Shows aimed at children and pre-teens usually have a light-hearted tone and emphasis on lessons compared to their adult counterparts. Kids’ shows usually have a long life-span due to their loyal fan-base, profits from supplemental merchandise, and general artistic consistency. However, when push comes to shove, networks will cancel any show if it turns out that the product isn’t meeting the company’s standards and views.
Since most shows aimed at kids usually feature children or young adults, networks make sure that the stars they employ meet their standards, to make the shows feels more grounded or relatable. Even more so, they make sure the messages they’re portraying are relevant and have commercial value.
Most shows get canceled because of low-ratings, but some are canceled for shocking reasons involving the stars or the content of the show. When it comes to kids’ shows, the image of the network is key, and if any component of the show doesn’t fit the image, they’re immediately canceled.
Whether they were canceled due to stars acting out of line, behind-the-scenes drama, or the wrong fan base attached to the show, here are 15 Kids’ Shows That Were Canceled For Shocking Reasons.
15. Zoey 101
Zoey 101 was one of the most popular shows on Nickelodeon thanks to its ensemble cast and unique premise that focused on teenagers living at a beautiful boarding school. Starring Jamie Lynn Spears as the titular Zoey, the show dealt with themes such as growing up, finding friends in a new environment, and teen love.
One of the core components of the show was the back-and-forth between Zoey and Chase, with the latter having a huge crush on the former. However, audiences never found out if they got together because the show was unfortunately canceled due to unforeseen events in real life.
Spears, who was 16, found out that she was pregnant, and the network didn’t want to associate Zoey’s “good girl” look with Spears choice. The show was abruptly canceled. Unfortunately, the world will never find out if Zoey and Chase ended up together.
14. Young Justice
Young Justice is considered by many to be one of the greatest animated superhero shows of all time, which makes its cancellation even more mind-boggling. The show was praised for its use of mature themes and emphasis on diversity and equality in a genre that didn’t focus on it.
Despite positive reception from fans and critics alike, the show was canceled for two shocking reasons. The first reason was that the show wasn’t goofy enough, and secondly, too many girls were watching it.
The network wanted an emphasis on storylines that appealed to boys because boys were more likely to purchase action figures, as opposed to girls. In turn, boys would more likely watch a show with goofy and funny elements, as opposed to mature storylines like the ones that were on display.
13. Reading Rainbow
It’s rare for the US government influences the cancellation of a show, but that was exactly the case for the iconic educational TV series Reading Rainbow. The show was on the air for over two decades and was the receiver of over two hundred broadcasting awards thanks to its educational content and its influence on the youth.
Reading Rainbow encouraged children to read and focused on a new theme every week. The show focused on how powerful and influential reading is, not how essential it was, which was what rubbed executives the wrong way when George W. Bush became president.
Under the Bush administration, there was a higher emphasis on the basic function of reading as opposed to reading for enjoyment and to foster one’s imagination. Reading Rainbow was canceled because it taught kids what reading would do for them, as opposed to teaching them how to read.
Way before the Kidz Bop was all the rage in North America, British audiences had the chance to revel in Minipops. Airing in the early ’80s, the show was targeted toward children and preteens and focused on young children singing classic and contemporary songs.
The main gimmick of the show was that the children were made to look like the original performers, right down to the clothing. Apparently no one at the British network Channel 4 realized that this would end horribly, and the series was given a one season order of six episodes.
Unfortunately, parents realized that the children were singing songs with suggestive lyrics that clearly weren’t meant to be heard by children. Furthermore, adults didn’t appreciate that the children on the show were doused in make-up and wearing clothes that no one their age should be wearing. Channel 4 heard the pleas of parents and canceled the show immediately.
11. Pinky And The Brain
Pinky and the Brain originally stemmed from the animated classic Animaniacs as recurring characters but the duo were so successful that they were given their own show. Focusing on the misadventures of two genetically engineered mice of vastly different intelligence levels, the show was a crowd-pleaser and received generally consistent ratings.
Studio executives wanted to broaden the audience for the show and wanted a more ensemble nature to the show, akin to Animaniacs. To fulfill the network’s decision, the show was retooled and retitled Pinky, Elmyra & The Brain. The show now took place in an entirely different setting and had a new tone, which led to fans abandoning the show.
Realizing that the show had lost its appeal, the show was flat-out canceled after 13 episodes, as opposed to going back to its original setting. In the end, Pinky and the Brain was simply a show that ran out of steam thanks to network meddling.
10. Sam & Cat
Sam And Cat was destined to succeed, as it was a spin-off from two of Nickelodeon’s most popular shows: iCarly and Victorious. The show focused on the two titular characters becoming roommates and eventually running their own babysitting company. The spin-off was an immediate success, thanks to the performances of the lead cast and the writing that fans had come to love.
A second season was announced, but things quickly fell apart for a bevy of reasons. The first reason can be attributed to both stars, who reportedly had a feud that ultimately couldn’t be resolved. In addition, McCurdy, who played Sam, was in a salary dispute with the network.
To top things off, leaked suggestive pictures of McCurdy were made available online, which led to the studio pulling the plug on the show, realizing that all the trouble they had gone through wasn’t worth it.
9. Sonny With A Chance
The Disney Channel show Sonny with a Chance was essentially a vehicle for Demi Lovato to show off her comedic acting chops. Focusing on an ensemble cast who worked on a sketch show titled So Random, the series was a show within a show, and the formula seemed to work, with positive reception coming from all sides.
Lovato’s fame as a singer was rising, and as the show was airing, she went on tour to promote her two studio albums. During the tour, she ended up punching one of her backstage dancers, which led her to check herself into rehab to get some much-needed help.
