Kids and adult TV animation has brought us many classic cartoon characters and great entertainment over the years. Every animated show has that one character that everyone would like to be.
They might be stylish or articulate or funny but most of all they adhere us to the show, making us come back for more.
There are hundreds of great cartoons and many cool cartoon characters that couldn’t all make it into this top ten.
Some honourable mentions are Stewie and Brian Griffin from Family Guy, Bender from Futurama, Bugs Bunny and all the characters from Peanuts especially Snoopy.
But here are our top 10…
1 Daria Morgendorffer
Daria, the star of animated show Daria, is a deadpan teenage girl trying to make it through high school while surviving her judgemental family.
Daria doesn’t fake anything (especially not enthusiasm) for anybody else’s benefit. She is forthright and scathing in her honesty.
This makes her a bit of an outcast, mostly in the eyes of her parents and sister, but each member of Daria’s family has their own major idiosyncrasies that they hide behind a socially acceptable front.
Daria was cool because she offered young girls a different kind of role model, one that doesn’t obsess about trying to be something that they’re not.
Cajun superhero Gambit appeared in 90’s kid’s TV show X-Men: The Animated Series.
He was a petty criminal with a heart of gold who had an entertainingly flirtatious will-they-won’t-they relationship with fellow mutant Rogue who had to constantly keep him at arms-length to protect him from her dangerous powers (Rogue can put people in a coma through skin to skin contact).
He had the fashion sense, the attitude, and the one-liners.
Soon Gambit, Rogue and third wheel Wolverine had become the most popular X-Men for a new generation, which is why there was some confusion when Gambit was sidelined from the first live action movie.
3 Bert Raccoon
An 80’s youth in Raccoon form, Bert Raccoon wears a super-cool red sweatshirt emblazoned with the letter B and gets into various scrapes and adventures with his friends in the evergreen forest.
Bert’s hedonistic enthusiasm often leads him precariously close to becoming selfish and annoying due to his close association with the wealthy Sneer family but luckily his more socially minded friends Ralph and Mellissa keep him on the straight and narrow.
The Raccoons show also had the most achingly cool theme song, Run With Us sung by voice actress Lisa Lougheed which subsequently became a cult hit appearing on the end credits of Hobo with a Shotgun.
4 April O’Neil
Yes, April O’Neil of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame wears a yellow 80’s jumpsuit and is named after a month of the year, but she also had a surprising amount of substance.
Firstly, she has a real career as a reporter for Channel 6 news. April isn’t afraid to express her opinion, constantly fighting her boss for better news assignments.
Although the turtles constantly have to rescue her, April is an invaluable help to them, investigating leads and improving the public’s perception the gang through her diligent reporting.
She fights their corner when they are accused of being criminals.
Chip is one-half of chipmunk comedy duo Chip n’ Dale who first appeared together in Disney animation shorts until they got their own show in the late 80’s as crime fighting detectives in Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers.
Chip is essentially Indiana Jones in rodent form, wearing a fedora hat and a leather jacket.
He may be the more serious out of the two but he is also the more adventurous, willing to leap fearlessly into danger to crack a case.
He and Dale fight over the affections of equally well-dressed, inventor mouse Gadget who is oblivious to their adoration.
6 Dr. Peter Venkman
Hit 1984 movie Ghostbusters was translated into kids TV with the animated show The Real Ghostbusters (called ‘real’ because another show had already taken the name).
It followed along the same lines as the movies sending the Ghostbusters on increasingly zany adventures.
In The Real Ghostbusters, Peter Venkman somehow manages to be even more ‘Bill Murray’ than Bill Murray; more laidback, and more cynical (even to the point where Peter is messing up and causing a lot of the spooky problems that the team needs to solve).
Peter is hugely funny and his love/hate relationship with Slimer is adorable.
Daphne Blake first appeared in hit 60’s kids show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! which has since spawned many spin-off shows. Daphne is probably the all-time most fashionable cartoon character in her purple and pink ensemble.
Judged on her looks, audiences found her to be not particularly bright, and highly accident prone, often needing to be rescued by boyfriend Fred.
However, it takes a lot of guts to drive around in a van investigating mysteries, hauntings, and crime.
Daphne was brave, resourceful and plenty capable of looking out for herself, she wasn’t just a pretty face. We all want to be Daphne.
8 Stan Marsh
South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s adult animated show, caused controversy because culturally and socially it spoke to younger audiences who weren’t supposed to be watching.
Stan Marsh is the most sensible one out of his friends. Originally chilled out and deadpan, Stan gradually found it difficult to reconcile his good nature with the world around him which led him to become increasingly depressed over the series.
He even had a short, hilarious stint as a Goth.
Stan’s dad became increasingly prominent in the show, embarrassing his son in ever more outlandish ways. Stan is also a hit with the girls, probably due to having the best bobble hat.
9 Bart Simpson
Running from 1989 to the present, family show The Simpsons captured the imagination of the world with its on-the-nose depiction of the average American family.
Bart Simpson is a cornerstone of the show and he is pure cool. He skateboards, challenges authority, has a plethora of popular catchphrases and even released his own single Do The Bart Man.
Class clown Bart, voiced by Nancy Cartwright, became a cultural phenomenon sparking ‘Bart Mania’ and gracing the cover of magazines like a rock star.
Bart’s image may be a licence to print money but ultimately he was a rambunctious troublemaker who always did the right thing in the end.
Even the opening credits of classic show Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tells us that Raphael is the coolest turtle, ‘Raphael is cool but rude.’ Rude is code for mega sarcastic.
Not only is Raphael a ninja and a turtle but he also gets all the best one-liners in the show.
Raphael’s less-than-enthusiastic, cynical attitude loses him favour with his turtle brothers, but the reluctant hero always proves himself before the end of each episode and looks out for his brothers.
Raphael, with his red bandana, twin Sai, and his sharp tongue definitely gave the Turtles their edge making him their coolest cartoon character.