Television shows that are marketed to children often befall the same headache-inducing trials and tribulations that shows marketed to a more adult demographic tend to suffer. Some people believe that it’s a little easier to keep a children’s show on the air due to numerous factors — such as the economic returns from advertised toys based on the show and how much a child is willing to consume so much of the televised product on a daily basis — but really, that can’t be further from the truth. At the end of the day, whether they’re directed toward children or not, a children’s TV show is still a TV show. And as a TV show, the production is often overseen by old, bald men in business suits who don’t a clue as to what they’re doing. For that reason, they often tend to make some dumb decisions while behind the scenes.
We never hold back from shedding light on the many terrible decisions some TV executives make behind the scenes, like leading shows to jump the shark. However, some of the worst things that execs have done is cancel a TV show for am absurd reason, and unfortunately, they often involve children’s programming. Here are the dumbest reasons for cancelling some of our favourite kid’s shows.
Long before he was the howling, grouchy, cowling, brooding bat of a man that we know him to be today, he was a cooky Adam West in a Batman costume going through wacky adventures in the 1960s. At the time, it was wildly popular, but ABC decided to cancel the show due to budget reasons since the show became far too expensive to produce. Hoping to keep the show on the air, the producers went to other networks to see if anyone was willing to pick up the scraps. NBC was willing to bring Batman to their network as long as the creators could bring the old props and sets. Unfortunately, the crew at ABC destroyed everything when they canceled the show, and since NBC wasn’t willing to spend money to build a whole new Batcave, the show stayed canceled.
The biggest appeal of Animaniacs at the height of the show’s popularity was the fact that the cartoon appealed to both kids and adults. It had all of the things that catered to children while having enough naughty inside jokes to keep older audiences howling with laughter. The show originally ran on Fox and Fox Kids, but halfway through the show’s run on the air, it moved to The WB. That’s when everything went downhill. While Fox put the show in timeslots for children and adults, WB put the show in a timeslot strictly for children. Because the show lost half of its audiences, its ratings suffered tremendously, and eventually, The WB canceled the show.
13. Megas XLR
Airing on Cartoon Network from 2004 until 2005, Megas XLR was about two slackers who stumbled upon a giant mecha robot from the future in a New Jersey junkyard. The mechanic of the two added a muscle car to the head of the robot and took it out on the town for wacky shenanigans. Imagine Kevin Smith taking his stoner sense of humor, making it accessible for children, and deciding to create an action anime out of it. The show managed to gain a strong fanbase, and when the pilot first aired, fans voted for the show to join the network’s timeslot. Unfortunately, those fans didn’t have enough power to keep the show on the air. The network canceled it to make room for the more successful show, Teen Titans. Ironically enough, Teen Titans was canceled a year later.
12. Teen Titans
During the height of its popularity, Teen Titans was one of the most-watched, critically acclaimed, and beloved shows on the Cartoon Network. Initially, when Cartoon Network first picked up the show and premiered it in 2003, they had planned to run the show for only four seasons, but it was so popular that it spawned a fifth season. There were even plans for a sixth, but instead, the network replaced it with a TV movie called Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo that served as the series finale. According to Wil Wheaton — who voiced Aqualad on the show — new executives for Warner Bros. Animation axed the show because of the season-six pitch. If this is true, then this show was canceled because the showrunners had ideas for season six that were considered too ambitious.
11. Lizzie McGuire
Prior to canceling Lizzie McGuire, Disney decided to use the motion picture The Lizzie McGuire Movie to close out the show’s universe. However, Disney did contemplate keeping the show on the air after the film, especially since the film was a success at the box office. The idea was to grow the show as its audience grew, with a new season following Lizzie in high school. The move makes a lot of sense in retrospect, but Disney balked out when Hilary Duff wanted a pay raise. Instead of compensating the star of one of Disney’s hottest shows in order to keep it on the air, Disney decided to just cancel it.
Cybersix was a rather unique show that aired in 1999 for 13 episodes that followed a female superhero whose secret identity was that of a male. Despite being a short-lived and somewhat forgotten show, it generated an incredibly dedicated and loyal fanbase after it got canceled despite the fact that there were plans in place to keep the show on the air for an additional two seasons. There were a few reasons why the show was canceled. For one, the rights of the show were conflicting between two studios battling over the rights until the show just evaporated. Another reason that made the show easier to cut was that some parents at the time perceived Cybersix as a transgender character and protested the show.
9. Invader Zim
Despite being one of the strangest shows to ever hit the Nickelodeon airwaves, Invader Zim also happened to be one of the most critically acclaimed ones in the network’s history. People rank it as one of the best cartoons to ever be canceled. In fact, long after the show’s cancellation, Invader Zim has become something of a cultural phenomenon, spawning its own fan convention — InvaderCON. Given the show has produced such a strong and loyal fanbase, it brings into question why the show was canceled to begin with. Apparently, Nickelodeon added Invader Zim to their timeslot because they wanted a show aimed at older audiences. Ironically enough, they cancelled it because too many adults were watching the show and not enough kids were tuned in. Good news is, the show is making a comeback with a TV movie — so stay tuned!
