Cartoons have evolved significantly. Sure, new episodes of The Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park, and SpongeBob SquarePants are released on a yearly basis, but that’s merely the tip of the iceberg. Traditional cable networks have generated fresh and interesting animated characters and worlds, while streaming services have enabled even more producers to create the animated shows they desire. Many use wittier humor, more sophisticated characters, and deeper themes to captivate people of all ages, while others target teens or adults as their primary audience, allowing them to express relatable, compelling, and amusing stories through animation.
Let’s go back in time and look at some of the most iconic cartoon characters from the past to the present.
#1 Tommy Pickles
Thomas Malcolm “Tommy” Pickles is the protagonist of the animated children’s television series Rugrats, as well as its revival and spinoff series All Grown Up!
Iconic quote: “A baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do.”
#2 Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse is an animated cartoon character co-created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, who first voiced the character. Mickey, The Walt Disney Company’s longtime mascot, is an anthropomorphic mouse who normally wears red shorts, huge yellow shoes, and white gloves.
Iconic quote: “Oh, boy!”
#3 SpongeBob Squarepants
SpongeBob SquarePants is the titular character and protagonist of the same-named American animated television series. He is distinguished by his positivity and childish demeanor.
Iconic quote: “I’m ready, I’m ready.”
#4 Stewie Griffin
“Stewie” Griffin is a fictitious character from the Family Guy cartoon television series. He is said to have been born on September 11th, 1998.
Iconic quote: “Damn, you vile woman.”
#5 Homer Simpson
Homer Jay Simpson is a fictional character in the American cartoon sitcom The Simpsons. Homer exemplifies several clichés of the American working class: he is obese, immature, outspoken, belligerent, balding, lazy, stupid, unprofessional, and hooked to alcohol, junk food, and television. He is, however, basically a nice man who is fiercely protective of his family, especially when they are in trouble.
Iconic quote: “D’oh!”
#6 Louise Belcher
Louise Belcher is one of Bob’s Burgers’ two deuteragonists (together with Tina Belcher). She is the Belcher family’s youngest member. Her off-kilter sense of humor and desire for conflict make her a liability in the kitchen, and she frequently gets her family into and/or out of sticky situations.
Iconic quote: “You think you know how to kiss?”
Scooby-Doo is a male Great Dane who has lived with amateur detective Shaggy Rogers his entire life and shares many personality qualities with him. He exhibits a combination of canine and human behavior (similar to other talking animals in Hanna-series) Barbera and is viewed as an equal by his buddies. He says things in a slurred, dog-like voice.
Iconic quote: “Scooby Doobie Doooo!”
Courage is the series’ title character and protagonist. Courage, a fearful pink beagle who lives in Nowhere, Kansas, was abandoned as a puppy after his parents were taken into space, but he was adopted by Muriel Bagge. Eustace, her husband, constantly mistreats him.
Iconic quote: “The things I do for love.”
Stitch is a fictitious character from the Disney film Lilo & Stitch. He is one of the franchise’s two title characters, with his human adopter and best friend Lilo Pelekai, and its most prominent protagonist. He is an illegally created, genetically engineered extraterrestrial life-form like a blue koala.
Iconic quote: “Nobody gets left behind.”
#10 Ms. Frizzle
Professor Valerie Felicity Frizzle, PhD (nicknamed “The Friz”) is the primary character in The Magic School Bus franchise. She was a quirky fourth-grade teacher at Walkerville Elementary School. She teaches the kids scientific principles using a range of unique magic devices. Her magical school bus, a shape-shifting vehicle with a mind of her own, is the most remarkable of these.
Iconic quote: “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”
Snoopy is an anthropomorphic beagle in the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. He can also be found in all of the Peanuts films and television specials.
Iconic quote: “Never forget to smile.”
#12 The Powerpuff Girls
Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup are three kindergarten-aged girls who have superpowers. The sisters all live in the fictitious city of Townsville with their father and creation, a scientist named Professor Utonium, and are frequently summoned by the mayor to assist in fighting surrounding criminals and other adversaries using their abilities.
Iconic quote: “Sugar, spice, and everything nice.”
#13 Angela Pickles
Angelica Pickles is the pampered older cousin of Tommy and Dil Pickles and the privileged daughter of Drew and Charlotte Pickles. Angelica is frequently seen tormenting and mocking her cousins and their friends.
Iconic quote: “You babies are so dumb.”
Dexter is the protagonist and main character of Dexter’s Laboratory. He is a young genius with a hidden laboratory. He is the family’s brain, and he is one of the world’s finest inventors, having built innumerable strange and extraordinary machines and experiments.
Iconic quote: “You are stupid! You are stupid! And don’t forget, you are stupid!”
#15 Johnny Bravo
Johnny Bravo is a muscular young man who lives with his mother and tries to entice ladies to date him, but is usually unsuccessful.
Iconic quote: “I am Johnny Bravo, the one-man army!”
#16 Pink Panther
The Pink Panther appears frequently in episodes as a prankster, as he enjoys playing jokes on the janitor anytime he sees him. He is extremely curious and enjoys finding and trying new things.
Iconic quote: “Why can’t humans behave more like animals?”
#17 Charlie Brown
Charles “Charlie” Brown is the main character of the comic strip Peanuts, which is syndicated in daily and Sunday newspapers all over the world. Charlie Brown, depicted as a “lovable loser,” is a classic American archetype as well as a popular and well-known cartoon character.
Iconic quote: “Good grief!”
#18 Shaggy Rogers
Norville “Shaggy” Rogers is a fictitious character who appears in the Scooby-Doo series as one of four human characters. He is typically portrayed as an amateur detective and slacker, as well as the long-time best friend of his equally cowardly dog, Scooby-Doo.
Iconic quote: “Zoinks!”
#19 Bart Simpson
In The Simpsons, Bartholomew “Bart” Jojo Simpson is the Simpson family’s mischievous, rebellious, misunderstood, disruptive, and “possibly dangerous” oldest kid.
Iconic quote: “Eat my shorts!”
#20 Fred Flinstone
Fred Flintstone is the main character of the animated sitcom The Flintstones, which ran on ABC during prime time from 1960 to 1966. Fred Flintstone is the husband of Wilma Flintstone and the father of Pebbles Flintstone, and the family lives in a cozy cave in the town of Bedrock.
Iconic quote: “Yabba dabba do!”