Cartoon Cartoons is a collective name used by Cartoon Network for their original animated series from 1995 to 2003. The majority of them were produced by Hanna-Barbera and/or Cartoon Network Studios. The concept of Cartoon Cartoons was spearheaded by Fred Seibert, and originated from his animation anthology series, What a Cartoon! (later retitled to The Cartoon Cartoon Show). Once their popularity had grown, the Cartoon Cartoons were featured on the network's Friday night programming block, Cartoon Cartoon Fridays (1999–2003). Not all CN original series created around this time were officially recognized as Cartoon Cartoons; Samurai Jack, for example, did not bear the moniker.
The moniker was retired by the network in 2003 and its last surviving series, Ed, Edd n Eddy, ended in 2009. Since their heyday, reruns of the Cartoon Cartoons continued to air on The Cartoon Cartoon Show (2005–2008) and Cartoon Planet (2012–2014). In 2021, the name was resurrected by the network for a new shorts program.
See also: What a Cartoon!
Cartoon Cartoons first appeared as shorts on animation showcase series What a Cartoon! in 1995, under the name of World Premiere Toons. The series was produced by Hanna-Barbera and Cartoon Network Studios under the direction of Fred Seibert. Seibert had been a guiding force for Nickelodeon (having overseen the creation of Nicktoons shortly prior to his departure) prior to joining Hanna-Barbera and would establish Frederator Studios years later.
Through What a Cartoon!, 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 became the first Cartoon Cartoon in 1996. The network's previous original shows, The Moxy Show and Space Ghost Coast to Coast, as well as all acquired programming were not retroactively given the Cartoon Cartoons label. Three more series based on shorts debuted in 1997: Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, and I Am Weasel (the latter two as segments of the same show; I Am Weasel was later spun off into a separate show). These are followed by The Powerpuff Girls in 1998 and Ed, Edd n Eddy in 1999, and concluded with Mike, Lu & Og and Courage the Cowardly Dog in 1999, creating a lineup of critically acclaimed shows. In 2001, the network received Time Squad and Grim & Evil (the previous state of Evil Con Carne and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy). Also in 2001, the show Samurai Jack premiered, but was not officially branded as a Cartoon Cartoon despite airing during the various programming blocks. In 2002, Codename: Kids Next Door became a full series after being chosen in the previous year's "Big Pick Weekend". It was also the last original series to officially carry the Cartoon Cartoon branding before being discontinued.
The "Cartoon Cartoon" brand was first introduced in July 1997 for the network's Cartoon Cartoon Weekend block. From 1999 to 2003, the Cartoon Cartoon Fridays block would become the network's marquee night for premieres of new episodes and series.
The Cartoon Cartoons 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 the cartoons could appeal to them as well. Kevin Sandler's article on 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 which each individual series managed.
In October 2003, the same month the new live-action Fridays premiered on the network, the Cartoon Cartoons brand began to be phased out, and the Cartoon Cartoons openings (where a Cartoon Cartoon character would pop out of the "O" formed by ribbons and shout the tagline) that were shown before the intro of the actual show were dropped. However, the Cartoon Cartoons closing (with the male voiceover shouting the tagline offscreen) remained intact until the network's rebrand in June 2004. In June 2004, the block Cartoon Cartoons The Top 5 was renamed to simply The Top 5. CN still kept the Cartoon Cartoons name around in various forms applying to their older series (such as for The Cartoon Cartoon Show from 2005 to 2008), but since newer shows such as Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Camp Lazlo, and Ben 10 were stylistically different from previous shows, the moniker was not applied to them.
In April 2021, Cartoon Network announced a new iteration of the Cartoon Cartoons shorts program.
More shows 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 shows beginning June 11, 1999. On October 3, 2003, the block was rebooted under a hybrid live-action format as "Fridays", hosted by Tommy Snider and Nzinga Blake, the latter of whom was later replaced by Tara Sands. It aired shows outside the "Cartoon Cartoon" moniker, such as Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, Camp Lazlo, My Gym Partner's a Monkey, Squirrel Boy, and Class of 3000. The last airing of "Fridays" was on February 23, 2007.
Cartoon Cartoons The Top 5 (simply retitled The Top 5 in 2004), an hour-long program featuring a countdown of the week's five "best" Cartoon Cartoon episodes from the network's lineup, ran from 2002 to 2008. From 2005 to 2008, the "Cartoon Cartoons" label was primarily used for The Cartoon Cartoon Show, a half-hour program featuring episodes of older Cartoon Cartoons that were no longer shown regularly on the network.
The block Cartoon Planet was revived on Cartoon Network from 2012 to 2014, airing in a format similar to The Cartoon Cartoon Show. It featured Cartoon Cartoons such as Dexter's Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, I Am Weasel, The Powerpuff Girls, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Ed, Edd n Eddy, Codename: Kids Next Door, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, and other original Cartoon Network Studios series such as Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Camp Lazlo, and Chowder.
|Title||Premiere date||Finale date(s)||Note(s)|
|What a Cartoon! / The What a Cartoon! Show / The Cartoon Cartoon Show||February 20, 1995||November 28, 1997 (as main show)
August 23, 2002 (as collective series)
|Title||Premiere date||Finale date||Note(s)|
|Dexter's Laboratory||April 28, 1996||November 20, 2003||[b][c]|
|Johnny Bravo||July 14, 1997||August 27, 2004||[b][c]|
|Cow and Chicken||July 15, 1997||July 24, 1999||[b][c]|
|I Am Weasel||July 22, 1997||2000||[b][c]|
|The Powerpuff Girls (original series)||November 18, 1998||March 25, 2005||[b][c]|
|Ed, Edd n Eddy||January 4, 1999||November 8, 2009||[c]|
|Mike, Lu & Og||November 12, 1999||May 27, 2001|||
|Courage the Cowardly Dog||November 12, 1999||November 22, 2002||[b][c]|
|Sheep in the Big City||November 17, 2000||April 7, 2002|
|Time Squad||June 8, 2001||November 26, 2003|
|Grim & Evil||August 24, 2001||October 31, 2003||[b][c]|
|Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?||July 19, 2002||November 14, 2003||[b]|
|Codename: Kids Next Door||December 6, 2002||January 21, 2008||[c]|
|The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy||June 13, 2003||October 12, 2008||[c]|
|Evil Con Carne||July 11, 2003||October 22, 2004||[b][c]|
|Cartoon Cartoons||1997–2003, 2021–present||Shorts|
|Cartoon Cartoon Weekend||1997–2002|
|Cartoon Cartoon Fridays||1999–2003|
|Cartoon Cartoon of the Day||1999–2000|
|The Saturday Morning Block||1999–2000|
|The Cartoon Cartoon Show||2000–03; 2005–08|
|Cartoon Cartoon Summer||2000–01|
|Cartoon Cartoon Fridays Big Pick Weekend||2000–01|
|Cartoon Cartoon Primetime||2001|
|The Premiere Premiere Show||2001–02|
|Cartoon Cartoon Weekend Summerfest||2002|
|Cartoon Cartoons Top 5||2002–08|
In the OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes episode "Crossover Nexus", the "Cartoon Cartoon" logo is shown in the bottom of a wall inside the Cartoon Network headquarters; the Cartoon Cartoon jingle theme song is played when Ben Tennyson (Ben 10) shapeshifts into different Cartoon Network characters.