Cartoon Network (Johnsonverse)
Cartoon Network is an American cable television channel owned by WBC Networks, which is a division of Johnson Industries. The channel was launched on October 1, 1992, and primarily broadcasts animated television series, mostly children's programming, ranging from action to animated comedy. It operates usually from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM (ET/PT) and is targeted at children between ages 7 and 15. A Spanish language audio track for select programs is accessible via second audio programing (SAP); some TV providers offer the Spanish feed as a separate channel by removing the main English-language audio track. Before March 1, 2015, WBC Networks owned 50% of the studio with Turner Entertainment, Co.
As of September 2018, Cartoon Network is available to approximately 89.212 million pay television households in the United States.
In 1987, Johnson Industries made a deal to purchase animation studio Hanna-Barbera Productions for $320 million. Johnson licensed the pre-1970 WB library and the pre-1980 MGM library to Turner for use in a new network. On February 18, 1992, Turner Broadcasting System and Johnson announced their plans to launch the Cartoon Network as an outlet for Johnson's considerable library of animation.
On October 1, 1992, Cartoon Network launched to the finale of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture with a backdrop of cartoon explosions, followed by a special event called Droopy's Guide to the Cartoon Network hosted by the MGM cartoon character Droopy, during which the first cartoon on the network, Rhapsody Rabbit, was shown. Initial programming on the channel consisted exclusively of reruns of Warner Bros. cartoons (the pre-1948 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies), the 1933–1957 Popeye cartoons, MGM cartoons, and Hanna-Barbera cartoons. At first, cable providers in New York City; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Dallas; and Detroit carried the channel. By the time the network launched, Cartoon Network had an 8,500-hour cartoon library. From its launch until 1995, the network's announcers said the network's name with the word "The" added before "Cartoon Network", thus calling the network "The Cartoon Network". By the time that the network debuted, Cartoon Network also operated a programming block (containing its cartoons) that aired on TNT, entitled "Cartoon Network on TNT".
Cartoon Network was not the first cable channel to have relied on cartoons to attract an audience; however, it was the first 24-hour single-genre channel with animation as its main theme. Turner Broadcasting System had defied conventional wisdom before by launching CNN, a channel providing 24-hour news coverage. The concept was previously thought unlikely to attract a sufficient audience to be particularly profitable, however the CNN experiment had been successful and Turner hoped that Cartoon Network would also find success.
Initially, the channel would broadcast cartoons 24 hours a day. Most of the short cartoons were aired in half-hour or hour-long packages, usually separated by character or studio – Down Wit' Droopy D aired old Droopy Dog shorts, The Tom and Jerry Show presented the classic cat-and-mouse team, and Bugs and Daffy Tonight provided classic Looney Tunes shorts. Late Night Black and White showed early black-and-white cartoons (mostly from the Fleischer Studios and Walter Lantz cartoons from the 1930s, as well as black-and-white Merrie Melodies and MGM cartoons), and ToonHeads would show three shorts with a similar theme and provide trivia about the cartoons. There was also an afternoon cartoon block called High Noon Toons, which was hosted by cowboy hand puppets (an example of the simplicity and imagination the network had in its early years). The majority of the classic animation that was shown on Cartoon Network no longer airs on a regular basis, but was brought back with the new Boomerang Midnight Run block in 2016.
A challenge for Cartoon Network was to overcome its low penetration of existing cable systems. When launched on October 1, 1992, the channel was only carried by 233 cable systems. However, it benefited from package deals. New subscribers to sister channels TNT and TSS could also get access to Cartoon Network through such deals. The high ratings of Cartoon Network over the following couple of years led to more cable systems including it. By the end of 1994, Cartoon Network had become "the fifth most popular cable channel in the United States".
For the first few years of Cartoon Network's existence, programming meant for the channel would also be simulcast on TSS and/or TNT, both of which were still full-service cable networks that carried a variety of different programming genera, in order to increase the shows' (and Cartoon Network's) exposure; examples include The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Cartoon Planet, SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron, and 2 Stupid Dogs.
The network's first exclusive original show was The Moxy Show, an animation anthology series first airing in 1993. The first series produced by Cartoon Network was Space Ghost Coast to Coast in 1994, but the show mostly consisted of "recycled animation cells" from the archives of Hanna-Barbera, being an ironic deconstruction of a talk show. It featured live-action guests, mostly consisting of celebrities which were past their prime or counterculture figures. A running gag was that the production cost was dubbed "minimal". The series found its audience among young adults who appreciated its "hip" perspective.
