Cartoon characters are often a person’s first exposure to TV shows, so it’s understandable that we have some nostalgic attachment to the animated stars that we grew up with. Even as an adult, there are a lot of names we can look back on and honestly say that they are pretty fun characters to watch. Adults and children alike can still enjoy a Bugs Bunny cartoon, or a short featuring Mickey Mouse before the latest Disney film.
But there are also the characters that don’t hold up so well. Or maybe they never even held up to begin with. Characters who aren’t endearing or charming or fun. Characters who are frankly just plain irritating. Some of them will just try your patience by bouncing off the walls with as much energy as a kid on a sugar rush, while others are simply protagonists who are actually jerks when you stop to think about it. There’s no nostalgia for these guys. There are the 15 Most Annoying Cartoon Characters who you have no fond memories of, and would probably rather not remember at all.
15 THE GREAT GAZOO FROM THE FLINTSTONES
You remember how people always thought it’d be cool if The Flintstones and The Jetsons had a crossover somehow? Well they eventually did, and while it wasn’t spectacular, it was certainly better than the prehistoric family’s brush with sci-fi in their own TV series. As we’ll see more than once on this list, the Great Gazoo is the type of character that TV shows add when they’re desperate. The type of character who is totally at odds with the rest of the characters in an attempt to liven things up. Seeing as how The Flintstones ended 11 episodes after Gazoo was introduced, we’re thinking that idea doesn’t work out so well.
The Flintstones already brought in new characters multiple times, but they were at least organic to the environment. Dino was just a dinosaur who played the role of the family dog. Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm were just the Flintstones and the Rubbles expanding their families with children. Gazoo was… a wish-granting space alien who was invisible to everyone but Fred and Barney. Definitely sounds like the writers ran out of ideas there. Exacerbating Gazoo’s unnatural inclusion was the fact that he was an arrogant character, often belittling Fred and Barney for not accomplishing for themselves what he could achieve with a snap of his fingers. Nobody likes a jerk, and nobody liked Gazoo.
14 SLIMER FROM GHOSTBUSTERS
How Slimer became the mascot of Ghostbusters really is a mystery. He didn’t have the biggest roles in the films, there are more memorable moments in the movies, and he’s really not that interesting or funny. In fact, once he gained a more prominent role in The Real Ghostbusters TV series, he actually became quite obnoxious. Sure, it got us the popular Ecto Cooler Hi-C drinks, but we could have had those without having to endure Slimer stealing the spotlight from the main characters of the movies.
Cartoon Slimer was a typical mish-mash of kids cartoons clichés. A destructive, child-like prankster who gets in so much trouble within a span of thirty minutes that it’s a wonder everything around him hasn’t blown up by the end of an episode. If it were any other franchise, Slimer’s behavior wouldn’t be as aggravating. But thinking of the potential the Ghostbusters cartoon could have had in providing many more stories set within the same universe, only for some unfunny sidekick to get all the attention, fans can’t help but be annoyed. Slimer eventually even got his very own cartoon, and hopefully that’s where he stays. If the latest Ghostbusters movie fuels a new cartoon, ideally the ghostbusters will do their job, capture him, and stop letting Slimer bother everyone this time.
13 KRANG FROM THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
Helpless characters can easily meet the criteria for being annoying. Self-sufficient people are just so much more interesting since their ambitions aren’t hampered by being dependent on anybody. Krang certainly does not fall into that second category. But then, to be fair, he would be pretty helpless regardless of his personality since he’s just a creepy, talking alien brain.
Leaving aside Krang’s gross appearance, he’s just such a wheedling, whiny character in the Ninja Turtles cartoons, spending the early episodes begging Shredder to build him a new body to inhabit. Even with Shredder being the villain, he becomes a lot easier to sympathize with when he’s being nagged at every time he’s in the midst of a new plan. Krang’s returning in the new Ninja Turtles movie, and he’s honestly not doing much to bolster hopes that the sequel will be better than the previous installment with the turtles.