Realizing that the show couldn’t continue without Lovato, Disney canceled the show as Sonny With A Chance but kept the sets and principal characters and rebranded the show as So Random! Eventually, So Random! was canceled with only one season under its belt, likely because star Tiffany Thorton got pregnant.
8. Prank Stars
Mitchell Musso was at the height of his fame when he was working on Prank Stars, a show that would pair children and teenage fans with their favorite Disney stars to pull off pranks. By then, Musso was right off the heels of Hannah Montannah and was starring on the popular Pair of Kings.
However, Musso’s claim to fame slowly diminished as he was charged with a D.U.I in 2011. Seeing as Musso was on two of Disney’s most popular shows, the network decided he didn’t best represent their “child-friendly” brand no longer and severed all ties with him.
7. Good Luck Charlie
Good Luck Charlie was one of the most mature Disney Channel shows at its time, as it focused on serious issues teens faced, and allowed families to have an open discourse regarding each episode’s content. Beyond that, it was light-hearted and hilarious, which made it a sure-fire hit.
The show decided to include a lesbian couple for an episode, which was a first for the Disney Channel. Many praised the show and the network for its progressive attitude, but with every positive comes a negative. Others railed against the inclusion of the couple and boycotted the show and Disney.
To make matters worse, the titular Charlie, played by then 5-year old Mia Talerico was receiving death threats on her social media accounts. While there isn’t an explicit correlation regarding the inclusion of the couple and the death threats, it’s fair to assume they were the threats were sent because of Disney’s choice. Disney pulled the plug on the show instead of dealing with the fallout and risking their young star’s life.
Victorious was the brainchild of Dan Schneider, a producer who was best known for Drake & Josh, Kenan and Kel, The Amanda Show, and iCarly. With Schneider’s humor and power at Nickelodeon, Victorious was poised to be the next big thing, and it truly was, as it received acclaim from fans of the network and considerable ratings.
Focusing on Victoria Justice’s character of Tori who goes to a Arts high-school, the show featured an ensemble cast that included Ariana Grande. The show was canceled after only 3 seasons (with the third season being split in half to make four), and fans were quick to blame the spin-off Sam & Cat as the show’s nail in the coffin.
It turns out that the spin-off was going to air regardless, and the real reason the show ended was because Justice wanted to focus on bigger and better things, which led to her exiting the show as the main star. Nickelodeon allowed it, as they already had Sam & Cat on the horizon.
5. Batman (1960s)
One of the most memorable interpretations of the caped crusader, Batman was a huge crowd-pleaser in the late sixties. Starring Adam West and Burt Ward, the show was campy, hilarious, and had the right amount of emotion. Despite being initially popular, the show’s ratings continued to drop, leading ABC to cancel the show.
ABC also decided to cancel the show thanks to its expensive budget and emphasis on special effects. Knowing that Batman was a household name, the creators shopped around for a network, eventually settling on NBC. The network was game so long that the creators provided the show’s original sets and props.
It turned out that during the show’s phase in limbo, crew members destroyed the expensive set and all the props that came along with it. The show proved too costly to resurrect and NBC decided to call off the project, leading to its definitive cancellation.
3. Pee-Wee’s Playhouse
Pee-Wee Herman is still considered to be one of the greatest characters to appear on a children television show, though the same can’t be said for the actor who portrayed him, Paul Reubens. Pee-Wee was already a household name in the ’80s, but the character’s magnum opus is considered to be the television show Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
The show was already canceled in 1990 due to low ratings and Reubens’ choice to leave. However, all re-runs from the show were canceled by CBS because Reubens’ was found exposing himself in a adult theatre in 1991. The controversy led to the show being pulled from stations and Reubens’s reputation was temporarily demolished.
3. Invader Zim
During the early 2000s, Nickelodeon wanted more mature storytelling on their network. They specifically wanted to attract the eleven to fifteen year old demographic, and knowing that preteens love space, they created Invader Zim with them in mind. The show was weirder and darker than what most expected from the relatively tame Nickelodeon, but it still fared well critically and the demographic the network sought was there.
Ironically, Nickelodeon decided that this demographic didn’t suit them anymore, as older adults started watching the show as well. Along with issues regarding the show’s budget and declining ratings from children, Nickelodeon decided to pull the show, with many episodes from season two never airing on the network.
2. Wizards Of Waverly Place
The show that brought Selena Gomez to the limelight and made her a household name was none other than Wizards of Waverly Place. The show focused on three children being taught by their parents how to be wizards and succeed in the wizarding world. The show was a critical and commercial success and Disney capitalized on it on almost every front with video games, toys, and a Disney Channel Original Movie.
Apparently, Gomez was growing weary of the show’s tame nature and wanted to express herself in more profound and mature ways. She decided it would be best to leave the network and focus on her thriving film career and budding musical career.
1. Danny Phantom
Danny Phantom was one of the most unique and bold animated shows to air on Nickelodeon. While most animated shows on the network had a higher emphasis on comedy and slapstick humor, Danny Phantom subverted expectations by delivering a product that had a distinctive look and somewhat mature storylines.
Focusing on a teenager who could become a half-ghost to solve ghost-crimes, the show didn’t meet expectations when it came to ratings. However, those who enjoyed the show remained loyal all the way through its end.
The cost of the show was exponential when compared to the ratings it received, and by the time the show hit its three year anniversary, the show was unceremoniously canceled. As opposed to leaving the show on a cliffhanger, creator Butch Hartman used to its remaining budget to deliver a series finale that was well received by fans.
Were you a fan of any of these shows? What other kids’ shows were canceled for shocking reasons? Let us know in the comments!
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