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35 All-Time Best Cartoon Characters Ever Created, Ranked


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by Xtreme HD IPTV

Animation is a rich medium. Cartoons are a staple for visual entertainment, one that easily surpasses the long history of their studios. Some of the most recognizable characters and personalities have come from this realm, as storytellers have been telling series aimed at kids but also more adult-oriented stories with the art form.

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Cartoon characters are celebrities in their own right. From their insatiable personalities to their merchandise, these beloved animated cartoon characters have made names for themselves in popular culture, entertainment, and beyond. At their height, audiences want to both watch them and be them. Many modern-day cartoon characters have evolved with more complex character dynamics, animation styles, and storylines. Here are the best cartoon characters of all time, ranked.

Update January 28, 2024: This article has been updated with even more great animated series characters and where you can stream some of their titles.

35 Courage the Cowardly Dog

Courage the Cowardly Dog (1999-2002)

Courage the Cowardly Dog looks scared as he watches TV
Cartoon Network

Courage the Cowardly Dog follows a cowardly dog who lives out in the middle of nowhere with his humans Thea and Lionel. In spite of his reservations, Courage is constantly saving his humans from all sorts of terrible fates, from alien abductions to insidious illness. While 100% marketed to children, it definitely had some deep, dark, and terrifying undertones. The ominousness of this character sent his overall appeal to different audiences. Courage’s wholesomeness paired with Lionel’s insistent efforts to get rid of him made audiences root for him, feel for him, and become his biggest fans. Stream on Max

34 Woody Woodpecker

Woody Woodpecker Pokes Out From a Tree
Amazon Prime

Woody Woodpecker is a cartoon character who was created in 1940 by the cartoonist Walter Lantz. Woody was the official mascot of Universal Studios and started appearing in shorts for the studio. Based loosely on the actual builder bird, he first appeared as a supporting character in an Andy Panda cartoon, Knock Knock.

Woody is the kind of adventurous troublemaker you can never have enough of. Wherever he is, whether on the beach, on a train, in a supermarket, or even at his house, Woody is always the life of the party. His special signature laugh is the sweetest, most grating nostalgia that’s just barely outmatched by his penchant for getting into some real trouble. Just do yourself a favor and skip the live-action remake. Stream on Tubi

33 Phineas and Ferb

Phineas and Ferb (2007-Present)

Phineas and Ferb with Perry
Disney Channel

Phineas and Ferb is a show that came out on Disney Channel in 2007. Inspired by The Simpsons and Rocko’s Modern Life, the series followed a pair of stepbrothers with some pretty grand ideas about how to spend their summer vacations. Meanwhile, their sister, Candace, is constantly at their heels, ready to tattle on their every misdeed… And then there’s their pet platypus, Perry, who is busy saving the world as what else but a covert government agent. A favorite of kids not bogged down by summer school, the show recently received an animated revival that kept the characters alive for a new generation, one that will hopefully have just as many guest appearances as the former.

The titular brothers might just be the animated geniuses of their generation. The stepbrother’s schemes are nothing if not intricate. They got involved in some of the most over-the-top antics fans have ever seen, featuring mostly impossible construction projects on an epic scale. Inevitably, Perry’s and the boy’s plots would intersect just in time to save them from their mother’s scorn… to the despair of their tattling sister. These two define a child’s dream summer on-screen. Stream on Disney+

32 Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty (2013-Present)

The titular Rick and Morty in a still from Rick and Morty
Adult Swim

The widespread reach of the sci-fi sitcom Rick and Morty has propelled the titular characters into the highest realms of pop culture and launched a marketing storm since it came out in 2013. Anything and everything is possible in this fourth wall-shattering universe of sci-fi and geekdom lore.