12 STARSCREAM FROM TRANSFORMERS
Speaking of whiny characters, the first Transformers cartoon might be best remembered for being many a child’s first taste of the conflict between Autobots and Decepticons, but it also did no favors to poor Starscream. He’s one of the more well-known Transformers today, but years ago the only thing to know him for was being the worst traitor a child could find in a cartoon. Not worst as in his betrayals were so evil, but rather worst as in he just plain sucked at it.
Megatron always knew Starscream had sights on taking over as leader of the Decepticons. The problem was, Starscream was just too useless to get the job done. He’d wait until Megatron looked vulnerable to give a villain’s monologue about his plan to take over from his former master, but that would immediately fizzle out when Megatron proved more capable than expected. Starscream wasn’t just a cowardly, inept villain, but he was a bad antihero as well. There’s only so many times we can hear Starscream is about to take over before we stop believing it and it just becomes pathetic and irritating.
11 MEG GRIFFIN FROM FAMILY GUY
There are plenty of people who, just upon hearing Meg speak in Family Guy, will be as quick to recite “shut up, Meg” as her own father. Back in the earlier days of the series, Meg didn’t stand out as much from her family. They all had moments of humor mixed with seriousness. But with what Family Guy has become, Meg simply has no jokes to offer the viewer. Rather, she is the joke.
Comedy usually needs a straight man for the instigators to bounce jokes off of, so it’s not as if Meg has no purpose anymore. But compared to the fun and laughs that all the other characters bring with their more outrageous personalities, it’s gotten to the point of pretty much being guaranteed that a Meg scene isn’t going to have the best humor. She’s actually probably a pretty accurate representation of how any real person would be having to live with a father like Peter. And while that makes her relatable, that’s not exactly what people are watching a Seth MacFarlane show for.
10 ANGELICA PICKLES FROM RUGRATS
Bossy, bratty children are bad enough when they’re causing trouble for their parents, but Angelica took it to a whole other level by exerting her domineering ways over literal babies. Everyone knows you don’t take candy from babies, but Angelica did a whole lot worse than that by not only taking her cousin Tommy’s toys, but even coercing him and his friends into going along with whatever scheme she had thought up for the week.
It’s not that Angelica didn’t know better, either. When her parents were around, she always put on the nice girl act. She could turn the charm on and off at will. She just didn’t care about being decent to Tommy and his friends. Angelica viewed herself as a princess, but what good is royalty without subjects to lord over? And that’s what Angelica really wanted. She didn’t want friends, she just wanted someone to stand tall over and someone to do her bidding. Her name might mean angelic, but her attitude was as bitter as her last name.
9 ELMYRA DUFF FROM TINY TOON ADVENTURES
You’ve read Of Mice and Men, right? Remember how much Lennie loved to pet soft things, but didn’t know his own strength, and it ultimately led to a lot of bad things happening? That’s Elmyra in a nutshell. It’s a character type that had been done in the past, most notably by cartoonist Tex Avery, who directly referenced John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men in the depiction of his own character. But Elmyra was stripped of the naïve innocence a character like Lennie has, because not only does she loves animals to a dangerous extent, but she actively tries to capture them when she knows they’re trying to get away. The animals in Tiny Toons could talk, after all.
Elmyra’s obliviousness to the harm she was doing to the animals got old fast. Since this was a cartoon world, there was some humor to be found in the subject. But when it comes down to it, this is still just a human being cruel to animals, regardless of whether she’s trying to be loving or not. You could only feel bad for whatever unfortunate character Elmyra was calling her pet that week, and every time she was involved in a story arc you could only hope the animal would get away and that no one else would have to suffer at her hands. Which only made it all the more disappointing when she was bafflingly chosen to star with Pinky and the Brain in a spinoff show.
8 PEPÉ LE PEW FROM LOONEY TUNES
A lot of cartoon shorts from years ago could be pretty one-note in their characterization, but it could work well in a lot of cases. Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd’s perpetual conflict is still enjoyable because Bugs has such a clever, cool, sarcastic personality perfectly suited to turning the tables on Elmer no matter the circumstances. We weren’t meant to sympathize with this hunter with the speech impediment, we were rooting for the poor rabbit avoiding being shot.
