Cancellation of animated shows are ruining the industry



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Animation has been a mass source of entertainment for western audiences for over a century. From the early days of rubber hose animation in the 1930s to feature-length movies like minions today. With the rise of animation came the argument of what is better. East Coast Fleischer animation or West Coast Disney animation? Mickey and Minnie Mouse or Bimbo and Betty Boop? But this raises the question of “how do studios approach making animation?”


The two types of animated shows dominating the airways are what is known as “episodic animation” and “serialized animation.” Both types of animated shows establish a cast of characters. An episodic animation builds a different story in each episode with little continuity between them. Serialized animation builds a story that is told throughout multiple episodes and seasons. 


Since 2016, serialized animation has been rapidly increasing in popularity, though it has seen a rapid decline in production. This has hurt both fans and animators in the industry alike. Beloved shows like Gravity Falls on Disney Channel and Inside Job on Netflix were canceled, leaving many fans disappointed. Fans were met with either rushed endings or cliffhangers. Animators were put out of jobs and became unable to share the story of their beloved characters. The animation industry will fall due to these factors and executives of big television companies claiming that animation is “just for children”.


In November of 2022, Inside Job by Shion Takeuchi was axed by Netflix with no real reason provided. Takeuchi was heartbroken to share the news with her followers on Twitter, fans provided their love and support for the show and its team as well as expressed their frustrations with Netflix. “Wow ‘Inside Job’ trending with 30k tweets? Almost like people love and care about this show or something.” wrote a fan on Twitter. 


This isn’t the first time that a major streaming platform or TV company has canceled a beloved show by fans and viewers, this happens all the time in the animation industry. Shows like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, The Owl House, and Star vs. The Forces of Evil, and other popular shows among teens and young adults have been canceled or ended abruptly for one reason or another. 


While all of these shows have been canceled, there hasn’t been much of a provided reason why they’ve been canceled. At least until it was revealed in the early fall of 2022 that HBO and Warner Discovery were going through a merger, an agreement that the two existing companies will become one. As a result, about 36 titles from the HBO max platform had been “written off” in a tax form. This had the creators of the properties fuming as they found it disrespectful that their work was being removed without a provided warning or reason.


 Most of these creators had found out through social media, as HBO hadn’t communicated with them about any of it. One of these creators, Owen Dennis, the creator of Infinity Train, had spoken out about the sudden title removals on his blog, on substack. “I think the way that Discovery went about this is incredibly unprofessional, rude, and just straight-up slimy. I think almost everyone who makes anything feels this way” Dennis stated. 


Another common theme in the shows that got canceled is good queer representation. In recent years, shows like The Owl House, Steven Universe, and Dead End: Paranormal Park have had excellent and strong queer representation that allows these shows to connect with an LGBTQ+ audience, however, conservative parents view this as “too sexual” or “indoctrination.” Executives and advertisers don’t consider this representation as “profitable” as corporations like Nickelodeon, Disney, and Netflix have a track record of cutting LGBTQ+ representation out of their shows and movies. 


Dana Terrace, the creator of The Owl House, a show following a young girl through her journey in the Demon Realm to find a way back home, had a lot to talk about on Reddit as she let her fans know that season 3 of The Owl House would be reduced to only 3 episodes with runtimes of 45 to 55 minutes and be the end of the beloved series. She answered some FAQs about the cancellation, eventually stating why it was canceled. Terrace elaborated that “At the end of the day, there are a few business people who oversee what fits into the Disney brand and one day one of those guys decided TOH didn’t fit that [Disney’s] “brand.” The story is serialized. “Our audience skews older, and that just didn’t fit this one guy’s tastes.”


This has brought the industry down by a large margin, Netflix: the reigning king of streaming and killer of Blockbuster and RedBox had eliminated around 70 jobs in May of 2022 and scrapped 3 major animated projects within the same year. At the same time, Netflix was also sizing down its animation department and laying off around 30 employees, causing several more projects to get canceled later in the year. HBO Max’s merger with Warner Discovery laid off roughly 82 HBO employees. 


Animation has brought people of all ages together over the years. Classic after classic animation has brought families together in the theater and on the couch. The shows put on our screens have not only made us laugh and cry, but made some of us feel seen, heard, and gave us a place to belong. These shows mean a great deal to their respective audiences, the money given to the writers, artists, and networks that hold these shows is what keeps animation going. These shows not only bring in monetary gain for networks, but fans of shows looking to watch more and explore more of the content on the platform. Forming communities where people can continue to enjoy the content given to them and connect with more people. It inspires them to shoot their shots with their own original content and ideas, keeping the magic of animation going for years to come.