While the entire family is hilarious, the highlights of the show are easily the two title characters. Both Rick (a crazy scientist) and Morty (his grandson) have become an unlikely cartoon, tag-team duo for the ages as they travel through universes in the name of science and tomfoolery. Recent controversies have led to major changes, including recasting the voice actor for both characters. Stream on Hulu

31 Finn and Jake

Adventure Time (2010-2018)

Finn And Jake From AdventureTime
Cartoon Network

Adventure Time came out in 2010 and ran for 10 incredible seasons. The show’s episodes follow a boy named Finn the Human and his best friend and adoptive brother Jake the Dog as they take on new quests in a fantasy world. The iconic duo of Finn The Human (voiced by Jeremy Shada) and Jake The Dog (voiced by John DiMaggio) are as quirky as they are heartwarming. The sheer mass of Adventure Time merchandise that features both characters is more than enough to highlight their impact on the animated world. Stream on Max

30 Peter and Stewie Griffin

Family Guy (1999-Present)

A Bonding Moment Between Peter And Stewie Griffin
Fox

Family Guy is an adult comedy show that has been on the air since 1999. While far from the longest-running (though it comes close), the charm of this show has not been lost. While the Griffin’s family and friends are chock-full of unique characters, from Joe the Cop to Lois the former bombshell turned Mother, Peter Griffin and Stewie take this comedy to a whole new level. Both Peter, the dumb as rocks, sitcom dad, and Stewie, the evil genius baby, are voiced by the talented Seth McFarlane. The juxtaposition of intelligence and age between the two, as registered by Stewie’s many quips about the adult figures around him, makes for some dynamite comedy. Their hard-hitting punchlines and how much they are “memed” on social media make them some of the best cartoon characters of all time. Stream on Hulu

29 The Jetson Family

The Jetsons (1962-1987)

The Jetson Family in The Jetsons
ABC

Famous families are a common theme in entertainment. If you think about famous animated families, however, it’s really hard to leave out The Jetsons. A family living their lives in the far future, they starred in their own animated sitcom. Premiering in 1962, the series perfectly coincided with the ongoing Space Race. It was also one of the first animated series aired in color!

Despite running for only three seasons, The Jetsons made their mark in animated character history and appeared in a couple of animated movie specials long after the series ended. Each member was well fleshed out, from the all-American brother and dopey dog to their all-robotic housekeeper. A precursor to future live-action comedies like The Brady Bunch, this family serves as a time capsule for what the 60s thought the future might look like. Stream on Max

28 Hank Hill

King of the Hill (1997-2010)

Hank Hill From King of the Hill
Fox

This wouldn’t be a list without Hank Hill on it. Hank Hill of King of the Hill is a Texas-bred everyman. A seller of fine propane and propane accessories, this mild-mannered Southerner has a trigger full of Dadisms and jokes ready and waiting. He’s at the helm of the Hill family, which includes his flighty but well-meaning wife, Peggy, Peggy’s niece, Luanne, and his sole son, Bobby. His found family comes in the form of his drinking buddies and his on-again-off-again relationship with his neighbor Kahn.

The humor in this show is understated, for sure, mimicking that of the main character. Don’t get things square, though – Hank can put up with the best of them. His voice, perfectly played by Mike Judge, is iconic, and his catchphrases from “that boy ain’t right” to “I sell propane and propane accessories” are some of the most well-known in all of animation. Stream on Hulu

27 Sterling Archer

Archer (2009-2023)

Sterling Archer in Archer
FX Network

Perhaps as far from understated as they come, Sterling Archer from Archer is an obvious offshoot of film spies like James Bond. He’s combat handy, full of dumb luck and gin, and has a penchant for one-night stands, and this show only serves to carry these faults to the nth extreme. The only difference between Codename Duchess and his hard-boiled counterparts is the agency he works for is run by his controlling mother.

Needless to say, its employees are unconventional, and that’s even considering the field. ISIS goes through several changes over the years, from name swaps to organization heads, but the one thing that doesn’t change is the lackluster moral. That being said, there’s no shortage of laughs to be had, from unruly HR head Pam, to evil scientist Krieger, to Cyril, the accountant, Lana, the star agent, and Cheryl, the well, psychopath. While there is an influx of ridiculous and fun characters, Archer is the one who stands out as the face of the organization (and, therefore, the show). Stream on Hulu

Related: The Funniest Animated Cartoon Movies of All Time, Ranked

26 The Powerpuff Girls

The Powerpuff Girls (1998-2005)

Powerpuff Girls Blossom Bubbles and Buttercup fly through the air angry
Cartoon Network

