Top 10 Common Cartoon Cliches

The Top Ten Common Cartoon Cliches

1 The Good Guy Never Gets Hurt

I hate this so much! It also sends an untrue message that if you are a good person, nothing bad will happen to you.

Ahh, I hate this cliche. - WoolenArale

One word: Pokemon - FluffyBanana

However, there are a few exceptions, like Steven Universe, where many of the good characters were poofed and destroyed/shattered.

2 Characters Impersonating Other Actors or Characters

This has Johny Bravo written all over it! Laugh out loud - NerdyPweeps

3 Satire & Cultural References

They're actually pretty funny.

South Park, The Simpsons, American Dad, Family Guy, Etc.

AKA The cheapest way to write jokes.

Baby Blues: Mirage Las Vegas and Steve Wynn reference in 1 episode
Hercules: the Animated Series: Hermes says “Cloud 33” in the episode “Return of Typhon” (reference to Disneyland’s Cloud 33)

4 The Damsel in Distress

OK, this just screams sexism in SO many ways. This isn't actually a cliché, this is now a stereotype. Come on, girls have brains and it's even IMPOSSIBLE for a woman to let someone snatch her and stuff her in a cage in the real world. Reality talk, please!

Girls are the best and boys don’t need to come into it all! How about for once girls are NOT in jail and are NOT the ones in trouble for no reason

I want to hit my head against the wall every time I see a really weak character who needs saving. Like- come ON! If you want to put a girl character in danger, at least don't make her stupid enough to get into it! Make her put up a fight or something- realistically, people don't just let you grab them and throw them into cages. Or don't do it at all! Here's an idea- what if she gets captured and then escapes *without* the hero's help?

This literally tells kids that women are weak. Almost every show has a damsel in distress in it that the main character (of course, a guy) has to constantly save. I mean, come on. Give the woman powers and the guy a break already.

5 Villains with Dumb Henchmen

This cliché has been existing for too many damn YEARS. I mean, the villain could at least have the knowledge of hiring smart and serious henchmen. And I noticed that this has been used for "comedic purposes". Definitely NOT comedy for me!

Argh! Why not get a real smart henchmen dudes!?! It’s real annoying seeing that the smart villain has a stupid guy following him EVERYWHERE

It doesn't even make sense to hire incompetents!

All fat and dumb imbeciles talking in slow motion. Why are they normally bald?

6 Bad Guys Always Lose

Um, this isn't really a cliche. It's just kind of how stories work. The interesting part of the movie is finding out WHY the good guys win, how it happens, and if they loose anyone in the process.

Seriously, sometimes movies let the bad guy win but this is to much these bad guys have thing that are 10 times better then them. But then boom the good guys win, how does this even work? Seriously I hate this.

I know that the good guy is SUPPOSED to win, however sometimes the bad guy will lose so much that he will be a complete failure. (Hint Doofinshmirtz and Perry)

I mean the bad guys need to to have glory at least SOMETIMES.

It's weird how "The Fairly Oddparents" can demonstrate this cliche so easily. That...and all the others listed.

7 Cat and Mouse Chases

I grew up with this one since I was a formerly known Tom & Jerry super fan when I was a kid. And let me say this: everybody probably grew up with this.

Example: Tom and Jerry, Wile E Coyote and The Road Runner. - egnomac

8 Traps and Weapons Backfiring on the Bad Guys

Poor Team Rocket...

This. Happen. So. Many. TIMES! I hate this, what WOULD be cool to see is the traps and weapons ACTUALLY WORK!

9 Characters Wearing the Same Clothes Everyday

I am aware this saves time for the animators. Instead of having to come up with a lot of character sheets references wearing all the different clothes they just need one(or a lot fewer) but it would be nice to see what different characters' style of clothing would be! That's also a way to learn to know a character. Like in Sailor Moon, the characters wear different clothes, and damn do I love me some good Sailor Moon fashion.

It was funny when the characters in The Amazing World of Gumball made fun of this cliche in their own show

Agreed, one of the worst! Seriously, doesn't it stink? And I'm bored seeing this! Example: Mickey Mouse, from 19's to this day. His shorts must stink by now.

I feel like the character designer should at least have them wear 4 or 5 differenent clothes.

10 Parents Never Around

Has anyone ever seen Ed, Edd'n Eddy Parents or even Beavis and Butt-heads parents for that matter. - egnomac

And even when they're around they never seem to keep an eye on their kids.

