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Top 10 Unique Cartoon Character Voices on TV

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Andrew Tejada

When these distinctive voices are on the air, it’s hard to change the channel. For this list, we're looking at animated characters whose voices are distinct due to their delivery, tone, quirks or a combination of all three. Our list includes Rick and Morty, SpongeBob SquarePants, Dexter’s Laboratory, The Simpsons, Gravity Falls, and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Unique Cartoon Character Voices On TV.

Check out the voting page for this list and add your picks: https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Unique%20Cartoon%20Character%20Voices


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Script written by Andrew Tejada

Top 10 Unique Cartoon Character Voices on TV

When these distinctive voices are on the air, it’s hard to change the channel. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Unique Cartoon Character Voices On TV.

For this list, we're looking at animated characters whose voices are distinct due to their delivery, tone, quirks or a combination of all three. We’ll only be considering vocals from cartoons who first appeared on tv screens, because movie voice over roles deserve a list of their own.

10: Justin Roiland as Rick Sanchez

“Rick and Morty” (2013-)

Who better to bring this wild, smart and conceited scientist to life than one of the people who co-created the character in the first place? Along with Dan Harmon, Justin Roiland conceived of Rick after being partially inspired by “Back to the Future.” Considering his seeming lack of a moral code, Morty Smith’s jaded, sociopathic but also hilarious grandfather might seem like a far cry from the ‘80s inventor. But some way, somehow, viewers can’t help but relate to Rick; and that’s partly because he’s shown he does care about others - sometimes… and in his own twisted way. Meanwhile, Roiland has described his delivery as a “horrible Doc Brown manic impression.” We couldn’t have said it better.

#9: Jeff Bennett as Johnny Bravo

“Johnny Bravo” (1997-2004)

If you’ve ever had the weirdly specific desire to see a cartoon about Elvis, watching “Johnny Bravo” was the closest you could come. The titular character’s voice was essentially an impression of the King’s trademark accent and vocal cadence. Bravo’s words dripped with the confidence of a rock star and could come out at a breakneck pace when he got excited. Despite having a smooth voice, his cheesy pick-up lines and aggressive approach meant Johnny spent a lot of nights home alone with his pompadour rather than out on dates. Jeff Bennett’s comedic vocal work ensured that the hopeless meathead became a somewhat lovable character.

#8: Tim Curry as Nigel Thornberry

“Wild Thornberrys” (1998-2004)

An actor doesn’t always need to alter their voice to create a fantastic animated performance. Just look at Tim Curry’s role as wildlife expert Nigel Thornberry. Although Curry’s English accent, low voice and familiar drawl were all present in his performance, he varied his voice to capture every aspect of the eccentric character. When Nigel needed to be professional, he slowed down his speaking rate to sound like a real documentary narrator. But whenever Nigel got excited, Curry would speed up and make weird noises that left us in stitches. Eliza Thornberry may have been the main character, but Curry’s vocal talents stole the show.

#7: Casey Kasem as Shaggy Rogers

“Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” (1969-70)

There’s little mystery as to why Shaggy made our list. Shaggy’s relaxed personality is reflected in his laid-back manner of speaking. His voice also tends to crack at random times, especially when he’s been chased by the creature of the week. Shaggy may have sounded a lot different without the work of his original voice actor Casey Kasem. Although Kasem originally auditioned for Fred, his bosses thought he was perfect for Shaggy. The vocal quirks he created still impact how the character is portrayed today. Mystery Inc. would sound a lot less mellow without Shaggy’s unusual voice on the team.

#6: Tom Kenny as SpongeBob

“SpongeBob SquarePants” (1999- )

Spongebob might have the most unique voice under the sea. His higher pitch and nasally delivery make him sound like a teenager, despite being an adult. Spongebob also has a seemingly limitless supply of energy behind his voice that makes his lines splash right off the screen. The combination of these characteristics could’ve easily led to an annoying character. But Tom Kenny packs enough heart into his performance to make Spongebob endearing. Kenny’s work helped turn the yellow sponge into a pop culture icon. Nearly twenty years after his debut, audiences still tune in to hear Spongebob’s voice and infectious laugh ring throughout Bikini Bottom.

#5: Christine Cavanaugh as Dexter

“Dexter's Laboratory” (1996-2003)

This genius boy scientist comes packaged with an unusual accent. Fifteen years after Dexter’s show officially ended, we’re still trying to figure out where he’s supposed to be from. While we don’t have a definitive answer, we do know that Dexter’s ambiguous accent was created by voice actress Christine Cavanaugh, who voiced the character up until the beginning of season 3. It not only provided Dexter with an original voice, but also gave everything from his grand speeches to the rants at his sister a distinct and almost musical rhythm. The accent also made hearing Dexter pronounce the letter “U” hilarious every time. The results are in: science sounds better with Dexter’s voice behind it.

#4: Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime

“The Transformers” (1984-1987)

The most recognizable transformer has to be Optimus Prime. If his classic design doesn’t give him away, the voice definitely will. Peter Cullen gave Optimus an incredibly deep and booming voice that was ideal for his role as the leader of the Autobots. The most remarkable aspect of his performance is the amount of kindness he’s able to convey through the deep tones. Cullen’s Optimus has rolled out in movies, tv and video games over the span of four decades. Whether he’s fighting the evil Decepticons or giving inspiring life advice, we’ll take any opportunity to listen to this transformer in action.

#3: Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson

“The Simpsons” (1989-)

You can’t make a list of original cartoon voices without including Homer Simpson. This iconic yellow patriarch is known for his low intelligence and lazy lifestyle. Actor Dan Castellaneta uses a deep voice with a slower cadence to bring out Homer’s dopey qualities. Castellaneta also has enough range to take Homer’s voice to a surprisingly high pitch when he gets scared or excited. And there’s still enough room left in the performance to make the character sound warm and loving during the show’s tender moments. Castellaneta performs multiple roles on the “Simpsons”, but his work on Homer’s one-of-a kind tones produced his most iconic character.

#2: Kristen Schaal as Mabel Pines

“Gravity Falls” (2012-16)

“Gravity Falls” wouldn’t be the same without the voice of Mabel Pines. Her relentless enthusiasm and many quirks make her a fun protagonist to follow. Comedian Kristen Schaal’s unique voice was perfect for Mabel. Her higher pitch captures all of Mabel’s preteen energy. That pitch doesn’t stop her from packing plenty of power into her performance though. Schaal also brings her natural lisp to the character. The lisp isn’t treated like a hindrance or a punchline, but, rather, a part of who Mabel is. Ultimately, Mabel’s voice is not only entertaining, but also proof that different voices can appear on tv without changing what makes them unique.

Before we tune in to our top pick, here are some honorable mentions.

Richard Steven Horvitz as Zim

“Invader Zim” (2001-04)

Marty Grabstein as Courage

“Courage the Cowardly Dog” (1999-2002)

Makoto ‘Mako’ Iwamatsu as Aku

“Samurai Jack” (2001-04; 2017)

#1: Mark Hamill as The Joker

“Batman: The Animated Series” (1992-95)

Mark Hamill’s Joker performance is full of wonderful contradictions. Hamill gives him an unsettling speaking voice, yet it can still come off as charming. Joker’s pitch can be high and sweet at one moment and low and vicious in the next. And if you hear his one-of-a-kind laugh, you know something terrible has happened. Hamill originally brought his incredibly varied Joker voice to “Batman: The Animated Series,” but his performance was noteworthy enough that he was asked to reprise the role in other shows, multiple video game franchises and several animated films. Although other actors have imitated his performance, no one can do Joker quite like Hamill.

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