Why Clerks: The Animated Series Can't Be Revived, According To Kevin Smith [Comic-Con]

An interesting piece of trivia: "Clerks: The Animated Series" remains the only animated show for adults made by Walt Disney Television Animation, to date. It also, to the best of my recollection, is the only TV series in the history of the medium to make a joke at the expense of the UPN's short-lived, in-poor-taste 1998 sitcom "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer." And while "Clerks: The Animated Series" only lasted a brief six episodes, "Desmond Pfeiffer" only lasted four, so "Clerks" comfortably has the upper hand. 

"Clerks" also exceeds "Desmond Pfeiffer" in that it slowly garnered a cult audience over the years, selling a great number of DVDs after its cancellation, whereas the maligned UPN series remains bogged in (rightful) obscurity and has not been released on home video. 

In the age streaming, however, one might begin to wonder why any series remains unavailable to the public. Where, for instance, is "Holmes & Yoyo?" Or "Mann & Machine?" Or "Total Recall 2070?" Or "K-9000?" Or the 1970s show "Future Cop" with Ernest Borgnine? And those are just the shows about cops with robot partners. Fox's 2013 series "Almost Human" is mercifully available on Tubi

At this year's Comic Con in San Diego, Kevin Smith — enthusiastically long-winded, and candid about all his projects, successful and unsuccessful — was asked about the future of "Clerks: The Animated Series." Smith, after all, will be revisiting the same characters in his upcoming feature "Clerks III," why not also see Dante, Randall, and their posse in animated form, revived on the streaming service that owns it? Smith, candid as ever, pointed out that there's no way it would be on Disney+.

Disney owns it

The above trivia, in fact, is not so trivial. Because "Clerks: The Animated Series" has always been owned by Disney, and there seems to be a push-and-full when it comes to the studio's more adult-skewing fare; there's a reason why it's considered minor news when any R-rated film makes its way onto Disney+ (as "Deadpool" and "Logan" did recently). "Clerks: The Animated Series" was not rated R (it was broadcast on ABC), and didn't contain Smith's usual penchant for crude dialogue, but it was still considered "rough." When asked about the show at the panel attended by /Film's Ryan Scott, Smith recalls it with fondness, the odd characters that were exclusively on the show, and especially how easy it was for him. 

"We talk about this all the time. 'Cause it was the easiest job any of us ever had, man.  We'd show up in your pajamas and record voice. And s***, I played Silent Bob, so I got paid for no voice whatsoever. The version that we did — that particular iteration with Leonardo Leonardo and Mr. Plug and all that stuff — if we were to do that, the only way we could do it — because, oddly enough, it's owned by Disney, but Disney would never f***in' put it anywhere near Disney+ ... That leaves one place to potentially it, and that is Hulu." 

Hulu, one might recall, was one of the many properties Disney bought in the gigantic Fox merger from 2017. While Disney+ is typically reserved for Disney's kid-friendly fare — their animated features, Pixar flicks, Star Wars thingies, and Marvel whatnots can be found there — Hulu gets the older-skewing content. Surely, Smith is onto something by suggesting Hulu can put some money into a new "Clerks" show. They did it for "Futurama," after all. 

A Clerks cartoon, but not that Clerks cartoon

In order to get "Clerks" back off the ground at Hulu, however, someone at the service would need to be interested. Smith actually tried to move forward with a "Clerks" revival when he wtinessed the success of another animated series on Hulu.

"The moment that 'Solar Opposites' hit — when Justin [Roiland]'s show hit — I called my agent, and I was like 'Can you f***in' call up Hulu and tell 'em that we got a cartoon, man, that could go right next to 'Solar Opposites?' All the designs are done! And we got scripts ready to go and s*** like that,'" Smith recounted. But the only response they received from Hulu: "We're good."

It seems that, unless interest could be drummed up at the only network that could legally make "Clerks: The Animated Series," the show — the version first seen in 2000 — will simply not happen. Smith, however, does point out that there is one other possibility: Start from scratch.

"We could make a 'Clerks' cartoon. But it wouldn't be that 'Clerks' cartoon. I have the rights; I could make a 'Clerks' cartoon anywhere I want. But that particular iteration, I couldn't do. So, we figure if there's enough of a positive response to 'Clerks III,' then it's going to be a lot easier to walk into a streamer, and be like 'How would you like to do a Clerks cartoon?'"

Smith then happily hyped up his upcoming feature film, pointing out that its financial success would likely spell out audience interest in additional projects. Smith may not be able to be revive the short-lived 2000 series, but it seems a future series is not off the table entirely.