The Powerpuff Girls are the cutest little superheroes out there. Bubbles is the sweet and quiet one, Buttercup is a bit more rough around the edges, and Blossom is in control as the leader of the team, under the watchful eye of their father figure, Professor Untonium. The aesthetic of these test-tube sisters impressed fans clamoring for young, female superheroes. The Powerpuff Girls are full of fun and heartfelt family dynamics as the adopted children of their creator. While there have been a few attempts at bringing the Powerpuff Girls to live-action, they will always be better as cartoon heroes. Stream on Max

25 The Belcher Family

Bob’s Burgers (2011-Present)

The Bob's Burgers Movie cast (2022)
20th Century Studios

The character ensemble in Bob’s Burgers has made the rounds in popular culture ever since its inception in 2011. The series centers around a family-run business that’s always a step or two away from closing its doors. Set in a rough-around-the-edges boardwalk town, the Belcher family’s quirkiness fits right in. From the over-the-top Linda, to the conniving Louise, the awkward Tina, the insufferable Jean, and burger-artist extraordinaire Bob, each character is well fleshed out within this family unit.

Cartoons like Bob’s Burgers offers a fantastic bridge between audiences through families like the Belchers. They’re as relatable as they are ridiculous for those who’ve either worked in a family-run business or flipped burgers on the side. The show is absolutely hilarious and showcases characters that resonate with adults and young adults. Credit must also be given to the “memeability” of these characters and the animation, and the incredible voice acting. Tina Belcher dancing? Bob Belcher just existing? Perfect. Stream on Hulu

24 Bender

Futurama (1999-Present)

Bender From Futurama
Hulu

Futurama’s Bender has about as many lives as the show itself. Having switched from Fox in 2003 to Comedy Central and Hulu off and on in the years to come, Futurama is the adult comedy that keeps on giving. The show centers around Philip J. Fry, a pizza delivery person who accidentally gets cryogenically frozen, only to wake up decades later in a strange new world of flying cars and robots.

Bender is just one of the many ‘helpful’ robots Fry meets, but he sure as heck is a memorable one. Bender is a Bending Industrial Robot who works for Fry’s current employer, Planet Express. Together, the two often team up to make their deliveries on time. Bender’s nonchalant and, at times, hostile attitude towards his duties often gets them in trouble. Known about as much for his crassness as his drinking, Bender is an unlikely ally who can get them into about as many situations as he can get them out of. Stream on Hulu

23 Betty Boop

Betty Boop film series (1930-2018)

Betty Boop in a Betty Boop Original
MGM

Old-school cartoon characters like Betty Boop seem unable to age. She has also been the star of multiple projects since her debut in 1930. Betty Boop is innocent-looking with a pinup girl style. Thought to have initially been inspired by Helen Kane, new evidence has been posed to suggest her infamous pitch and “Boop-oop-a-doop” lyrics are reminiscent of Esther “Baby Esther” Jones.

Boop is one of the most charming cartoon characters ever created, both in personality and looks. There is no other animated character like her, and that, in itself, is part of the appeal. It’s a miracle her Jazz-time looks made it through the Hayes Code days unscathed. The vintage and slightly mischievous look had her setting a sort of blueprint for this kind of character in animation. Her look has since been replicated in spoofs like Drawn Together and The Cuphead Show, and her image has appeared on everything from t-shirts to backpacks. Stream on Tubi

Related: Cartoon Characters With Dark Histories Behind Them

22 Yakko, Wakko, and Dot Warner

Animaniacs – (1993-1998; 2020-2023)

The Warner Brothers And The Warner Sister Dot From Animaniacs
Hulu

The Animaniacs is the second animated series produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Animation (the first being Tiny Toon Adventures). In keeping with the Warner Bros. theme, the series follows the wacky adventures of the Warner Brothers (Wakko and Yakko) and the Warner Sister, Dot, as they run around the movie lot. Each episode featured short bits featuring original characters, from Elmyra to Pinky and the Brain. This threesome, however, ruled the show with their insightful, fourth-wall-smashing dialogue and time travel. They were educational as well as entertaining, with iconic songs like “Yakko’s World”. Stream on Hulu

21 Dora the Explorer

Dora the Explorer (2000-2019)

Dora the Explorer and Boots
Nickelodeon

Dora the Explorer had the daunting task of having to help young kids solve problems and find their way, all while teaching them the ABC’s of Spanish language learning. This interactive show had the iconic Dora as its face. Kids fell for the curious Dora and her animal friends like Boots and Tico, who often shared in her adventures. Her cousin even starred in a spin-off series called Go, Diego, Go that further propelled the characters to stardom. Dora, however, has been and will always be the main star.

