The 10 Most Relevant Cartoon Characters, Ranked

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Cartoons have been both a lesson and a respite from everyday stressors since their inception. Some of them may have been geared strictly towards a younger audience, but others have more appeal to adults.

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The widespread popularity of cartoons – across all ages and cultures – is not surprising. The adventures of some characters can be very relatable, even when they are not human or living in realities so different from ours. Cartoon creators often incorporate modern issues into their works, which makes viewers sympathize with a character who may appear very different from them.


ten Wolverine has a history of grief, loss and torture

Wolverine wields his adamantium claws

Comic book adaptations tend to be geared toward an older segment of the audience, but they also offer plenty of characters to relate to. Before Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, there were other incarnations, and perhaps the most popular is Marvel’s. X-Men: The Animated Series.

Wolverine is a mutant who has suffered a lot of prejudice and abuse due to his regenerative abilities. He’s rambling and stubborn, and his jokes are probably what comes closest to the real name calling viewers might find in the show. It is a soldier who is kidnapped and loses his beloved Yuriko during his absence, only to be struck by severe amnesia. Her feelings for Jean Gray aren’t completely unrequited, but she always chooses Cyclops over him. For an adult watching the show, it’s definitely relevant.

9 Muttley has to deal with an ungrateful Moody boss

Lots of cartoons feature animals, and the level of fun that a fluffy companion can add to a show is always a nice touch. Muttley is the sidekick of villainous Dick Dastardly, who appears on shows like Wacky races and Dastardly and Muttley in their flying machines. He is a mixed breed dog who acts as Dastardly’s assistant in his plans.

Dastardly doesn’t always appreciate Muttley’s efforts, so it’s not uncommon for Muttley to rejoice in the misfortune of his vile employer. His hoarse laughter and acts of malicious compliance are so hilarious that he’s had his own show, The magnificent Muttley. Granted, Muttley isn’t always competent, but anyone who has ever dealt with an ungrateful boss would understand and encourage Muttley for his defiant acts.

8 Shrek and Fiona suffer from serious self-esteem issues

The main characters of the famous Dreamworks franchise Shrek, Shrek and Fiona are surprisingly relatable given their backgrounds. Shrek is an ogre living in a swamp and Fiona a fairytale princess trapped in a tower guarded by a fire-breathing dragon. But they’re both just people, and like Shrek says, they have diapers. Shrek feels very embarrassed and frustrated by the hatred he receives because of his ogre nature.

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Fiona is initially quite traumatized by her nocturnal transformation into an ogre. But together, Shrek and Fiona find happiness and realize that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. They have no reason to be embarrassed, because for each other they are already perfect. It’s an inspiring story for anyone who has experienced prejudice because of their appearance.

7 Marlin is like any worried parent, even though he’s a fish

Marlin and Dory chat in Finding Nemo

by Pixar The world of Nemo is one of the best-known animated films of the early 2000s. Its commercial success has been enormous, as it became the highest-grossing animated film when it was released. Its success is in large part due to its endearing characters.

Marlin is a clownfish who loses his wife and most of their eggs in a barracuda attack. He becomes very protective of the only remaining egg, which he names Nemo. Years later, this leads to Marlin and Nemo arguing. Nemo is then kidnapped by a group of humans, and Marlin recruits the distracted Dory to embark on a journey to save his missing son. It’s a heartwarming family story, and many viewers have had to experience similar tensions, tragedies, and reunions with loved ones.

6 Raven struggles with high expectations from a terrifying parent

Not all parents are as good as Marlin. In Teen Titans, Raven’s father is the demonic Trigon. He seeks to conquer the universe and wants to use Raven as his tool in his evil plans. For most of the series, Raven is constantly mentally tormented by her terrifying parent.

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She eventually succumbs in season four, but she also defeats him with a little help from her friends. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that even humans can be demonic, and many parents can be just as abusive towards their offspring as Trigon was towards Raven.

5 Stanley Ipkiss is a shy and gentle introvert until he finds the mask

Shy people with anxiety issues can see themselves a lot in the protagonist of The mask, Stanley Ipkiss. Although very kind, Stanley is also incredibly shy and doesn’t have the ability to defend himself. It allows others to take advantage of it and use it at work. This is not an unusual problem, and many people, especially those who are young, often find themselves in situations similar to Stanley’s. In fact, more than one viewer probably would have loved to find a magic mask that would allow them to shed their persona and get revenge on the people who abuse them.

4 The Powerpuff Girls give every little girl an image to admire

Super Girls DC Comics

The cute Powerpuff Girls exploded on Cartoon Network in the late 1990s, bringing with them colorful villains, exciting fights, and a cool message. Girls are powerful no matter what they are. Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup have very different temperaments, but they all present a challenge to the villains of Townsville. In real life, young women may not find evil speaking monkeys or demons with deceptively high-pitched voices, but they still have a lot of problems. No matter what a girl looks like, she is able to handle it.

3 Remy just wants to make an impossible dream come true

Pixar's Rémy de Ratatouille

Having an impossible dream is the most relatable thing in history. The main character in Ratatouille, Rémy, is the perfect image of this concept. He’s a rat, but he wants to be a chef. His simple nature disqualifies him from the profession he has chosen. Countless people have had to face similar obstacles in life. And yet, Rémi perseveres, and with a little help from Linguini, he achieves his goal. It’s not perfect, and there are ups and downs, but it sends the message that people should always be fighting for their dreams, no matter how many people are trying to put them down.

2 Courage shows fans the true meaning of bravery

Courage the Cowardly Dog from Cartoon Network

In the landscape of cartoons that have marked many childhoods, Courage the cowardly dog is a very interesting addition – and nowhere near as optimistic as Ratatouille. It’s a show that probably wouldn’t be made today, as it touches on some very uncomfortable themes, and some episodes are rightfully terrifying. Courage may be a dog that is apparently terrified of everything, but in reality he is very courageous. Many people can probably relate to his constant attempt to protect Muriel, despite Eustace’s mistreatment.

The villains of the series illustrate the fears and issues that fans can encounter in real life. Cousin Fred, for example, is considered one of the show’s most memorable antagonists, and his attack on Courage has been compared to child abuse. King Ramses, one of the few characters animated by CGI, is a representation of what happens when one is motivated by greed. The show is a strange reminder that life is often bad and children need to be careful.

1 Dexter is the introverted genius bullied by his older sister

Dexter's lab

Created in 1995, Hanna-Barbera’s Dexter’s lab tells the story of the young genius Dexter, whose only desire is to create works of science in his secret laboratory. Unfortunately, he is constantly thwarted by his older sister Dee Dee. Dee Dee is not malicious and she really likes Dexter a lot, but her behavior is always very destructive which often leads to Dexter plans going awry. This leads Dexter to hate her even until old age. It’s not uncommon for introverted children to be eclipsed or suffer in silence due to the behavior of their more vocal, outgoing siblings, so Dexter is a very relevant character.

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