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'90s cartoons that deserved more than one season

The 1990s were a golden age of animation. Iconic series like Batman: The Animated Series and Gargoyles explored the dramatic possibilities of the medium, while shows like Animaniacs achieved new heights of absurdity. Competition between kid-centric networks like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network spoiled fans with oodles of entertainment. New formulas were devised, old properties were revisited, and groundbreaking techniques were developed, changing animation forever.

Yes, the 1990s were an era of innovation and growth. But not every series flourished. Sure, some become icons of the medium, fondly regarded forever as milestones and inspirations — but a whole lot of them ended shortly after they began. Fans, left forever unsatisfied by accidental cliffhangers, were given little in the way of answers. All they have are the episodes produced — sometimes only a single season's worth. Allow us to rekindle your nostalgia and call attention to those series that didn't get a fair shake. These are the 1990s cartoons that deserved more than one measly season.

Extreme Ghostbusters

Extreme Ghostbusters takes place in the future, when all supernatural activity in New York has ceased, leaving the original Ghostbusters disbanded. The torch has passed to a new crew: An impressively diverse group of college-aged kids looking to bust ghosts, fight lawmakers, and get into some ill-advised relationships

The show boasts a beefy 40 episodes. They aren't all excellent, but many of them stand out — especially the delightful ending, which showcases the return of the original Ghostbusters. The series as a whole features great use of color, superb voice acting, and so many more good ideas than the show ever had time to explore. Its failure is credited to poor scheduling,  the lack of the original Ghostbusters, and its older-kid appeal. Happily, Extreme Ghostbusters did find success with video games, an incomplete toy line, and extension into the comics. Extreme Ghostbusters deserved a chance to finish telling its stories, but at least it didn't leave fans with nothing.

Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars

Captain Bucky O'Hare commands the crew of The Righteous Indignation, a space-faring frigate, against the sinister Toad Empire. His eponymous cartoon features a cast of colorful anthopomorphic animal characters, many of whom have superpowers, plus one human boy, accidentally catapulted from our universe into Bucky's.

This "funky fresh rabbit" flew through the cosmos for 13 episodes back in 1991, but his show is likely best remembered for its tie-in video games and killer theme song. The show's intro is an explosion of color with blistering action sequences and lyrics that help the audience keep track of the cartoon's cast. It seems amazing that Bucky O'Hare didn't get another season, especially given its sought-after toy line. The toys were even re-released years later, feeding the diehard fans who still hold hope for more O'Hare adventures. Alas, our journey alongside the crew of The Righteous Indignation was short ... but not forgotten.

Mission Hill

In the fictional city of Cosmopolis rests the district of Mission Hill and its many hip youngsters. The cartoon's creators, Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, felt that Mission Hill focused on an age group few other shows in animation centered — a fact that remains true to this day.

Many different types of relationships unfold across Mission Hill's singular season, highlighting realistic sexual themes as well as positive portrayals of a (then) modern gay couple. The show's engaging color palette and incisive humor still manage to impress, and though fashions have changed, its portrayal of aimless young adulthood remains poignant.

18 episodes were planned, but only 13 were actually made. Oakley and Weinstein claim a lack of understanding of how to properly market the show on the part of the network is to blame, alongside their own naivete. They had long term plans for the show, however, and haven't given up on them entirely. Another set of episodes could see main characters Andy and Kevin grow more, and cement the show as a low-fi, avant-garde favorite. Here's hoping.

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs delivers on its title, featuring slick cars, dinosaurs, mercenaries, and lizard people. Though some criticized it for being heavy-handed in its ecological ideals, modern eyes will recognize this cartoon as being ahead of the curve. But that's beside the point: This is a cartoon called Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. Kids would plant themselves in front of the television to watch Jack Tenrec and his Mechanics go up against anyone who would hurt the environment, from poachers to corrupt politicians. The action is classic, the swagger is real, and the dinosaurs are huge. In short, it rules.

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs ran for 13 episodes on CBS. There was never a second season, and according to some sources, one wasn't even considered. It hadn't been given the best of chances, as Cadillacs and Dinosaurs didn't air in its proper timeslot and was given little network support. Moreover, licensing was an issue, as General Motors owns the trademark for the phrase "Cadillacs and Dinosaurs." Hopefully someone will come to their senses one day and realize that any cartoon titled Cadillacs and Dinosaurs deserves a second chance — or at least a second season.

Capitol Critters

Capitol Critters' titular cast live in the White House. But they aren't exactly honored guests — they're the storied home's vermin. Main character Max, a country mouse who watches his family die horribly via gassing in the first episode, has to move in with his cousin Berkeley, underneath Washington D.C.'s most famous residence. As you might have guessed, Capitol Critters isn't meant for kids.

