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Vindicated By History / Western Animation

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  • American Dad! was initially seen as a shallow knock-off of Family Guy with hamfisted attempts at political humor. The show gradually stepped out of the former's shadow, grew its beard and became more character-driven, with a change in its style of humor to surreal, Denser and Wackier antics (in an example of Tropes Are Not Bad). Some have argued that the show not only has better writing than Family Guy, but that it's also Seth MacFarlane's best.
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  • Back at the Barnyard was generally dismissed as yet another product of Nickelodeon's Dork Age at the time, with fans not caring for its dumb jokes and bizarre nature. It didn't help that the movie it was based on was largely considered mediocre. Nowadays, the show has started to gain status as a Cult Classic (some of it ironic, some of it genuine), with fans who love its absurdist nature and consider it a Fountain of Memes.
  • Batman:
    • The Batman was loathed when it was on air. Due to it being the first Batman cartoon made outside of the DC Animated Universe since its inception (as well as airing alongside it for the first two years), making drastic changes to many characters' appearances and backstories and the stories putting more focus on action and high-tech gadgetry, many fans and even some critics derided it as "unwatchable" and a "22-minute toy commercial." It was also disliked due to the "Bat-Embargo" it supposedly caused, and prevented any Batman character other than Batman himself from being used on Justice League Unlimited because it was believed by DC that multiple concurrent Batman shows would confuse young children. note  These days, it's looked back on fairly positively, with many people (including former critics) acknowledging that it's actually a pretty good show and arguing that it handles certain things way better than even BTAS ever did (the action being one big example as TAS' action scenes haven't aged well).
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    • Batman Beyond has always been given good reviews, but never the amount of acclaim that Batman: The Animated Series has. However, as it went on, fans began to love it more, and more, as it's now considered one of the best in the DCAU.
    • Batman: The Brave and the Bold had very vocal critics for similar reasons as The Batman, but is now looked back on as a fun, campy romp, with many former critics admitting that they wound up liking the show after giving it a second chance and that it isn't the cheap, kid-centric program they initially thought it was. The announcement of a crossover movie with Scooby-Doo was met with open arms.
    • Beware the Batman faced a large amount of criticism for numerous reasons, between the use of CGI animation, its radical interpretation of Alfred and the choice to use nearly all obscure Batman villains. However, it is seen less harshly in recent years, mainly due to being one of the last serious DC animated series, the last Batman animated series in a long time, and the show's quality improving throughout the season. Being Screwed by the Network also earned it plenty of sympathy.
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  • When it first came out, Ben 10: Alien Force was bashed by fans of the original series for its completely different tone. Nowadays, people generally agree that it had the best balance of humor and seriousness out of any of the franchise's installments, and gave the characters a much-needed dose of maturity and Character Development. It helps that the following two installments, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien and Ben 10: Omniverse, are much more divisive due to being heavily imbalanced, being considered by some to be too Darker and Edgier and Denser and Wackier respectively, though these two have gotten a more positive response, following the controversial response of the 2016 reboot.
  • Bob's Burgers: Back when it first aired, the show gained many detractors, largely due to its animation style and being yet another dysfunctional/idiosyncratic family show cut from the same cloth as The Simpsons and Family Guy. But after Growing the Beard in its second season, which included becoming a more lighthearted comedy and focusing on the heartwarming interactions between the Belchers, therefore stepping out of what was expected of an adult animated sitcom, the show has become widely considered the best animated FOX sitcom since The Simpsons (or at least Futurama).
  • Most of Cartoon Network's original programming from 2004 through 2009 (Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, Camp Lazlo, Class of 3000, Chowder, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack) were all initially brushed aside as mediocre or bad by many. They've since gained more popularity for being among the best and most fondly remembered shows during the height of CN's Dork Age.
    • Class of 3000 received mixed reviews and opinions during its run, and soon got the ax for having low viewer ratings. Today, it's considered one of the better shows that Cartoon Network introduced during its Dork Age.
    • Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi got a lot of hate during its run, had very few fans or defenders, and viewer ratings were quite low compared to other shows airing on the network back then. But after being Screwed by the Network, the general consensus started to change, and, while it isn't as popular or as beloved as other Cartoon Network shows, it has gained a pretty sizable fanbase and following.
    • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack stands out in particular as some of the storyboard artists for the show have gone on to make smash-hit shows.
    • In a similar vein, network president Stuart Snyder, the one responsible for the first Dork Age by cancelling more liked originals for rather petty reasons, killing the first version of Toonami, and trying to force reality shows onto Cartoon Network. There was much rejoicing when Snyder left, even on This Very Wiki. Come 2017, Snyder is seen in a less negative light, however, being known for not being afraid to push the boundaries compared to other kids' networks, and despite removing most Anime from the schedule, was a big supporter of western action cartoons, along with DC Nation, as well as having helped support the development of beloved hits Adventure Time, Regular Show, The Amazing World of Gumball, Steven Universe, and (though he had left before it aired) Over the Garden Wall, especially in light of the second Dork Age (which goes in detail here) that Cartoon Network re-entered with Christina Miller's reign. Though the Dork Age still happened and people still hate it, his tenure has gone from being viewed as "the worst years Cartoon Network ever had" to "it had its negatives and positives".
  • ChalkZone: While the premiere episode gained the highest ratings for a Nicktoon premiere at the time (March 2002) and was well liked among its target audience, older Nickelodeon fans detested it for various reasons: Mainly being too "safe", "tame", or "cute" compared to other Nick shows at the time (such as SpongeBob) and some Misblamed the show for replacing Invader Zim (when in reality, ChalkZone was delayed for two years), though it was more of an extremely Broken Base as it also had many defenders. Nickelodeon itself even overlooked the show in favor of its other Nicktoons. After the show ended, it started to gain a cult following and now many Nickelodeon fans regard it as being one of the best Nicktoons of the 2000s decade.
  • Clone High was met with mediocre reviews and low ratings when it premiered back in 2002 due to its serialized format, cheap animation style, and Audience-Alienating Premise (Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist clones of historical figures enact parodies of teen dramas). These, along with massive backlash in India against its portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi, led to the series being cancelled after a single season. In the years since, the show has come to be a Cult Classic that was Too Good to Last and is now considered one of the best animated series of the 2000s due to having a quirky sense of humor with clever history-themed jokes and being a serialized series that was legitimately good at parodying high school dramas.
  • Family Guy:
    • The first two runs of the show proved fairly unpopular, despite being given a time slot during prime time. It was cancelled after the second season but fan demand was enough to give it a third season. It was shuffled around to worse and worse time slots, until it was finally cancelled for the second time and for good (back then, at least) after the third season ended. Its impact gave it Sacred Cow status, and DVD sales were large enough to have the series revived. The show went on to become one of the highest rated shows on Fox during its run.
    • Season 4 (the first after the show came back from cancellation) of Family Guy wasn't met much with praise when it began airing. Many fans were hating on it to the point of someone working on the show stepping in and defending that said season. But now, the fourth season is considered to be the golden age. For some people who tuned in the show since its return, it's considered to be hands down the best season. For people who have loved the show prior to its return, it's considered consistent compared to the other uncancelled seasons.
  • Fanboy and Chum Chum, once one of Nickelodeon's most hated Nicktoons was it came to internet discussion, has gotten a kinder reception in the years since it ended. At the very least, people are more willing to talk about the show's more positive aspects, such as the admittedly imaginative (if often absurd) storylines, very expressive and vibrant CGI animation, and the show's cast besides the eponymous characters being likable and distinct. The general consensus nowadays is that it's all-in-all a perfectly fine Nicktoon, especially if you can put up with the antics of the two lead characters as well as the show's other characters can. Helping the show's case is that shows considered to be far worse than Fanboy & Chum Chum, such as Breadwinners, have come out since it ended.
