For the majority of prime-time network television’s history, animated series rarely made an appearance. With the exception of Hanna-Barbera’s brief ’60s output (The Flintstones, The Jetsons) and the routine holiday specials, prime-time TV was hostile territory for animated programming.
Until The Simpsons. When Fox’s gamble on Matt Groening’s creations became a massive hit in 1989, it didn’t just establish arguably the most successful TV show of all time. It also brought about a new era of openness to animation—and a new era of closing down many of those same programs with the usual cold-blooded cancelation strategy the networks applied to their live-action series. Below, we pay tribute to the 18 animated programs that have appeared on network TV post-Simpsons that failed to make it through an entire season. These are the wannabes that never were, cut down before they had a chance to make a lasting impression—unless you count failure. With each one, we take stock and determine whether it was jettisoned too soon, or agree that a swift death was probably for the best.