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Fairly OddParents creator explains why Nickelodeon canceled series five times

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It has to do with SpongeBob

Butch Hartman is a successful cartoonist, executive producer and showrunner, but he’s also the owner of a very cool YouTube channel where he reveals secrets about his time working on former Nickelodeon series.

Many of his videos focus on behind-the-scenes stories from shows like Danny Phantom and The Fairly OddParents. In a new video, “Fairly OddParents CANCELLED?!,” he explores the five different times Nickelodeon canceled Fairly OddParents, one of the network’s most treasured series, at its peak. Well, he tries to.

Not even Nickelodeon executives were able to give Hartman a good reason for why they canceled the show again ... and again ... and again. The only excuse they gave him, according to Hartman, was the incredible success of another Nickelodeon series, SpongeBob SquarePants.

“So the show’s canceled, and I’m thinking, ‘Well, that’s really too bad. Why?’” Hartman says in the video above. “And they say, ‘Well, we’re canceling your show because there’s no sponge in it.’ I said, ‘I could put a sponge in it, but there’s already a show with a sponge and a starfish. I can make my show about a sponge and a catfish,’ and they’re like, ‘No, no, that’s dumb.’”

This happened five times while Hartman was working on Fairly OddParents, he said. Other shows developed by Hartman appeared along the way, including Danny Phantom and T.U.F.F. Puppy, but Fairly OddParents remained a constant project for Hartman that Nickelodeon kept eventually calling back. The series ran on Nickelodeon up until last year, but Hartman is looking forward to what happens next with his characters. This isn’t the first time that Hartman has talked about the undeniably hilarious back-and-forth, but the animated video is pretty cute.

Nickelodeon is currently in the process of reviving many of its popular ’90s and early-2000s series as made-for-TV movies. A made-for-TV Hey Arnold! movie came out last year, and Invader Zim and Rocko’s Modern Life will grace the small screen once again, proving that nostalgia is a powerful marketing tool. Hartman told Polygon at San Diego Comic-Con in July that he’s positive Nickelodeon will want to do something similar with Fairly OddParents or Danny Phantom — he just doesn’t know when.

“I don’t know when it’s coming, but I hope it’s coming soon,” Hartman said. “I’ll tell you this, though: They’re spinning off all the shows that are older, the ’90s shows. Those are first in line to get the spinoffs. Maybe there’s a Fairly OddParents spinoff coming out in the future, maybe there’s a Danny Phantom one. You never know.

“I can’t say anything officially yet, but let’s leave it at, ‘You’ll see.’”