Ten Greatest Voice Animated TV characters ever (which an honorable mention)
Sometimes a cartoon concept is great, but the voice actor ruins it by not being exactly what the character requires. Sometimes, the characters suck, but the voice actor brings them alive. Sometimes, you've got both. Today, we're looking at the ten best voiced cartoon character, with an honorable mention. In order to qualify, the character must be part of the main cast and not a sub-character. Or, the actor must be able to pull off the character so well that the limited time the character is on screen just makes the show so much better. The other requirement is that the voice actor MUST be part of the main cast and not a guest star or a minor supporting character. . .so, sorry Marcia Wallace fans, Edna Krabappel will not appear on this list.
HONORABLE MENTION: Peter Cullen Optimus Prime (Transformers)
This character made the 1980s Transformers TV show, so much so that when he fell in battle against Megatron in the 1986 Movie, most children in the audience literally started crying and parents had to leave the theaters. Prime was the show. . .unstoppable, unbreakable, heroic. The bastion of all that is good in the world, Prime as perfect. And Peter Cullen's voice work (Deep voiced, powerful, forceful) made Prime that much more of an imposing figure.
10: Stephen Colbert Phil Ken Sebben (Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law)
Minor cartoon for those who watch adult swim, but one of the best of the Hanna-Barbera adaptations for Adult Swim, Harvey Birdman was a C cartoon superhero from the 1960s world of really crappy Hanna-Barbera cartoons. All generic, all overdone, all predictable and the voicing work was just amateur night. But, when Adult Swim took Birdman and put him through law school, the results were magical. Best of all was the boss. . .Phil Ken Sebben, the one eyed horndog lecherous sociopath that owned the firm. Colbert is a mega-talent in everything he does, but it is amazing how, with little effort, he made Sebben the scummiest thing on TV.
09: John DiMaggio Bender (Futurama)
What futuristic based show would be anything without a chain smoking, binge drinking, amoral, whore mongering robot? Bender WAS the show. Nothing that character said or did wasn't comic gold. And the best was John DiMaggio's part to bring it to life. You could hear the drunken, psychopathic hatred in his voice at all times. Bender cared about nothing and no one and the voice showed it. Bender was to Futurama what Sheldon Cooper is to Big Bang Theory.
08: Sherman Helmsley B.P. Richfield (Dinosaurs)
Not really animated, but let's put it into this category anyway, because it was just an amazing, if grossly underrated, show. Every worker's nightmare! A boss with a massive ego, immense power, a lust for more power and money and the moral bankruptcy to lord it over everyone without a hint of remorse for his words, actions, or the damage left in his wake. That is BP Richfield. When Mr. Burns was still being fleshed out as a character, Helmsley's over-the-top portrayal of this corporate madman was just perfection personified. We all knew he could do a scumbag after his long portrayal of George Jefferson, but Helmsley upped in a hundred notches with his voice work with Richfield. No one else could have done this more successfully.
07: Seth Macfarlane/Mike Henry Glenn Quagmire/Cleveland Brown (Family Guy)
These two need to be together because they are such polar opposites: The introverted, sensitive family man who looks for the good in everything, and the extroverted, heartless sex hound who looks to put his wood into everything, these two characters are the backbone of the supporting cast of Family Guy. Without Cleveland, the show lost its moral center. Without Quagmire, the show would lose its I will do anything attitude. Both are perfectly voiced by Macfarlane (Quagmire) and Henry (Brown) amazingly.
06: H. Jon Benjamin Sterling Archer (Archer)
While I am not personally a fan of this show, Benjamin is an amazing talent. He really does little to change his voice (most of his cartoon characters are his natural voice slightly pitched or altered. He is no Mel Blanc), but his voice has such a distinct quality to it that he can voice pretty much anything with absolute perfection. In Archer, he voice superspy Sterling Archer as if he is Sterling Archer. Viewers forget that Benjamin is a balding, spotty, paunchy man and actually get the idea that Archer is real. That is a voice actor doing their job perfectly.
05: Lorenzo Music Garfield (Garfield and Friends)
This might be controversial, but Music's Garfield was just PERFECT! Absolutely perfect. Aloof, bored, angry when needed, self-serving, selfish. . .Bill Murray came close to matching Music in the movies, but Lorenzo Music was Garfield! And it was his natural voice, which makes it even better. He didn't act. He did his natural speaking voice. When he died, voice acting lost something special. No one can replace Lorenzo Music.
04: Dana Snyder Master Shake (Aqua Teen Hunger Force)
This is either a show you really, really love, really, really hate, or watch when you are completely stoned. There is no middle ground. Very forward thinking for its day, and dark as possibly could be at times, ATHF was just a bunch of mindless non-sequitur mini-episodes that had a small thread of continuity running through it. It was tough, because two characters are just perfectly voice cast in this show, but Dave Willis's Carl Brutananadilewski is a supporting character that is one screen a short while in some episodes, while Dana Snyder's snarking, arrogant, and completely amoral a-hole Master Shake is there all the time. Master Shake is the glue of the show. Snyder makes that glue stick in each episode.
03: Trey Parker Eric Cartman (South Park)
You know the heavy hitters needed to show up on this list. Here is the first one. Trey Parker's voicing of Cartman before the episode Scott Tenorman Must Die was good, but not great, since they still didn't know what to do with Cartman. As soon as the got rid of his morals, ethics, and humanity, turning him into pretty much South Park's answer to Doonesbury's Uncle Duke, Cartman became what he is today. . .bullying, sociopathic, gaslighting, nihilistic; just the worst type of human to meet. And Parker voices that perfectly. Gone is the raspy, in was the manipulative. Gone was the borderline sociopath, in was the full blown psychopath. Without Parker's amazing voice work, Cartman would have died off as a character and we wouldn't have one of the greatest cartoons ever.
02: Entire main cast of Bob's Burgers
There isn't just one character or voice actor to choose. They are all perfectly matched. If one must give a nod, John Roberts's Linda, Dan Mintz's Tina, and Kristen Shaal's Louise will all figure for Bronze and Silver. But the gold has to go to H. Jon Benjamin's Bob Belcher. Only when one watches the show can you see the brilliance in Benjamin's voicing of this character. The same voice and speech patterns can really portray all emotions at any given time. Even two of the guest stars (Kevin Kline and Sam Seder) are just perfectly cast as well. There is nothing misfired at all in this show and they are #2, because. . .
01: Entire main cast of The Simpsons
No one will ever top the royalty of TV animated sitcoms, The Simpsons. No one. Ever! Ever! Ever! While the show has lost a lot of its stem over its amazing nearly thirty year run, one thing can't be overlooked. . .the voice cast is perfection all around. Each of the six main voice actors (Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer) are masters at their craft. Effortless and natural, they all seamlessly bounce from one character to another, each having one or two signature characters that just fit their voices perfectly, from Castellaneta's Homer, to Azaria's Moe; from Shearer's Ned Flanders to Cartwright's Bart and Ralphie, there isn't one actor that is miscast at all. This can be proven because each one has one at least one Primetime Emmy for their voice work. As well as guest stars like Glenn Close, Elisabeth Taylor (who utter Maggie Simpson's first word), Kelsay Grammer (as Sideshow Bob) or the late, great Phil Hartman (Hi, I'm Troy McClure. . .), the Simpsons will go down in history as the Greatest animated Sitcom ever. And to think, this wouldn't have happened if, in the 4th season, they didn't move the focus from Bart to Home, mellow out Bart and make Homer twice as stupid.