Imagine If... | The Real Adventures of JQ Continued
Originally Posted on 07/10/2002 by Jeff Harris
In the summer of 1996, after five years of development (and a few made-for-cable movies that introduced prototypical versions of characters and events that would play a part in the series), Hanna-Barbera reintroduced the Jonny Quest franchise with The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. It had received critical success and a huge fan following. Did I mention that it was one of the most mature animated series produced in the '90s.
However, few knew of the background drama that was taking place. The animators and writers wanted to eliminate the "Questworld" segments of the series. The network, in this case, Cartoon Network, wanted more "Questworld" segments. As a result of the drama, Cartoon Network didn't give the series a "second" season (unofficially, the first "two" seasons with two different character designs, were combined into one full season), but reran the series for two more years on the Toonami block, creating scorn for the series, which led to a decrease in fans who wanted more episodes.
Without the demand, Cartoon Network had no reason to make new episodes, and in the end, TRAoJQ became a tragic footnote in network politics deciding a show's fate.
Toonami is the home of four marquee franchises - Dragon Ball/Z/GT, Justice League/Unlimited, Ben 10, and The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. While all the episodes of the Dragon Ball trilogy have aired and Justice League is a fairly new franchise, Jonny Quest is the longest-running show on Toonami, airing on day one, the only "first day" series remaining on the block.
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest broke many rules in its lengthy history on Cartoon Network. It was the first show to have three completely different character designs, though the anime-inspired "second" designs, prominent after the first half of the first season, became more popular with the fans. JQ, as it's known in the fandom, continues to evolve over the years. After five seasons produced by Hanna-Barbera, including the controversal 52-episode first season, Cartoon Network and French animation studio Moonscoop, who retained the look of "second" designs with more European/Japanese influenced animation. The Moonscoop-animated seasons were given a new title, Jonny Quest: The Legendary Adventures, and several new allies and enemies. Surprisingly, many of the writers and designers of The Real Adventures remained on Legendary Adventures.
Like Teen Titans and Ben 10 (the latter of which actually had a crossover episode with Jonny Quest), Jonny Quest continues to be a cross-block franchise, airing on both Toonami, which premieres 16 new episodes every season, and Miguzi, where reruns are paired with another Moonscoop series, Code Lyoko, which itself had been inspired by the Questworld segments of the first season of The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest.
Of course, all good things have to come to an end, as the eighth and final season will tie together every loose storyline, including plots left behind from the the previous three Jonny Quest series. The final three-episode arc, "Graduation," is the final tale of Jonny Quest, teen explorer and adventurer.
After a few concessions and a greater understanding of each other, both incarnations of Jonny Quest have created one of the best action franchises in animation history. With an initial 164 episodes, Jonny Quest has entertained Toonami fans since day one. Even in rerun mode, it will still be a prominent part of Cartoon Network's lineup.
Back to reality: The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest ended way too soon, before the series even reached its full potential. By the last cycle of episodes, the franchise really got back to the basis of the original 60s series of pure adventure without the use of virtual reality. The "true" last episode, #51, was a fitting finale as well as a new beginning for the series. The 52-episode rule is archaic in an era of cable animation, especially when anime acquisitions often eclipse that number. Jonny Quest was ahead of its time, and perhaps one day, the powers that be at Cartoon Network will realize the gem that they had and bring it back in some capacity.
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