These days most television viewers are familiar with the concept of shows with a plot arc running over an entire season or series, but in the early 1990s, this was rarely done–and almost never done in animation. Just as Babylon 5 preceded the trend to longer, more complex story lines in live action drama, a little known series called Exo-Squad emerged as an ambitious science fiction cartoon with a plot more challenging than your average Saturday morning fare.
Exo-Squad premiered in September of 1993, just edging ahead of Disney’s Gargoyles a year later, and broke the norm of cartoons that “reset” at the end of a 22-minute episode. Following the Able Squad, a team of Terrans armed with exoskeletons fighting in a way against the genetically engineered Neosapiens, the show featured a continuing storyline and complex character development, and tackled a variety of issues and themes in ways only science fiction can. Touted as the “American anime” in a time where access to Japanese animation was somewhat limited, this was simply one of the best cartoons on television–so it’s no surprise that it was canceled after only two seasons.