The shorts were removed from the network's lineup in 2016 to free up timeslots for the much-maligned Teen Titans Go! It still airs daily on Boomerang in primetime, though.
On August 4, 1986, Ted Turner's Turner Broadcasting System acquired Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists from Kirk Kerkorian. However, due to concerns over the debt load of his companies, on October 17, 1986, Turner was forced to sell MGM back to Kerkorian after approximately only 74 days of ownership. However, Turner kept much of MGM's film and television library made prior to May 1986 (as well as some of the United Artists library) and formed Turner Entertainment.
On October 3, 1988, its cable channel Turner Network Television was launched and had gained an audience with its extensive film library. At this time, Turner's animation library included the MGM cartoon library, the pre-1948 color Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts, the Harman-Ising Merrie Melodies shorts (except Lady, Play Your Mandolin!), and the Fleischer Studios/Famous Studios Popeye cartoons.
Turner made another attempt to buy MGM in 1989, but failed.
On February 18, 1992, Turner Broadcasting System announced its plans to launch the Cartoon Network as an outlet for Turner's considerable library of animation. On October 1, 1992, Cartoon Network played "The Star Spangled Banner" (which was a tradition whenever a new Turner-owned network launched) and a video of a person placing a dynamite in an field and then blowing the dynamite up, the channel's launch then occurred on that day and was hosted by the MGM cartoon character Droopy in a special event called Droopy's Guide to the Cartoon Network, during which the first cartoon on the network, The Great Piggy Bank Robbery, was shown. Initial programming on the channel consisted exclusively of reruns of classic Warner Bros. cartoons (the pre-1950 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies), the 1933–1957 Popeye cartoons, MGM cartoons, and Hanna-Barbera cartoons. At first, cable providers in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Detroit carried the channel. By the time the network launched, Cartoon Network had an 8,500-hour cartoon library. From its launch until 1995, the network's announcers said the network's name with the word "The" added before "Cartoon Network", thus calling the network "The Cartoon Network". By the time that the network debuted, Cartoon Network also operated a programming block (containing its cartoons) that aired on TNT, entitled "Cartoon Network on TNT".
Cartoon Network was not the first cable channel to have relied on cartoons to attract an audience; however, it was the first 24-hour single-genre channel with animation as its main theme. Turner Broadcasting System had defied conventional wisdom before by launching CNN, a channel providing 24-hour news coverage. The concept was previously thought unlikely to attract a sufficient audience to be particularly profitable, however the CNN experiment had been successful and Turner hoped that Cartoon Network would also find success.
Initially, the channel would broadcast cartoons 24 hours a day. Most of the short cartoons were aired in half-hour or hour-long packages, usually separated by character or studio – Down Wit' Droopy D aired old Droopy Dog shorts, The Tom and Jerry Show presented the classic cat-and-mouse team, and Bugs and Daffy Tonight provided classic Looney Tunes shorts. Late Night Black and White showed early black-and-white cartoons (mostly from the Fleischer Studios and Walter Lantz cartoons from the 1930s, as well as black-and-white Merrie Melodies and MGM cartoons), and ToonHeads would show three shorts with a similar theme and provide trivia about the cartoons.Template:Citation needed There was also an afternoon cartoon block called High Noon Toons, which was hosted by cowboy hand puppets (an example of the simplicity and imagination the network had in its early years). All the classic animation that was shown on Cartoon Network no longer airs on a regular basis.
A challenge for Cartoon Network was to overcome its low penetration of existing cable systems. When launched on October 1, 1992, the channel was only carried by 233 cable systems. However, it benefited from package deals. New subscribers to sister channels TNT and TBS could also get access to Cartoon Network through such deals. The high ratings of Cartoon Network over the following couple of years led to more cable systems including it. By the end of 1994, Cartoon Network had become "the fifth most popular cable channel in the United States".
For the first few years of Cartoon Network's existence, programming meant for the channel would also be simulcast on TBS and/or TNT, both of which were still full-service cable networks that carried a variety of different programming genera, in order to increase the shows' (and Cartoon Network's) exposure; examples include The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Cartoon Planet, SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron and 2 Stupid Dogs.
