I, like so many of my friends and family members, grew up on Disney movies. Disney paved the way for our childhood, letting us know it was okay to dream and dream big, giving us unrealistic expectations for men as well as love and showing us that some of our best friends come with four legs instead of two. Disney has created over 36,000 characters to date, and these are just 20 of what I believe are the best animated ones.
20. Thomas from "Pocahontas"
While he may have a small role compared to his friend, Captain John Smith, Thomas is definitely one of my favorite characters. I must admit, he was probably one of my biggest animated crushes from my childhood. Thomas is insanely good-looking. However, the main reasons he's one of my favorite animated Disney characters are because he's loyal and knows the boundaries between what is good and what is wrong. While it's true that Thomas is the one who shot Kocoum, he only did so because he believed his friend was in danger. Thomas stood by John Smith's side throughout all of the debacle between Ratcliffe and Chief Powhatan, even when things for John Smith seemed dire. Smith took the fall for Thomas' actions, also proving Smith's loyalty to his friend. In the end, Thomas joins the rebellion against Governor Ratcliffe because Ratcliffe tries to kill Powhatan despite Powhatan sparing Smith's life. Thomas is the one to help open the eyes of the settlers to how wrong Ratcliffe's judgment is.
19. Lumiere from "Beauty and the Beast"
Lumiere is one of my favorite characters from "Beauty and the Beast" aside from the main characters themselves. Lumiere is obviously there for comic relief, but he's actually one of the first characters in the Beast's castle to treat Belle as a guest instead of the prisoner that the Beast wanted her to be. Lumiere is funny, witty and truly a great friend to Belle.
18. Meeko from "Pocahontas"
Meeko is the comic relief of the entire film. He never says a word (because he's a raccoon), but his actions show that, even though he's sometimes portrayed as being cowardly when conflict arises, he's still extremely loyal to Pocahontas. Together with Flit, Meeko is one of the best four-legged, non-speaking characters that Disney has created over the years. And he really loves Percy's dog biscuits for some odd reason.
17. Jack Skellington from "The Nightmare Before Christmas"
A Tim Burton film put out by Disney in 1993, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is one of my favorite movies of all time. (Do you watch it at Christmas or Halloween? The answer is both.) Jack is a tortured soul (it's funny because he's a skeleton) who just wants to experience something other than the same thing he does every single year. He ventures off to discover different things, and ends up destroying and then saving Christmas along with the help of some fellow creepy characters.
16. Panic from "Hercules"
This little blue guy is basically the embodiment of his name: He panics about everything. Pain and Panic are Hades' minions, and they follow his orders to a T...usually. My favorite line of Panic's has always been, "If. If is good." He only says it twice throughout the entire movie. He's such a comical character that I can't help but love the little guy.
15. Vanellope von Schweetz from "Wreck-It Ralph"
Even though I truly believe that "Wreck-It Ralph" was not as good of a movie as it could have been, I can't help but admit that Disney got one thing right with this movie: The comical little glitch known as Vanellope von Schweetz. She's such a goofball, and I love her so much. She only wants to fit in with everyone, but they keep leaving her out because she's a "glitch" in the system of the game, and they don't want her glitch to spread. In the end, it turns out that Vanellope is actually a princess. Who knew?
14. Flit from "Pocahontas"
A hummingbird, Flit, is basically Pocahontas' guardian. He follows her everywhere and tries to keep her from doing dumb things. Flit is sort of like her conscious in a sense, her own personal Jiminy Cricket. He also can't stand Meeko sometimes. It's sort of like Flit is the older sibling and Meeko is that younger one that gets all the attention.
13. Esmeralda from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"
Esmeralda is a kickass gypsy, and she's easily one of the greatest Disney characters of all time. I hate that her and Quasimodo didn't end up together in the end, because it would have broken the cliche that only pretty people end up with other pretty people. Always seen with her faithful sidekick, a goat named Djali, Esmeralda has to keep herself away from Frollo and ends up being rescued by Quasi, and also has to care for an injured Phoebus. Esmeralda is the free spirit we all wished we could be, yet she still has the sense to protect her family and friends from danger.
12. Grandmother Willow from "Pocahontas"
What can I say? It's a face on a tree that gets to talk and say some of the wittiest lines of the entire movie. Seriously. Whoever doesn't get the reference when you say, "What if the sky turns to fire and your nose falls off" should definitely watch the movie again and again until that line is ingrained in his mind because that is one of the wittiest lines in the entire movie. My favorite line is "listen with your heart, you will understand." It's basically saying to follow your heart which is what I've been trying to do for the longest time. Too bad the heart is such a fickle thing.
11. Megara from "Hercules"
Meg is such a great character. At first, she's working for Hades, and she's all about trying to find out Hercules' weaknesses. Then she's in love with Hercules and ends up sacrificing herself to save him. While it's so far from the traditional Greek story of Megara and Hercules, it's still so great to see her acting like the damsel in distress while also simultaneously being able to save herself if need be.
