The Best Animated Series That Got Canceled Too Soon

It’s always a tragic thing to see a project made with much love and care be canceled before it can really take off. While there are some series lasting so long that people debate on when it could possibly end (The Simpsons), others meet the unfortunate fate of being snuffed out prematurely. Whether it be from network disputes, poor ratings, bad time slots, or all of the above, fans of animation seem to always be able to cite their own particular examples of a show that ended too soon.

In the current age of reboots and revivals, each entry on this list may not have to lay dormant forever, with certain examples already having been brought back in some form. Despite this, the sour feelings left from their initial unexpected conclusions can still tend to linger, as fans never got to see how things would’ve been had the curtain not fallen early. Here’s our picks for the best cartoons that died too young.


6 The Oblongs

Lasting only 13 episodes, 2001’s The Oblongs was an episodic comedy released on The WB, and later airing reruns through Adult Swim. The show centered around the titular family, who all were in some way mutated by the radioactive waste that they happen to be surrounded by. Though the initial pitch by creator Angus Oblong was popular enough to incite a bidding war among three networks for the rights, the show failed to garner enough viewershipand was pulled from The WB with five episodes yet to have aired.

Related: Marvel’s MODOK Canceled at Hulu After One Season

The show would gain relative popularity through its reruns on Adult Swim, which also aired the remaining five episodes. Charming designs paired well with the talented voice cast, sporting the likes of Will Ferrell and an excellent Pamela Adlon as main characters. Themes of family values ​​and stark social commentaries also help the cartoon maintain a fresh voice even two decades later, leading this to be one toxic family that’s worth revisiting.

5 Dave the Barbarian

Though another episodic comedy, Dave the Barbarian was aimed more towards younger audiences, airing on the Disney Channel from 2004-2005 for a total of 21 episodes. A royal family from the Middle Ages protects their kingdom from evil while the King and Queen are away, to varied degrees of success. Fast-paced jokes featuring constant fourth wall-breaking humor made the cartoon seem almost too ahead of its time, and despite critical praise, was pulled off the air due to low ratings.

Being a more untraditional style of show than what was typically airing on the network, Dave the Barbarian often gets overlooked when fans think of the best animated series on Disney Channel during the era, though is still appreciated by those looking for something a bit more on the weird side to satisfy their Disney fix.

4 Sym-Biotic Titan

Moving away from the comedy genre, Sym-Biotic Titan was a short-lived action adventure series airing on Cartoon Network in 2010, having only made it to 20 episodes. Three aliens from a war-torn planet find themselves having to pose as high school students in order to keep their identities hidden away from those who would attempt to destroy them. A critical and audience darling at the time, it seemed as if its cancelation was entirely unfoundedthough speculations have been passed around that Cartoon Network’s inability to acquire licensing for an accompanying toy line to be the leading theory to the show’s end.

Fans still hold out hope that creator Genndy Tartakovsky will revisit the project, especially after the animation director has done the same for other cartoons he had created (and even more so, considering that ten additional episodes had been fully written before the cancellation took place) . A tragic end, though one that might not be forever.

3 Samurai Jack

Another of Genndy Tartakovsky’s creations, and arguably the most popular alongside Dexter’s Laboratory. Samurai Jack stood out in a big way among the playful comedies airing on Cartoon Network during the early 2000s, though despite enjoying critical and audience praise was canceled before it could reach its long-awaited conclusion. Luckily for fans, a final season was released in 2017 to provide an ending to the narrative Tartakovsky had created years prior.

Related: Best Samurai Jack Episodes, Ranked

Though having found its conclusion and rectified its initial cancellation, a 13-year gap still took place before the airing of the last episodes, one that drove fans crazy wondering when and how the animated series would wrap up the feud between the time-traveling samurai and the evil demon Aku.

2 Teen Titans

Being another success for action adventure animated series at the time, Teen Titans made a big splash when airing on Cartoon Network in 2003, having a respectable run of five seasons including 65 episodes. While this is in no way to be considered a short run, what makes this cancellation so frustrating to many fans is its choice to leave the characters on a dreaded cliffhanger. Though the ending tease would be followed up upon in later comic book continuationsit still would not be the same for those awaiting the proper animated conclusion.

Though widely panned by the original fans, a comedy reinterpretation of the characters would find massive success in the younger crowds, with Teen Titans Go! While the Teen Titans may remain in the public eye in some form, their original action-oriented counterparts still have many clamoring for their return.

1 Clone High

What is perhaps the most talked about example of an unjust cancelation within the animation community would be the likes of MTV’s Clone High. Following the lives of high school students that happen to be clones of famous historical figures, the show would see its demise after a large-scale scandal surrounding its depiction of Gandhi as a teenage womanizing rapper. MTV executives eventually got cold feet and pulled the show from air, hoping to avoid any further controversy, and rejecting creator Christopher Miller’s ideas of either removing the character, or revealing him to actually be the clone of Gary Coleman.

Many years and fan theories later, a reboot of the cartoon is officially in the works at MTV, hoping to finally continue the story of the show’s one and only season. Being a big relief to fans as they eagerly await the release, the new series will hopefully help continue to inspire other unfinished animated works to get their second chances to be appreciated.

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