There are few pastimes as enjoyable and relaxing as watching television. Maybe you catch a ball game while savoring a beer on the couch. Or you wait every day for 8 PM to watch your favorite primetime series. Perhaps you wake up early on Saturday morning to catch some cartoons, or you stay up late and watch, well-- cartoons.
Animation has a deep rooted history in television and eventually became so popular that Turner launched the Cartoon Network in 1992 to broadcast its enormous library of cartoons. Given the continued popularity of animation, we've attempted the arduous task of naming the best animated TV characters of all time.
Let's set a few ground rules. First, to be considered, a character should either be known primarily for its television appearances or at least have originated on TV. Therefore very few comic book characters are listed and the most iconic mouse (hint: he's a Walt Disney creation) of all time is ineligible. Further, we've included no more than three characters from the same TV show. Finally, characters who are known almost entirely as a group or duo are listed as such.
So, with all that said, here are The 30 Best Animated TV Characters Of All Time.
30 Yogi Bear
There are few names as recognizable in animation as Hanna-Barbera. The studio, which later became Cartoon Network Studios, has created some of the most iconic television characters of all time - many that you will see on this list. But arguably their first hit character was Yogi Bear. Yogi Bear and his side-kick Boo Boo first appeared not on their own show, but on The Huckleberry Hound Show.
While The Huckleberry Hound Show and its title character were well received, Yogi Bear instantly became the show's most popular character. So much so, that in 1961 Hanna-Barbera launched The Yogi Bear Show. And well, the rest is history. Generations of fans have since enjoyed Yogi Bear's antics in Jellystone Park and his many catchphrases, including his common greeting to his buddy, "Hey there, Boo Boo!"
While perhaps not the greatest role model, since he spends most of his time stealing food from "pic-a-nic baskets", Yogi Bear is rarely seen as anything but a lovable bear, and certainly one of the greatest animated characters of all time.
While Pikachu first appeared in the Pokémon video games, it was in anime that the character's popularity really spiked. And it was a good decision Pikachu to choose as the mascot for the Pokemon franchise as it has been going strong for two decades. To both general audiences and hardcore Pokémon fans, Pikachu is well known as the yellow "electric" Pokémon that refuses to stay in his Poké Ball, and instead, follows his trainer, Ash, wherever he goes.
Unlike the original Red and Blue video games, where trainers had to select either Bulbasaur, Squirtle, or Charmander as their starter Pokémon, Ash is left with Pikachu in the Pokémon anime series. And nearly twenty years later, their pairing has become one of the most recognizable in both animation and video games.
So, even though Pikachu first appeared in a video game, television was the medium that launched its popularity, making the electric type Pokémon, one of the greatest animated TV characters - ever.
28 Cosmo and Wanda
Like Hanna-Barbera, Nickelodeon is frequently mentioned when discussing some of the greatest cartoons of all time. Nickelodeon Animation Studio began by creating shows like Rugrats and Doug, and has since created some of the longest running cartoons in history. And one of those shows is The Fairly OddParents, which has aired ten seasons over the last fifteen years.
While the series revolves around the life of Timmy Turner, it is his godparents, Cosmo and Wanda Cosma, who steal the show. And since nobody is allowed to know Timmy has godparents, the pair often hide as goldfish or other less noticeable objects. But the two godparents are particularly entertaining because of what they do inadvertently.
Husband and wife Cosmo and Wanda are tasked with granting Timmy wishes in order to improve his life. However, they have a propensity towards disaster, often causing more problems for Timmy than they solve. Cosmo, in particular, is a dim-witted character whose ineptitude is often the cause of all kinds of destruction. Still, the pair endure and have earned a place among the animated greats.
27 Malory Archer
One of the more recent characters on this list, Archer's Malory Archer (voiced by Jessica Walter) is the former head of ISIS (the "International Secret Intelligence Service") and mother of super spy, Sterling Archer. She is an alcoholic, self-absorbed (though not as much as her son), and greedy individual, who seemingly cares more about her bank account than the safety and well-being of her agents.
Malory's exploits include a long-running affair with the head of the KGB, having her team clean up for her after she commits murder, and turning her spy agency into an unsuccessful drug cartel. Clearly one of the less child-friendly characters on this list, Malory Archer is part of the reason Archer has aired seven successful seasons and keeps people coming back for more. It doesn't hurt that she is voiced to perfection by Jessica Walter, who essentially reprises her role as Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development.
