Dark Age of Cartoons
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A twenty-year expanse between roughly 1970 and 1990.
So named because cartoonists and writers had virtually no creative control and were forced by management to create horribly-written and horribly-executed scripts, resulting in shit like the Smurfs and 1980s My Little Pony. These shows were shit, and the cartoonists fucking hated them. The biggest reason for this was the near-dominance of several animation studios at the time enforcing creative monopoly; the fail would eventually cause what would become known as American Cartoon Syndrome, a terrible illness, in almost every work it could contact. A common refrain from these times is that management would only allow for episodic formats and 7 different types of story - and not in the usual literary archetype fashion, either. Many plots for these shows were blatantly and openly cookie-cuttered by one another, and you would see the same stories recycled over and over and over, just with the situation happening to different characters.
John Kricfalusi, founder of Spumco Cartoons (who would later create Ren and Stimpy, one of a few dozen shows that heralded the end of the Dark Ages), elaborated that the scripts that the writers and cartoonists would need to work on were literally retarded, with spelling and grammar errors, complete lack of actual character buildup, and mused that the situation was so bad that members of the staff would routinely light scripts on fire before throwing them into Kricfalusi's office, prompting his staff to have to stomp them out before getting to work.
It only stopped when smarter, less-known cartoonists were allowed much greater creative control over their work, paired with international shows (e.g. story arc-oriented Anime) starting to gain popularity.
However, this age did birth popular franchises like Scooby Doo, which has gone on to shed its sling and evolved into something with a good story and actually mature and solid writing, with Mystery Incorporated being a culmination of this, getting Grimdark pretty damn fast. (This went on until Be Cool Scooby Doo, which is shit, and always will be shit.) Unfortunately, in the rush to create an engaging plot, Scooby disconnected from its two subversive roots: that adults try to trick children, and that claims of the supernatural are often fraudulent and shouldn't be taken at face value, the former discarded in shameless pandering, the latter in the interests of getting really spooky.