Cartoons have been a staple in the lives of many late baby boomers, as well as nearly all of the millennial generation. So, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that the characters we see on these shows have a profound effect on us as we grow and have shaped us into the adults we have become today. Normally, people focus on the main characters of shows. You know the ones: the protagonists who are always facing a conflict, sometimes big and sometimes small, and hilarious. We usually try to model ourselves after these characters and pretty much cast the rest of the characters off as supporting characters. We assume that they're not meant to be taken seriously. But a lot of the time, these obnoxious supporting characters have a lot to offer as well. Check out the list below for outrageous cartoon characters that you could actually learn a thing or two from.
We’ll start off with what is arguably the most annoying cartoon character of the '90s. Randall Weems acted as the unofficial, self-proclaimed hall monitor/snitch that Third Street Elementary School never wanted in the first place. He’s accountable for just about every downfall of TJ and the gang’s plans, which were—for the most part—intended to benefit the school as a whole. But we can learn a lesson from his regrettably irritating tattle tale's shenanigans. Though he is ridiculed for snitching on people, this doesn’t deter him from reporting things that he thinks may actually be harmful. Truth be told, Randall is a bit sensitive and irrational, but he seemingly does what he does to protect those who may be hurt by the outcome. In short: don’t let the fear of social stigma slide in when it comes to reporting something you think is wrong. It’s better to tell and be wrong than to not tell and be right.
At 9 years old, Louise Belcher spends the majority of her time having fun. Though, fun for her includes tormenting her school’s guidance counselor and coming up with plans for her and her siblings, Tina and Gene, to get into a harmless amount of trouble. Louise is nearly always scheming, but let’s face it, she’s wise beyond her years. She’s the definition of an opportunist; she uses the circumstances around her to create the best situation for her and her friends/siblings if she’s feeling particularly empathetic that day. While it may seem like she’s a selfish brat, the majority of her pranks and plots are innocent (and comedic) in nature. For instance, her ultimate dream is to successfully complete the “Brownie Chair Surprise,” which involves someone sitting on a brownie and looking like they pooped themselves.
Let’s not beat around the bush too much here – Angelica was a straight up brat. The entire Rugrats series pretty much revolved around her tormenting Tommy, Chuckie and the twins. While we don’t necessarily condone cold, hard manipulation—especially of those who are incompetent and unable to understand it, like babies for instance—but we have to give her credit for her ability to work a room regardless of the age of her audience. Be it her parents or Tommy and the gang, she knew exactly what to do to get what she wanted. We can take a page out of her playbook when we’re trying to maneuver ourselves into a well-deserved raise or promotion at work. Or maybe when we’re trying to convince our friends what to do on a Saturday night.
Scrappy-Doo’s name speaks for itself; he’s about a fifth of the size of his uncle Scooby-Doo but is packing about ten times the intensity. This pup is afraid of nothing as he goes head first into every situation that would scare the jeepers out of Scooby and Shaggy. He even practically coined the catchphrase “Lemme at ‘em!” Spoiler: this tiny bundle of angst turned out being the villain in the 2002 live action Scooby-Doo film, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still learn a little something from this little guy. He is small, that’s no secret. In fact, it’s briefly mentioned that he may suffer from a disorder that made him that way but that doesn’t stop him. His size doesn’t hold him back one bit and he shows us that no matter what physical (or mental) disadvantages we may have, we shouldn’t let them dictate whether or not we follow our dreams. Your dream should probably not be killing all your friends when they kick you out of the gang, though. Just saying.
The most distinct and recognizable trait of Helga from Hey! Arnold is, by far, her crazy obsession with Arnold. And when we say obsession, we mean obsession. The girl has a shrine dedicated to him for crying out loud. You wouldn’t even begin to suspect this from the way she treats him out in public, though. In front of others, she ridicules him and goes out of her way to make his day a little bit worse. Somehow, Helga is simultaneously a stage-five clinger and that one person in your life that you know you will never see eye-to-eye with. What’s admirable about her, though, is that she doesn’t necessarily let her feelings for Arnold dictate her every move. Sure, she sometimes follows him and makes decisions for herself based on his, but she has a strong personality and an attitude that wills the people she doesn’t like to stay away from her.
We all know Mr. Krabs as a stingy business owner with selfish intentions and not much else. He takes saving money to whole new level, but with our economy slowly crumbling into a pile of sh*t, we think we can all agree that Mr. Krabs might actually be onto something here. As with most of the other characters on this list, Mr. Krabs goes above and beyond the recommended intenseness, but he makes a lot of good points throughout the SpongeBob SquarePants series: Don’t be wasteful, always be on time for work, do your job to the best of your ability, hold people accountable, and save money any chance you get. As for picking up tips for how to treat your employees and peers, we suggest you find another role model.
This show was, by far, one of the most ridiculous shows in the history of animation. A dog and a cat stuck together and forced to use the same body is just flat out absurd. The pure absurdity of their existence is what landed them on this list, rather than their villainism or their (its?) crazy behavior. Regardless, they have a very important lesson to offer. The creators of the show made sure to give both Cat and Dog very distinct and opposing personalities; Cat is intellectual and cunning, while Dog is lighthearted and goofy. In theory, they are two separate characters. But the fact that these two conflicting characters are forced to coexist and nearly always succeed at doing so - highlights the fact that we as real people in this multifaceted world that we live in can be both smart and silly. We don’t need to sacrifice one for the other.
