Here are the cartoon characters we’re not afraid to admit we fancy. And a few we are. Share your shame in the comments!
Gambit from X-Men: The Animated Series
I had me some strong feelings about Remy LeBeau when I was 13, thanks entirely to the X-Men animated series. I recently rewatched a few of the early episodes and my thought process went a bit like this: ‘I’m sure I’ll just laugh and be embarrassed about the fact that I used to have a crush on Gambit, and that will be that. And there he is. Wait. Wait. Why is this cartoon dude flirting with me. Why am I blushing. WHAT IS GOING ON WHAT IS THIS CRAZY THING I AM FEELING FOR A CARTOON MUTANT WHO SPEAKS IN THE THIRD PERSON.’
BUT SERIOUSLY what is with Gambit? I mean, on paper, there’s nothing to get excited about (just the opposite, really.) He’s got crazy late-80s hair (check it out – mullet-y on top, long-ass ponytail in the back), weird eyes (red irises, black ‘whites’), unspeakably misguided clothes (pink! Purple! Blue! Black! A trench coat to signify bad boy tendencies! Gloves that are missing fingers!), and his mutant powers are a hodge-podge of bizarro (that kinetic energy… thing? Where he makes stuff explode?). And there is the card-throwing. The bo-staff swinging. The totally perplexing accent. His insistence on speaking in the third person. His backstory! (Cajun thief from New Orleans!) His doomed love for a literally inaccessible woman. (Which seemed the height of romance when I was 13.) Did I mention the accent? My god, the accent.
I dunno, guys. I’m still kinda feeling it.
Trent from Daria
I didn’t know much when I was 9-years-old, but I did know that Trent Lane was my dream man. He had a tattoo. He had three ear piercings. He played lead guitar, vocals and clapping for Mystik Spiral. He was meant for me, and me alone. One day a man like him would save me from the misery of high school and serenade me with depressing guitar music. Of course, I was still in primary school back then, but I extrapolated.
Trent was just so cool. Even the fact that he slept all the time, could barely string a sentence together and was late for everything was kind of hot. He just didn’t care! I was well on the way to my first exam induced stress ulcer, but we were clearly the perfect couple.
Except, he was a cartoon.
And had a soul patch.
Rogue from X-Men: The Animated Series
Rogue from X-Men had it all: sexy voice, great costume, awesome hair, and she could fly. She was strong, she was vulnerable, and I was completely in her thrall in my very early childhood.
Robin Hood from Robin Hood
Yes, he’s a cartoon fox. Yes, he’s a fox wearing a kind of short green tunic/mini dress. Yes he’s in a film intended for children. But he was so foxy.
There’s just something about the casual redistribution of wealth, with a serving of swag, that pushes all the right buttons. And I’m not alone.
Gadget from Chip ‘n Dale’s Rescue Rangers
Warning: If you loved Gadget, the nerdy inventor mouse/token girl from Chip ‘n Dale’s Rescue Rangers, when you were a kid? Never, ever run a google image search for her, because what you see will murder your childhood in unimaginable ways. As it turns out, lots of people had – and continue to have – strong feelings for Gadget. Strong adult feelings, if you get what I’m saying. That they like to express visually, and then share online.
Gadget was less a crush and more an object of veneration for young me; I totally hero-worshiped at her nerdy, awkward (tiny) altar. She was cute and funny, and could make cool stuff, and everyone else on her show was a little in love with her. Also, she had amazing hair and, though she generally favoured practical overalls and a pair of goggles, could dress up when she needed to. Also she was basically a genius, which was awesome. Though I was always a little confused about whether she was hairless or just had really short, pale pink fur.
Spinelli from Recess
Spinelli from Recess had attitude. She was one absolute badass and should have been the ruler of that playground (leave now, King Bob).
Vegeta from Dragonball Z
So we all know that bad is kinda hot, right? Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Eric from True Blood, Loki from Avengers Assemble and Thor, etc., etc. – well, it’s true for cartoons too. I was in love with Vegeta from Dragonball Z from an early age – he had the hair, the muscles, the sass and he totally owns the whole anti-hero thing. Plus he can change the colour of his hair on demand, albeit only between black and blonde but still something I would LOVE to be able to do.
Yes, he is liable to turn on his allies just so he can have an opportunity to beat our do-gooder hero, but who wouldn’t want to slap the self-righteousness off Goku’s face!? But when push comes to shove Vegeta puts everything aside and ends up making the ultimate sacrifice to save the people he loves. Bit of a legend really.
Ash Ketchum from Pokémon
While doing a quick fact-check on Wikipedia it came to my attention that Ash was 10-years-old in the anime series. I would like to state for the record that I was about 7 when I watched Pokémon, and I no longer have feelings for Ash.
Okay, now that I’ve got that out of the way: isn’t a guy with a great collection of pets the best thing? The other day I was assisting someone on Tinder, and I can confirm that the guys with pictures of themselves and a cute pet had at least a 7% approval rating. Ash has Pikatchu. Ash has Bulbasaur. Plus, Ash had always dreamed of being ‘the very best’ and becoming a Pokémon Master, and I like a man with ambition.
Cheetara from ThunderCats
Cheetara is Thundercats’ female warrior, and her powers are based on the cheetah. She’s so fast that she can even out-strip Lion-O. Bad-ass STARTS with her. Super-fast, brave and cunning, she’s also beautiful, always dressed in the iconic orange leotard with cheetah-spots on her hair and shoulders. Cheetara was definitely the coolest cartoon hero my six-year-old self had EVER seen. Man, how I yearned to be her. I spent many lunchtimes out in the playground twirling my ‘baton’ (pictured here, it can shoot out energy beams and extend to any length) listening out for the sound of ‘Thundercats: HO!’