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Top 10 Awesome Cartoon Character Redesigns

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Jessica Walsh
Change isn’t always for the best, but these awesome cartoon character redesigns were more than welcome. Even though animated characters rarely age, they can still keep things fresh by changing up their appearances. These redesigns made timeless characters more accessible for modern audiences and, in some cases, became their definitive looks. WatchMojo ranks the awesome cartoon character redesigns. What’s your favorite cartoon character redesign? Let us know in the comments!

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Top 10 Awesome Cartoon Character Redesigns

Cartoon characters may be timeless, but their designs aren’t always. Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Awesome Cartoon Character Redesigns.

For this list, we’ll be looking at cartoons which have been fully redesigned once – or multiple times – during their airing. We will not be counting fan designs or anime, so we’re sorry but that Powerpuff Girls anime spinoff you’ve never heard of doesn’t count.

#10: “ThunderCats” (2011-12)
Redesigned version of: “ThunderCats” (1985-89)

Created back in the ‘80s when toy lines were king, this show had no shortage of colourful and interesting characters to pull from. However, the original ThunderCats were cat aliens from space, and many of the sci-fi elements were not as well-defined, instead putting an emphasis on exciting action scenes and a great theme song. After a 22-year hiatus, the cartoon was rebooted; this time with a sleeker, anime-influenced style, while the backstory was retooled with more detail and design. As visually appealing as the reboot was, it sadly didn’t last longer than a single season.

#9: “DuckTales” (2017-)
Redesigned version of: “DuckTales” (1987-90)

The shenanigans of Scrooge McDuck and Donald Duck’s three nephews enjoyed a popular run as part of The Disney Afternoon in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Originally drawn in the signature Disney style, the artists working on the series’ 2017 reboot decided on a more simplistic, newsprint style, and made the differences between characters more pronounced. No longer could Huey, Dewey, and Louie confuse everyone by switching their hats and shirts, and the annoying Webby character was given a much-needed update into a female duck who helped with the adventures rather than mostly tagging along.

#8: “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” (2010-)
Redesigned version of “My Little Pony” (1984-87)

Arguably one of the most popular remakes out there, “My Little Pony” started its life as a TV show featuring ponies of bright colours. Originally plump with more realistic horse features, the redesign completely tossed that out, along with the human side characters. When these magical ponies returned, their bodies were thinner, their heads larger, and cutie marks more prominent, while the animation as a whole opted for a 2D style with limited shapes and movement. Bolder colours were added along with a whole host of pop culture references – including several real-life icons and celebrities as their own pony-sonas.

#7: “Transformers: Prime” (2010-13)
Redesigned version of “The Transformers” (1984-87)

These robots have seen many upgrades over the years – mostly with regards to their toys – but the core has always remained the same: robots disguising themselves as other everyday items. Like their toy counterparts, the characters were originally quite blocky. But when the Michael Bay movies came along with an updated style, this cartoon followed suit. In “Prime,” there was a fresh CGI style, with a focus on smooth and sleek anthropomorphic designs that looked more alien and futuristic instead of just toys and trucks that could change.

#6: “The New Batman Adventures” (1997-99)
Redesigned version of: “Batman: The Animated Series” (1992-95)

Let’s face it, that Dark Knight hasn’t always been so dark. When “Batman: The Animated Series” started, we were treated to a dark, film noir setting paired with the grey batsuit from the Adam West show and pops of neon yellow, which somehow didn’t hinder him sneaking unseen through the streets of Gotham. When the WB and DC decided to continue the series two years later, they simplified the character designs and gave Batman a darker look with sharper shoulders. The brighter colours were passed to his numerous sidekicks, whom the show now centred around.

#5: “Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated” (2010-13)
Redesigned version of: “Scooby Doo, Where Are You!” (1969-78)

Back in the late ‘60s, there was no better sidekick to hunt down fake ghosts then a Great Dane with a love for Scooby Snacks. When the team of teens came back for this series in 2010, they were given an upgrade to appeal to a more modern young audience. The show kept the characters’ iconic looks, but added fresh new details and a younger animation style more in line with other popular cartoons of the time. The show’s format received the biggest change, with the group using crazy high-tech gadgets, and encountering real ghosts!

#4: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (2012-17)
Redesigned version of: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1987-96)

Back in the ‘80s, before the Power Rangers took over the scene, we learned our ninja moves from these mutated, wise-cracking dudes. When the show was rebooted in 2012 by Nickelodeon for a new generation, they gave the turtles a full CGI makeover with multiple body types and colourings so the turtles could be easily told apart from one another, while still being the fun turtles we all knew and loved. The animation of the show was upbeat, but also more dramatic and dark – calling back to the original days in the comics when the turtles were black and white, and more gritty than comical.

#3: “Looney Tunes” (1987-)
Redesigned version of: “Looney Tunes” (1930-69)

Where would the world of cartoons be without this vibrant cast of characters running around to classical music? Several of the Looney Tunes crew began life as creatures hunted by Porky Pig. As these cartoons continued into modern day, their cast grew, and each of the character designs were fine-tuned for a more signature look reflecting their personality and often sassy traits. Traditional animal designs were traded for colourful, anthropomorphic characters who could much more easily emote and sass their way into comical situations.

#2: Mickey Mouse in “Fantasia” (1940)
Redesigned version of: “Steamboat Willie” (1928)

How could we forget this iconic mouse? While we have already mentioned a Disney property earlier on this list, this redesign happened in 1940. Mickey Mouse was known as a black and white character from the “rubber hose” days of animation, but in 1940, Mickey got his part in his first full-length film: “Fantasia.” In line with that, he got a film-style redesign – moving him from the simplistic role of mascot to a full-on character with a colourful wardrobe, defined features, and full-on eyes with actual irises to display the range of emotions he needed for his portion of the film.

#1: “The Simpsons” (1989-)
Redesigned version of The Simpsons from “The Tracey Ullman Show” (1987-90)

This well-known and controversial family started life as one-minute cartoon shorts on “The Tracey Ullman Show” with nearly 50 short episodes. Once they were given their own full-length cartoon show, the characters and animation style were smoothed out with less angry sketchy lines for a design that was easier on the eyes. Many of the characters retained the same look and details, but were more fleshed out to become the family we know today. The show doesn’t forget its roots, either, even calling back to their old animation style in a particular “Treehouse of Horror” episode.

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