Most Iconic Cartoon Characters From The 1990s

The most iconic cartoon characters from the 1990s include Doug Funnie, Dexter, Tommy Pickles, Johnny Bravo, and Pepper Ann. The ’90s era saw the launch of numerous shows that remain incredibly popular to this day.

As some characters continue to gain fans, others have faded into relative obscurity. Television enthusiasts on Ranker actively voted to determine the best character of this era, and here’s how they sized up.

Nostalgia certainly contributes to their popularity, but the cartoon characters from this era stand out for their uniqueness, relatability, and, perhaps most importantly, their humor.

Most Memorable ’90s Cartoon Characters

The 1990s served as a significant transitional period in animated movies. Studios began recognizing the potential of producing fully computer-generated films, while some continued experimenting with cut-out animation.

Get ready for a trip down memory lane, where we revisit our favorite ’90s cartoon characters and explore what made them pop!

Doug Funnie: The Everykid (Doug, 1991)

Doug Funnie The Everykid (Doug, 1991)

The quiet, daydreaming Doug Funnie was an instant hit, capturing the hearts of millions. Premiering in 1991, “Doug” showcased a relatable, imaginative protagonist who resonated with audiences everywhere. Doug’s charming simplicity and relatable struggles made him the perfect poster child for the ’90s kid.

The animation style was minimalist and colorful, with each character sporting a unique color scheme. This choice lent the show a distinct visual identity that set it apart from its contemporaries.

Dexter: The Lovable Genius (Dexter’s Laboratory, 1996)

Dexter The Lovable Genius (Dexter's Laboratory, 1996)

Dexter’s Laboratory burst onto the scene in 1996, introducing the world to Dexter, the brilliant, socially awkward boy-genius. Dexter became an instant fan favorite with his thick accent and oversized glasses. His never-ending quest for scientific knowledge and mastery clashed with the chaos his older sister, Dee Dee created.

The animation style was bold and exaggerated, with sharp lines and vivid colors that brought the futuristic laboratory to life. Dexter’s character was unique; he was simultaneously the smartest and the most vulnerable person in the room.

Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup: The Powerpuff Girls

Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup The Powerpuff Girls

Sugar, spice, and everything nice: those ingredients were chosen to create the perfect little girls. However, Professor Utonium accidentally added an extra ingredient to the concoction – Chemical X! Thus, the Powerpuff Girls were born. Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup became instant icons in 1998, showcasing girl power at its finest.

The Powerpuff Girls’ animation style was heavily influenced by Japanese anime, with large expressive eyes and a clean, simple aesthetic.

Tommy Pickles: The Fearless Baby (Rugrats, 1991)

Tommy Pickles (Rugrats, 1991)

In 1991, “Rugrats” introduced the world to Tommy Pickles, the fearless leader of a ragtag group of babies. Tommy’s unflinching bravery and optimism, even in the face of the unknown, made him an endearing and inspirational character.

The animation style of “Rugrats” was quirky and a bit rough around the edges, perfectly capturing childhood’s messy, unpredictable nature. The show’s unique perspective, presenting the world through the eyes of the babies, provided a fresh and entertaining viewpoint.

Johnny Bravo: The Lovably Clueless Hunk (Johnny Bravo, 1997)

Johnny Bravo - 90's cartoon network characters

Johnny Bravo swaggered onto our screens in 1997, oozing charm and self-confidence. With his signature pompadour, sunglasses, and exaggerated muscles, Johnny was the epitome of an over-the-top heartthrob. Despite his overwhelming self-assurance, Johnny was notoriously unsuccessful in his pursuit of women, a fact that only made him more endearing.

This lovable character was known for his boisterous personality and hilarious catchphrases. He was a perfect blend of bravado and cluelessness, giving viewers the ideal combination of humor and entertainment.

Daria Morgendorffer: The Queen of Sarcasm (Daria, 1997)

Daria Morgendorffer - cartoon characters 90's

Daria Morgendorffer, the titular character of the groundbreaking ’90s MTV series Daria, made her first appearance in 1997. As a sharp-tongued and brilliant female protagonist, Daria challenged the stereotypes of teenage girls in animated shows. With her iconic round glasses, combat boots, and deadpan delivery, Daria quickly became a symbol of ’90s youth culture.

