Cartoons are timeless. They have been around for a long time, but so many of them are still ongoing. In fact, some of the most famous cartoon characters are older than us. Old cartoon characters like Spongebob Squarepants and Mickey Mouse continue to hold a special place in our hearts.
Of course, there are also plenty of new cartoon faces from the 2000s. Many also love new cartoon stars. Some examples are Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe and Netflix’s Bojack Horseman. Before getting into the most famous cartoon characters, it is important to first learn what a cartoon is.
What exactly is a cartoon?
Cartoons are a type of media that feature animated characters and their stories. Thus, while cartoons can also refer to simple 2D drawings, the cartoons on this list are from cartoon TV shows.
The animation style and designs appeal to a lot of people. Aside from this, cartoons teach life lessons. These life lessons are often relevant for people of all ages. While cartoons are usually marketed to children, this doesn’t mean that adults can’t enjoy cartoons too. In fact, there are many animated sitcoms specifically for adults! This means that people of all ages can enjoy and love cartoons.
The best thing about cartoons is that there is one for everybody. There are funny, cute, and cool cartoon characters. You’ll find each type (and more) in this list. Read on to know all about 30 famous cartoon characters!
Table of Contents
Bart Simpson is from the famous TV show, The Simpsons. The Simpsons is a cartoon show for older audiences. It depicts the lives of the Simpsons family, which can often get messy with the enigmatic personalities of each family member. Bart, especially, is a natural troublemaker. As far as famous cartoon characters go, he might be the most mischievous.
In the show, Bart is ten years old, and he is the eldest child. He is often causing trouble with his skateboard. One interesting fact about this character is that his name is actually an anagram. The writers rearranged the word, “brat,” into “Bart.”
Because of its longstanding success, The Simpsons is full of famous cartoon characters. Homer Simpson is one of them. Homer is Bart’s father and the family’s breadwinner. His character is a simpleton, and he often makes bad decisions. These bad decisions lead to problems that the characters have to solve in the episodes.
To many, Homer is undoubtedly the funniest character in the show. Homer Simpson has made many people laugh over the years. His signature “Doh!” is an iconic line that can make people fall off their seats.
Beavis and Butthead
These famous cartoon characters are once again from an adult cartoon. Beavis and Butt-Head are from the MTV show, Beavis and Butt-Head. The show is about Beavis and Butt-Head, two high school delinquents. They aren’t popular at school, and they often make lewd jokes that people might find offensive. As couch potatoes, they usually spend their time at home watching TV.
Even if they have the same kind of humor, these two are quite different. Beavis is much more self-aware, while Butt-head is more careless.
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Betty Boop is a lot older than most famous cartoon characters. This is obvious in her animation style. Created in 1930, Betty Boop originally appears in black and white. Her first appearance was in Talkartoon, followed by her own film series. Her appearance draws heavily from the Jazz Age. She has the classic flapper look with short curly hair, a short dress, and heavy makeup. In modern adaptations, she appears in color. She has black hair and often wears a red dress. She also has matching red lipstick.
Either way, she gives off the vibes of a mature, sexy woman. Betty Boop was one of the first to embody this image. During the time, most girl cartoon characters were like Minne Mouse. Thus, Betty Boop was truly a trendsetter.
Bojack Horseman is the main character of the popular Netflix show, Bojack Horseman. Despite its recent premiere in 2014, many already consider it to be one of the best cartoons of all time. The show features animals as the characters. The main character is a horse named Bojack, a washed-up celebrity who struggles with alcoholism and depression.
This animated cartoon deals with heavy topics that adults can relate to. Even as Bojack continues to make mistakes, his complexity makes audiences root for him. This is probably why he is one of the most famous cartoon characters of the 2010s.
It is no doubt that Bugs Bunny is a familiar name. This cartoon character is from the popular show, Looney Tunes. He has gray and white fur. You’ll often see him carrying around a whole carrot, which he often snacks on. His famous line is, “Eh… What’s up, doc?”
Bugs Bunny first appeared in the 1940 film, A Wild Hare. Among famous cartoon characters, Bugs Bunny stands out as the official mascot of Warner Bros. Furthermore, he also has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Yet another character from Looney Tunes is Daffy Duck. This black duck is sarcastic with an explosive personality. He is often the foil to the cheery Bugs Bunny. In 1988, he appeared in the Disney film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The film features other famous cartoon characters. This includes Donald Duck, who is Daffy’s Disney counterpart.
Daffy Duck also stars in several comic books. He even had his own series until the company discontinued it in 1984. However, he continues to star in the Looney Tunes comic books ever since DC Comics picked up the classic in 1994.
Peanuts is a popular comic strip from 1950. When it was adapted for American TV, a lot of people fell in love with the cartoon boy, Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown is often unlucky. Because of this, he is more pessimistic than optimistic. Still, people relate to him because he is like the average person who occasionally succeeds.
Like other famous cartoon characters, he has a trademark look. Charlie Brown wears a yellow collared shirt with a black zigzag pattern in the middle. He completes this with black shorts, yellow socks, and brown shoes.
