Jason DeMarco and Matt Senreich of Adult Swim breakdown some of their funniest and favorite characters of all time
Unfortunately last year the Whalebone Animation Department was leveled by a large falling anvil, and due to this tragedy Whalebone was not able to provide our own definitive ranking of the funniest cartoon characters of all time. But, lucky for us, our good friend and cartoon legend Jason DeMarco of Adult Swim and Matt Senreich, our new favorite friend and the co-creator of Robot Chicken, graciously provided us with their list of their funniest and favorite toons to help bring a smile back to our faces. They even drew us a nice warm bath with carrots and celery. What chums.
Senior Vice President, Anime and Action series/long-form for Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios
Co-Owner, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios + Co-Creator of Robot Chicken
Jason DeMarco’s List
Tom | The Tom and Jerry Show
As far as I’m concerned, Tom and Jerry is the best slapstick animation of all time. Often violent, dumb, and cyclical in nature, the early Tom and Jerry toons were also a master class in comedy and presenting us with a protagonist we enjoyed watching fail. Tom is pretty much a jerk, but a perverse part of me still hoped that just once, he could get the better of Jerry.
Eugene Harold Krabs | Spongebob Squarepants
As an entire generation of millennials can tell you, there are not many more relatable or funny characters than SpongeBob. But I’ve always felt Mr. Krabs gave him a run for his money. Big-hearted, penny-pinching, single dad Mr. Krabs is at the heart of some of SpongeBob’s funniest episodes, proving that a truly great comedy is just as much about a strong supporting cast as it is about a compelling lead character.
Carl Brutananadilewski | Aqua Teen Hunger Force
Another supporting character who is so funny he eventually became an unofficial fourth member of ATHF. Carl is the everyman stand-in, a (hopefully much dumber) audience surrogate who brings the surreal adventures of the Aqua Teen Team back down to earth. Well, sometimes.
Eikichi Onizuka | Great Teacher Onizuka
Great Teacher Onizuka, or GTO for short, is an anime classic that uses its 43 episodes to tell the story of a delinquent motorcycle gang member who becomes a teacher in order to get girls, and slowly discovers that he’s actually good at it (the teaching, that is)! A product of its time for sure (sexism alert), GTO is nevertheless a hilarious, heartfelt series about a kid becoming a man, and learning that being his best self means helping others to be theirs. All while managing to get into all sorts of hilarious trouble.
Homer Simpson | The Simpsons
I had to pick one obvious choice, so I saved the best for last. The Simpsons is utterly bursting with funny characters, but the heart of so much of the comedy comes from Homer, the selfish, idiotic goofball at the center of the show. Even when he’s at his worst, there’s a (tiny?) core of decency inside Homer that keeps us rooting for him, even through his dumbest mistakes. Comedy isn’t always about empathy, but when the balance is right, the characters we can empathize with are the ones we never forget.
Matt Senreich’s List
Henchman 21 | The Venture Bros.
The Venture Bros. pre-credits sequence where Henchmen 21 & 24 gear up before “work”
at the The Monarch’s lair was critical in helping define my love of the everyman humor. With Robot Chicken, we always say that we like to take the absurd and make it mundane. As Venture Bros. progressed, Henchman 21 continued to be that relatable character thrown into an over-the-top world.
Ahsoka | Star Wars: The Clone Wars
What makes Ahsoka stand out is the evolution of her character. To me, it is her depth and what she’s gone through from Clone Wars to Rebels to The Mandalorian. She went from what felt like a throw-away “sky guy” cheesy line-babbling sidekick, to war-torn and passionate, full of her own personal heartfelt beliefs, and she ultimately went against the Jedi Council to stand by those beliefs. She is a character I now respect more than any other.
Wander/Lord Hater | Wander Over Yonder
Two for one here. Showing the power of love, Wander continually projects his love-filled feelings onto the power-hungry dictator Lord Hater, who ultimately finds himself hating this silly, chatterbox of a character. The more Wander shows his simple want for a hug, the more Hater finds himself losing his mind. The power dynamic works so well and always brings a cheerful smile.
Venger | Dungeons & Dragons
Taking kids and placing them into a Dungeons & Dragons world was a perfect set-up to reveal the coolest designed cartoon character/bad guy in my mind. He knows how to dress! There was nobody scarier looking (and also sounding actually), especially at the time of this light-hearted ’80s action show. Spoiler alert: When it was revealed that Venger was Dungeon Master’s son, my 12-year-old self lost his mind in geekdom.
Optimus Prime | Transformers
Prime organized every aspect of the Autobots in a way that felt like my dad telling me what to do before school. He was a father figure like no other on TV when I was growing up in the ’80s, and I listened to every word he said. When he “died” in the cartoon, I literally had tears. “Even if you defeat me, Megatron, others will rise to defeat your tyranny.” So many great quotes…
Season 11 of Robot Chicken returns Feb. 20 – April 10 on Adult Swim. All 10 seasons are now available on HBO Max.