Kevin Sandler considered Space Ghost Coast to Coast instrumental in establishing Cartoon Network's appeal to older audiences. Space Ghost, a 1960s superhero by Hanna-Barbera, was recast as the star of a talk show spoof. This was arguably the first time the network revived a "classic animated icon" in an entirely new context for comedic purposes. Grown-ups who had ceased enjoying the original takes on the characters could find amusement in the "new ironic and self-referential context" for them. Promotional shorts such as the "Scooby-Doo Project", a parody of The Blair Witch Project, gave similar treatments to the Scooby gang. However, there were less successful efforts at such revivals. A Day in the Life of Ranger Smith and Boo Boo Runs Wild (1999) were short cartoons featuring new takes on Yogi Bear's supporting cast by John Kricfalusi. Their style of humor, sexual content and break in tone from the source material was rather out of place among the rest of the Cartoon Network shows, and the network rarely found a place for them in its programming.
In 1994, Hanna-Barbera's new division Cartoon Network Studios was founded and started production on What a Cartoon! (also known as World Premiere Toons and Cartoon Cartoons). This show debuted in 1995, offering original animated shorts commissioned from Hanna-Barbera and various independent animators. The network promoted the series as an attempt to return to the "classic days" of studio animation, offering full animator control, high budgets, and no limited animation. The project was spearheaded by Cartoon Network executives, plus John Kricfalusi and Fred Seibert. Kricfalusi was the creator of The Ren & Stimpy Show and served as an advisor to the network, while Seibert was formerly one of the driving forces behind Nickelodeon's Nicktoons and would go on to produce the similar animation anthology series Oh Yeah! Cartoons and Random! Cartoons.
Cartoon Network was able to assess the potential of certain shorts to serve as pilots for spin-off series and signed contracts with their creators to create ongoing series. Dexter's Laboratory was the most popular short series according to a vote held in 1995 and eventually became the first spin-off of What a Cartoon! in 1996. Three more series based on shorts debuted from 1997 to 1999: Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, I Am Weasel (the latter two as segments of the same show; I Am Weasel was later spun off into a separate show), The Powerpuff Girls, Courage the Cowardly Dog, and Mike, Lu & Og. The unrelated series Ed, Edd n Eddy was also launched in 1999, creating a line-up of critically acclaimed shows. Many of these series premiered bearing the "Cartoon Cartoons" brand, airing throughout the network's schedule and prominently on Cartoon Cartoon Fridays, which became the marquee night for premieres of new episodes and series beginning on June 11, 1999.
These original series were intended to appeal to a wider audience than the average Saturday-morning cartoon. Linda Simensky, vice president of original animation, reminded adults and teenage girls that cartoons could appeal to them as well. Kevin Sandler's article of them claimed that these cartoons were both less "bawdy" than their counterparts at Comedy Central and less "socially responsible" than their counterparts at Nickelodeon. Sandler pointed to the whimsical rebelliousness, high rate of exaggeration and self-consciousness of the overall output each individual series managed.
In 1995, Cartoon Network launched "Cartoon Network Online" as an America Online exclusive website. It would later merge with ghostplanet.com as simply "CartoonNetwork.com", and featured games, videos, shopping, Cartoon Orbit, which launched in 2000, and even promotions to movies, video games, food items, toys, etc., such as Campbell's Soup, Ice Age, the original Spy Kids trilogy, the Cat in the Hat, Juicy Drop Pop, Wonder Ball, Hot Wheels, and so many more. In addition, CartoonNetwork.com also ran Cartoon Network's first online original series Web Premiere Toons, which mostly featured interactive web cartoons that ran from 1999 to 2002.
In 1996, Cartoon Network decided to air preschool programming and air them every Sunday morning, such as hiring Children's Television Workshop, the makers of Sesame Street on PBS Kids, to make a show called Big Bag, a live-action/puppet television program targeted at pre-school viewers, as well as Small World, a children's animated anthology show and variety show, in which showcased featured several segments from animated TV programs aimed at preschoolers from several countries around the world except for Japan, China, and Korea. Big Bag ran until 1998, and Small World ran until 2001.
