I know that I did a post just like this a few months ago, but for whatever reason, it must have gotten deleted. So, I've gone through the annals of history (well, my personal film-viewing history, at least), and I've selected my twenty favorite animated characters. There's only two stipulations: first, that the character has to have made an appearance in a feature film (this is a film blog, after all); second, only one character from any particular film can make the list. I'm sure this list differs a little bit from the last one I did, but I suppose that doesn't particularly matter. I'd like to stress that these characters aren't listed in any particular order - I just couldn't find a way to put one ahead of another. So, without any further adieu, here's my favorite animated film characters of all time.
First Film Appearance: Aladdin (1992)
Voiced By: Robin Williams
It's a little bit funny that the Genie would appear first on this list considering he very well may be my favorite animated character ever. Aladdin is the first movie I remember ever seeing in a theater (I would've been four when it was in theaters), and I remember thinking the Genie was the funniest thing I'd ever seen. Heightened by the always-hilarious portrayal of him in the Aladdin Musical Spectacular at Disney's California Adventure, the Genie may be the funniest animated character to ever grace the screen. Then again, it's just my opinion.
Quote: "It's all part and parcel, the whole 'genie' gig: PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS! Itty-bitty living space."
First Film Appearance: FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)
Voiced By: Robin Williams
Apparently Robin Williams was having a busy year in 1992, as he's making his second appearance on this list out of only two characters. Batty was actually the catalyst towards me re-making this list. After re-watching FernGully last night, I remembered why I loved him in the first place. He's a little bit off - you can chalk that up to all the human tampering he had to withstand - but he has this manic energy that's hard to hate. At the same time, he brings the very Williams-esque feel to the screen, with quite a few contemporary references. Sure, it's not quite at the level of the Genie, but Batty Koda is definitely good for the comic relief in FernGully.
Quote: "Hello, I'm a nocturnal placental mammal of the order pterodidae, or ptero-didn't-I... In case you can't tell, I'm a bat!"
First Film Appearance: Finding Nemo (2003)
Voiced By: Andrew Stanton
When you've got a film that takes place in the ocean, you're gonna have to have a character who's throwing out that surfer slang. And boy do we ever get that with Crush. I'm not sure if there's ever been an animated character who used the word "dude" as much as he did in his limited screen-time, but he's definitely a scene-stealer (as you'll see, there'll be a few scene-stealers on this list). In my opinion, he's the most likable character in Finding Nemo because it's so hard not to instantly love him and his laid-back demeanor.
Quote: "Whoa, Dude. Mister Turtle is my father. The name's Crush."
First Film Appearance: Happy Feet (2006)
Voiced By: Robin Williams
I promise that this is the last Robin Williams-voiced character to make an appearance on this list. You're all probably thinking I have an obsession with Williams right now, and although you'd be slightly correct, it's not entirely true. He actually voiced two different characters in Happy Feet, but Ramon was easily the best part of the movie. He can sing, he can dance, and he can provide brilliantly-timed quips. Is there anything better about a comedic character? His rendition of Frank Sinatra's "My Way" (in Spanish, no less) is one of the highlights of the film and cements his spot on this list.
Quote: "I know size may be daunting, but do not be afraid... I love you. I LOVE YOU!"
First Film Appearance: Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Voiced By: Randall Duk Kim
You could probably have your pick of the litter when it comes to choosing a favorite character from Kung Fu Panda, but I'm going to take Master Oogway every single time. He's the first semi-serious character to be named on this list, and although he doesn't spend much time on-screen, he does provide Po (and the audience) with many of the film's lessons. Oogway does have his comedic moments - even his appearance is a little bit goofy - but his slow-speaking and calm demeanor present an aura of wisdom that isn't matched very often in other films.
Quote: "There are no accidents."
First Film Appearance: The Land Before Time (1988)
Voiced By: Will Ryan
I have to admit that I haven't seen the original Land Before Time film in ages, but it was always a favorite of mine as a child. You'd have your pick of the litter in this one as well, and I know a lot of people who would pick their favorite character as someone other than Petrie. However, there's a couple of reasons that I love him so much. First, he's actually pretty funny. With his not-quite-developed grammar skills, you get the sense that he's still very young and not fully formed. However, what really drew me to him was the fact that he has to go through the most formative change throughout the film. Sure, the others find out something about themselves, but Petrie learns to fly, a fundamental part of being a pterosaur. In my opinion, he achieves the most in the film, and that makes him my favorite.
Quote: "YOU hungry? I'm empty all the way to the top! Now we're at the Great Valley and STILL GOT NO GREEN FOODS! We be hungry FOREVER! Oh..."
