There are plenty, plenty of cute animated characters out there. That being said, I wanted to take some time to specifically mention the minor animated characters that I would simply die for. The ones that appear very briefly or only in occasional episodes, or even the ones that only appear one time and never again. So I made a list, and now I bring you: the cutest animated TV characters.
Please Note: I am only including minor animated characters. So if there’s a total precious cutie like Appa from Avatar: The Airbender, Wilt from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Mooncake from Final Space, or BMO from Adventure Time missing from this list, fear not! They just don’t qualify for this particular list as major characters. I still love them, I promise.
Please Also Note: For now, I’m covering the cutest animated TV show characters. No movies. That could be a separate list, so we’ll keep those off for now.
That means no Toothless, no Stitch, and no Baymax. (Yes, I know all of these eventually had TV shows, but it was still movie first, so they don’t count.)
Finally, anime minor characters are fair game here, even if they come from a manga, and even though I can probably make an entire separate list for them as well. I know this probably isn’t the most efficient ruleset.
Polly Fitzgerald: The Amazing World of Gumball
Polly Fitzgerald is the baby sister of Penny Fitzgerald—Gumball’s girlfriend and the only member of her family to emerge from her peanut-like shell. The Fitzgerald family are a species of shape-shifting fairies, but this comes as a bit of a surprise for viewers since we meet all of them while they’re in their shells and just assume they’re living peanut people. Considering there’s anthropomorphic pizzas, hot dogs, and even a donut cop, it hardly would have been unusual if they were.
While Penny feels free being out of her shell, her family is not so eager to emerge from theirs. This conflict leads to my favorite scene involving Polly, when Penny and her family are arguing over whether they should live that shell life or not, and the cutest little peanut in the world interrupts to tell her own story.
“Once upon a time, there was a little peanut who found a magical hat, which was also a puppy who could play the flute, the end.” —Polly Fitzgerald
She’s just so happy all the time, including when she’s making absolutely no sense, and I love it. She is entirely unperturbed by her family’s incessant arguing; just keeps smiling, pleased to be here.
A bit later, when the rest of the Fitzgerald family is threatening Gumball to get him to side with them in their argument, Polly appears as well…but only to proudly show Gumball her drawing of a “crocoduck.”
I want to give her a big hug any time I see her, which is unfortunately not very often. Her biggest appearance is when Gumball babysits her in “The Mess,” and there’s plenty of scenes in that episode that cement her as one of the cutest animated characters, too. For example, proudly showing Gumball the picture she drew of “Bigfoot” (as in, a “big foot”), and then immediately giving him a big hug. Adorable.
Silkie: Teen Titans
Hear me out.
I know he’s a jumbo-sized maggot, and the creation of the villain Killer Moth, intended to be part of a mutant moth army to take over Jump City. And I know that doesn’t exactly scream “cute character.” But just look at that face!
Silkie is smuggled into the Tower by Beast Boy after the team successfully takes down Killer Moth. Initially (and rightfully, let’s be honest) treated with some trepidation by the team, Silkie eventually becomes their beloved, albeit unusual, pet and mascot.
And why wouldn’t he? In the wise words of Beast Boy, “You gotta admit, he’s kinda cute. In a beady-eyed, maggoty sort of way.”
He makes occasional cameo appearances in every episode thereafter, and it’s great to see that he becomes an official member of the Titans rather than a one-off, non-canon appearance.
He’s the only maggot I would ever refer to as anything close to “cute.” But you have to admit…he is cute.
Bosco: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Beloved companion of Earth King Kuei, Bosco is a brown bear who sits at the king’s side and makes occasional appearances throughout the second season (Book 2: Earth), first appearing when the Gaang attends his birthday party (yes, his party. Not the king’s. Kuei loved him that much).
Bears seem to be particularly rare in the Avatar universe, as when the Gaang comes across a flyer promoting the party, Aang asks if he is a platypus bear, to which Katara replies, “…It just says ‘bear.'” The Gaang cycles through a couple of other bear/some-other-animal hybrids (skunk bear, armadillo bear, gopher bear) that he could possibly be, but nope. He is notably, “Just…bear.”
