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65-Episode Cartoon

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Instead of the usual 13-17 episodes like certain Saturday Morning Cartoons, some western cartoons have had original runs lasting 65 episodes, because 65 episodes equals 13 weeks (or three months) of material to syndicate at one episode per weekday in the afternoon.

Typical with cartoons produced for first-run syndication, and was formerly adopted as policy by the Disney Channel (which had a similar 65-episode cutoff for its live-action Kid Coms) and Kids' WB!, although some syndicated shows did air weekly originally. Disney would end up dropping the format after fans complained about the cancellation of several popular shows, with the renewal of Kim Possible for an additional season abolishing the rule.

Some people consider this a form of Screwed by the Network, especially if the shows they like are at the receiving end of this trope. It should also be noted that this trope really only applied to cartoons aimed at children, rather than adult cartoons – The Simpsons and its imitators are treated like standard American sitcoms.

This practice became drastically less common near the end of the Turn of the Millennium, as American cartoon production has essentially abandoned broadcast syndication (at least domestically) in favor of programming exclusive to specific cable networks (or even streaming services). Still, some networks continue to cut their shows off at 65 episodes, either for foreign syndication, own network re-runs or force of habit.

This led to many cartoons in The Oughties to only reach 52 episodes, with 1/5 or 13 episodes cut off from the usual 65. Also with 1/2 or 26 episodes being produced per season now averagely for cable. Being distinct from Saturday Morning ones on broadcast networks and twice as many from their usual 13.

See also 12-Episode Anime and British Brevity — both of which should remind fans of any of the shows listed here of how lucky they actually are — and Five Year Plan. For some shows that went well past 65, see Milestone Celebration.

As a side note, if one wants to binge watch a whole 65-episode series in one sitting, and each episode is assumed to be exactly 22 minutes long, then you would be watching almost an entire day's worth of that show. (22 minutes per episode times 65 episodes equals 1,430 minutes, which is 23⅚ hours or 23 hours and 50 minutes.)

Retired at 65:

Renewed after the original 65 episodes:

  • Aladdin: The Series originally ran for 65 episodes on the Disney Afternoon Block. When picked up for the CBS Saturday morning block, it was given an additional 21 episodes.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks is an interesting case, as it was both a first-run syndication, and a network series at the same time: the first 65 episodes (five standard length seasons, and half of a long sixth season) were produced specifically for syndication, but were also network-broadcasted, while the other 39 episodes of the series (the second half of Season Six, and the last two seasons) were not initially included in the original syndication package, and only aired once during the show's original run on NBC (however, international markets do include these 39 episodes).
  • The first 65 episodes of Animaniacs ran on Fox Kids, as did four more episodes cobbled together out of unused segments. Then came the Channel Hop to The WB. The show ended with 99 episodes (and having the strange side effect of having Season 1 have more episodes than the other four combined). It received a reboot in 2020 that lasted three seasons and 36 episodes.
  • Arthur: The first three seasons produced between 1996-1998 totaled 65 episodes. The show then went on a one-year hiatus in 1999 before its popularity resulted in the show being renewed (and subsequently, becoming a Long Runner). The show finally ended for real in 2022, after 25 seasons.
  • The Babar cartoon is counted as being Un-Cancelled despite the sixth season being produced nine years after the fifth season brought it to 65 episodes.
  • Batman: The Animated Series was 65 episodes long for its first season on Fox Kids. It was continued by a 20-episode second season (under the title The Adventures of Batman & Robin) on the same network. The follow-up series, The New Batman Adventures, which aired on Kids WB, is often shown in reruns as additional episodes to the original series, resulting in 24 more episodes for a total of 109.
  • The Jim Henson preschool series Bear in the Big Blue House was supposed to end at 65 episodes, with "And To All A Good Night" serving as the Grand Finale. However, the executives at Playhouse Disney were against this as the show was the block's highest-rated series, resulting in three more seasons being produced to bring up the total to 118 episodes.
  • Dennis the Menace had a 65 episode season airing in syndication in 1986. It later got a 13-episode season for CBS Saturday Morning in 1988, bringing the total to 78 episodes.
  • DuckTales (1987) had 65 episodes for its first season (including the Five-Episode Pilot), then was renewed for two more seasons of 22 and 13 episodes respectively, bringing the total to 100.
  • Darkwing Duck had a 65 episode season produced for The Disney Afternoon in 1991. At the same time, a 13 episode season also aired on ABC. A second 13 episode ABC season followed in 1992, for a total of 91 episodes.
  • Dragon Tales had 40 episodes for its first season and 25 for its second season, though "Just the Two of Us" and "Cowboy Max" were considered to be lost episodes. There was also an unproduced pilot, a Direct to Video musical special and a special in which parents use the show to teach kids lessons. After a gap of well over two years, it was announced that a third season of episodes would air, including the aforementioned lost episodes.
  • Franklin had 65 episodes in it's first 5 seasons, with 13 episodes each. The sixth one had an extra 13 episodes, totaling 78.
  • The first two seasons of Gargoyles had 65 episodes in all. The third season, re-titled Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles, wound up in Canon Discontinuity, save for the first episode "The Journey" which was reformatted for the later comic books anyway. For what it's worth, the 13 Goliath Chronicles episodes brought the total to 78 episodes.
  • G.I. Joe had 65 episodes for its first season in 1985 (which includes the original five-episode mini-series from 1983 and the five-part "Revenge of Cobra" mini-series from 1984) and 30 additional episodes for its second season in 1986. The series eventually concluded with 100 episodes with an edited version of G.I. Joe: The Movie that was split in five parts in 1987.
  • Goof Troop had 65 episodes which aired in syndication alongside a 13-episode season made for Saturday mornings on ABC.
  • Heathcliff & the Catillac Cats did 65 episodes in its first season and 21 in its second.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) originally had 65 episodes, but was successful enough to merit another 65 for a total of 130.
