I'm sure most of you who bother reading or looking at anything on this site spend at least some time watching cartoons. Why wouldn't you? Seriously though...I'm not sure why you'd be looking at this article unless you really did watch cartoons. It seems kind of silly of you otherwise. I guess you could have a general interest in the people behind the voices, but I wouldn't expect that without at least enjoying some cartoons.
Anyway, this list has 25 different cartoon characters, actually more, if you count the fact that a lot of these voice actors tend to play more than one character. And this article doesn't just touch on current cartoons (though there are obviously some in there). We head back to the classics as well.
Some of the greatest, or at least most popular, cartoon characters of all time are featured here from Shaggy and Scooby to Bart and Lisa Simpson. And from Rick and Morty to Peter Griffin and Hank Hill. Don't worry there are actually classic characters like Betty Boop, Bugs Bunny and many other greats from the past!
25 Nancy Cartwright - Bart Simpson, Ralph, Nelson
Nancy Cartwright has got to be one of my most favourite voice actors in the world. Why? I've been watching The Simpsons since I was a very little kid and I have always been a fan. Even through the dark years that most people say were awful seasons of the show.
Cartwright is the iconic voice of Bart Simpson. She was basically the spokesperson of 90's cartoons and he was played by this lovely woman who also does a ton of other voices for the show. She's the voice of Nelson, Kearney, Ralph, Todd, Database and she's done a bunch more over the years in the form of one-off characters and some occasional characters as well. I also want to point out that this show is just about at its 30-year-anniversary. And that's just awesome.
24 Kevin Conroy - Batman
Some of you may not have been old enough or even born yet when the animated Batman series was airing in the mid 90's but it was an awesome show. I'm pretty sure you can find reruns on YouTube and Teletoon Retro.
Kevin Conroy was the voice of the caped crusader and he really brought something to this character that a number of the live-action Batman actors just couldn't. Sure, you probably would never cast Conroy as a live-action Batman just based on his looks, but that voice...Well, let me put it like this: George Clooney, Val Kilmer, Ben Affleck, and Christian Bale have got nothing on Conroy's version of Batman. That's just how awesome this Batman was in this particular show. And it never hurt that his main nemesis was Mark Hamill's Joker.
23 John Dimaggio - Bender
Bender is probably one of the most iconic post-Simpsons cartoon characters in the world. And given that Futurama was done in part with Matt Groening, it makes perfect sense that he went so big. But it's not just because of the creators and animators. It really has a lot to do with the hilarious voice of John Dimaggio.
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I'm sure that's not actually his regular voice...though I guess it could be. An amazing voice actor like this can really bring life to a character who is very much the opposite of the actor playing him. Without John Dimaggio, I don't think that Futurama would have made it very far. I might be wrong, but he was one of the most popular characters of the show and of all cartoons from the 90's.
22 Mae Questel - Betty Boop
Betty Boop is most certainly one of the greatest cartoon characters of all time. So many years now after the fact, we see Betty Boop all over the place still. All those nerdy shops and pop-up shops in malls and even stores like Sugar Mountain sell all sorts of Betty Boop pictures, lunchboxes, candies, shirts and so on. But this character would not have been so incredibly iconic if it wasn't for that signature voice work of Mae Questel.
Without her historical "boop-oop-ee-doop...boop!" where would we be? We would be living in a world without the musical, high-pitched, flapper toon who inspired the superstars like Marilyn Monroe and those who took influence from her and projects like Who Framed Roger Rabbit (even if she only had a cameo in that film).
21 Mel Blanc - Bugs Bunny
Alright, this guy is basically the king of voice actors. Why is that? He was Bugs Bunny! Other than maybe Mickey Mouse, Bugs has got to be one of the very biggest names in cartoon history and has many, many decades on characters like Homer Simpson or Eric Cartman. And Bugs isn't the only character that Mel Blanc took on.
He's done a ton of voices for Warner Brothers. And he was recording his voice work back when records of that work were being sold and his photo was only able to be taken in black and white. That's how long this guy has been an influence on cartoon characters and voice acting. He may be dead now, but that doesn't stop his influence from getting at the hearts of all sorts of voice actors around the world.