First Film Appearance: The Lion King (1994)
Voiced By: Nathan Lane
There's a lot of characters to choose from in The Lion King, but I think my choice for the funniest has to be Timon. By now, you've probably noticed that characters who bring a contemporary appeal to a movie tend to make this list, and Timon is no different. He brings constant comedy to the screen, and along with his best friend Pumbaa, romps around the African savannah living life to the fullest he knows possible. And although he's small in size and stature, he proves to be a driving force behind Simba's re-allocation of the Pride Lands. Hakuna matata, my friend. Hakuna matata.
Quote: "This looks like a good spot to rustle up some grub."
First Film Appearance: Mulan (1998)
Voiced By: Eddie Murphy
Mushu is actually the one character who's probably teetering between being on and off this list, but that doesn't really take away from his overall level of comedy. Eddie Murphy makes his first apperance on this list, and there's definitely good reason. He brings a lively and manic energy to the small dragon who's helping Mulan pretend her way into the Chinese army to fight the Huns. Like Timon, he has another animal (in his case, a cricket) as a counterpart, but Mushu has to provide all the verbal comedy throughout the film. Yes, there are a couple other characters who are good for a couple of laughs, but without Mushu, Mulan would play more as an animated drama than anything else.
Quote: "My little baby, off to destroy people."
First Film Appearance: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Voiced By: Ken Page
I might take a little bit of flak for this considering Oogie Boogie has been called one of the more racially insensitive animated characters to grace the screen, but I'm going to run with it anyways. I've always been a sucker for charismatic villains (as evidenced in my personal awards love for Heath Ledger's Joker and Christoph Waltz's SS man), and Oogie Boogie fits the mold perfectly. It's almost impossible to keep your eyes off him when he's on-screen because there's something to attractive about him. Is it the voice? Is it how he looks (to be fair, he's like a green burlap sack that's covering a bunch of bugs)? Those may be the reasons, but for me, it's the maniacal presence and warped psychology he brings to the screen. He's a self-proclaimed gambler that leaves everything to chance... unless it doesn't go his way. Oogie Boogie is evil through and through, and that's what I love so much about him.
Quote: "Are you a gambling man, Santa?"
First Film Appearance: Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Voiced By: Larry D. Mann
I know that Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer never got a theatrical release, but it's one of the longest running programs in television history. It's aired every year since its first showing back in 1964, so that has to count for something. It's still one of my favorite animated flicks of all time, and part of the reason for that is Yukon Cornelius. He brings a dorky sense of bravado to the film, and although he's bumbling and absent-minded, he proves to be very important in the film's final resolution (i.e., saving Christmas). And c'mon, how can you not like a guy with a beard like that? He's just a prospector looking to strike it rich but somehow gets caught up in the trials and tribulations of a young reindeer and a wannabe dentist. Give him some credit.
Quote: "Mush! Don't you understand North Pole talk? Mush!"
First Film Appearance: Shrek (2001)
Voiced By: Eddie Murphy
When Shrek was released in 2001, it quickly became an overnight sensation on its way to winning the inaugural "Best Animated Feature" Academy Award. And while the story between the ogre Shrek and the fair Princess Fiona was probably enough to make a fantastic film, it wouldn't have been even close to as great without the inclusion of a certain Donkey. Eddie Murphy nabs a second spot on this list for his voice work of the always hilarious, albeit very small, beast, proving to be a perfect counter to Shrek's angry personality. Even when life is at its worst, Donkey still has a smile on his face, and ultimately, his innocence is what makes him all the more endearing.
Quote: "We can stay up late, swapping manly stories, and in the morning, I'm making waffles!"
PUSS IN BOOTS
First Film Appearance: Shrek 2 (2004)
Voiced By: Antonio Banderas
As good as Donkey was in the first Shrek installment, Puss in Boots might be just a little bit better. He brings a suave and debonair attitude to the screen that we didn't really get to see in the fist film, and it really works seamlessly into the tone and the comedy. Puss in Boots is basically a cross between a cat and Zorro (ironically, a character that Antonio Banderas has also played in his career). And how can you look past his big watery eyes that get everyone to do exactly what he wants? Like I said: Donkey was brilliant, but Puss in Boots went one step farther, making him my favorite character in the Shrek universe.
Quote: "You still look like an ass to me."
First Film Appearance: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
I know for a fact that Dopey didn't appear on my original list, but I've since re-watched Snow White, and I think he deserves a spot on this exclusive list. Sure, he may not speak a line of dialogue, and he may be a little too goofy - or should I say "dopey" - for his own good, but he's easily the truest and most genuine of the seven dwarfs. And in a way, he encapsulates a little piece of some of the other dwarfs: he's a little bit on the sheepish side with Snow White (like Bashful); he's always in a good mood (like Happy); and even though he's a little slow, he's definitely got some brains hidden under that floppy hat of his (like Doc). It's hard not to like him in a dorky sort of way.
