We all know that there are two types of cartoon characters, those that appeal to younger audiences and those specifically targeting older ones. Dora might not be the best show for anybody older than 12 or so whereas Daria isn’t really very good for anybody under 15. But here are some characters out there that walk the middle ground , that are equally funny to adults and kids. Here are the top 10 characters that appeal to everybody.
Batman has general appeal thanks to his big brand name. Sure the superhero’s story is a bit dark and the last few films are completely inaccessible to children but the tv series has that kind of serious without being too adult feel to it that makes it sit comfortably with adults trying to blow off steam and kids looking for a fun series all at once.
Maybe it’s the stoner appeal but ol’ Spongebob has a huge adult following in addition to rabid kid fans that watch the show, buy the merch, even play the games on sites like spongybob.com. Spongebob is absolutely huge with several demographic and perhaps with his sometimes very grown-up messages, the yellow kid deserves it.
8. Bugs Bunny
What’s up doc? Bugs is the original mass appeal character, pulling double duty as children’s entertainer and awareness raiser during such events as world war two. Though some of his early stuff was rough and more than a bit racist, bugs remains an icon of western cartoons.
7. Pink Panther
Another cartoon that all generations can enjoy the Pink panther manages to be just as good as much talkier cartoons without saying much and while wearing a smug, self-satisfied look at all times. A classy character, the pink panther is something that you and your kid, toddler to teen, can watch together.
Love ‘em or mouth-frothily despise them, the fans of My Little Pony, especially the 18+ fans that seem to like the show more than the intended target audience of small girls are here to stay. After they took the internet by storm and founded their own enclaves on popular forums and image boards you might just as well accept that they’re here for the long haul and give the show a chance. Who knows, maybe deep down inside you’re a brony too…
5. Fred Flintstone
Watch the old school Flinstones series and you’ll be thinking only two things: ‘boy this cartoon was great’ and ‘ hey, dinosaurs didny coexist with cavemen’. Sure , you’ll occasionally think ‘yikes this show was sexist’ and ‘what the hell is this Gazoo character doing here’ but you’ll have fun overall and so did your 12 year old self, when first watching Fred and Barney go about their business. And hey, at least they don’t have a ‘totally-not-racist-because-she’s-a-robot’ housekeeper, right?
4. Dr Doofensmirtz
All right, here’s a character from a show more recent than the 80s. Dr Doofensmirz from Phineas and Ferb is a fantastic character for all ages and the show is a big hit with the old and young alike. It has hilarious natics for younger audiences and tongue in cheek jokes and pop-culture references for the older.
Most cartoons nowadays are designed to pull double duty entertaining the adults ans well as the kids. The problem is that most fail miserably. They either turn out entertaining for adults but confusing for kids (like the Celtic-themed Secret of Kells or last year’s Paranorman) or funny to kids but not to adults (like the Celtic-themed Brave). Lately films have started to get better, a good example of this being this year’s hit, Wreck-Em Ralph, a movie that panders to parents growing up in the 80s very hard but throws in some colourful characters for the kids. However, the best character that managed to reach both demographics at the same time is the fantastic Wall-E. The little robot told a smart story in a cute way and captured our hearts and minds irrespective of age.
2. The Iron Giant
Young or old, you’ll tear up at the end of this movie. A great story, some cool 50’s cat slang and a huge robot from outer space. Take your kid to a showing of the Iron Giant or watch it at home with the whole family and you will fall to pieces more than the title character by the end.
1. Wile E. Coyote
Speaking of falling, here’s a character that has a degree in falling from up high. Funnier than all the other x chases y cartoons, the Road Runner ones had one thing in particular: cunning plans that always backfired and hurt the coyote. It is virtually impossible for a kid of any age to dislike the Road Runner cartoons. Tommy Lee Jones would laugh at Wile E.’s antics. Grumpy cat would laugh at them. President John Quincy Adams would laugh at the coyote (then presumably shoot it). The Road Runner cartoons are the apogee of cross generational appeal, they are like a Groucho Marx interview. Try as you might, you can’t ignore them.