For all of the great kids’ shows that there’s been over the years, very few of them have actually lasted for a considerable period of time. Yes, while shows such as The Simpsons have never been put off the air, others weren’t so lucky. Whether it’s because of financial reasons, lack of interest from the public, or simply poorly received – there have been scores of children’s programs that have met their untimely demise.
However, sometimes, the reasons for their dismissal aren’t exactly as straightforward as you would think. Actors can cause public relations issues, directors can be stubborn with regards to the project’s integrity, and the networks which air them can have their very own conditions in place. Taking all of this into account, we probably shouldn’t be surprised to see shows get the ax – even ones which are extremely popular with portions of the audience.
You might miss some of these shows, or you might have hated them while they were active. Either way, these 25 little kids’ shows were put off the air for some of the most gobs-smacking reasons. It’s all here; punch-ups, destroyed sets, arrests, and more. So, with that said, here are 25 little kids’ shows that were cancelled for mind-blowing reasons – And mind-blowing is putting it mildly for some of our entries…
25 No Pot Of Gold At The End Of The Rainbow
PBS has featured many kids’ shows over the years that have become staples on television. Whether it’s Sesame Street or The Magic School Bus – it seems there’s no end to their kid-friendly abilities.
One of its longest-running programs was Reading Rainbow.
It was a show which appealed to children who loved books. Even despite its quite hefty production costs, Reading Rainbow’s biggest obstacle came in the form of the changing education system in America. With George W. Bush in office, the focus was put more onto the act of reading itself, rather than the imagination it can conjure up in a child as a result. The show was labeled as not being “educational enough,” and thus its wonderfully imaginative reenactments of children’s literature were abruptly canceled in 2006 after almost 25 years on the air.
24 A Monstrously Bad Decision
When Nickelodeon commissioned a show about scary looking monsters, they probably should’ve expected that it would be, you know… scary! Well, for some reason, they found the show’s darker elements to be a bit too much for kids to digest. Except, most children actually loved the show! Many loved the more mature elements of the program – something which they were starved of with the other shows of its ilk. Sadly, however, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters was toned down and had its edges softened to the point that its real identity got lost in translation. In 1997, the writing was most certainly on the wall as the show’s success plummeted during this unpopular transition in tone. That year saw the cancellation of the once entertaining kids’ show.
23 Poor Choice Of Words
We don’t know who thought Minipops was a good idea, but we’re sure they wouldn’t be too quick to claim it as their idea. Yes, that’s because the ill-fated show was driven by a horrible premise – children singing classic and contemporary songs. What made this even more ludicrous was the fact that they also dressed up as the artist whom they were emulating, meaning many of the kids were draped and made-up like someone many years older than them.
Of course, parents weren’t so enamored with this.
However, what really doomed Minipops was some of the lyrics that the little ones were singing. Needless to say, the words weren’t exactly the most kid-friendly. Because of this, the show only ran for a month before getting the ax!
22 Duff Didn’t Bluff
Lizzie McGuire was certainly very popular among kids in the 90s, so you’re probably wondering, why the cancellation? Well, it wasn’t due to bad ratings, lack of budget, or offensive content. No, the problem was actually main star Hilary Duff. Despite her young age at the time, Duff was still savvy enough to think about her finances (or her parents were). Either way, the show was brought to an abrupt halt when the child star requested more money in order for her to continue playing the role. When the execs refused to cough up some more cash, Duff departed, leaving the network with no other real choice but to cancel it entirely. Duff certainly doesn’t play around – and she proved it with this shocking departure.
21 Sunny With A Chance Of Fisticuffs
Hilary Duff wasn’t the only child star to stir the pot on a kids’ show, as Demi Lovato proved during her tenure on Nickelodeon’s Sonny with a Chance. Before she was a bonafide pop sensation, Lovato was a main fixture in the kids’ show genre. However, her time on this kids’ show also happened to coincide with her rapidly growing music career at the time. So when she went on tour to promote her latest records, nobody thought anything bad would come of it.
Oh, how wrong they were.
Somehow, Lovato got into a heated dispute with one of her background dancers, whom she then proceeded to punch. The incident caused Lovato to enter rehab, and ultimately, ended up with the show she helmed being given the ax.
20 “Holy Destroyed Sets, Batman!”
