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Top 10 Cartoons That Were Cancelled For Ridiculous Reasons

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Sean Aitchison
Ever wonder what happened to your favorite cartoons? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Cartoons That Were Cancelled for Ridiculous Reasons. For this list, we’ll be looking at animated series that were suddenly or tragically cancelled despite high ratings and glowing reviews. That means we’re overlooking shows that were justifiably cancelled after low viewership and/or poor reception. With that, let’s get started.
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Ever wonder what happened to your favorite cartoons? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Cartoons That Were Cancelled for Ridiculous Reasons.

For this list, we’ll be looking at animated series that were suddenly or tragically cancelled despite high ratings and glowing reviews. That means we’re overlooking shows that were justifiably cancelled after low viewership and/or poor reception. With that, let’s get started.


#10: “The Angry Beavers” (1997-2001)


These days, cartoons can have a lot more fun with meta humor and breaking the fourth wall than they used to. During the time that “Angry Beavers” was airing, this was not the case, as a pitch for a particularly meta episode ended up killing the show. After hearing word of imminent cancellation, the crew decided to go all out, pitching, writing, and even recording rough audio for an episode in which Norbert and Daggett discover that they’re cartoons, which led their entire reality to fall apart as they got cancelled. Nickelodeon didn’t appreciate the not-so-subtle jabs that the episode made towards the studio and promptly cancelled the series before production was complete.




#9: “Green Lantern: The Animated Series” (2012-13)


Bruce Timm is a legend in the world of superhero animation, developing, writing, and doing designs for what is arguably the best shared universe of all time, the DC Animated Universe, all starting with “Batman: The Animated Series.” He also helped to create “Green Lantern: The Animated Series,” a critically praised cartoon that was cancelled far too early. The series premiered not long after the live-action “Green Lantern” movie and quickly got the axe due to the film’s failure, low merch sales and an unfair call that resulted in the show’s criminally short run.


#8: “Animaniacs” (1993-98)


Very early on, it was made clear that “Animaniacs” wasn’t quite made for kids. There was a lot of adult humor, there were tons of sexual innuendos, and the overall content had mature references and context. The show’s move from Fox Kids to Kids’ WB only helped the series’ adult appeal grow, increasing ratings exponentially. However, the high number of adult viewers didn’t sit well with Kids’ WB, since it was outside of the show’s targeted demographic. As a result, WB started ordering less and less episodes, eventually ending “Animaniancs” in 1998.




#7: “Clone High” (2002-03)


Easily one of the strangest cartoon premises of all time, “Clone High” followed teenaged clones of famous historical figures as they navigated the hurdles of everyday high school, as well as some stranger, more off-the-rails hurdles. Amongst the many students attending Clone High was a clone of Mahatma Gandhi, whose depiction sparked massive controversy in India, leading to protests and hunger strikes to get the show cancelled. The protestors were justified in their complaints, but what was ridiculous was that Viacom didn’t care to move forward with a Gandhi-less version of the series, despite a growing following.




#6: “Courage the Cowardly Dog” (1999-2002)


We’re not exactly sure when the term “nightmare fuel” actually came about, but it retroactively became the best way to describe one of Cartoon Network’s most horrifying series of all time, “Courage the Cowardly Dog.” The show featured all kinds of crazy monsters, spirits, curses, and other supernatural forces that plagued Courage and the town of Nowhere, Kansas. Apparently, the network thought these creepy happenings were a bit too scary, as the disturbing content most likely led to the show’s cancellation, despite it being the core of the cartoon’s premise.




#5: “Invader Zim” (2001-06)


“Invader Zim” was an incredibly dark and disturbing cartoon, but the show’s mature content ended up attracting a lot of ratings from older audiences, leading it to become one of Nickelodeon’s most popular and well-received series. However, Nick opted to focus on their usual core demographic of younger viewers, a choice that resulted in the series’ cancellation. Fortunately, it was announced that “Invader Zim” would receive a TV movie in 2018, thanks in no small part to the cult status the series gained through reruns and DVDs.




#4: “The Spectacular Spider-Man” (2008-09)


There’s no shortage of “Spider-Man” cartoons, but many agree that one stands above the rest, “The Spectacular Spider-Man.” Developed by Greg Weisman and Victor Cook, this series was a perfect amalgamation of all the best parts of Spider-Man, taking specific inspiration from the Ditko and Romita Sr. eras of the character. However, despite the cartoon’s popularity and critical praise, it was cancelled after only two seasons. This was mostly due to Disney’s buyout of Marvel, which caused the TV rights of Spider-Man to revert from Sony back to Marvel, effectively killing the series.

#3: “Danny Phantom” (2004-07)


With cartoons, cancellation usually comes down to budget. Animation is extremely expensive and “Danny Phantom” was no different. The show was reportedly frequently over budget, so much so that Nick refused to continue funding it, though they did allow creator Butch Hartman the chance to shop it around to other networks. However, due to the show’s poor ratings at the time, no network wanted to take the risk, and thus Hartman used the remaining budget to give “Danny Phantom” a proper ending rather than leave fans with a cliffhanger.


#2: “Futurama” (1999-2013)


“Futurama” is one of the most beloved animated series of all time, known for its hilarious and ridiculous depiction of the future, as well as its deeply dramatic and heartbreaking episodes. Yet, despite being so loved, the series had quite a rough road, with Fox not broadcasting new episodes for a time and even refusing to purchase them before finding its final home on Comedy Central. The reason for its initial unofficial cancellation was because Fox failed to keep a consistent airing schedule, making it hard for fans to predict when new episodes would air, causing low ratings and ultimately leading to its going out of production.


#1: “Young Justice” (2010-13)


As we’ve mentioned, animation is incredibly expensive, and the way that most networks get funding is through toy sales. The downside to this arrangement is that an animated series’ lifespan can be entirely determined by said toy sales. Like “Teen Titans” and “Sym-Bionic Titan” before it, “Young Justice” fell victim to issues with toy sales. The alleged problem was that the toys were only marketed towards boys, and because a large number of girls watched “Young Justice,” their sales were much lower than intended. Mattel then cancelled the toy line, cutting the show’s funding and eventually leading to its demise, despite massive popularity and raving reviews. In a rare but fortunate turn of events, fans were able to convince Warner Bros. to revive the series, with a third season "Young Justice: Outsiders" set to air in 2019.
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