First Film Appearance: South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
Voiced By: Trey Parker
Okay, okay. Eric Cartman may have been a "star" on the "South Park" television show, but he has made a starring appearance in a feature film. Yeah, it's the "South Park" movie, but who cares? If you know me at all, you know I would've made any excuse to make sure he made this list. There's so many good things about Cartman, and although he's not really given full reign in the movie (save for a stirring rendition of "Kyle's Mom's a Bitch" and a couple of perfectly-placed one-liners), he still ranks very highly on my list of favorite animated characters. He's rash, he's inconsiderate, he's terrible, he's mean, and at times, he's downright evil. But at the same time, he's always bitingly hilarious, bringing an ever-expanding edge to the show and the movie.
Quote: "That movie has warped my fragile little mind."
First Film Appearance: Fantasia (1940)
Voiced By: Walt Disney
No list of favorite animated characters could possibly have any weight without the inclusion of a certain mouse who started it all for a certain Walt Disney. Mickey Mouse has been around since the late 1920s, appearing in short films like Steamboat Willie and Mickey's Choo-Choo. However, he didn't make his feature film debut until 1940 in Fantasia, which proved to be one of his most memorable roles: he played the titular character (pictured) in the segment "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." But Mickey has been the face of Disney and everything that has to do with that company since its inception. I could probably go on for hours about just how much he's affected life today as we know it, but I'll leave that for an entirely separate post. Mickey is the original inspiration for so many of our favorite animated films, and it's only fitting that he be placed on this list.
Quote: That unmistakable laugh
First Film Appearance: Surf's Up (2007)
Voiced By: Jon Heder
As with Finding Nemo's Crush, Chicken Joe provides the most stereotypical surfer prototype in a movie about surfing penguins... and a chicken. Jon Heder does very well with the voice, and you can almost say he's channeling Andrew Stanton's character from four years earlier. In a film that's rife with some astounding voice talent, Chicken Joe stands above the rest, providing the most consistent comedy. He's the perfect stereotype in a movie about that particular stereotype, making him all the more hilarious.
Quote: "I know he's out here. I can feel it in my nuggets!"
First Film Appearance: Toy Story (1995)
Voiced By: Tim Allen
When Toy Story was released back in 1995, I couldn't begin to count how many of my friends desperately wanted their own Buzz Lightyear toy. I mean, what seven-year-old kid wouldn't want a talking Space Ranger who may or may not come to life the moment they left the room? Sure, some peoplewanted a Woody doll or a Slinky dog or even a Hamm piggy bank, but I was all about Buzz. Like I mentioned earlier with Petrie, I think that Buzz also has the biggest change by the end of the film. At the start, he's your standard toy who thinks he's actually the one and only Buzz, causing him to think he's also the leader and the figure of authority in Andy's room. By the end of the film, he's come around and understands that friends are important (cue: "You've Got a Friend in Me").
Quote: "To infinity and beyond!"
First Film Appearance: Up (2009)
Voiced By: Bob Peterson
I actually almost forgot to put Dug on this list until my friend Dréa reminded me of the movie Up. To be fair, I'd thought about it, but I didn't think either Carl or Russell deserved to be included here, but I had completely forgotten about everyone's favorite dog! From the moment he runs on the screen and starts declaring his love for his human counterparts, Dug entered the collective hearts of so many audiences around the world. His attraction is his simple-mindedness, to be honest. But it's this simple train of thought - to help and protect the ones you love - that makes him so adorable and memorable.
Quote: "I was hiding under your porch because I love you."
First Film Appearance: WALL-E (2008)
Voiced By: Ben Burtt
Who ever would've thought that a garbage-collecting robot left alone on an abandoned Earth could pull at the heartstrings of humans everywhere? Then again, Pixar did make us love a rat in 2007's Ratatouille, so I suppose a garbage-collecting robot isn't out of the question. What's truly fascinating about WALL-E is that he makes us love him without the gift of language. Sure, he manages a few words here and there (mostly calling out for EVE), but I think the best part of him is his eyes. The animators did a fantastic job with crafting WALL-E's eyes, which really are the window to his soul, so to speak. The film works as both an environmental statement and a love story, but it's really no question as to which aspect I remember.
First Film Appearance: Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Voiced By: Amy Irving / Kathleen Turner
Honestly, how could I make this list without bringing Jessica Rabbit into the mix. There's so much to like about her, but enough about her physical appearance. She actually does bring a very important role to Who Framed Roger Rabbit, adding some brains to her astounding beauty. I can only imagine the thought process behind creating Miss Rabbit, and it must've been rather fun to draw her. Who am I kidding? The only thing anyone ever remembers about Jessica Rabbit is how she looks. Oh, that, and maybe the following quote:
Quote: "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."