Continuing with the listicles trend, and since I’ve been on a cartoon kick lately, I’m counting down my top 15 favorite cartoon characters. I decided to stick to cartoons that aired when I was a kid, although some of these shows still air today and have no signs of ever stopping, ever (looking at you, SpongeBob). Now then, please hop aboard the nostalgia train with me as I count down my favorite childhood cartoon characters.
15. Numbuh 4
Codename: Kids Next Door (Cartoon Network)
Voiced by Dee Bradley Baker
Numbuh 4: It’s too quiet.
Numbuh 3: No, it’s three quiet.
Numbuh 4: Three quiet? What the crud does that mean?
Numbuh 3: It’s one more than too quiet.
Wallabee Beetles, better known as Numbuh 4, is part of Sector V in the worldwide coalition, the Kids Next Door, with his fellow operatives, Numbuhs 1, 2, 3 and 5. The self-proclaimed toughest of the group, Numbuh 4 is always ready for battle. What he lacks in common sense, he makes up for in enthusiasm, and perhaps the most endearing thing about him is his not-quite-secret crush on the sweet and ditzy Numbuh 3, who happens to be just as stubborn when it comes to admitting her own feelings for him.
14. Squidward Tentacles
SpongeBob SquarePants (Nickelodeon)
Voiced by Rodger Bumpass
“The first place snail racing cup presented to Squidward… TORTELLINI?!”
With his dry wit, cynical attitude, far from stellar skills with the clarinet, contempt for his overly optimistic neighbor and utter detestation for his job as a Krusty Krab cashier, Squidward Tentacles is one of those characters who, the older we get, the more we can empathize with him.
Rocko’s Modern Life (Nickelodeon)
Voiced by Mr. Lawrence
[reading his fortune] “Bad luck and misfortune will infest your pathetic soul for all eternity.”
Neurotic turtle, Filburt, balances out his best friends, Rocko, the good-hearted wallaby, and Heffer Wolfe, the gluttonous steer, as the three of them clumsily navigate their way through young adulthood. Filburt may find himself nauseous or stressed out a lot, but that doesn’t stop him from doing things like pursuing his dream of becoming a lounge singer or marrying the love of his life, the feline Dr. Hutchison, with whom he eventually has four kids, Gilbert, Shelbert, Norbert and Missy.
Invader ZIM (Nickelodeon)
Voiced by Andy Berman
“Wow, I’m boring! Do I always explain everything like this?”
A self-proclaimed paranormal investigator, Dib will stop at nothing to prove to everyone that Zim is an alien bent on taking over Earth, even if they all think he’s crazy and that he’s got a freakishly big head. He’s the hero nobody wants, as he can never seem to catch a break, least of all from his younger sister, Gaz, who vows to destroy him for doing so much as drinking the last soda.
11. Carl Foutley
As Told by Ginger (Nickelodeon)
Voiced by Jeannie Elias
Lois: So you’re telling me you didn’t bring anything creepy or weird into this house?
Carl: With the exception of Hoodsey… no.
A mastermind with a penchant for all things gross, Ginger Foutley’s younger brother, Carl, is one awesome kid. He and his best friend, Hoodsey, are always cooking up some scheme, whether it’s to become rich and famous or simply spy on their sisters. His most admirable quality is that when it comes to his family, he’ll willingly put his own sneaky agenda aside in order to stick by them no matter what.
10. Jimmy Neutron
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (Nickelodeon)
Voiced by Debi Derryberry
Jimmy: I present to you the greatest thing your eyes have ever beheld.
Carl: A llama?
Carl: A baby llama?
Carl: A baby llama with a hat?
Cindy: An invention of yours that actually works?
Jimmy: No… I mean, yes!
With his infinite scientific knowledge, Jimmy Neutron excels at inventing super cool gadgets to help him and his pals, the allergy-prone, llama-loving Carl Wheezer and the excitable, UltraLord-obsessed Sheen Estevez, with any problems they may face. His greatest invention is, of course, his faithful robotic dog, Goddard. He’s got a doting mom, Judy, and a duck-loving dad, Hugh. His ultimate rival is Cindy Vortex, his smart and snappy classmate who happens to harbor a crush on him that he secretly returns.
9. Timmy Turner
The Fairly OddParents (Nickelodeon)
Voiced by Tara Strong
“Boring conversation. Can’t focus.”
Timmy Turner is “an average kid that no one understands,” aside from the fact that he’s got a couple of fairy godparents, Cosmo and Wanda, to grant his every wish, so long as that wish follows Da Rules, that is. Timmy’s wishes tend to create chaos, but in the end, he learns a valuable lesson and figures out a way to bring everything back to normal. What with his evil babysitter, Vicky, his crazy teacher hellbent on exposing his secret, Mr. Crocker, and his embarrassingly dim-witted parents, Mom and Dad, Timmy has more than enough to deal with on top of being a puny 10-year-old kid with buck teeth and a silly pink hat. All things considered, it’s no wonder he needs an endless supply of magical wishes to get him through the day.
Courage the Cowardly Dog (Cartoon Network)
Voiced by Marty Grabstein
“Oooh, I know I’m not gonna like this…”
While he’s easily frightened, his name is no coincidence. Courage always puts his fears aside when it comes to protecting his owners, the good-natured, oblivious Muriel and the grumpy, mean-spirited Eustace, from all the weird, creepy, dangerous villains that endlessly show up to their residence in the middle of Nowhere. Courage relies on his quick thinking to get himself out of any and every twisted situation. With all the crazy stuff that happens as he strives to keep his family safe, he can’t help but lament, “The things I do for love.”