Good ol’ Hugh Neutron, father of prodigy Jimmy Neutron, serves as a loving parental figure as well as a pain in the neck. While he means well, Hugh is a bit on the dull side and often causes Jimmy a lot of trouble by messing with his many inventions and inevitably landing—not only himself—but sometimes the entire town in harm’s way. In this way, he is outrageous, but as far as the rest of the characters on this list go, he is the simplest of the outrageous. What we can learn from Hugh Neutron follows suit; there is nothing wrong with focusing on the simple things in life. Sometimes we get too focused on competing with those around us. Like Cindy Vortex does for the majority of the Jimmy Neutron series. But not Hugh. Hugh spends his time with his wife, son, and beloved wooden duck collection and that’s enough for Hugh. Do what makes you happy!
Mr. Crocker from Fairly Odd Parents was a lunatic, let’s not kid ourselves. He was paranoid beyond belief and, if we’re being truly honest, pretty emotionally disturbed. Not only that, but he treated his students like crap. But the bottom line here that we always seem to forget when he’s having one of his episodes is that, as paranoid as he is, he is completely right. Sure, he sounds crazy but in this world, fairies do exist and he knows it. He sticks his ground no matter how many times he is shamed and bullied for his conspiracy theories about fairies. This isn’t to say that every conspiracy nut out there has probable cause because, after all, this is an animated series about magical fairies. But in the grand scheme of things in Dimsdale, Mr. Crocker is right and doesn’t falter regardless of the negative feedback he gets.
Mojo Jojo hails from the imaginary city of Townsville where he once resided with his owner and companion, Professor Utonium, who he adored. However, in an effort to prevent the Professor’s attempt to create the Powerpuff Girls, he actually accidentally helps him succeed in doing so and is forced out of his birthright. Being ignored by the Professor and falling far down his list of priorities, sent Mojo over the edge into the realm of villainism and becomes the Powerpuff Girls' mortal enemy throughout the series. His intentions are rooted in the pain that resulted from the loss of his companion, Professor Utonium, and that doesn’t make him any less evil. But you do have to give him credit for getting back up every time he is defeated by the Powerpuff Girls and tries again.
Donnie Thornberry is the youngest of the Thornberry clan at four or five years old (depending on what episode you’re watching) and is unique in a number of ways. For instance, he isn’t even technically a Thornberry; he was a feral child who was found and adopted by Nigel and Marianne Thornberry. As you can imagine any feral child to act, he is erratic and often causes trouble for his siblings, more so Debbie than Eliza, but he certainly gives the show an extra twist. Donnie does not know how to speak and continues to embrace his wild side despite his civilized family’s efforts to humanize him. As frustrating as this is to his family, we can learn a little something about how Donnie continues to embrace his roots.
Even if you’ve never seen Family Guy, it’s not hard to grasp Stewie Griffin’s role in the show. Like Louise Belcher, he is wise beyond his years. He spends his time creating complex inventions and hanging out with Brian the dog, the only other member of the Griffin family that can understand his baby babbling. For all intents and purposes, Stewie is selfish and is often portrayed as the silent evil genius of the series. But time and time again, Stewie takes things too far and hurts himself and/or those around him. But, as a real baby would, he learns from his mistakes and grows from them. Though this isn’t necessarily consistent from episode to episode (because each episode is meant to be self-encompassing), they usually end with him making amends and resolving to better next time.
Courage is a pup who was adopted by Muriel and Eustace Bagge, a couple with a farm house out in the middle of nowhere. Courage is named ironically, as you can probably tell by the name of the show, but holds the role as the protector of the house because he is a dog. His duty as the family’s dog is to fend off any and all monsters and creatures that threaten to hurt them. Though Courage is constantly antsy and disgracefully hesitant to intervene when the trio face danger, he swallows his apprehension and does what he can to protect the people he loves. This is incredibly admirable because it’s so easy to walk away from something you’re afraid of. Courage doesn’t do that; Courage, no matter how cowardly he truly is, also has courage to put that aside in order to do what’s right. Not many people will do that.
Daggett, or Daggie as his twin brother Norbert calls him, is an energetically busy beaver and is constantly bouncing from one project to another in order to pick up Norb’s slack. This energy that radiates through him, though, almost always gets him into trouble as it fuels his ability to create issues with anyone and anything that comes within a mile of him. On the contrary, these constant issues that he encounters give him plenty of opportunities to take the reins. This is to say that while he is somewhat of a loose cannon, he takes responsibility for the problems in his life — which almost always involve his two younger sisters. This is super commendable because most people who get themselves into trouble expect others to get them out. Not Daggie though, Daggie digs Daggie out. Good for you, Daggie!
Plank from Ed, Edd and Eddy is, as you may have guessed from the photo above, a plank of wood. But to the characters of the show see him as much more than that, including his best pal Jonny 2x4. This slab of wood lives an eccentric life that is narrated through his own words but spoken through Jonny 2x4 by saying, “Plank says…” or “Plank thinks…” To the eye, Plank may seem like a weird “character” to be put on this list because he doesn’t really do too much. However, Plank teaches us probably the most important lesson on this list. He teaches about the way we communicate differs greatly from person to person. While Jonny 2x4 says what Plank is saying and thinking, he’s really using this as a means to get his own voice out here. Plank shows us that the way we convey our ideas is not the same from one person to another and that’s okay!