* See TheDarkAgeOfAnimation for information on the DorkAge of animation as a whole. This was when animation first moved from the movie theaters to the television, and AnimationAgeGhetto was born.
* In general, classic cartoon characters hit Dork Ages when their owner studios tried to make them cuter and "safer" - visually symbolized by the once HalfDressedCartoonAnimal (or human) gaining a full middle-class wardrobe. MickeyMouse and WesternAnimation/BettyBoop are the best examples.
** When you see Mickey [[FullyDressedCartoonAnimal fully dressed with a hat and long pants]], you know he's not going to be any more interesting than your neighbor. Disney historians fully admit the increased emphasis on WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck and WesternAnimation/{{Goofy}} was partly caused by Mickey's iconic fame making him slightly inflexible and too 'sweet' to put in funny cartoons or as anyone's foil. Earlier -- and thankfully, more recently -- he was a mischievous adventurer (''Franchise/KingdomHearts'', [[OlderThanTheyThink ironically]], is fairly close to this depiction). DorkAge Mickey sits at home and gives Pluto orders like a bossy, boring parent. Another indication of DorkAge Mickey is if he had eyebrows on him. Eyebrows below face borders[[note]]The lines that separates Mickey's black fur from his white or cream face[[/note]] that normally function as [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment eyebrows.]]
** A New York Times article in 2000 described how boring Mickey was. Disney's [[TheEveryman overly restrictive guidelines]] prevent writers from doing much with him. Disney tried to inject some creative juices by having Mickey redrawn by various artists (big fan of Mickey with "M-shield" a la ComicBook/CaptainAmerica) but they haven't moved ahead until recently, with Warren Spector's ''VideoGame/EpicMickey'' video game. Said game takes advantage of {{Video Game Caring| Potential}} '''and''' [[VideoGameCrueltyPotential Cruelty Potential]], where you could either let Mickey remain an everyman, or go back to his original personality of a mischievous and reckless troublemaker. And a little bit of horror. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hwl3JYszocs Observe.]]
*** {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in the Disney Vault ''[[Series/SaturdayNightLive TV Funhouse]]'' sketch ("You're supposed to be ''funny''?"). That line came about from Robert Smigel's puzzlement of Mickey Mouse being such an iconic kids character when most kids can't actually name a defining trait or characteristic for him.
*** It should be noted that ''Epic Mickey'' was widely considered a disappointment--while the game is darker that ''most'' Mickey fare, it hardly lives up to the steampunk post-apocalypse depicted in the concept art, which generated huge amounts of hype.
** What happened to WesternAnimation/BettyBoop, who used to be a sexy chanteuse, was that the MoralGuardians forced her to be {{Bowdlerise}}d. This led to a serious drop-off in the quality and popularity of her shorts, since her character is a [[MsFanservice sex symbol]] (yes, even with her big, giant head). When you see Betty dressed like a businesswoman, you are in for a boring cartoon.
** WesternAnimation/{{Popeye}} had this happen as well, after the shorts became headed by Famous Studios. Granted, it didn't get too bad until 1950 or so, when SeasonalRot set in and the writers just didn't know what else to do with Popeye, ending up resorting to RecycledInSpace plots.
* WesternAnimation/WoodyWoodpecker fell into this during the 1950s--apparently, Creator/WalterLantz wanted Woody to appeal more to kids, so he slimmed down Woody's design into a pinty, stiff looking "cute" design. On top of that, Woody was completely derailed as a character - whereas earlier he was a selfish heckler who only stood for himself, this Woody was watered down into a bland hero-type character. On top of that, from the mid-1950s onward, Paul J. Smith took the directorial reins and brought the series down even further with sloppy animation, not to mention lousy jokes and timing (surprising, considering his earlier efforts such as "Hot Noon" were among Lantz's best cartoons). It's a wonder the series was able to last through 1972 in theaters.
* ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' suffered in [[LooneyTunesInTheSixties the Sixties]] as well (you know something has gone terribly wrong when they have WesternAnimation/DaffyDuck chasing WesternAnimation/SpeedyGonzales around for some reason) after the original animation unit was shuttered and work was turned over to Creator/DePatieFrelengEnterprises. Fortunately, this Dork Age comes with fair warning: if you catch a cartoon that opens with a weird version of their theme song set to trippy graphics spinning around, and the cartoon is not Creator/ChuckJones' ''Now Hear This'' (or maybe ''Norman Normal''), you're going to get to see their Dork Age.