Daria’s popularity can be attributed to her relatable struggles, insightful observations, and unique sarcastic humor. She represented a generation of teenagers who felt misunderstood, navigating the challenges of high school and societal expectations with wit and introspection.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Heroes in a Half Shell

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - 1990 cartoon characters

Though they debuted in the late ’80s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles remained a staple of ’90s cartoons. Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo blend action, comedy, and camaraderie perfectly.

Each turtle’s unique personality and color-coded mask created a well-rounded team dynamic. The tough guy Raphael donned a red mask, and the fun-loving Michelangelo wore orange. Leonardo, the level-headed leader, sported a blue mask, while the inventive Donatello wore purple.

Arnold: The Kid with the Football-Shaped Head (Hey Arnold!, 1996)

Arnold - cartoon characters from the 90's

In 1996, the world was introduced to Arnold, the boy with a football-shaped head and a heart of gold. Arnold’s calm, laid-back demeanor and unique problem-solving skills made him the go-to confidant for his friends and neighbors.

Arnold’s character stood out for his empathy and wisdom, which often belied his young age. Living in a diverse, inner-city neighborhood, he navigated many issues with compassion and understanding. The show tackled topics like prejudice, friendship, and family dynamics, making Arnold a true ’90s icon.

Rocko: (Rocko’s Modern Life, 1993)

Rocko From Rocko's Modern Life - 1990s cartoon characters

Rocko, the anthropomorphic wallaby, burst onto our screens in 1993, taking on the challenges of modern life in a quirky, surreal world. Rocko’s Modern Life was praised for its unique blend of slapstick humor, clever social commentary, and bizarre, often absurd situations.

Rocko’s popularity stemmed from his relatable nature. As an immigrant adjusting to a new country, he faced many challenges with determination, resilience, and a healthy dose of humor. His down-to-earth, good-natured personality made him a lovable character, and his adventures struck a chord with viewers who appreciated the show’s unique take on the ’90s.

Yakko, Wakko, and Dot: The Animaniacs

Yakko, Wakko, and Dot - The Animaniacs

The Animaniacs, a trio of zany, energetic siblings, took the ’90s by storm with their off-the-wall antics and rapid-fire humor. Their chaotic adventures, filled with pop culture references and clever wordplay, appealed to kids and adults alike. Yakko, Wakko, and Dot perfectly combine wit, irreverence, and charm.

The siblings’ popularity can be attributed to their unique blend of humor: smart, sassy, and often educational. They tackled subjects like history, geography, and even grammar with a sense of fun and excitement that kept viewers entertained and engaged.

The Animaniacs were more than cartoon characters—they embodied the ’90s spirit, pushing boundaries and challenging norms.

CatDog: The Ultimate Odd Couple (CatDog, 1998)

CatDog - 90s cartoons characters

CatDog, the conjoined cat and dog duo, debuted in 1998, presenting viewers with a unique premise and a fresh take on the classic “odd couple” dynamic. The show’s humor was derived from the siblings’ clashing personalities and their never-ending struggle to coexist.

Their popularity can be traced back to the relatable themes of family and acceptance that were explored throughout the series. Despite their differences, Cat and Dog often found common ground and learned to appreciate each other’s unique qualities. The show’s wacky concept and engaging character dynamics stood out in the ’90s cartoon landscape.

Courage: The Cowardly Dog with a Big Heart

Courage The Cowardly Dog

Though Courage the Cowardly Dog premiered at the tail-end of the ’90s, it quickly became a fan favorite. This lovable pink dog, known for his fearfulness and loyalty, captured viewers’ hearts as he faced many supernatural and bizarre foes with protecting his family.

Courage’s popularity can be attributed to his relatable anxieties and unwavering love for his family. Despite his timid nature, he consistently found the courage to face his fears, making him an unlikely hero.

Pepper Ann: The Spirited Tween (Pepper Ann, 1997)

Pepper Ann The Spirited Tween

Pepper Ann, a spunky redhead with an active imagination, burst onto the scene in 1997 as part of Disney’s One Saturday Morning lineup. Created by Sue Rose, the show depicted the trials and tribulations of middle school life through the eyes of its titular character.

Pepper Ann was popular for her relatable nature and distinctive personality. Her struggles with adolescence, friendships, and fitting in were themes that resonated with young viewers. The series’ playful animation style and memorable theme song contributed to its success, making it a beloved part of Disney’s television history.

Beavis and Butt-Head: The Ultimate Slackers

Beavis and Butt-Head

Beavis and Butt-Head, the brainchild of Mike Judge, premiered on MTV in 1993. The show centered around two socially awkward, dim-witted teenagers and struck a chord with audiences for its unapologetically irreverent humor and biting social commentary.

