The Real Reason These Popular '90s Cartoons Were Canceled
The 1990s were a golden age of television animation. But cartoons are a business, and even the most beloved shows were sometimes cancelled to make room for more profitable programming. Here are the real reasons behind a few of those controversial cartoon cancellations.
After debuting on MTV in 1993, millions of kids and adults watched the two giggling, moronic metalheads of Beavis and Butt-Head determine which bands were "cool" and which "sucked." That is, when they weren't terrorizing their neighbors, teachers, and Burger World customers. Not everybody liked Beavis and Butt-Head; Politicians called out the show for encouraging antisocial behavior, and one family blamed Beavis's pyromania for leading to a deadly house fire. Nothing stuck, though, and Beavis and Butt-Head remained the world's favorite idiots.
However, after 200 episodes and the feature film Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, creator Mike Judge decided it was time to end it. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Judge said,
"I actually wanted to stop a little sooner. After the second season, I thought, 'How are we gonna do this anymore?' I was completely burned out."
Judge wound up sticking around for seven seasons, but in 1997, he moved on to other projects, like his Fox animated series King of the Hill.
Starring three old-timey cartoon characters named Yakko, Wakko, and Dot Warner, who were more or less imprisoned in the water tower on the Warner Bros. movie lot, Animaniacs was a cartoon quickly embraced by both children and adult audiences alike. Debuting in 1993, Animaniacs satirized cartoon tropes while being completely self-aware, offering up innuendo-laced dialogue and biting social commentary among the kid-friendly laughs.
Animanaics ran for five seasons and spun off its most popular side characters, Pinky and the Brain, before Kids WB ended the show in 1998. According to creator Tom Ruegger, the end came due to a business decision regarding another, much cheaper kids show: a Japanese anime series with massive commercial potential. Ruegger explained,
"Kids WB was handed Pokémon for free and it pulled down big numbers, so then they wanted everything for free."
Animaniacs cost Warner Bros. too much money to make and promote, so off it went.
At first glance, Todd McFarlane's animated Spawn series looked like a show for kids. But Spawn was based off of McFarlane's top-selling comic series, an extremely dark and violent story about a former assassin who gets killed by his boss, sent to Hell, and ends up working for Satan. Hardly family-friendly material.
Beavis and Butt-Head | 0:16
Animaniacs | 1:09
Spawn: The Animated Series | 2:02
Batman: The Animated Series | 2:45
The Critic | 3:50
Gargoyles | 4:52
Angry Beavers | 5:39
Dr. Katz | 6:37
Saturday morning cartoons | 7:35
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