Top 10 Cartoon Cancellations That Made Fans Rage Quit

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Top 10 Cartoon Cancellations That Made Fans Rage Quit

VOICE OVER: Andrew Tejada WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
Some of these cartoon cancellations still hurt today. For this list, we'll be looking at animated shows that got canned prematurely or for ludicrous reasons, causing fans to rage quit on the ill-advised networks that pulled the plug. Since we'll be talking about how some of these shows ended, a spoiler alert is in order. Our countdown includes “Gargoyles” (1994-97), “The Spectacular Spider-Man” (2008-09), “Teen Titans” (2003-06), and more!
Transcript
Script written by Nick Spake

Some of these cartoon cancellations still hurt today. For this list, we’ll be looking at animated shows that got canned prematurely or for ludicrous reasons, causing fans to rage quit on the ill-advised networks that pulled the plug. Since we’ll be talking about how some of these shows ended, a spoiler alert is in order. Our countdown includes “Gargoyles” (1994-97), “The Spectacular Spider-Man” (2008-09), “Teen Titans” (2003-06), and more! Which cartoon cancellation made you rage quit? Let us know in the comments.

#10: “Sonic the Hedgehog” (1993-94)


Premiering the same month as the syndicated “Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog,” this Saturday morning show took on a darker tone and sophisticated style. Over two seasons consisting of 26 episodes, “Sonic SatAM” - as some called it - developed a cult following. Although there were plans for a third season, ABC canceled the series. Why? Well, sharing the same time slot as “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” set “Sonic” up to fail and it didn’t help when sports preempted the show. Disney’s acquisition of ABC has also been blamed. The show left us on an enticing cliffhanger as Robotnik’s nephew Snively returns with a red-eyed fiend, who would’ve been revealed to be Naugus. Despite attempts at a rival and film continuation, Sonic remains stopped in his tracks.

#9: “Gargoyles” (1994-97)


Gothic, serialized, and Shakespearean, “Gargoyles” is one of the most unique shows in the Disney library. On one hand, we’re grateful creator Greg Weisman and company were able to give us 65 great episodes. Still, it’s hard not to dwell on the squandered potential that followed. The changing management at Disney, preempted coverage of the O. J. Simpson trial, and the struggle to match the popularity of “Power Rangers” spelled an untimely end for “Gargoyles.” While we did get a third season entitled “The Goliath Chronicles,” the switch from syndication to ABC brought creative restrictions that led to Weisman leaving the show after one episode. “Gargoyles” ended after this mixed season and Disney has yet to give fans the revival that they so desperately desire.

#8: “Pinky and the Brain” (1995-98)


Other than the world, “Pinky and the Brain” had it all: accolades, critical acclaim, and a loyal following. Alas, it wasn’t enough to satisfy the network. The higher-ups pushed the creators to expand upon the show’s world with more characters, i.e. more merchandising opportunities. The writers responded with two episodes. In “Pinky and the Brain… and Larry,” a third character comes and goes without contributing anything. “You’ll Never Eat Food Pellets In This Town Again!” went full meta as Brain clashes with the network, mirroring producer/writer Peter Hastings’ exit. Not long after, the show was replaced with “Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain,” much to the frustration of fans and the creative team. It’s what the network wanted, but it only lasted another season.

#7: “The Owl House” (2020-)


Created by Dana Terrace, “The Owl House” has achieved widespread acclaim for its humor, lore, and LGBTQ+ representation. With the show getting picked up for a second season before the series premiere, it appeared Disney was all in. When the third season was announced, though, fans were shocked to learn that they’d only be getting three 44-minute specials. With confirmation that this would be the final season, Terrace revealed that the show didn’t fit “into the Disney brand.” While many theorized this was due to its LGBTQ+ themes, Terrace attributed the premature ending to the show’s darker tone and older audience. In any case, the mentality that “The Owl House” didn’t fit the Disney mold ironically contradicts the show’s messages about individuality and challenging conformity.

