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HBO Max Seemingly Drops The Removal Anvil On Hundreds Of Looney Tunes Episodes

There's little guessing about what will disappear next from HBO Max. Fans have become increasingly upset as more and more content has disappeared from the service, with the streaming giant canceling even some of its greenlit projects. In August, TVLine revealed that HBO Max had canceled six of its upcoming animated projects, including "Batman: Caped Crusader" and two different "Looney Tunes" movies, "The Day the Earth Blew Up: A Looney Tunes Movie" and "Bye Bye Bunny: A Looney Tunes Musical." The six canceled projects were then shopped around to other outlets. That didn't cause quite as much uproar as when, in December, HBO Max pulled two of its popular HBO series, "Westworld" and "The Nevers," off of the streaming service (per Deadline).

According to Vulture, the disappearances are due to the recent merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery Networks. Apparently, special legal rules allow the newly merged company to write down costs of the merger but only for a limited amount of time. Because Warner and Discovery are still in this time period for the merger, they're likely pulling and canceling shows to save a significant amount of money on this merger.

It's unclear if the latest disappearance from HBO Max is related to the merger, with some speculating that the recent disappearance of much of the streaming service's "Looney Tunes" library was an accident of some sort.

HBO Max removed a lot of its Looney Tunes cartoons very suddenly

According to Pop Culture, HBO Max removed Seasons 16 through Season 31 of the classic "Looney Tunes" shorts recently — presumably sometime in the past week — and this time, it didn't announce the removal. Twitter account Animation on HBO Max alerted users to the disappearance, pointing out that this removes 256 of the 511 shorts that had previously been on the service, most of them from after 1951. In a follow-up tweet, the account pointed out that this was probably (or hopefully) a mistake, judging by the fact that the playlist entitled "Best of the 50s" in the Looney Tunes hub on the app now has nothing but a single "Yogi Bear" cartoon. If HBO Max didn't remove the shorts by accident, they certainly don't seem to have thought ahead about the removal.

On Twitter, some fans speculated about the sudden disappearance of the shorts, while others simply complained about their absence. One user, @Toon4Thought, contributed to the theory that this was an accident, pointing out that it wouldn't make sense to keep only the earliest cartoons that aren't as popular. "It'd better be a mistake," wrote @MOVIELORD101. "Cause they've pissed off the animation community enough already." Then the user @CN_Two pointed out that the later seasons of "The Flintstones" were also missing from HBO Max.

While removing these shorts follows a disappointing pattern at HBO Max, it is unusual for the platform to make such a drastic change without announcing it or even commenting on it, adding more weight to the theory that they were removed by accident. Hopefully, the library of shorts will be restored soon enough.