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This article is about the cartoons themselves. For the cable channel, see Nicktoons (channel).
Nicktoons on Nickelodeon Animation Studio logo

Nicktoons is a franchise of television cartoon shows that are produced and aired by Nickelodeon.

Prior to 1991, Nickelodeon had aired foreign-made animated films since its inception. It first experimented with its own animated programming in 1980, when the channel's first president Geraldine Laybourne commissioned a series with animated elements, Video Comic Book, and produced a fully-animated show titled Video Dream Theatre. The second series was left unaired, and throughout the next decade, animated fare on Nickelodeon comprised mostly of reruns of other companies' cartoons.

The idea for another attempt at original animated shows on the network began in the late 1980s. Starting in 1989, profits from other programs funded "Nicktoons", with the first three cartoons (Doug, Rugrats and The Ren & Stimpy Show) premiering on Sunday, August 11, 1991. This format was repeated every Sunday, eventually leading to the production of more Nicktoons at Nickelodeon Animation Studio. A spin-off channel named after Nicktoons was established on May 1, 2002.

Nickelodeon-Animation-Studio-Winx-and-TMNT

Promo for Nick Animation's versions of TMNT and Winx Club

In the early 2010s, Nickelodeon Animation Studio began to produce Nicktoons based on pre-existing franchises that had been purchased by Viacom: Winx Club (in 2011) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (in 2012). Both shows had unprecedentedly high budgets for Nicktoons, and an extensive team of Nickelodeon veterans grouped to work on Winx Club.

The Nicktoons brand also extends to other media, such as video games featuring the Nicktoon characters (including the Nicktoons Unite! series). Since 2001, the official slogan for the brand has been "[They're] Not just cartoons, they're Nicktoons".

History

Pinwheel, the first Nickelodeon series which began in 1977, was formatted as an hour-long program with two forms of segments: original content with its cast of puppet and human characters, and showcases of foreign-made short films. Many of these films were animated cartoons dating back to the 1950s. These were the first form of animated content on what would become Nickelodeon.[1]

For its first years, Nickelodeon continued to play foreign-made cartoons in a similar fashion as part of two anthology series called First Row Features and Special Delivery. In 1980, the channel aired its first original series that was not live-action: Video Comic Book. It could best be described as a "motion comic" that consisted of illustrated scenes with animated elements, like speech bubbles and moving backgrounds.[2]

Nickelodeon's first attempt at a fully-animated show occurred later in 1980, when Geraldine Laybourne produced test pilots for Video Dream Theatre. It holds the title of Nickelodeon's first true cartoon. However, it was left unaired when test audiences did not give the reactions Laybourne wanted.[3]

Throughout the 1980s, the amount of acquired animated shows on Nickelodeon increased, with reruns of cartoons and anime such as Bananaman, Danger Mouse, The Little Prince, and The Mysterious Cities of Gold.[4] Blocks dedicated to animated programming such as Looney Tunes on Nickelodeon ran from the mid-1980s well into the late 1990s. When Nick Jr. premiered as a block in January 1988, much of its shows were imported cartoons.

Original Nicktoons logo

The original Nicktoons logo.

Profits from Nickelodeon's expanding audience at the time helped it fund its own original cartoons: the first three "Nicktoons", Doug, Rugrats and The Ren & Stimpy Show. Nickelodeon executive Vanessa Coffey discovered all three of these programs after traveling to Los Angeles in 1988. Her goal was to find "three projects that looked completely different" in order to counter the homogeneous, toy-centric cartoons of the 1980s.[5]

Nickelodeon's animation production studio was originally known as Games Animation, located in Studio City, California. In 1993, Nickelodeon approached Joe Murray to create its first fully original in-house series: Rocko's Modern Life.[6] In March 1998, the then-new Nickelodeon Animation Studio was opened in Burbank, California.[7] In September 1999, Nickelodeon opened a digital animation studio in Manhattan, which took over animation of Nick Jr. series such as Blue's Clues.[8]

Throughout the 1990s, Nickelodeon continued with its "experimental" approach to animation. Hey Arnold! creator Craig Bartlett explained that the network gradually shifted away from creator-driven content during the later years of Herb Scannell's tenure as Nick president. In his opinion, the animation department "grew more and more corporate, and less like you had a personal touch".[9]

In May 2002, Nicktoons TV, a sister channel named after Nicktoons, was created.

In 2016, Nickelodeon moved its animation facilities to a different building in Burbank that houses both animated and live-action properties.

List of Nicktoons

Image Title Premiere date End date Seasons Episodes Co-productions
Icon-Doug
Doug August 11, 1991 January 2, 1994 4[note 1] 52 Jumbo Pictures
Ellipse Programmé
Icon-Rugrats
Rugrats August 11, 1991 August 1, 2004 9 172 Klasky-Csupo
Icon-Ren-&-Stimpy
The Ren & Stimpy Show August 11, 1991 October 20, 1996 5 52 Spumco
Icon-Rocko's-Modern-Life
Rocko's Modern Life September 18, 1993 November 24, 1996 4 52 Joe Murray Productions
Icon-Aaahh!!!-Real-Monsters
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters October 29, 1994 November 16, 1997 4 52 Klasky-Csupo
Icon-Hey-Arnold!
Hey Arnold! October 7, 1996 June 8, 2004 5 100 Snee-Oosh
Icon-The-Angry-Beavers
The Angry Beavers April 19, 1997 August 27, 2006 4 63 Gunther-Wahl Productions
Icon-CatDog
CatDog April 4, 1998 June 15, 2005 4 68 Peter Hannan Productions
Icon-The-Wild-Thornberrys
The Wild Thornberrys September 1, 1998 June 11, 2004 5 91 Klasky-Csupo
Icon-SpongeBob-SquarePants
SpongeBob SquarePants May 1, 1999 present 13 280 United Plankton Pictures
Icon-Rocket-Power
Rocket Power August 16, 1999 July 30, 2004 3 71 Anvision
Klasky Csupo
Icon-As-Told-by-Ginger
As Told by Ginger October 25, 2000 November 14, 2006 3 60 Klasky-Csupo
Icon-The-Fairly-OddParents
The Fairly OddParents March 30, 2001 July 26, 2017 10 172 Frederator Studios
Billionfold, Inc.
Icon-Invader-Zim
Invader Zim March 30, 2001 August 19, 2006 2 27 N/A
Icon-ChalkZone
ChalkZone March 22, 2002 August 23, 2008 4 40 Frederator Studios
Icon-Jimmy-Neutron
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius July 20, 2002 November 25, 2006 3 64 O Entertainment
DNA Productions
Icon-All-Grown-Up!
All Grown Up! April 12, 2003 August 17, 2008 5 55 Klasky-Csupo
Icon-My-Life-as-a-Teenage-Robot
My Life as a Teenage Robot August 1, 2003 May 2, 2009 3 40 Frederator Studios
Icon-Danny-Phantom
Danny Phantom April 3, 2004 August 24, 2007 3 53 Billionfold, Inc.
Icon-Avatar-The-Last-Airbender
Avatar: The Last Airbender February 21, 2005 July 19, 2008 3 61 DR Movie
JM Animation
MOI Animation
Icon-Catscratch
Catscratch July 9, 2005 February 10, 2007 1 20 N/A
Icon-The-X's
The X's November 25, 2005 December 13, 2006 1 20 N/A
Icon-El-Tigre
El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera February 19, 2007 September 13, 2008 1 26 Mexopolis, Inc.
Icon-Tak-and-the-Power-of-Juju
Tak and the Power of Juju August 31, 2007 January 24, 2009 1 26 THQ
Icon-Back-at-the-Barnyard
Back at the Barnyard September 29, 2007 November 12, 2011 2 52 O Entertainment
Icon-The-Mighty-B
The Mighty B! April 26, 2008 June 18, 2011 2 40 Paper Kite Productions
Polka Dot Pictures
Icon-Making-Fiends
Making Fiends

[note 2]

October 4, 2008 November 1, 2008 1 6 N/A
Icon-Fanboy-&-Chum-Chum
Fanboy & Chum Chum October 12, 2009 July 12, 2014 2 52 Frederator Studios
Icon-Planet-Sheen
Planet Sheen October 2, 2010 February 15, 2013 1 26 O Entertainment
Icon-TUFF-Puppy
T.U.F.F. Puppy October 2, 2010 April 4, 2015 3 60 Billionfold, Inc.
Icon-Winx-Club
Winx Club

[note 3]

June 27, 2011 April 10, 2016 3[note 4] 78 Rainbow SpA (co-owned by Viacom)
Icon-The-Legend-of-Korra
The Legend of Korra April 14, 2012 December 19, 2014 4 52 Ginormous Madman Productions
Studio Mir
Icon-Robot-and-Monster
Robot and Monster August 4, 2012 February 14, 2015[10] 1 26 Smasho! Productions
Lowbar Productions
Icon-Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

[note 5]

