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Top 10 Memorable TV Cartoon Characters of the 1990s

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Nathan Sharp This decade gave the television world some of its most unforgettable animated types! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Memorable TV Cartoon Characters of the 1990s. For this list, we’re looking at the cartoon characters we consider to be the best of the decade, and the ones that helped define the ‘90s for cartoon television. Special thanks to our users RespectTheLogos3 or submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Memorable TV Cartoon Characters of the 1990s


This decade gave the television world some of its most unforgettable animated types! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 memorable TV cartoon characters of the 1990s. 

For this list, we’re looking at the cartoon characters we consider to be the best of the decade, and the ones that helped define the ‘90s for cartoon television. To be clear, we’re counting both cartoons meant for children and for adults. We’re also including shows that aired during the 1989-90 TV season, as technically, this means its first season was being broadcast during 1990 as well.

#10: Dexter
“Dexter’s Laboratory” (1996-99; 2001-03)

You never really think of children when you think of scientists, but in the cartoon world, anything is possible. In this comic sci-fi series, Dexter is a highly intelligent boy who fancies himself a scientist. In reality, his inventions and experiments fail because he often gets too excited and makes thoughtless choices. Then there’s the indeterminate accent, which he needs to speak with because he’s a scientist, and all scientists need accents. Despite his IQ, Dexter is also clumsy and hilarious, not to mention egotistical, all of which make him a blast to watch for children and adults alike.

#9: The Brain
“Pinky and the Brain” (1995-98)

Pinky and the Brain are genetically enhanced lab mice. While Pinky’s stupidity is hilarious, The Brain gets the spot here because of his complexity. Even though he is extremely intelligent, his name is actually an acronym for Biological Recombinant Algorithmic Intelligence Nexus, making him seem more artificial than he actually is, but that’s far from the truth. While he often devises outlandish schemes to take over the world, he is really a scared mouse that was taken from his home prematurely – at least that’s what Dr. Freud deduced about him. Nevertheless, The Brain is surprisingly complex for a mouse on a kid’s cartoon.

#8: Daria Morgendorffer
“Daria” (1997-2002)

A spinoff of “Beavis and Butt-head,” “Daria” proved that the titular character could hold her own. A true outsider, Daria never fits in, either with her fashion-obsessed sister or her career-driven parents. Instead, she is a plain, smart, and pessimistic character, which makes her all the more unique. However, the true genius lies in the critique that the show brings – through her character - to everyone else. In a world of fake, narcissistic people, Daria remains the normal, true human being, while showing us where we seem to be going at the start of the 21st century.

#7: Doug Funnie
“Doug” (1991-94; 1996-99)

Doug was an outlet for young kids and early teenagers everywhere as he was an identifiable cartoon character that wasn’t too wacky or serious. As the protagonist of this show, the 11 and a half year old was often found trying to deal with the problems faced by pre-adolescent boys, such as bullying, school rumors, and self-esteem. These issues are always tackled in a lighthearted and funny way for the children in the audience. And yet, Doug is an identifiable character for all of us, male or female, young or old, and thus entertaining for the whole family.

#6: Goku
“Dragon Ball Z” (1989-96) 

In a series full of memorable characters and amazing animation, protagonist Goku continues to be the fan favorite. A member of an alien race, Goku protects the citizens of Earth using his powerful and amazing power-based attacks, specifically his famous “kamehameha wave.”   He is carefree and goofy, but will quickly turn serious when in battle, and this allows him to connect with various viewers. Those who want lighthearted comedy as well as those who want fantastic action and a serious character need look no further than this Dragon Ball-hunting martial artist.

#5: Tommy Pickles
“Rugrats” (1991-2004)

The protagonist of one of the longest running cartoons of the ‘90s; Tommy Pickles is also one of the greatest animated characters of the decade. He’s the eldest son of the Pickles family, as well as the leader of the group of babies that make up his playmates - the titular rugrats. While Tommy is only a baby, he exhibits many “grown-up” traits, including bravery and kindness towards others, making him the most mature and three-dimensional character on the show. But we can’t forget that he IS just a baby, and whenever his more childish side comes out, it’s always hilarious. And cute. 

#4: Arthur Read
“Arthur” (1996-)

Everyone’s favorite aardvark, Arthur - and his friends - has been entertaining children for decades. A typical third grader (except for the fact that he’s an aardvark), Arthur goes through typical situations befitting of an 8-year old: he gets into trouble, especially with his sister D.W., hates his mean teacher Mr. Ratburn, and slaves over homework. While he plays the straight man to the other, wackier members of the group, Arthur is intelligent, relatable for children, and just plain entertaining to watch.

#3: Eric Cartman
“South Park” (1997-)

Eric Cartman helped change cartoons forever and define a generation to come. As one of the first foul-mouthed, immature, narcissistic, and just plain evil animated characters, Cartman quickly made it apparent that, despite its appearance, “South Park” is definitely not for children. However, his terrible attitude is what makes him unique, and he serves as a great vehicle for satire against anything and anyone. 

#2: Pikachu
“Pokémon” (1997-)

Everyone’s favorite little yellow creature, Pikachu has always been and always will be the face of Pokémon. Starting as Ash Ketchum’s beginner Pokémon, Pikachu is extremely loyal, always fighting alongside his 10-year-old master despite often going up against tougher opponents. He’s also ridiculously adorable, which makes him perfect for the kids. Since the “Pokémon” anime first aired, it’s become a worldwide phenomenon, and while Ash certainly makes a great protagonist, this is thanks in no small part to the great Pikachu, who is not only the face of the show but also the heart.
 
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
-    Babar
“Babar” (1989-91)
-    Valerie Felicity Frizzle
“The Magic School Bus” (1994-97)
-    Rocko
“Rocko’s Modern Life” (1993-96)
-    Stimpson ‘Stimpy’ J. Cat
“The Ren & Stimpy Show” (1991-95)
-    Johnny Bravo
“Johnny Bravo” (1997-2004)
-    Darkwing Duck / Drake Mallard
“Darkwing Duck” (1991-92)

#1: Homer Simpson
“The Simpsons” (1989-) 

For us, there is no other choice but the king of animated TV himself. Homer Simpson is your typical father (mostly), with his addiction to television, love of beer, but most importantly, his love for his children – and those are just some of the traits that make him so relatable to pretty much everyone. While his son Bart is a fantastic character, there’s no matching Homer’s heart. There’s also no denying the impact that Homer has had not just on cartoons, but on television in general. He is known across the globe and has become a true small screen icon, even earning a spot, with his family, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Do you agree with our list? What cartoon character from the ‘90s is your favorite? For more animated top tens published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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