The origins of the Cartoon Network lie in media mogul Ted Turner's aggressive acquisition of classic programming in the 1980s. Turner filled out the programming schedules of his TV empire, which including the cable channels TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies, with the classic movies he bought from MGM, but MGM's library also included the old Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies animated shorts. When Turner acquired the Hanna-Barbera cartoon library in 1991, he had plenty of programming to launch a dedicated animation channel, and the Cartoon Network was the result.
The channel launched in 1992, and its programming consisted mostly of the classic libraries of animated shorts and series. Eventually, though, the Cartoon Network followed the lead of Nickelodeon, which had been producing original animated series; the first original series on the Cartoon Network began airing in 1994.
In 2001, Cartoon Network again followed Nickelodeon's example by devoting part of its programming schedule to series aimed at adult audiences. Nickelodeon's Nick at Nite had debuted almost 15 years earlier and successfully split the channel's focus between daytime kid-focused programming and nighttime grown-up-centric fare. Cartoon Network's Adult Swim consisted of animated series in the edgy, mature mold of series like "Family Guy," rather than Nick at Nite's nostalgia-tinged classic TV programming.