September 28, 2012 November 12, 2017 5 124 Lowbar Productions
Icon-Sanjay-and-Craig
Sanjay and Craig May 25, 2013 July 29, 2016 3 60 Forest City Rockers
Icon-Breadwinners
Breadwinners February 17, 2014 September 12, 2016 2 40 N/A
Icon-Harvey-Beaks
Harvey Beaks March 28, 2015 December 29, 2017 2 52 N/A
Icon-Pig-Goat-Banana-Cricket
Pig Goat Banana Cricket July 16, 2015 August 11, 2018 2 40 N/A
Icon-The-Loud-House
The Loud House May 2, 2016 present 6 130

[11]

Jam Filled Entertainment
Icon-Bunsen-is-a-Beast
Bunsen Is a Beast January 16, 2017 February 10, 2018 1 26 Billionfold, Inc.
Icon-Welcome-to-the-Wayne
Welcome to the Wayne

[12]

July 24, 2017 May 31, 2019 2 30 Yowza! Animation
Icon-The-Adventures-of-Kid-Danger
The Adventures of Kid Danger January 15, 2018 June 14, 2018 1 12 Powerhouse Animation
Schneider's Bakery
Icon-Rise-of-the-TMNT
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

[note 5]

July 20, 2018 August 7, 2020 2 39

[13]

Flying Bark Productions
Icon-Pinky-Malinky
Pinky Malinky

[note 6]

January 1, 2019 July 17, 2019 3 60 Jam Filled Entertainment
Icon-The-Casagrandes
The Casagrandes October 14, 2019 present 2 40 Jam Filled Entertainment
Icon-It's-Pony
It's Pony January 18, 2020 present 2 40[14] Blue-Zoo Animation Studio
Icon-Glitch-Techs
Glitch Techs

[note 6]

February 21, 2020 present 2 19 Top Draw Animation

Upcoming Nicktoons

Image Title Premiere date Ref(s)
Wonder Park logo
Adventures in Wonder Park October 2020 [13]
Kamp Koral patches
Kamp Koral, SpongeBob's Under Years 2021
No Image
Middlemost Post 2021 [15]
Star Trek Prodigy
Star Trek: Prodigy 2021 [16]
No Image
Rugrats (2021 TV series) 2021 [17]
No Image
Man of the House TBA
No Image
Meet the Voxels TBA
No Image
Garfield TBA
No Image
Big Nate TBA
No Image
Real Pigeons Fight Crime TBA [18]
No Image
Phoebe and Her Unicorn TBA [19]
No Image
The Patrick Star Show TBA [20]

Animation showcases

The following three shows are usually excluded from Nickelodeon's lists of Nicktoons, as they heavily feature pilots that Nickelodeon does not own the rights to. Some shows that were spawned from these showcases were picked up by other networks, such as the KaBlam! segment Angela Anaconda (greenlit by Teletoon and Fox Kids) and the Random! Cartoons pilot "Adventure Time" (greenlit by Cartoon Network).

Image Title Premiere date End date Seasons Episodes Co-productions
Icon-KaBlam!
KaBlam! October 11, 1996 January 22, 2000 4 48 Flying Mallet Inc.
1547765 373490af11 o
Oh Yeah! Cartoons July 19, 1998 2002 3 34 Frederator Studios
Random-Cartoons-Icon
Random! Cartoons

[note 2]

December 6, 2008 December 20, 2009 1 13 Frederator Studios

DreamWorks co-productions

The following shows were spun off from DreamWorks Animation's film franchises. While they were co-produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio and Viacom owns half of each show's copyright, Nickelodeon has excluded them from their Nicktoon compilations since 2016, when DreamWorks was purchased by NBCUniversal and stopped licensing their characters to Nick.

Logo Title Premiere date End date Seasons Episodes
The Penguins of Madagascar Icon
The Penguins of Madagascar November 28, 2008 January 4, 2016 3 80
Kung fu panda legends of awesomeness icon
Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness September 19, 2011 June 29, 2016 3 80
Monsters vs. aliens icon
Monsters vs. Aliens March 23, 2013 February 8, 2014 1 26

Miniseries

The following miniseries were produced by Nick Animation, but they were never green-lit for full seasons.

Logo Title Premiere date End date Episodes Co-productions
Rugrats Pre-School Daze poster
Rugrats Pre-School Daze November 16, 2008 December 7, 2008 4 Klasky Csupo
Middle School Moguls Icon
Middle School Moguls September 2, 2019 September 29, 2019 4 Gengirl Media, Inc.

Acquired shows

Please see Non-original shows broadcast by Nickelodeon for a list of cartoons that have aired on a Nick channel but were not produced by Nickelodeon.

