When did Saturday Morning Cartoons end? Was it done by all 3 networks at once?

Saturday Morning cartoons are a cherished memory of my early childhood. I can remember sitting in front of the tv (7:30AM) in my PJ’s eating a big bowl of Captain Crunch. I was entertained until 11AM.

My family occasionally recreates that memory with cartoon dvds. Starting about 9 until 11 on Saturday. I still enjoy watching with family. Still waiting for grandkids to materialize. Watching again with a 7 year old will be awesome. I may even sit on the carpet. I hope my knees still allow me.

So, what happened? Did cartoon programming end in a planned move? Or was it a gradual phase out by quietly cutting the broadcast hours?

Is there a specific year the cartoons died? :smirk:
Thanks Don McLean

Of course there’s a wiki for that. It was gradual. I remember the classic stuff was still on in the 70s but a new wave of animation and some live action shows were emerging. There was also a turn toward more educational and socially relevant programming at the same time.

It’s only mostly dead though, not all the way dead. I’m watching Bugs Bunny and Friends recorded earlier this morning on MeTV. They also have a daily morning show with some goofy guy hosting. They show a variety of Warner Bros., Popeye, and a occasional other.

I was watching between 1965-72? My cartoon viewing tapered off as I got older.

I vaguely remember the Sha Na Na tv show was aired late Sat mornings. I had stopped watching cartoons by then.

Thanks for the wiki link.

I watched children’s educational tv. Curly taught me plumbing. I learned how to move a piano by Moe, Larry and Curly.

My management training came from Moe. Slackers get a eye poke and screwups are rewarded with a slap on the cheek.

:innocent: :grin:

It seemed to disappear in the late 70s early 80s for a couple reasons.
The VCR market took off. That meant that kids shows were now “on demand” in that if you had a kids movie, cartoon, tv show on tape you could watch it anytime you like.
Also, the cable tv market took off. And channels like Nickelodeon were born. Kids programming all the time.

It was definitely still a thing when I was a kid, which would be late '80s through the '90s. For some networks that ran cartoons during the week (usually in the afternoon), you’d get the new episodes on Saturdays. I remember trying to work out the best schedule to watch everything I wanted to watch, and using my VCR to record something else, and so on. I also remember there being times when it was hard to find a good show.

Yeah, not the early 80s, the early 90s.

The Wikipedia article has a list of reasons for the decline, including regulations about kids programming (needing to include more educational content), the rise of kid channels in cable, VCRs, more activities for kids on Saturdays and divorce.

That’s a really crappy list. It says the wave of first-run animated programming in the 80s and 90s is one of the reasons for the decline of Saturday morning cartoons. As best I can tell, those were the height of the genre. Sure, they were mostly toy commercials, but they were also original programming and content and the animation quality was lightyears better than the Hannah Barbara reruns from the 60s and 70s.

Then there’s the note about the rising divorce rate being another factor - a claim they (and every other mention on the internet that I found) sourced from a single citeless article that’s little more than a blog post.

Likewise for video game consoles - it seems like half the cartoons in the last big wave were based on video game properties. If anything, Nintendo buoyed the market for a few more years.

No need to pad out the list. It was killed by the rising ubiquity/affordability first of the VCR, then cable television, then DVR, then the internet and portable viewing devices. Nowadays there is absolutely no reason to leap out of bed and run to the TV at 6:00am just to watch a bunch of cartoons that you can watch on your phone whenever and wherever you want.

Technology was improving the quality of some Saturday morning cartoons, but the comparison isn’t to the awful stuff from the 60s and 70s, the best stuff pre-dated that. Even the WB animation was reduced in quality in the 60s and farmed out to the cost saving shops. Some of that low quality 60s and 70s stuff saved the genre, the traditional process of making quality animation was way too expensive. Hannah-Barbera was a pioneer in making heavy use of the stock system to minimize the number of original drawings, but the focus on low cost went overboard, the product was inexpensive but also worthless. Tying the shows to product sales was another way to make animation worthwhile but not exactly popular with parents and children’s advocates. The late resurgence before it’s disappearance seemed tied to a general surge in TV programming development that followed the low point of the 80s, but there are a lot of different factors involved that you’ve already mentioned.

The boomers represented a large children’s audience until the early 70’s. I’m part of the last group of boomers born between 55-65. We missed out on Woodstock and the 60’s counterculture movement. But we’re still considered Boomers.

I’d guess the kid’s audience shrank after that?
The vcr and game consoles also competed for the kid’s attention.

I was born in the late 70s and spent a good number of Saturday mornings in the 80s watching cartoons. I knew it was time to go outside and play when Soul Train came on. Well, after I watched that cartoon train in the introduction. Looking back, I’m trying to remember when I stopped watching cartoons on Saturdays and I can’t really pinpoint an exact time. By the time I was 9 or 10, Saturday morning cartoons were not a regular part of my weekends but they were still airing.