In 1996, Turner Broadcasting System merged with Time Warner (ironically, Time Warner's predecessor Warner Communications had created rival Nickelodeon, now owned by ViacomCBS, in 1977). The merger consolidated ownership of all the Warner Bros. cartoons, allowing the post-July 1948 and the former Sunset-owned black-and-white cartoons (which Warner Bros. had reacquired in the 1960s) releases to be shown on the network. As most of the post-July 1948 cartoons were still contracted to be shown on Nickelodeon and ABC, the network would not air them until September 1999 (from Nickelodeon) and October 2000 (from ABC), however, the majority of the post-July 1948 cartoons that were shown on its now-sibling broadcast network The WB's Kids' WB block began airing on Cartoon Network in January 1997. Newer animated productions by Warner Bros. Animation also started appearing on the network – mostly reruns of shows that had aired on Kids' WB and some from Fox Kids, along with certain new programs such as Justice League.
Cartoon Network's programming would not be available in Canada until 1997 when a Canadian specialty channel called Teletoon and its French-language counterpart launched.
In 1997, Cartoon Network launched a new action block entitled Toonami. Its lineup initially consisted of 1980s reruns of Robotech and Thundercats. However, new shows were introduced and they consisted of action cartoons and anime, such as Sailor Moon, Tenchi Muyo!, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, and Dragon Ball Z. Toonami was hosted by Moltar from the Space Ghost franchise until 1999, where Toonami was later hosted by its own original character, a muscular teenage robot named TOM. On March 2, 1998, a series of bumpers featuring the instrumental Powerhouse were introduced. These bumpers lasted from 1998 to 2004.
One new original series premiered in 2000: Sheep in the Big City. On April 1, Cartoon Network launched a digital cable and satellite channel known as Boomerang, which was spun off from one of their programming blocks that featured retro animated series and shorts.
Three new original series premiered in 2001: Time Squad, Samurai Jack, and Grim & Evil. On June 18, Betty Cohen, who had served as Cartoon Network's president since its founding, left due to creative disagreements with Jamie Kellner, then-head of Turner Broadcasting. On August 22, Jim Samples was appointed general manager and Executive Vice President of the network, replacing Cohen. Adult Swim debuted on September 2, with an episode of Home Movies; the block initially aired on Sunday nights, with a repeat telecast on Thursdays. The initial lineup consisted of Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, Sealab 2021, Cowboy Bebop, The Brak Show, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Space Ghost Coast to Coast.
In 2002, Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? and Codename: Kids Next Door premiered; the former was short-lived, but the latter became a juggernaut for the network in the mid-2000s. The first theatrical film based on a Cartoon Network series, The Powerpuff Girls Movie, was released on July 3, 2002. It received generally positive reviews from critics and grossed $16.4 million globally on a budget of $11 million.On October 1 of that year, Cartoon Network celebrated their tenth anniversary, with a montage showcasing the network's various phases over the years.
2003 saw the debuts of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy and Evil Con Carne, both spinoffs of Grim & Evil. On October 3, the Cartoon Cartoon Fridays block was rebooted in a live-action format as "Fridays", hosted by Tommy Snider and Nzinga Blake (2003–2004), the latter of which was later replaced by Tara Sands (2005–2007). It aired several new Cartoon Network series, most of which did not bear the "Cartoon Cartoon" sub-brand. Acquired shows started picking up again with Totally Spies! the following year.
In 2004, Cartoon Network premiered three new original series: Megas XLR, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, and Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, along with the acquired series Code Lyoko. On June 14, Cartoon Network rebranded, which included an updated version of its original logo (with the checkerboard motif retained and the "C" and "N" being the centerpiece) and a new slogan, "This is Cartoon Network!" The bumpers introduced as part of the rebrand featured 2D cartoon characters from its shows interacting in a CGI city composed of sets from their shows. These bumpers lasted from 2004 to 2007. By now, nearly all of Cartoon Network's classic programming had been relocated to its sister network Boomerang to make way for new programming.
2005 saw the debuts of five more original series: The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, Camp Lazlo, Robotboy, My Gym Partner's a Monkey, and Ben 10. On August 22, Cartoon Network launched a block aimed at the preschool demographic known as Tickle-U; shows on the block included Gordon the Garden Gnome, Yoko! Jakamoko! Toto!, Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs, Little Robots, Peppa Pig, Firehouse Tales, and Gerald McBoing-Boing. The block was largely unsuccessful and was discontinued in 2007. From 2005 to 2008, most of the network's older Cartoon Cartoons (such as Dexter's Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls) could be viewed in segments on a half-hour block known as The Cartoon Cartoon Show.
