Why are today's cartoons more lighthearted?

CaptJohnSheridan

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Nothing wrong with today's cartoons but I was wondering. Back in the 2000s we had shows like Samurai Jack, Avatar, and Clone Wars.

I am curious why is there less cartoons that are as serious as those old shows.

Are today's parents more protective? Are today's animators and producers less interested in serious themes? Is it culture? Since the world is becoming scarier people want more escapist lighthearted entertainment? Or do people watch a lot less TV? Are young people who would be the target demographic of this type of show spending time playing video games instead of TV?

Should Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network make something to compete with Star Wars Rebels and Voltron?
 

Silentpony_v1legacy

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We also had Sheep in the Big City, Invader Din, Sponge Bob and Robot Chicken. It wasn't like we grew up in some grimdark golden age.
 

Catfood220

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Well as someone who was bought up on stuff like Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry and Wylie Coyote and the Roadrunner and turned out to be a relatively normal person, why those classic cartoons aren't shown on TV any more.
 

Squilookle

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Catfood220 said:
Well as someone who was bought up on stuff like Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry and Wylie Coyote and the Roadrunner and turned out to be a relatively normal person, why those classic cartoons aren't shown on TV any more.
Can't beat Looney Tunes' golden age of animation- though I maintain the 80s and especially the 90s came bloody close to doing so...
 

Leg End

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I dunno man, we still got some serious themes at play in the shows that aren't largely comedy based. You definitely could say though that we don't have nearly as many action series as we used to, which I blame on the big networks hugging their cash cows, however forced they may be.
 

Trunkage

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Catfood220 said:
Well as someone who was bought up on stuff like Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry and Wylie Coyote and the Roadrunner and turned out to be a relatively normal person, why those classic cartoons aren't shown on TV any more.
Because they weren't that good. Also, probably cant make as much money out of them
 

Veldel

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Uh we got as many dark cartoons as we did then its just less in your face. Maybe your watching the wrong shows
 

CrazyGirl17

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I assume it had to do with a change in trends... doesn?t mean it doesn?t entirely work, though. Seriously, anyone else miss their good action cartoons?


Well... At least Cartoon Network isn?t burying their block in live action tween sitcoms...?
 

Canadamus Prime

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I don't know, I haven't really watched many current day cartoons, but I'm given to understand that some of them touch on some heavy topics.
 

Kotaro

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Leg End said:
I dunno man, we still got some serious themes at play in the shows that aren't largely comedy based.
Canadamus Prime said:
I don't know, I haven't really watched many current day cartoons, but I'm given to understand that some of them touch on some heavy topics.
Yeah, a lot of cartoons airing now tackle some pretty intense topics. For one example, Steven Universe, flawed as it is, has been going to some serious places since the second half of its first season. The last few episodes in particular collectively had a theme of "even after horrible things happen, life needs to go on." Adventure Time has the Ice King's backstory and his connection to Marceline. Gravity Falls got intense by the finale; I was genuinely in tears.
The recent trend of having a show start out as a lighthearted comedy but gradually introduce darker elements works really well in my opinion, because you already like the characters by the time shit hits the fan, so you care more about what happens to them.

I think the difference is in sentimentality. A lot of shows in the early 2000's, even the comedies, lacked any sort of pathos for the characters. A lot of the time, you were watching people suffer horrible misfortune with no real punchline aside from the misfortune itself. Ed, Edd & Eddy is a good example: the Eds aren't the best people, but you spend so much time with them, watching them fail and suffer over and over again, that by the end you just want the writers to throw them a freaking bone. It stops being funny and just becomes uncomfortable. See also: The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
 

MonsterCrit

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Silentpony said:
We also had Sheep in the Big City, Invader Din, Sponge Bob and Robot Chicken. It wasn't like we grew up in some grimdark golden age.
Actually you didn't. That would have been the 90's. Go watch Mighty Max and ExoSquad sometime.
Not to mention Starship troopers.

It's not that today's cartoons are lighthearted. It's just that they are all unigrade. I.e they don't have much variation. It's easier to go for the random-humor non-sequituer route because you don't have to be consistent, or think about what came before and what came after.

Avatar and CLonewars , and many like them are shows where there was an over arching continuity and quest. That means you have to maintain a tone and a consistency with theme.
 

Silentpony_v1legacy

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MonsterCrit said:
Silentpony said:
We also had Sheep in the Big City, Invader Din, Sponge Bob and Robot Chicken. It wasn't like we grew up in some grimdark golden age.
Actually you didn't. That would have been the 90's. Go watch Mighty Max and ExoSquad sometime.
Not to mention Starship troopers.

It's not that today's cartoons are lighthearted. It's just that they are all unigrade. I.e they don't have much variation. It's easier to go for the random-humor non-sequituer route because you don't have to be consistent, or think about what came before and what came after.

Avatar and CLonewars , and many like them are shows where there was an over arching continuity and quest. That means you have to maintain a tone and a consistency with theme.
What? The 90s were cheesy as fuck! Tiny Toons, Freakazoid, Animaiacs, Pup Named Scooby Doo, Pinkie and the Brain, Dexter's Lab! Come on, the 90s weren't grimdark either. Might as well say it was the 80s because of Transformers, GI Joe and Thundercats!
 

Igor-Rowan

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The cartoons that are made are a product of the people who made them, hence why Regular Show and Teen Titans Go! casually reference to 80's stuff like VHS or Master Systems like they never went out of style.

To get into a network I assume these people must be 25+, so the people in charge are going to replicate the shows they saw on their childhood, combined with the tastes they have now, like anime. The cartoons of the early 2000's are probably from people that lived on the 70's where it's either Hanna Barbara, shows based on products or whatever else was on air.

My theory is that the variety of those times for the sake of toy sales created diversity, so this is why you rarely would see characters that are 'pallete swaps' of each other, and the fans of those shows made sure their characters nowadays have unique silhouetes and color schemes like KND or Invader Zim.
 

Noyemi-K

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The answer to just about every "why are cartoons today more/less X than yesteryear's?" is almost always "because you're cherry-picking examples/blinded by nostalgia/don't actually know what you're talking about."
 

Worgen

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Whatever, just wash your hands.
I don't know MLP:FIM literally had an episode about a character self flagellating to punish herself for past deeds.

We are actually getting darker cartoons but they tend to be with just specific episodes and not the show as a whole. I mean take Steven Universe, on the surface it seems really light hearted but it gets pretty deep and heavy with themes of loss, ptsd, impact of war, etc etc.
 

Samtemdo8_v1legacy

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I do think Animation and Art Quality has degraded over the years.

I miss the days when cartoons looked like this:






And an honorable mention to Ultimate Spiderman, 90s Spiderman, X-Men, the rest of the DCAU, Avatar the Last Airbender and Teen Titans aswell.

Even the more cartoonier looking shows like Butch Hartmann's work, Genndy Tartakovsky, and Spongebob and Kim Possible, etc. look way better than cartoons now. With the sole exception I will give to My Little Pony Friendship is Magic.

Heck American Dad and Simpsons still looks better than new adult animated sitcoms.