10. Kuzco from "The Emperor's New Groove"
Kuzco as a llama is priceless. I love saying his line, "You threw off my groove," every time someone interrupts me listening to my music. He's so funny as a human, but even funnier as a llama, and being turned into a llama actually makes Kuzco become a better person. Even more than the character himself, I love that David Spade is the voice actor for Kuzco. David Spade always has a direct line to my funny bone.
9. Stitch from "Lilo and Stitch"
Stitch is awesome. An alien from outer space, Experiment 626 dubbed "Stitch" is adopted as a pet dog for Lilo from an animal shelter after he survives being squashed by a giant truck. He keeps trying to evade the aliens who come to Earth after him, while simultaneously protecting Lilo and trying to quash the destructive side of himself. In the end, Stitch ends up saving Lilo from the Intergalactic police, and he gets to stay with Lilo and his small family that he found all on his own.
8. Dory from "Finding Nemo"
Another person who has a direct line to my funny bone: Ellen DeGeneres. And Ellen DeGeneres is the voice actor for Dory. Amnesic fish, she befriends Marlin and helps look for his son who was taken by humans to Sydney, Australia. She searches the entire ocean with Marlin, and, when he's ready to give up, she keeps him going. She doesn't want him to leave her because she's worried that she'll forget him after having gone so long starting to care for him. Dory's famous line "just keep swimming" is a lesson to us all: No matter how hard things may seem, just keep going. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel.
7. Mushu from "Mulan"
Okay. This makes number three of actors that have a direct line to my funny bone. Eddie Murphy is amazing, and the fact that he's the voice actor for Mushu is just perfect. I couldn't have picked a better actor for Mushu myself. While Mushu originally lies to Mulan and goes for the longest time trying to get her to either return home before she's found out by the army or to stay with the army and gain her honor for her family, Mushu repents from all of that by telling Mulan the truth and continuing to guide her in her quest to gain her family's honor. In the end, he is allowed to be a family guardian again. Still looking for a live action version of this one, with Eddie Murphy in a dragon costume, no less.
6. Hades from "Hercules"
Hades is incredibly sassy, and that's why I love this character. Even though he's the bad guy of the film, he's hard to hate. All he wants is to be accepted back on Olympus. Of course, attempting to kill Zeus' kid isn't exactly the way to do it, Hades. Oh, and neither is releasing the Titans from Tartarus. Don't you remember? They tried to kill you too, once upon a time.
5. Olaf from "Frozen"
Olaf is one of my favorite newer Disney characters. All of his lines are completely unscripted, and he's funny without really trying to be. Olaf is such an innocent character, and when Kristoff says something to Anna about telling Olaf what happens when snow gets warm, she immediately shushes him, as do the viewers. Olaf is like an innocent little kid that you hope never loses that innocence.
4. Flynn Rider from "Tangled"
Flynn is another of my favorite newer Disney characters. I'm glad that Disney came up with this particular version of the old fairy tale because I love Flynn Rider. He starts out as this guy who wants nothing more than to be rich because he's never had a thing in his life. He had no family and no money and wanted nothing more than to be rich and have everything. His meeting with Rapunzel and the things that go on with the two of them on their journey to see the lanterns cause Flynn to change drastically as he realizes that the only thing he wants in his life is Rapunzel and her happiness. The instant that he realizes that he's in love with Rapunzel is the instant that he stops caring about riches. Of course, then he finds out that she's the lost princess and ends up returning her to her family, only to be accepted as one of the family. Little orphaned Eugene finally gets his real dream: to be loved and have a family, a place to belong where he's accepted.
3. Mulan from "Mulan"
The title character is a total badass. I mean, she defies her father, steals his armor, goes gallivanting across China with the army to defeat the Hun army and ends up saving the Emperor, for the most part under the guise of a male soldier. Not to mention that she saves Li Shang's life which causes him to spare her life in return when he found out she's a female. In the end, he ends up falling for the woman who saved his life despite the fact that she initially lied to him about who she was.
2. Grandmother Fa from "Mulan"
Come on. This is the greatest grandmother in the history of Disney grandmothers. I mean, she gets a cricket and covers her eyes, boldly walking across the street to prove that the cricket is lucky. The instant she sees Li Shang show up at the house for Mulan, she says, "Woo! Sign me up for the next war!" I mean, that's the type of grandmother I strive to be when I get older. She's so funny and cool. At least we know where Mulan gets her bold and badass attitude from.
1. Genie from "Aladdin"
There's no way that this wasn't going to be number one. I mean, Robin Williams always had the direct link to my funny bone. Genie does so much for Aladdin, ending up becoming one of Al's constant companions and closest friends. Aladdin ends up freeing Genie from his lamp which only shows just how much having Genie around meant to Al.