Who are some of the most popular cartoon characters of all time? What are their defining features, and why do they deserve to be on the list? Making any kind of list involving cartoon characters is going to mean being selective, and leaving out some deserving characters. The list below is a sample of some of the more varied and iconic characters that have formed an important part of animation history, and can be viewed as influencing a number of other trends. From Disney icon Mickey Mouse to Bugs Bunny, and including Wile E. Coyote, Homer Simpson, and Tom & Jerry, these characters are known the world over, and are discussed in more detail below:
5 – Mickey Mouse
Disney’s mascot made his first appearance in the 1928 short Steamboat Willie, and has gone on to appear in over a hundred shorts, with notable appearances in 1940’s Fantasia. However, Mickey has been less a film star than a brand connecting different television shows, video games, comics, and merchandising ideas. Mickey and Minnie Mouse are the most prominent faces of Disney theme parks, and Mickey is among the most merchandised characters in Disney history.
4 – Wile E. Coyote
Wile E.Coyote, and his fruitless attempts to catch the Road Runner, has been the star of 48 cartoons since his first appearance in a 1948 Warner Brothers short. The character was created to be part of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series, and was defined by his ongoing frustrations, and use of elaborate devices from the ACME Company. Wile E. has also been a part of numerous shorts, Internet specials, and part live action films involving the Looney Tunes, all speaking to his iconic status and put upon identity.
3 – Homer Simpson
After more than 20 years, Homer Simpson remains perhaps the most memorable face of The Simpsons, eclipsing the early popularity of Bart. Voiced by Dan Castellaneta, Homer is the American everyman, combining his work at Springfield Nuclear Power Planet with sweet, but often misguided efforts to deal with his family. Homer is one of the most fascinating cartoon characters, equal parts alcoholic, loving father, and drawn into everything from space flight to 3D representation. Over the years Homer has become an honourary citizen of Winnipeg, Canada, and the face of multiple commercials.
2 – Tom & Jerry
This cartoon cat and mouse were created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera while working at the MGM animation unit. 114 shorts were produced between 1940 and 1957, with the cat and mouse being revived for new cartoons and television series from 1960 under a new creative team that included Gene Deitch and Chuck Jones. The popularity and inventiveness of the duals between the cat and mouse led to a feature film in the 1990s, and a more recent revival of the characters for Tom and Jerry Tales on the Cartoon Network.
1 – Bugs Bunny
One of the most iconic animated characters, Bugs Bunny was created in 1938 by Leon Schlesinger as a grey hare with a trickster personality and a New Yorker accent. Originally part of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts, appearing as a supporting character in Elmer’s Pet Rabbit and Wild Hare, Bugs graduated to his own shorts, which showcased his ‘eh…what’s up, doc?’ catchphrase. Bugs went on to become an iconic character in multiple films and specials, as well as the face of the Looney Tunes brand around the world.
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