Season seven of Archer ended on a shocking cliffhanger, so it will be interesting to see where we find Malory come season eight.
26 Tina Belcher
Prior to the launch of Fox's "Sunday Funday", the network carved out a niche for itself with its primetime block of animated programming called "Animation Domination". While the programming block may have been known best for airing The Simpsons and Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy, American Dad!, and The Cleveland Show, it also launched the Belcher family to stardom in Bob's Burgers.
While the entire Belcher family is fun to watch, the breakout character is one that almost never was - Tina Belcher (voiced by Dan Mintz). The oldest child of Bob and Linda was originally going to be a boy, Daniel Belcher. But after being included in the never-aired pilot, Daniel was replaced by Tina. Tina is known for speaking in a very low droning voice, for being the ultimate awkward teenage girl, and for her obsession with male buttocks.
What makes the character so fun to watch is her utter sincerity. Tina is 100% herself, even when that self is fantasizing about her imaginary horse, Jericho. Lucky for us, when Bob's Burgers finally came to television, we got to watch Tina, and not Daniel Belcher.
25 Rick Sanchez
Like the previous character on this list, Rick Sanchez has only been around for a few years, but he has still carved out quite a name for himself. One of the title characters of Adult Swim's Rick and Morty, Rick (voiced by series creator Justin Roiland) is known for his constant burping, condescending attitude, and considerable genius. He is Beth Smith's father, and Morty and Summer's grandfather.
While Rick Sanchez interacts with the entire Smith family, his exploits in space and alternate dimensions most often include his grandson Morty. Despite his age, Rick Sanchez has quite the reputation across the galaxy, even winning the affection of the "hive mind" Unity. Rick has a superiority complex, but is nonetheless often is shown to be a caring grandfather and father, even surrendering his freedom in the second season finale for the sake of his family.
Rick and Morty's first two seasons were a hit for Adult Swim, and that is in large part thanks to the foul mouthed genius of Rick Sanchez.
24 Peter Griffin
One of the most popular, though at times controversial, animated programs of the last decade and a half has to be Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy. While criticized by some as a poor man's The Simpsons, the show became so popular that it rose from the dead. After being canceled in 2002, sales of Family Guy DVDs and syndication ratings on Adult Swim were so high that Fox had no choice but to renew the show for a fourth season. And they haven't looked back since.
Family Guy has now aired 269 episodes, and there is no doubt that the show's popularity is in no small part due to the patriarch of the Griffin family, Peter Griffin. The overweight, alcoholic, dim-witted, prone to cutaways, family guy has consistently been one of the funniest and lovable characters on television - not just animation - since he first appeared.
Fans have enjoyed Peter's antics, including every chicken fight, drink at The Clam, and ill-advised decision, for fourteen seasons now, making him one of the best animated TV characters of all time.
From 1985 to 1988 one of the most popular syndicated animated television shows was Jem (or Jem and the Holograms). While that name may be familiar to some from the recent, critically panned, live-action adaptation of the show, Jem (the alter ego of Jerrica Benton) is possibly the most iconic animated female character of the 1980s.
Jerrica Benton is able to turn into Jem, the leader of the Holograms, through the use of Synergy, which she can activate by pressing her "Jemstar earrings". Though keeping her identity concealed from most, the Holograms have always been aware of Jerrica's alter ego. Jerrica inherited both Synergy and Starlight Music after the passing of her father. For three seasons Jem and Jerrica were voiced by Samantha Newark, while Jem's singing voice was provided by Britta Phillips.
Despite Jem and the Holograms only lasting three seasons, Jem's legacy has continued through reruns, dolls, comic strips, and of course, the 2015 live action adaptation.
22 Beavis and Butt-Head
In 1993, Mike Judge created a show for MTV about two teenagers who loved rock music, were completely socially unaware, and seemed to lack any form of moral compass. That show was called Beavis and Butt-Head. Beavis and Butt-Head (both voiced by Mike Judge) are students at Highland High, though they often do not attend. Their eponymous series often features them watching music videos, talking about sex, and getting in trouble.
