Children shows have several different rules than adult shows. A children’s show could be doing really well and becoming increasingly popular, but still get the axe due to some unforeseen reason. Regardless of loyal fanbases, children’s networks are incredibly cutthroat when having to choose which shows get to live and which ones should end.
There are plenty of children’s shows that end for stupid reasons. While many end because of low ratings, there are also a lot that end for other, more ridiculous reasons. The thing about children is that they grow up. One generation of kids is completely different from the next. As the generations change, so do the shows. Networks are in the entertainment business to make money, so they don’t care about which show is beloved and which isn’t. All they care about is which show makes money and which one is a waste of time.
Everyone’s favorite show has to end sometime, but there are a lot of shows that ended far too soon. The worst is when it’s a show that could have lasted much longer if there hadn’t been outside forces that caused it to abruptly end. This seems to happen too often to everyone’s favorite childhood shows.
Here are the 15 Childhood Shows Canceled For Stupid Reasons.
15. Young Justice
The incredibly successful Cartoon Network show Young Justice was about young superheroes living within the DC universe. The show was focused on the teenaged sidekicks of Justice League superheroes. A great aspect of this cartoon was that it had strong views on equality. They gave the girl characters interesting backstories, which brought in a lot of young female viewers. Unfortunately, this great effort to include strong female role models was the reason why the show was canceled.
There were a lot of fingers pointing at each other over who first claimed that female viewers weren’t as valued as male viewers. Either way, the reason was clear: someone with power wanted more male characters than females, and couldn’t see a way of working with both. Some say it was because the toys were marketed at boys, so the girl viewers were impacting toy sales. Others say that it was because Cartoon Network wanted to brand themselves as a network purely for boys.
Either way, Young Justice was canceled because too many young girls watched the show and that apparently was a bad thing. The good news is that it’s coming back soon after a long hiatus.
14. Hey Arnold!
Hey Arnold! was a cartoon focused on fourth grader Arnold and his group of friends living in a large city. The cartoon hadn’t reached the end when creator Craig Bartlett had some contract disputes with Nickelodeon. The network loved Bartlett and wanted him to work exclusively for them. Bartlett was in high demand at the time, so he wanted to work on more projects than the few he was doing for Nickelodeon.
This all occurred while the fifth season of Hey Arnold! was on air. The final episode of the season was supposed to involve Arnold learning about his parents. That episode was meant to be followed by Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie.
Thankfully, the movie is finally coming out this year. It would have been out sooner, though, if Nickelodeon hadn’t pressed the issue. Bartlett had enough and left the network while Hey Arnold! was still on air. The final episodes were out of order and on a scattered premiere schedule.
13. Danny Phantom
Nickelodeon brought Danny Phantom to life in 2004. The concept was creative: it was about a teenage boy who became half-ghost after making his way inside a ghost portal. While navigating high school life, Danny also had to deal with being a ghost.
It’s not like Danny Phantom had the best ratings. While it started out great, it began to flounder towards the end. It was going against some other great Nickelodeon shows at the time, such as Spongebob Squarepants, Drake and Josh, and Fairly Oddparents, to name a few. Danny Phantom was lost in the mix.
The cost of making Danny Phantom became too much for Nickelodeon and it was canceled in 2007. If the show had cost less to make, the outcome might have been different. It got to the point where Nickelodeon ended up refusing to pay for Danny Phantom’s advertising, and boxed the show out. The show’s creators tried to find another network to take the cartoon, but failed. They ended up using their last bit of money to give the show a series finale.
12. Double Dare/Family Double Dare
Double Dare was a Nickelodeon game show that premiered on air in 1986. It was Nickelodeon’s first ever game show. It involved two teams of kids competing against one other to win money and other prizes. The show sparked a lot of interest and inspired multiple versions. One of those versions was called Family Double Dare, which premiered on Fox.
Family Double Dare played on Saturday nights. Nickelodeon wanted the show to stay kid-focused, but Fox’s audience was families. After some arguing, Nickelodeon decided enough was enough and ended its Double Dare relationship with Fox. Family Double Dare was canceled after only a handful of shows. Nickelodeon took the reins back and continued the Double Dare show in its own way.