** "The Larriva Eleven" is the name given to a series of eleven WesternAnimation/WileECoyoteAndTheRoadRunner cartoons produced by Rudy Larriva, who had animated for Creator/WarnerBros in the 1940s (but hadn't worked on anything ''Looney Tunes''-related for about 15 years), after he took over the series from Chuck Jones. Larriva's character designs were very OffModel, the loss of Maurice Noble robbed the desert landscapes of all their scale and range, and the less said of William Lava's music, the better. The more complex schemes were replaced with sluggishly-paced crude gaggery, and to accommodate them the Roadrunner was completely derailed into actively fighting back against the Coyote, firing cannons at him and so forth. Watch "The Solid Tin Coyote" for a good look at how far off-base the series got. Better yet, don't (and just so that you know what we're dealing with here, keep in mind that "The Solid Tin Coyote" is pretty much universally regarded as the ''best'' of Larriva's efforts in this series).
** If you ever see a cartoon with the opening described above, except with a company credit that reads "Warner Bros.-Seven Arts" instead of just "Warner Bros." and with an even stranger version of the opening theme, then you should run for the hills. Because in most cases, there is absolutely nothing good that will result from the cartoon that you are about to watch.
** In 2003, Warner Bros. Animation produced several new Looney Tunes cartoons intended for theatrical release. Because the current crew had no experience with the characters, the cartoons had such problems as over-the-top violence, {{Flanderization}} of existing characters, amateurish jokes and more. They wound up never being released theatrically after ''Film/LooneyTunesBackInAction'' failed miserably.
** And then, there was ''WesternAnimation/LoonaticsUnleashed'' in which the descendants of the Looney Tunes characters are Animesque superheroes in the far-future akin to ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' though with a less clear direction on what they were doing given the radical {{Tone Shift}}s from previous incarnations of the Looney Tunes franchise.
* ''WesternAnimation/TomAndJerry'' [[WesternAnimation/TheTomAndJerryShow la]] Creator/HannaBarbera's [[WesternAnimation/TheTomAndJerryShow television studio in]] TheSeventies. AKA, whenever Hanna and Barbera didn't directly make them.
** Put it this way: maybe you've seen reruns of the Gene Deitch shorts, the Creator/ChuckJones shorts, [[WesternAnimation/TomAndJerryTheMovie the 1992 movie]], ''WesternAnimation/TomAndJerryKids'', and the occasional short from Creator/{{Filmation}}'s ''The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show'' on Creator/CartoonNetwork or Boomerang? How often (if at all) do you recall the television shorts from the 1970s?
** To someone who never saw the 197577 shorts (which, yes, does say a lot in and of itself), the Gene Deitch shorts are the Dork Age.
** If you see Jerry wearing a red bowtie... run, just run.
** Interestingly, CN Asia now airs the 1970s TV shorts every now and then... as well as the 1980 Filmation era shorts (though they no longer run Deitch's shorts). Now ''that'' is a Dork Age.
* The 1996 ''WesternAnimation/{{Flash Gordon|1996}}'' animated series, in which Ming was ''green'' and Flash and Dale rode ''hoverboards''. Then there's the second season of the [[WesternAnimation/FlashGordon 1979 Filmation series]], also known as ''The New Animated Adventures of Flash Gordon''. The first season is frequently considered to be both the best screen version of the character and the best Filmation cartoon. The second season gave us [[TheScrappy Gremlin the Dragon]].
* Someone at Turner Broadcasting must really dislike the 1980s episodes of ''WesternAnimation/TheJetsons'' and ''WesternAnimation/JonnyQuest'', because Creator/{{Boomerang}}'s rerun rotation of the shows go up to the last episodes of their first seasons, but then goes back to the beginning like nothing happened afterwards. Yet they still show the Jetsons' ChristmasEpisode every December. Thankfully, though, this contempt for the later years of ''The Jetsons'' and ''Jonny Quest'' isn't shared by the rest of Time-Warner, because the episodes are being made available in every other place where one can watch the show.
