A friend and I were having this conversation not too long ago. We asked ourselves why such great shows as Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Justice League Action and Legion of Superheroes just seemed to fade away when they seemed so popular. My friend suggested it was because Saturday morning cartoons had become a thing of the past. Maybe he’s right, but I doubt it. When I first started watching Saturday morning cartoons, many, many years ago the shows were fun and intelligent. Johnny Quest, Return to the Planet of the Apes, Flash Gordon, Star Trek the Animated Series, Super Friends, Blackstar and several others. In this sort of line up Justice League would have done very well. But as time passed the Saturday morning line up grew less smart and more cutesy, more juvenile. Suddenly it was Smurfs, Care Bears and unicorn princesses, or shows where there always had to be that one cute character to ruin the whole thing. There were a few that popped up and then vanished that were good, the 1980s X-Men animated show was great, as was Gargoyles, and of course the Batman and Superman shows. Because these shows were too intelligent and not so cute they would not have done well Saturday mornings but would have fared better for after school or prime time. And there’s the problem. So few people actually watched the regular networks for prime time any more. That’s why platforms like DC Universe are our only hope of reviving Justice League shows and created news ones just like them.
I feel like this is just completely inaccurate. Saturday Morning cartoons/cartoons in general have not become “more cutesy.” At least not to me. Modern animated series are praised for their handling of mature topics and treating kids respectfully. Sure, there are some shows that are lighthearted and immature, but that’s always been the case. For every Justice League: Unlimited you had a Krypto the Superdog. Both were on at the same time from the same company with completely different tone. Both were great in their own ways and neither of their styles were favored over the other. The idea that well-made/thoughtful shows are no longer around is simply not true. Numerous shows have come out since JL:U that capture this. (I’ve even went through and listed them by station that are still airing.) The more likely reason is that the artists, writers, show runners, etc. behind these shows told the stories they wanted to tell. They told 2 seasons of great television and were satisfied and proud of what they had made. Not every great show needs 10 seasons. In fact, dragging a show out for that long will inevitably lead to a downgrade in quality. Instead of begging for more of the same, let’s let those creators leave their stories behind feeling satisfied, and instead focus on enabling them (or hopefully NEW creators) to come along and tell new stories and new shows which they love.
List of Great Animated Shows Still Running by Network:
- Craig of the Creek
- Amazing World of Gumball
- We Bear Bears
- Steven Universe
- Adventure Time
- Regular Show
- Big Hero 6: The Series
- DuckTales (2017-)
- Phineas and Ferb
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars
- Pixar - SparkShorts
- Gravity Falls
- The Loud House
- Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
- Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia
- Carmen Sandiego
- Voltron: Legendary Defender
- Looney Tunes
- Summer Camp Island
- Tig 'n Seek
And those were just the ones I could think of still airing off the top of my head. I’m sure there are so many more I’m forgetting or that have aired between JL:U and now that I’m not even mentioning. Basically, there’s still a ton of great, thoughtful animated shows airing for children.
Id love to see this series return!
I like the Comedy style of Justice League Action.
Plus there is a certain signature Paul Dini style that i wouldn’t want to see tried without him actually at the helm. It was a GREAT show, but 'm okay with passing the torch on to a new generation of fans, artists, and storytellers.
(BTW the Super Hero Girls cartoon is freaking amazing!)