Despite their friendship, Beavis and Butt-Head rarely seem to care for each other's well-being, with Butt-Head often becoming physically violent and abusive towards Beavis. The series was clearly not without controversy, as Beavis and Butt-Head often partook in schemes that most parents would not condone. But still, Beavis and Butt-Head's popularity led to spin-offs, comic strips, and a feature film titled, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. And so, their place in animation history is cemented - for better or worse.
21 George Jetson
It was only going to be a matter of time before we made it to another creation of Hanna-Barbera. While originally airing for only one season in 1962, The Jetsons has become one of Hanna-Barbera's most iconic television shows. The series, which was the first to be broadcast in color on ABC, has been airing reruns for decades, and has become a household name for generations. Produced as a counterpart to The Flinstones, The Jetsons showcased family life in a future utopia.
The star of the series was Jetson family patriarch, George Jetson. Originally voice by George O'Hanlon, the character has since been voiced by Jeff Bergman (who provides the modern-day voice to many classic animated characters). Like most iconic animated characters, George has many catchphrases, but none more notable than "Jane! Stop this crazy thing!" which he would scream during the end credits of the original series while running on a space treadmill.
While The Jetsons may not be as popular as The Flinstones, the series still led to television films, a theatrical film, and a planned (though long-gestating) live-action adaptation.
20 Space Ghost
Space Ghost has an interesting legacy. Unlike many of the characters on this list, Space Ghost has been featured in two very different TV shows. The first series, Space Ghost, premiered on CBS in 1966. Another creation of Hanna-Barbera, Space Ghost, and his allies Jan and Jace would battle villains in space - the two most prominent of which were the green mantis, Zorak, and the cat-like space conqueror, Brak.
While the Space Ghost series was successful in its own right (in spawned many spin-offs and related shows), it was Cartoon Network's (later Adult Swim's) Space Ghost Coast to Coast that cemented Space Ghost's status as one of the greatest animated television characters of all time. While the original Space Ghost series was classic Hanna-Barbera fare, meant for children, Space Ghost Coast to Coast was presented as a talk show and very much intended for adults.
While Space Ghost retained his classic animation, his guests on the show were often live-action celebrities, and their interactions consisted of awkward beat after awkward beat. Space Ghost Coast to Coast paved the way for future Adult Swim series like The Brak Show, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law - just to name a few.
19 Tom and Jerry
There are few cartoon characters whose legacies are more intertwined than Tom and Jerry. While the comedic adversaries originated in short films, their legacy has been kept alive through numerous television shows over the last four decades. These characters need no introductions, as they are the most recognized cat and mouse pairing in entertainment.
In response to the success of their short films, the Tom and Jerry cartoons were eventually broadcast on television in 1965. In 1972, Tom and Jerry received their first ever produced-for-television series. The show, aptly titled The Tom and Jerry Show, featured less violence than the original cartoons, and portrayed the two longtime rivals as friends. Fortunately, the duo returned to television in 1982 with the Tom and Jerry Comedy Show which embraced the original format of comedic violence and highlighted the pair's adversarial relationship.
Since then the cat and mouse have returned to television in Tom & Jerry Kids, Tom and Jerry Tales, and the ongoing The Tom and Jerry Show. Despite originating in film, Tom and Jerry are no doubt part of the television elite.
18 SpongeBob SquarePants
"Who lives in a pineapple under the sea..."
SpongeBob SquarePants is without a doubt the most famous talking yellow sponge of all time - hands down. SpongeBob has been the title character of the longest running Nickelodeon cartoon for seventeen years and nine seasons. Voiced by actor Tom Kenny, SpongeBob is known for his upbeat demeanor and his relationship with his best friend Patrick. SpongeBob works as a cook at Krusty Krab and lives in the most iconic pineapple in all of television.
Partially due to how long SpongeBob SquarePants has been on the air, he has become a popular character for both adults and children. The series' popularity has led to SpongeBob appearing in comic books, theme park rides, video games, and feature films. SpongeBob's most recent film The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water was a huge success grossing over $300 million worldwide.
SpongeBob SquarePants has already been renewed for two more seasons, so it is likely the Bikini Bottom resident's popularity will only keep growing.
17 Angelica Pickles
For thirteen years, Rugrats was one of the most beloved cartoon shows on television. Its status as one of Nickelodeon's greatest series will likely never be in jeopardy. While the series followed the imaginative adventures of baby Tommy Pickles and his friends, the breakout character of the show was none other than his spoiled cousin, Angelica.
Angelica is usually portrayed as the main antagonist of her younger cousin and his friends. She is greedy, selfish, and is rarely disciplined. She is quite cunning, often manipulating the babies for her own benefit. With the rest of the Rugrats cast, Angelica Pickles has appeared in the original series, All Grown Up!, and the films, The Rugrats Movie, Rugrats in Paris: The Movie, and Rugrats Go Wild! Angelica's popularity also led her to starring in her own series Rugrats Pre-School Daze.
In all of the series and films Angelica Pickles has been voiced by Cheryl Chase. And while she will always be the "evil cousin" to Tommy and Dill Pickles, she will go down in cartoon history as the greatest character from the Rugrats.
16 Sterling Archer
There is no way that Malory Archer could make this list without her son, Sterling, also making the cut. Sterling Archer (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) has been the standout of Archer for seven seasons. The character is unique in that despite his selfish attitude and general disregard for others, he is in fact portrayed as a high successful secret agent.
Archer is known for his sexually inappropriate jokes, promiscuous behavior, and desperate need for attention. He has more catchphrases than you can count, and frequently yells at Lana, his romantic interest, until she notices him. His reckless behavior more often than not leads the rest of his team into danger, and he can be impossible to reach, usually recording elaborate and tediously long voicemail greetings - much to his mother's dismay.
Hopefully we will see Sterling Archer for many more years to come, though last we checked in, he was floating in a pool - presumably dead.
When compiling a list of great animated television characters you can only go so many entries before you hit another popular Nickelodeon creation. Though relatively short lived, when compared to other series on this list, Avatar: The Last Airbender was lauded by critics and fans alike for three seasons. The series takes place in a world where "benders" can manipulate the elements. One of these "benders" is the series' protagonist, Aang.
Aang is the last remaining Airbender and, as the Avatar, is able to manipulate all of the elements. The character's popularity has led him to appear in video games, comics, and a variety of memorabilia. The series' following led to the live-action feature adaptation, The Last Airbender, which was directed by M. Night Shayamalan. Unfortunately, while a box office success, the film was heavily panned, being considered one of the worst films of all time (though maybe we can get a proper remake at some point).
Still, Aang's popularity as an animated television character has not waned and he is seen as a role model for his calm demeanor and general aversion to violence.
14 Stewie Griffin
While Peter Griffin may be the patriarch of the Griffin family, it is his young son, Stewie, who steals every scene he is in. In Family Guy, Stewie is an infant who possesses considerable intellect. He has created a time machine, an ability to travel between universes, and all kinds of weaponry. His personality has evolved throughout the series, originally being portrayed as an evil child out for world domination - and his mother's death. More recently, his endeavors seem to be more out of curiosity than anything else. He frequently travels through time, and his most fun adventures include his dog, Brian.
Some of the greatest episodes in Family Guy are the "Road to..." journeys shared between Brian and Stewie. A running gag throughout the show is that while Brian can understand Stewie, it is unclear whether that can be said for the other characters - and who can understand him seems to fluctuate. Other than Brian, Stewie's strongest bond is with his teddy, Rupert. Still, he is shown at times caring for his family, as he helps Chris become popular and occasionally, though reluctantly, converses with Meg. Stewie has many catchphrases, perhaps most notably "what the deuce?" and, in earlier episodes, "victory is mine." Family Guy's continued popularity in no small part due to the brilliance of Stewie Griffin.
13 Ren & Stimpy
Before there was Beavis and Butt-Head, South Park, or even Family Guy, there was The Ren & Stimpy Show. Along with Rugrats and Doug, Ren & Stimpy was one of the first animated programs produced by Nickelodeon. The series was ahead of its time, often featuring sexually inappropriate jokes, violent interactions, and other controversial themes - for a children's show at least. In fact, the series really made no sense as a children's show, which perhaps, is why it has such an enduring legacy.
