Animation is nothing less than a boundless medium. There are no limits to the things cartoons can do and the ideas they can portray as they’re able to cover any genre, theme, style, or tone. Many cartoons stand tall as some of the greatest and most iconic TV series of all time.
Unfortunately, the boundless opportunities for cartoons also come with endless opportunities to drop the ball, even among the very best shows. Plenty of the greatest cartoons have made massive mistakes that taint their otherwise incredible legacies. Sometimes all it takes is a single scene to drive people away.
10/10 Mordecai’s Relationship Arc Comes To A Sour End In Regular Show
Regular Show is an absolute modern classic, but the love triangle subplot between Mordecai, Margaret, and CJ is one of the show’s weakest parts. This plotline dragged down several of the later seasons for far too long and brought out the worst qualities of both of Mordecai’s relationships.
This relationship culminates in the sixth season finale “Dumped at the Altar.” In one of the final scenes, Mordecai awkwardly delivers a speech about his love life at Muscle Man’s wedding, which leaves CJ completely fed up with him. Fans were left either frustrated at the breakup or annoyed at having spent so much time on this unsatisfying plot.
9/10 Finn’s Dream About Flame Princess Taints His Character In Adventure Time
Adventure Time was a huge milestone in children’s animation that touched on many mature, complex themes for young viewers. One idea it probably should have stayed away from, though, is Finn’s arousing dream in the episode “Frost and Fire.”
Finn finds himself tempted by an arousing dream about Flame Princess. This sees him manipulate Flame Princess and Ice King into fighting for his continued pleasure, but he eventually gets dumped. Puberty is definitely an interesting theme for Adventure Time to touch on, but the scene ultimately does more harm than good to Finn. His selfish behavior around Flame Princess continues into later episodes.
8/10 The ‘Incest Baby’ Was A Permanent Stain On Rick And Morty
rick and morty is Adult Swim’s flagship series and a huge success, but one massive low point comes in season five’s “Rickdependence Spray.” The introduction of the giant, mutant baby of Morty and Summer came across as far too much without a clever twist, even by the raunchy standards of rick and morty.
Even more alienating is the fact that “Rickdependence Spray” gets a continuation later in the same season. Not only were fans forced to relive one of rick and morty‘s most uncomfortable scenes, but it cements the baby as specifically canon to the main Rick and Morty. Even across the show’s infinite multiverse, fans weren’t allowed to escape this unfortunate moment.
7/10 The Election Results Threw The South Park Writers Off Guard
Tea 20th season of South Park took a considerable risk by going fully serialized, attempting to tell a single, continuous story about the United States 2016 election. The main story of the season originally banked on Hillary Clinton’s victory over Mr. Garrison, the show’s stand-in for Donald Trump.
The events of real life had other things in mind, though, and the story was forcibly altered. Garrison’s victory scene in “Oh, Jeez” failed to hide the obvious rewrite of the overarching plot, which was especially bad for a show that produces episodes in under a week. The rest of the season could only scramble to pick up the pieces.
6/10 Sparky’s Introduction In The Fairly OddParents Solidified A Long Era Of Seasonal Rot
The Fairly OddParents focuses on an average boy who needs his two fairy godparents to help him through his struggles. The show has a simple but infectious charm to it, which is bolstered by the lovable main trio and their silly, magical adventures.
The introduction of Timmy’s fairy dog, Sparky, marked an unfortunate change to the status quo and the start of a very long decline. The Fairly OddParents’ introduction of another main character, despite having added baby Poof just before, was the biggest warning of the poorly-received gimmicks the show would grow to rely on in its later years.
5/10 Tucker Becoming Mayor In Danny Phantom Is Way Too Ridiculous
Danny Phantom was a charming, memorable action cartoon that found a good balance between fun superhero action and simple but effective high school drama. However, the aftermath of “Phantom Planet,” the series finaleleans so far into the show’s cheesy nature that it loses its appeal.
After helping to save the world from a massive asteroid, Danny’s best friend, Tucker, is revealed to have been chosen as the new mayor of Amity Park. The idea of an awkward teenager becoming mayor completely breaks the immersion of a show like Danny Phantomwhich usually takes itself at least somewhat seriously.
4/10 Principal Skinner Receives A Controversial Retcon In The Simpsons
The Simpsons is perhaps the most influential animated series of all time for its sharp humor and large, well-established cast of characters. For that very reason, though, The Simpsons has never been able to live down one scene. In “The Principal and the Pauper,” The Simpsons decide to rewrite Principal Skinner’s backstory.
“The Principal and the Pauper” established that Skinner was actually an imposter who had taken the real Skinner’s identity, altering years’ worth of established continuity and characterization. This reveal received significant backlash from both fans and staff members, so many thing to deem it as non-canon.
3/10 Mal Was Defeated Through A Literal Reset Button In Total Drama
Total Drama had a unique gimmick as an animated parody of reality shows, which proved to be a big hit and paved the way for serialized cartoons before they took off in popularity. Tea All Stars season revolved around the show’s most iconic characters and introduced Mal, the evil alter ego of Mike and the show’s most sinister villain up to that point.
Despite everything he does, Mal is best known for being defeated in the finals in one of the most bizarre ways imaginable: a button that permanently resets Mike’s mind and destroys Mal with a single push. This anticlimactic scene cemented both Mike and Mal as some of the most controversial characters among Total Drama fans.
2/10 The Long-Awaited Series Finale Of Samurai Jack Rushed Its Climax
After years of waiting, the fifth season revival of SamuraiJack looked promising. The darker, heavier tone for its now-adult audience deconstructs the very premise of the show and masterfully intensifies the stakes. Fans were nothing short of thrilled until very near the end.
Unfortunately, the final battle with Aku was in desperate need of more screen time, as the sudden reveal that Ashi has Aku’s powers leaves little time for fans to take things in. This short and disliked scene also leaves fans with far too many questions about the future, such as the fates of Jack’s friends.
1/10 Star Destroying Magic In Star Vs. The Forces Of Evil Is Far Too Horrifying
Star vs. the Forces of Evil quickly gained a lot of traction for its endearing characters and interesting lore, but its finale is criticized far and wide for its resolution and the implications that follow from it. Star resolves to destroy all magic, a decision that ends up haphazardly merging Earth with Mewni.
Ultimately, the scene raises a plethora of questions and concerns, which are all left unaddressed. Even the brief glimpse the show gives at the newly-merged world comes across as more disturbing than intriguing. Meanwhile, the fates of Star‘s numerous magical beings are simply never mentioned.