* While each new incarnation of the ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'' franchise has its detractors, the ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'' sequel ''WesternAnimation/BeastMachines'' is almost universally loathed by the fandom. For one, the writers were told to [[ExecutiveMeddling not actually continue any story threads]] from ''Beast Wars'' because they wanted there to be its own story. They also brought in the idea of Cybertron as an originally organic planet, a state that the Maximals were fighting to return it to (never mind that the dominant race of Cybertron has been robotic for millions of years), horribly uncharacteristic derailment of several beloved characters, and a number of spiritual aspects that were never present in any of the previous series. This was compounded by the fact that ''Beast Machines'' supposedly exists in the same continuity as Generation 1.
** ''Beast Machines'' has gained ground with many fans in recent years. Compared to the dodgy storylines and iffy animation quality of ''Armada'', ''Energon'' and ''Cybertron'', the writing and certainly the CGI animation of ''Beast Machines'' looks pretty good in comparison.
** One might also argue this of ''Generation 2'', [[BerserkButton though never to the face]] of a ''Generation 1'' fan.
** And then there's the monstrosity that is ''[[http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Kiss_Players_(franchise) Kiss Players.]]''
* During the late [[TheSeventies 1970s]] and early [[TheEighties 1980s]] ''Franchise/ScoobyDoo'' went through one. The addition of [[TheScrappy Scrappy]], the removal of the entire gang except for Shaggy (himself no longer a hippie) and with every episode featuring "[[TangledFamilyTree cousin so and so"]], well, there's a reason that the original 60s version is the most well known.
** Oddly enough, Scrappy's creator, Mark Evanier, wrote a [[http://www.povonline.com/scrappydays/scrappy01.htm six-part essay]] explaining, among other things, how Scrappy actually saved the show. So, yes, Scrappy [[RescuedFromTheScrappyHeap rescued his Uncle Scooby from the Scrappy heap]].
** Some people consider ''WesternAnimation/WhatsNewScoobyDoo'' to be a second Dork Age for Scooby Doo, though it's arguably a case of BrokenBase for some; while considered ''slightly'' better regarded as it stayed true to the franchise, many just felt it was bland, too realistic and not scary. ''WesternAnimation/ShaggyAndScoobyDooGetAClue'' is considered a dork age as well for the ArtShift and changing the entire premise to a drastically flanderized Scooby and Shaggy living together with a bumbling robot butler and fighting a MadScientist, to which many consider this a radical departure from the previous incarnations of the franchise.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheFlintstones'' has that show where they get new neighbors--the Frankenstones, who were basically a prehistoric version of ''Series/TheAddamsFamily'' or ''Series/TheMunsters''--only with an unsympathetic FrankensteinsMonster as a head. Most of the episodes were about Fred having a fight with Mr. Frankenstone. Yes, in the original cartoon some monstrous neighbors were mentioned, but only episodically and never as major characters. It didn't help that the show also featured shorts that were ripping off other shows, so we could watch Captain Caveman imitating Franchise/{{Superman}} (he was even ClarkKenting) with Betty and Wilma as two Lois Lanes, teenage Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm solving {{Scooby Doo Hoax}}es with Dino, as well as Fred and Barney in a BuddyCopShow, patrolling the streets with a goddamn ''Shmoo'', which was constantly molesting Fred.
* The ''Franchise/MyLittlePony'' cartoons had a Dork Age that lasted for nearly two decades. It started with the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyTales'' series, and continued with the LighterAndSofter Generation 3 and the SpinoffBabies Generation 3.5. ''Tales'' was a short lived SliceOfLife series which threw the rest of the continuity out the window and was set in a world where the ponies were essentially humans in horse bodies. Generation 3 lacked essentially everything the original series had (action, villains, a plot, etc) in exchange for a somewhat SliceOfLife version of the series that TastesLikeDiabetes. Generation 3.5 was essentially deformed "chibi" versions of the Generation 3 cast as babies, though it didn't even try to make sense in the series continuity. Eventually the series got out of this Dork Age when ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' came along and restarted the franchise, being more like the original show.
** ''My Little Pony Tales'' and Generation 3 have their fans and defenders, but you're unlikely to find anyone who disagrees that G3.5 was a Dork Age. It was created solely to fill in the gap between the proper end of G3 and the arrival of ''Friendship is Magic'' so they wouldn't have a gap without toys or a show marketing them out there, and it shows.
** Ironically, many ''Friendship is Magic'' fans now argue that the show has gone into a dork age of its own after the departure of series creator Creator/LaurenFaust. Specifically, it includes season 3 (which introduced the major development of Twilight Sparkle becoming an alicorn) and the ''Equestria Girls'' movie (a humanized spinoff set in a high school). Season four is generally regarded as a recovery, although the BrokenBase and FanDumb remain.
* ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars'' plunged into one during Season 1 and its movie (and took the ''Franchise/StarWars'' franchise in general with it). However, it had a good last impression with the introduction of [[EnsembleDarkhorse Cad Bane]] in the season finale, which gave the show [[GrowingTheBeard a boost in quality that it's generally managed to keep]].
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Ultimate Spider-Man}}'' is already starting to be considered this to the ''Franchise/SpiderMan'' franchise on the animated plan: this series bears no similarities with the comic of the same name, or, for the matter, with any incarnation of the character. The tone is DenserAndWackier with a lot of comedy slapstick while all drama and dark aspect is removed, Spider-Man is a SHIELD agent learning how to be a superhero with Comicbook/NickFury as TheMentor, he is part of a team of annoying sidekick superheroes, and most villains from Spidey's actual RoguesGallery are dropped in favor of other comic villains. Not at all helped by the fact it replaced ''WesternAnimation/TheSpectacularSpiderMan'' which was largely considered to be epic, and despite the fact Ultimate had no control over Spectacular's [[CutShort fate]], people are [[TheyChangedItNowItSucks pretty]] [[ReplacementScrappy upset]].
* Many fans consider ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' to have been in one since Season 11: Seasons 9 & 10 had relied very heavily on BlackComedy, but 11 was about where the show devolved into a ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' and ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' clone, with absurd plots and [[ShockingSwerve nonsensical twist endings]]. Other seasons are also guilty of this, but 11 did a horrible job with the transition: the show either couldn't or wouldn't commit to being more like ''Family Guy'' or ''South Park'', so it never reached those shows' levels of vulgarity or absurdity, and its occasional attempts at staying fresh ''without'' aping other shows, or going back to the tone of earlier seasons, didn't work-even if the rest of an episode was a step in the right direction, at around the 20-minute mark any pretense of realism would go out the window for cheap laughs. Seasons 13-16 are an odd case: they actively tried to emulate Seasons 1-8, in contrast with DenserAndWackier seasons 9-12, but did a poor job with uninspired and [[RecycledPremise recycled plots]] as well as you can't go two episodes without a "Guest Star" appearing, which seems the writers are using that as a desperate crutch for ratings.
* ''WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory'''s season 3 and 4 are seen as this. They introduced a polarizing new art style, {{Flanderiz|ation}}ed several characters, different StockSoundEffects (mostly Hanna-Barbera sounds instead of the Warner Bros./Looney Tunes sound effects of the first two seasons) and removed several characters such as Mandark's little sister. They're also disliked for what they did to Mandark's character. He was turned into a stereotypically evil HarmlessVillain and got a disproportionate amount of focus (when he appeared in less than half of the previous episodes). There were also several shorts such as "A Mom Cartoon" and "A Third Dad Cartoon," and the less said about those the better.
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' changed its tone, structure, and material around Season 6. Episode plots began to focus on random celebrities, unlikely romantic pairings, and current events, while the humor became more political (the show has since been called a vehicle for [=McFarlane=]'s views) and sociopathic. The characters have changed personalities, with Peter becoming an unlikeable bigot, Lois even more crazy and dysfunctional, Brian a specific voice for [=McFarlane=]'s views (the words "liberal douche" come up frequently when the subject is discussed), Stewie a flamboyant and openly gay ''de facto'' adult who has almost abandoned killing his mother, Meg an annoying dependent, and Chris a little more like Peter.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'' post-movie episodes are considered to have worse plots and characterization. They also dropped most of the action elements and made the show a cheap gag comedy.
* It's almost universally agreed that Canadian cartoons are in a dork age, as Canadian law forces them to be constantly churned out with ''very little'' regard to their actual quality or entertainment value. And due to the fact that the Canadian goverment is too cheap for traditionally drawn fare, we only get [[AllCGICartoon all-CGI cartoons]] and cartoons made with AdobeFlash. It's very telling that less than a handful of them made in the last 10 or so years are even ''remembered'', let alone considered decent. American cartoon channels also are relying on them due to their cheapness, so they may be even contributing to American animation's dork age. Though subverted a little bit as Canadian ''voice acting'' is still well regarded.
** This also brought along ''WesternAnimation/JohnnyTest'', one of the most widely despised cartoons ''ever''.
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