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At one point in history, the Warner Bros. name (now Warner Bros. Discovery) was almost synonymous with its catalog of iconic cartoon shorts, featuring characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Wile E. Coyote. Despite that legacy, Warner Bros. Discovery has now pulled hundreds of classic Looney Tunes shorts from its HBO Max streaming platform, alongside 78 episodes of The Flintstones.
Variety has confirmed that seasons 16–31 of Looney Tunes have been removed from HBO Max as of December 31st, totaling 256 episodes that originally aired between 1950 and 2004. Some iconic shorts pulled from the service include “What’s Opera, Doc?,” “Feed the Kitty,” “Rabbit of Seville,” “Duck Amuck,” and “One Froggy Evening” (via Vulture).
Seasons 4–6 of The Flintstones have also been pulled from HBO Max, which greatly reduces the number of classic cartoons available to watch through the service. Warner Bros. Discovery licensed Looney Tunes and The Flintstones content with its own HBO Max streaming service when it launched in 2020 but did not renew those licensing agreements when they expired at the end of 2022.
While it was initially reported that this content was temporarily removed for maintenance, Variety has since confirmed that the removed episodes will not be returning to HBO Max. Given that Warner Bros. Discovery owns the rights to both franchises (Hanna-Barbera was folded into Warner Bros. Animation in 2001), it’s not clear if the lost Looney Tunes and Flintstones content will be made available to other streaming services.
The decision to pull these cartoon classics is unfortunate (and perplexing given that Looney Tunes is a legacy IP for Warner Bros.) but it’s also not exactly surprising. HBO Max has been culling a great deal of content recently as it seeks to reduce expenses — effectively retiring Cartoon Network Studios in October 2022 and axing Westworld, Raised by Wolves, and the unreleased Batgirl movie. In addition, 200 episodes of Sesame Street were removed from HBO Max in August of last year.