Ranking: Cartoon Characters That Will Go Down In History

The art of animation has been around since 1908, when the film Fantasmagorie was released. Since then, animation and cartooning has taken off, and there are new animated programs released every year. The characters created for specific shows and films are what make them special. Artists spend years drawing these characters and bringing them to life. Some of these characters have become iconic, and continue to show up on the big and little screens.

Mickey Mouse and Daffy Duck are two of the characters that continue to show up on television to this day, but there are many other notable characters as well. We have collected the most iconic cartoon characters from the past and present. Start scrolling to check them out.

50. Peppa Pig

Peppa Pig is aimed at the youngest audience, but the charming piglet’s British accent and gentle humor have won the hearts of many adults not only in the United Kingdom, but also across the pond.

The characters wear clothes, live in houses, and drive vehicles, yet they still have some of the qualities of the animals they are based on. Each of her friends is a different species of animal.

49. Bender (Futurama)

Bender Bending Rodríguez was built in Tijuana, Mexico and, unlike most other robots, is mortal and may have a lifespan of less than one billion years, according to Professor Farnsworth’s calculations.

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Bender’s memory cannot be copied or uploaded to another robot body due to a manufacturing fault that left him without a backup unit. He is a womanizer but his true ambition in life is to become a folk singer.

48. Beavis & Butt-Head

MTV’s absence of music was made tolerable by Beavis and Butt-Head. The show was able to lampoon as well as praise the 1990s’ lowest common denominator. The show revolves around these two socially inept teenage delinquents.

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Butt-Head has a tendency to be emotionless and apathetic in his behavior, whereas Beavis is more extravagant and outgoing. The popularity of the show produced the 1996 theatrical picture Beavis and Butthead Do America.

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47. Larry the Cucumber (Veggie Tales)

Veggie Tales became an exceptional piece of genius pop culture in the typical Christian bookstore of the 1990s. Larry the Cucumber was one of the show’s most popular characters, with his “Silly Songs with Larry” portions being the most beloved among both kids in the 1990s. He plays a brass sousaphone.

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The overall aim was to convey Christian moral themes and teach Biblical values and lessons for a child-based audience.

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46. Angelica Pickles (Rugrats)

Spoiled brat Angelica Pickles governed the Rugrats like her own little battalion. To obtain what she wants, she whines, screams, and throws tantrums, and her parents, particularly her father, often give in.

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Angelica’s greatest legacy is making viewers realize she doesn’t represent their “terrible” sibling, but more honestly themselves. Creator Arlene Klasky didn’t like the cruelty Angelica displayed in the early seasons and frequently clashed with the authors over it.

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45. Space Ghost (Coast to Coast)

Space Ghost hosted a talk show called Space Ghost Coast to Coast, which first aired on Cartoon Network in 1994. With one-time villains Zorak and Moltar serving as Space Ghost’s sidekicks, it parodied late-night shows.

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Space Ghost was voiced by George Lowe in this rendition. Also, Hanna-Barbera animation cels were reused in the show. It was a bizarre transition from a typical super hero into a fictional late-night talk show.

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44. Johnny Bravo

Nowadays, a show like Johnny Bravo is unlikely to be produced. This show from the 90s, which was created just before adult cartoons truly took off, was still intended for kids but allowed a lot of inappropriate humor to slip past Cartoon Network’s radar.

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Despite the fact that Johnny’s behavior borders on chauvinistic, the show makes it obvious that he’s meant to be the polar opposite of a role model.

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43. Felix the Cat

During the silent film era, Felix the Cat was created in 1919 by Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer as a children’s comic cartoon character. He’s an anthropomorphic black cat with white eyes, a black body, and a massive smile, becoming a staple of cartoon characters in movie history.

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Most silent-era stars died in the transition to sound, but Felix—who once shared screen time with Charlie Chaplin—survived and is still remembered.

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42. Cosmo and Wanda (The Fairly Oddparents)

Cosmo’s erratic, impulsive behavior and Wanda’s calm, pragmatic demeanor may appear to be an unusual couple, but given that they have been together for 10,000 years, they must be doing something right.

