The Real Reason These Popular '80s Cartoons Were Canceled
The 1980s launched a ton of cartoon franchises, only to see many of them canceled mysteriously. Was it because of network politics, low toy sales, or just sheer foolishness? It turns out it was often all of those things, and more.
Long before every other podcast started to feature minor celebrities playing Dungeons & Dragons, kids could watch Dungeons & Dragons the cartoon on CBS Saturday mornings. The show followed a group of young teenagers stranded in the realm of Dungeons & Dragons. They each played a role, like ranger, barbarian, or thief, and tried to get home while helping the realm.
It was the highest rated show in its time slot for two years, and it lasted three seasons before cancellation. Rumors built up over the years about why the show was cut, with the violent content and the moral panic surrounding D&D considered possible culprits. A partial answer came from writer Michael Reaves, who claimed,
"Unfortunately, problems with TSR, the D&D parent company, ultimately killed the plans for a new season."
Mark Evanier, who helped develop the show for TV and wrote the first few episodes, finally set the record straight in 2012 by pointing the finger at declining ratings. He explained,
"As far as I know, the protests were minimal and had no impact. The show simply began losing its audience, as all shows eventually do."
RoboCop isn't the most violent movie to be adapted into a cartoon for children. That honor surely goes to the Rambo series, which birthed Rambo: The Force of Freedom. But RoboCop is a solid second.
Sure, the movie itself had plenty of toy tie-ins, but it's still a hard R action movie. Nevertheless, Robocop: The Animated Series existed in 1988 and had a solid following.
The show did make several alterations in the name of being kid-friendly, such as replacing bullets with laser beams. The original plan was to run for 13 episodes in syndication, until the budget for episode 13 was rerouted. So the series finished at episode 12, with the money for the planned finale going instead towards Pryde Of The X-Men, the pilot for an X-Men series. While there would be many X-Men cartoons over the years, Pryde never came to fruition, meaning one cartoon was canceled in a failed attempt to start another.
Watch the full video to hear more about the real reason these popular '80s cartoons were canceled.
Dungeons & Dragons | 0:00
RoboCop: The Animated Series | 1:11
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero | 2:05
Garfield and Friends | 3:16
Voltron | 4:28
Thundarr the Barbarian | 5:20
Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats | 6:26
Garbage Pail Kids | 7:37
Inhumanoids | 8:48
The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! | 9:41
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