20 Trey Parker - Eric Cartman
Trey Parker and his business partner Matt Stone created one of the most "offensive" and abrasive cartoons in history with South Park. For the most part, both Parker and Stone voiced all the characters of the quiet, little, redneck, white-trash, mountain town of South Park. One of the most influential and most offensive characters who has caused so much outrage throughout the media and conservative, right-wing, religious nuts is Eric Cartman, voiced by Trey Parker.
While there may be many people who find South Park a little too much, there's no way you can deny that Cartman is a big name in cartoon history now. He's even the main feature in several video games now (which are hilarious to play). Parker definitely belongs on the list.
19 Peter Robbins - Charlie Brown
Who looking through this article hasn't seen You're A Good Man Charlie Brown? Or Charlie Brown Christmas? If you actually honestly haven't seen either the show or the film...then I really think you need to or you can't really call yourself knowledgeable about cartoons at all.
Either way, Peter Robbins is the famous voice of the clumsy Charlie Brown. The character of Charlie Brown is one of the biggest icons of the 20th century in terms of animation but he still has found a way to be relevant even now in the 21st century. Robbins was eventually replaced when he got older (though certain signature sounds of his were used again and again). Unfortunately, our main man is currently in jail.
18 Clarence Nash - Donald Duck
Clarence Nash created the very interesting and unique voice of Donald Duck. He voiced this character for 50 years! He might have the longest run as the voice of a character in the entire world. I'm not totally sure about that, but that's a long time to run one character.
That being said, he didn't just play Donald Duck. He was also the voice of Daisy Duck, as well as Huey, Dewey, and Louie. And that's not all. He's done character voices for all sorts of Disney films and shows and he's worked for other companies as well. He's provided a lot of animated animal noises too. It seems like it was almost a specialty of his. He even voiced the character of Jiminy Cricket at one point after the death of Cliff Edwards (the original voice actor).
17 Alan Reed - Fred Flintstone
First of all, Alan Reed voiced the Russian wolfhound Boris in Disney's Lady and the Tramp. But beyond that, and more famously, Reed voiced the character of Fred Flintstone from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Flintstones. He voiced this role for the entire run of the original show, which ran for six years. Beyond that, he also voiced the character for several spinoff shows which featured Fred.
He died back in the 70's, but The Flintstones still plays constantly on channels like Teletoon Retro, and as part of the Hanna-Barbera collection. Reed's work is influential in all manner of media arts, animation, and voice acting classes. I should know. When taking media arts, I spent a good deal of time with Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
16 Pinto Colvig - Goofy
Pinto Colvig is one of the greats in terms of voice actors. He started working back in the 1920's. He was perhaps known best for his voice work on the character of Goofy, but that is not even close to the only character that he voiced. He was Bozo The Clown, he played Pluto the dog, he was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, one of the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz, a goon in Sleeping Beauty, a flamingo in Alice In Wonderland...he's been all over the place.
He even specifically vocalized the screams for the character of Ichabod Crane in the animated series The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. He certainly is one of the heavy hitters when it came to early voice acting in animation. Essentially, he's one of the pioneers of the voice-acting industry.
15 Mike Judge - Hank Hill
Mike Judge is definitely deserving when it comes to being on this list of voice-acting greats. Hank Hill may not have been around for near as long as Donald Duck or Goofy, but he's definitely one of those characters who really hit home with people and made people laugh across generations.
King of the Hill was a brilliant show in that it was one of the first cartoons that showed somewhat real people in some not-too-far-from-real situations. And while the show has plenty of character who are hilarious and executed beautifully, I think the show would have gone nowhere without the hilariously iconic voice of Hank Hill. Judge might not be aware of just how important his voice work has been to the progression of animation through the past 20 years...but he's important.
14 Dan Castellaneta - Homer Simpson, Krusty, Barney
Alright, cards on the table here...Dan Castellaneta is probably one of my very favourite voice actors in the world so I won't have very many negative things to say about him...if any at all. Now, the biggest character and most well-known character that Castellaneta has played would be Homer Simpson. But that doesn't mean he hasn't and doesn't play a ton of other characters.
He plays Itchy, Grandpa Simpson, Krusty, Sideshow Mel, Barney, Groundskeeper Willy, Diamond Joe Quimby, Hans Moleman and a ton of other characters. There are basically three or four actors on the cast of The Simpsons who perform almost every character on the show. It's pretty crazy to think about. Thankfully, they've all stuck around for just about 30 years now.
