The 10 Most Likable Cartoon Antiheroes – CBR – Comic Book Resources

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These TV cartoon characters might be antiheroes but they are actually very likable despite their less-than-heroic actions.
In literary terms, an antihero is a character who is ultimately on the side of good but lacks or inverts one or more of the classic heroic virtues, such as bravery, intelligence, or morality. A common permutation of the archetype is the less-moral or darker hero who isn’t afraid to use violence or intimidation to get the job done, but there are countless variations.
RELATED: The 10 Most Likable Antiheroes In TV Shows
In modern entertainment, the antihero is often as popular, or even more popular, than a classic, traditional hero. Modern audiences like characters with flaws and shortcomings that they can relate to. As such, some of the most likable characters in all forms of TV, including cartoons, are antiheroes by nature.
It isn’t hard to guess which of the typical heroic virtues is lacked by the titular character of Courage the Cowardly Dog, being alluded to twice in the show’s name. Courage, the main character, is well-intentioned and benevolent, but incredibly easily frightened, especially by the potentially supernatural happenings around him.
Each episode of the show typically features something happening, and Courage’s scared response to it, before he ultimately plucks up the bravery to resolve the episode’s plot. At the beginning of the next episode, however, Courage will be right back to square one, lacking the virtue of bravery.
The ideal of the Jedi from Star Wars is a classical hero, a wise, powerful, selfless philosopher, and warrior who only fights when it is necessary. Despite this, one of the best-known Jedi, Anakin Skywalker, falls short in nearly every way except power and compassion.
RELATED: Star Wars: Anakin’s 5 Greatest Strengths (& His 5 Worst Weaknesses)
Emphasized many times in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Anakin, despite his power and his desire to do good, grapples with his passion, his anger, and his insecurities related to his past and his secret marriage. The result is a powerfully relatable character who viewers cannot help but admire even as he begins a rapid descent into immorality.
None of the cast of Futurama could be called conventionally heroic, despite ultimately serving as a force for good when they involve themselves in moral situations or crises. All of them suffer from vices, flaws, and insecurities.
None are as flawed or vicious as Bender, the bending robot who freely indulges in crime, alcoholism, and cruel treatment to his friends. Despite occasional attacks of morality, and some moments of metaphorical dog-petting, Bender has no respect for the law or morality, despite helping his friends save the day, and fans love him for it.
Being an antihero doesn’t have to affect a character’s morality, and nowhere is that best exemplified than in Marinette Dupain-Chang, the main character of the French superhero series Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Chat Noir.
In the show, Marinette Dupain-Chang is a kind and benevolent teenage girl, who becomes a superhero to help fight crime and save the day. As Ladybug, Dupain-Chang is often able to project a brave and sure exterior, but in her civilian identity she is revealed to be incredibly insecure and uncertain, well beyond the moderate doubts of a conventional hero, but it doesn’t stop her from fighting for good.
Web cartoon RWBY follows Huntresses and Hunters, monster-fighting warriors with loose inspiration from fairy tales, who ultimately fight selflessly to protect everyday people from the beasts that stalk their lands. As a result, they tend to be heroic individuals, but each of them is plagued with their own insecurities and flaws.
RELATED: RWBY: The Main Characters, Ranked By Strength
Although unquestionably a good person and capable and brave warrior, Yang Xiao-Long best exemplifies the antiheroic side of RWBY‘s Huntresses. She is introduced as thoroughly enjoying combat, with her powers even relating to drawing power from being hurt, and throughout the show also goes on to suffer from abandonment issues and crises of confidence after she is wounded in battle.
Nearly every main character in Archer ultimately qualifies as a heavily flawed antihero. All brave, and very good at their jobs, they are nonetheless unconcerned by much morality, on occasion deeply unpleasant to one another, and some even push the line into being openly sociopathic.
Nonetheless, they all carry an open charm that fans can’t help but enjoy. Even forming a drug cartel together fails to make them truly villainous or dislikable, because they continue to do good in its operations, and remain as funny and as compelling as ever.
The Simpsons is another show lacking traditional heroes because they would be out of place in an animated sitcom that focuses on contemporary American life. Nonetheless, the family are involved in enough high-action escapades and conflicts between good and evil to qualify as antiheroic, each with their own flaws.
RELATED: The Simpsons: 10 Times We All Fell In Love With Homer
As one of the most distinctive and popular characters from the show, Homer Simpson is undoubtedly one of the most likable. Despite numerous times taking moral stands, imparting messages, and even saving the day on occasion, he is unintelligent, lazy, and often inconsiderate of others. This has increased in recent years, causing some fans to believe he has lost likability.
One half of the titular characters of Rick and Morty, Rick Sanchez is an alcoholic, cynical, near-nihilistic scientist who constantly drags his grandson on interdimensional adventures. He is shown to be manipulative, selfish, and cruel, and his affection for his grandson and ultimately helpful nature are all that redeems him.
Despite, or perhaps because of this, he has become a pop-culture icon in recent years, with his character earning acclaim from fans and critics alike. A simple character trait of his even caused McDonalds to bring back szechuan sauce for a short time, for fans of the show.
In stark comparison to many of his colleagues on the Justice League, Batman deliberately eschews the trappings of a traditional hero. He explicitly sets himself apart by wearing a dark costume, fighting from the shadows, and using fear as a weapon against his enemies, all of which are distinctly antiheroic.
RELATED: Batman: The Animated Series – The 8 Darkest Moments In The Show
His cartoon depictions, despite often being targeted at younger audiences, are no different. In Batman: The Animated Series, despite his benevolent and often even kind nature, there is no denying that Batman is unafraid to show off his darker side. His manipulative tendencies even lead his protege Dick Grayson to leave him.
Initially introduced as an antagonistic figure whose sole goal in life is to hunt down and capture Aang, Zuko nonetheless receives a large amount of focus from the very beginning of Avatar: The Last Airbender, serving in many ways as the show’s deuteragonist despite his villainous role.
Over time, despite his ties to the Fire Nation and seemingly unpleasant demeanor, the viewer gets to see Zuko’s ultimately good heart in several episodes. He cares deeply about his honor, wants the best for his people and his family, and dislikes authority figures throwing their weight around. However, his numerous attempts at redemption are unquestionably held back by his anger, his overly passionate nature, and his insecurities related to his family.
NEXT: 10 Most Likable Movie Antiheroes
Isaac Williams is a movie-goer, TV watcher, journalist, blogger, gamer, comic book-fan, and roleplayer. He's been a bartender and a waiter, and now he writes lists for CBR. He focuses on TV shows and movies. In his free time, Isaac can be found gaming, reading, playing D&D, walking Birmingham's lengthy canals, and catching up on movies.

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