Rooster Teeth Productions to Tragically Close Its Doors After 21 Years

Rooster Teeth Productions, the multi-media production company behind some of the internet's most controversial and beloved web series, is shutting down amid the changing content creator landscape, as announced by the company in a memo this week.
Rooster Teeth Logo

Rooster Teeth Productions, the multi-media production company behind some of the internet’s most controversial and beloved web series, is shutting down amid the changing content creator landscape, as announced by the company in a memo this week. Rooster Teeth CEO Jordan Levin sent out a memo during this month’s all-hands meeting for the company that announced that the company would be shutting down. Rooster Teeth becomes the latest in a long line of Warner Bros. Discovery subsidiaries to be axed under WBD’s CEO David Zaslav.

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Rooster Teeth is unfortunately no stranger to controversy and troublesome trends, with multiple cast members being unveiled as predators in the last few years along with reports of racism and transphobia behind the scenes. However, as most fans of the company are aware, it wasn’t always like this. So how did it go so wrong?

The Humble Beginnings of Rooster Teeth

The company was founded by Michael “Burnie” Burns, Gustavo Sarola, Geoff Lazer Ramsey, Matthew Hullum, and Joel Heyman on April 1st, 2002. At the time, most of the founders were students studying at the University of Texas in Austin to become filmmakers and storytellers. However, upon the intermittent success of their first web series Red Vs. Blue, considered the longest-running web series as of 2024, the group officially founded the company.

From the moment Halo fans first started to follow Red Vs. Blue, the careers of the five men were launched and they steadily became one of the iconic parts of early YouTube and Machinima content history. By 2010, Rooster Teeth’s cast had grown to include members such as Gavin Free (of the Slo-Mo Guys), Jack Pattillo, Barbara Dunkleman, among others. However, their popularity jumped even higher during the time of Red Vs. Blue Season 8: Revelation with the hire of one man: Monty Oum.

The Next Step in Content

Fans were surprised when the purely machinima Red Vs. Blue was upgraded with the use of motion capture animation at PAX 2010 thanks to the work of Monyreak “Monty” Oum. Monty was mostly known online for his animated project “Haloid“, an animation project that featured Master Chief from the Halo video games fighting against and alongside Samus Aran from the Metroid series.

Rooster Teeth premieres the first look at an animated Red Vs. Blue featuring animated fight sequences by Monty Oum at PAX 2010, provided to YouTube by user Stuckbigfoot7

Impressed, Rooster Teeth hired him to work on future seasons of Red Vs. Blue, culminating in Season 10, which was released in 2012. However, following the release of Season 10, Rooster Teeth announced a brand new animated series set to premiere later that summer, the anime series RWBY, created directly by Monty.

Alongside the height of popularity with RvB and RWBY was the launch of Rooster Teeth’s gaming division, Achievement Hunter, co-founded by Geoff Ramsey and Jack Pattillo. Beginning as a humble series of gaming videos and updates on gaming news, the AH Crew began to take on life early as they joined early YouTubers in the Let’s Play era, where the revolving cast of AH members would goof around and play video games for hour-long videos.

Achievement Hunter cast circa 2019

AH expanded to the original core six members: Geoff, Jack, Gavin, and newcomers Michael Jones, Ray Narvaez Jr., and RH (name omitted to avoid triggering readers). From 2012 to 2024, AH reigned supreme with over 500 Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto V Let’s Plays apiece along with a multitude of variety games and behind-the-scenes content that left many fans on their floors from laughing and crying. Yet, things took a turn on February 1st, 2015.

The First Signs of Change…

Rooster Teeth fans around the world were struck by an emotional gut punch upon the sudden announcement that Monty Oum had passed away on Feb. 1, 2015. The fandom shed tears along with the Rooster Teeth staff at the loss. Rooster Teeth was able to bounce back from the loss, though not without a few hiccups along the way.

Watch Rooster Teeth’s tribute to Monty Oum

First, not long after Monty’s passing, it was announced that Rooster Teeth would gain a Los Angeles office as well as another gaming subsidiary in Funhaus, a group consisting of AK (name omitted to avoid triggering readers), James and Elyse Willems, Bruce Greene, Lawrence Sonntag, and other valuable members. However, with the gain of the new gaming division came another loss as Achievement Hunter fan favorite Ray Narvaez Jr. became one of the first members of Rooster Teeth to part ways for greener pastures.