These iconic slackers were popular for their over-the-top antics and unique perspectives on music videos, pop culture, and the world around them. Their crude humor and memorable catchphrases cemented their status as quintessential ’90s characters.

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Adorable Scare Trio

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters The Adorable Scare Trio

In 1994, Nickelodeon introduced a new kind of cartoon: Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. The show followed Ickis, Oblina, and Krumm, three young monsters-in-training, as they honed their scaring skills at the Monster Academy. This eccentric and lovable trio quickly gained a following for their endearing personalities and an unconventional friendship.

The show’s popularity can be attributed to its unique premise, distinctive animation style, and engaging character dynamics. Created by Gábor Csupó and Peter Gaffney, the series broke away from traditional cartoon tropes and pushed the boundaries of what could be considered “kids’ entertainment.” Aaahh!!! Real Monsters remains a cult classic, fondly remembered by ’90s kids everywhere.

Sailor Moon: The Defender of Love and Justice

Sailor Moon - 90's cartoon characters

Though Sailor Moon originally aired in Japan in 1992, it gained widespread popularity in North America during the ’90s. The show, which followed the adventures of Usagi Tsukino and her fellow Sailor Scouts, was a groundbreaking addition to animation. Sailor Moon was one of the first mainstream animes to succeed in the United States, paving the way for future Japanese imports.

Sailor Moon’s popularity stemmed from its love, friendship, and female empowerment themes. The show’s unique blend of action, romance, and magical transformations captivated audiences and inspired a generation of young viewers. Its widespread appeal and cultural impact have solidified Sailor Moon’s place as an iconic ’90s character.

Bobby Generic: (Bobby’s World, 1990)

Bobby Generic - 90's cartoon network cartoon characters

Bobby’s World, created by and starring comedian Howie Mandel, debuted on Fox Kids in 1990. The show revolved around the imaginative adventures of Bobby Generic, a curious and creative little boy who viewed the world through a unique lens.

Bobby’s popularity can be attributed to his boundless imagination and relatable childhood experiences. The show struck a chord with viewers by exploring universal family, friendship, and self-discovery themes. Bobby’s World showcased the power of imagination and the importance of understanding different perspectives, making it a cherished part of ’90s cartoon history.

Gargoyles: The Dark Defenders (Gargoyles, 1994)

Gargoyles - 90's tv cartoon characters

Gargoyles, a darker and more mature offering from Disney, premiered in 1994. The series followed a clan of nocturnal, ancient creatures awakened from a thousand-year slumber to protect modern-day Manhattan. The clan leader Goliath quickly became a fan favorite for his wisdom, strength, and unwavering sense of duty.

The show’s popularity can be traced to its unique blend of mythology, action, and compelling storytelling. Gargoyles tackled loyalty, prejudice, and redemption themes, making it stand out from its more light-hearted counterparts. The series’ devoted fan base and enduring cultural impact make Goliath and the Gargoyles iconic ’90s characters.

Gerald Martin Johanssen 90s Cartoon Characters

Gerald Johanssen - Hey Arnold - Skinny Black Cartoon

Gerald Martin Johanssen, a key character from the hit ’90s Nickelodeon show Hey Arnold!, debuted in 1996. As Arnold’s loyal best friend, Gerald brought a cool and confident vibe to the series. With his trademark skinny frame and tall red-and-white striped hairstyle, he was instantly recognizable and became a fan favorite.

Gerald’s popularity can be attributed to his laid-back personality, unwavering friendship with Arnold, and ability to handle various situations with a level head.

The Wild Thornberrys: The Adventurous Family

The Wild Thornberrys - old cartoon characters from the 90's

In 1998, Nickelodeon introduced viewers to The Wild Thornberrys, a globe-trotting family of documentarians passionate about the natural world. Eliza Thornberry, the show’s protagonist, had a unique gift: the ability to communicate with animals.

The Wild Thornberrys’ popularity stemmed from their adventurous spirit and the show’s captivating exploration of diverse cultures and environments. Eliza’s compassion, curiosity, and bravery made her an engaging character, while her interactions with animals provided both humor and heart. The show’s emphasis on environmentalism and cross-cultural understanding stood out in the ’90s cartoon landscape.