I know King Kuei wasn’t exactly the brightest leader, and Bosco’s very existence as the rare, well-dressed pet of a royal exemplifies the gross and downright bizarre excesses of the wealthy, but I must admit: just seeing him delightedly watching Aang’s party trick is enough to make you fall in love.
There’s one thing I’d like to address before moving on.
Okay, so I never watched all of Legend of Korra. Not because I didn’t think it’ll be great, but because I have attachment issues and I do not want to watch a show in which the Gaang is dead.
Yet somehow, despite not watching, I managed to become privy to a little detail about what happens to Bosco. And I do. Not. Like it.
Apparently, the daughter of and successor to the late King Kuei, Earth Queen Hou-Ting, wants all of the kingdom to know of her predilection for rare meats.
…Do you see where this is going?
Yep. She had Bosco slaughtered, and ate him.
One of the cutest characters in the show, and you ate him? Your father’s beloved companion, and you ate him, right after your dad croaked?
Look man, say what you want about Zaheer, but there’s no doubt that there’s at least one thing we can thank him for.
Justice for Bosco, you monster.
The Banana Guards: Adventure Time
These goofy little nanas are so fucking stupid and weird, and silly, I can’t help but find them endearing every time I see them. Seriously, they are completely “no thoughts, head empty” all the time, and it makes for some of the best scenes in the show.
Their design is also really cute: these banana soldiers with little button eyes, popsicle sticks for legs, and chocolate for hats. Honestly, a lot of Candy People could appear on this list because they’re all really cute and silly, and I’m pretty sure they all share a singular brain cell, but the Banana Guards make me smile whenever they show up.
Don’t even get me started on them singing The Shirelles’ “Mama Said” and doing a little dance to calm down after one of them shoves the king down the stairs. Simply perfection.
Ao: Yona of the Dawn
I love Akatsuki no Yona. One of my favorite manga I’ve ever read, and it’s a travesty that the anime only got one season. If you love a good found family, cool dragon powers, and a spoiled princess who grows into a strong, confident, and all-around badass leader in her own right, I highly recommend you check this series out.
It’s also this anime in particular that boasts one of the cutest animated characters in Ao, a loyal little squirrel with rosy cheeks that we meet along with her owner, the Blue Dragon, Shin-Ha. Throughout the series, after we meet Shin-Ha and Ao, you can see Ao appear pretty often from panel to panel, jumping from one character to another. She becomes almost like a cute little Easter egg, popping up on one character’s shoulder and then hopping on another’s head, and it’s easy to miss her if you’re not paying close attention.
Personal favorite has to be when Hak is sleeping with her on his shoulder, and when Yona scares the ever-loving shit out of him, we get this great visual. Look at that pose, she’s a star!
And before I move on, here’s a bonus clip of Ao and Shin-Ha drunk as hell. For posterity.
Lion: Steven Universe
This might be pushing it a little bit, because Lion isn’t exactly a minor character. But he often does his own thing throughout the show, and he’s not in every episode, so that’s gotta count for something, right?
Lion is, well, a lion. After being found dead by Rose Quartz and restored to life by her healing powers, his fur changes to a pink hue, and he is granted magical powers of his own, most notably the ability to generate portals with his roar.
Despite his powers and the unique circumstances by which he acquired them, Lion is still very much a cat, mostly doing cute cat things when he’s not saving the Crystal Gems with his concussive roar and/or magic portals. By “cat things,” I mean that he sleeps and ignores everyone when there’s no immediate danger. But when you need him, he’s always there. So…a cat.
He’s a cat. I love him so much.
Ike: South Park
Hear me out.
South Park is not exactly the “cutest,” most “cuddly” show out there. And as far as cute cartoon characters go, most people probably wouldn’t think of a character from any adult show—South Park least of all, let’s be real.
Also, full disclosure: I don’t watch South Park very often, and I can’t exactly say that I’m an expert on every episode and character arc. But I do know that any episode where Ike says literally anything is the best episode. I don’t make the rules; I just make the rules.
If you don’t watch South Park, you might not be privy to the fact that Canadians in the show look notably different than other characters, with “oval shaped flappy Pac-Man-like heads with black beady eyes.” Ike, being adopted by the Broflovskiv family from Canada, looks like this and it’s. So. Damn. Cute. Every time he speaks, it’s adorable, particularly when he’s tossing out curse words that he learned from his brother Kyle, or being weirdly helpful and adult-like despite canonically being a four-year-old.
