Cartoon Network is one of the reasons so many people, including myself, have such a fond memory and passion for animation. They were one of the three main sources of cartoons for American audience alongside Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.
While the animated motion picture market was, and still is, dominated mostly by Disney; Nick and Cartoon Network have been battling it out for the tops spot in the television department for nearly three decades now.
Nick was king in the early 1990s with shows like Doug and Rugrats, but after the success of their early shows like Space Ghost Coast to Coast and The Moxy Show, the Turner owned company began making waves.
On February 20, 1995, the first episode of What a Cartoon! aired and went through many name changes such as The What a Cartoon! Show and later to The Cartoon Cartoon Show. While it was successful in its own right, this block is known best for one reason: launching almost all of the classics we remember from our childhood.
Early examples of those launches are the original Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo and Dexter’s Laboratory just to name a few. It was also some of the first work for now renowned animators such as Genndy Tartakovsky, Craig McCracken, Rob Renzetti, Butch Hartman, and John R. Dilworth.
Fun fact: Seth MacFarlane was one of the original workers for The Cartoon Cartoon Show and while working there his biggest work, Family Guy, was one of the many shows he got started through it.
After the shorts and pilots from the show saw success, the network picked them up full time and even with the cultural phenomenon that was and still is SpongeBob SquarePants, Cartoon Network dominated the late 90s and early 2000s with their memorable and most iconic shows like Ed, Edd, and Eddy and Codename: Kids Next Door.
But we aren’t here to reminisce on the good old days. No, we are here to talk about the future and how things look for the iconic network.
With staple shows of the past few years like Regular Show ending, the finale aired on January 16, 2017, people are questioning what shows will fill the coming void.
Clarence is currently airing its final season and with Adventure Time being canceled earlier in the year, both shows will continue showing new episodes through 2018, that opens two more gaps in programming.
The obvious answers would be show more of their older properties in those slots, which would provide reasons for long-time fans to enjoy their favorite shows from years gone by.
This answer is unlikely due to the ever-changing TV rating system that some of their older programming do not abide by anymore.
Classics like Johnny Bravo and Codename: Kids Next Door would likely be fine, but others such as Cow and Chicken or The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy might be viewed in a different light.
An example of this is the recently finished fifth season of the classic Samurai Jack being aired on Adult Swim rather than Cartoon Network proper. This might be due to Tartakovsky, the creator of Samurai Jack, wanting to show more graphic imagery, but the fact remains that the older episodes would likely be moved to the late-night programming block too if they were to be shown.
The success of bringing Jack back shows that there is a market for the older shows. However, Cartoon Network has tried to bring shows back in their own way, to varying degrees of success.
The first of the bunch, Teen Titans Go! premiered back in 2013 and has become one of their most popular shows, taking up a large amount of CN’s air time for one show already. When the show first aired, it was met back with backlash from fans of the original Teen Titans show, which finished its run in 2006.
The drastic change in art style, writing and focus of the show led to many fans feeling betrayed by Cartoon Network. A big reason for this was the advertising that went into the show, treating it as if it was a spiritual successor when in fact it is a comedy show aimed for a much younger demographic.
The show has become a marketing boom for CN and takes up nearly half of the network’s air time during certain down weeks when additional content is lacking. Older fans of the original have slowly grown to tolerate or in some cases enjoy certain episodes of the show over the years, which is good, since the show appears to be around to stay for the long-term.
In a similar vein, the 2016 reboot of the classic series The Powerpuff Girls was met with nearly universal panning from fans of the original and new fans alike. Gone was the action packed, character driven show of old. Instead the show pandered to a younger and broader audience with the intent of merchandising at the forefront.
This led to writers putting in references and jokes that were only received well by their target demographic. This means it was successful in the area they wanted it to be and made a profit, meaning we will likely see more of it in the future.
After being burned twice by CN on these reboots, fans were right to be wary of the 2016 Ben 10 reboot which looked to bring many of the same things to the table. A simpler art style, focus on young children and marketable characters.
It was met with slightly better press, but nothing that truly pleased both the new and returning viewers.
With more shows like Teen Titans Go! Likely in the works for the future, what else can viewers both young and old look forward to?
For the older viewers, Steven Universe is liable to be around for a longtime to come due to the loyal and active fanbase the show holds.
Both Uncle Grandpa and The Amazing World of Gumball, which despite losing its lead writers and creators from the program, will be returning for more episodes.
We Bare Bears, a surprisingly deep and funny show about three different bears living together, seems to be sticking around.
Mighty Magiswords, the network’s first online original series that began as a short for their website and mobile app, is now a full fantasy-comedy series for their television broadcast.
Other shows like Justice League Action, Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, Transformers: Robots in Disguise and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: The Series will also be airing for the network.
Ironically, the only show they air that has ended frequently is Tom and Jerry Tales, a show that ended in 2008, which makes sense because of the Tom and Jerry brand being a staple of Cartoon Network’s programming despite not being of their own creation.
The only show of note that is confirmed for a release this year is OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes, a show that, like Mighty Magiswords, began as an online short series and will now be getting a full show.
So, while you might not see any old favorites hanging around on Cartoon Network, unless you are a fan of the reboots or Tom and Jerry, there are plenty of bright spots for new and old fans alike to sit back and enjoy for the years to come.
And for all you old-timers who can’t stand these “newfangled animation” … there is always Boomerang.