The backyardigans but we never see their parents. - Ilovestephanie

Charlie Brown

The Contenders

11 The Dumbass Dad and the Mom Too Good for Him

That should be number 1! because it s very sexist - Iamcool

Marge and Homer, Peter and Lois, Timmy's Mom and Dad, Richard and Nicole Watterson. It just gets old. - PatrickStar3

Lois is a terrible wife and Timmy's mom is just as dumb as his dad. - RobertWisdom

Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Hugh Neutron, Goofy, Billy's Dad from Billy & Mandy, the list goes on!

Bob and Linda aren't perfect, but they're there for each other. I like that.

12 Innocent Characters Who Immediately Become Targets for Abuse

Yeah. Mickey Mouse in the 2013 series, for example, doesn't deserve any of the abuse he goes through

Hate this one! Stop with this, it's just sad.

Only two little words:Modern and Spongebob

This has Timmy Turner all over it - 23windomt

13 Characters Walling Off the Edge and Not Falling Down Immediately

This isn't a bad cliche to be honest. it's just for the humour - Ohno

They fall.
They hang there in mid-air.
They fall.
They scream.
Nothing bad happens to them or they go to the hospital for 2 minutes.
New episode. - Miauzer

14 Greedy Characters

The only greedy person that I know is Angelica pickles from rugrats because she can be really annoying

Greedy characters: Scrooge Mcduck, Mr. Krabs, Mr. Burns, Montana Max & Cat from Catdog. - egnomac

Scrooge isn't that greedy; at least not in the reboot. I never watched the original so I don't know. - 23windomt

15 Angry Mobs

You see these all the time in cartoons, with regular civilians carrying torches and pitchforks against the main character

Of course! They always try to kill someone over the littlest things!

16 Main Character always has a crush on Latin-American Character

The Loud House. Lincoln and Ronnie Anne (or whatever her name is), Lori and Bobby. Period.


In Star vs. The Forces of Evil, it is confirmed the protagonist has a crush on her bestfriend, which is a Latin-American.

What the heck kinda cartoons are you guys watching? LMAO - RobertWisdom

17 Villains Boasting About How Evil They Are

Realistically, no one would boast about how evil they are unless they are a sadist. Usually, if someone is going against you, they would have reasons. Those reasons do not include taking over, or destroying the world. These reasons are usually the villain doing what they think is the right thing to do, and defending what they need to defend. So, a villain wouldn't boast about how evil he is because he's doing what he believes is right. Unless he's a sadist.

18 Good Guys vs. Bad Guys

Yeah, characters need to be round, not flat with one stereotypical trait.

There is nothing which grinds my gears more than a good guys vs. bad guys plot. Such plots are black and white, portraying the main characters like they are perfect and their enemies like they are completely evil. Despite what many people want to think, real life is nothing like this! People in real life start wars because they want to protect their own interests, not because they feel like they have a moral obligation to get rid of the "bad guys". Although real-life people we label as "bad guys" tend to be terribly mislead or brainwashed, it is still extremely naïve to say that they are purely evil. Also, it is possible to make an action genre without a good guys vs. bad guys plot. This can be done by depicting both sides of a conflict neutrally.

I agree so much with the one below! Like in Pokémon I liked Team Rocket more than Ash and his friends because Team Rocket had more personality, they dared be rude, silly and they never gave up even though they kept failing. It was more motivational than Ash's journey of becoming a Pokémon master It felt sad when most of all sad, awkward and dumb things happened to Team Rocket just because they are supposed to be the bad guys. We need a grey cartoon(this sounds more boring than what it is)!

19 Teenage Girls Who Secretly Fight Crime

Examples include Kim Possible, Totally Spies, Atomic Betty, etc.

Starfire can fight crime! - DynastiSugarPop

Heck its not even just Girls,how many Cartoons have you seen about a Kid/Teenager that was Born with Superpowers/Achieved Superpowers that is Fighting Crime and a Silly Villain that has a Moronic Sidekick which is the reason why his Plans Backfire at him
this Cliche started around the Late 90s with the Powerpuff Girls and started Rocketing in the 2000s with Cartoons such as Kim Possible,Teen Titans,MLAAR,Totally Spies,Ben 10,Danny Phantom,American Dragon and Others
this Cliche isn't bad its actually good and enjoyable - MarsBlast

20 Talking Dogs

Johnny Test, Snoopy, Paw Patrol, 101 Dalmatians, Jake from Adventure Time, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Toy Story (with reason), Ren from The Ren & Stimpy Show is a chihuahua, The Fairly Odd Parents recently got a dog, Pound Puppies.