In 2005, Cartoon Network signed a deal with AMC Theatres for Summer MovieCamp to feature episodes of Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, Camp Lazlo, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Codename: Kids Next Door, and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends in the big screen.
After its predecessor, What a Cartoon!, Cartoon Network created an all-new animated short series consisting of overseas shorts, pilots, college shorts, or even shorts created for the show itself. That show was called Sunday Pants; it first aired on the day of October 2, 2005. Sunday Pants varies on different types of animation, from traditional hand-drawn animation to Flash, or even CGI, possibly making it similar to other shows such as Liquid Television on MTV or KaBlam! on Nickelodeon. The show was created by Craig "Sven" Gordon and Stuart Hill, and was produced at Spitfire Studios. The show has a similar concept to What a Cartoon!, except that the shorts are 1–3 minutes long and the show is squeezed to be 23 minutes (without commercials). There are animated and live-action intervals in-between shorts. The live-action ones are performed by American band The Slacks, while the animated ones are animated by WeFail. The show lasted for less than a month, with its final airing taking place on October 23, 2005. In January 2006, the show was announced to be returning the month after but said return never came to fruition and the series was ultimately cancelled.
Two new Cartoon Network original series premiered in 2006: Squirrel Boy and Class of 3000. Three made-for-TV movies debuted this year: Codename: Kids Next Door – Operation Z.E.R.O., Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Good Wilt Hunting, and Re-Animated, the latter of which was the network's first live-action TV movie and a collaboration between live-action and animation.
Samples resigned from his post on February 9, 2007, following a bomb scare in Boston caused by packages left around the city that were part of an outdoor marketing campaign promoting the Adult Swim series Aqua Teen Hunger Force. On May 2, Stuart Snyder was named Samples' successor. On September 14, the network's look was revamped, with bumpers and station IDs themed to The Hives song "Fall is Just Something That Grown-Ups Invented." 2007 saw the debut of Out of Jimmy's Head, a spin-off of the movie Re-Animated, and the first live-action Cartoon Network series. 2007 also saw the debut of the series Chowder. In late 2007, The network began broadcasting programs from Canadian channels such as YTV and Teletoon, including George of the Jungle, 6teen, Storm Hawks, League of Super Evil, Chaotic, Bakugan Battle Brawlers, Stoked, and the Total Drama series. Each October from 2007 to 2009, Cartoon Network also re-ran 40 episodes of the former Fox Kids series Goosebumps.
Cartoon Network announced at its 2008 upfront that it was working on a new project called The Cartoonstitute, which was headed by animators Craig McCracken as executive producer and Rob Renzetti as supervising producer. Both reported to Rob Sorcher, who created the idea. It would have worked similar to What a Cartoon!, by creating at least 150 pieces of animation within 20 months. Cartoonstitute was eventually cancelled, and out of all the shorts, two or three, Regular Show, Secret Mountain Fort Awesome and Uncle Grandpa, were selected, after animator Craig McCracken (creator of The Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends) left the network after 15 years in 2009. On September 20, 2008, Cartoon Network ended Toonami after its 11-year run. From 2008 to 2010, Cartoon Network aired animated shorts that served as interstitials between programs, called Wedgies, which included Big Baby, The Bremen Avenue Experience, Calling Cat-22, Nacho Bear, and The Talented Mr. Bixby. On July 14, 2008, the network took on a refreshed look created by Tristan Eaton and animated by Crew972. The bumpers of that era had white, faceless characters called Noods, based on the DIY toy, Munny. These characters had many variations that made them look like characters from different CN shows. The standard network logo was changed to be white, adopting different colors based on the occasion in the same style.
In June 2009, Cartoon Network introduced a block of live-action reality shows called "CN Real", featuring programs such as The Othersiders, Survive This, BrainRush, Destroy Build Destroy, Dude, What Would Happen and Bobb'e Says. The network also aired some limited sports programming, including basketball recaps and Slamball games, during commercial breaks. The lineup was universally panned for being live-action shows on a channel dedicated to cartoons. That year, it also started airing live-action feature films from Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema. In 2010, the first series produced by Cartoon Network Studios to be broadcast in high definition was Adventure Time.