This makes for an odd contrast with Pepé Le Pew who, like Elmer, is bothering and pursuing someone who wants nothing to do with him. But instead of the humor coming from Penelope the cat making a fool of Pepé like Bugs does with his pursuer, we’re instead supposed to laugh at Penelope’s discomfort and panic at being chased by this male nymphomaniac skunk. It just makes you feel bad for Penelope. Like come on, Pepé, no means no.
It’s even worse because on the rare occasion Penelope falls victim to something like a love potion and winds up being attracted to Pepé, he gets just as uncomfortable as she does by being pursued. So why would he treat her that way if even he doesn’t like? Take a hint, leave her alone, and go learn some dating techniques that aren’t sexual harassment.
7 BULMA FROM DRAGON BALL Z
Everyone hates filler in anime, but it gets even worse when it’s bad filler. That’s not to say Bulma’s character never contributed anything to Dragon Ball Z, because any fan knows she has big moments in the series, and a very major role in Dragon Ball. What really gets Bulma onto this list is the Namek saga in Dragon Ball Z. It’s probably the most bloated saga of the series in terms of filler because that’s when the anime really started to run out of material from the manga. And as many anime fans know, when source material runs scarce, it’s time to break out the comedy scenes.
The comedy in this case included Bulma screaming. And Bulma being chased by monsters while screaming. Or Bulma crying and screaming. There was a lot of screaming. Basically just scene after scene of Bulma complaining about being ditched by her companions while fending off the wildlife of Namek. At best it was an intrusion on the fight scenes that drew young fans to Dragon Ball Z, and at worst, Bulma’s filler scenes were just plain tedious. Fortunately, her role as a filler character diminished drastically after this saga, and she became a lot more likeable as a result. But any time you return to watch Goku and Vegeta getting ready to face off against Frieza, get ready for a lot of ear piercing shrieks from their blue-haired friend.
6 JERRY FROM TOM AND JERRY
So Jerry is a mouse, and he doesn’t want to get eaten by a cat. Fair enough. But if that’s the case, why not just leave? In every episode of Tom and Jerry, why does Jerry always just happen to have his mouse hole in the home of Tom’s owners? Was there really no house Jerry could find that didn’t have a cat living in it? It seems an awful lot like Jerry is just looking for trouble.
Sure, Jerry is kind of sympathetic since no one should have to worry about being someone else’s dinner, but Jerry downright tortures Tom. He leads Tom through an obstacle course of dangerous objects like something out of Home Alone, hurting and maiming the cat with a variety of weapons that result in Tom’s shrieks of agony. Seriously, go back and watch an old episode of the show and try not to wince as you picture the amount of pain you’d have to be in to wind up screaming like Tom does. And Jerry doesn’t even care. Not only does he usually laugh at Tom’s pain, but sometimes he even takes it to the point of straight up killing Tom. Why are we supposed to be rooting for this mouse again? Tom’s just trying not to starve to death, but Jerry is delighting in someone else’s anguish. Forget that. Just eat the little jerk, Tom.
5 DORA FROM DORA THE EXPLORER
Can you see the name of the next entrant on this list? Look around, maybe you can help find it! What? It’s Dora from Dora the Explorer? Wow, great job, you figured it out all on your own!
Okay, fine, we get it. Dora the Explorer is made for very young children. But condescension is still annoying no matter the justification. Dora is like someone doing a Power Point presentation who thinks people will find audience participation fun. It’s not. We don’t want to help you explain stuff, we just want you to explain it. The same is true of entertainment. Don’t make us have the adventure for you. Just do it yourself.
Dora is bilingual, has an assortment of talking animals and objects at her disposal, and frequently travels without any adult supervision. We’re not buying this act that she needs help to spot obvious items. She’s obviously more than capable of taking care of herself, so stop faking it. Can you tell how we feel about Dora?