The network's first exclusive original show was The Moxy Show, an animation anthology series first airing in 1993. The first series produced by Cartoon Network was Space Ghost Coast to Coast in 1994, but the show mostly consisted of "recycled animation cells" from the archives of Hanna-Barbera, being an ironic deconstruction of a talk show. It featured live-action guests, mostly consisting of celebrities which were past their prime or counterculture figures. A running gag was that the production cost was dubbed "minimal". The series found its audience among young adults who appreciated its "hip" perspective.
Kevin Sandler considered Space Ghost Coast to Coast instrumental in establishing Cartoon Network's appeal to older audiences. Space Ghost, a 1960s superhero by Hanna-Barbera, was recast as the star of a talk show parody. This was arguably the first time the network revived a "classic animated icon" in an entirely new context for comedic purposes. Grown-ups who had ceased enjoying the original takes on the characters could find amusement in the "new ironic and self-referential context" for them. Promotional shorts such as the "Scooby-Doo Project", a parody of the The Blair Witch Project, gave similar treatments to the Scooby gang. However, there were less successful efforts at such revivals. A Day in the Life of Ranger Smith and Boo Boo Runs Wild (1999) were short cartoons featuring new takes on Yogi Bear's supporting cast by John Kricfalusi. Their style of humor, sexual content and break in tone from the source material was rather out of place among the rest of the Cartoon Network shows, and the network rarely found a place for them in its programming.
In 1994, Hanna-Barbera's new division Cartoon Network Studios was founded and started production on What a Cartoon! (also known as World Premiere Toons and Cartoon Cartoons). This show debuted in 1995, offering original animated shorts commissioned from Hanna-Barbera and various independent animators. The network promoted the series as an attempt to return to the "classic days" of studio animation, offering full animator control, high budgets, and no limited animation. The project was spearheaded by Cartoon Network executives, plus John Kricfalusi and Fred Seibert. Kricfalusi was the creator of The Ren & Stimpy Show and served as an advisor to the network, while Seibert was formerly one of the driving forces behind Nickelodeon's Nicktoons and would go on to produce the similar animation anthology series Oh Yeah! Cartoons and Random! Cartoons.
Cartoon Network was able to assess the potential of certain shorts to serve as pilots for spin-off series and signed contracts with their creators to create ongoing series. Dexter's Laboratory was the most popular short series according to a vote held in 1995 and eventually became the first spin-off of What a Cartoon! in 1996. Three more series based on shorts debuted from 1997 to 1999: Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, I Am Weasel (the latter two as segments of the same show; I Am Weasel was later spun off into a separate show), The Powerpuff Girls, Courage the Cowardly Dog, and Mike, Lu & Og. The unrelated series Ed, Edd n Eddy was also launched in 1999, creating a line-up of critically acclaimed shows. Many of these series premiered bearing the "Cartoon Cartoons" brand, airing throughout the network's schedule and prominently on Cartoon Cartoon Fridays, which became the marquee night for premieres of new episodes and series beginning on June 11, 1999.
These original series were intended to appeal to a wider audience than the average Saturday morning cartoon. Linda Simensky, vice president of original animation, reminded adults and teenage girls that cartoons could appeal to them as well. Kevin Sandler's article of them claimed that these cartoons were both less "bawdy" than their counterparts at Comedy Central and less "socially responsible" than their counterparts at Nickelodeon. Sandler pointed to the whimsical rebelliousness, high rate of exaggeration and self-consciousness of the overall output, each individual series managed.
In 1996, Turner Broadcasting System merged with Time Warner (ironically, Time Warner's predecessor Warner Communications had created rival Nickelodeon, now owned by Viacom, in 1977). The merger consolidated ownership of all the Warner Bros. cartoons, allowing the post-July 1948 and the former Sunset-owned black-and-white cartoons (which Warner Bros. had reacquired in the 1960s) releases to be shown on the network. Although most of the post-July 1948 cartoons were still contracted to be shown on Nickelodeon and ABC, the network would not air them until September 1999 (from Nickelodeon) and October 2000 (from ABC), however, the majority of the post-July 1948 cartoons that were shown on its now-sibling broadcast network The WB's Kids' WB block began airing on Cartoon Network in January 1997. Newer animated productions by Warner Bros.' animation subsidiary also started appearing on the network – mostly reruns of shows that had aired on Kids' WB and some from Fox Kids, along with certain new programs such as Justice League.
