- Bob Belcher (Bob’s Burgers)
Did you think I was gonna pick Tina?
Bob Belcher’s one of those people you really REALLY mustn’t judge at first glance. To anyone who doesn’t know him, he’s a mustachioed, hairy, fat idiot who cooks food no one eats.
Look a little deeper, though, and you’ll see something amazing: Bob is the father in an American sitcom, and unlike Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin or Richard Watterson… HE’S THE SMART ONE. He’s consistently looking out for his children’s well-being, he keeps his goofy wife and kids in check - and if any one of them is in trouble, he’s the one you can depend on to help cover their ass.
Not many fathers will wear an ugly brony outfit and get a tattoo just to get your my little pony doll back - his kids are lucky indeed.
- Sam Lim-Evans (Worm in the Blood series)
Sam is what happens when you take the premise of American Dragon Jake Long… and do it properly.
No racist/’radical teenage’ stereotypes, no mispronouncing any Chinese names… just the sweetest, kindest Welsh/Chinese boy, slowly turning into a dragon, and losing his humanity. Also, his ‘unattainable love interest’ is actually a Black girl, who he thinks is the most beautiful girl in school.
You’ll eventually realize, reading the books, that his struggle is similar to PoC growing up in western societies - White colonialism has killed most of his kind, and, without the dragons before him to teach him his heritage, Sam is lost and directionless, and has only his monstrous self for company. He belongs neither in the human race or with the dragons that came before, and I honestly feel I’ve been in his shoes.
Jake Long is lost and confused as well, but unlike Sam who internalizes his angst, Jake lashes out, rebels, and hurts the people around him. And we have to see him apologize for essentially the same problem over and over, episode after episode. Sam, with his similar storyline but much more agreeable personality was a sad, lonely dork who I identified with. And I loved him dearly.
- Simon Petrikov (Adventure Time)
I say Simon, not the Ice King, because stories that involve the Ice King’s past… just somehow don’t feel quite the same as the Ice King’s present. Maybe that’ll change in time - you never know with this show.
How do you write a children’s show, and then weave in a story quite like the Ice King’s in there with zero repercussions? Issues like fearing your own mind, scaring the people who love you, or worse, losing a loved one to mental illness are all just handled so spectacularly by whoever wrote Simon. He’s such a sincerely sad, mature character in what would be an fluffy children’s cartoon - but his flashbacks and the devastation he’s witnessed is never handled with ‘DARK BLOODY EDGINESS’ - he’s a light, soft fluffy darling like the rest of the show… just one that’s so cleverly complex.
- Kay (The Snow Queen)
I have a thing for sad, lonely dorks, I think you realized. Kay is a horrible asshole, don’t you deny it. He abused his friend, and his grandmother, and… he’s… US. He’s all of us. Who hasn’t looked at themselves and thought “Gee, I can’t wait to grow up! Children’s things are lame!” Only to look back, fully grown, and find out they forgot how to be children? Kay exemplifies that progressive adult attitude, and his eventual redemption back into being a child at heart is one that redeems us all.
The Snow Queen, viewed one way, is a about a girl growing up on a quest - but looked at the other way, it’s about a boy who needs to be a child again. And it ends on the most wonderful note: you can always come back and be a child, you just need to look at the world properly, anew.
- Stargirl Caraway (Stargirl)
My childhood hero, everyone. I can’t go into details of all the reasons why the main character of ‘Stargirl’ was just such a role model for me, or we’d be here all day.
Stargirl’s that very ‘special snowflake’ we on tumblr claim we are - she is different, but never in a way that makes her superior than her peers. She likes wearing outfits no one dares to, has a pet rat, and cheers on classmates when they pick up the trash properly. She is the spirit of nonconformity - and the day they break her spirit and she goes back to being a normal little girl hurts and hurts badly.
Stargirl is a cautionary tale about the risks of non-conformity, but its main character stands out as a knight templar for anyone who ever dared to be different. Follow her example, and her creed, and you cannot go wrong.