After The Simpsons hit it big, the other networks tried to get their own primetime cartoon. But while Fox has had long term success with The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and Family Guy, not too many others cartoons have lasted too long with adult viewers.
Father of the Pride (2004)
This NBC series was hyped for almost two years before its debut. Produced by DreamWorks, the company behind hits like Shrek was behind this show about the home life of the lions that starred in the Las Vegas stage show starring Siegfried and Roy. Each episode cost a reported $2.5 million, making it one of the most expensive comedies in TV history. NBC poured a lot of money into Father of the Pride, which is probably why it didn’t cancel the series when in late 2003 one of the animals in the real Siegfried and Roy stage act mauled and nearly killed Roy Horn. Despite debuting immediately following NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics, people just weren’t interested in Father of the Pride. And those that were thought they’d get a family-friendly show—it was advertised as “from the producers of Shrek,” and Eddie Murphy guest starred as Donkey, his Shrek character. It was actually an adult-oriented, raunchy comedy. Father was off the air by the end of 2004.
God, the Devil, and Bob (2000)
God (whose characterization and appearance was based on Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, and who was voiced by James Garner) is bummed out about the state of the world and is considering killing off humanity and focusing on marsupials. Instead, he makes a bet with his friend, the Devil (voice of Alan Cumming): If the Devil can find one person who can’t prove he improved the world, God will destroy humanity. He finds a regular, boring guy named Bob (French Stewart). After complaints from multiple religious groups for trivializing God, NBC pulled the show off the air after only three episodes. Watch the first episode here.
Family Dog (1993)
One of the standout episodes of the 1985-87 Steven Spielberg produced anthology series Amazing Stories was “The Family Dog.” The animated segment was a black comedy that told the story of a neglected dog in a deeply dysfunctional family. (It was written and directed by Brad Bird, who would later go on to make The Incredibles and Ratatouille.) Networks discussed a Family Dog spinoff, and it finally happened…four years after the Amazing Stories episode first aired. Lacking the budget of Spielberg’s Amazing Stories (as well as the involvement of Brad Bird), the quality of animation was not up to snuff for producers, who rejected 10 completed episodes of the show. That delayed Family Dog’s highly touted debut from March 1991 to the summer of 1993, where it quietly aired to a handful of viewers.