HBO Max has removed 36 shows and movies from its platform, including a lot of content for kids and families, such as Sesame Street spin-off The Not Too Late Show with Elmobeloved Cartoon Network show Ok KO! Let’s be heroesand teen drama Generation. One of the most frustrating eliminations is the critically acclaimed and also frankly amazing infinite train — which had already been removed from broadcast on Cartoon Network, moved to streaming-only with little fanfare, and was canceled after just four seasons.
The creators behind these shows were taken aback by this decision and rightly upset. Julia Pott, creator of fantasy slice-of-life series Summer Camp Island, tweeted about the removal.
“We worked for 5 years to make 100 animation episodes,” Pott wrote. “We worked late into the night, we let ourselves go, we were a family of hard-working artists who wanted to make something beautiful, and HBO MAX pulled them all like we were nothing. Animation is not nothing!”
Not only were these shows taken down, but the turn from the announcement to the actual removal was so rapid that many fans barely had time to react. It’s all part of Warner Bros’ latest move. Discovery to turn a profit, after firing 14% of HBO Max staff and canceling upcoming batgirl movie. But to the creators behind the shows and to the fans who loved them, it feels particularly brutal.
Wait, so these shows are just gone?
So technically, full seasons and episodes of many of these shows are still available to buy on Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes, but no one knows exactly for how long. And some of the shows like Summer Camp Island and Victor and Valentinoboth of which have new episodes airing on Cartoon Network.
But as of today, they’re nowhere to be found on HBO Max — and, in the case of infinite train and Mao Mao: Heroes Pure of Heart, all official videos on Cartoon Network YouTube and all tweets mentioning the shows have been removed. In addition, the infinite train soundtrack has disappeared from music streaming services and official Amazon listings of the DVDs have been removed.
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon phenomenon in the world of entertainment media. For years, Disney locked physical versions of its movies in “the Disney vault” so that it could occasionally re-release them in limited time. Old shows and movies that weren’t popular were sometimes never physically released and then just vanished from existence (looking at you, WITCHmy love).
But in this case, it’s a little weirder. Many of the titles on the list are only a few years old and loved by critics as well. It’s not an old forgotten thing just being left behind, but a very conscious move on behalf of Warner Bros. Discovery to minimize losses – despite the fact that it undermines the hard work of the people behind these shows and movies. And Warner Bros. Discovery seemingly completely wiping out the existence of some of these shows from the internet is salt in the wound.
Why did Warner do this in the first place?
Warner Bros. Discovery is set to merge HBO Max and Discovery Plus into one major streaming service by 2023, and that means cleaning up a bit.
“As we work to bring our content catalogs under one platform, we will be making changes to the content offerings available on both HBO Max and Discovery+. That includes removing certain content from both platforms,” an HBO Max spokesperson said in a statement.
Warner Bros. Discovery hasn’t officially said why they chose these particular shows to remove, but one theory is that it still has to pay remnants to the cast and crew behind HBO Max Originals. By removing them altogether… Well, if no one is looking at anything, no one needs to be paid, right? In addition, many of the shortlisted shows fall under the banner of children and families and it could very well be that Warner Bros. Discovery wants to move away from that demographic.
According to slides shared during the Warner Bros. earnings call. Discovery, the company claims that HBO’s content is skewed toward an adult male audience, while Discovery’s is skewed toward mature women. One theory reported by CNBC was that Warner Bros. Discovery, in order to maximize profits, decided that content for children and families was not worth pursuing and instead scrapped most of it. It may be that why Warner Bros. Discovery tried to completely erase some of these shows from its online footprint is because it wants to sell the rights and they can live on somewhere else, but that’s no guarantee.
But I love these shows! What can I do?
If you want to legally support your favorite shows, you can still buy many of the episodes on Amazon, iTunes, or Google Play for now. Some DVD sets are available through third-party sellers, so buy them if you can. Tune in to Cartoon Network for episodes of Summer Camp Island and Victor and Valentino when they air. Follow the creators of these shows for updates and see their suggestions for the best way to watch these shows and support their work.
The full list of removed content is below:
- 12 dates of Christmas
- About last night
- Aquaman: King of Atlantis
- Good enough
- Detention adventure
- Ellen’s next great designer
- Elliott of the Earth
- Esme & Roy
- The Fungi!
- Generation Hustle
- infinite train
- Little Ellen
- Mao Mao, Heroes of Pure Heart
- Messy goes to Okido
- Mia’s Magical Playground
- Mighty Magiswords
- My dinner with Herve
- My mother, your father
- Ok KO! Let’s be heroes
- The Ollie & Moon Show
- Pac-Man and the Spooky Adventures
- Ravi Patel’s pursuit of happiness
- Select Sesame Street specials
- Make it big, make it small
- Summer Camp Island
- The Not Too Late Show with Elmo
- The runaway rabbit (special)
- Tig n’ Seek
- uncle grandpa
- Victor and Valentino
- Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs