Who are the best cartoon characters of all time? The world of cartoons is inconceivably large and incredibly diverse, with characters of all shapes and sizes (and species) filling the realm of animated series across the world.
Cartoons are not just confined to small screen adventures in the best animated series either, with many of the best characters finding their way into animated movies on the silver screen, too. Some cartoon characters have stood the test of time, dominating the childhood of so many of us, long before the development of computer animation and Pixar movies. Some originated in the best anime series before making their way into the West and dominating popular culture. Others are fairly new to the animation game, but found immediate success.
With so many great shows through the years, you might think we’d be crazy to take on the task of listing the best cartoon characters. Well, call us crazy, because we went and did it anyway. From badass heroes to cute critters, and some truly hilarious comedy series cartoon stars too, we’ve got them all here.
Who are the best cartoon characters of all time?
- Homer Simpson
- Roger Smith
- Eric Cartman
- The Powerpuff Girls
- Samurai Jack
- Velma Dinkley
- Roger Rabbit
This dastardly Dragon Ball Z character goes on quite the journey throughout the various arcs of Dragon Ball history; starting life as a truly evil villain, before the power of love softens him over time. He may be a dangerous Super Saiyan, but he’s also a super father and husband, too.
Vegeta is an incredibly powerful warrior and may well be the best anime character on this list. Let’s face it, he’s a total badass! He’s also got a dry sense of humor too and a cynical outlook on life, which just makes him even more likable, even if he doesn’t want us to like him.
It may seem like an obvious choice, but there’s a reason Homer Simpson has a place on most lists of this kind — he’s an absolutely brilliant cartoon character, there’s no denying it. The town of Springfield is full of amazing Simpsons characters, but Homer takes the cake (or the doughnut) as the king of them all.
Homer is a master of physical comedy and silly one-liners, and while his brain may not always be working at full capacity, his heart usually is. The whole Simpson family have become a major part of popular culture, and no one symbolizes that more than good old Homey.
While Family Guy may have gotten most of the attention over the years, it’s actually American Dad that is the superior adult cartoon show. The jokes are more nuanced and stand the test of time far better, and the characters have far more depth to them. None more so than Roger the alien.
From his alcohol-induced misadventures to his impressive array of disguises and personas, Roger is the ultimate showman. E.T can get in the trash, because Roger is the best alien to ever visit this planet!
In truth, Cartman may actually be one of the most selfish, rude, and downright despicable characters to ever exist in the annals of animation history. But we love him for it!
Like most of the entries on this list, Cartman is supported by excellent characters around him, but no one can match his cruel comebacks and narcissistic outlook on life. All Cartman wants is to be adored, to have everything his own way, and to have a big bowl of cheesy puffs, and to be fair, that doesn’t sound like a bad way to exist.
The Powerpuff Girls
We couldn’t pick just one of these super-powered princesses, so we decided to cheat a little and put all three of the Powerpuff Girls on our list. Why? Because Bubbles, Blossom, and Buttercup are all amazing in their own right, each bringing their unique vibes to the group.
They may be kids, but they sure can kick ass! Throughout the course of their show we see the girls taking on a great roster of bad guys and they make it look easy every time. It’s safe to say the Powerpuff Girls would have stopped MCU villain Thanos a lot quicker than the Avengers did.
You only need to know two things about Garfield to understand why he’s one of the best cartoon characters of all time; he hates Mondays, and he loves lasagna. A cat after my own heart, for sure.
He may come across as a grumpy old cat, but Garfield does have a heart in there underneath all the cheesy pasta. When Garfield shows love for his owner Jon and his canine buddy Odie, it’s enough to make you want a cat of your own (even if they are evil).
Okay, we said Vegeta might be the coolest character on this list, but Samurai Jack wants a word about that. He might not be able to blast people with crazy energy attacks, but Jack is mighty handy with a sword, and you’d be hard-pressed to beat him in any form of combat.
Inspired by classic samurai stories and brought to life by Genndy Tartakovsky’s awesome animation style, Jack’s quest is epic in scale and has a real emotional core to it as well. And, let’s not forget, Samurai Jack may well have the best theme tune of all time.
When a talking dog is involved, it’s easy to forget about the supporting cast of brilliant characters around him. Scooby-Doo is great and all, but it’s Velma Dinkley who is the true unsung hero of the Mystery Machine gang.
She may be an absolute nerd, but nerds can also be very cool, and the team probably wouldn’t solve half their cases if it wasn’t for Velma. From small-screen adventures, to large-scale detective movies, Velma is smart, endearing, and secretly quite a lot of fun. She recently got her own animated series too, though that went down about as well a brick in a lake. Now, if only she could stop losing her glasses!
One of only a select few who have been able to bridge the divide between the cartoon world and the human world, Roger Rabbit is a dimension-hopping, crime-solving extraordinaire.
Roger’s goofball persona clashes brilliantly with Bob Hoskins’ portrayal of Eddie Valiant, and it’s so hard not to love the little rabbit that even the dogged detective can’t help but find him endearing in the end. While most of his ‘80s movie is a rip-roaring good time, it’s also a little bit scary in places, but Roger’s slapstick comedy keeps it light enough for all audiences.
So far, we’ve had cool characters, funny characters, and smart characters. Well, Bluey rolls of all that into one and is also super cute at the same time. She is also the most recent creation to make it onto this list, having only debuted on the small screen in 2018.
Bluey is a god-send for parents all around the world, and truth be told, we suspect some parents actually enjoy the show more than their children do. The little pooch has such an infectious energy and curiosity, and the dynamic between her, her sister Bingo, and their mum and dad, is so heart-warming and authentic.
Well, it wasn’t easy, but those are the best cartoon characters of all time. We could have picked about 50 entries for this list, with so many to choose from. If we missed any of your favorites, you may just find them in our list of the best 90s TV shows. To see what animated adventures lay ahead, take a look at our guides to the Tokyo Revengers season 3 release date, Wish release date, and Frozen 3 release date.
And for some weird hidden trivia, take a look at our feature on why Bluey has a shocking criminal underworld you never noticed. Don’t forget to check out the new movies coming out this year, and the best movies of all time, too.