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Here’s a list that’ll hit home for 90’s, early-2000’s, and just about any type of kid who had basic cable. Cartoon Network is a hallmark for anyone’s coming-of-age story, as it introduced millions of kids to interesting and dynamic stories only possible in the realm of animation; and as minuscule as its current library may seem compared to its early years, it still continues to innovate and inspire future generations.

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And as much hope as one can have for the future of animation, there’s still plenty to lament about its lost opportunities. Even more so than the shows that’ve seen commercial and long running success, some of Cartoon Network’s most famous series are those that were cancelled before their prime (some even long before they had a full season 1). Here are some of those old favorites that we wish any streaming service will pick up, dust off, and give us some closure.

10 Megas XLR

Some series were founded on asking and lamenting on the greatest of philosophical questions. For Megas XLR, that question was, “Who digs giant robots?” The answer may surprise you, as you dig into its instantly iconic intro music. This series focuses on a couple of bums from New Jersey who stumble upon a dilapidated, giant robot from the future and decide to fix and pimp it out like the muscle car Gundam always wished it could have. As much as anyone could wish that was an exaggeration, it isn’t.

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Two dudes from New Jersey literally fix up and paint up a giant robot and even transfix an old muscle car as its head. From here on out, the giant robot is worked via a long series of car mechanisms, hilariously labeled buttons, and old video game controllers. If you needed anything else, just know that Cartoon Network at least gave this series a few episodes. It was originally pitched to MTV who rejected it; and in subsequent episodes of Megas XLR, they dedicate the experience by constantly destroying a Pop TV satellite. This is a series not known for its subtlety.

9 Sym-Bionic Titan

On a similar note to Japanese inspired/American made, mecha series, Sym-Bionic Titan is another action show that wasn’t given its proper due. Made by Genndy Tartakovsky of Samurai Jack acclaim, Sym-Bionic Titan focuses on Lance, Ilana, and Octus, three seemingly teenagers who were dejected from the far away planet of Galaluna and now seek refuge as high schoolers in Sherman, Illinois.

However, the new regime seeks out to find and eliminate them and sends to Illinois barrage after barrage (on an oddly weekly basis) of robots, aliens, and intergalactic killers. Using giant robots and transformations that would put Sentai robots to shame, this series’ heroes try to put a stop to them, all while handling personal feelings of ineptitude, duty, and all that riff raff that made high school endearing and terrible…but with giant robots.

8 Thundercats (2011)

A lot of hate goes around these days for Cartoon Network’s incessant reboots of childhood classics and pushes for Teen Titans Go!. However, there was a day and age where they would actually take a piece of a childhood from far, far away and actually…try. Thundercats was one such instance where the creative team brought the classic some new animation worthy of the modern age, as well as greater and more endearing writing that advances the original.

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You know, instead of streamlined animation and jokes that execs think would work in Adventure Time. If you never saw the original Thundercats, that’s fine. This series was the Batman Begins of its animated generation, bringing audiences something serious but widely accessible. However, it sadly won’t get the same kind of sequel.

7 Clarence

Acting almost as a sister series to Adventure Time and Regular Show, Clarence was the more grounded, child friendly show of its generation. It wasn’t so over the top like Uncle Grandpa, but it didn’t exactly pander like Teen Titans Go! (apologies that this may come up a lot).

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Clarence, for all its good and its faults, was based on a grounded sense of childlike wonder, where kids played on the streets, got bored at the doctor’s office, and made friends with their mom’s boyfriend – but not in a sad way. It had the right level of fun to entertain your little brother or sister but also enough wonder and endearing moments to make you sigh in nostalgic melancholy.

6 Over The Garden Wall

This is one of those series that may be controversial if it were to get another season, purely because the season that it did get was and felt complete. If you haven’t seen Over the Garden Wall and want to renew your faith in strong, exploratory storytelling in cartoons, go on Hulu or wherever and watch this. It isn’t that hard given its 10-episode run and beyond extraordinary background art, and Elijah Wood playing one of the main characters.