  • Inspector Gadget did 65 episodes and was then renewed for an additional 21. The second season replaced the voice cast (Except for Gadget, Brain, and Dr. Claw) due to voice recording moving to Hollywood after being outsourced to Toronto for Season 1. (The characters mentioned were already having their voices recorded in Hollywood.)
  • Johnny Test, renewed for a fifth (and later sixth) season after the first 4 seasons brought the episode total to 65.
  • Kim Possible, though it had to be Un-Canceled to get a fourth season after reaching 65 episodes. Its final total (counting the movie as three single episodes) is 87 episodes.
  • M.A.S.K. had 65 episodes in its first series, which was followed by the short and very different racing series.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic - The show had 26 episodes for each of its first two seasons, and 13 for its third season in order to meet syndication. The show became so popular and profitable that it was renewed for an additional 26 episode season. And a few more after that. The show would eventually end its run with 228 episodes (including six clip show episodes) over nine seasons and a theatrical film, in additional to spin-off materials.
  • Phineas and Ferb – Ended at 222 episodes over 137 half-hours (plus a TV movie) making it Disney's second longest-running animated series after Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Makes the list because the first two seasons total up to 65 episodes.
  • Pinky and the Brain had 65 episodes, not counting a few compilations of their Animaniacs segments. However, it was continued as Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain for 13 episodes, 6 of theme airing under its own name and the rest of the material airing on The Cat&Birdy Warneroonie PinkyBrainy Big Cartoonie Show.
  • Recess is a strange case. The series ended with 65 episodes (as per Disney's Rule), but ABC wanted to order more episodes for the 2002-2003 season. At the last minute, Disney backed out, and three of the episodes that were finished before they did released as the Direct to Video movie, Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade (with one more being released as part of Recess: All Growed Down), which brings the episode total to 69.
  • The original 1991-1993 run of Rugrats lasted 65 episodes. They then aired specials between 1995 and 1996. However, the specials did so successfully that they actually renewed the show instead of cancelling it. The show was only cancelled in 2004, but not before being spun off into All Grown Up! which lasted another 4 years. It received a reboot that premiered in 2021 on Paramount+
  • Sabrina: The Animated Series lasted one season of 65 episodes from 1999 to 2000 (like a number of Saturday morning cartoons) but got a spin-off, Sabrina's Secret Life, in 2003, with 26 episodes.
  • The original North American dub of Sailor Moon by DiC originally aired in a 65 episode package for syndication. Stopping in the middle of the second season, with no real conclusion. Eventually DiC received funding to dub the final 17 episodes of R which were broadcast in Canada. One year later these episodes aired in the United States as The Lost Episodes. Two years after that Toei's North American branch, Cloverway, oversaw the dubbing of 77 additional episodes bringing the total of dub episodes to 159.
  • The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon Channel Hopped to CBS after producing 65 total episodes for syndication.note  13 additional episodes were produced for Syndication in 1990, in addition to the first 26 episodes on CBS. The final episode count is 193.
  • Tenchi Muyo! originally had 65 episodes (not counting the movies and special) comprising the original Tenchi OVAs (13 eps), Tenchi Universe (26 episodes), and Tenchi in Tokyo (26 episodes). It was shown on American TV because of this. However a sequel to the original OVAs was made years later bringing the count to 72 (73 with the Mihoshi special). If you count the spinoffs, the episode count is now at 112.
  • Thunder Cats, which had a 65-episode first season, and then many more episodes across three more seasons.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures followed its first syndicated season of 65 episodes with 13 more episodes in syndication and 20 episodes on Fox Kids.
  • The Transformers: 65 episodes over two seasons, but after The Movie the show was renewed for a third season (albeit one that replaced most of the cast who were killed in the movie) that brought the count up to 95, followed by the 3-part "The Rebirth" series finale.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender was renewed for one more season after a total of 65 episodes across seven seasons, totalling 78 episodes.