I didn’t really try to watch cartoons on Saturday morning until Fox started showing their animated X-Men series in 1992. I remember being surprised that in my local market, Dallas, Fox was the only station that still had a real block of animated shows on Saturday. Some of the other networks still had a few cartoons in the morning but it was a pale shadow of what it had been even 5 years earlier.

I remember the 70s having a plethora to choose from:

Suffer through Kids are people too at 6am

Then it was Alvin and the CMs
Johny Quest, Thundar the barbarian,
Wild and Wacky races, scooby doo, the Flintstone, The Jetsons, Josie and the Pussycats, Jabber Jaw, Speed Buggy…

And a bunch more I’m probably forgetting.

The timeline is difficult for me bc I never really grew out of watching cartoons.

We call them “Saturday morning cartoons,” but they also included live-action shows aimed at kids. I remember Land of the Lost, Dr. Shrinker, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, SHAZAM!, and Isis, to name a few.

I was a tv slacker and never got out of bed before 7 on Saturday. I missed whatever ran 6-7.

I used to get up so early on Saturday morning to watch cartoons that I would sit in front of the test pattern for awhile.

Then it was on to the heavy intellectual stuff, like “Crusader Rabbit”*.

*which would never get by the PC censors these days.

I am the same age as the OP and have fond memories of Saturdays with my younger brother watching cartoons as long as we were allowed. And if you got up too early, you could see “across the fence” a farmer-targeted show, even in Metro NY.

We really liked the classic looney toons, etc. but the ritual started to lose interest for me when the shows were such obvious attempts at capitalizing on trends. I feel like I remember one year (75?), all three networks had shows about sharks (JabberJaw sticks in my memory).

But at about that time, I started having to get out of the house for youth sports, which were not until 5th grade.

Now kids as young as 4 have morning soccer, etc.

In addition for there no longer being a need for a specific window for kids programming (such as it was) due to all the dedicated channels and non-linear options, I wonder if there’s some element of kids getting up and out for sports had an impact.

Without reading the linked article- cable and the internet. I watched Saturday morning cartoons until the WB and the rest switched to infomercials. With shows like Mucha Lucha, Jackie Chan Adventures, and X Men Evolution it was not an issue of quality. With animation being done in Flash on computers, the shows were relatively cheap to make. But, it was tough competing with three different Nickelodeon channels, Disney channel and Cartoon Network.

The local over the air stations no longer show kids shows before and school either. They find it more cost effective to stick with Jerry and Maury.

While it’s true that there were fewer kids in Generation X (which followed the Boomers), as others have noted, the primary driver for the death of Saturday morning cartoons was probably the availability of cartoons and other kids’ TV shows on cable channels and VCR tapes.

I’m not so sure that gaming consoles were a significant driver of the cartoons’ demise as they’d been around (and popular) since the late 1970s and early 1980s, predating that demise by decades.

It’s interesting to me that some perceive “Saturday morning cartoons” ending circa 1980. I can assure you that they were still going great guns during the Reagan era. Do the titles The Smurfs, The Care Bears, SuperFriends, Rainbow Brite, and Strawberry Shortcake ring any bells?

Just some data points from a dad of now-teenagers: There were certainly Saturday morning cartoon blocks on one or more of the Big Four broadcast networks as recently as 2009. Some of the titles included Sonic the Hedgehog, Dino-Squad, and Winx Club.

Additionally, some PBS cartoons such as Sagwa and Arthur were shown in a special Saturday Morning block on CBS. The last time I can recall watching those were in 2005, when my oldest was a toddler.

If you’re asking me, one of the things that for sure led to the decline of Saturday morning cartoons was simply the round-the-clock glut of animated content available to kids. I remember the after-school “toy commercial” cartoons such as He-Man, GI Joe, and Transformers in the 1980s. But that was nothing compared to what my kids grew up with: 12 hours a day of Noggin (later Nick Jr.), 24 hours of Disney Channel (some live shows), 12-15 hours a day of PBS cartoons with many markets having a separate PBS Kids channel, etc. And that’s just scratching the surface of what was on TV circa 2000-2009: animated programming also aired on Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Discovery Kids, Hub, etc. And on top of THAT were the legion DVDs and legacy VHS tapes of all kinds of cartoons and kids fare.

Ergo … Saturday mornings ceased to be “appointment television time” for kids anymore. They could and did watch it all the time.

In the late 80s there was huge demand for children’s programming. If you may remember if you were alive then, this was an issue across the media forms for animation, live action, prime time shows and movies. There had been a children’s programming drought once the national mores changed and far more adult programming minus the restrictions was created.

There was plenty of competition from the growing cable market, but for most of the country the old broadcast networks were the only source of content whether it came through the air or over a wire. At the same time television was experiencing a general resurgence. IMHO it’s still the removal of so much censorship that did that, but whatever the reason TV made a big comeback from the late 70s-early 80s doldrums. That change opened up the purse strings of investors, the advertising dollars and residual deals prompted a lot of new efforts for all audiences in the media, including children’s programming.