11. Reading Rainbow
PBS has created great shows such as Sesame Street, The Magic School Bus, and Reading Rainbow. Reading Rainbow was on the network for over twenty-five years. It was a show for children that focused on a love for reading. For each episode would choose a book and then go on an adventure inspired by that book. As the show’s audience grew, so did its cost. However, even though the show was expensive to make, this wasn’t the real reason the show ended.
Educational programs have changed throughout the years. Reading Rainbow was all about encouraging children to read and realize how great stories can be. When the Department of Education fell under the George W. Bush administration, the education system in the United States changed greatly. There was much more focus on the basic aspect of reading, rather than what reading has to offer. This resulted in Reading Rainbow getting the boot, as it was deemed “not educational enough.”
One of the reasons why Animaniacs was a great show for Fox was because it appealed to the whole family. Children loved its silly humor, while adults enjoyed the witty jokes that the show snuck in for their benefit. It also appealed to young adults. It was a win-win situation and was great for a network like Fox.
After some time, The WB took over Animaniacs and everything went downhill from there. The cartoon was set to a time block that was intended solely for children. This essentially caused the show to lose half of its audience. The ratings stayed high since many kids were still watching, but the show wasn’t doing what The WB had intended it to do. They began to slow down production of the show until it ended in 1998.
9. Zoey 101
Zoey 101 starred Jamie Lynn Spears as Pacific Coast Academy boarding school student Zoey Brooks. The show was on air from 2005 to 2008 and had tons of fans. It was about a group of friends who were dealing with growing up while being away from home.
Pacific Coast Academy was a boarding school that originally only allowed boys to attend. It was there that Zoey met Chase Matthews, who had a major crush on her. Viewers never found out if Zoey and Chase ended up together because the show was abruptly canceled.
While Zoey and Chase shared a kiss in the series finale, their fate remained unknown. The show was supposed to continue; it wasn’t until Jamie Lynn Spears found out she was pregnant at just sixteen years old that things changed. Nickelodeon didn’t want to promote any sort of support for the actress, so instead of trying to make it work, they immediately canceled Zoey 101.
8. Lizzie McGuire
Lizzie McGuire came to an end after The Lizzie McGuire Movie hit theaters. It was a natural close to the show, as Lizzie and her friends had just graduated from middle school. Miranda had disappeared and Lizzie realized she had feelings for Gordo. All was well in Lizzie’s world, but the audience wanted more.
Disney toyed with the idea of not canceling the show, and continuing with Lizzie in high school. It would have premiered on ABC instead of Disney Chanel and appeal to an older audience. Essentially, they wanted the show to grow with its viewers.
The reported problem was that the show’s star, Hilary Duff, couldn’t come to terms with the amount of money she was getting. Duff wanted a larger pay raise, and the company wasn’t willing to give it to her. The show was canceled organically, with Lizzie reaching the end of middle of school.
7. Megas XLR
A boy owning a giant robot is a pretty interesting premise, especially for a Cartoon Network show. Not only that, but it appealed to a broad audience. If you liked anime, robots, comic books, or anything else in that realm, you would probably like Megas XLR.
What’s interesting about this show was that Cartoon Network fans voted for it to become a cartoon on the network. Cartoon Network decided to air it, but they weren’t going to let the fans dictate everything.
Megas XLR was soon canceled because Cartoon Network wanted more air time for similar shows that its executives had backed, including Ben 10 and Teen Titans. All three shows had been doing well, but they decided to axe Megas XLR anyway, to make more room for the others. About a year after they canceled the show, Cartoon Network canceled Teen Titans as well.
6. Clarissa Explains It All
Clarissa Explains It All was a Nickelodeon show that aired from 1991 to 1994. The show followed Clarissa as she dealt with normal teenage girl issues, such as annoying little brothers, school problems, and wearing a training bra. What was great about it was that Clarissa would go in depth about why people did the things that they did. Clarissa would talk directly to the audience during parts of the show and give them insight.
