This is not the first time I’ve written about Teen Titans.
It’s sort of my favorite show, even now, nine years after its cancellation. As a kid, I had a bunch of the toys, books based on the show, several original comic books and the 2006 admittedly sort-of-terrible console game. I was Starfire, one of the protagonists, for Halloween all the way back in 2003. Honestly, I still have all that merchandise somewhere in my house. It’s not my fault. It’s a great show.
Teen Titans premiered in 2003, and five seasons and 66 episodes later, it was cancelled in 2006. The show ended abruptly, and a movie was released later that year, supposedly serving as the series finale. A few plots were tied up: Robin, the leader of the Titans, and Starfire finally kissed, which, for a “kid” show, is a huge deal, especially after five seasons of playing up their relationship. Raven’s and Cyborg’s character arcs were already tied up, but Beast Boy’s had been opened back up in the last episode of the fifth season.
Originally planned for four seasons, Teen Titans was so popular that Cartoon Network created a fifth season introducing Beast Boy’s old team, the Doom Patrol, and their struggles against the villainous Brotherhood of Evil.
So if the show was popular enough that it was granted an extra season, why was it suddenly cancelled?
It’s been said that a sixth season was being planned — that’s the reason why Beast Boy’s friend-slash-love-interest Terra showed up in the very last episode, apparently unable to remember who she was, leading to more questions than answers for fans. Terra, who had temporarily acted as the apprentice to the Titans’ main antagonist, Slade (no relation to the Wheel’s EIC), was supposed to be turned to stone, so why was she suddenly a student at the local school, proclaiming that she had no idea who “Terra” was?
That episode was supposed to be followed up by another season. Again, I have to ask: where did that season go?
There are a number of theories still floating around regarding the cancellation of Teen Titans. One claims that Cartoon Network left the show to focus more on their productions, since Teen Titans was created by Warner Bros. Animation.
Another fan theory, to me, is more interesting — the show is said to have been cancelled because its female fan base was too big.
This theory might seem weird at first. The show has a huge fan base — isn’t that a good thing? But there’s actually a huge moneymaking strategy behind this idea.
Nowadays, the merchandisings for TV shows aim for market segregation. That is, it’s better to sell products to individual, well-defined groups, rather than a huge amorphous bunch of fans filled with little nuances. If you keep those groups separated, you reduce the risk of accidentally competing with yourself for sales.
The way this relates to Teen Titans is this: the show was created, generally, to appeal to boys. Yes, it has two (literally) strong female protagonists, but the team is still mostly male and led by a guy. It’s still about superheroes — you know, boy things. Once girls started taking an interest in it, the money from that female fanbase was going into Teen Titans instead of to the shows that were already being marketed to girls. The female market that caters specifically to girls is supposed to have that money, and shows like Teen Titans are basically stealing it from them.
At least, that’s how the theory goes. There’s a lot of complexity that goes into this and we all know that things don’t usually happen for just one reason.
The same has been said about Cartoon Network’s shows Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series. They were, supposedly, cancelled for the same reason; they were supposed to cater to boys, but then girls took to those shows, ruining the marketing strategies.
Either way, the fan base for Teen Titans was so huge that the demand inspired a new show to be created in the absence of its great predecessor: Teen Titans Go!
Of course, it wasn’t at all the same. The general hatred towards Teen Titans Go! is almost comical. It may be fun for people who have never seen the original show, but the rest of us sort of resent it for taking complex characters and plots and turning them into one-dimensional stereotypes. The caricaturized show, that premiered in 2013, is meant to be a spinoff, rather than an explicit imitation of the original show.
Maybe it’s for the best. In the spirit of the last episode of Teen Titans, it might be time to accept that, as the final episode of the series aptly states, “Things change.” I know the show is many years past any hope for another season.
But I still need to know what happened to Terra!