Top 10 Cartoon Heroes With a Philosophical Message

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Philosophy is "the study of ideas about knowledge, truth, the nature and meaning of life". On the other hand, the same source defines a cartoon as "a series of drawings that tell a story". Thus, there is no wonder why we tend to give philosophy some sort of solemnity while we consider cartoons frivolous and associate it with children entertainment and shallowness.

However, we miss to understand that the very foundation of philosophy is based on simplicity and innocence and Friedrich Nietzsche pointed it out best in his famous statement - "a man's maturity: that is to have rediscovered the seriousness he possessed as a child at play".

Let’s see below a list of 10 cartoon heroes who carry a great philosophical message.

The Top Ten

1 Son Goku – Dragon Ball series (1986 – 1997)

True he actually is basically pure of heart great cartoon role model for children who really have no one but a box if comics or manga she is an awesome loved character and he seems to love everyone even though he has to kill bad guys awesomeness

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2 Homer Simpson – The Simpsons (1989 – present) Homer Simpson – The Simpsons (1989 – present) Homer Jay Simpson is the protagonist of the American animated television series The Simpsons as the patriarch of the eponymous family.

"The Simpson and Philosophy, The D’oh of Homer “ is in fact a famous book so our hero’s philosophical side is well known. And, as we all know, he always has something hilarious to say and all his sayings reveal a deep level of insight. But we will not talk here about his lines but his generic message.

Homer is the embodiment of mediocrity. He is a middle class, plainly stupid, fat man with loads of problems in his family life. Sound like a recipe for disaster or, at least a very miserable life. But it is not…despite his short bursts of anger, Homer is always happy at the end of the day. No matter how many problems he created, he does not mind kicking back with a cold beer.

So you don’t need to have everything to be happy. Happiness does not come from the outside but from within. And if you picture your life as a happy one, it will be because, after all, as Immanuel Kant said “happiness is not an ideal of reason, but of imagination”.

3 Wolverine – X men (1992 – 1997)

Suffering, distress, pain, agony - all defining Wolverine; a lifetime of suffering. But is that really as bad as it sounds?

Friedrich Nietzsche wished to all those who were of any concern to him “suffering, desolation, sickness, ill treatment, indignities, profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, and the wretchedness of the vanquished” and he did so not because of envy or hate but because of love and compassion. Sounds weird, we know, but how else can one grow if not by being exposed to constant stress? Muscle grow only if we stress them out and it’s no different for our character (it just takes a different type of stress).

Although he is hit, injured, crushed or heart broken, Wolverine emerges victorious after each experience, victorious and stronger than before.

We might never fight mutants, save the world or fall in love with a beautiful mind controller psychic mutant but we should learn from Wolverine. We should never get despaired of life, ...more

4 Popeye – Popeye the Sailor (1960 - present)
5 Capt. John Smith – Pocahontas (1995)
6 Ariel – The little mermaid (1989)

Even though most of our heroes originate in a classic tale, Andersen’s little mermaid is probably the one that captured people’s imagination to the deepest level. Thus, there is no wonder why the little mermaid (or Ariel - name given by Disney) was honored with a statue that soon became the symbol of Copenhagen. But what is her most important message to us? Let’s briefly remember the cartoon storyline (a bit different from the original tale).

A little mermaid, princess in the underwater kingdom, saves a young prince from drowning then falls in love with him and, in order to be with him, she trades her soul, status, wealth, and even voice for a pair of legs. In the end, she gets married to him and they live happily ever after…ah, and the most important is that all she traded is returned to her. A beautiful story of sacrifice and love.

Ariel is obviously teaching us about the power of love and the meaningless of a life without it. But more important, she is showing ...more

7 Snow White – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Let’s move to another famous story revolving around physical looks.

Snow white is actually a classic fairy tale by the Grimm brothers, transposed on the screen by Disney and guessing we all know the famous storyline, let’s move to the message.

As beautiful as the Evil Queen is (or fair, to be exact), she is no match for Snow White. But why is that, one may ask…they are both extremely beautiful and arguably, based solely on physical characteristics, the Evil Queen might be even more attractive. Just that she was wicked and hated everyone and everything.

Meanwhile, Snow White was innocent and loving she loved all the animals in the forest, the dwarfs (even Grumpy) and the forest itself. She had only love to give and asked nothing in return. And that made her beautiful. As Saint Augustine said “Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul”.

The message? As cliché as it may sound, it never gets obsolete: be kind ...more

8 Shrek – Shrek (2001) Shrek – Shrek (2001) Shrek is a character debuting in the 2001 animated movie of the same name. The popular franchise has 4 films and the character himself has become recognizable to people of all ages. He has since spawned into what is most likely the most widely recognized internet meme to ever come into the world.

"A foreigner who knew about faces once passed through Athens and told Socrates to his face that he was a monster " that he harbored in himself all the bad vices and appetites. And Socrates merely answered: “You know me, sir! ” - Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Gods.

Unlike Socrates, who was incredibly ugly, Shrek is actually a real monster but like Socrates, he is not bothered at all by it. He is actually confident and proud of himself and that makes him beautiful. That makes Princess Fiona fall in love with him and makes him one of the most likable cartoon heroes of all times.

Self-confidence is a powerful tool and mastering it will open the gates to a happy life, that’s what Shrek is really teaching us.

9 Pinocchio – Pinocchio (1940)
10 Rocko - Rocko's Modern Life (1993-1996) Rocko - Rocko's Modern Life (1993-1996) Rocko is the eponymous fictional character of the cartoon Rocko's Modern Life and the comic book series of the same name.

Philosophical message according to both the show's intro and the show itself: "Life sucks." - xandermartin98

The Contenders

11 Bloom - Winx Club (2003)
12 Beast – Beauty and the Beast (1991)
13 Aang - Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005) Aang - Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005) Avatar Aang is a fictional character and the protagonist of Nickelodeon's animated television series Avatar: The Last Airbender, voiced by Zach Tyler Eisen. Aang is the last surviving Airbender, a monk of the Air Nomads' Southern Air Temple.
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