Created by the great Charles M. Schulz, this kind-hearted and trusting (and bald) kid is still loved throughout the world. He was the central character in the Peanuts comic strip, which spawned a cartoon show, movies and more. Charlie was always full of optimism, but often failed in his feats due to his insecurities or bad luck. But you’re still the best Charlie Brown.
19. George of the Jungle
Watch out for that tree! George was based on Tarzan - except for the fact that George was really quite, well, stupid. Each time he left home he forgot he lived in a tree house and fell to the ground. And when he swung on vines, he crashed into trees - hence the song-line. But he’s a friend to you and me.
18. Felix the Cat
Felix was first created in the silent era (1919), but the most well-known incarnation was from the 1959 TV series that featured the lovable feline and his magic bag of tricks - that the Professor was always trying to steal. A wonderful, wonderful cat.
17. Spongebob Squarepants
Who would have thought a character based on a sea sponge would create a multi-billion dollar industry for Nickelodeon? Created by a marine science educator, the series follows Spongebob and his friends in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom.
16. Homer Simpson
Why did the world fall in love with this inept nuclear reactor safety inspector? He eats too many doughnuts, drinks too much, watches too much TV… Oh, wait - what’s not to love? Yes, Homer is the everyman in all of us, enjoying the heady delights of the western world, occupying a job he hates (and isn’t qualified for) and regularly reveals a heart of gold, not to mention an insatiable appetite. Mmm…. bacon.
Okay, so she might not qualify yet as an all-time favourite, given the show has only been around since 2018, but how can we not include this carefree Australian Blue Heeler puppy? From the show of the same name, Bluey is the fun-loving dog who laps up imaginative playtime with her hilarious parents and sister Bingo - and who overnight became adored by children throughout the world.
14. Beavis and Butt-Head
They're dim-witted, giggle at dirty jokes, and adore heavy metal, violence and destruction - and gained a massive following. The characters are despised by many for their crudeness, but Beavis and Butt-Head remains one of the most iconic cartoon creations of the 90s, and the teens were seen by many as a cutting piece of social criticism. Or maybe they were just like most teenage boys.
13. Eric Cartman
From South Park, the show that was inspired by the likes of Beavis and his buddy, Eric is a potty-mouthed, Nazi-loving school kid who has offended just about everyone in the real world. But in the popular show’s run, he’s achieved a lot – bought a theme park, became a NASCAR racer and formed a Christian rock band.
12. Alvin the Chipmunk
It all began as a novelty (and maybe tad annoying) children’s song in 1958, but Alvin and his bros Simon and Theodore have become much more than high-pitched crooners. Alvin has moved from the charts to comic books, an ongoing TV show and a franchise of films.
11. Blinky Bill
The loveable koala created by New Zealand-born author and illustrator Dorothy Wall became the subject of a TV series (The Adventures of Blinky Bill) and a movie (Blinky Bill The Movie) and is a treasured Australian icon. Plus - he was one of the first-ever cartoon environmentalists: Hey, hey Blinky Bill save us from that woodchip mill!
10. Wile E. Coyote
Forget Hamlet, has there ever been a more tragic figure that Wile E. Coyote? No matter what he tried, or what he bought from the Acme Corporation, he could never get his hungry paws on the beeping Road Runner. But he made us laugh, and he taught us a big lesson: never, ever give up.
9. Peppa Pig
Who wouldn’t want a kid like Peppa? Cute, polite, well spoken and her favourite activity is dirt cheap - jumping in muddy puddles. She keeps an eye out for her little dinosaur-loving brother and she always listens to and obeys her parents, even if her dad is prone to putting holes in walls, getting lost or dropping his keys in a drain hole.
8. Tom and Jerry
Like Wile E. and the elusive Road Runner, this game of cat and mouse was never going to have a happy ending for Tom. The pair, created by cartoon legends William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, burst onto screens in 1940 as theatrical shorts, before becoming a staple of children’s TV.
Created as a comic character by E.C. Segar nearly a century ago, Popeye’s popularity made him a TV and film star. With enormous upper arms, pipe and the occasional tin of spinach, the sailor was mostly rescuing his love Olive Oyl from Bluto (or Brutas). As the sailor would say, “I am what I am.” And we loved him for it.
6. Donald Duck
He was always playing second fiddle to the world’s most famous mouse, but that didn’t make Donald Duck any less loveable. With his half-intelligible speech and mischievous ways, he was the kid in all of us. And he’s reportedly the most published cartoon character in the world (not including superheroes). Beat that Mickey!
Scooby-Doo, where are you? Right here at number 5 thanks to your famous mystery-solving skills. Well, maybe the mysteries were all solved by those meddling kids - Daphne, Fred and Velma - but Scooby was always there to lend a helping paw, in-between eating Scooby Snacks.
4. Fred Flintstone
He was the Homer Simpson of the prehistoric age. The Flintstones (another Hanna-Barbera production) was the first cartoon show screened in prime time in the US, and ran for six seasons in the '60s. It was bronto-crane operator and accident-prone Fred who always stole the show. Like Homer, he was quick to anger, often left his wife (Wilma) exasperated, but was a kind-hearted man and good father to Pebbles. And he was prone to saying Yabba-Dabba Do! Whatever that meant.
3. Bart Simpson
Forever 10 years old, the first-born of Homer and Marge is a troublemaking, potty-mouthed cheeky brat who lives to torment his father. As The Simpsons hit its stride in the 90s, Bart became the bane of every parent’s life as kids everywhere rattled off his catchphrases including “Don’t how a cow, man,” and “Eat my shorts.” He’s one of the most iconic cartoon characters ever created and is the star of a show that shows no sign of waning.
2. Bugs Bunny
The world’s most popular - and rascally - rabbit has been making the world laugh since 1940. His nonchalant outlook in the face of peril (in the form of Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam and others) was an inspiration to us all. He is the star of Warner Bros. cartoons, a TV series and movies and perhaps owns the most famous catchphrase in cartoon history: “What’s up, doc?”
1. Mickey Mouse
He’s come a long way since Steamboat Willie, the 1928 cartoon in which he first appeared (and is now part of the Disney film logo). The world’s most treasured rodent is the brainchild of Walt Disney himself. There is hardly a corner of the world where you won’t find Mickey – in TV shows, movies, books, comics, on T-shirts and coffee mugs, and in the form of cuddly plush toys. He’s the mascot of a company that continues to bring joy to kids and grown-ups everywhere.