Parting Words to the Saturday Morning Cartoon Block

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On September 27, 2014, the CW Network aired its two-hour Saturday cartoon block, aptly named Vortexx, for the last time. Under different circumstances, it wouldn’t be such a big deal that you wouldn’t catch new episodes of Digimon Fusion anymore. Thing is, the CW was the last over-the-air television network to feature Saturday morning cartoons, so their conclusion of Vortexx led to a sad truth: Saturday morning cartoons are dead.

Saturday morning cartoons, RIP, cancelled, Disney XD, Hub Network, Cartoon Network, Teletoon, Animaniacs, Transformers, Scooby-Doo, Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, Woody Woodpecker, KidsWB!, Fox Kids, ABC One's Saturday Morning

Pictured: The Saturday Morning Memorial Graveyard, home to KidsWB!, Fox Kids, and ABC One’s Saturday Morning. Not Pictured: The gravesite of whatever UPN thought was a good idea at the time.

The advent of the Saturday morning cartoon stems from the 1960s, where TV networks looked to captivate a young audience, and advertisers looked to market to the same group. Cartoons were the way to go over live-action shows thanks to their popularity with children, but it also helped that the shows employed actual voice actors — dirt cheap compared to their on-camera kin. Nabbing cartoons made popular in movie theaters (Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, Woody Woodpecker, to name a few) was a viable option to fill empty time slots too. So with a base of affordable original cartoons, a dash of re-aired cartoons from the movie theaters, and a sprinkling of kids’ commercials, a television tradition was birthed.

Saturday morning cartoons, RIP, cancelled, Disney XD, Hub Network, Cartoon Network, Teletoon, Animaniacs, Transformers, Scooby-Doo, Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, Woody Woodpecker, KidsWB!, Fox Kids, ABC One's Saturday Morning

Since then, millions of television-viewing kids have witnessed incredible moments. They have seen Scooby-Doo and the gang solve the mystery of the haunted pirate ship. They have seen Optimus Prime and the Autobots defend their fair share of Energon cubes from the evil Decepticons. They have seen Yakko, Wakko, and Dot escape the water tower to make mischief on the lot. People look back on these moments as a snapshot of youthful innocence —  a time when you could wake up on a Saturday, pour yourself a bowl of sugary cereal, and park yourself in front of the tube from 8am til noon.

Saturday morning cartoons, RIP, cancelled, Disney XD, Hub Network, Cartoon Network, Teletoon, Animaniacs, Transformers, Scooby-Doo, Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, Woody Woodpecker, KidsWB!, Fox Kids, ABC One's Saturday Morning

Even Jubilee understands this tragedy, and she’s Jubilee.

One can easily debate that the notion of Saturday morning cartoons is far from dead, just dormant. Much like newspapers and video rental stores, modern methods have replaced these once dominant concepts. Cable/satellite channels like Cartoon Network (Teletoon if you hail from the maple leaf nation), Disney XD, and the Hub Network are just a few examples of networks keeping the practice alive. One could easily watch as many cartoons on a Saturday by way of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Then of course, there’s the Internet, right there to fill your desire for mindless animated indulgence at any given time.

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Even with these options, there is no denying the hard truth. Saturday morning cartoons are gone, and in their departure stands live-action edutainment that is in no way fun or riveting when compared it to what was on decades before. Perhaps you could blame this downfall on the FCC’s Children’s Television Act in 1990. The act created rules for over-the-air networks when it came to providing educational programming. This became so much of a burden for networks to manage both educational and entertaining children’s shows, that something had to give. Unfortunately, it was the latter. Like video killed the radio star, edutainment killed the cartoon lineup.

Since Saturday morning cartoon broadcasts are a figment of television yesteryear, let those of us old enough be grateful that we lived in a time to appreciate it. We relished in all the action and antics, the silly and the surprising. It’s a damn shame that after those messages, they never came right back.

Saturday morning cartoons, RIP, cancelled, Disney XD, Hub Network, Cartoon Network, Teletoon, Animaniacs, Transformers, Scooby-Doo, Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, Woody Woodpecker, KidsWB!, Fox Kids, ABC One's Saturday Morning

Never.

If you want to learn about some of the best in Saturday morning cartoons, listen to some Laser Time podcasts. The crew discusses celebrities starring in their own cartoons, super hero cartoons, and the brilliant Warner Bros. cartoons of the 90’s.

Article by contributor Knight Dehumidifier.

4 thoughts on “Parting Words to the Saturday Morning Cartoon Block

  1. RIP. I did have Cartoon Network trough cable even though I wasn’t in an english-speaking country and I can thank it for Johnny Bravo, Courage and Looney Tunes BUT I remember catching a lot of great older cartoons on saturdays mornings as well. Here in Europe we usually got syndicated shows a few years after the fact so my mid-90’s childhood is filled with stuff from Looney Tunes, old Disney shorts, Scooby and those old-ass Superman Fleischer cartoons to Tiny Toons, Dragon Ball (original>Z), Gargoyles, X-Men, Batman TAS, etc. Good times were had, and I never stopped eating cereal either.

  2. Honestly, I don’t think kids are really missing out on anything monumental. I look back on the cartoons I watched when I was a youngin’ back in the early 90s and remember them being mostly garbage. For every Batman TAS there were ten Pro-stars or some other bullshit on ABC (oh god does anybody remember the Dumb and Dumber cartoon? eewwww…) Kids have way more options and a much better chance to catch quality programs new and old thanks to streaming and other online sources. All you need to do is go on netflix, hulu, or amazon pop on some looney tunes or ren & stimpy without having to wait a half hour for carmen fucking san deigo to finish up. That sounds like a much better Saturday to me.

  3. I recently realized how great Saturday Morning cartoons were for my parents. We never had cable growing up so having Saturday Morning cartoons gave me and my siblings something to do early in the morning without having to bother my parents. With the internet it doesn’t matter now-a-days because my kids can just find whatever they want on one of the streaming services.

  4. Even the Hub has had a name change. Hasbro has left its join venture, as its shows seem to of cemented them selfs, and it is now Discovery Family.
    There might of been garbage, but who don’t remember those. We remember the good ones.

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