7. and 6. Norb and Dag
The Angry Beavers (Nickelodeon)
Voiced by Nick Bakay and Richard Horvitz
Dag: I know my current relationship is rather unique.
Norb: The word is psychotic.
A pair of brothers with opposing personalities, Norbert and Daggett constantly clash with one another. More hyperactive than his laid-back brother, Dag gets on Norb’s nerves to the point where Norb can’t help but take advantage of his pesky brother’s naivety by exploiting his foolishness for his own personal amusement. Like many sibling relationships, regardless of how much they fight, deep down they obviously still care about each other and will always have each other’s backs throughout all the crazy situations in which they find themselves.
The Powerpuff Girls (Cartoon Network)
Voiced by Tara Strong
“And Mojo was hurt and I would have kissed his little boo-boo but then I realized he was a bad monkey so I KICKED HIM IN HIS FACE.”
Appropriately named for her bubbly personality, Bubbles is the cute one of the superhero trio, rounded out by her sisters, Blossom, the know-it-all leader, and Buttercup, the rough-housing fighter. The most innocent and sensitive of the three, Bubbles loves her stuffed octopus, Octi, and possesses the uncanny ability to speak to squirrels. Although she can be a bit of a crybaby at times, that doesn’t stop her from kicking butt alongside her sisters to protect the citizens of Townsville from villains like Him and Mojo JoJo.
4. Chuckie Finster
Voiced by Christine Cavanaugh (RIP) and Nancy Cartwright (final two seasons)
Angelica: After all, I’m playing the most dangerous game of all.
Chuckie: Musical chairs?
Angelica: No, dummy, love!
With his purple glasses, unruly red hair, two front teeth, freckles, Saturn t-shirt, green shorts and untied red shoes, Chuckie is one baby you can recognize anywhere. He may be a scaredy-cat with a long list of fears (clowns, the dark, the guy on the oatmeal box, etc.), but he always finds a way to face those fears whenever he gets roped into going on an adventure with his friends. In fact, Chuckie proves that if you want to conquer your fear of germs, or your fear of getting sucked down the drain or going down a big slide, or if you need to cope with the insurmountable loss of a beloved pet bug, all you have to do is follow the effective mantra, “I’m a big, brave dog.”
3. Double Dee
Ed, Edd n Eddy (Cartoon Network)
Voiced by Sam Vincent
“Dancing with a vase. Boy, have I reached an all-time low.”
Three friends with the same name, the lovable oaf, Ed, the conniving loudmouth, Eddy, and the ingenious Eddward, better known by his nickname, Double Dee, spend their time working on scams to trick kids into coughing up their quarters so they can buy mouth-watering jawbreakers. Double Dee’s kind-hearted nature and vast vocabulary make him the ideal voice of reason, but even with his logic and good intentions, nothing ever seems to go according to plan for the Eds. What really stands out about Double Dee, other than the fact that he communicates with his parents using sticky notes and labels every single item in his bedroom, is that he always wears a black ski hat, which begs the question, what on earth is underneath that hat? Judging by Ed and Eddy’s downright stunned reactions upon his hat accidentally coming off, it’s clear that some mysteries are better left unsolved.
2. Helga G. Pataki
Hey Arnold! (Nickelodeon)
Voiced by Francesca Marie Smith
“What do I have to do, anyway? All I want is his stupid hat. That’s all. And world domination. But right now just the hat. Is that too much to ask?”
She’s mean. She’s bossy. She’s got two fists, Old Betsy and the Five Avengers, and she ain’t afraid to use ’em. She’s the one and only Helga G. Pataki. Don’t let her pink dress and matching pink bow fool you; Helga is one brutally tough tomboy who’d take playing baseball and throwing rocks at a dumpster over wearing makeup and high heels any day. Her anger stems from being neglected by her incompetent parents, Big Bob and Miriam, both of whom favor her obnoxiously perfect older sister, Olga. However, beneath Helga’s rough exterior is a precocious 9-year-old girl who’s always churning out spur-of-the-moment soliloquies and beautiful, soul-baring poetry. She acts especially mean towards Arnold through relentless bullying and name-calling, though it’s only to cover up the fact that she’s head over heels in love with him. Between stalking him and creating shrines of his likeness made out of his used gum, her infatuation knows no bounds. With an emotional complexity as powerful as her one eyebrow, Helga truly is one of a kind. Frankly, there’s nothing more satisfying than when she socks the deep-breathing Brainy in the face or, of course, when she shouts the classic, “Move it, football head!”
1. Tommy Pickles
Voiced by E.G. Daily
“Everything’s back to Norman.”
With his trusty screwdriver tucked safely away in his diaper, Tommy Pickles is the daring leader always ready for an adventure. He’s as reliable as they come, always there for his best friend, Chuckie, his other friends, Phil, Lil and Kimi, and his little brother, Dil. His mischevious older cousin, Angelica, is always trying to dupe the babies, but Tommy’s moral compass and big heart never fail to triumph in the end. With an unquenchable curiosity for the world around him, Tommy is the bravest baby around, the one his friends can rally behind with his positive declaration, “A baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do!”
That’s a wrap on my favorite cartoon characters! Have a favorite of your own not included on the list? Feel free to share.