13 Mark Hamill - The Joker
This is probably one of my favourite entries in this article. Why? Because it's the damn Joker. And it's actually even more than that! It's the Joker played by the guy who played Luke Skywalker! That's just awesome. Ultimate good and ultimate evil in one guy. And who is this awesome human being who is willing to go to all sorts of extremes for his work? Mark Hamill.
He is probably one of the most underrated actors out there. The last I can remember seeing him in a film before The Last Jedi was Return of the Jedi. And that probably just shows how ignorant even I am to his work. But, there is one thing I definitely have appreciated of him, even if I haven't seen him in it. His voice for the Joker is one of the greatest cartoon voices of all time.
12 Yeardley Smith - Lisa Simpson
Yeardley Smith is unique in the cast of The Simpsons. Why is that? Well, she is one of the very few people who has been brought on the show who only plays one role. It's definitely a very important role, and she's probably the only consistent regular who plays just one role. Either way, Smith's incredibly unique voice is very important considering it's the wonderful, yet sometimes annoying, voice of Lisa Simpson.
Lisa is one of the most important characters of the whole series if for no other reason than that she's the counterpoint to Bart. I still can't get over the fact that Yeardley Smith's voice is actually pretty well the exact same voice as Lisa. She's not putting on a voice...she's just talking like normal!
11 Maurice LaMarch - The Brain
You may remember Pinky and the Brain from back in the day. It was and is a pretty popular Warner Brothers cartoon from the 90's/early 00's. Now, the show is not still running, but that doesn't stop people from quoting it and watching reruns. And who is one of the biggest reasons for this show still being relevant? Maurice LaMarch is not the sole reason why this is such an iconic cartoon, but the voice of Brain is pretty epic and LaMarch certainly did a fantastic job delivering those hilariously dry and relatively evil lines.
There's just something about this character and his place in the history of cartoons that made me have to add Maurice LaMarch. Maybe there's just some special place in my heart, but that's my opinion anyway.
10 Walt Disney - Mickey Mouse
Well, everyone knows who Walt Disney is. He is obviously the founder of Disney which is the biggest animation company in the world. It's actually probably just the biggest company in general in the world now. I mean, it now owns the Star Wars franchise as well as Marvel. That's a lot of money. However, that's off topic. The important thing here is Mickey Mouse. He first appeared way back at the start of the 20th century in the form of Steamboat Willy.
Once Mickey found his voice, do you know who played that iconic character for decades? That's right, Walt Disney is the original voice of Mickey Mouse. I can't imagine how he found the time to do that with everything else he always had going on, but that's pretty amazing.
9 Seth MacFarlane - Peter Griffin
If I was going to compare him to any of his characters, I would have to say the Seth MacFarlane looks the most like Quagmire and not Peter Griffin, but MacFarlane lends his voice to the big tubby Peter Griffin. Of course, given that I mentioned he looks more like Quagmire...he also voices Glenn Quagmire. And he voices Stewie Griffin, Brian, and several other characters throughout the show when they are required.
Beyond Family Guy, MacFarlane is also the voice of Ted who is the titular character of a movie about an animated bear who is the best friend of Mark Wahlberg. It's a pretty ridiculous film, but it's hilarious. A fun little tidbit of random trivia, Seth MacFarlane's regular voice actually appears in Family Guy in the form of the house dog Brian.
8 Jack Mercer - Popeye
Jack Mercer is one of the classic voice actors of our time. Well, I guess he's not really of our time, for the most part. He died in 1984, which is likely before most of you readers were born. But that's not the point. Everyone knows who Popeye is. Now, Mercer isn't the original voice actor to play the role of Popeye. That belonged to another guy who just became way too hard to work with after two years of a successful cartoon show. So, they recast the role with Mercer in place and he carried out the role for the rest of its regular run.
He also did several specials and was part of the Robin Williams Popeye as a voice in the opening segment of the film. Which I think was personally a very nice touch to pay homage to the great voice actor.
7 Justin Roiland - Rick AND Morty
This is far more recent, but I dare say that the characters of Rick and Morty will live on in the animated universe of amazing characters for a very long time to come. Justin Roiland is a very lucky voice actor. I mean, he's also pretty unlucky because he must be pretty lonely in studio a lot of the time, but he's still very lucky. He voices both the characters Rick and the character Morty. That's just awesome, and for more than one reason.