Darkwing Duck: The Caped Crusader (Darkwing Duck, 1991)

Darkwing Duck - Cartoon Characters From The 90's

Darkwing Duck swooped onto television screens in 1991 as part of Disney’s animated lineup. The show featured the crime-fighting escapades of Darkwing Duck, a superhero with an alter ego, Drake Mallard.

The show’s popularity can be attributed to its unique take on the superhero genre, combining elements of comedy, adventure, and drama. Darkwing Duck’s catchphrases, like “I am the terror that flaps in the night,” added to the character’s charm and appeal. The series’ distinctive style, memorable characters, and compelling storylines made Darkwing Duck a beloved part of ’90s animation.

Famous Male Cartoon Characters From The 1990s

  1. Homer Simpson (The Simpsons, 1989)
  2. Eric Cartman (South Park, 1997)
  3. Stimpy (The Ren & Stimpy Show, 1991)
  4. Rocko (Rocko’s Modern Life, 1993)
  5. Fry (Futurama, 1999)
  6. Dexter (Dexter’s Laboratory, 1996)
  7. Yakko Warner (Animaniacs, 1993)
  8. Hank Hill (King of the Hill, 1997)
  9. Bobby Hill (King of the Hill, 1997)
  10. Eddy (Ed, Edd n Eddy, 1999)
  11. Cow and Chicken’s Dad (Cow and Chicken, 1997)
  12. Darkwing Duck (Darkwing Duck, 1991)
  13. Peter Griffin (Family Guy, 1999)
  14. Goliath (Gargoyles, 1994)
  15. Beavis (Beavis and Butt-Head, 1993)
  16. Butt-Head (Beavis and Butt-Head, 1993)
  17. T.J. Detweiler (Recess, 1997)
  18. Ickis (Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, 1994)
  19. Norbert Beaver (The Angry Beavers, 1997)
  20. Zapp Brannigan (Futurama, 1999)
  21. Chuckie Finster (Rugrats, 1990)
  22. Spike Spiegel (Cowboy Bebop, 1998)
  23. Squidward Tentacles (SpongeBob SquarePants, 1999)
  24. Courage (Courage the Cowardly Dog, 1999)
  25. Lionel Hutz (The Simpsons, 1989)
  26. P.J. Pete (Goof Troop, 1992)
  27. Phil DeVille (Rugrats, 1990)
  28. Quailman (Doug, 1991)
  29. Aladdin (Aladdin: The Series, 1994)
  30. Brain (Pinky and the Brain, 1995)

cartoon characters 90's

Best Female Cartoon Characters From The 1990s

  1. Daria Morgendorffer (Daria, 1997)
  2. Lisa Simpson (The Simpsons, 1989)
  3. Marge Simpson (The Simpsons, 1989)
  4. Helga Pataki (Hey Arnold!, 1996)
  5. Blossom (The Powerpuff Girls, 1998)
  6. Bubbles (The Powerpuff Girls, 1998)
  7. Buttercup (The Powerpuff Girls, 1998)
  8. Eliza Thornberry (The Wild Thornberrys, 1998)
  9. Jane Lane (Daria, 1997)
  10. Angelica Pickles (Rugrats, 1990)
  11. Velma Dinkley (A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, 1988; continued into the ’90s)
  12. Dot Warner (Animaniacs, 1993)
  13. Patty Mayonnaise (Doug, 1991)
  14. Debbie Thornberry (The Wild Thornberrys, 1998)
  15. Susie Carmichael (Rugrats, 1990)
  16. Luanne Platter (King of the Hill, 1997)
  17. Charlotte Pickles (Rugrats, 1990)
  18. Oblina (Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, 1994)
  19. Gosalyn Mallard (Darkwing Duck, 1991)
  20. Pepper Ann Pearson (Pepper Ann, 1997)
  21. Princess Jasmine (Aladdin: The Series, 1994)
  22. Leela (Futurama, 1999)
  23. Miss Grotke (Recess, 1997)
  24. Spinelli (Recess, 1997)
  25. Meg Griffin (Family Guy, 1999)
  26. Foxxy Love (Drawn Together, 2004; based on ’90s character Valerie Brown from Josie and the Pussycats)
  27. Numbuh 3 (Codename: Kids Next Door, 2002; influenced by ’90s cartoons)
  28. Patti Mayonnaise (Doug, 1991)
  29. Morgana Macawber (Darkwing Duck, 1991)
  30. Judy Funnie (Doug, 1991)

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