Related Examples:

  • While The Worst Witch 2017 series didn't make it to 65 episodes, the show ended after 52 episodes. However it did get a proper finale to bring the story to its end.
  • Robotech: Perhaps one of the most infamous examples, and how many people first heard of the practice. Harmony Gold originally secured the US license to Super Dimension Fortress Macross for broadcast and syndication and intended to air it alone (even producing a few VHS releases of the standalone show), but the series was only 36 episodes long. The producers felt they had to have the minimum 65 episodes for syndication (or else the whole project risked financial oblivion), so they also licensed Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross (23 episodes) and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA (25 episodes). 36 + 23 + 25 + 1 extra clip episode (cobbled together to help bridge the narrative gap between the first two sagas) brought the episode total to 85, well exceeding the minimum goal of 65. A Sequel Series, Robotech II: The Sentinels, was planned to have 65 episodes of original animation, but production was halted after only 3 episodes, which were edited into a Direct to Video movie.
  • During the early-to-mid 2000s, Warner Bros. actually had a trend of pulling the plug on shows that reach 52 episodes. Shows like Batman Beyond, Justice League, Static Shock, Xiaolin Showdown, X-Men: Evolution all ended at 52 despite high ratings. note  The Batman and Teen Titans both proved popular enough to warrant one extra season and reached 65 episodes. Interestingly enough, Jackie Chan Adventures was the one show during this period that managed to surpass both benchmark thanks to 26 standalone episodes in its second season (a few of which factored into the plot for Season 3).
  • As well with CN (the other WB owned network), they had shows that lasted 78 episodes: Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Ed, Edd n Eddy, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, and Codename: Kids Next Door.
  • Disney also has a trend of retiring short series after two seasons. Tasty Time With ZeFronk, Lou and Lou Safety Patrol, A Poem Is..., Nina Needs To Go!, As The Bell Rings, Shorty McShort's Shorts and Take Two With Phineas and Ferb have all suffered this fate. The only exceptions to this are the Mickey Mouse shorts and Choo Choo Soul.
  • In the late 1990s and early-to-mid 2000s, the minimum amount of episodes a children's TV show could have was now 40 (or in some cases, 39). Usually after those 39-40 episodes, the show would be cancelled. Examples of this include The All-New Captain Kangaroo, Redwall, Eckhart, ChalkZone, Liberty's Kids, Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat, Horseland, Bratz, The Three Friends... and Jerry, Tutenstein (ended at 39 episodes, but would have 40 counting the Clash of the Pharaohs TV movie) and the original syndicated version of Pokémon. Britt Allcroft had intended to sell Shining Time Station and Magic Adventures of Mumfie into syndication with 40 episodes each,note  but after a meeting with Haim Saban, the shows wound up airing on the then-new Fox Family Channel.
  • The Real Ghostbusters had a 65-episode season that aired on weekdays in syndication alongside the second season of Saturday morning episodes on ABC.
  • Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures was originally announced as a 65-episode series, but production was cut back to 52 episodes.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long also underwent Executive Meddling that cut its intended 65-episode run down to 52 episodes.
  • ThunderCats (2011) has a planned 65 episode Myth Arc, but it was axed after only 26 episodes.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (a live-action show) was initially intended to run for only 40 episodes, with these episodes using most of the fight footage from its source material Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, a 50-episode series. However, the unexpected popularity of the show led to the show being renewed for the remainder of its first season, forcing Saban to commission additional fight footage from Toei specifically for the American version. Toei created a total of 25 new monsters that were intended to add-up to the existing 40 episodes of the show (40+25=65), but due to time constraints, only 15 of these monsters ended up being used for the remainder of Season 1, which was only 20 episodes (5 episodes short of meeting the 65-episodes quota). The remaining 10 monsters ended up being spread across the first 13 episodes of Season 2, which was when Saban started adapting footage from the follow-up Super Sentai series Gosei Sentai Dairanger. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers ultimately reached 155 episodes across its three seasons.
  • The Angry Beavers was set to run for 65 episodes, but the final episode (Bye Bye Beavers) never finished production precisely because of a scene in which Norb breaks the fourth wall and reveals to Dag that they're characters in a cartoon show on its final episode. The scene in question (which can be heard here) not only broke a Nickelodeon taboo at time, which forbade shows from having a definite ending so that the episodes could be re-aired in any order on reruns, but it's actually rather critical of this practice in general, accusing Nick of profiting off reruns of already-completed TV shows without giving any compensation to the actual creators.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head was initially set to air for 65 episodes according to documentaries included with the "Mike Judge Collection" DVD sets, although it is unclear if this meant 65 segments or 130 segments. The show ultimately had 200 segments during its original 1993-1997 run with varying lengths due to various changes in format throughout the seasons.
  • The 32 hour-long episodes of Thunderbirds become 64 half-hours when a cliffhanger ending is put in the middle; the series was often broadcast internationally under this format.
  • Beetlejuice is an unusual example, in that it had a 65-episode syndicated season that came after several shorter ones. The first three seasons aired on ABC from 1989-1991, and consisted of 13 episodes in the first season, followed by 8 each in the second and third. It then got a 65-episode season that aired weekdays on Fox Kids in 1991, (alongside the third ABC season). 94 episodes were produced in total.
  • The seventh and eighth series of Red Dwarf have eight episodes instead of the usual six, for no other reason than that would bring the total number of episodes to 52, which would be enough for a syndication package. Indeed, the only reason those series were made at all was for that purpose; series creator Doug Naylor wanted to make a movie based on the series, and was convinced to make the two new series because a syndication package would be able to generate revenue and international interest for the movie.
  • Histeria! was originally announced as a 65-episode series, but was cut back to 52 episodes, purportedly because per-episode production costs were higher than anticipated.