And get this: Ike is voiced by co-creator Trey Parker’s daughter, Betty Parker. So imagine the cutest voice ever voicing this tiny child with little button eyes and a weirdly endearing floppy Pac-Man face.
Kofoku is the Goddess of Poverty and friend of our lovable godly protagonist, Yato. We first meet her when Yato introduces her to the other main characters as his “girlfriend.” You know, like a liar.
She doesn’t skip a beat, joining right in on his little prank. It’s a great way to set up the fact that Kofoku is an absolute delight who often helps out with Yato’s shenanigans in his quest to become a major god of fortune. And she’s just so sweet, immediately taking to Yato’s new shinki, Yukine, and his new friend (ha, “friend”), Hiyori. She doesn’t hesitate at all to help them, giving Yato money when he needs it (because he’s perpetually broke), and even providing the group safe shelter—which seems somewhat ironic considering her moniker.
Her relationship with her shinki (a spiritual servant that can transform into their god’s weapon) Daikoku is also the cutest thing ever, with Daikoku often having to reign in his mischievous master, and the two of them behaving more like a cute married couple than anything else. If you love the “ball of chaos meets stern and responsible,” or the “uptight loves wild” tropes, that’s basically what we’re dealing with here.
And yet, despite sometimes coming across as a little ditzy and, dare I say, a bit irresponsible, Kofoku is also fiercely loyal to those she loves, and downright scary when she wants to be. One of the best scenes in the show is her standing up to the first season’s antagonist, the powerful Goddess of War Bishamonten, in defense of Yato. Godly friend goals, man.
Ceviché, like the titular Chowder, is a chef’s apprentice and the best friend of Panini—Chowder’s rival and lovestruck stalker. Joining the rest of the Chowder cast in being named after a meal, Ceviché is named after the Peruvian dish of raw fish cooked in lime juice and typically seasoned with tomatoes, cilantro, and salt.
We don’t see him a whole lot, but when we do, he’s usually busy being the most wholesome character: escorting old ladies home, delivering canned goods to shelters, and choosing the power of dance over a weapon because, “It has the power to make your heart move.”
His biggest appearance was in the episode, “The Dice Cycle,” when Chowder accidentally destroys his master Mung’s Dice Cycle and blames it on poor Ceviché out of fear of getting in trouble.
Hearing this poor, sweet child protest, “I didn’t do anything!” through his tears makes me so sad every time. Just leave him alone, man, he’s not bothering anyone!
Even when the two apprentices are thrown into an arena as retribution for “Ceviché’s” crime, Ceviché still proclaims his innocence, but yields anyway, noble to the very last.
“But if you don’t believe me, well then, finish it. Spoon me. Make it fast.” (I swear the “spoon me” part makes more sense in context.)
I wish we could have seen a bit more of Ceviché—hopefully next time without the poor thing being accused of destroying a bicycle with dice for wheels.
Justice for Ceviché.
DJ: Total Drama Island
Another possibly unfair pick, because DJ isn’t technically a minor character. I mean, all of the contestants are main characters.
But I remember being a little salty when I first watched the show because, while I loved it, DJ was my favorite character and I felt like he wasn’t really as much of a focus as characters like Duncan, Gwen, Heather, and Courtney. Mostly because he was (for the most part) so unproblematic and wholesome and precious that there just wasn’t a ton of conflict that involved him directly.
Lover of animals, his mom, and dance, DJ is definitely one of the nicer characters who gets along with most of the rest of the cast (even the villains!). His sweet and quiet nature unfortunately makes winning some of the more brutal challenges of the show difficult, however, which is particularly upsetting after he and his mom end up homeless after they are sued and their cooking show is shut down.
I didn’t watch much of the later seasons, but apparently they really did a number on his character. When he’s not accidentally injuring the animals he loves and wants to befriend, he’s getting mauled by them, bullied by Chef, or otherwise traumatized by the horrifying Camp Wawanakwa.
He doesn’t even appear on the new show, Total DramaRama, which features the contestants as little kids. Just a single quick, non-speaking cameo for this wholesome sweetheart of a character.
Justice for DJ, the best TDI character, and one of the cutest cartoon characters, period.