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Timmy Turner’s fairy godparents, Cosmo and Wanda, have the power to grant his every desire, which always goes horribly wrong. This notion is what gives each of The Fairy Godparents’ 172 episodes their cheerful and humorous tone.

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41. Arthur

The Arthur TV series has been on the air since 1996, based on Marc Brown’s children’s books. The anthropomorphic aardvark, together with all his friends and family, has learnt hundreds of lessons about how to “get along with each other”.

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Arthur and his friends act and speak in ways that genuine children of their age might, getting into fights and misbehaving in ways that other shows might try to restrict.

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40. Yogi Bear

Yogi’s mannerisms, like many Hanna-Barbera characters, were based on a popular celebrity of the time. Yogi was claimed to be inspired by Art Carney’s Ed Norton character on The Honeymooners.

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Yogi Bear had a number of catchphrases, including his renowned chant of delight and greeting and a deep and silly voice. He was also known for his use of puns and for pronouncing huge words with a strong vocal flourish.

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39. Daffy Duck (Looney Tunes)

Daffy was the third-most common character in the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies animations, having appeared in 130 shorts during the golden age. The early Daffy is less anthropomorphic and resembles a normal black duck.

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His slobbery, exaggerated lisp was developed over time, and it is barely noticeable in the early cartoons. Duffy was voiced by the same actor, Mel Blanc, for 52 consecutive years and it became a world record.

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38. Daria Morgendorffer

Daria Morgendorffer endured suburban life in a cloak of magnificent snark that any alt girl in the 1990s needed to study. Daria was a joy to watch, affecting and fascinating with strange side plots and smart societal satire.

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It started as a spin-off of Beavis and Butt-Head, in which Daria appeared as a recurring character. It begins during Daria’s high-school years and ends with her graduation and acceptance into college.

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37. Ed, Edd & Eddy

This cartoonized version of the Three Stooges brought simple, idiotic humor back to television. The trio routinely devised plans to scam their friends for money to buy their favorite candy, jawbreakers. Their schemes almost always failed, putting them in incredibly awkward situations.

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Creator Danny Antonucci, an advocate of hand-drawn animation, wanted to ensure Ed, Edd n Eddy was produced in a way similar to cartoons from the 1940s to 1970s.

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36. Grunkle Stan (Gravity Falls)

Grunkle Stan is a con artist who runs the Mystery Shack, a tourist trap where he appears to be just interested in robbing people of their money through cheaply constructed and falsely touted products and attractions.

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However, as the series starts to unfold, we learn more about the grunkle’s clandestine side, with fans uncovering an alarming cryptogram in the opening song of Gravity Falls: “Stan is not what he seems.”

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35. Stewie Griffin (Family Guy)

Other terrible geniuses aren’t hindered by their childhood, but Stewie, a one-year-old infant, isn’t one of them. Despite the fact that I’ve been a year old for over 20 years. This Family Guy character is voiced by series creator Seth MacFarlane.

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Stewie began the series as a megalomaniacal sociopath concerned with violence, matricide, and global dominance. He is now an extremely precocious infant who talks and acts like an adult.

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34. Popeye

After consuming an always-handy can of spinach, Popeye, a pugnacious, wisecracking cartoon sailor, gains superhuman power. Popeye was conceived by American cartoonist Elzie Crisler Segar, who included the character in his Thimble Theatre newspaper comic strip in 1929.

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One of the main plots was the love triangle among Popeye, Olive, and Bluto, and Bluto’s endless machinations to claim Olive at Popeye’s expense. Several feature films of Popeye had been made.

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33. Phineas and Ferb

Animated musical-comedy television series Phineas and Ferb always started with Phineas enunciating “Hey Ferb, I know what we’re going to do today,” before pursuing their newest ambitious scheme to pass the summer days, whether it’s building a big tree house that transforms into a giant robot, filming a movie, or inventing a time machine.

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They would irritate their elder sister Candace, who tries to expose their antics to Phineas’ mother.

