In January of 1995, the same time as UPN (United Paramount Network) launched, Warner Brothers launched The WB, a unique network initially targeted to the teenage-to-young adult audience. Its mascot until 2005 was the singing cartoon frog - Michigan J. Frog - from the old Warner Bros. cartoons. Initially the network began with airings of mostly forgettable sitcoms of ethnic diversity with cellar dweller ratings. It's Kids' WB!, launched shortly thereafter - a cartoon programming block for children - did slightly better. It's safe to say that, at first, the network didn't exactly hit the ground running.
Then in the spring of 1997 (when most people thought the WB started) Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted. This high school drama by Joss Whedon about a teenage girl gifted with superpowers to slay vampires (and other things that go bump in the night) was an almost-instant hit with the teenage and young adult crowd.
Buffy set the standard for the kind of shows the network would focus on thereafter and the dopey sitcoms took a backseat to dramas aimed at that audience, something the network became very good at. Included in this was the drama Dawson's Creek (1998 - 2004) by Kevin Williamson of Scream fame about a teenage aspiring filmmaker living in a small port town in Northeast America. It was controversial from the get-go with a few veiled references to masturbation in its pilot episode alone.
But that was the network's aim, controversial and at times deep dramas (at times very soap opera-esque) aimed at teens and young adults. Its only successful and memorable sitcom was Reba. It churned out other successful young adult supernatural shows like Buffy: Charmed (young adult witches in San Francisco, California (1998-2006), Angel (spin off of Buffy about the good vampire with a soul running a demon-slaying detective agency in LA (1999-2004), Supernatural (two brothers fighting everything supernatural) (2005--), Roswell (teenagers in Roswell, New Mexico descended from the aliens that had crashed there) (1999-2002 - final season on UPN), and Smallville, the acclaimed tights-less retelling of the Superman legend focusing on Clark Kent's young-adult life (2001--). However, The WB's most successful drama was a family drama named 7th Heaven (1996 --) about a family in California with a Christian pastor as the patriarch.
Despite Buffy's popularity, it didn't last quite as long and actually moved to rival UPN for its final two seasons in 2001. 7th Heaven lasted 10 years on The WB, making it one of the longest running family dramas in history and it was initially cancelled in 2006. However, that didn't last...
In July, 2005, with The WB actually slipping in ratings to UPN, a network which the WB had always owned in the ratings until then, things had to change. Both The WB, and UPN (which never had stellar ratings and trouble finding local affiliates, a more difficult time of it than the WB had had) announced they were taking the best shows from each network and merging into The CW. 7th Heaven was given a new lease on life and it was announced in the summer of 2006 that at least 18 more episodes, at least one more season, would be produced for the new CW network.
On September 17, 2006, The WB said goodbye by airing five hours of pilots of shows that were the most memorable, like Felicity, Angel, Buffy (two hour episode), and Dawson's Creek. During the marathon it aired show promotions from throughout the history of the network and various actors from the past and present shows waving a fond farewell in some form or another.
The next morning the network shut down.
Shows that moved to the CW:
Victims of the move include: