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Top 10 Iconic Animated Characters of the 2000s

VO: Alexandra Maynard WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
This decade was marked by some truly memorable figures from animated films. For this list, we’re taking a look at animated movie characters who dominated the silver screen throughout the 2000s and will surely stand the test of time. Our list includes Coraline Jones, WALL-E, Dory, Carl Fredricksen, Po, and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Iconic Animated Characters of The 2000s.
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Top 10 Iconic Animated Characters of the 2000s


This decade was marked by some truly memorable figures from animated films. Welcome to MsMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Iconic Animated Characters of the 2000s.

For this list, we’re taking a look at animated movie characters who dominated the silver screen throughout the 2000s and will surely stand the test of time.

#10: Coraline Jones
“Coraline” (2009)


Coraline was created by master of modern fantasy Neil Gaiman and brought to life on the big screen by Henry Selick, who is known for his mastery of stop-motion animation. Coraline is a bored young girl looking for adventure and attention. She’s naturally attracted to the fantastical Other World that exists behind a secret door, but things aren’t as they seem. Coraline is a complex character who doesn’t fall into any stereotypes or tropes, making her relatable and endearing to viewers. This movie may not have been as widely viewed as some other modern animated features, but the titular heroine is largely why it’s developed such a strong cult following.

#9: Carl Fredricksen
“Up” (2009)


The fact that “Up” had us in tears within the first five minutes goes to show just how emotionally well-crafted it is. Since this Pixar film immediately hooks us in with its tragic love story, we want to follow the aging Carl Fredricksen on his search for adventure. Carl at first comes off as a cantankerous old man, but as the plot progresses, we get to peel back his rough exterior to see the softie he really is. While Dug the talking dog is certainly a scene-stealer, the image of Carl and his balloon house is surely the most iconic.

#8: Po
“Kung Fu Panda” franchise (2008-)


Disney and Pixar may get most of the glory, but in the 2000s DreamWorks crafted quite a few memorable characters of their own. “Kung Fu Panda” tells a classic underdog story that centers on Po, a clumsy panda who idolizes the masters of Kung Fu. Master Oogway points to him as the new Dragon Warrior and no one could be as shocked as he is. Po is an inspirational figure who shows that even the least likely candidates can rise to greatness. We should all aspire to be a little more like him!

#7: Scrat
“Ice Age” franchise (2002-)


“Ice Age” is another franchise that took off in the 2000s, further demonstrating that Disney was facing some stiff competition from rival animation studios. The first film, released in 2002, introduces us to a wide array of prehistoric characters, including saber-toothed squirrel Scrat. He’s a simple creature who just wants a safe place to hide his acorn. Even though he doesn’t speak (in a traditional sense at least), we can see his wide range of emotions in his expressive face. Scrat proved so popular that he received a series of spin-off shorts and continued to shine as the MVP in each sequel.

#6: Stitch
“Lilo & Stitch” (2002)


“Lilo & Stitch” doesn’t get as much recognition as some other Disney films, perhaps because it was released at a time when the studio was suffering from a slump in quality. But that being said, it gave us Stitch, otherwise known as Experiment 626, a lovable extraterrestrial who is basically a wrecking ball in the form of an adorable blue creature. Stitch causes mayhem wherever he goes, but that doesn’t make us love him any less. It’s Stitch’s character arc that makes him so darn endearing and the fact that he embraces the concept of ohana is just too much to bear.

#5: Wallace & Gromit
“Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” (2005)


While they made their debut in the late ‘80s, it’d be over a decade and a half until this dynamic duo starred in their own animated feature. Wallace and Gromit couldn’t be more different, but that doesn’t stop them from being the best of friends. Wallace is an inventor and cheese-lover while his dog Gromit is a preternaturally intelligent beagle with a degree from "Dogwarts University." Through clay animation, their creators tell tales of their adventures together, and despite Gromit not being able to speak (or even having a mouth to speak of) they conceived one of the most expressive characters ever. We could only aspire to having a friendship as good as this one!

#4: WALL-E
“WALL-E” (2008)


Here is another character who barely speaks, but still manages to express himself in ways that elicit our sympathies. Pixar went out on a limb in creating “WALL-E,” a movie that spent the entire first act focusing on a mostly silent character alone in his world. Despite this, the audience inevitably feels for this little trash compacting robot. This film marked a turning point for the animation studio, showing that a movie that was far outside the box and addressed some troubling real-world issues could be a massive hit.

#3: Michael ‘Mike’ Wazowski & James P. ‘Sulley’ Sullivan
“Monsters, Inc.” franchise (2001-)


Who could have imagined that the monsters in our closest could be so darn endearing? While Boo is surely adorable, this movie is all about Mike Wazowski and James P. "Sulley" Sullivan, a pair of monsters who accidentally bring a human child into their world. Sulley is the “best scarer” at Monsters, Inc. but he really has a heart of gold and Mike is a literal walking eyeball who elicits laughs with everything he does. It’s easy to fall in love with princesses and cute animals, but the fact that Pixar made us relate to monsters is an impressive feat.

#2: Dory
“Finding Nemo” franchise (2003-)


“Finding Nemo” was all about a clownfish and his attempts to find his missing son, but the standout character from this 2003 Pixar film was undoubtedly Dory. She is a regal blue tang fish with short and long-term memory loss and endless optimism. She’s a hapless creature, but one of the sweetest fish in the sea. We’ve been repeating her mantra to “just keep swimming” ever since this movie was released. Of course, she was so beloved that she got her own movie, “Finding Dory,” in 2016, which revealed even more about her character.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Remy
“Ratatouille” (2007)

Chihiro Ogino
“Spirited Away” (2001)

Kronk
“The Emperor's New Groove” (2000)

#1: Shrek
“Shrek” franchise (2001-)


Who else could possibly be our number one pick? This swamp-dwelling ogre let us peel back his layers to reveal one of the most lovable characters ever created. Shrek is the hero we didn’t know we needed, an ill-humored and crotchety figure who only let the audience in bit by bit. Of course, his companion Donkey deserves a mention as well for being one of the most hilarious movie sidekicks to ever grace our screens. There’s a little bit of Shrek in all of us, making this undoubtedly the most iconic franchise of the decade.
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