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32. Garnet (Steven Universe)

Garnet is the personification of empowerment, having been shown to be a merger of two other characters, Ruby and Sapphire. She has the capacity to see into the future and change it.

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Her fight song, “Made of Love,” in which she challenges her opponent while describing how their love is indestructible. Garnet, more than any other character in Steven Universe, is unafraid to be herself, regardless of what others think.

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31. Bobby Hill (King of the Hill)

Bobby is a young teen who enjoys stand-up comedy, music and dancing. He describes himself as short for his age, claiming that he had not yet had his growth spurt. In addition, he is overweight.

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Because he is not talented in sports, his father Hank does not think too highly of him and is always lamenting “That boy ain’t right.” However, they worked through it and eventually became quite close.

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30. Betty Boop

One of the oldest cartoon characters on this list is the adorable Betty Boop. The character of Betty Boop was dreamed up by Max Fleischer and Grim Natwick in 1930. The black and white cartoon began airing during the Great Depression, and was a beacon of hope to those that were able to watch the series.

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She always had a big smile, and her trademark dress on in every episode. Betty continues to be one of the most recognizable characters on the planet, and it would be a lot of fun to see a new series starring her once more.

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29. She-Ra

The 1980s were full of animated series, but She-Ra is one that is unique due to its focus on a female character in 1985. She-Ra first appeared in He-Man and fans like the character so much she got her own spin-off. The series continues to be successful, and streaming giant Netflix brought it back to life in 2018 with Princesses of Power.

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The Netflix reboot dealt with more complex themes than the 1980s version, with a focus on diverse characters and personal expression. Maybe She-Ra will get a live action version sometime soon, Margot Robbie might be a good actress for this.

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28. Korra

Another character from the Avatar series is Korra from Avatar: The Legend of Korra. This iteration of the series began airing in 2012 and was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. Korra is a bit different than Aang, because she is older and less focused on defeating the Fire Lord.

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Instead, she takes care of Republic City as a whole and all of the myriad problems associated with it. It is more about her journey as a character, and less about defeating evil the way Avatar: The Last Airbender was. Hopefully the next series is just as exciting.

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27. Pinky And The Brain

Many cartoon characters, especially the ones with aspirations of world domination, tend to be crazy scientists. In 1995’s Animaniacs all the Brain wants to do is take over the world. Pinky, his sidekick isn’t exactly on the same level intelligence wise as the Brain, but every leader needs some help.

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Each episode of the show features some mad plan that the Brain has dreamed up, and ultimately how it fails. The cause of all the failures could be Pinky. Maybe Pinky is actually a genius just trying to foil all of the Brain’s plans! That would be a real plot twist.

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26. Bart Simpson

The Simpsons would not be the simpsons without all of the supporting family characters. Homer Simpson’s son, Bart Simpson is a star in his own right. If there is one thing Bart enjoys it is wreaking havoc at school by playing pranks on both his teachers and fellow students.

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When he isn’t playing pranks, he is often seen skateboarding around and pulling out some pretty brilliant one liners. His words are not wisdom, the words of wisdom belong to Marge and Lisa Simpson. Interestingly enough, Bart is voiced by Nancy Cartwright, not a male voice actor, although this could change if he ever grows up.

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25. Harley Quinn

In recent years, the live action version of Harley Quinn played by Australian actress Margot Robbie has become a household name. Prior to her move to the big screen though, she was an animated character in the show Batman: The Animated Series. She was not an original character from the comic books.

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However, audiences loved her first appearance so much in 1992, that she quickly became one of the main characters in the Batman universe. Quinn has an interesting backstory, which leads her to the arms of the Joker, a relationship which taught her how to be the perfect villain.

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24. Wile E. Coyote

While the Looney Tunes are full of characters, the animated antics of Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner are some of the funniest on television. Wile E. Coyote is always on the hunt for the elusive Roadrunner, and no matter what schemes he dreams up, they never work quite the way he planned.