The series featured the often angry Chihuahua, Ren, and his more friendly cat counterpart, Stimpy. The characters' legacy immensely impacted the future of television and animation. In 2003, Ren and Stimpy were brought back to television in an attempt to reach adult audiences with Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon". Unfortunately, the series only lasted a year, and was generally considered a failure.
Nonetheless, Ren and Stimpy's five season run on Nickelodeon was highly successful, and their continued influence on animated television makes the duo a no-brainer for this list.
12 Lisa Simpson
You knew that, at some point, members of the longest-running animated family would show up on this list. The Simpsons, the longest-running American sitcom (animated or otherwise) has aired nearly 600 episodes over 27 seasons. The series has won over thirty Primetime Emmy Awards, and is another series that paved the way for shows like South Park, Family Guy, Futurama, and more.
The first (but obviously not the only) Simpsons child to make the list is Lisa, who has been voiced by Yeardly Smith for nearly thirty years. Like the rest of her family, Lisa originally appeared on the Tracey Ullman Show before becoming one of the standout characters on The Simpsons. Lisa is, perhaps, the most well-rounded of the family; she is highly intelligent, a feminist, and an avid saxophone player. She is also an environmentalist, and often stands up for her political beliefs, remaining pretty driven for an eight year-old.
Lisa's cultural impact is well-recognized, and her stances on animal rights and environmental issues have been lauded by legitimate organizations. Lisa's legacy transcends animation, making her not only one of the greatest animated characters in history, but one of the all-time television greats - period.
11 Looney Tunes
Most of the characters on this list have either appeared individually or in pairs. But this grouping, other than a particular bunny (more on him later) belong together. Looney Tunes originally appeared as theatrical shorts that were produced for nearly 40 years beginning in 1930. However, their legacy has continued onto television, where they have reached the majority of their fans.
The Looney Tunes gang have appeared in no less than eleven television series, beginning in 1960. The cast of characters that make up the Looney Tunes are well known, and include Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, the Tasmanian Devil, and far too many more to name. Many of these characters are known for their contentious relationships with each other. Much like Tom and Jerry, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner have been at odds for decades, as have Sylvester and Tweety.
Each of the Looney Tunes characters have a catchphrase, whether it be Daffy Duck's "You're dethpicable," Porky Pig's "th-th-th-that's all, foks!", or Tweety's "I tawt I taw a puddy-tat." There is no question the Looney Tunes cast in their entirety belong on this list.
10 Daria Morgendorffer
While Beavis and Butt-Head has cemented its legacy in the realm of animated television, its popularity was surpassed by its spin-off, Daria. Daria lasted on MTV for five seasons, and was consistently one of the network's highest rated shows. The series' main character, Daria Morgendorffer, originally appeared on Beavis and Butt-Head, where she was the duo's far more intelligent classmate and occasional thorn in their side.
Already a well-received character, Daria's popularity strengthened when she moved to her own show. There, she was showcased as extremely intelligent, though ultimately incredibly pessimistic. She commonly utilized sarcasm, and was well known for her rather plain attire and deadpan humor.
Daria has gone on to host many MTV marathons, appear in comic books, and star in Daria films. It is not often that a spin-off series or character will supplant the original show, but that is exactly what happened with Daria and Daria Morgendorffer.
9 Eric Cartman
At some point somebody from South Park was going to make an appearance on this list. The series has been on the air for 19 raunchy, inappropriate, and vulgar seasons - and we've enjoyed every single one of them. The series follows the antics of Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick. While all the characters have their redeeming (or not) qualities, one truly stands out among the pack. Of course, it's the loud-mouthed, obese, racist, and genuinely horrible Eric Cartman.
Cartman (as he is generally referred) has been voiced by series creator Trey Parker since his inception. He lacks any moral compass, and has even shown signs of psychopathic tendencies. His lewd behavior has made him a fan favorite, and his contentious relationship with Kyle (due to his religion) has become a major - yet extremely controversial - theme on the show. Like many of the characters on this list, Cartman has his share of catchphrases, but none more recognizable than "Respect my authoritah!"
Obviously, the foul-mouthed child from South Park is not without controversy, but still, as he is the standout character on one of the longest-lasting animated series, he was a lock for this list.