Adventure Time, Scooby Doo, The Fairly OddParents, Tom and Jerry, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Family Guy. - PatrickStar3

21 Getting Hit by an Anvil and Not Dying
22 Characters With Faces Never Shown

Rita and Lynn Sr from the loud house have their faces shown idiot

Mammy Two Shoes, Rita and Lynn sr Loud. - PatrickStar3

Sorry, I meant Dr. Claw.

Mrs. Sara Bellum from PPG. - starryrcad

23 Villains with an "Evil Laugh"

Just imagine a villain with a really cute laugh

Some laughs are good but sometimes, it needs to stop. - WoolenArale

Evil laughing is amazing when it's done right. - Miauzer

24 Character has only four fingers

The Backyardigans minus Pablo. He has mitten like flippers. - Ilovestephanie

Steven Universe doesn't

The Loud House is a perfect example! - DynastiSugarPop

I know it makes it easier to animate but it's very ugly :(

25 There's Always A Christmas Special!

This isn’t a cartoon trope. Many live-action shows have Christmas specials too. - ParanormalFantasy

What's wrong with Christmas Specials - 23windomt


26 That Dumb Character

To be honest I love Cosmo and Patrick Star as they were before. SpongeBob was good until season 4 came. Pranks a lot was the last awesome episode of SpongeBob. Rip

Examples: Cosmo, Patrick Star, Stimpy etc.

Patrick, Cosmo, Timmy's Dad, Homer, Bart, Ed, etc. - PatrickStar3

Pablo from the Backyardigans. - Ilovestephanie

27 The Bullies are Cheerleaders

This is so annoying. Cheerleaders can be nice too :c

Bonnie Rockweller is this. - DynastiSugarPop

28 One Dimensional Villains
29 Boy Characters Disguises as Ladies

Lincoln Loud in "A Novel Idea" and "Cover Girls". - DynastiSugarPop

Patrick from Spongebob SquarePants in the episode That’s No Lady and SpongeBob in the episode The Slumber Party

30 Always a Dumb Blonde

Oh boy this has Lindsay written all over it
Lindsay: Is Tyler writing this
Lindsay cries and runs away

It got old long ago.

Liv and Maddie - Miauzer

Leni, Lindsay, Dee Dee. - PatrickStar3

31 Character becomes a werewolf when the moon shows
32 Get Rich Quick Schemes

Ed Edd n Eddy

33 Characters Trying to Blow Out a Bomb and It Explodes

Yea this happy but you got to admit the expressions the character makes when this happens is usually hilarious.

34 Mad Scientists

There's Dr. Two-Brains from the Wordgirl show on PBS Kids.

Jimmy Neutron, Dexter, Lisa Loud, etc. - 23windomt

Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory is a scientist, not sure about a 'mad' one however. Mad scientists aren't as common in cartoons than in real-life shows or movies.

35 Overuse of Surrealism
36 Celebrities Popping Out of Nowhere
37 Too Many Confusing Puns

Luan Loud is this trope! - DynastiSugarPop

38 Plot Solved in the End of the Episode
39 Character Gets Rolled Into a Giant Snow Ball

I always saw those scenes all the time in Snow Episodes, I hope that's got to be A Cartoon Cliche

Listed twice. - DynastiSugarPop

Seen this so many times and it never gets old

ICONIC - 23windomt

40 Characters swap bodies

Freaky Friday - 23windomt

Seriously! Swapping bodies isn’t always good! It’s frustrating to watch characters whine if they recently swapped bodies. Also, why should it even be a plot?! It should’ve stayed on fan art!

41 Falling off Waterfalls

There’s always one danger being faced until the characters get caught in a river, and once the going gets good, there’s a giant waterfall with a calm pool at the bottom.

42 The Fat Boy

The fat boy who is always talking about food

Examples- Patrick star, Theodore from Alvin and the Chipmunks, etc

Owen from TD

43 Wild Takes
44 The Smart Character and the Goofy Sidekick

Gravity Falls. - PatrickStar3

45 Pink Cake
46 Character Gets Resurrected After He/She Died in the Next Episode

*cough* Happy Tree Friends. *cough* - DynastiSugarPop

Like that Teen Titans Go! Episode Ghost Boy - 23windomt

This is just like a book about Brer Rabbit I read. - Miauzer

47 Tongue Stuck on an Ice Pole

Total Drama World Tour's the only one I can think of. - PatrickStar3

48 Confusing Romantic Subplot
49 Bad Guy Finds Love Interest, But Love Interest Hates Bad Guy
50 Characters catching colds
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