Deader Than Disco / Western Animation

These cartoons used to be quite popular in their heyday, but these days their original fans and the general public have turned against them.

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    Genres & trends 
  • Ethnic and gender stereotypes or caricatures (along with cartoon violence) were very prevalent in old cartoons made in The Golden Age of Animation. However, starting in 1968, these were increasingly censored in TV re-airings or the cartoons were banned altogether, like the Censored Eleven first to go were gags about Black people, then one by one jokes about Japanese, Native Americans, and Mexicans received informal bans. Today, the only cartoons that still use ethnic jokes, albeit under a satirical hood, are adult cartoon series.
  • Not too long ago, it was extremely popular for animation companies to outsource voice acting to Canadian studios. While Toronto and Montreal were used somewhat in the 1980s, it really took off in the 1990s when people were contacting Vancouver studios for shows from both sides of the Pacific. Guys like Scott McNeil and Brian Drummond became well known to anime fans, and whenever Dic Entertainment did a show, chances are it was recorded in Canada. This even led to hybrid casts of Canadian-American talent. Times have changed, however. These shows had a reputation for having a limited pool of actors. The unions improved and the recession hit, removing the main reason people used these guys, and tainting them as poor man's voice actors. Canadian animation entered a Dork Age (spearheaded by Johnny Test), further tainting their reputation. The final nail in the coffin was Cookie Jar Entertainment (now part of DHX Media), which absorbed DiC in 2008 and decided to limit their shows' casts to Canadian talent. While it may be making a comeback (with Dreamworks Animation outsourcing the cast of Dinotrux there in 2015), nowadays chances are if the actors are Canadian, the show is Canadian, and very few are as popular as American VAs, and most of the ones that are moved.note . Case in point, Trevor Devall, despite having an impressive resume, is better remembered as Rocket Raccoon, and that was after he moved.
  • Grossout cartoons were absolutely huge in the early-mid '90s. At a time when the more saccharine cartoons of the previous decade were starting to phase out, the surprise success of shows like The Ren & Stimpy Show and Beavis And Butthead had networks scrambling to get their own piece of the pie. This led to a large amount of similar shows. In fact, it was hard to think of a major channel that aired cartoons that didn't have at least one show of this variety. As the decade wrapped up, however, and some of these shows ended, the appearance of newer cartoons of this ilk became much rarer. When John Kricfalusi tried his hand at two new shows in the millennium (Ren And Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon and The Ripping Friends), they were rather big duds and soon cancelled. Although some modern cartoons have the grossout element intact (such as SpongeBob, to the dismay of fans), it's doubtful that this genre will be as heavily popular as it was years back.
  • Children's cartoons that are based on R-rated film properties. The '80s and The '90s had several of them: Police Academysee note , Rambo (Rambo: The Force of Freedom), Highlander (The Animated Series), Robocop (Robo Cop The Animated Series), The Toxic Avenger (Toxic Crusaders), and Conan the Barbarian (Conan the Adventurer) all had heavily watered-down and sanitized children's animated versions. This will not gain them viewers with the audience old enough to see the film versions. And children will only get too confused about why they aren't allowed to see the films on which these cartoons are based.
  • Limited animation on TV and film. Once a revolutionary (and less expensive) reaction to the Disneyfication of animation in The Forties and The Fifties thanks to efforts by UPA and pioneering use of Hanna-Barbera's output, is now this for causing the Animation Age Ghetto from The '70s onwards to the point of parody.
  • Animated sexploitation films (outside of early Ralph Bakshi's) were once popular in The '70s, but from The '80s afterwards are DTD thanks to better and smarter adult fare like Sausage Party and Oscar-nominated Anomalisa.
  • Motion capture animated films. Once successful thanks to Robert Zemeckis's The Polar Express and Beowulf, are now this due to Uncanny Valley features alongside the failure of Mars Needs Moms.

    Specific Studios 
While most maintain a fan following, these examples do not:
  • During the 1980's and 1990's, Montréal animation studio CINAR produced quite a few popular series such as Arthur, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, and Caillou. In 1991, they acquired the British animation studio FilmFair (Paddington Bear, The Dreamstone), and by 1999, CINAR's library was values at over a billion Canadian dollars with CA$150 million in yearly revenue. However, CINAR's reputation crashed to the ground a couple years later with a legion of scandals. CINAR had invested US$122 million into Bahamian bank accounts without the studio board's approval. The company had paid American screenwriters while crediting them under fake Canadian names, allowing CINAR to benefit from Canadian tax credits. CINAR denied any wrongdoing, and paid CA$17.8 million to Canadian tax authorities, and an additional CA$2.6 million to Telefilm Canada. CINAR's stock plummeted and was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange. The studio's founders, husband-and-wife Micheline Charest and Ronald Weinberg, were fined a million dollars and were banned from the company for five years.

    Charest died in April 2004, and Nelvana co-founder Michael Hirsh acquired CINAR for CA$190 million, rechristening it Cookie Jar Entertainment, airbrushing all references to CINAR in its programs with the new company name.

    Canadian cartoonist Claude Robinson sued Cookie Jar for using his idea of Robinson Sucroe without his permission after they rejected his concept. The court ruled in favour of Robinson, and he was paid $5.2 million in damages. Years later, Weinberg, former CFO Hasanain Panju, John Xanthoudakis of Norshield Financial Group and Lino Matteo of Mount Real Corp went on trial for fraud and other charges. All were found guilty, and were sentenced to 4 to 9 years in prison. Cookie Jar's controversy continued with its acquisitions of Johnny Test (which itself is also DTD) from Warner Bros. and the library of Dic Entertainment. Test decayed over time and Cookie Jar even replaced all of Dic's Vanity Plates with their new owner. Cookie Jar soon gave up on its last two CINAR projects that were still in production. WGBH Boston severed ties with Cookie Jar, taking the animation rights for Arthur to 9 Story Entertainment and later Oasis Animation (yep, it's still in production), while production on Caillou ended (to the relief of annoyed adult viewers). After the dust settled, CINAR/Cookie Jar is a forgotten studio that destroyed its reputation through financial scandals, plagiarist lawsuits, and two of the 2000's most reviled cartoons. The company was acquired by DHX Media, a studio with a far better reputation, and DHX immediately put Cookie Jar out of its misery by cancelling all its shows.


    In fiction 
  • Discussed in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, which actually used the line "Deader than Disco" in one of the episodes.
    Cobra Commander: As of now, your little project is deader than disco!
  • In one episode of Rugrats (which provides the page quote for the trope), Angelica asks her aunt Didi what disco is. Didi just says that disco is never coming back.
  • The Simpsons also parodied this trope
    • Gabbo in "Krusty Gets Kancelled". When he debuted, he was popular enough to bury Krusty in the ratings and drove him to cancellation. Not even Bart's attempt to destroy Gabbo's reputation by broadcasting his obscene remarks about the children of Springfield worked. After the big success of Krusty's comeback special, Gabbo was quickly forgotten. It didn't help that Krusty managed to get many A-List celebrities while Gabbo could only get Ray J. Johnson.
    • "Bart vs. Australia" discussed the American fascination with Australian culture in The '80s, including such works as Crocodile Dundee, and Yahoo Serious' films such as Young Einstein, the latter prompting Lisa to say, "I know those words, but that sign makes no sense."