Capitol Critters might be a cartoon, but in its brief time on air, it touched on politics, segregation, guns, and drugs. However, the show was not well-reviewed and faced the unenviable task of going up against The Simpsons. ABC would only end up showing seven of the 13-episode run, leaving the rest to be unaired until Cartoon Network picked it up in 1995.  Though toys of the characters were made for the Burger King Kids Club and rumors of a Super Nintendo game swirled, Capitol Critters faded into obscurity almost as soon as it went off the air. But it's worth remembering: Scenes of characters infiltrating the human world, non-traditional stories, and the voice talent of Bobcat Goldthwait and Frank Welker remain delightful to this day. Read our lips: Re-elect Capitol Critters!

Wild C.A.T.s

Premiering in 1994, WildC.A.T.s features excellent artistic direction, talented voice actors, and a scintillating opening theme. A sci-fi saga about a war between two alien races, it's based on the comic series of the a same name. From the first frame, it oozes 1990s cool: Bandoliers are strapped to everyone, ponytails are high and long as bullwhips, and guitars wail in the background of every scene.

The show made an impact, but was canceled after 13 episodes, most likely due to the animation block it shared with Skeleton Warriors and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, called Action Zone, being brought to an end. A video game for the Super Nintendo and a toy line based on the show were also released. The cartoon remains a streamlined version of the Wild C.A.T.s comic, giving it an advantage in attracting superhero newbies and younger viewers. With another chance and some aesthetic updates, the show could still work today — and it wouldn't even have to compete against 1990s behemoth X-Men: The Animated Series.

The Bots Master

How ultra-90s is The Bots Master? Well, it follows boy genius Ziv Zulander as he leads a revolution against an evil corporation seeking to control the world through robots. His heroic team is called The BOYZZ, split into "The Street Boyzz," "The Sports Boyzz," and "The Science Boyzz." Whenever Ziv yells "It's laser time, BOYZZ!," viewers were meant to put on their 3D glasses. Characters named Blitzy, D'Nerd, and Jammerzz are all present. All it needed was a skateboard and an educational rap to become the incarnation of the decade as a whole.

The Bots Master isn't all x-treme gimmickry, however. It features decent art and a talented voice cast, in addition to a genuinely enthralling storyline that manages to make guerilla warfare kid-friendly. It might seem weird that a show spanning 40 episodes would need another season, but the adventure ends with the bad guys getting the upper hand. Another season would have given viewers more of the story and perhaps also generated a much-needed DVD release. No 3D glasses necessary — just the story, please.

Spider-Man Unlimited

Attempting to follow the success of Spider-Man: The Animated Series was never going to be an easy task, but Saban Entertainment gave it a shot in late 1999 with a wildly different take on the wallcrawler: Spider-Man Unlimited. Due to Sony working on their first Spider-Man film, Saban was not allowed to use the character's traditional storylines or iconography. As a result, Spider-Man Unlimited is, well, weird. This Peter Parker's battle is on Counter-Earth, a rogue planet he fights to free from the forces of the High Evolutionary. J. Jonah Jameson's son is his ally, creatures known as the Beastials are their foes, and Venom and Carnage lurk around the edges, creating havoc wherever they can.

As expected, this bizarre take on Spidey caused fans to cry foul, depite the fact that many of the ideas were taken from other Marvel comics, including Spider-Man 2099. But that wasn't what killed Spider-Man Unlimited: Fox axed the show after just three episodes when it failed to perform well against the juggernaut that was Pokemon. There was a short-lived tie-in comic that told a new story, but that didn't last either. Today, it's available on Disney+, where hopefully, a boatload of new fans will discover its wonderful weirdness.

The Maxx

The Maxx tells the story of Julia Winters, a troubled social worker. Chief among her problems is the madman calling her constantly to brag about the people he has victimized. That man is the villainous Mr. Gone. The Maxx is his foe and Julie's protector — but only in "the Outback," the parallel universe that acts as a collective unconsciousness. In the real world, the Maxx is just a homeless person Julie bails out of jail. 

Adapted from the Image Comics series of the same name, MTV's cartoon remains unique to this day. It met its end too soon, after only seven episodes. No one who has watched it is surprised — The Maxx is an odd story, infamous for its fluctuating art style and dark, impressionistic story. Fans were enthralled and deserved to know more — but hey, at least, they can pick up the long-running comic and find out what happens next.

The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3

Unsurprisingly, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 features many items, sound effects, enemies, and scenery elements from the Mario games. However, it does feature original characters: The Koopalings, seven motherless children with their own distinct looks and personalities. Each episode sees Princess Peach, Mario, Luigi, and Toad attempt to thwart the schemes of these dastardly reptiles as they use their stolen magic wands to try and conquer various kingdoms. They are, frankly, adorable.

The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 does a better job of capturing its game-based world than The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, but it never got a chance to spread its wings — it was cancelled after a single season of 26 episodes. Alas, poor Koopalings — we wish we could have gotten to know you better. At least The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 will always have the dubious distinction of being the only Nintendo property to incorporate infamously disgraced musical act Milli Vanilli.