10 Most Underrated Hanna-Barbera Characters, Ranked

Movies


Founded by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera in 1957, Hanna-Barbera was the dominant animation company for over three decades. Thanks to groundbreaking techniques that allowed them to make animation quickly and cheaply, the duo produced hundreds of cartoons for television audiences, including The Flintstones, the first cartoon to air in prime time. Unfortunately, the company couldn’t survive changing times, and by now, all of its assets have been acquired by Warner Bros.



Hanna-Barbera created some of the most recognizable characters in American cartoons, including Scooby-Doo and the Jetsons. However, with over two hundred shows produced, it’s natural that many of its animated creations might be forgotten or overlooked as time goes on. These characters are the most underappreciated within Hanna-Barbera’s collection. They might not have the same universal appeal as a Fred Flintstone or Yogi Bear, but there’s plenty to enjoy, thanks to their unique designs, catchphrases, and vocal performances.



10 The Great Grape Ape

First Appearance: ‘The Great Grape Ape Show’ (1975)

Standing over forty feet tall, The Great Grape Ape (Bob Holt) is one of the largest Hanna-Barbera characters. Though most people run away from him in fear, he’s actually a sweet, gentle soul who doesn’t understand his own strengths. Fortunately, he has a best friend named Beegle Beagle (Marty Ingels), who helps keep the ape in check as they travel around and sometimes thwart the evil plans of some bad guys.

The strength of The Great Grape Ape is in his simplicity. A typical gentle giant, he’s like a big, accident-prone kid who breaks things unintentionally but always apologizes and does what he can to make things right. This is further highlighted by Holt’s wonderful vocal performance, which captures the character’s playful innocence. Sadly, the show never enjoyed a huge popularity, meaning this loveable ape was never an animated star.


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9 Wally Gator

First Appearance: ‘Wally Gator’ (1962-1963)

Image via Hanna-Barbera Productions

Despite living a cozy life in a city zoo, Wally Gator (Daws Butler) longs for nothing more than to escape civilization and live in the Florida Everglades. This dream leads him to try numerous crazy and complicated escape attempts, most of which are thwarted by Mr. Twiddle (Don Messick), the zookeeper. This doesn’t stop Wally for long, however, and in no time at all, he comes up with another plan.

Wally Gator was created to capitalize on the popularity of Yogi Bear, with a similar setup of a well-dressed animal and his human caretaker facing off each episode. What sets Wally apart is his desire to explore the outside world and get away from humans, which is the inverse of Yogi. It also helps that the ever-talented Daws Butler chose to go with a pretty spot-on Ed Wynn impression for Wally, which pairs well with his chipper and friendly personality.


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8 Peter Potamus

First Appearance: ‘The Peter Potamus Show’ (1964-1966)

Peter Potamus smiling gently in The Peter Potamus Show.
Image via Hanna-Barbera Productions

With his best friend, a monkey named So-So (Don Messick), Peter Potamus (Daws Butler) wanders the world in a hot air balloon that can travel through time. No matter when they end up, there’s always some kind of trouble that they need to help sort out and some bad guy who needs defeating. Fortunately, Peter has a trick up his sleeve for when things are tough: his Hippo Hurricane Holler.

Peter Potamus captures the spirit of a goofy but big-hearted adventurer. No matter what kind of trouble comes his way, Peter always makes a point to pause his expedition and help for no other reason than he should, though there are times he can give into a weakness for things like treasure. Peter’s biggest claim to fame in recent years has been as a recurring character in Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, where Chris Edgerly voices him.


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7 Jonny Quest

First Appearance: ‘The Adventures of Jonny Quest’ (1964-1965)

Jonny Quest from the show of the same name smiling gently.
Image via Hanna-Barbera Productions

Following the death of his mother, Jonny Quest (Tim Matheson) accompanies his father, famed scientist Dr. Benton Quest (John Stephenson and Don Messick), as they travel the world. Joining them is their bodyguard, Roger Bannon (Mike Road), Jonny’s adopted brother, Hadji (Danny Bravo), and his pet dog, Bandit. It’s not all fun and games, though; the team often has to save the world from numerous scientific disasters and the evil Dr. Zin (Vic Perrin).

Jonny Quest was the first television cartoon to depict humans realistically, which helped make Jonny himself more relatable for young audiences. Despite his abnormal situation, he’s meant to represent an average pre-teen boy dealing with schoolwork and wanting nothing to do with girls. Of course, he also knows how to do judo flips and is smart enough to help his father out of many tricky situations, which makes him a sort of escapist fantasy for kids who could imagine themselves in his place.


Jonny Quest

Release Date
September 18, 1964

Cast
Tim Matheson , Mike Road , Don Messick

Seasons
1

6 Hong Kong Phooey

First Appearance: ‘Hong Kong Phooey’ (1974-1975)

Hong Kong Phooey smiling softly in his titular show
Image via Hanna-Barbera Productions

Working as a janitor in the local police station, Penrod “Penry” Pooch (Scatman Crothers) is among the first to know when a new crime is committed. Slipping out of sight, he takes on the secret identity of Hong Kong Phooey, the number one super guy, and sets off to help Police Sergeant Flint (Joe E. Ross). However, he tends to hinder more than he helps, with the real star being Phooey’s sidekick, Spot (Don Messick).