Clarissa eventually turned seventeen years old, so, halfway through what ended up being the last season, executives canceled the show. Ratings were great, but they thought that Clarissa had gotten too old for the network. Even though Clarissa was older, however, her audience was a lot younger, so it actually worked out. Regardless, the network decided to end the show anyway.
Thankfully, the reruns are still on Hulu.
Doug had two homes: one on Nickelodeon and one on Disney Channel. The premise was simple– Doug lived his life and then wrote about it in his journal. He was in love with Patti Mayonnaise, had a dog named Porkchop, and a randomly blue friend named Skeeter.
The cartoon began in 1991 and ran for four seasons on Nickelodeon. It finally ended in 1994, when executives canceled it, claiming that it was becoming too expensive for them to continue. Disney ended up taking the project on, but they had to fire the original voice for Doug in order to diminish the show’s budget and make it more manageable.
While the Disney version of Doug lasted from 1996 through 1999, the show didn’t have the same sparkle as it had when it was on Nickelodeon. Most fans consider the Nickelodeon version to be the better one. Doug was eventually canceled for the second time.
4. Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters was a quirky show about three young monster friends who went to monster school. They spent episodes learning about how to scare humans and completing class assignments. The show was on Nickelodeon from 1994 to 1997.
The cartoon ended because there was a drastic change during the series. The show brought in darker elements and its executives believed that this was too much for children to handle.
In reality, kids loved it. Unfortunately, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters shifted directions, and became more similar to other, toned-down children’s shows. This was what resulted in the show’s ultimate downfall. If they had just kept everything how it was, it probably would have become even more of a success with children, and wouldn’t have been canceled.
3. Pinky and the Brain
Pinky and the Brain was canceled due to yet another concept change idea. The Simpsons was pretty big at the time and focused on an ensemble of characters. The WB came up with the idea to make Pinky and the Brain more focused on an ensemble of various characters, similar to The Simpsons. In order to do this, they needed to add another character to the duo.
Elmyra was a character from Tiny Toon Adventures, and creators decided to have her adopt the two laboratory mice. The show title changed from Pinky and the Brain to Pinky, Elmyra, and the Brain. The change didn’t go over well with audiences, and soon it was flat-out canceled. The show only lasted for thirteen more episodes after the change was made. A perfectly good show was ruined by the desire of executives to be like something else.
2. Pee-wee’s Playhouse
The reason Pee-wee’s Playhouse was canceled wasn’t a pretty one, to say the least. The show revolved around Pee-wee Herman and his childlike tendencies. The show was canceled due to low ratings in 1990. What happened in 1991, though, caused all of its reruns to be canceled as well.
Pee-wee was portrayed by Paul Reubens. While some episodes of Pee-wee’s Playhouse were still on air, Reubens was caught masturbating in a porn cinema in Sarasota, Florida. This caused CBS to cancel all rerun episodes of the show. Strangely, there was also a loud outcry for CBS to keep the show on air.
Reubens had to take time away from playing Pee-wee and couldn’t find much work for a while. In 2001, Reubens was arrested again for obtaining child pornography. His charges were dropped for lesser charges a couple of years after that.
It’s interesting that the character of Pee-wee is still around, even after the controversy surrounding Paul Reubens.
1. Invader Zim
Invader Zim was the strangest, funniest, and most random show on Nickelodeon. The series followed an alien named Zim who was on a mission to conquer planet Earth. Nickelodeon loved the idea of the show because they wanted to broaden their audience demographic. The goal was to hold on to an older, teen audience after they finished the younger shows.
However, Nickelodeon wasn’t easy to please. The network told them the creators that wanted a show aimed at an older audience, but then got rid of Invader Zim for that very same reason. Too many adults were watching the show, and Nickelodeon decided they didn’t want to attract this kind of attention.
There were a few other problems as well, such as budget issues, ratings issues, and work environment issues. It just wasn’t working, and neither the Invader Zim team nor Nickelodeon wished to continue. The series ended after the second season, though some of the season’s episodes were never aired.
There is a TV movie in the works, however, so this will hopefully give fans the conclusion that they’ve been waiting for.
Do you miss any of the childhood shows? Can you think of any others that were canceled for stupid reasons? Let us know in the comments!