8. Courage The Cowardly Dog
One of the more fondly remembered animated shows to ever air on Cartoon Network is Courage the Cowardly Dog. As the theme song of the show explained in every episode, the premise followed the title character, a dog adopted by a nice old lady named Muriel and her grouchy husband, Eustace, and the three often find themselves in bizarre misadventures in the middle of nowhere. A season four episode titled “The Mask” featured a dog-hating masked woman named Kitty embroiled in an abusive domestic relationship with a Mad Dog of a boyfriend. When she escapes his clutches at the end of the episode, she and Bunny start a new life together in what mothers perceived was a lesbian symbolism. Believing such symbolism was too much for young eyes, they protested until Cartoon Network canceled the show.
7. Zoey 101
One of Nickelodeon’s most popular shows to air during the 2000s was Zoey 101. Zoey 101 starred Jamie-Lynn Spears as the title character as she transitioned to living on a boarding school campus away from home, meeting new friends and dealing with teen troubles. Nickelodeon gave the series the ax when Jamie-Lynn Spears got pregnant at the age of 16. This wasn’t the kind of behaviour or image that Nickelodeon wanted to promote in their characters or their actresses, and so, they opted to cancel the show. What makes this such a disappointing decision is that Nickelodeon wanted to use the show to portray a teenage girl growing up. A pregnant teenage girl isn’t portrayed on television often, but it happens. This could’ve been a bold move for Nickelodeon to show teenage audiences a story they could relate to.
Gargoyles was a successful show from the ’90s that did well for three seasons until Disney canceled it. In a special Q&A for fans on his website titled “ASK GREG,” Greg Weisman —one of the guys who created the show — revealed that the reason why Gargoyles was canceled was that despite being a hit, it wasn’t as successful as Disney was hoping. As Weisman explained, “It did well enough to the degree that it could be considered a hit… but Disney really wanted it to outdo Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and it failed to succeed at that.” Keep in mind that MMPR was probably the most popular kids show at the time. Disney basically canceled Gargoyles due to unrealistic expectations on their part.
5. Clarissa Explains It All
Clarissa Explains It All is the show that catapulted Melissa Joan Hart into fame long before Sabrina the Teenage Witch ever did. It was an immensely popular show on the Nickelodeon network that ran for five seasons until it was canceled in 1994. While initially satisfied with the remarkable success of the show, the network ended up going sour on the show when the title character turned 17 years old. The issue that the executive suits at Nickelodeon had was that even though Clarissa had gotten older, her audience was still young and thought they wouldn’t be interested in an older Clarissa even though it would make sense to keep the show on the air and allow the show to grow with its audience.
4. The Adventures Of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
For three seasons, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was one of the beloved and highest-rated shows on Nickelodeon. As a result, the network had plans to produce a fourth season, but they were scrapped after the production company that produced the show, DNA Productions, closed down after their film The Ant Bully bombed horribly at the box office. It’s truly a shame the way things turned out because stats show us that if this show hadn’t been canceled and continued on, it would’ve become the third longest-running Nicktoons series, right behind The Fairly OddParents and SpongeBob SquarePants.
3. Reading Rainbow
Reading Rainbow is arguably the most beloved and most important educational program to ever hit television airwaves. Some rank it higher than programs like Sesame Street and The Magic School Bus. For a lot of kids growing up, it was a major influence in convincing them to read and making them understand why reading is so fundamentally important. Unfortunately, under the George W. Bush administration, the Department of Education decided that reading wasn’t as important for children after all — not as important as teaching the basic semantics of reading like spelling. When the Department of Education was told to put more emphasis on that aspect of reading, reading itself took a backseat, and as consequence, Reading Rainbow was canceled.
2. Cousin Skeeter
One of the premiere sitcoms on TEENick’s late ’90s/early 2000s lineup was Cousin Skeeter. Bill Bellamy voiced the loudmouthed puppet who changed the life of his teenage cousin Bobby after moving to New York City from Atlanta to live with him. The plot unraveled around Skeeter’s hijinks as a ladies’ man and his intentions of teaching his younger cousin life lessons. It even included appearances from Skeeter’s celebrity friends, which saw cameo appearances from the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Usher. There’s an urban legend that the show was canceled because, during a crossover episode of Figure It Out where guests get blasted with green slime, the Skeeter puppet got slimed so badly that the slime couldn’t come out. Nickelodeon only had one puppet, and instead of spending money to make a new one, the show was canceled. It might be hard to believe, but no other reason has been given as to why the show ended after only three seasons.
1. Young Justice
To the surprise of everyone involved when the show first hit the airwaves, Young Justice turned out to be one of the most critically acclaimed shows run by the Cartoon Network in recent memory. It focused on the sidekicks of all the major DC Comics superheroes like Batman’s Robin, Superman’s Superboy, and Flash’s Kid Flash, forming a team of their own to combat evil. The show was pretty high in ratings and was especially popular with young girls. Unfortunately, Cartoon Network hoped to market the show to young boys, and since young boys weren’t as into it, the show was canceled. Thankfully, years later, Cartoon Network realized that was a dumb reason to cancel a show, and is planning on bringing it back in 2018. So keep your eyes peeled!
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