The Heyday

By late 2015, Rooster Teeth had bounced back with the much-loved RWBY Volume 3, which was made to further Monty’s vision for the show. However, Rooster Teeth also had another secret in their pocket as they announced the filming and release of their first-ever feature-length film, Lazer Team. Starring Burnie, Gavin, Michael, Alan Ritchson, and Colton Dunn, Lazer Team was released in theaters on January 27th, 2016, marking the highest-funded project on Kickstarter as of that date.

The trailer for Lazer Team, Rooster Teeth’s first feature-length film starring (from Left to Right): Burnie Burns, Colton Dunn, Gavin Free, and Michael Jones

Achievement Hunter continued to thrive with the addition of community member Jeremy Dooley to the cast, as well as the beginnings of a revolving door of cast members and content creators in the coming years. Other gaming subsidiaries like Kinda Funny, ScrewAttack, and SugarPine 7 joined the “Let’s Play” family around this time. Rooster Teeth was on top with even more content to come.

The Wall of Content Begins to Crumble…

Editor’s Note: The following section may contain triggering content.

However, from 2019 to 2024, multiple controversies began plaguing Rooster Teeth and its staff members. Starting in February 2019, Vic Mignogna, known voice actor for the character of Qrow Branwen in RWBY since 2016, was accused of sexual misconduct with minors, forcing Rooster Teeth to formally cut ties with the actor.

Then, in June 2019, a series of Glassdoor reviews of Rooster Teeth’s work culture led to the unveiling of RT’s long and unpaid work hours and an overreliance on temporary employees, leading Gray Haddock, the head of Rooster Teeth Animation and the creator of gen:LOCK to step down.

Amidst the George Floyd Riots during the 2020 Quarantine, former Achievement Hunter cast member Mica Burton, the daughter of Levar Burton of Star Trek fame, came forward and revealed the host of racist and discriminatory remarks from both the AH audience and within the Rooster Teeth staff lead to her departure in June 2018. This led to Rooster Teeth making a formal statement.

Later, on October 6th, 2020, James Ryan Heywood, a cast member of Achievement Hunter, and Adam Kovic, a cast member of Funhaus, announced their departures from the company upon the unveiling of their predatory natures with their fans. Heywood was revealed to be having affairs with underage fans, which would turn physical during secret meetings during Rooster Teeth’s annual convention, RTX. Kovic, likewise, stepped down due to his own predatory nature.

Then, in October of 2022, former Achievement Hunter employee Kdin Jenzen came forward about their experiences within Rooster Teeth, revealing that a multitude of RT cast members had made homophobic and transphobic remarks to her, going so far as to give her a nickname in the form of a slur. Achievement Hunter co-founder Geoff Ramsey publicly apologized for the behavior of the Rooster Teeth cast and fans.

The End of Rooster Teeth?

Numerous work culture shifts, the purchasing of the company through Fullscreen Entertainment > Otter Media > AT&T and finally Warner Bros. Discovery, and multiple controversies added to the continued decline in Rooster Teeth’s quality content. Former cast members and co-founders have stepped down and left the company altogether, former cast members have claimed horrible treatment, and the actions of at least two predators have left Rooster Teeth in dire straits. And now, with the announcement from current CEO Jordan Devin, Rooster Teeth is no longer operating.

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So, what’s next? At the moment, Warner Bros. Discovery is currently attempting to sell Rooster Teeth’s remaining in-production shows to other companies, including RWBY, Red Vs. Blue, and gen:LOCK as well as the Roost Podcast Network with shows like Red Web, F**kFace, and more. Over 150 of RT’s remaining cast members are now looking for work elsewhere.

Finally, Red Vs. Blue: Restoration is scheduled to premiere online this Spring, ironically finishing Rooster Teeth right where it began. No news yet on when RvB Restoration will premiere, but we’ll update you all as news comes out.

For future news on all your internet and nerd-related movies, TV, video games, and more, follow us on social media, we’re always watching.

Source: Variety, Rooster Teeth

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