In 1997, Cartoon Network launched a new action block entitled Toonami. Its lineup consisted of action cartoons and anime, such as Sailor Moon, Tenchi Muyo!, Gundam Wing, and Dragon Ball Z. Toonami was hosted by Moltar from the Space Ghost franchise until 1999, where Toonami was later hosted by its own original character, a robot named "T.O.M.".
One new original series premiered in 2000: Sheep in the Big City. On April 1, Cartoon Network launched a digital cable and satellite channel known as Boomerang, which was spun off from one of their programming blocks that featured retro animated series and shorts.
Three new original series premiered in 2001: Time Squad, Samurai Jack, and Grim & Evil. On June 18, Betty Cohen, who had served as Cartoon Network's president since its founding, left due to creative disagreements with Jamie Kellner, then-head of Turner Broadcasting. On August 22, Jim Samples was appointed general manager and Executive Vice President of the network, replacing Cohen. Adult Swim debuted on September 2, with an episode of Home Movies; the block initially aired on Sunday nights, with a repeat telecast on Thursdays. The initial lineup consisted of Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, Sealab 2021, The Brak Show, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Space Ghost Coast to Coast.
In 2002, Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? and Codename: Kids Next Door premiered; the former was short-lived, but the latter became a juggernaut for the network in the mid-2000s. The first theatrical film based on a Cartoon Network series, The Powerpuff Girls Movie, was released on July 3, 2002. It received generally positive reviews from critics and grossed $16.4 million globally on a budget of $11 million. On October 1 of that year, Cartoon Network celebrated their tenth anniversary, with a montage showcasing the network's various phases over the years.
2003 saw the debuts of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy and Evil Con Carne, both spinoffs of Grim & Evil. On October 3, the Cartoon Cartoon Fridays block was rebooted in a live-action format as "Fridays", hosted by Tommy Snider and Nzinga Blake (2003–2004), the latter of which was later replaced by Tara Sands (2005–2007). It aired several new Cartoon Network series, most of which did not bear the "Cartoon Cartoon" sub-brand.
In 2004, Cartoon Network premiered three new original series: Megas XLR, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, and Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi. On June 14, Cartoon Network debuted an updated version of its original logo (with the checkerboard motif retained and the "C" and "N" being the centerpiece) and a new slogan, "This is Cartoon Network!" The bumpers introduced as part of the rebrand featured 2D cartoon characters from its shows interacting in a CGI city composed of sets from their shows. By now, nearly all of Cartoon Network's classic programming had been relocated to its sister network Boomerang to make way for new programming.
2005 saw the debuts of three more original series: The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, Camp Lazlo, and Ben 10 at the end of that same year. On August 22, Cartoon Network launched a block aimed at the preschool demographic known as Tickle U; shows on the block included Gordon the Garden Gnome, Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs, Peppa Pig, Firehouse Tales, and Gerald McBoing-Boing. The block was largely unsuccessful, and was discontinued in 2007.
Three new Cartoon Network original series premiered in 2006: My Gym Partner's a Monkey, Squirrel Boy, and Class of 3000 (the former two of which first aired "sneak peek" episodes in 2005). Three made-for-TV movies debuted this year: Codename: Kids Next Door – Operation Z.E.R.O., Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Good Wilt Hunting, and Re-Animated, the latter of which was the network's first live-action TV movie and a collaboration between live-action and animation. By this point, most of the network's older Cartoon Cartoons (such as Dexter's Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls) could be viewed in segments on a half-hour block known as The Cartoon Cartoon Show.
Samples resigned from his post on February 9, 2007, following a bomb scare in Boston caused by packages left around the city that were part of an outdoor marketing campaign promoting the Adult Swim series Aqua Teen Hunger Force. On May 2, Stuart Snyder was named Samples' successor. On September 1, the network's look was revamped, with bumpers and station IDs themed to The Hives song "Fall is Just Something That Grown-Ups Invented." 2007 saw the debut of Out of Jimmy's Head, a spin-off of the movie Re-Animated, and the first live-action Cartoon Network series. In late 2007, the network also began airing importing more programs from Canadian channel Teletoon, including George of the Jungle, 6teen, Chaotic, Bakugan Battle Brawlers, Stoked, and the Total Drama series. Each October from 2007 to 2009, Cartoon Network also reran 40 episodes of the former Fox Kids series Goosebumps.
Cartoon Network announced at its 2008 upfront that it was working on a new project called The Cartoonstitute, which was headed by animators Craig McCracken as executive producer and Rob Renzetti as supervising producer. Both reported to Rob Scorcher, who created the idea. It would have worked similar to What a Cartoon!, by creating at least 150 pieces of animation within 20 months. Cartoonstitute was eventually cancelled,Template:Citation needed and out of all the shorts, two or three, Regular Show, Secret Mountain Fort Awesome and Uncle Grandpa, were selected, after animator Craig McCracken (creator of The Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends) left the network after 15 years in 2009.Template:Citation needed On September 20, 2008, Cartoon Network ended Toonami after its 11-year run. Also in 2008, Cartoon Network began airing animated shorts that served as interstitials between programs, called Wedgies, which included The Talented Mr. Bixby, Nacho Bear, Big Baby and The Burmeno Avenue Experience. The Wedgies shorts ran from 2008 to 2009, with a second run in 2010; the shorts were discontinued afterward, although reruns can still be seen on Boomerang as of March 2013. On July 14, 2008, the network took on a refreshed look created by Tristan Eaton and was animated by Crew972. The bumpers of that era had white, faceless characters called Noods, based on the DIY toy, Munny. The standard network logo was then completely white, adopting different colors based on the occasion in the same style.
In June 2009, Cartoon Network introduced a block of live-action reality shows called "CN Real", featuring programs such as The Othersiders, Survive This, BrainRush, Destroy Build Destroy, Dude, What Would Happen and Bobb'e Says. The network also aired some limited sports programming, including basketball recaps and Slamball games, during commercial breaks. That year, it also started airing live-action feature films from Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema.
A new identity for the channel was introduced on May 29, 2010, along with a new theme and new bumpers. The network's current branding, designed by Brand New School, makes heavy use of the black and white checkerboard which made up the network's first logo (and was carried over in a minimized form to the second logo), as well as various CMYK color variations and various patterns. On December 27, 2010, Adult Swim expanded by one hour, moving its start time from 10 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET. In February 2011, Cartoon Network aired its first sports award show, called Hall of Game Awards, hosted that year by professional skateboarder Tony Hawk.
At its 2011 upfront, Cartoon Network announced 14 new series, including Adventure Time, Regular Show, The Problem Solverz (originally planned for Adult Swim, but switched to CN for being "too cute"), The Looney Tunes Show, Secret Mountain Fort Awesome, Level Up (a scripted live-action comedy series with a 90-minute precursor film), Tower Prep, Green Lantern, Dragons: Riders of Berk (a series based on the DreamWorks film, How to Train Your Dragon), The Amazing World of Gumball, Total Drama: Revenge of the Island, the 4th season of Total Drama; ThunderCats, Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu and Ben 10: Omniverse. The network announced it planned to debut a new block called DC Nation, that would focus on the titular heroes, the first being Green Lantern.
After announcing two new live-action shows in Unnatural History and Tower Prep, which were both cancelled after their first seasons, Cartoon Network acquired the game show, Hole in the Wall. By the end of 2011, Hole in the Wall and the final two CN Real shows, Destroy Build Destroy and Dude, What Would Happen? were removed from Cartoon Network's schedule completely. In 2012, Cartoon Network acquired the television rights to the web series, The Annoying Orange and added it to its primetime lineup.
On February 2, 2012, Corus Entertainment and Astral Media, owners of Teletoon, announced they would launch a Canadian version of Cartoon Network that also includes a version of the U.S. network's Adult Swim nighttime block. The channel launched on July 4, 2012.