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Audiences were first introduced to Wile E. Coyote in 1949, and he continues to grace the small screen during cartoon marathons. If there is an ACME sign, then you know Wile E. Coyote is going to show up at some point in an animated program. This coyote can survive anything.

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23. Mordecai And Rigby

The beauty of cartoons is that you can literally animate any scenario, whether it is jumping from one dimension to another, or performing crazy magic tricks. In creator J.G. Quintel’s Regular Show, that is exactly what the main characters Mordecai and Rigby do. Mordecai is a blue jay and Rigby is a racoon.

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Together, these two get up to all sorts of things as they spend their days as groundskeepers for a park. Their minds allow them to go wherever they want whenever they want. That imagination shines through in the show, and makes it a lot fun to watch for all ages.

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22. Scrooge McDuck

There are a lot of characters that show up in various Disney cartoons, but Scrooge McDuck continues to be one of the most memorable. Scrooge isn’t exactly known for being a good duck. He loves his piles of coins more than anything else in the world, with perhaps the exception being his grandnephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie.

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Scrooge often shows up in holiday cartoons where he is seen hoarding his money, until he is visited by ghosts of Christmas past and a number of other Disney characters. One thing is for sure, no matter what, Scrooge holds on to his money.

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21. Rick And Morty

No list of cartoon characters would be complete without the addition of the grandfather and grandson duo Rick and Morty. The characters of Rick and Morty are loosely based on the characters from the film series Back to the Future. While grandfather Rick is a tad on the zany side, his undeniable charm and insane plans are what make him one of the most watched characters on television.

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Morty, his grandson, is pretty entertaining as well, but he is simply along for the wild ride that his grandfather is constantly on. For anyone watching this show, try to idolize Rick’s genius, rather than his more unsavory habits.

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20. Tina Belcher

There is a real theme in the early animated series that is pretty evident in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Male characters tended to be the focus of animated series, but that has since changed. In Loren Bouchard’s Bob’s Burgers the titular character might appear to be the focus, but it is his daughter Tina Belcher that audiences tend to gravitate towards.

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Teenage years are pretty rough, and Tina is the perfect example of a moody teen who feels like everything is going sideways all the time. She may appear to be full of anxiety, but the writing team behind her character always ensures that she is multi-faceted and someone that everyone can connect to.

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19. Fred Flintstone

In 1960, The Flintstones began airing. It was about a stone age family, and was intended for an adult audience even though it was a cartoon. The themes that the show covered were quite risque for the decade. Anyone who watches The Flintstones now, and listens to what Fred Flintstone, the head of the Flintstone family has to say, wouldn’t find anything too controversial in the dialogue.

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But in the 1960s, many topics simply weren’t covered, and the nuclear family was still considered to be the norm. A lot has changed since creators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera first thought up the concept for this series.

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18. Dr. Doofenshmirtz

One of the cartoon tropes that continues to be seen today is that of the mad animated doctor. Dr. Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Herb fits this trope to perfection. Not only is he actually not a great scientist, but he is particularly uninventive when it comes to naming his major inventions.

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Creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff ‘Swampy’ Marsh wanted a doctor character that was just enough of a scientist to be believable, but comedic enough to make both adults and children like him. To make it even funnier, Dr. Doofenshmirtz has a nemesis, but it is not another doctor, it is an animal. That’s right, the common platypus is his arch nemesis.

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17. Eric Cartman

One of the most famous animated shows of all-time is South Park. It came from the minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They developed the main characters that are supposed to be children, albeit incredibly adult and self-aware kids. One of the best characters on the show besides the elusive Kenny is Eric Cartman.

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Cartman is kind of like a dad, in that he hates new things, hippies and uses some pretty bad words routinely. All of these personality traits might sound unappealing, but for Eric, this is what makes the character laugh out loud funny. The show has been airing since 1997, and it doesn’t show any signs of stopping any time soon.

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16. Rocky And Bullwinkle

Early animated series were not technical masterpieces like the computer animation we know today. In 1959, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle began airing, and the cartoon itself was very simple. Many of the scenes did not feature a lot of detail, but that did not detract from the magic created by Jay Ward, Alex Anderson and Bill Scott.

