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

My Saturday morning years weren’t much different that yours and I absolutely disagree with your assertion that the shows were good One of the very few things from that era that I feel nostalgic for is School House Rock. The late 70s was when Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, and Ruby-Spears were in a race to the bottom to produce cartoons the quickest and the cheapest. Every other show was a knockoff of Scooby-Doo (Speed Buggy, Jabberjaw, Goober & the Ghost Chasers, Clue Club, etc ad nauseam).

The early 80s were basically Smurfs, Smurfs, and a bunch of Smurfs knockoffs (Snorks, Wuzzles, Monchichis, Getalong Gang, etc) filled with positive pro-social messaging saccharine enough to cause an insulin coma. There were also a lot of shows based on video games, of all things. (What was that about shows not being based on toys until Reagan ruined everything?)

BTW, stuff like GI Joe and Transformers were not Saturday morning shows at all. They were independent syndicated shows usual shown after school on weekdays.

Here’s some early 80s cartoons. I sure you they were not very good.

12 early '80s Saturday Morning cartoons you totally forgot about

In the mid-80s, I got more selective about what cartoons I watched and started to discover anime. When Robotech finally made it to the NYC market, it aired at 7:00am on Saturdays. I used to get up at crack of dawn to deliver my papers to get home in time to watch it. It was preceded by a show called Journey to Adventure, which was ostensibly a travelogue show, but hosted by a man with a thick German accent and a soporific delivery.

These days I do like Rock the Park. I do remember watching Yugioh at the tail end of cartoons.


My older son was born in '99 and our apartment didn’t have cable so he wound up watching whatever was available for cartoons on over-the-air television. And, yeah, the non-PBS Saturday morning options in the early-mid '00s were a lot of Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh and lesser knockoffs (Card Captors, Digimon, etc) and maybe some Marvel comic cartoons: X-Men, Static Shock and other stuff. Even that stuff was aired either on Fox or other UHF stations, not on the prime VHF networks. At the time, I figured it was because with Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and other cable options, no one was making Saturday Morning cartoons an event any longer and the only stations still bothering were the lower tier channels appealing to the cable-less hobo market like us.

Surprised to read anyone saying that Saturday Morning Cartoons were on the way out in the 80s. I remember them being a big deal, to the point where networks would run their upcoming season lineups in the Sunday comics or have a prime time special for a “sneak peek” at that fall’s new cartoons.

Yep, I was about to mention that I remember those prime-time specials the networks would run before the new fall cartoon season. The centerpiece cartoon of the 80s, for me, was Muppet Babies.

I think that’s a big piece.

But Saturday morning kids programming hasn’t entirely vanished, or at least hadn’t when my kids were a little bit younger. One or two of the networks would have some sort of kid programming on in the relatively early morning- I remember watching too many episodes of “The Doodlebops” with my younger son when he was about 2-3 on one of the networks, along with a bunch of other kid stuff that ran about 7 am - 10 am.

You’re right though- the age of first-run Saturday morning cartoons has long passed. And as far as I can tell, that started in the mid-late 1980s with the advent of the first-run syndicated afternoon cartoons, most of which were basically animated commercials. Before then, the afternoons were almost always old syndicated Saturday morning cartoons from the 60s and 70s- Loonie Toons, Space Ghost, Underdog, Hong Kong Phooey, Fat Albert, etc… or they were Japanese cartoons that were haphazardly dubbed and spliced together from the originals into Frankenstein monsters of the original (Star Blazers, Battle of the Planets, Robotech).

Combine that with the growth of cable TV and the need for programming, and you ended up with cartoons being produced for afternoon viewing that weren’t necessarily toy-related. Stuff like Duck Tales, Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, TMNT (was originally a comic), etc… that basically broke the door open for that kind of thing, and sounded the death knell for Saturday morning cartoons as we knew them as children.

TMNT doesn’t belong on that list. While it was originally a comic book, the cartoon series belongs on the same list as Transformers, GI Joe, and My Little Pony in that it was created to support a toy line. The original TMNT comic was most definitely not for children and Playmates, who were producing the toys, wanted the television series so their market (children) would be introduced to the turtles.

While the X-Men are certainly a Marvel property, Static belongs to DC (or more strictly to the wholly owned DC subsidiary Milestone). I felt the pointless need to pick this nit.

Tough, but fair. The price of accuracy is eternal nitpicking. I thought about double-checking that but (wrongly) half-remembered an episode with Spider-Man in it. Guess it was some other crossover with a DC property,

OTTOMH Static met Braniac, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Batman, Alfred Pennyworth, Martian Manhunter (I forget what other members of the Justice League Static and Gear met on the JL’s spacestation), and Terry McGinnis (the Batman of Batman Beyond).

Gonna admit, I was really expecting to be called on declaring Card Captors and Digimon “lesser knockoffs” by some devoted fans before the Static thing :smiley:

I think the proliferation of cable TV and the child specific networks had a lot to do with it, too. When you had cartoon Saturdays, that was pretty much it for kid specific TV. Once you got Disney, Nickelodeon, etc. that have kid specific TV pretty much 24/7, that was pretty much it.

IIRC Card Captors was one of those animes that got butchered in translating it to American audiences. It started off as basically a magical girl show like Sailor Moon but in a desperate attempt to capture pre-teen boy audiences they basically cut it to ribbons in the editing room, elevating the secondary character boy love interest into literally the main character by cutting scenes that didn’t involve him.

I just didn’t want to start the fight. :stuck_out_tongue:

But since you asked for it… :stuck_out_tongue:

Calling Cardcaptor Sakura a knockoff of Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh (the latter of which is predates by more than it antedates the former) is a fairly shallow view of them - while it is an anime with a collecting element, it’s in a completely different context - CCS is a hero collecting macguffins, Pokemon is a sports anime with cute animals, and Yu-Gi-Oh has elements of both, but meshed them in what was actually a fairly unusual way. The Cardcaptors dub was inferior to the original version and faithful dub, but I’d still rank it higher than Pokemon, as it didn’t lean into its formula nearly as hard, and focused more on the characters, who were fitted into CLAMP’s tropes, more than they were genre tropes. (Yu-Gi-Oh, while not as good as the manga was before the card game took over (it had the same formula, basically, but having a different game in each chapter made the formula more varied), has a mad charm that made it more fun than any of the others.)

Digimon DEFINITELY was created to cash in on Pokemon’s popularity, and the original toys (a Tomogatchi variant) were much shallower than the Pokemon games, but the anime was far superior, being much more loosely formulaic and far more character driven (the Mons being able to speak human language, and each kid only having one, instead of a menagerie helped here), and spent more time on world building and story.

It wasn’t quite that bad, so far as I remember - Sakura remained clearly the main character (there’d have been nothing left if they’d made it Syaoran’s show), but they did change the balance (thus changing it from Cardcaptor Sakura into Cardcaptors), making Syaoran much more prominent, and altering his relationships with Sakura and Meiling. (It’s been so long, I can’t really remember how, but I do remember that much.)