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There’s a already a lot to dig into within its short run such as the history of its characters, references to death, and the general symbolism of the environment and episodes. And while there is a fear of diminishing returns and streamlined value, Over the Garden Wall wasn’t exactly a linear story. It was episodic, told well, and wonderfully directed. If it takes the Rick and Morty, long-production treatment to get that same value, it should be worth it, because nothing about this series says that it can’t be done again. And there’s a lot of people out there that really wish it would.

5 The Marvelous Misadventures Of Flapjack

On the other end of the seriousness spectrum is another cartoon based on an old-time world with culturally distinct music and dynamic art style. What sets The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack apart however, is its incredibly, surreally, abstractly hilarious content and animation. Focusing on a young boy living in a whale by Stormalong Harbor and being mentored by the incredulous Capt’n K’nuckles, this series uses old time values and environments to create its own brand of adventures and humor.

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Animation itself works in this series to tell jokes that only animation could and doesn’t just regurgitate a script. Silly faces and close ups, active backgrounds, and exaggerated character designs all work together to create sketches that would make Terry Gilliam proud.

4 Long Live The Royals

Living in the same vain of Over the Garden Wall as an animated mini-series, Long Live the Royals was a fantasy, high-school rebellion cartoon that really could’ve kept people’s itch after Regular Show began to wane from broadcasting. It tells the story of the average American family full of hormonally enraged teenagers living in the not-so-average medieval period, which, as odd as it may seem, works really well with a punk tone, often working as endearingly as it does ironically.

What really separates it from Over the Garden Wall is that it doesn’t tell a story that can only be told once. It works well with the non-linear format and can really show some stylistic and tonal variety with the network’s current lineup, as there is next to nothing being shown consistently for pre-teens. If you enjoy series like Regular Show, be sad that this was only 4 episodes.

3 Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated

Some reboots are born from patronizing money grabbing. Others are born from a want of celebrating a childhood long gone. Then there’s Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, a series that reinvented the wheel by giving it high school drama, existential crises, and a complex plot that would have Agatha Christie drooling. Also, it features a talking dog.

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There’s a lot to be confused by with this series in terms of how it reimagines, in the harshest sense, the character designs and dynamics of Mystery Inc. However, as just a pure series, there’s a lot to enjoy in terms of great writing, intertwined plots, and a freaking Twin Peaks reference. It goes above and beyond the reference material; but as much as I want a faithful Scooby Doo reboot, I definitely want to see more of this.

2 Courage The Cowardly Dog

Here’s a childhood classic known less for its nostalgic enjoyment and more for the mental scars that it left behind. Courage the Cowardly Dog is a series like no other, as it used ominous, isolated environments, diverse character designs, and eclectic music to introduce kids to dark humor and surreal horror, words that are not used everyday to describe a kids’ show.

The dark, serious tone of this series is not hidden beneath subtext in the vain of adult things being hidden in the background. Everything from demonic ghosts to domestic abuse was shown in the foreground, creating entertainment from the suspense and abstraction in animation and not just the humor. A lot of animated series get cancelled but not all of them get cancelled for being too dark for kids, which is as awesome of a reason as it gets.

1 Teen Titans

Here’s the series that actually had a wonderful run for what it had. The original Teen Titans animated series was an incredible homage to Japanese pop culture as well as an iconic action/adventure series within its own right. It had wonderfully written characters that could switch from silly to deathly serious at a hear beat, a diverse rogues gallery that were less monster-of-the-week as they were special guest stars, and strong, long-running arcs for each of its main characters.

This is one of the few DC animated series outside of the Batman: The Animated Series universe that did well and ran long. Teen Titans wouldn’t even be on this list if it wasn’t for the last couple of episodes, where a new narrative about Terra, a new villain, and the horror of change was stopped dead in its tracks. The creators wanted more, there was more, and the world didn’t get it. This wasn’t just an off cancellation. In a world with the DCEU, it’s a near, career suicide.

NEXT: Ranked: The 10 Best Cartoon Network Shows

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