Much like Daria, the The Legend of Korra has become so popular, that it and its title character have surpassed the greatness of its predecessor. After the success of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Nickelodeon Animation Studios produced a sequel titled, The Legend of Korra, where the main character, Korra, became the latest incarnation of the Avatar.
Like Aang, Korra is able to manipulate all four elements, but unlike her calm and collected predecessor, Korra is eager to fight, and possesses a stubborn streak. Korra has become one of the more influential female protagonists in animated television, particularly with the LGBT community. The final scene of The Legend of Korra saw the title character beginning a romantic relationship with Asami Sato, which was rather unprecedented for a children's animated show.
Since the ending of The Legend of Korra, Korra has continued to appear in comic books, novels, and video games. There has even been some talk of a live-action film, though Nickelodeon may think twice after the disaster that was The Last Airbender. The series was a frequent Emmy and Annie Award nominee and winner, largely because of the greatness that is its title character - Korra.
Perhaps the most famous mystery solving dog in history, Scooby-Doo has appeared in no less than twelve television series, not to mention feature films, comic books, television specials, video games, and essentially any other medium you can think of. Not surprisingly, like many classic characters on this list, Scooby-Doo was a creation of Hanna-Barbera. For those that don't know (no doubt very few), Scooby-Doo is a Great Dane, and Shaggy's best friend. Along with Fred, Velma, and Daphne, Scooby-Doo and Shaggy make up Mystery Inc., who often take on supernatural and spooky circumstances.
Scooby, like his friend Shaggy, is often portrayed as cowardly, and reluctant to engage with danger. If Scooby has any quality more prominent than fear, it is that he is always hungry. He has a particularly strong inclination to do whatever he has to for a "Scooby Snack", and thus will throw himself in danger's way over his stomach. Shaggy happens to like the treats as well. Scooby, like many animated animals, is able to speak, but usually in fractured English, where he starts every word with an "R", leading to many recognizable phrases such as, "Ruh Roh!"
Scooby-Doo has been entertaining children and adults alike for nearly five decades, and it appears he will continue to do so for decades to come.
6 Charlie Brown and Snoopy
Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the Peanuts gang did not originate in television. Rather, they first appeared in the Peanuts comic strip, written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz, which ran for nearly fifty years and published over 17,000 strips. Charlie Brown and Snoopy became television icons, though, thanks to their holiday TV specials, which continue to be replayed. A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown have been airing annually since they premiered in 1965 and 1966, respectively.
While the entire Peanuts gang is well known, it is the main character, Charlie Brown, and his dog, Snoopy, who immediately come to mind when thinking of the television specials, recent movie, or the comic book strip. Everyone who's anyone knows Snoopy from the various images of him sitting, sleeping, or flying on his dog house. Charlie Brown and Snoopy are not only one of the most influential pairings in comic strip history, but also television, and as long as their specials continue to play that is unlikely to change.
5 Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn is a particularly fascinating television character. It is not often that a character created solely for TV becomes so popular that they eventually enter mainstream comic continuity, and further, becomes integral to the canon. But that is exactly what happened with Harley Quinn. Originally created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini for the hugely successful Batman: The Animated Series, Joker's much abused side-kick and girlfriend has gone on to become one of the most popular female supervillains in all of comics.
Originally voiced to perfection by Arleen Sorkin, Quinn has since been voiced in television and film by Tara Strong, Hynden Welch, and others. Most recently, Harley Quinn appeared as a prominent member of Task Force X in Suicide Squad, where she was played by Margot Robbie and was easily one of the best parts of the film. Harley Quinn's backstory is well known. Originally Dr. Harleen Quinzel, she was the Joker's psychiatrist at Arkham before falling in love with him and, eventually, becoming criminally insane.
With all the great DC Comics characters, both male and female, it is hard to believe that a character originally created for a Saturday morning cartoon could have the impact that Harley has had on the company. But Harley Quinn has defied the odds and, not only is she one of the greatest television characters of all time, but arguably has become one of Batman's greatest adversaries.
4 Bart Simpson
Is there a more famous ten year-old than Bart Simpson? Not likely. As the oldest Simpson child, Bart is no doubt the most fun to watch. Like his sister, Lisa, and the rest of the family, Bart has been appearing on television since 1987, when he originally appeared on The Tracey Ullman Show. Since then, Bart has become a household name, and is well recognized for his classic blue and orange attire, skateboard, and many catchphrases. He has been voiced since his inception by Nancy Cartwright, who voices several characters on The Simpsons.
