the human body on a tiny shuttle, and some of the more recent adult versions have found a way to add sex into the mix (because why not?). Let’s take a look at the forefathers of Inside Out.

1. Fantastic Voyage

Let’s start with the movie that started much of what we now are used to seeing with miniaturized travel through the human body in film. Made in 1966 and staring Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch, and Edmond O’Brien, the film follows along the usual line you’d expect. An important government official is in danger, and in order to save him an elite team is injected into his blood vessel, after which point they have all sorts of anatomical adventures. But Fantastic Voyage is to the human body as 2001 A Space Odyssey was to space.

2-4. Futurama, Family Guy, The Simpsons

From Fantastic Voyage comes an insane number of adult comedies reproducing an animated version. Basically name a show on Adult Swim and you’ll find some version of the Fantastic Voyage. Family Guy has one in “Emission Impossible,” when Stewie grows concerned about a competing baby in the family and takes a ship into his father to do reproductive battle with his sperm. In Futurama‘s episode “Parasites Lost,” Fry eats a sandwich laced with worms that make him super intelligent, leading the team to take the ship inside his body to target the parasites taking over his brain. Finally, there’s The Simpsons episode “Treehouse of Horror XV,” which follows Lisa into Mr. Burns’s body where her little sister is stuck.

5. Rick and Morty

A fairly recent animated adult show, Rick and Morty wasted no time in getting its own Fantastic Voyage reference out there in combination with a play off  Jurassic Park (two birds, one stone) in the episode “Anatomy Park.” Rick, a morally decrepit and deeply depressed mad scientist living with his daughter, her husband, and grandchildren, is building a theme park inside a homeless man when he goes into cardiac arrest. He sends his grandson in for a reconnaissance effort, forcing him to brave everything from Gonorrhea to Hepatitis.

6. Innerspace

Innerspace, made in 1987 and starring Dennis Quaid, is the non-government version of Fantastic Voyage. Instead of being an important official, the body in question belongs to a store cashier (Martin Short), who is the accidental recipient of a miniaturized human injection into his body.

7. Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex

This raunchy comedy takes a crack at questions about sexuality, sex, and what happens in the body during various stimulation from the perspective of people dressed up as sperm, brain cells, and much more. Not so much a serious biological study as one big bestiality joke, the film is none-the-less a classic Woody Allen production.

8. The Magic School Bus: Human Body

The Magic School Bus heads into the human body on a number of occasions, both in the Television show and in the DVD, The Magic School Bus: Human Body. If you could shrink your students and bus down to the size of a human cell, who wouldn’t do it every week and fly up someone’s nose or down their throat? The DVD includes three episodes, all set in the human body.

In “Inside Ralphie” the class heads into their sick classmate, Ralphie, in hopes of helping him get well in time for an important class presentation. In the episode “For Lunch” the class goes for a field trip inside the ever nervous Arnold to learn about the digestive system. Finally, there’s “Flexes Its Muscles” in which the class learns about the human body’s system of musculature.

9. Osmosis Jones

Another children’s movie to take kids inside the body’s inner processes was Osmosis Jones. The protagonist is Officer Jones (Chris Rock), a white blood cell cop on a mission to save his human (Bill Murray) and prove himself after a disastrous case with a germ. A Drixenol cold pill (David Hyde Pierce) shows up to lend a hand as his reluctantly accepted partner, and so the anthropomorphized illness adventure begins.

10. Rugrats

In the Rugrats episode “Inside Story” the babies take a trip into Chuckie after he accidentally eats a watermelon seed. They get themselves shrunk using a “lazy-beam” and head in to recover the seed and save Chuckie from an exploding stomach, taking a trip through the stomach, lungs, and bloodstream.

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