On May 29, 2010, a new brand identity was introduced, along with new bumpers, a theme, and a tagline, "CHECK it". The branding, designed by Brand New School, consists of the black and white checkerboard which formed the network's first logo (and was carried over in a minimized form to the second logo), as well as various CMYK color variations and various patterns. On December 27, 2010, Adult Swim expanded by one hour, moving its start time from 10 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET. In February 2011, Cartoon Network aired its first sports award show Hall of Game Awards, hosted that year by professional skateboarder Tony Hawk.
At its 2011 upfront, Cartoon Network announced 12 new series, including The Problem Solverz (originally planned for Adult Swim, but switched to CN for being "too cute"), The Amazing World of Gumball, Looney Tunes: Laff Riot, Ron & Andy, Secret Mountain Fort Awesome, Level Up (a scripted live-action comedy series with a 90-minute precursor film), Tower Prep, Green Lantern, DreamWorks Dragons (a series based on the DreamWorks film, How to Train Your Dragon), Total Drama: Revenge of the Island, the 4th season of Total Drama; ThunderCats, Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, and Ben 10: Omniverse. The network announced it planned to debut a new programming block called DC Nation which would focus on the DC superheroes, the first being the series Green Lantern.
After announcing two new live-action shows in Unnatural History and Tower Prep, which were both cancelled after their first seasons, Cartoon Network acquired the game show, Hole in the Wall (originally aired on Fox). By the end of 2011, Hole in the Wall and the final two CN Real shows, Destroy Build Destroy and Dude, What Would Happen? were removed from Cartoon Network's schedule completely. In 2012, Cartoon Network acquired the television rights to The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange, based on the web series, The Annoying Orange and added it to its primetime lineup.
On February 2, 2012, Corus Entertainment and Astral Media, owners of Teletoon, announced they would launch a Canadian version of Cartoon Network that also includes a version of the U.S. network's Adult Swim nighttime block. The channel launched on July 4, 2012. The following month, March 2012, Cartoon Network aired its first documentary, Speak Up, an anti-bullying campaign featuring a special appearance by President Barack Obama. On October 1, 2012, Cartoon Network celebrated its 20th anniversary, airing birthday and party-themed reruns of its shows for several days. Earlier in the year on March 30, 2012, the Cartoon Planet block was revived to air the channel's original programming from the late 1990s through mid-2000s. In addition, the channel announced new programming for 2013, including the live-action series Incredible Crew; the animated series Teen Titans Go!, Uncle Grandpa, Steven Universe, I Heart Tuesdays (which never went through production), Clarence, Total Drama: All-Stars, Grojband, Beware the Batman, The Tom and Jerry Show, and Legends of Chima; and a new Powerpuff Girls special, the latter of which aired on January 20, 2014.
On May 20, 2013, Cartoon Network updated its identity by adding new bumpers, graphics, and sounds. A short animation was created for each show, and these animations were used when featuring the show in Next bumpers. The background used in its promos and bumpers was also changed from black to white. On April 28, 2013, the network aired the CNN half-hour documentary The Bully Effect, which details the story of teenager Alex Libby and his struggle with bullying in high school. The special is based on the 2011 film Bully directed by Lee Hirsch.
On March 6, 2014, Stuart Snyder was removed as president and COO of Turner's Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media division after a restructure. On July 16, Christina Miller was named his successor as president and general manager of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and Boomerang. At the end of the month, Cartoon Network's 8 pm ET/PT primetime hour was given to its night time block Adult Swim, causing new episodes of the network's programming to change time slots. On October 21, 2014, Cartoon Network, along with CNN and Boomerang, were taken off-air from US-based TV provider, Dish Network, due to contract disagreements. However, the channels were restored a month later.
On January 21, 2015, Tim and Chloe Johnson were visiting Cartoon Network Studios when they got into a shouting match with Miller after the former two noticed how much of the schedule was dominated by reruns of Teen Titans Go!, which had become very controversial by then. Miller kept insisting that the show was funny and popular, and went on to state how violent and raunchy other shows such as Adventure Time and Regular Show were. On March 10, Johnson Industries announced it had acquired the remaining 50% of Cartoon Network from Warner Bros., rumored to be a result of the argument, though the network would continue to use Warner Bros.' library of animation in an agreement. Tim revealed the same day that had neither Christina Miller nor Stuart Snyder led the studio and Teen Titans Go! never happened, he would have acquired rival network Nickelodeon instead due to his dissatisfaction with then-CEO, Cyma Zarghami.
