One of the silver linings of this global pandemic is that while other traditional productions have had to shut down, animated shows have been able to adapt more easily to a distributed model of production. And so while the production of many of our live-action shows still is up in the air, we've had announcements of a reboot of Ren and Stimpy, this weekend sees a movie continuation of Phineas and Ferb, and premieres of new shows like Star Trek: Lower Decks. But what about beloved canceled animated shows? Isn't it time to bring them back? With everything getting a reboot or a sequel, it's time to ask ourselves what other series need to be continued. Here's five to get us started.
"The Venture Brothers"
While technically this show hasn't been canceled, we have been waiting for a new season for almost two years. It's always been worthwhile to give Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer the time and space they need to deliver the goods, but this is a gentle nudge that it's not a bad time to move these episodes forward and confirm when we're going to get an eighth (and possibly final?) season of this show.
While this show ended in so many ways perfectly, it doesn't mean that it might not be time to go back to the well. After all, as a previously canceled animated show, Futurama created several classic feature-length films that later got parsed into multiple ready-for-syndication episodes. One of these, "Bender's Game," remains one of the best episodes of the series as it blends sci-fi with Dungeons and Dragons, eventually becoming a weird parody of Lord of the Rings.
Part of what worked so well with the show was its social commentary, which included a deconstruction of fossil fuel politics in both "Benders's Game" and "Crimes of the Hot." And this is, of course, the show that re-elected Richard Nixon. So, needless to say, it would be amazing to see what they do with 2020.
For three very strange weeks twenty years ago, ABC aired animated episodes of a Clerks cartoon show written by Kevin Smith. While only a half dozen episodes were ever produced (and eventually found themselves in relatively regular rotation on [adult swim] in the 2000s) it boasted an impressive supporting cast including Alec Baldwin as the series' villain, billionaire Leonardo Leonardo, Bryan Cranston as a helicopter pilot, and Judge Reinhold as an actual judge in a case where the NBA All-Star team acted as jury (featuring the voice of Charles Barkley).
But the show was simply too odd to continue, including an episode where Dante and Randal get locked in the freezer at the Quik Stop, make Star Wars references, and try to have a clip show about the last two episodes. And, of course, the episode with an ending so nonsensical it spawned multiple memes. Bear is driving!
"Star Wars: Rebels"
With the success of the new seasons on Clone Wars and the announcement of a Bad Batch spinoff series, now is really the time we need to answer the real question everyone needs to know: whatever happened to Ezra Bridger? We deserve a series, if even a limited one or a movie-length adventure, that tells us what Sabine and Hera did while searching for Ezra, and what exactly happened.
It's possible there's an argument for keeping it just a complete mystery, and we could even have that. But when things like the Darksaber show up on The Mandalorian or The Ghost shows up in the finale of Rise of Skywalker, it's also time to ask if we don't need to check in on some of these characters. Undoubtedly, that answer is yes.
"Gravity Falls": Our King of Cancelled Animated Shows
How this series got canceled will never be explained, as it was quite simply some of the best and most surreal storytelling in children's animation in a long time. And even though the second season finale tried to explain many of the show's mysteries, there are simply too many questions that remain unanswered.
Could we leave Twin Peaks with only a season and a half? Or Lost? It's very much how this show feels, and so, considering the success Disney+ will no doubt see with the Phineas and Ferb movie, it's time they greenlit a Gravity Falls film or miniseries that takes us deeper and answers all, or at least most of our questions. You can watch all of Gravity Falls on Disney+ right now.