Cartoons and anime have been entertaining kids and adults alike for generations! These shows introduce a variety of characters that differ in personality, quirks, appearances, and even race.
These days, the world is focusing on acknowledging and celebrating the presence of black cartoon characters in shows.
So today, I’d like to delve into these characters’ stories and personalities that make them iconic for me and the rest of the world.
Without further ado, here are some of the black cartoon characters the world got to see in animation history!
Also Check: 20 Black Female Anime Characters
Best Black Cartoon Characters Western Cartoons
10. Frozone/ Lucius Best – The Incredibles
- Age: 40
- Height: 188 cm
- Voice Actor: Samuel L. Jackson
Frozone isn’t a sidekick. Instead, he is an independent superhero and a close friend of the superfamily, The Incredibles. The ice hero’s wit and humor give great additional humor to both installments of The Incredibles.
Frozone doesn’t get a lot of screen time in either film, but he makes every moment count when he does appear. He even shows great positive traits as a black cartoon character.
Despite not being defined by his race, he still shows that being black is a part of his identity that adds to the uniqueness of his character as a superhero and a friend.
In addition, he also has a good relationship with his wife, or at least it seems that way because she’s well aware of him being a superhero. Partners shouldn’t keep secrets from their partners.
9. Tiana – The Princess and the Frog
- Age: 19
- Height: 167.64 cm
- Voice Actor: Anika Noni Rose
Disney’s first black Princess is none other than Tiana! Her role marked her as an important symbol of representation in animation history.
From the very beginning of the film, Tiana let the world know she is a hardworking and determined woman who dreams of owning a restaurant. She also shows that she doesn’t need a charming prince to make her dreams come true. Instead, she’ll put in the necessary work needed!
The Princess and the Frog make good use of Princess Tiana’s identity as a black lady from New Orleans.
Tiana is a positive and empowering role model to all girls out there. She teaches young girls that dreams can be achieved through hard work and determination.
8. Static – Static Shock
- Age: 14 (original cartoon series)
- Height: 172.72 cm
- Voice Actor: Phil LaMarr
Back in the early 2000s, there weren’t many black superheroes with their own shows. Luckily, Static Shock represented the black community for the superhero genre, making him an iconic character in animation history.
Static is a teenage superhero with electromagnetic powers who uses them to fight evil in his hometown of Dakota.
Fans get to watch him grow into a respectable superhero as the series progresses. He initially starts off as a self-centered teenager who steadily becomes a trusted superhero in his hometown and even gets recognition in the Justice League.
Instead of being your average Gary Stu, Static struggles with his choices and abilities. He is still in the process of understanding his powers as a teenage superhero.
7. Cleveland Brown – Family Guy
- Age: 42
- Height: 170.18 cm
- Voice Actors: Mike Henry, Arif Zahir
You wouldn’t think there’s a good black cartoon character in Family Guy, but Cleveland actually shows several positive traits in both Family Guy and The Cleveland Show.
He got his show because he quickly became a fan favorite due to his quick wit and deadpan delivery. Cleveland is also relatable because his humor often stems from his observation of everyday living.
Did you know he also breaks away from general black character stereotypes? He isn’t portrayed as a thug, thief, or any of the bad stereotypes often associated with black characters in past years.
Instead, his character shows that he is a respectable member of the community who often tries to find work and meaning in life.
No wonder he got his own show!
BTW do also check Yellow Cartoon Characters that people absolutely love.
6. Abigail Lincoln/ Numbuh 5 (Codename: Kids Next Door)
- Height: 142.24 cm
- Voice Actor: Cree Summer
Numbuh 5 often gets slept on because Nigel (Numbuh 1) seems to play the main character through most of the series of Kids Next Door. However, I feel that Numbuh 5 is not only the best female black cartoon character in the series, but she’s also the best character in KND.
You get to see her characteristics and traits shine in episodes like S.A.F.E.T.Y., where she finally plays the leader in a mission to save the school. She got her skills because her older sister, a former KND operative, made sure to train her.