On March 18, 2012, Cartoon Network aired its first documentary, Speak Up, an anti-bullying campaign featuring a special appearance by President Barack Obama. On April 28, 2013, the network aired the CNN half-hour documentary The Bully Effect, which details the story of teenager Alex Libby and his struggle with bullying in high school. The special is based on the 2011 film Bully directed by Lee Hirsch.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Cartoon Network, the Cartoon Planet block was revived on March 30, 2012, now airing the channel's original programming from the late 1990s through mid-2000s. From October 1 to November 4, 2012, Cartoon Network celebrated its 20th birthday, airing birthday and party-themed reruns of its shows.
In 2012, Cartoon Network announced new programming for the upcoming year, including the live-action series Incredible Crew; the animated series Teen Titans Go!, Uncle Grandpa, Steven Universe, I Heart Tuesdays, Clarence, Total Drama: All-Stars, Grojband, Beware the Batman, The Tom and Jerry Show, and Legends of Chima; and a new Powerpuff Girls special, the latter of which aired on January 20, 2014.
On May 20, 2013, Cartoon Network gave a refresh to its look by adding new bumpers, graphics, and sounds. The background used in its promos and bumpers was also changed from black to white.
On March 6, 2014, Stuart Snyder was confirmed to have been removed as president and COO of Turner's Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media division after company changes. On July 16, 2014, Christina Miller was named his successor as president and general manager of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang.
On March 31, 2014, Cartoon Network's 8pm ET/PT primetime hour was given to its night time block Adult Swim, causing new episodes of the network's programming to change timeslots.
On October 21, 2014, Cartoon Network, along with CNN and Boomerang, were taken off the Dish Network in the United States after Turner Broadcasting declined to renew its contract with the Dish Network. The channels were restored on November 21, 2014.
- Main article: List of programs broadcast by Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network's current programming includes original programming such as Adventure Time, Regular Show, The Amazing World of Gumball, Uncle Grandpa, Steven Universe, Clarence and We Bare Bears. Acquired animated programming from other studios include Tom and Jerry Tales, Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, Teen Titans Go!, Pokémon, and Transformers: Robots in Disguise. Live-action programming, only introduced in recent years, formerly included original live-action/animated hybrids Out of Jimmy's Head and The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange, and live-action original productions such as Level Up, Tower Prep and Incredible Crew. In addition, the network reruns various Looney Tunes theatrical short subjects and Tom and Jerry, which has been in constant rotation since Cartoon Network's 1992 launch.
Cartoon Network benefited from having access to a large collection of animated programming, including the libraries of Warner Bros. (Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Tom and Jerry and other series), and Hanna-Barbera (The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Snorks, and others). Especially in its earlier years, the company's co-ownership with Hanna-Barbera gave the network access to an established animation studio, something chief rival Nickelodeon did not yet have.
Template:See also Cartoon Cartoons was once the branding for Cartoon Network's original animated television series, but it has seldom been used by the network since 2003, with newer originals being branded as Cartoon Network Original Series. Much of said original programming originates from the network's in-house studio, Cartoon Network Studios. The studio originally began as a division of Hanna-Barbera, but eventually was spun off when H-B was folded into Warner Bros. Animation in 2001. This studio would produce some of the network's earliest Cartoon Cartoons, including Dexter's Laboratory, Cow and Chicken, I Am Weasel, Johnny Bravo, and The Powerpuff Girls.
By the early 2000s, Cartoon Network had established programming blocks aimed at different age demographics. The shows broadcast during the early morning had preschoolers as their target audience and mostly had prosocial behavior as a theme. The Toonami programming block, featured later in the day, mostly included anime shows and its target audience were tweens and teenagers. Prime time shows mostly included classic cartoons, featured as part of The Tex Avery Show, The Chuck Jones Show and The Bob Clampett Show.
Incarnations of Tom and Jerry Aired
- Tom and Jerry
- The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show (as part of their Tom and Jerry block of shorts)
- The Tom and Jerry Show (1975) (internationally only)
- The Tom and Jerry Show (2014)
- Tom and Jerry Tales
- Tom and Jerry Kids (previously aired)
- All Tom and Jerry DTV Films
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