5 Superb Cartoon Series Cancelled Too Soon
Nothing in this universe lasts forever: Money, that half-eaten egg salad sandwich in the back of the fridge, and—most importantly—cartoon shows. Several have come and gone over the years, but there’s a huge difference between a series finale and pulling the proverbial plug without notice. Which ones leave us crying into our pillows at night? Find out in “ 5 Superb Cartoon Series Cancelled Too Soon”! Good night, sweet princes of entertainment!
1) Invader Zim (2001)
Poor, poor Invader Zim. The delightfully demented brainchild of writer/artist Jhonen Vasquez—creator of the Johnny the Homicidal Maniac comic book series—the cartoon’s inaugural season was met with a positive reception, no doubt resulting from its biting humor and dark themes atypical of a Nickelodeon production. And then, suddenly, Invader Zim’s ratings took a sharp nosedive, with the network stating this and high production costs (87% of Nick's budget is, after all, allocated toward green slime imported from a Carpathian spring) contributed to its cancellation. Regardless, the series still maintains a devoted cult-status among fans.
2) Samurai Jack (2001)
A stunning animated masterpiece that combined elements from sci-fi, fantasy, and Asian cinema, Samurai Jack was the magnum opus of Dexter’s Laboratory creator Genndy Tartakovsky. The series was praised for its many hallmarks including plots that relied more on visual cues and smooth action sequences than dialogue to carry the story along. Not to mention an animation style devoid entirely of hard, black outlines. It was epic in every sense of the word, each episode an installment indicating a huge payoff... until Cartoon Network, in an asinine move, quietly cancelled it. As of this writing there's a Samurai Jack comic book series currently being published by IDW, though it's not quite the same.
3) Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? (2002)
The title for this long-gone series is apt given that people are still throwing their arms in the air and asking whatever happened to Robot Jones. It wasn’t a terrible show by any means, but Cartoon Network’s powers that be didn’t invest much enthusiasm into it as evidenced through spotty time slots and a piddly 13 episodes encompassing two seasons (Robot Jones’ creator, Greg Miller, actually stepped down from production duties due to these complications). Even in light of all that, the cartoon was an unappreciated gem for two reasons: 1) It was produced exclusively with old school cel animation, hence the overall Schoolhouse Rock-inspired design. And 2) Robot Jones was set entirely in 1980s suburbia, taking jabs at the pop culture of the decade years before its prominence in cartoons like Regular Show and The Amazing World of Gumball.
4) Sym-Bionic Titan (2010)
Another shred of evidence supporting the claim that Cartoon Network simply has it out for Genndy Tartakovsky—and hates loyal viewership—Sym-Bionic Titan was a second feather in the creator’s already crowded hat. The series, like Samurai Jack, was a hodgepodge of seemingly disparate elements coalescing into a greater whole, specifically high school dramas and mecha anime. Far from being obnoxious teeny bopper flare, the plots were engaging whilst doling out the comedic relief when necessary, to say nothing of the giant monster-on-robot action that predated Pacific Rim. So why cancel a show of this caliber on a cliffhanger? No toyline. Really.
5) Young Justice (2010)
The feeling experienced following the swift and out-of-left-field cancellation of Young Justice was on par with someone roundhouse kicking an ice cream sundae out of your hand—it hurt and it totally sucked. Not since the days of Justice League and its followup series, Justice League Unlimited, was there a DC Comics cartoon that captured the spirit of its predecessors while offering something fresh and new: A serious spotlight on the sidekicks behind some of our favorite heroes. But Cartoon Network, set in its absurd ways, gave Young Justice the axe, right before a third season geared to focus on Apokolips and, likely, Jack Kirby’s Fourth World.
Which cartoon would you like to see make a comeback?