At the first viewing, many cartoon characters annoy both the heroes and the audience. For every enjoyable character, there’s one that’s just as loathsome. Usually these unlikable characters are either portrayed as villains or annoying antagonists.
However, looking back at some of these unlikable characters, especially through adult eyes, there are a few who are able to garner as much, if not more, sympathy than the protagonists. Some of them are just plain nasty while some of them have a nice story that made them who they are. Others have a more relevant perspective than the heroes.
8 Tom the cat goes through way more than necessary
Fans of any version of Tom and Jerry probably remember laughing and clapping every time Jerry the mouse foils Tom the cat’s attempts to capture or eat him. His quick thinking creatively outsmarts the much bigger and stronger Tom.
Viewers are rarely expected to support Tom. However, he almost always loses, even when he doesn’t deserve it. Jerry is primarily responsible for inciting their conflicts in several episodes. Additionally, Jerry’s retaliation towards Tom is rather extreme, even when the latter does little to provoke him. Tom’s repeated losses make him easy to sympathize with and make him more satisfying on the rare occasions when he wins.
seven Debbie Thornberry struggled as a teenager
Eliza Thornberry’s older sister, Debbie Thornberry of The Wild Thornberrys is easy to criticize due to his rudeness and generally cynical attitude towards his nature-loving family. However, upon closer inspection, there is a legitimate reason for his behavior.
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Debbie was a teenager forced to travel the world with her family. Because of this, living in a small RV and the ensuing chaos of visiting various places, she had no stability in her life, nor was she able to keep friends from his age. Even though she was unable to understand her family’s love for nature, whenever they were in a difficult situation, she always pulled through.
6 Zapp Brannigan is ignorant but clumsy
Zapp Brannigan Futurama somewhat lacking in sympathetic qualities. He is very arrogant and convinced that he is always right, no matter what. His incompetence endangers several of his subordinates and others, but he always gets away with his actions and is considered a hero at the end of the day. That said, his unlikable qualities are played out in such an over-the-top way that it makes him hilarious to watch whenever he’s on screen.
Brannigan’s hilarity is enhanced by his voice actor, Billy West. The sleazy voice he gives this character makes him someone fans love to hate whenever he’s on screen.
5 There’s a squid in everyone
Looking at Sponge Bob SquarePants, young audiences undoubtedly connect with SpongeBob’s endless optimism. At the same time, they may be upset by Squidward Tentacles’ disgruntlement towards SpongeBob’s fun and life in general.
Older audiences can see that Squidward’s grumbling is coming from too relatable a place. SpongeBob makes too much noise as a neighbor and co-worker, and he interrupts Squidward’s peace, which he rarely gets at home or at work. Plus, he’s stuck in a minimum wage job with a greedy boss. Despite his passions for music and art, he can never succeed and no one recognizes his genius. Any adult who has endured one of these struggles makes Squidward much more approachable.
4 The Joker is delightfully despicable
No matter which version of the character, the Joker has had no shortage of terrible deeds in his career, and the version of batman the animated series is no exception to this. He is ruthless and deranged in his actions, devoid of any logic or reasoning just for the sake of chaos.
It’s an aspect that makes him a fascinating and complex individual to explore. The other aspect is that Mark Hamill’s voice acting brings the character to life, on par with the big screen incarnations. The way he delights in evil and the things he considers funny and unfunny give him a charismatic personality.
3 Helga Pataki was the product of a dysfunctional family
Helga Pataki from Hi Arnold is sometimes a bully to his peers and even his crush, Arnold. But several episodes featuring her and her family showed that she was much more than that.
Between having an alcoholic mother, a negligent and inattentive father and an overly perfect sister that her parents adore, Helga has had a hard life. All this makes it difficult for her to express herself, especially since she is still very young. Her mean ways are the only ones she knows, and that makes her a particularly complex character for a Nickelodeon show.
2 Daffy Duck is an entertaining movie
As Bugs Bunny’s foil character in looney tunes, Daffy Duck has his fair share of negative qualities that make him hard to root for him. He is narcissistic and selfish, especially when dealing with his enemies. He’s a coward, he has a big ego, he’s quick-tempered and also greedy.
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Despite this, Daffy is an endearing character who always gets his reward. The writing exaggerates his negative traits to humorous lengths, and the more they are exaggerated, the funnier and more satisfying it is when his schemes eventually backfire. Even when this happens more than once per short, each occurrence cleverly overlaps the next.
1 Angelica Pickles gets what she wants
Angelica Pickles Rugrats is almost always the main villain of the series. She is portrayed as a spoiled brat adored by her parents and able to manipulate adults and babies to meet her selfish needs.
While some of his actions were despicable even by his standards, his pettiness and cunning methods to achieve his ends are particularly impressive to viewers. Luckily, whatever terrible acts she does in an episode are met with just the right amount of punishment. Combined with the unique voice provided by her voice actress, Cheryl Chase, these aspects make her an evil but still enjoyable character.