  • Futurama, although never as big a hit as The Simpsons, always had a relatively big audience, but failed to become a Cash Cow Franchise. Most people expected a similar Simpsons-style show, but all they got was a satirical science fiction series that wasn't as recognizable as a nuclear family set in modern times. Eventually the show was even cancelled, but thanks to high DVD sales, high ratings from reruns on [adult swim], and fans sharing files on the Internet, it eventually became a popular cult show and was revived on Comedy Central. The following seasons proved highly popular.
  • The Hanna-Barbera television animation studio had been up and running since 1957, and had been enjoying at least middling success due to the popularity of its earliest shows, most notably Huckleberry Hound. But it was the early '60s success of The Flintstones established a rock-solid TV empire for them, in which they could throw together whatever they wanted and not worry about the ratings. Two such shows came out of this early freedom, The Jetsons and Top Cat, neither of which lasted more than one season during their initial runs. Hanna-Barbera subsequently built stable franchises out of these underrated works over the course of a few decades, to the point where their status as mainstream classics became undisputed.
  • Invader Zim barely lasted for two seasons on Nickelodeon (with the second half of Season 2 never even being produced) as it was unable to maintain high ratings, and it was just too expensive to keep making. In the following years, it has become a Cult Classic favorite, ranking alongside SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly Oddparents, Danny Phantom, Hey Arnold!, Rugrats, Ren & Stimpy, Rocko's Modern Life and the Avatar franchise as the most popular show in the network's history. Zim is now used in Nicktoon games and merchandise continues to sell well, with the series getting a finale movie on Netflix (Enter the Florpus).
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: The Games episodes were once one of the most reviled cartoons in the history of animation, and its low ratings and critical backlash, following John Kricfalusi's firingnote  had led to the show's demise in 1995. After the failure of Adult Party Cartoon, and further stories about what happened behind the scenes at Spumco (from Billy West, Bob Camp and many other colleagues of Kricfalusi's, a book documenting the events of the show's history, released in 2013 entitled "Sick Little Monkeys: The Unauthorized Ren and Stimpy Story", and sexual allegations of John K.), the Games episodes nowadays are seen as either not as good as the first two seasons, but good in their own right, or better than the Spumco episodes that had preceded it (it's very telling that Bob Camp is usually the one out of the two creators of Ren and Stimpy, that is asked to attend conventions on a frequent basis). Either way, most people agree that the Games episodes fare better than Adult Party Cartoon did.
  • Rugrats: The Dil and Kimi episodes, when they were on, were the most hated of the cartoon's run on the Internet alongside Klasky-Csupo's other cartoons at the time, due to flanderizing the baby talk, and many people thought that it was over-saturating the network. But in later years, those seasons are as held in high regard as the seasons before those. It's gotten to the point of where people have hardly noticed the changes (minus additional characters) that happened throughout the show's run and think that the show has been consistent in quality.
  • Sanjay and Craig started off disliked like many of the other post-2009 Nicktoons on Nickelodeon. Not unlike Bob's Burgers however, its second season saw an improvement. The gross-out humor was dialed back, while the focus on the characters and storytelling over cheap laughs increased. This did wonders for the show, and before long it had gained a noticeable fanbase and was considered one of Nickelodeon's saving graces alongside Harvey Beaks. In the end, there were sighs of disappointment rather than sighs of relief when it was cancelled, which is more than could be said for some of its fellow Nicktoons such as Breadwinners.
  • The Simpsons during the Scully era (seasons 9–12) was often criticized due to the Denser and Wackier tone and zany plot twists when it was airing. But now, some people are defending the era and even consider season 9 (and to a lesser extent, season 10) part of the classic era.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog had a large hatedom back in the day from SatAM fans, and those who thought it was just bad in general. In the mid-2000s, with the rise of the YouTube Poop and several memes stemming from the show, it is now regarded as a classic due to its silly humor, So Bad, It's Good nature, Deranged Animation, and the crazy antics of Robotnik and his minions Scratch and Grounder. Scratch and Grounder themselves were even the inspiration for henchman robots that Eggman would use in further incarnations or games in the franchise, such as Orbot and Cubot, and Decoe and Bocoe.