Snoopy is Charlie Brown’s pet and friend in Peanuts. In fact, many believe this beagle to be much more popular than Charlie Brown himself. Snoopy is a white anthropomorphic beagle. He will often tease Charlie, but he is loyal and good-natured. While dogs in real life cannot eat chocolates, Snoopy’s favorite snack is chocolate chip cookies.
Many children adore Snoopy and his wild imagination. To this day, he continues to be one of the most famous cartoon characters in print and in television.
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Unlike most famous cartoon characters, Dr. Doofenshmirtz is the villain of his show. In Phineas and Ferb, he is the evil scientist who is always up to no good. Audiences will argue, however, that he is more eccentric than actually evil. Since the first episode from 2007, he builds elaborate machines to wreak havoc on society. The superhero who stops him is Perry the Platypus, a secret agent. The two offer a great dynamic that makes the show funny.
He also has a daughter called Vanessa. Despite being “evil,” he tries to be the best father to her. When she appears on the show, audiences see a softer side to Doofenshmirtz.
Most famous cartoon characters are endearing in their own ways. Eric Cartman is no different. While he is selfish and often rude, Cartman is still the favorite of many. This is likely because people see the value he plays in the show South Park.
Like Bart Simpson, Cartman is a nine-year-old brat that causes trouble. He often causes problems for his other friends. However, one defining trait is that he usually makes politically incorrect statements. This helps engage audiences in social issues that children’s cartoons can’t exactly talk about.
In this famous cartoon characters list, Fred Flintstone is the only one from the prehistoric period. The Flintstones is a cartoon show about Fred, his wife, and his children. They live in Bedrock, a fictional town where both dinosaurs and cave people live.
The Flintstones are some of the most popular 90s cartoon characters ever. Back then, they even had a live-action movie. Fred Flintstone has also appeared in spin-offs and video games. To this day, many people copy his catchphrase, “yabba dabba doo!”
When talking about famous cartoon characters, you can’t leave out Walt Disney’s creations. You especially can’t forget Goofy. Just like his name, Goofy is a silly dog who speaks with a southern accent. He isn’t the brightest, but he tries his best. He is sweet and often stars in many spin-offs because of his popularity. In A Goofy Movie, he shows his caring nature as a father to his son, Max.
Only a few people know this, but Goofy’s original name was Dippy Dawg. Additionally, Goofy wasn’t actually a recurring character. However, Disney staff realized his potential. Many loved Goofy, so they knew they just had to bring him back.
Created in 1974, Hello Kitty is one of Japan’s most famous cartoon characters. She is a 3rd-grade student who lives near London with her twin sister, Mimi. The animators based her design on the Japanese bobtail cat. Her character design is easy to distinguish. She has a pink bow on her right ear, and three whiskers on each side of her face.
Because of Hello Kitty’s popularity, she has several merchandises. You’ll find her on clothes, toys, and games. She isn’t just popular in Japan either. People from all over the world can’t get enough of Hello Kitty.
One of the oldest among the famous cartoon characters is Mickey Mouse. Many know him as the mascot of Walter Disney, but he started off like any other Disney character in 1928. The animated short, Steamboat Willie, was Mickey’s debut. It was also incredibly successful.
Mickey Mouse is a black mouse who wears red underpants and large yellow shoes. He stars in many films, spin-offs, and video games. His black circular ears are also iconic. Additionally, Mickey was one of the first cartoons to ever get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Another villain on this famous cartoon characters list is Mojo Jojo. Mojo Jojo is an evil scientist and the main villain in The Powerpuff Girls. He is actually a chimpanzee with an enlarged brain that makes him smarter than most animals. His character design is very iconic. He wears a cylindrical striped helmet and a purple suit. He also wears white gloves, white boots, and a long purple cape.
Aside from this, Mojo Jojo has superhuman intelligence and strength. Unfortunately, he uses this for evil. Thankfully, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup are always there to save the day.
Peter Griffin is from the animated sitcom Family Guy. He is the breadwinner of his family. He is married to Lois Griffin, and they have three kids. They are Meg, Chris, and Stewie. His best friend, Brian, is also his dog.
Created in 1998, Peter was much like Homer Simpson. He offered a lot of gags to the show because of his simpleton character. He often teases his kids and leads them into trouble.
Popeye is one of the older famous cartoon characters on this list. He first appeared in a comic strip, Thimble Theatre, in 1929. There was positive reception from audiences. Thus, they adapted him for TV.
Many know Popeye the Sailor Man for his love of spinach. He has big muscles that grow bigger whenever he eats a can of spinach. By exaggerating Popeye’s strength, the show encourages young audiences to eat their vegetables.
From the 1960s to now, Scooby-Doo has been one of the most famous cartoon characters on TV. Scooby-Doo first appeared in the 1969 show, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! The show focuses on the story of a gang of detectives, including Scooby-Doo. Unfortunately, Scooby is a scaredy-cat. This is ironic, especially since Scooby is a dog.
Scooby-Doo often pairs up with Shaggy Rogers, another coward from their gang. Together, they offer a funny dynamic whenever they chase (or get chased themselves) bad guys.
Aside from being one of the most famous cartoon characters, this one is also one of the most successful. Spongebob Squarepants has been around since 1999, but the show is still ongoing. In fact, the show is still going on strong.