Hong Kong Phooey is a legitimate do-gooder with a big heart who wants to see bad guys stopped and innocent people saved


Hong Kong Phooey is among the many great forgotten animated superhero shows, largely thanks to its titular character. Hong Kong Phooey is a good example of a bumbling, comedic hero, cut from the same cloth as Inspector Gadget. Clumsy but enthusiastic, he is a legitimate do-gooder with a big heart who wants to see bad guys stopped and innocent people saved, only held back by his bumbling antics. Still, this makes him a very admirable character, and his antics lead to a lot of hilarious slapstick.

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5 Quick Draw McGraw

First Appearance: ‘The Quick Draw McGraw Show’ (1959-1962)

The wild west is a dangerous place to make a living, especially with so many bandits and outlaws running around. Fortunately, one horse named Quick Draw McGraw (Daws Butler) has taken it upon himself to bring justice, law, and order. With his trusty sidekick, Baba Looey (Daws Butler), McGraw doesn’t rest until he’s caught his man and saved the day.


Quick Draw McGraw is one of Hanna-Barbera’s oldest characters and is a hilarious spoof of the heroic gunslingers usually seen in Westerns. He’s far from the smartest of heroes and often gets himself into trouble when he fails to think things through or falls for a villain’s trap. However, this is also balanced out by his never-say-die attitude, as no matter how many times he falls, he always gets back up and tries again.

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4 The Wonder Twins

First Appearance: ‘The All-New Super Friends Hour’ (1977-1978)

The Superfriends was one of Hanna-Barbera’s longest-running shows, and as such, introduced generations to the beloved characters from DC Comics. Much like the Adam WestBatman show, it took several liberties, portraying the heroes in more campy and child-friendly ways, and also created new heroes. These include the Wonder Twins, Zan (Michael Bell) and Jayna (Louise Williams and B. J. Ward), whose shapeshifting powers are activated when they bump fists, and their monkey sidekick, Gleek (Michael Bell).


The Wonder Twins were introduced to replace the previous original characters, Wendy (Sherry Alberon), Marvin (Frank Welker) and Wonder Dog (Frank Welker), but quickly became their own characters due to their unique sibling dynamics and powers. Each twin had a different shapeshifting focus: Jayna could transform into any animal, while Zan could become any state of water. The Wonder Twins are two of the most intriguing superheroes in DC’s canon, unique figures who easily stand out even among the company’s crowded slate.

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3 Top Cat

First Appearance: ‘Top Cat’ (1961-1962)

Living in Hoagy’s Alley in Manhatten is a gaggle of alley cats led by Top Cat (Arnold Stang), or T. C. for short. To try and get them out of their current living space, Top Cat comes up with numerous get-rich-quick schemes, which have a habit of backfiring. If that wasn’t bad enough, the gang also has to avoid Officer Dibbles (Allen Jenkins), who often tries to arrest them.


Top Cat is perhaps the wittiest of all Hanna-Barbera characters. He’s a street-wise, fast-talking alley cat who knows just what to say and how to say it to get himself out of trouble. Though he’s happy to con others out of their money, he’s not one to betray a friend and is often willing to stick his neck out to protect his crew, especially his best friend, Benny the Ball (Maurice Gosfield).

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2 Snagglepuss

First Appearance: ‘The Quick Draw McGraw Show’ (1959-1962)

Snagglepuss eating some cheese
Image via Hanna-Barbera Productions

Within a forest cave lives a pink mountain lion named Snagglepuss (Daws Butler). A lover of fine culture, Snagglepuss is always looking for a way to make his situation more livable. Unfortunately, he tends to find himself back at square one no matter his progress, either due to his ineptitude or the actions of the diminutive hunter, Major Minor (Don Messick).


Snagglepuss speaks like a would-be Thespian, exaggerating everything he says in a campy fashion, and has numerous catchphrases.

Snagglepuss is one of Hanna-Barbera’s most jovial characters, and it’s almost impossible not to smile when he’s on-screen. He speaks like a would-be Thespian, exaggerating everything he says in a campy fashion, and has numerous catchphrases, such as “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” and “Exit, stage [insert direction here].” Due to his voice sounding similar to comedian Bert Lahr, Snagglepuss also led to Butler becoming one of the first voice actors to receive screen credits when he used the character in commercials. Snaglepuss crossed over to other iconic Hanna-Barbera shows, including Top Cat and Yogi Bear, eventually becoming a familiar if underrated face in the duo’s cartoons.

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1 Captain Caveman

First Appearance: ‘Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels’ (1977)

Captain Caveman looking confused in Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels
Image via Hanna-Barbera Productions

Originally from the prehistoric community of Bedrock, Captain Caveman (Mel Blanc) was frozen in a block of ice for tens of thousands of years. He is eventually found by a trio of 20th-century young women, Dee Dee Skyes (Vernee Watson), Brenda Chance (Marilyn Schreffler), and Taffy Dare (Laurel Page). With his powers to fly using his club and pull all sorts of prehistoric gadgets from his beard, Cavey helps his new friends solve mysteries.

Captain Caveman and the Tee Angels was one of many cartoons meant to copy the winning formula of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, but it did a bit better than others, thanks to Cavey himself. He’s a hilarious and chaotic ball of energy who lives up to his title of the world’s first superhero, thanks to his strength, iron stomach, and dedication to helping others. Mel Blanc’s voicework is also wonderful, especially when he goes all out shouting Cavey’s catchphrase.


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NEXT: The 10 Most Iconic Hanna Barbera Duos, Ranked



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