Two days later, Tim disclosed the reason for the acquisition. The programming team Miller hired intentionally used Teen Titans Go! (which had been greenlit by Stuart Snyder, though he didn't have the same goal as Miller did) to shaft any series she found inappropriate for children, with the endgame of turning Cartoon Network into a preschool-aimed network. As Johnson noted, however, many of the morals in the show encouraged terrible behavior and even illegal acts (for example, the episode "Pyramid Scheme" encouraged Ponzi schemes, and another episode, "Hot Garbage", encouraged hoarding). Further investigation found that Miller was in deep with a significant national criminal network, using Teen Titans Go! to create a new generation of criminals and anarchists. For her troubles, police arrested and imprisoned Miller, and executives banned the series for its link to a crime ring, which quickly fell to raids by the National Guard. The remaining unaired episodes were burned off without notice in an early Sunday morning slot before all merchandise was pulled from shelves and destroyed. The entire writing staff, along with creators Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, were arrested and imprisoned for being members of the crime syndicate that concocted the series, and the official website and network advertising removed all references to the series. After that, Johnson deleted the original masters and ensured that the series was never aired again or even mentioned in official Cartoon Network history sources. Despite this, all 104 episodes are still circulating online, and home video releases command high prices on eBay; Johnson has been working hard to take down these episodes and confiscate and/or destroy home video releases, treating the series with even more contempt than The Cool Adventures of Chocodile. The series' wiki was seized by the FBI, though its Wikipedia page is still up, and Lost Media Wiki has a large amount of information on the series, including a comprehensive episode guide, screencaps and video fragments that survived Johnson's purge, various subliminal messages and pro-criminal propaganda found in the episodes, and outlines of more unproduced episodes and a planned theatrical movie. The few fans the widely-hated series did have accused Johnson of fabricating evidence of the series' connection to a crime ring to justify Tim's hatred of the show, but are usually shut down very quickly by being presented with evidence so damning, they can't make any rational defense. Plans for reboots of The Powerpuff Girls and Ben 10 in a similar style were permanently shelved as a result, and a different incarnation of the latter, Ben 10: The New Adventures, began airing in 2016 instead.
To replace Teen Titans Go!, fan-favorite Ed, Edd n Eddy was revived in 2016 with much of the original crew and creator Danny Antonucci (Tim even managed to lure Tony Sampson out of retirement to reprise his role as Eddy), as a continuation of the original series taking place between "Look Before You Ed" and Big Picture Show to avoid any continuity snarls, and the third season of the previously-canceled Young Justice started airing in late 2016. Tim, a longtime fan of Adventure Time, took personal control of the show and took over for Jeremy Shada as Finn. The resulting seventh season is often considered the best, due to fixing many of the issues of previous seasons (Tim was mainly out to reverse the widely-reviled break-up of Finn and Flame Princess; this was done by having the last Frederator-made episode "The Comet" see Finn go back in time to the fourth season finale "The Lich", not do what The Lich disguised as Billy says, and then defeat The Lich, thus changing the timeline; upon telling Flame Princess what happened in the old timeline, she doesn't get mad, as it was another Flame Princess he lied to), as well as better utilizing the cast of characters it had built over six seasons, vast improvements in the comedy and action (not to mention an uptick in the violence), and introducing several new main characters; said season made international headlines when a lesbian couple (Princess Bubblegum and Marceline) was depicted in full; this resulted in the show being banned in Russia and various WBC shows making overt anti-Russian messages as a result. Most notably of all, in a surprise move, Johnson, which acquired the SpongeBob SquarePants franchise from Viacom (now known as ViacomCBS) on March 1, 1998 (before it began airing on May 1 the following year) and had licensed the series to Nickelodeon in a long-term agreement, officially moved the series to Cartoon Network starting in its tenth season (before the move, it was originally going to be the second half of the ninth season) in 2015 with the episodes "Lost in Bikini Bottom" and "Tutor Sauce". The series was moved to Cartoon Network because Tim was disgusted with how "Nick saw fit to give it tons of attention at the expense of their other franchises".
