Bird Person (“Rick and Morty”)
“Is Bird Person a bird or a person?” is a debate “Rick and Morty” fans… don’t really have too often. So, for the sake of this list, we say bird. Bird Person is only in a handful of episodes, but of all the tertiary characters, he is the most prominent. He is still the only character who Rick considers a true friend and the only one who can calm Morty down from a freakout. He represents just one world in “Rick and Morty’s” absurd multiverse, but even our brief glimpses into the universe of Bird Person(s?) flesh out the asinine amount of detail put into every square inch of the show. And if that last episode of Season 2 is any indication, we are in for a lot more of Bird Person in Season 3.
Mr. Peanutbutter (“BoJack Horseman”)
Every anthropomorphic animal on Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s gut-busting Hollywood satire “BoJack Horseman” deserves a spot high on this list, from Will Arnett’s self-destructive titular horse to Amy Sedaris’s high-strung feline agent Princess Caroline, but there’s something about the lovable Mr. Peanutbutter we just can’t get enough of. Voiced with infectious enthusiasm by Paul F. Tompkins, Mr. Peanutbutter is the kind of handsome, smiling labrador retriever you’d run across the street just to pet, and it’s the way the voice actor plays him as a beaming pile of joy that never ceases to make you giggle. Mr. Peanutbutter is one of the few wholeheartedly good people in the show’s wacked out Hollywood, and his constant optimism shines through in ways both hilarious and, in typical “BoJack” fashion, deeply sad, since he’s an easy one to fool (here’s looking at you, BoJack and Diane).
Brian Griffin (“Family Guy”)
Over the course of 14 seasons, the Griffins’ anthropomorphic pet dog’s quick wit, overwhelming rationalism and love for his family and friends has charmed his way into the hearts of critics and audiences alike, proving his value not just to “Family Guy,” but television as a whole. Yet it is Brian’s egocentrism, hubris, staggering alcoholism and other flaws that make the character relatable and humanistic. These conflicting traits are some of the reasons why Brian has continued to appeal to the millions of people who tune in every week to catch the latest exploits of him and his outrageous family. I mean, what other cartoon character has the clout to be killed off and then brought back to life? Kenny, I’m looking at you.
Bugs Bunny (“Looney Tunes”)
The Looney Tunes family may be just lousy with creative animated characters, but there’s only one true king of the “that’s all” brethren is undoubtedly Bugs Bunny. Originally voiced by the famously chatty Mel Blanc and eventually ceded to other talents (including the recently departed Joe Alaskey), Bugs has long been the forward-facing, well, face of everything that the looniest of tunes embody. Quick-witted, whip-smart, maybe allergic to characters, weirdly pantsless, Bugs is, for most fans, Looney Tune Number 1. Complete with an infamous, sputtering nemesis, plenty of pals and a later-introduced love interest (hey, Lola Bunny), Bugs is basically the center of the tune-iverse, and for good reason. He’s just so damn funny.
Heffer (“Rocko’s Modern Life”)
Though the relatively short-lived Nickelodeon comedy sported a number of excellent talking animals — from the titular Rocko, an oft-worried wallaby, to the neurotic Filburt, a turtle eager to duck inside himself — the most outspoken member of the trio is also the one who made the most of every adventure. When the spotlight shown down on Heffer during the episode’s opening titles, we knew we were in for a treat. The out-of-left-field fact that Heffer was raised by wolves, including a particularly crabby grandpa, only accentuated his addictive and eternal glee. Whether he was taking to the high seas to do battle with underwater fisherman or crossing over to Heck to make fun of Peaches (the devil’s helper with a name Heffer couldn’t help but laugh at), this ever-hungry steer was hard to bring down, and, in doing so, he kept the show on the ups.
Max (“Goof Troop”)
With a dad as crazy as Goofy, it’s not so easy to see where Max Goof gets all his coolness from. Unlike his father, who vacuums while singing and wearing a towel turban, Max loves to skateboard and hang out with his friends. Their opposite personalities often clash in “Goof Troop,” and even though Max and Goofy don’t always see eye-to-eye on things, Max knows his dad is one-of-a-kind, and they still put family above everything else.
Poochie (“The Simpsons”)
Nobody in Springfield liked “party to the extreme” Poochie, the corporate mandated addition to “Itchy & Scratchy,” and was promptly killed off after his first episode. But that didn’t stop him from becoming the most beloved talking dogs to ever grace “The Simpsons.” Kitschy, disingenuous and totally radical, Poochie represented everything good and evil about the pop culture world that the show has thrived for almost thirty years. Long may you run, Poochie!
Waddles (“Gravity Falls”)
Okay, Mabel’s beloved pet pig only really spoke the once, but when he did he spoke with the voice of Neil deGrasse Tyson. Which is just incredible. In the episode “Little Gift Shop of Horrors,” Waddles ate some goo that made him hyperintelligent for a short time, part of which he spent building a communication device that would translate his pig squawks into the voice of America’s favorite astrophysicist. Waddles taught us a lot about friendship and science before reverting back to his cute pig state, and he also gave us the gift of Neil deGrasse Tyson saying “yummy yummy in my fat pig tummy.” Thank you, Waddles.
Kate Erbland, Bryn T Gelbart, Mike Lown, Riyad Mamedyarov, Liz Shannon Miller, Lauren Vanessa Townsend and Ben Travers contributed to this list.
READ MORE: Review: HBO’s ‘Animals.’ Is Weird, But Not Wild Enough