    • Sonic Boom was often dismissed out of hand when it was new, due to its connection with a pair of notoriously low-quality games, controversial changes to characters' personalities and designs, and perceived nature as a generally low-effort cash-in. It struggled in ratings during its time on Cartoon Network and came to an end after its second season. Over time, though, its reputation started to grow as more and more people gave it a chance and discovered that far more love went into production than was previously assumed, and its clever writing, dry sense of humor, and colorful animation won it a lot of fans. Today it's a bona fide Cult Classic, viewed as the only true standout of the Boom experiment, and many in the Sonic community are clamoring for a third season.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: You won't find as many SpongeBob fans who hate Seasons 4 and 5 as back in the day (they're still seen as inferior to Season 1-3, but not by a whole lot), some even going as far as to include Season 4 as part of the show's Golden Age.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars initially garnered a divisive reception, especially since it came hot off the heels of the polarizing Prequel Trilogy and supplanted the well-loved yet non-canon Star Wars: Clone Wars micro-series, not to mention that it introduced concepts foreign to the then-Expanded Universe, such as Anakin having a Padawan that was never mentioned in the movies and so on. After Growing the Beard halfway through the first season, reception became warmer, combined with the target audience using the show as a gateway into the franchise, though some concepts continued to be controversial topics for Legends fans for the Retcons of previously well-received stories such as Star Wars: Republic Commando. After its cancellation and the Legends EU was retconned, among other Broken Base responses that still continue as of this writing, The Clone Wars is now fondly remembered, and as of 2018, has been renewed for a seventh season to the joy of many.
  • ThunderCats (2011) caused a huge Broken Base among fans of the original Eighties cartoon for its Darker and Edgier take but in later years, it has gotten a more positive reception, with several agreeing that it was a better reboot from CN than then-recent three reboots. This is helped by the fact that it was cited as one of the influences for Voltron: Legendary Defender, which is seen as the show's Spiritual Successor along with Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures was overlooked in favor of other WB cartoons such as Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and Freakazoid! back in its time, but nowadays, it has become extremely popular, being considered by many fans to be the true successor to Looney Tunes.
  • Transformers:
    • Bob Budiansky, the writer of much of the Marvel Comics series, was widely derided in the early online fandom for his liking of childish or absurd stories (Ratbat leading the Decepticons, evil car washes, wrestling leagues) and Simon Furman was seen as My Real Daddy for comic fans. At a certain point, however, people realized just how important he'd been to the early history of the franchise - writing all the profiles and coming up with almost every character name for the first three or four years - and started to notice that his comic run still had its share of decent or unique stories (even today). While Furman is still considered the better writer of the two, Budiansky is less remembered as "that guy with the stupid plots" and more remembered as "that guy without whom Transformers would not exist". Fans have also become more aware (and understanding) of the fact that Budiansky, far more than Furman, suffered from a high amount of Executive Meddling, forcing him to push out new characters at a near-impossible rate, instead of giving them time to develop.
    • The third season of The Transformers was once the most derided season in the fandom, but since coming out on DVD and being made widely available alongside the rest of the series, many fans have taken another look at it, and now many episodes of the season are regarded as some of the series' best. Check any top ten list of G1 episodes and season three episodes will make up almost half of the list, at least.
    • Transformers Beast Machines was not well received for a wide variety of reasons. Nowadays, fans that have since matured are more positive about their opinions, and others regard it more favorably than the Unicron Trilogy.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man was very polarizing when it debuted due to its radically different take on Spiderman mythos. With the show now over, many people are more willing to admit that it did have its strong points. It helped that the quality increased every season.


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