First of all, he has the ability to work his voice in those very different way. Secondly, because he gets to spend his time working his dialogue against himself without worrying about someone else's work so much. I'm not sure if he gets paid way more for playing both lead characters, but he definitely should.
6 Don Messick - Scooby Doo
If someone looking through this article actually doesn't know anything about Scooby Doo, then I think you must have had some serious disconnect from popular culture before you stumbled upon The Richest. Scooby is one of the coolest cartoon characters of all time. Well, his buddy Shaggy is one of the coolest, but Scooby is right there with him in hanging out, getting addicted to certain snacks and eating a ton of food.
Don Messick brought life to the very human animated dog. I mean, it seems strange that the dog can talk, but he does so in this hilarious sort of bark and grumble that only Don Messick could have come up with for such a character.
5 Casey Kasem - Shaggy
When you first look at him, you probably wouldn't expect that Casey Kasem was the voice of Shaggy. For those of you who remember what Shaggy sounded like with his awesome "Zoinks, Scoob, that's like, totally bizarre", Kasem really doesn't seem like the sort to have the raspy and totally radical voice. But hey, Kasem didn't just work on Scooby Doo.
As important as his part in that show was, he was also a very successful radio DJ. He was the host of American Top 40 from 1970 until his retirement in 2009. That's 39 years of working for radio. I'm sure he was still collecting cheques from reruns of Scooby Doo while doing that, but he put in a lot more time on radio than he ever did for the still popular cartoon dog.
4 Tom Kenny - SpongeBob
Tom Kenny is still very much an active voice actor for some pretty awesome cartoons. He was the voice of SpongeBob in the hit animated series SpongeBob Squarepants. Sure, the show was eventually cancelled, but that didn't stop him. He voiced the character for film and video games as well. And beyond that, he's played characters in Rocko's Modern Life, The Powerpuff Girls, CatDog, and even Spyro. And when I say he played a role in Spyro, I mean to say that he played SPYRO! Spyro the Dragon!
More notably though, for those who aren't gamer nerds about Spyro, he also voices the character of the Ice King in Adventure Time. That show has already been going since 2010. I didn't even realize it was already eight-years-old, but here we are.
3 Boris Karloff - The Grinch
Do you recognize the name Boris Karloff? If you do, but can't recall just where you've heard, I'll tell you where...He was the main character in The Phantom of The Opera! He was the Phantom! No, not in the musical version. Please. Andrew Lloyd Webber hadn't quite come up with the idea of making a musical version of that story at the time Karloff was playing the Phantom...I don't think Webber was even close to being born yet.
Anyway, in terms of his contribution to the wide world of animation, Karloff played one of the most recognizable Christmas characters. He played the Grinch who stole Christmas! I don't know about you, but that story was a huge part of my childhood. I would watch that cartoon every year, and I still do sometimes. You will always hear the theme song from it every year, that's for sure.
2 Elizabeth Daily - Tommy Pickles
Ok. I'm sorry. I have to start off by saying...who the hell knew that Tommy Pickles was played by someone who was so beautiful? Again, I apologize, but Elizabeth Daily is an incredibly attractive woman. And she was the iconic voice of Tommy Pickles from the hit Nickelodeon cartoon Rugrats. She even voiced Tommy in the spin-off All Grown Up!
She was also a character in the Powerpuff Girls cartoon series. She even adds voiceover work for live-action films like Babe. She was on the project to give a voice to the titular pig. But she's also more than just a voice actor. She has been in a bunch of films as a visible human being. Those films include: Valley Girl, Dogfight, No Small Affair, Fandango, Streets of Fire, The Devil's Rejects, My Sister's Keeper, and most famously Pee-wee's Big Adventure.
1 Mel Blanc - Woody Woodpecker
I'm sorry. I had to add Mel Blanc here yet again. Why? Because he really is basically the king of voice acting. He was pretty well the great-granddaddy of the modern voice actor. And he played everything. He didn't just play Bugs Bunny (though that's more than enough to get attention). He also played the incredibly famous Woody from Woody The Woodpecker.
He voiced Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, and the Tasmanian Devil. He played every major WB character except for Elmer Fudd (until that voice actor died, and he took over). He was also all over the Hanna-Barbera scene. There is a reason he was called "the man of a thousand voices".