For 30 years and countless memories made, Cartoon Network has influenced the childhoods of multiple generations. Following the decision to combine Cartoon Network and Warner Animation, many fans have reacted in different ways. While there are some fans reacting positively, many are scared about the future. It may be scary but it’s always fun to look back on the good ol’ days.
The Early Days: Cartoon Network was founded by Ted Turner, a network television producer, on October 2nd 1992. The golden age or the first 10 years of Cartoon Network were expansive and growing the network fast. In 93′ the first show to hit the network was The Moxy Show, it was ambitious but did not last very long only ending in 95′. The shows that followed it had the likes of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, What a Cartoon! Dexter’s Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, I Am Weasel, The Powderpuff Girls, Ed, Edd n’ Eddy, Mike, Lu & Og, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Sheep in the Big City, Time Squad, Samurai Jack, Grim & Evil, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Evil Con Carne, Whatever Happened to Robot Jones, and Codename: Kids Next Door. An ambitious start to say the least and some of those shows have become so prolific and popular.
The Middle: 2003-12 is Cartoon Network’s silver age and probably the most impactful part of the network’s history. The first show post-golden age CN was Star Wars: Clone Wars in 2003. From 2004-2012 CN released Megas XLR, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, Camp Lazlo, Sunday Pants, My Gym Partner’s a Monkey, Ben 10, Ben 10: Alien Force, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Ben 10: Omniverse, Squirrel Boy, Class of 3000, Out of Jimmy’s Head, The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange, Chowder, Transformers: Animated, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, The Secret Saturdays, Adventure Time, Generator Rex, Regular Show, Sym-Bionic Titan, Robotomy, The Problem Solverz, The Amazing World of Gumball, and Secret Mountain Fort Awesome. This era of Cartoon Network saw a lot of new things being tried and variety running rampant. Each show was unique and no show was like another. Popularity was through the roof and it definitely seemed like they were in their prime.
Now: 2013-2022 is the modern age of Cartoon Network and it has seen the most evolution. Streaming and online ways to watch continued to change the network. This period also sees the so-called decline in the networks quality by many fans. Ironically speaking the first new show premiering in 2013 to mark this era, Uncle Grandpa, is one of the fans least favorite from the network. From 2013-present day, Steven Universe, Mixels, Clarence, Over the Garden Wall, We Bare Bears, Long Live the Royals, The Powderpuff Girls (2016), Mighty Magiswords, Ben 10 (2016), OK K.O.! Let’s be Heroes, Apple and Onion, Craig of the Creek, Summer Camp Island, Victor and Valentino, Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart, Infinity Train, Steven Universe Future, Elliott From Earth, The Fungies! Tig n’ Seek and We Baby Bears. This era saw the creativity and uniqueness of the silver age expanded and even further established upon. It also saw a lot of previous ideas being reused like Ben 10 and The Powderpuff Girls (2016) remakes as well as the Steven Universe continuation. This era also saw inclusivity and an update on character diversity being highlighted. LGBTQ+, Muslim, Jewish, Latine, Black, Asian and more saw the spotlight and got their share of representation.
Boomerang, Toonami and Adult Swim: Boomerang also started in 1992 and was a dedicated channel to classic animation and showing the cartoons that have been locked up in the Warner vault. This brought shows and names like Tom and Jerry, The Loony Tunes and Scooby Doo and all his friends to the new generation. Adult Swim is another sister network to CN with a bit of a different audience in mind. The success with animation directed towards adults was up at the time with shows like South Park, The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, Etc. so subsequentially Adult Swim was born. A late night version that started after regular CN programming ended, Adult Swim had so much freedom with its programming and content. Apart from the numerous amounts of original shows, Adult Swim aired many acquired programs. In 1997 CN set aside 2 hours dedicated towards action shows to Toonami. Toonami eventually became intertwined with Adult Swim and the introduction of anime to the network started. Adult Swim and Toonami aired more acquired shows and continued the growing popularity of anime and manga in the states.
Whether big things change or not all we can say is THANK YOU! Cartoon Network and all your sister channels for the greatest 30 years the world has ever known.