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This animated series was all about the script, and the hilarious shenanigans that the pair got up to. One place that was featured heavily in the series was Pottsylvania which was supposed to be an amalgamation of Eastern European nations.

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15. Sterling Archer

James Bond has long been the king of spying, but Sterling Archer is a pretty close second, perhaps a prince, if you want to get technical about the term. Archer began airing in 2009, and his debauchery and charm made him an instant hit with both male and female audiences.

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Archer is the kind of character who appears to only care about himself in a very egocentric manner, but as the series progresses, he slowly begins to show a more compassionate side. His quips, and one liners delivered by actor H. Jon Benjamin has made him unforgettable.

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14. The Powerpuff Girls

Animated shows that feature more than one main character are designed that way for a reason. In the instance of the adorable Powerpuff Girls, each one is amazing in a unique way and that helps them fight the bad guys.

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Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup are fierce, and comedic all at the same time, which is exactly what creator Craig McCracken wanted. The show first started airing in 1998 on the Cartoon Network, and continues to air today. The major lesson that young kids learn from it, is that teamwork is the most important thing when it comes to accomplishing big tasks.

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13. Winnie The Pooh

Not all characters come from the minds of their animated creators. Winnie the Pooh was originally a character in a book series written by A.A. Milne and illustrated by E.H. Shepard in 1926. Winnie the Pooh and his gang of friends were known for their love of all things sweet, especially honey.

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As Pooh bear had a pretty avid following, it made sense that the story would translate well as an animated series. In the show, Winnie the Pooh always has a jar of honey on hand for when the urge takes him to have a slurp of the sweet sticky liquid.

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12. The Duo In Adventure Time

Sometimes it’s not just one character that makes an animated show fantastic. It takes two to tango, or in the case of Adventure Time, it takes Finn the Human and Jake the Dog to make a great animated series.

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Creator Pendleton Ward developed this dynamic duo in 2010. Finn and Jake live in a land called Ooo, which seems to explain why Jake is rather human like in his emotions. These two characters have a lot of deep conversations that cover a wide range of topics. Like The Simpsons, this series isn’t strictly geared towards children, and offers insights into all ages.

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11. BoJack Horseman

Netflix is known for producing some of the best streaming content available today, and that includes the sleeper hit BoJack Horseman. Creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg wanted an animated show geared towards an adult audience, and the character of BoJack Horseman voiced by Will Arnett was perfect.

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At the beginning of the series BoJack was not exactly a likeable character. He tended to do more harm than good when it came to the supporting characters around him. Over time though, he begins to evolve into a horse that learns to love himself. Arnett voiced the character to perfection, especially as he is an older actor who may or may not be at the top of his game, just like BoJack.

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10. Steven Universe

Most of the time, cartoons are designed to be uplifting and to make audiences laugh. Creator Rebecca Sugar wanted to aim higher with her show Steven Universe. Sugar wanted to have the initial audience in 2003 grow up with Steven Universe, and all of the ups and downs that go along with that but in a relatable manner.

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As Steven enters his teenage years in Steven Universe Future themes like mental health are explored along with body image and self-love. These big themes in an animated show are what made it a hit, and why kids loved Steven and his entire universe.

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9. Zuko, The Last Airbender

When cartoons first became popular in the 1940s and onwards, the anime genre did not yet exist. Now, whenever anyone discusses animated shows and movies, anime is always talked about. In 2005, Avatar: The Last Airbender began airing, and everyone could not get enough of it.

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There was one character in particular, created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, that really stood out, and that was the haughty prince Zuko. Zuko’s character went through the kind of development that is expected in procedural primetime dramas, but this anime series managed to do the exact same thing. Zuko is truly a character that evolved from one that was despised to one that is now loved.

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8. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

There have been many iterations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but the cartoon from 1984, and the four key turtles are who are best remembered today. Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello are the mutant crime fighting turtles that protect the city they live in.