You have to check your pulse if you don’t get a kick out of the Adam West-fronted Batman television series of the ‘60s. The show has endured throughout the years thanks to reruns, but at the time, the series was raking in some pretty poor ratings in its final years. This caused ABC to cancel it, but that’s not the shocker. No, while the creators looked to find another network to broadcast the show, they struck gold when NBC gave it the green light, with one condition though: they needed the same props and sets. Surely, that should’ve been an easy thing to sort out? Well, unfortunately, no, considering the crew made the not-so-wise decision to destroy the sets and basically anything else to do with the show. Sadly, this led NBC to cancel it indefinitely. “To the Batmobile!” Umm, it’s not there anymore…
19 It’s A Girl Thing
Young Justice is proof that even popular kids’ shows can be canceled on a whim – and for rather silly reasons too. You see, all sorts of variables are taken into consideration when accessing a show’s success, so how about this one: too many girls watched the show. Yes, incredibly, that claim was made against the show, and it was blamed on the fact that there was an equal balance of men and female superheroes spearheading it.
The result? An unfair dismissal from Cartoon Network.
Whoever made the decision to pull the plug on it obviously wanted more males on the show – whether it was because of toy sales, or the network’s male-orientated fan base. Either way, the decision was terrible for those who value equality between the genders.
18 Spun Off Into Oblivion
For three years, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron was one of Nickelodeon’s most popular shows, captivating children with its humorous premise of a genius making his way through school. Unsurprisingly, its success helped spawn a feature-length movie in the vein of other similar films like The Rugrats Movie. However, while the latter performed extremely well at theaters, the former did anything but that. In fact, it proved to be a huge dud, grossing $55 million from a $50 million budget. Its failure to rake in audiences, unfortunately, put the nail in the coffin of the television show too. The production company behind the franchise went out of business, and when the network refused to pick it up, poor Jimmy and his robot dog were no more.
17 Phantom Cash
Some might not realize this, but animation can prove to be extremely costly. The creators of the cartoon Danny Phantom know this all too well because when it came down to it, the show’s expenses spelled the end of the show. It featured an inventive plot outline about a teenager who has to deal with his half-ghost persona.
Danny Phantom looked like it was on its way to the top after a fantastic start.
Sadly, the ratings began to drop throughout the show’s run which – along with the insane production costs – ultimately finished it. Leading up to its cancellation, Nickelodeon stopped hyping it so much – probably knowing that the writing was already on the wall. In 2007, Danny turned into a real ghost when the show vanished from the airwaves.
16 Pulling The Plug Early
It’s not uncommon for a popular entertainment franchise to be milked for all its worth. Unfortunately, the Jurassic Park brand was one of them. With the monumental success of the movie, it wasn’t long before various other offshoots began sprouting out of it. Well, one of the projects happened to be a cartoon by the name of Escape from Jurassic Park. Incredibly, it wasn’t the network that pulled the plug on it, but rather, the director. Yes, despite the fact that it was given the green light, the person helming it had gotten so tired of the over-commercialization of the franchise, that he opted to scrap it instead of going ahead with it. Admirably, he wanted to protect the integrity of the brand – something which many filmmakers in the present day could learn from.
15 No Explanation Needed
Actress Melissa Joan Hart is probably best known as the star of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but before that, she was the star of fellow Nickelodeon show Clarissa Explains It All. The show focused on the teenage trials and tribulations of Clarissa, and was actually quite the hit for the network. However, Hart wasn’t getting any younger, and that was what proved to be a problem in the end.
When she turned 17, there was a big decision to make.
Either change the show to reflect her real age, or cancel the program altogether. Sadly, for many young girls, Clarissa Explains It All was done away with in 1994. Luckily, Hart had big things lined up just over the horizon – but who knew it’d be playing a witch!
14 The Worst Prank Of All
PrankStars was quite a popular show thanks to its unique interactions between fans and stars. It had children partner with their favorite Disney stars in a bid to pull off some outrageous pranks. Its main star was Mitchell Musso, formerly of Hannah Montana fame. Sadly, though, things become a lot less innocent when Musso was arrested for D.U.I charges in 2011. Clearly, the controversy put the network in an awkward position – one which proved too great to simply play down. The incident reflected poorly on Disney, and because of that, they swiftly dismissed Musso. As a result, PrankStars was canceled, and the promising young actor has since found it hard to get his career back on track. Disney may look nice and cutesy, but don’t get on the wrong side of them!
13 Making A Daring Move
Double Dare revolutionized Nickelodeon in the ’80s as the first-ever game show to be featured on the network. It featured kids competing against each other for prizes and cash – proving to be such a hit with audiences that a spin-off soon proceeded it. Entitled Family Double Dare, this version of the show was aimed at capturing a more grown-up-orientated crowd.
It aired on Fox every Saturday night, however, Nickelodeon wasn’t happy with the direction it was going in.
They wanted the brand to be completely kid-focused, but Fox wasn’t ready to give in to their demands at the expense of losing a portion of their viewership. The outcome? Nickelodeon ended their partnership with Fox, and ultimately, ended Family Double Dare in its entirety. Double Dare remained, but its offshoot didn’t.
12 One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Sometimes when you’re onto a good thing, you should just stick with it. Well, try telling that to the genius behind the cancellation of one of the best kids’ shows of the ‘90s. Yes, it was Rugrats – and the reason behind the plug being pulled on it is insane. Nickelodeon was the culprit, unfortunately, with the network telling the show’s production company Klasky Csupo to work on a spin-off of Rugrats. What we got was the rather tepid All Grown Up!, but it was the consequences of it that really hurt. Because in order to make the new show, the old one had to be scrapped. Rather unceremoniously, Rugrats was given the boot in 2004 to make way for its poor offshoot. Talk about a bad trade…
11 Small Fish In A Big Pond
If you ever wanted to own your very own robot when you were a kid, then Megas XLR is the show for you. Premiering on Cartoon Network, this cartoon was a huge fan favorite – appealing to several different fan bases at once due to its multi-faceted style.
Sadly, the network never really gave it a fair shake.
Yes, despite literally being voted onto the air thanks to fan votes, Megas XLR was given the go-ahead but was never heavily promoted during its stint. It took a backseat to other cartoons such as Teen Titans and Ben 10 – ultimately preventing it from garnering a bigger audience. Unfortunately, in 2005, the program was shafted due to low ratings. But let’s be real – if it had been backed more heavily, it probably would’ve run for much longer than it did.
10 Tragic Circumstances
It’s rare for a show to be canceled because of something completely outside of its own doing, but The Young Astronauts was one of them. It was set to air in 1986, but unfortunately, was scrapped at the last minute due to a very serious incident which had just taken place. The show – centered on a boy who mistakenly wanders into a space shuttle and gets hurtled up into space – was all ready to go, but in January of that year, a major accident occurred: the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. Seven astronauts perished when the space shuttle blew up in mid-air, causing grief to everyone who heard about it. The event led to The Young Astronauts being canceled, fearing it would come across as insensitive given the tragic real-life circumstances involving its subject matter.
9 Not Childish Enough
Usually, television shows would be happy to garner to any demographic, even if it wasn’t the one in which it was intended for. Well, the network who aired Invader Zim didn’t feel that way. No, in fact, the reason it got put on the scrap heap was that it appealed to the wrong audience: grown-ups.
Yes, apparently, too many adults tuned in to see the alien’s attempt at taking over the world.
Incredibly, though, it was Nickelodeon who encouraged it in the first place. With budgetary problems, supposed poor ratings, and other such issues plaguing it, Invader Zim proved to be all too problematic in the end for the network to handle. After season two had wrapped up, Nickelodeon unceremoniously sent the show back into outer space, never to be seen again.
8 Outgrowing The Job
It’s quite commonplace now for kids’ show stars to move on to bigger and better things, usually in an attempt to shake off the stigma that comes with being a children’s entertainer. We saw it with Miley Cyrus and we’ve also seen it with Victoria Justice. Yes, she was the driving force behind the kids’ show Victorious, situated in the lead role. However, at a certain point, the rising young talent wanted to move on from the program in an attempt to forge her own path in entertainment. Unsurprisingly, without their main star in the mix, Victorious was swiftly given the boot in 2013. Since then, Justice has been pursuing a career in music, as well as continuing her acting work with roles in various motion pictures.
7 Can’t Be Contained
Remember how awesome the cartoon Hey Arnold! was? With its unique cast of characters, striking animation, and stellar writing – the program was among the cream of the crop when it came to kids’ shows.
So just why was it pulled off the air!?