Abby’s also a kid you wouldn’t want to mess with because she has the skill set to kick your ass. Abby is the second-best hand-to-hand agent in her sector and also serves as the second in Command.
Oftentimes I feel she’s a better leader than Nigel but didn’t want the responsibility of taking care of her sector.
5. Susie Carmichael – Rugrats
- Age: 3 (Rugrats original run), 2 (Rugrats 2021), 12-13 (All Grown Up)
- Height: –
- Voice Actors: Cree Summer, E.G. Daily
Susie, aside from her parents, is the only black main character featured in the popular series Rugrats and All Grown-Up. While not blood-related to the babies, she acts as the older sister of the bunch and is often the voice of reason.
When you get to see her in the sequel, she’s an accomplished older kid with good grades and is attempting a career in music. However, she never forgot her baby friends and continues supporting them and advising them when the younger kids need it the most.
She’s often at odds with the babies’ bully Angelica but is always ready to apologize and make peace with Angelica when Susie realizes she is in the wrong.
4. Franklin Armstrong – Peanuts
- Age: 4-6 ( most Peanuts characters are aged in this range)
- Height: –
- Voice Actors: Christian Dal Dosso (2019 – 2022), Caleb Bellavance (2021 – present)
One of the very first black cartoon characters to appear in mainstream media is Peanuts’ character, Franklin Armstrong. He also paved the way for several other cartoon black characters to gain more recognition on television.
In a special episode titled “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” Franklin appears at Charlie Brown’s thanksgiving party and is the only black character present. This was a groundbreaking moment for all black cartoon characters as it was the first time a character of his race was added to a significant episode.
Despite not really standing out as a character, people can’t deny he’s one of the first to be included in a show of primarily white cartoon characters.
3. Trixie Carter – American Dragon: Jake Long
- Age: 13-14
- Height: –
- Voice Actor: Kali Troy “Miss Kittie”
Jake may have had a crush on Rose, but for most fans, the title of best girl belongs to Trixie Carter. Even if Trixie has no powers, she won’t hesitate to help Jake when he needs his homies to protect the magical beings with him.
She portrays some sass, but this trait comes up when she tries to defend her friends. During the time Rose and Jake broke up, Trixie was one of the first few characters who offered emotional support to Jake.
Trixie is usually the one that helps Jake balance his regular life and role as the protector of the magical communities.
2. Valerie Brown – Josei and The Pussycats
- Age: Late Teens
- Height: –
- Voice Actor: Barbara Pariot
Other than the Peanuts, Josie and the Pussycats were among the first toons in history to feature a black character. To make things even better, Valerie is also one of the main characters in the show!
The show even reveals how professional Valerie is when it comes to facing sexism and racism. For example, in several episodes of the show, Valerie refuses to change herself to appeal to other music fans.
She constantly chooses her identity and doesn’t like being defined by her race alone. This kitty isn’t one to let any discrimination affect her because she knows herself more than other people, and she’s always ready to have her girls’ back.
Valerie is often defined as the brains of the group. In a way, she is the Velma of the Pussycats.
1. Penny Proud – The Proud Family
- Age: 14-16
- Height: 152-162 cm
- Voice Actors: Kyla Pratt (Speaking), Na’Shay (Singing)
When talking about the proper representation of a black family, a good show that fits the description is The Proud Family. The main character, Penny Proud, is also shown as a relatable black girl at her age as she navigates herself through her teenage life.
Luckily, the Prouds are always ready to comfort their girl whenever she loses sight of herself. Her father can be overbearing sometimes, but her mother and Suga Mama are ready to help balance things out.
The Proud Family also shows what it’s like growing up in a mostly black community. Most of the characters are black, and several customs and even black celebrities are highlighted. For example, Tone Loc, a rapper, was referenced a lot in Loud and Proud.