Dora the Explorer has become so popular that a live-action movie adaptation of the show was even released in 2019 called Dora and the Lost City of Gold. Stream on Prime

20 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-Present)

TMNT 1987 Cartoon
CBS

The group known as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are iconic in the world of cartoons and animation. These four crime-fighting turtles live in the sewers of New York, have impeccable martial arts skills, and love pizza. Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo got their start in a much darker comic series before making the jump to Saturday Morning animation and feature film adaptations. Since then, the Turtles have starred in quite a few animated series over the years, each of which have reimagined the youthful ninjas for new generations. They have also starred in multiple live-action and animated movie franchises as well, with the latest series, Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, set for release sometime in 2024. Stream on Paramount+

19 Popeye The Sailor Man

Popeye Films & Cartoons (1939-2018)

Popeye The Sailor Man on his Ship
Firestone Film Syndication Ltd.

Popeye is about as recognizable as he is iconic. From his disproportionate musculature to his corn cob pipe, one good eye, and penchant for spinach, Popeye has graced the world with his presence since his comic appearance all the way back in 1929. His tell-tale hiccuping laugh and brazen appearance were created by Elzie Crisler Segar. This sailor hangs around with his lady love, Olive Oil, his ward Swee’Pea, and his hungry friend Wimpy. Robin Williams brought the classic cartoon character to life in the live-action Popeye adaptation from 1980.

That being said, Popeye may not be a cartoon character that can ride on overreaching storylines and character development, let alone continuity. In fact, he seems to have the same habits and mannerisms throughout his entire existence. Still, it’s hard to miss his distinguished laugh or penchant for healthy eating.

Stream on Tubi

18 Casper the Friendly Ghost

Various Casper animated series (1959-2012)

Casper The Friendly Ghost In His Original Animated Form
ABC

Casper the Friendly Ghost has had a surprisingly long-lasting work history. From the original animated show to the fantastic live-action films featuring the adorable ghost, Casper challenges the belief that ghosts and the paranormal are things to be feared. He was an adorable white apparition that everyone came to know as Casper the friendly ghost, though his more mischievous uncles fit the stereotypical bill for poltergeists. Casper has touched many generations of young people who fell in love with him from 1945 to today in both live-action films and animated forms. Stream on Indieflix

17 Garfield

The Garfield Movie Lasagna (1)
Sony Pictures

Animals have always been popular and always charming characters for animators… unfortunately, Garfield could use a little more of the latter. One of the most famous cartoon cats around, with his sly smile and mischievous look, Garfield is one of the first faces to come to mind when fans think about popular cartoon characters, let alone animated animals. His penchant for eating large portions of Italian cuisine and great distaste for Mondays make him highly relatable, even when he’s doing the dastardliest of kitty cat things. Garfield and Friends came out in 1988 after the character’s debut in the strips and a few other animated programs and live-action films. Garfield will return to the big screen in a new animated movie, voiced by Chris Pratt, set for release on May 24, 2024. Stream on Peacock

Related: 15 Saturday Morning Cartoons That Every ’90s Kid Remembers

16 Tweety and Sylvester

Looney Tunes (1930-Present)

Sylvester's Caught Red-Handed With Tweety
Cartoon Network

Tweety and his nemesis Sylvester are characters in The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, a series produced by Warner Bros. that appeared in a lot of modern childhoods. The series featured Sylvester and Tweety along with their owner Granny and bulldog Hector. As the animated detectives solved mysteries, Sylvester also tried to hunt down and devour Tweety, but Hector always saved the day. The series won two Annie Awards and was one of the most dynamic and funny cartoons to watch.

Their origins, however, stretch back to the Golden Age of Animation for Looney Tunes. Tweety is an adorable yellow canary that first appeared in the short animation “A Tale of Two Kitties” in 1942. Sylvester appeared on the scene three years later in “Life with Feathers”. The acclaimed Friz Freleng had a hand in both of their original creations. Stream on Max

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