4 THE ROAD RUNNER FROM LOONY TUNES
And yet another entrant you can file under the jerk category, we have the Road Runner. Like Jerry from Tom and Jerry, you start off thinking “this dude just doesn’t want to wind up as someone’s lunch, so how can he be so bad?” But here’s the thing: the Road Runner is super fast. Wile E. Coyote could never catch him if the Road Runner didn’t want to deal with him. Just run to a different country where there are no coyotes. But no, he stays, because he knows despite Wile E. Coyote’s intellect for crafting inventions, he’s never in any real danger. The Road Runner’s speed negates so many of the traps thrown at him, he has nothing to fear.
Admittedly, Wile E. Coyote isn’t a very sympathetic character, but that doesn’t make the Road Runner less of a jerk. The Road Runner often sneaks up on Coyote and startles him with a “meep, meep” to make him blunder into his own trap. He provokes and taunts the Coyote. The Road Runner doesn’t feel threatened. He enjoys the chase because it gives him the chance to hurt his adversary.
3 THE SMURFS FROM THE SMURFS
For those of you who saw The Smurfs movies and thought that something good could actually have been salvaged from the live-action adaptions of the cartoon show, you’re probably just too nostalgic for your childhood cartoons. Smurfs never really had a chance to make for interesting movie characters because they weren’t interesting cartoon characters either. Seriously, they’re all named after the solitary characteristic that they exhibit. They’re the definition of one-dimensional.
Hmm, Brainy Smurf, what could he possibly be like? Or Clumsy Smurf? Or Grouchy Smurf? They even got so lazy with the naming that the first female Smurf was simply named Smurfette, so her defining characteristic was simply being a female Smurf. Sure, the naming scheme isn’t much different than what we see in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but at least there were only seven dwarfs. There are nearly a hundred different Smurfs named this way. Unless you’re some diehard Smurfs fan, all you probably remember about the show is weird little blue shirtless guys with uncreative names who sang off key.
2 SNARF FROM THUNDERCATS
Snarf, it’s tempting to chalk Snarf up as one of the most annoying cartoon characters you can find (snarf, snarf) simply because he won’t shut up and stop saying his own name all the time (snarf). But then, Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy does the same thing, and he was one of the best parts of the movie. So we won’t take the easy answer of saying that too much snarfing makes Snarf unbearable (snarf). The problems with this cat go deeper than that (snarf), and make him one of the worst parts of the original ‘80s ThunderCats.
While the snarfing can be a bit much, what exacerbates it is his whiny, petulant voice. Worse than that is that Snarf is a lazy coward, which makes you question why he’d be spending time with the ThunderCats to begin with. But perhaps the biggest problem with Snarf is that he reeks of an attempt to force a mascot into the show. But in the end, he became an anti-mascot, someone viewers just wanted off the show. So of course he instead doubled up on the snarfiness by bringing in his nephew Snarfer (yes, that was really his name) to join the ThunderCats as well. And as his name would imply, Snarfer was like Snarf, except even more shrill and annoying. If it wasn’t for the fact Snarf originated the irritating routine, his nephew would probably get this spot instead of him.
1 SCRAPPY DOO FROM SCOOBY DOO
You knew this was coming. Scrappy Doo is the epitome of annoying cartoon characters to many people. His very name has become a trope for when a failing show attempts to revitalize itself by introducing a new, overly-energetic character that actually winds up alienating viewers faster than ever due to an obnoxious personality. The Poochie episode of The Simpsons quite accurately satirized this. And while the formula for Scooby and his friends going to investigate claims of monsters only for a vindictive human to be behind the scares definitely got predictable, Scrappy was just a new face amongst the same old mysteries.
To Scrappy’s credit, he was often the only one brave and rational enough to realize there was no reason to be afraid of the “monsters” and that they should just confront the creature head on. Unfortunately, Scrappy’s positive traits manifested by him being cocky and in over his head. Scooby’s nephew was always oblivious to his size, and would attempt to go charging in with his paws flying. It led to more than a few viewers getting sick of “puppy power” and just wanting to see the villain have a chance to punt Scrappy back wherever he came from.
What cartoon characters can you not stand? Share the irritation by telling us what characters get on your nerves in the comments!