Movies based on Nicktoons

Theatrical films

Image Title Release date Co-production Based on
TheRugratsMoviePoster
The Rugrats Movie November 20, 1998 Paramount Pictures / Klasky Csupo Rugrats
Rugrats In Paris Poster
Rugrats in Paris: The Movie November 17, 2000
Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius film
Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius December 21, 2001 Paramount Pictures / O Entertainment The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius
Hey arnold the movie xlg
Hey Arnold!: The Movie June 28, 2002 Paramount Pictures / Snee-Oosh / Nickelodeon Animation Studios Hey Arnold!
Wild thornberrys movie ver2
The Wild Thornberrys Movie December 20, 2002 Paramount Pictures / Klasky Csupo The Wild Thornberrys
Rugrats Go Wild Poster
Rugrats Go Wild June 13, 2003 Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys
SpongebobMoviePoster
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie November 19, 2004 Paramount Pictures / United Plankton Pictures SpongeBob SquarePants
Barnyard ver2
Barnyard August 4, 2006 Paramount Pictures / O Entertainment Back at the Barnyard
The Last Airbender Poster
The Last Airbender July 1, 2010 Paramount Pictures / Blinding Edge Pictures Avatar: The Last Airbender
TSBSPMSOOW Poster 2
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water February 6, 2015 Paramount Pictures / Paramount Animation / United Plankton Pictures SpongeBob SquarePants
Wonder Park Poster
Wonder Park March 15, 2019 Paramount Animantion / Ilion Animation Studios Adventures in Wonder Park

Upcoming theatrical films

Image Title Release date Co-production Based on Source
Sponge on the Run poster
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run August 14, 2020 Paramount Pictures / Paramount Animation / United Plankton Pictures SpongeBob SquarePants [21][22]

Direct-to-video and made-for-TV films

Image Title Release date Co-production Based on
The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour Poster
Jimmy Timmy Power Hour May 7, 2004 O Entertainment / DNA Productions / Frederator Studios Jimmy Neutron and The Fairly OddParents
JimmyTimmyPowerHour2DVD
Jimmy Timmy Power Hour 2: When Nerds Collide! January 16, 2006
JimmyTimmyPowerHour3DVD
Jimmy Timmy Power Hour 3: The Jerkinators! July 21, 2006
TalesFromTheCrib SnowWhite DVD
Rugrats Tales from the Crib: Snow White September 17, 2005 Paramount Home Entertainment / Klasky Csupo Rugrats
TalesFromTheCrib JackAndTheBeanstalk DVD
Rugrats Tales from the Crib: Three Jacks and a Beanstalk September 5, 2006
FOP-Movie-poster
A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! July 9, 2011 Pacific Bay Entertainment / Frederator Studios / Billionfold, Inc. The Fairly OddParents
A Fairly Odd Christmas poster
A Fairly Odd Christmas November 29, 2012
AFairlyOddSummerDVD
A Fairly Odd Summer August 2, 2014
TMNT Half-Shell Heroes Blast to the Past picture
Half-Shell Heroes: Blast to the Past November 22, 2015 Nickelodeon Animation Studios Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
JungleMoviePoster
Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie November 24, 2017 Snee-Oosh Hey Arnold!

Television on net films

Image Title Release date Co-production Based on
Rocko’s Modern Life Static Cling poster 2
Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling August 9, 2019 Joe Murray Productions Rocko's Modern Life
Invader Zim Enter the Florpus 2019 poster
Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus August 16, 2019 Maven Animation Studio Invader Zim

Upcoming direct-to-video and made-for-TV films

Image Title Release date Co-production Based on Source
No Image
The Loud House: A Very Loud Christmas! December 2020 N/A The Loud House [23]

Upcoming television on net films

Image Title Release date Co-production Based on Source
The Loud House Movie logo
The Loud House Movie 2021 Jam Filled Entertainment The Loud House [24][25]
No Image
Untitled Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie TBA Flying Bark Productions Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [24]