Bart Simpson has many catchphrases, including "¡Ay, caramba!" and "Don't have a cow, man!" But his most well known saying is "Eat my shorts." Bart is a rebellious character, often at odds with authoritative characters on The Simpsons, and unlike his sister, Lisa, is an underachiever in school. His propensity to get in trouble is a running gag in the series opening sequence, as Bart is often seen writing a new phrase, repeatedly, on a chalkboard.
Bart has become so influential, that he was named by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th Century. So obviously, Bart Simpson has to be one of the top five all time greatest animated TV characters.
3 Fred Flinstone
When George Jetson appeared on this list, you must have known that, eventually, his prehistoric, Hanna-Barbera counterpart would as well. The question is not whether Fred Flinstone is one of the greatest television characters of all time, but rather, whether he is the greatest. Flinstone has been appearing with the rest of The Flinstones' characters in various mediums since they first appeared in 1960. While The Jetsons took place in a futuristic utopia, The Flinstones took place during prehistoric times in the fictional town of Bedrock.
Fred Flinstone's personality is well known for being modeled after Jackie Gleeson's character on The Honeymooners. As such, Fred is a loud, blue-collar worker. Fred's best friend is Barney Rubble, and the two enjoy bowling, gambling, and golf. Fred's bowling style is well recognized for its ballet inspiration, and lands him the nickname "Twinkletoes". Both Fred and Barney are members of the Loyal Order of Water Buffalos, which was featured in many of the original series' most popular episodes. Obviously, Fred has a catchphrase, and is often heard yelling "Yabba-Dabba-Doo!"
Fred Flinstone's legacy goes beyond the original 1960s series, as he has appeared in a dozen television series and specials, television movies, and two live-action feature films. Fred Flinstone's place in history is no doubt set in stone.
2 Bugs Bunny
While the rest of the Looney Tunes gang appeared earlier on this list, this character deserves a spot all to himself. Bugs Bunny is without question the most famous rabbit in all of entertainment. Bugs has appeared in countless films, television series, video games, comics, and pretty much every other medium. While this list is about television, he's one of the few characters who have appeared in films alongside both Michael Jordan (in Space Jam) and Micky Mouse (in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) - not many can say that.
Bugs Bunny is well known for his orange carrot, tendency to break the fourth wall, and extreme cleverness. He is frequently seen at odds with various other Looney Tunes characters, but virtually always comes out on top. Bugs' most frequent adversary is the hunter, Elmer Fudd. Like the rest of the Looney Tunes gang, Bugs has his share of catchphrases, though none more notable than "what's up doc?", which he usually follows by taking a bite of his carrot.
For almost 80 years, Bugs Bunny has been voiced by countless actors, though none more notable than Mel Blanc, who voiced the character for nearly 50 years. In addition to reruns of classic Looney Tunes shorts and episodes, Bugs Bunny is featured in the currently airing Wabbit on Cartoon Network - he isn't going away any time soon.
1 Homer Simpson
Just a few years ago, Bugs Bunny likely would have been the greatest television character of all time, but, with each passing year, Homer Simpson cements his place in history. For nearly thirty years, the patriarch of the Simpsons family has been one of the most influential and popular creations in all of television. Homer's influence can be seen in dozens of characters that have premiered since his inception. Every character whose stupidity becomes their defining trait, eats and drinks to excess, and yells (in a funny way) at his family instantly brings Homer Simpson to mind.
Voiced since his creation by Dan Castellaneta, Homer has perhaps the most recognizable catchphrase in television history. Whenever he is annoyed, angry, or realizes he has done something foolish, Homer will yell, "D'oh!" The phrase has become so ingrained in society's vernacular that it was added to Oxford English Dictionary at the turn of the century.
There are few characters in any medium as recognizable as Homer Simpson. He has been entertaining fans for generations, and as long as The Simpsons continues to air new episodes or maintain its presence in syndication, that is unlikely to change.
With over a half century of animated television, it was a nigh impossible task to narrow this list down to thirty characters. Outraged that we missed you favorite character? Set us straight in the comments!