Ink and Paint: Flowers for Saturdays

As of today, the major over-the-air networks have stopped broadcasting Saturday morning cartoons.  A few of the digital sub-channels have shows (my father now knows who Jerry Beck is thanks to something on, I believe, MeTV featuring him talking about Columbia/UPA shorts), but as for the main five non-PBS stations, Saturday morning cartoons are no longer a thing that will exist.

A lot of my early tastes & influences can be traced directly back to Saturday morning.  My love of superheroes?  Earliest was watching the DePatie-Freleng Fantastic Four with my father (yes, the infamous series with H.E.R.B.I.E.), but most formative was watching X-Men & Batman TAS on Fox Kids as a preteen.  Love of supernatural stuff?  Direct line to Real Ghostbusters.  Introduction to the Muppets?  Actually started with Muppet Babies.  Saturday morning cartoons really were tastemakers, at least for me, and they showed that a variety of genres & eras of animation could exist together and keep kids enthralled.

On one hand, I envy the access kids have today to cartoons.  Saturdays were it, except for maybe some UHF stations that had after-school blocks in the late 80s like The Disney Afternoon; even if you had cable, the best you could do without a premium channel was the block of Hanna-Barbera stuff that aired on Sundays (yes, kids, Disney Channel used to be a premium channel a la HBO - preview weekends were freaking holidays in my household).  You have networks with shows on the lion's share of the time and streaming services & apps devoted to making sure you can watch your favorite cartoon* when you feel like it instead of waiting for one designated day.  On the other hand, it feels like animation is pretty much limited to "comedy series from the past decade", and I would not want to live in a world where there's no Looney Tunes, Dynomutt, Jem, or Batman.

Access isn't what I feel ended Saturday morning cartoons - I tend to blame both the CTA that legally required networks to air "E/I" content & the major networks' obsession with having at least 7 hours every day of their schedule occupied by bad local news mixed with 5 hours of bad morning chat shows.  Between a law no one in TV production really wanted to enforce and the discovery that you could pass off questionable "consumer reports" from your local talking heads as "E/I" content, it was no wonder that a traditionally low-rated block would be the first shuttered.  That's a thing people don't realize - Saturday morning cartoons were a weird sort of favor that was done for families, and once it was no longer needed, there was no real financial reason to continue.

RIP Saturday morning cartoons.  Thanks for warping my generation, along with a few others, by giving us something fun to watch.  Thanks to Bill & Joe, Hal & Lou, Ken & Joe, Dave & Friz, Mr. Henson, the folks at Sunbow, Mr. Heyward, the folks at Disney, the folks at Warner/MGM/Paramount vaults, Mr. Saban, and Ms. Loesch & your Fox Kids partners.  You all made it worthwhile to get up early on a weekend.

*Provided it's not action-adventure or targeted to a female audience.


  1. Wow that is sad news indeed. Saturday Morning cartoons are pretty much a ritual around my house. I got up early just to make sure I didn't miss a single minute of "Challenge of the Super Friends" or "Scooby Doo". Hell even watched "Tom and Jerry". I have a lot of fond memories of Saturday Morning cartoons and watching them with my little sister. I never thought about how it affected networks financially. But it makes sense that it wasn't a money maker.


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