Well, it was less to do with the show, and more down to behind the scenes disputes. The program’s creator Craig Bartlett was the talk of the town among networks, yet, Nickelodeon wanted him to themselves. Agitated with his contract at the time, Bartlett got up and walked out while the fifth season was still airing – refusing to only give his services to Nickelodeon. Obviously, the show couldn’t go on without its main man behind the wheel, so sadly, its fifth season also proved to be its last one. Ah, we miss you football head!
6 Zoey 911
As you’ll know from this list already, personal matters with television show performers can get in the way of professional matters. Jamie Lynn Spears knows this all too well, as her time on Zoey 101 was cut short because of her private matters. The program – which aired from 2005 to 2008 – was focused on a young girl called Zoey Brookes and her time at boarding school. It was a beloved fan favorite among teen girls, however, that wasn’t enough to stop certain things from happening, most notably Spears falling pregnant. Yes, although the program was intended to continue, the-then 16-year-old actress’s predicament was enough to have the network pulling the plug on the whole show. We may never know if Zoey would get together with Chase in the end, but more importantly, do we even care?
5 Caught In His Own Private Playhouse…
When you’re a children’s entertainer, there’s a certain responsibility you have not to get wrapped up in anything controversial. After all, young kids look up to their idols and are easily influenced by them. Well, can someone tell actor Paul Reubens this?
Because, seemingly, he never got the memo.
He played Pee-wee in Pee-wee’s Playhouse, but in 1991, the actor was playing – but not in an innocent way. To be more succinct: he was caught doing things in a grown-up film theater. While the show had already been canceled because of low ratings, the reruns were still airing at the time. But not for long. Unsurprisingly, CBS promptly ended the reruns of the program too. For some, the dismissal of the childish character was a sore loss to kids’ TV.
4 Poor Timing
Aired on Fox, Animaniacs was a very popular show. Its demographic reached further than just kids, often slyly inserting some more grown-up jokes for their benefit. However, when Warner Brothers decided that they wanted a piece of the action, they made some rash decisions. One of the most costly decisions they made was to air it in a different timeslot – one primarily aimed at very young audiences. This meant that when it did play on televisions, grown-ups weren’t watching it. Unfortunately, because of this, the lovable cartoon lost half of its fan base. With reduced ratings, Fox had no choice but to cancel the program after a very successful stint. Ever heard the phrase, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it?” Well, Warner Brothers should’ve been informed of this from day one.
3 Breaking The Bank
Sometimes simplicity is better when it comes to kids’ shows, and the beautifully animated Doug is case in point. Originally airing on Nickelodeon in 1991, the program centered on Doug and his journal entries. Despite its bare-bones premise, kids lapped it up with glee. Sadly, Nickelodeon was also lapping up the huge expenses that came with the show’s production – ultimately leading to its cancellation in 1994.
However, it was resurrected for a second spin by Disney, who clearly saw great potential in it.
Unfortunately, several alterations were made in the transition between networks. Most notable, the voice actor for Doug was let go due to monetary issues. In 1999, the show finally went off the air for a second time. It had lost its popularity in the move to Disney.
2 Don’t Know What You Got Till It’s Gone
If you’re a kid or even a grown-up who hasn’t seen Pinky and the Brain, you’re seriously missing out. The cartoon was one of the most overlooked kids’ shows of the ‘90s. This was despite its witty dialogue, stunning animation, and outrageous premise. Sadly, Warner Brothers were at fault once again. Executives made a conscious effort to turn it into a clone of The Simpsons. They wanted there to be a plethora of characters in the program. When they inserted Elmyra into the mix, many were alienated by the change of direction. The silly decision proved costly when fans turned off in droves, ultimately sealing the show’s fate in the end. One question: What were you playing at Warner Brothers?
1 Too Gross For Consumption
There have always been gross things going on in kids’ shows. Because let’s face it, children can be pretty gross at times. However, The Garbage Pail Kids aimed to take that to a whole new level. Based on the trading card series, the show would follow some quite disturbing kids. Most of them had some sort of deformity. But just before the program was set to air, protests began. Many prominent organizations rallied against its portrayal of the handicapped, along with the disgusting nature of the content. As a result, CBS pulled it from American screens. It still managed to make its way into Canadian living rooms, as well as other parts of the globe. After the first season concluded, The Garbage Pail Kids was thrown in the trash for good.