Spongebob Squarepants is the main character of the show. He is a sponge who lives under the sea. Among his companions are Patrick Star, Squidward Tentacles, and Mr. Krabs. All of whom are quite popular themselves. He often gets into all kinds of trouble with Patrick. Spongebob isn’t the brightest sponge. However, he has a kind heart that appeals to viewers of all ages.
In 2013, the show Steven Universe premiered on TV. It stars Steven Universe, who is a magical gem with superpowers. As a young boy, he doesn’t have full control over his powers yet. Throughout the episodes, viewers see him learn to master his powers while he also grows as a person.
The show’s colorful style first captured audiences. However, Steven’s sweet personality surely made them stay. This is one of the reasons why he is one of the youngest famous cartoon characters ever.
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello make up the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Their show, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, was first screened in 1984. As their name suggests, they are a crime-fighting group of turtles who are ninjas. They fight crime to keep New York City safe from all kinds of bad guys.
While they all look the same, their accessories come in different colors. Plus, they also wield different weapons. These details help fans of the show pick their favorite ninja turtle. Leonardo wears blue and uses two swords. On the other hand, Raphael wears red and uses sais. Donnie wears purple and uses a bo staff. Last, Michelangelo wears orange and uses nunchucks.
While Tina Belcher isn’t the main character of Bob’s Burgers, she is a very popular character. Tina is an eighth-grader and a hopeless romantic. She is also very awkward, so she isn’t popular with her peers.
Like other famous cartoon characters, Tina Belcher is quite the internet sensation. Her iconic lines and dry humor appeal to audiences. In fact, you’ll often find screenshots of her being spread on Twitter or Facebook.
Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse
Everybody loves a good cat-and-mouse chase. The show, Tom and Jerry, offers it in a literal sense. Tom and Jerry follows the daily adventures of Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse. They live in the same house, and Tom Cat often chases after Jerry Mouse. Most of the time, Tom Cat is unlucky. This, fortunately, helps Jerry Mouse escape.
Their playful dynamic makes them some of the most famous cartoon characters. They starred in over a hundred short films. Furthermore, these short films bagged seven Oscars during their time.
Bugs Bunny isn’t the only rabbit on this famous cartoon characters list. Roger Rabbit is also very popular. He first appeared in the 1981 novel, Who Censored Roger Rabbit? This Gary K. Wolf novel was later adapted into a live-action film. In 1988, Disney released Who Framed Roger Rabbit. This film featured real-life celebrities who acted alongside animated characters. It was a big hit, and many grew to love Roger Rabbit.
Since then, Roger Rabbit has starred in several other Disney spin-offs. In Disneyland, there are also rides based on his character.
Wile E. Coyote
Looney Tunes produced so many famous cartoon characters. Created in 1949, Wile E. Coyote is yet another popular Looney Tunes character. In the show, Wil E. Coyote is on a never-ending mission to catch the Roadrunner. However, he always ends up failing. He’ll fall off cliffs and crash into boulders. These misfortunes become a running gag for the show.
His persistence, however, is admirable. It teaches kids to never give up. Of course, it also teaches kids to look out for cliffsides.
As far as famous cartoon characters go, Winnie-the-Pooh might be the gentlest. This cartoon teddy bear first appeared in the 1926 book Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. More novels followed this book until it became a collection.
Winnie-the-Pooh, or “Pooh Bear” or “Pooh,” is a yellow teddy bear that walks and talks. He wears a short red shirt that leaves his round belly and legs exposed. He lives in Hundred Acre Wood, with his friends Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, and Rabbit.
In 1996, Disney produced animated shorts after acquiring the rights. Then, feature films and even video games followed.
From the famous franchise Toy Story, Woody is every child’s best friend. He represents a child’s favorite toy. From the first Toy Story in 1995, Woody and other toys come to life whenever humans aren’t around. By design, Woody is a sheriff and has a vintage cowboy design. He is like a leader to the other toys.
His strong personality causes him to bump heads with Buzz Lightyear when they first meet. However, later on, they form a bond that audiences come to love. Together, these two are some of the most famous cartoon characters.
Of course, Buzz Lightyear deserves his own spot on this famous cartoon characters list. His reputation is much like his iconic phrase: To Infinity and Beyond! This stubborn and occasionally proud man is a toy Space Ranger. He is much like the action figures that children love to play with.
Aside from the Toy Story films, Buzz features in his own movie. In fact, many anticipate an upcoming movie in 2022 that explores his backstory. Famous Marvel star Chris Evans will act as Buzz Lightyear.
Yogi Bear first appeared in the 1958 show The Huckleberry Hound Show. There, he was only a supporting character. However, he quickly became popular. In fact, he is actually the first breakout character out of any cartoon. By 1961, he had his own show, The Yogi Bear Show. Yogi Bear would steal picnic baskets from a nearby park. This often leads to funny situations.
Like other famous cartoon characters, Yogi Bear has plenty of spin-offs. He also features in educational films. An example is Earthquake Preparedness from 1984. In this film, Yogi Bear teaches children about safety during earthquakes.