The End of an Era: The Death of Saturday Morning Cartoons

The End of an Era: The Death of Saturday Morning Cartoons

Your friendly neighbourhood Spider-manI’ve watched cartoons most of my life. It started with Spider-Man, Underdog and Star Trek: The Animated Series in the 1970s. In the 90s, it was Ren and Stimpy, Pinky and the Brain, and the brilliant The Tick. When my kids came along, we’d watch Gargoyles, Samurai Jack, Static Shock, and especially the great Batman Beyond together. For most of my first four decades, Saturday mornings meant curling up on the couch to share the adventures of my favorite funny animals and cartoon superheroes.

Over the last ten years, more stations have abandoned Saturday morning animated programming. Now The Washington Post is reporting that the CW, the last broadcast station with a full slate of animated shows on Saturday morning, has just done away with them.

This past Saturday, the CW became the last broadcast television network to cut Saturday morning cartoons. The CW is replacing its Saturday cartoon programming, called “The Vortexx,” with “One Magnificent Morning,” a five-hour bloc of non-animated TV geared towards teens and their families.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, Saturday morning time slots were synonymous with cartoons. Broadcast networks and advertisers battled for underage viewers. But that started to change in the 1990s. In 1992, NBC was the first broadcast network to swap Saturday morning cartoons for teen comedies such as “Saved by the Bell” and a weekend edition of the “Today” show. Soon, CBS and ABC followed suit. In 2008, Fox finally replaced Saturday morning cartoons with infomercials.

In the 1970s and 1980s, a Saturday morning cartoon viewership could grab more than 20 million viewers. In 2003, some top performers got a mere 2 million, according to Animation World Network.

Read the bad news here (and for Slash Film’s take, read Peter Sciretta’s article Saturday Morning Cartoons Are Officially Dead.)

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Thomas Parker

A world with no room for Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, or the Herculoids just isn’t a world I want to live in.

Joe H.

No, you’re not the only ones who remember the Herculoids.

And for what it’s worth, this world still has room for Jonny Quest, Space Ghost and Herculoids — it’s just that that room is now on disc or streaming (or on other cable stations) rather than on Saturday morning broadcast.

Myself, I’m now the proud owner of Thundarr, Pirates of Dark Water, Blackstar, Dungeons & Dragons and Flash Gordon on DVD …

Matthew Wuertz

Netflix, my friends; that’s another possible answer. At our house, it’s like Saturday morning all the time. My kids are enamored with the old cartoons – particularly Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.

James McGlothlin

I don’t think this is really a commentary on the popularity or unpopularity of animated cartoons. Television watching has become more of a internet experience now, which means that people watch what they watch when the want to watch it.

Scrolling through Netflix, I always see plenty of animated cartoons available.

Joe H.

It is the end of an era. No more footie pajamas and bowls of Honeycomb.

John Hocking

“No more footie pajamas and bowls of Honeycomb.”

I say thee nay!
Let us still find our way to the Honeycomb Hideout and raise our voices in song.
“Honeycomb’s big. Yeah, yeah, yeah!
It’s not small. No, no, no!”

Joe H.

This is true! I work from home; there’s no reason for me every to _not_ wear footie pajamas and eat Honeycomb. Well, I was always more of a Peanut Butter Captain Crunch guy, myself.

Matthew Wuertz

Hear, hear, John Hocking!

Thomas Parker

I would get up so early on Saturday I would have to wait for the farm report to finish – how pathetic is that?


Back in my day, when dinosaurs roamed the land, Saturday mornings found me watching Mighty Mouse, Heckle & Jeckle, Underdog, Bullwinkle & Rocky, and the now-classic Looney Tunes cast of characters with Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, the Tasmanian Devil, Yosemite Sam, The Red Rooster who was always trying to get the little chicken hawk in trouble, Tweetie Bird & Sylvester, and the rest of that crew. We also had Snagglepuss, Woody Woodpecker, Tom & Jerry, and then later came The Flintstones (early 60s ?) and a few others that escape me now.

Now _thems_ were the days! 🙂


Slimer & The Real Ghostbusters, Captain N; The Game Master (Premiered the same years as Saved by the Bell), Smurfs, Snorks, and Looney Tunes. The above, along with Knight Rider and the A-Team, could easily be called the base boards of my personality. I almost forgot Cap’n O.G. Readmore, and ABC Weekend Special. That was a great show. I loved Mouse on a Motorcycle.

I cannot weep, for while there were still cartoons on Saturday until recently, the event didn’t make it more than a few years into the 21st Century. You could tell the party was over when Hannah-Barbara started making shows almost exclusively for Cartoon Network. And a good thing they did, if they hadn’t we wouldn’t have Johnny Bravo, Samurai Jack, Power Puff Girls, or Dexter’s Lab.

I don’t think the younger generation is missing out on anything. These memories are extremely important to use, but they will have their own events, and their own meanings attached to them.

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