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Their lair in the sewers was particularly inventive on the part of creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. If there is one thing these mutant turtles loved more than fighting crime it is pizza. That makes sense since they all have Italian names. Do these turtles have a hidden Italian background that has yet to be explored on the small screen?

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7. Shaggy Rogers And Scooby-Doo

The hijinks of the loveable Great Dane Scooby-Doo and his faithful human companion Shaggy Rogers have been making audiences laugh since 1969. The creators of the two loveable characters, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, wanted to make fans of the duo laugh, but also be impressed by their detective skills.

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Shaggy isn’t exactly the leader of the Mystery Gang, but he is always ready with some Scooby snacks, and armed with enough one liners to make even the most serious of people crack a smile. While the cartoon is what is most well-known, there was a live action film made in 2002 which is also worth a watch.

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6. Mickey Mouse

Disney has a massive catalogue of films and television series at this point, but without one little mouse, it might not even exist. In 1928, Mickey Mouse appeared for the very first time in the short film dubbed Steamboat Willie.

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The audience loved the little black and white mouse and all of the hijinks they saw on screen. Now, Mickey Mouse’s iconic ears are a part of the Disney brand. Maybe more Mickey Mouse features are in the works, and we will get to see this little mouse on the big screen soon. For now, grab a pair of mouse ears next time you visit Disneyland.

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5. SpongeBob SquarePants

Everyone knows SpongeBob SquarePants who lives in a pineapple under the sea in the land of Bikini Bottom. When SpongBob first graced screens in 1999, most parents couldn’t understand why their children were glued to the television screen when this show came on.

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Twenty years later, SpongBob has cemented himself in television history, and episodes continue to be aired. Stephen Hillenberg was the mastermind behind this show and all of its equally quirky characters. Sadly, he passed away in 2018 but his legacy lives on. Turn on the Nickelodeon channel to watch the latest episodes, this show isn’t going to be cancelled anytime soon.

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4. Tom And Jerry

Animation has been around for a long time, but the animations that were available in the 1940s were largely silent films, or those that only featured engaging background music. The Tom and Jerry show first started airing in 1941, and they didn’t feature voiced characters. That didn’t matter though.

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The show was wildly popular as it followed the antics of the cat and mouse duo who could not stay away from each other. The creators behind the show are William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, and their legacy continues to live on today. Tom and Jerry can still be seen chasing each other around on cable television most Saturday mornings.

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3. Charlie Brown And Snoopy

The characters from Peanuts were first created as a comic strip by Charles M. Schulz in 1950. These lovable little children, and the pet dog Snoopy were always undergoing existential crises. When the comic strip was turned into an animated series, the main focus was on Charlie Brown and his dog Snoopy.

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Charlie was accompanied by his longtime crush, the sassy Lucy, and anxiety ridden Linus, who always needed his security blanket. Charlie was brought to life by the voices of Peter Robbins, Bill Melendez, and a few other voice actors who made the cut. The Christmas specials continue to air each year.

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2. Homer J. Simpson

As far as comedic animated series go, The Simpsons created by Matt Groening continues to be one of the go to for millions of people around the world. The series was first developed in 1987, and instead of initially focusing on Homer Simpson, the loveable oaf, the show focused on his son Bart.

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The magic of Homer’s character immediately shone through though, and the focus shifted to him in season three. One of the reasons Homer’s character is memorable is due to Dan Castellaneta who voices the character. The best thing about Homer is that no matter what, he is always there to save Springfield, even if there is a batch of fresh doughnuts tempting him.

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1. Bugs Bunny

Bug Bunny, who coined the line, “What’s up Doc?’ has been making audiences laugh since 1940. Bugs Bunny is one of the gang on The Looney Tunes, and he is always getting up to no good, often in search of a delicious carrot.

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There continues to be a bit of debate about whether or not Bugs is a rabbit or a hare which might be one of those things that remains a mystery until Disney decides to tell us. The geniuses behind Bugs’ character are Ben Hardaway and Tex Avery, and he has been voiced by a variety of voice actors over the years.