A cartoon series is a set of regularly presented animated television programs with a common series title, usually related to one another. These episodes typically share the same characters and a basic theme. For television broadcasts, programs are created or adapted with a common series title, usually related to one another and can appear as much as up to once a week or daily during a prescribed time slot. Animated cartoon series also apply outside broadcast television, as was the case for the Tom and Jerry short films that appeared in movie theaters from 1961–1962. Series can have either a finite number of episodes like a miniseries, a definite end, or be open-ended, without a predetermined number of episodes.
The duration of each episode varies depending on the individual series. Traditionally, series are produced as complete half-hour programs; however, many cartoon series are produced as animated shorts of 10–11 minutes, which can then paired with other shorts to fill a set time period. Cartoon series are sometimes grouped together according to network programming demands. Thus a particular cartoon series may appear in a number of formats or time block, such as The Batman/Superman Hour.
In general, a cartoon is a piece of art, usually developed for humorous intent. This usage dates to 1843 when Punch magazine applied the term cartoon to satirical drawings in its pages. Since, the cartoon, and later the cartoon series, has been used for comedy. However, animated programs have fallen into other genres such as the action / adventure series (for example, Speed Racer and G.I. Joe).
The 1980s and 1990s was a renaissance of the cartoon children's television series and adults. Various broadcast networks and media companies began creating television channels and formats designed specifically for airing cartoon series. Companies that already had these types of formats in place began to revamp their existing models during this time. Examples of these are:
During the 1990s more mature content than those of traditional cartoon series began to appear more widely extending beyond a primary audience of children. These cartoon series included The Simpsons, Beavis and Butt-head, King of the Hill, Duckman, and South Park. The series ReBoot, which began as a child friendly show, shifted their target age group to ages 12 and older, resulting in a darker and more mature storyline.
- Hetherington, Janet L. "As Mainframe's technology reaches adolescence, there's a 'ReBoot' Renaissance". Animation Magazine #59. Vol. 11, Issue 8, September 1997.