The Backyardigans is a CGI-animated television series created by Janice Burgess. It was based on a live-action Nickelodeon pilot entitled "Me and My Friends". Eighty episodes of the series were produced.
In each episode, the show's main characters rely on their vivid imaginations to transform their backyard into a completely different world. The story always ends just in time for one of them to invite the others to their house for a snack. The show focuses on music and dancing as much as it does on the stories, with each episode featuring a different music genre and four original songs, occasionally with at least one rearrangement of a well-known or traditional song.
The Backyardigans ran for four seasons, each consisting of twenty episodes. The show was cancelled after eighty aired episodes (seventy-four normal-length episodes and three two-part specials) were produced.
The Backyardigans did not become a regular series until 2004. It has roots in a declined pilot from 1998 titled "Me and My Friends". This video was significantly different from the first official Backyardigans episode, as it was not animated (it starred actors in costumes rather than 3D CGI-animation) and did not feature Austin (who would not be introduced for six more years). After Nickelodeon confirmed that it would not order "Me and My Friends" for a first season, the creators reworked the concept into a more-developed idea titled Backyardigans. In 2001, an animated pilot starring the same four characters was sent to Nickelodeon and accepted.
According to Burgess, the series was originally planned to be animated via motion capture, similar to the digital movement translation used in video games. This idea was scrapped because it appeared "too floaty." Janice wanted crisper movement with the animated choreography, so the movement was translated by sending a Leica to the animators.
On October 11, 2004, Nickelodeon aired the first official episode of The Backyardigans in the US: "Knights Are Brave And Strong." The series was successful and would continue to air new episodes over the course of six years (four seasons). Many merchandising deals were made between Nelvana and toy companies. Reruns of the series continued to air regularly on the Nickelodeon base channel and its sister network, Nick Jr., in the United States until mid-2013, when The Backyardigans was pulled from the air. Reruns briefly returned to the network in 2015, but were removed from the schedule once the series was added to the Noggin subscription service.