Best Black Cartoon Characters Anime
5. Killer Bee – Naruto Shippuden
- Age: 36
- Height: 192 cm
- Voice Actors: Hisao Egawa (Japanese), Catero Colbert (English)
Aside from Western cartoons, Black cartoon characters have also inspired the designs of several anime characters. Killer Bee has black character features shown in the critically acclaimed anime Naruto.
The character is the host of the eight-tailed beast and is shown to be one of the most charismatic shinobis in Naruto. He has a strange habit of rapping whatever he feels like saying.
The way he dresses and speaks is a reflection of black culture. While originally being introduced as a potential enemy, he becomes a mentor to Naruto and teaches him to tame the Nine-Tails within him.
Killer Bee is also the only holder of the eight-tails to befriend his beast. His greatest dream is to be the shinobi world’s greatest rapper.
4. Canary – Hunter x Hunter
- Age: 13-15
- Height: 164 cm
- Voice Actors: Reiko Kiuchi (1999 Japanese), Motoko Kumai (2011 Japanese), Rocio Barahona (1999 English) Mela Lee (2011 English)
Canary is a guardian of the Zoldyck Family, but it seems like she has a sort of special favoritism and alliance with Killua over the other family members.
Canary is Killua’s most trusted guardian. In fact, the younger Zoldyck already considers her a friend, but Canary refuses the friendship to uphold her duty as her master’s protector.
Initially, she is shown to be a ruthless fighter until pointed out by Gon for actually being sweet. She is shown to be a skilled fighter, probably stronger than most Hunters, but it is unknown if she has any Nen techniques.
Her race is rarely mentioned or referred to in the anime because of the vast races and species introduced in the series.
3. Chocolove McDonell– Shaman King
- Age: 14, 22 (Funbari no Uta)
- Height: –
- Voice Actors: Motoko Kumai (Japanese), Duane Cooper (2001 English), A.J. Beckles (2021 English)
He enters the cast of Shaman King a little later in the series, he quickly becomes one of the main characters, and even becomes one of the Five Elemental Warriors.
Chocolove can be seen embracing his African-American roots simply by the way he dresses. His battle outfit consists of a native dress and an open vest. The accessories also come from a South African tribe that was given to him by master Orona.
The young shaman aspires to become Shaman King in hopes of becoming the best comedian because he believes that bringing joy and laughter will end all conflict. So, it’s a good thing he didn’t win the tournament.
In Funbari no Uta, Chocolove turned himself in for past crimes and went to serve jail time. However, members of the old gang managed to break him out and fly him back to Japan for a reunion.
2. Afro Samurai – Afro Samurai
- Age: –
- Height: 180 cm
- Voice Actor: Samuel Jackson
Afro is one of the interesting black anime characters on this list. He’s a black samurai with an Afro.
The samurai is a highly talented swordsman who picked up a blade after witnessing his father beheaded by Justice. The event made him thirsty for revenge and turned Afro into a cold-blooded murderer to avenge his father.
Takashi Okazaki always was fond of drawing African-American characters when he was younger due to his love for hip-hop and Soul music. So Afro Samurai is a combination of his fondness for the American-American look and Japanese culture.
It was a hit with the crowd due to its unique-looking protagonist, “Afro.” Eventually, the manga got its mini-anime series in 2007.
1. Simon Brezhnev – Durarara!!
- Age: –
- Height: 220 cm
- Voice Actors: Takaya Kuroda (Japanese), Patrick Seitz (English)
It’s hard to forget characters as towering as Simon from Durarara!!. This man is a member of the group called Dollars and one of the two owners of Russia Sushi. You can often see him advertising the restaurant in the streets of Ikebukuro!
According to Izaya, Simon would have been considered the most powerful man in town in a fistfight. Of course, that would mean you wouldn’t ever want to get on Simon’s bad side.
Despite his rather frightening appearance, Simon is a gentle giant who is a good Sushi Chef. Whenever he is present, he will try to resolve conflicts happening in front of him.
Including black cartoon characters in cartoons and Japanese anime is becoming essential for authentic representation. These black cartoon characters provide viewers with more diverse dynamic personalities, experiences, and cultural representations.