#6: “Young Justice” (2010-)


Dramatically compelling, skillfully animated, and assembling a stellar voice cast, “Young Justice” lived up to its potential in every department that mattered… to viewers. To the people at the top, it fell short in the one department that matters above all else: the toy department. Speaking with Kevin Smith, Paul Dini speculated that “Young Justice” ended after only two seasons because many of its fans were female and executives ignorantly assume that only boys buy toys. While co-developer Greg Weisman claims that the female audience didn’t contribute to the cancellation, he did say that the third season deteriorated because Mattel ceased its toy line. As disappointed as fans were, “Young Justice” was revived several years later thanks to its growing popularity on streaming platforms.

#5: “Teen Titans” (2003-06)


Unfortunately, not every canceled DC animated show featuring Robin gets the revival it deserves. Just as its animation balanced western and eastern styles, “Teen Titans” mixed comedy and drama in ways that few other DC shows have. Why the show ended after five seasons and a TV movie has sparked debate. Some claim it was due to ratings, others say it was the increasingly dark tone, and many believe it boiled down to troubles with toy manufacturers. In any case, fans were enraged to see the show canceled, but they were even angrier that it got replaced with “Teen Titans Go!” Although fans would get the crossover film “Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans,” it still feels like a glass half empty.

#4: “Final Space” (2018-21)


“Final Space” caught many off guard, taking a comedic approach to sci-fi, but slowly evolving into an occasionally heartbreaking space opera with strong character development. Creator Olan Rogers aspired to tell the story over six seasons. Even if the show didn’t last that long, Rogers at least knew how he wanted it to end. He didn’t get to share that ending, however. Rogers and fans were blindsided when “Final Space” got canceled after Season 3, leaving numerous storylines unresolved. On Twitter, Rogers blamed the cancellation on the merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery. He also released an emotional video elaborating on the cancellation and what the series meant to him. It’s tragically ironic that a show called “Final Space” left us without a sense of finality.

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


You might’ve noticed a recurring theme with Greg Weisman. He’s developed one great show after another, but something always gets in the way. “The Spectacular Spider-Man” may be the most infuriating case. With intricate storytelling and rich takes on classic characters, this had the potential to be the definitive Spider-Man animated series. With Disney’s acquisition of Marvel, however, the Sony-produced series got caught in a web of legal confusion. Although Weisman aspired to produce five seasons with direct-to-video movies interspersed, fans had to settle for two seasons without any resolution. You may see #SaveSpectacularSpiderMan trending on Twitter from time to time. For anyone still keeping their fingers crossed for a continuation, though, it’s unlikely that all the necessary pieces will fall into place.

#2: “Duckman” (1994-97)


Ahead of its time in many respects, “Duckman” gave us four seasons of rapid-fire dialogue and biting satire. Although the series centered on a duck, the finale was like a game of chicken between the network and the showrunners. With a fifth season highly unlikely, the writers ended with the revelation that Duckman’s wife is still alive, Cornfed knew all along, and a “To be continued…” followed by a question-mark. While this had fan interest at an all-time high, “Duckman” has yet to be revived in any capacity. Even if the series had continued, the writers didn’t have a Part II mapped out. Decades later, the lack of closure still fuels fans with rage. But now we know how Duckman feels on a regular basis.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Danny Phantom” (2004-07)


We’d Love to Go Ghost With Danny Just One More Time

“Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures” (1987-88)


A Show That Launched So Many Prolific Careers Deserved More Episodes

“The Critic” (1994-95)


It Stinks… The Cancelation That Is, The Show Gets a Big Thumbs Up

“Sym-Bionic Titan” (2010-11)


Again, Why Must Everything Be About Toy Sales?

“Infinity Train” (2019-21)

Four Seasons Isn’t Infinity

#1: “Bone” (Unreleased)


While the other shows on this list got cut down during their prime, at least they all gave us some terrific episodes. “Bone” wasn’t even given the opportunity to do that. Running from 1991 to 2004, Jeff Smith’s award-winning independent comic series had the artistry, characters, and genre-bending story to deliver a phenomenal animated series. In 2019, it appeared fans would finally get the show they always wanted with an animated Netflix adaptation being announced. A couple of years passed without any major developments. Then in April 2022, news broke that Netflix Animation would be scraping multiple anticipated projects, including “Bone.” We’d like to think that a “Bone” animated series will find a home somewhere. By that point, though, our bones might be dust.
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