Trivia

  • SpongeBob SquarePants currently holds the record for longest-running Nicktoon, which had previously been held by Rugrats, surpassing that show's run (in terms of number of episodes) when SpongeBob aired its 172nd episode on April 10, 2012. However, with two spin-offs, Rugrats still has the most shows featuring its characters as of 2019.
    • The Rugrats Pre-School Daze miniseries holds the record for shortest-lived Nicktoon (18 days in the U.S. and just 5 in the United Kingdom) and the least amount of episodes (4).
  • The Fairly OddParents was the first Nicktoon to ever reach ten seasons, even before SpongeBob SquarePants, which was still in its ninth season, when the first episode of Season 10, "The Big Fairy Share Scare!" premiered.
  • The ninth season of SpongeBob SquarePants took almost five years to air all 26 episodes, lasting from July 21, 2012 to February 20, 2017. This is the longest time a single Nicktoon season has lasted on the main Nickelodeon channel.
  • Several Nicktoons have never finished airing on the main Nickelodeon network. As an example, two episodes of As Told by Ginger remain unaired in the United States as of 2019.
  • In North America, almost all Nicktoons are distributed on home video by Paramount, which has been a subsidiary of Nickelodeon's parent company Viacom since 1994.
  • Most Nicktoons are majority-produced in the United States with their final animation processes outsourced to service companies in South Korea. Exceptions include:
    • The Nickelodeon episodes of Doug, co-produced with the French studio Ellipse Programmé (or Ellipsanime).
    • The Nickelodeon episodes of Winx Club, co-produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio and their Italian sister company (through Viacom), Rainbow Group. Nick Animation handled script writing, voice recording, animation approval, and some of the music production while coordinating with the Italian team.
  • As it is technically a live-action show, Mr. Meaty has not been recognized as an official Nicktoon. It is still a Viacom-owned production.
  • When Nickelodeon repackaged the Action League Now! shorts into a half-hour block, the "new" show was occasionally advertised among the full-fledged Nicktoons. The package show is otherwise excluded from all of Nick's Nicktoon lists, and it was not produced by Nick Animation.

Brand logos

See also

References

  1. "Finding Ni Hao" (Pinwheel excerpt) (April 2008).
  2. Nickelodeon Nation: The History, Politics, and Economics of America's Only TV Channel for Kids (February 2004).
  3. The Washington Post: The kids' channel that 'Double Dares' to be different (September 25, 1988).
  4. Nickelodeon and Consumer Citizenship (2007).
  5. Nicktoons 25th anniversary oral history of Rugrats, Doug, Ren & Stimpy (August 11, 2016).
  6. Makin' Toons: Inside the Most Popular Animated TV Shows and Movies (2003).
  7. Studio Tour: Nicktoons (April 1998).
  8. David Kilmer (September 22, 1999). Nickelodeon opens animation studio in New York. Animation World Network.
  9. Nickelodeon grew up and blew up in 1996 (August 9, 2016).
  10. TheFutonCritic: Robot and Monster.
  11. Welcome to our new series of crew profiles (November 18, 2015).
  12. Nick Greenlights ‘Welcome to the Wayne,’ First TV Series Based On Digital Series (April 23, 2015).
  13. 13.0 13.1 Nickelodeon Upfront 2017 – Nickandmore!.
  14. [1]
  15. Nickelodeon's 'Middlemost Post' Gets Greenlight, Starts Production as Studio's Artists Work From Home Due to Pandemic.
  16. https://comicbook.com/startrek/news/star-trek-prodigy-nickelodeon-animated-series-comic-con/?
  17. 'Rugrats' Revived at Viacom With New Nickelodeon Series, Feature Film (July 16, 2018).
  18. http://thefutoncritic.com/news/2020/07/07/nickelodeon-inks-multiplatform-deal-with-james-corden-and-ben-winston-to-produce-animated-movie-and-tv-series-based-on-childrens-book-real-pigeons-fight-crime-593302/20200707nickelodeon02/
  19. https://deadline.com/2020/06/nickelodeon-phoebe-and-her-unicorn-options-franchise-1202963565/
  20. https://www.animationmagazine.net/tv/spongebob-spin-off-patrick-star-show-in-the-works/
  21. Paramount Sets ‘SpongeBob 3’ for 2019, Delays ‘Monster Trucks’ to 2017 (November 10, 2015).
  22. https://twitter.com/ParamountCanada/status/1288988083514482688
  23. 'SpongeBob' Prequel, Live-Action 'Loud House' Movie Set at Nickelodeon.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Nickelodeon Sets 'Loud House', 'Ninja Turtles' Animated Films at Netflix.
  25. 'Loud House' Ratings Drive Graphic Novel Sales

Notes

  1. Only the first four seasons were produced by Nickelodeon.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Premiered exclusively on Nicktoons Network.
  3. Viacom bought the Winx Club franchise before producing new seasons at Nickelodeon Animation Studio. Nickelodeon's packaging guide officially calls the show a Nicktoon.
  4. Seasons 5–7 (three seasons in total) were produced at Nickelodeon Animation Studio.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Viacom bought the TMNT franchise before producing a new series at Nickelodeon Animation Studio. Nickelodeon's packaging guide officially calls the show a Nicktoon.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Produced at Nickelodeon Animation Studios; Distribution rights owned by streaming service Netflix.
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