Other changes made to CN included giving Adult Swim its own channel, bringing back the weekday Toonami block, and filling Adult Swim's timeslot with a new block featuring vintage cartoons from the Johnson, Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros., and MGM libraries (as a result, Boomerang was shut down, and the channel slot in guides was taken by the 24-hour Adult Swim; the Boomerang Midnight Run block inherited the Boomerang name and uses a modernized branding inspired by that of the original channel pre-October 2014, while Jeff Bergman returned as the announcer).
On August 24, 2016, Cartoon Network acquired the rights to the The Ren & Stimpy Show, which Paramount had refused to let Nickelodeon ever do anything with, and was the first of a series of acquisitions from Nickelodeon. Three new seasons were greenlit, and the revived show began airing on September 16, 2017, with creator John Kricfalusi heading the revival as director and the voice of Ren and Mr. Horse (Billy West also reprises his role as Stimpy), and several crew members returning, including co-creator Bob Camp, while the series is produced by Spümcø successor studio Spümtwø (the series also doesn't have to deal with censorship as it did at Nickelodeon). On November 30, Cartoon Network bought the rights to the Nickelodeon series Harvey Beaks and renewed it for three additional seasons; it began airing on March 31, 2018 after Nickelodeon finished airing the second season on December 29, 2017. On December 2, 2017, Cartoon Network bought the rights to the Hey Arnold! franchise (three new seasons were greenlit, and the sixth season began airing on September 7, 2019), alongside fellow Nicktoons El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera, Rocko's Modern Life, and Invader Zim. Cartoon Network also bought the rights to Welcome to the Wayne on April 30, 2019, and renewed it for a third season that began airing on March 14, 2020 (the final Nickelodeon episode aired on May 31, 2019, after which reruns of the first two seasons aired on Cartoon Network). Later that month, Cartoon Network announced three new seasons of the former Nickelodeon (later ABC) show Doug, with most of the original crew and creator Jim Jinkins returning, as well as Billy West reprising his roles of both Doug and Roger Klotz (though the show will use the Disney character designs, the theme song will be the Nickelodeon-era theme song due to Johnson acquiring the Nickelodeon episodes as well), as well as many original cast members returning. In addition, December 29, 2019 saw Johnson acquire the rights to The Fairly OddParents. The company announced that the series would be renewed for a final season in 2021 and end with a theatrical film set for release in 2022, both of which would retcon everything that happened after the eighth season into a series of dreams Cosmo had (they would also have no involvement from creator Butch Hartman, as Tim saw him as the reason for what he saw as the series' decline, though many original writers would be involved), and, according to Tim, "bring the series back to its former glory". On January 31, 2020, Johnson acquired the rights to The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and its spinoff, Planet Sheen, as well as My Life as a Teenage Robot. The fourth seasons for both will start airing in Summer 2021. March 19 of that year saw Cartoon Network acquire the rights to Danny Phantom. It will end with a fourth season (again, retconning the third season's events into an alternate universe) and a theatrical film, and, like The Fairly OddParents, will also have no involvement from Hartman, though it will have the involvement of many of the show's writers from the first two seasons, including Steve Marmel. The buyouts and revivals of these shows gave them the nickname "Traitors to the Splat" (a reference to the classic Nickelodeon "splat" logo from 1984 to 2009).
2015 also marked the first time the network aired a major sporting event, as multiple broadcast conflicts on other Johnson-owned networks saw the 2015 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway moved to Cartoon Network. A demographics study conducted in 2017 revealed that airing the race on Cartoon Network had exposed the sport to a new generation of fans. In addition, Johnson opened a new section in the network's Atlanta headquarters known as The Cartoon Network Museum, which has production materials and artwork for many shows produced throughout the network's history, but the museum is best known for an exhibit known as "Meet the Cast", which contains statues of protagonists from every series produced in Cartoon Network, including shows acquired from other companies, with the exception of Teen Titans Go!.
Starting in 2019, Cartoon Network has sponsored the Nazareth races through the promotion of its shows; in 2019, SpongeBob SquarePants was promoted in the 400-mile NASCAR Panasonic Cup Series race in honor of its 20th anniversary, while Harvey Beaks was promoted in the 300-mile Busch Series race, the 2020 races promoted Welcome to the Wayne and the newly-revived 2011 reboot of ThunderCats, and 2021 is confirmed to promote The Steam Powered Giraffe Show and The Fairly OddParents.