One of the most iconic acts in comedy is the comedy duo. It’s a simple act involving two characters with polarizing personalities playing off one another with comedic timing. The most common of these is to have one character be wacky and bombastic, and another be more reserved to contrast them.
The world of animation has produced some of the most iconic duos in entertainment. Some date back to its Golden Age, while others are more recent creations, but all of them are united in their ability to make audiences laugh, cry, and come back for more.
Updated on July 5, 2023, by Hannah Saab:
SpongeBob SquarePants‘ 13th season is currently airing and is already becoming a fan-favorite thanks to hilarious episodes like “Squidferatu” and “Slappy Daze.” The long-running show’s two main characters are among the most beloved cartoon duos, but they’re not the only ones who have left their mark on animation.
25 Gumby and Pokey
From the mind of stop-motion genius Art Clokey came a series about a Gumby, a green boy made out of clay. With his best friend, an orange pony named Pokey, he travels inside various books to interact with the characters and stories within. Sometimes their adventures lead to them thwarting the evil plans of the Blockheads.
While Gumby had a few friends, his relationship with Pokey was the strongest in the series. His nervous tendencies and occasional bouts of cynicism balanced out Gumby’s more energetic and curious traits. Despite his fears, Pokey never abandons Gumby, showcasing their friendship’s depths.
24 Rocky and Bullwinkle
Airing during the height of the Cold War, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends introduced the world to Rocket J. Squirrel and his friend Bullwinkle the moose. They go on several adventures while thwarting the plans of Russian spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. In between, the show included several fun segments, including Peabody’s Improbable History and Dudley Do-Right.
Despite coming out during the Cold War, Rocky and Bullwinkle’s style of humor has allowed them to last into the modern day, with the most recent nostalgic cartoon reboot in 2018. This is thanks to the duo’s dynamic. Rocky has a wide-eyed and energetic look at the world, while Bullwinkle is dim-witted but surprisingly witty when it comes to his humor.
23 Timon and Pumbaa
The Lion King wouldn’t be complete without the wacky misadventures of Timon and Pumbaa. An unlikely pair of friends, the witty meerkat Timon and the lovable warthog Pumbaa are inseparable and complement each other perfectly. If there’s one thing fans still remember from the Disney classic, it’s likely the duo’s hit song “Hakuna Matata.”
Although their subsequent appearances in spin-offs have failed to top their original roles in the animated film, Timon and Pumbaa are fondly remembered for the humor and wit they gave young fans back ten. They perfectly capture the essence of true friendship.
22 Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable
“Call me, beep me if you wanna reach me.” Fans of the iconic animated show from the early 2000s likely still have a special place in their heart for Kim Possible. The series that follows a high school cheerleader by day and crime-fighting prodigy by night would not be the same without the awkward best friend, Ron Stoppable.
Kim can be brave in the face of thrilling missions around the world, knowing she can always count on Ron’s comedic timing and unexpected heroism throughout the series. Everyone needs a strong friendship like the animated duo’s, which hopefully won’t fade into obscurity anytime soon.
21 Chip and Dale
Disney’s Chip and Dale are lovable chipmunks first introduced in the short film Private Pluto in 1943. After viewers fell in love with their adorable appearance, hilarious antics, and penchant for adventure, there was no stopping the franchise that would be centered on these characters (one of the funny duos of our time).
Known today for their appearances in numerous films, shows, and even video games, the duo has become one of Disney’s most recognizable pairs. Their most recent movie, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, received praise from critics and audiences alike, highlighting their enduring popularity today as one of the best cartoon duos.
20 Pinky and The Brain
When the staff of Acme labs goes home for the evening, two genetically altered mice named Pinky and Brain begin their latest plan to take over the world. This lofty ambition is Brain’s desire: Pinky is just happy to spend time with his friend and spout random trivia. Though their plans never work, the duo’s determination is never shaken, and they’re always back the next night with something new.
The iconic mouse duo got their start as one of the many skits on Animaniacs before gaining their own show in 1995. There was talk at the time of adding a third character to Pink and the Brain, which prompted the writers to create the episode “Pinky and the Brain and Larry,” to show how superfluous a third character would be. Ultimately, a crossover show was made with Elmira from Tiny Toons Adventures, but it didn’t last and Pinky and the Brain are a duo again in the Animaniacs reboot.
19 Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble
Until the rise of Scooby-Doo in 1969, The Flintstones was the most successful cartoon produced by Hannah-Barbera. This prehistoric version of The Honeymooners follows Fred Flintstone and his day-to-day life in the town of Bedrock. When not working at the quarry, he and his neighbor and best friend, Barney Rubble, get into trouble ranging from trying to set up a pool to falling for get-rich-quick schemes.
Fred and Barney work so well thanks to their opposing personalities. Fred is stubborn and quick to anger, especially when he doesn’t get his way, while Barney is more soft-spoken and jolly. Of course, he still has his limits, and heaven help the person (usually Fred) that makes him mad.
18 Wallace and Gromit
Brought to life by British stop-motion company Aardman Entertainment, Wallace is an eccentric inventor who makes inventions to help in his day-to-day life. At his side is Gromit, his loyal dog and trusted friend. Together they travel to the moon to sample its cheese, stop all manner of villains, and maintain a proper amount of British class.
The beauty of Wallace and Gromit is the honesty in their presentation. They are a classic eccentric and straight-man act brought to life with on-point stop-motion animation. Gromit stands out in particular: though he never says a word, the animation on his eyes conveys every emotion perfectly.
17 Hiccup and Toothless
The beloved duo at the heart of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise, Hiccup and Toothless have undoubtedly solidified their place among the greatest animated duos of all time. The young Viking Hiccup, who never really fit in with his community, is forever transformed by the unexpected bond he forms with Toothless, a powerful dragon called a Night Fury.
Since their first meeting, Hiccup and Toothless have gone on wild adventures that have expanded the franchise’s lore and reached millions of fans around the world. The duo has leaned on each other, and their friendship has definitely inspired young viewers to embrace the values of friendship, loyalty, and unwavering dedication to loved ones.
16 Shrek and Donkey
Where would Shrek be without Donkey? The duo captivated viewers from around the globe in the movie that spawned a massively successful franchise, 2001’s Shrek. The two characters’ dynamic stole the show and was unbelievably hilarious thanks to Shrek’s clear despise for Donkey, and Donkey’s insistent and chatty personality only making things more difficult.
Over the course of the numerous popular Shrek movies, Shrek and Donkey have each grown as characters and embarked on their own adventures (with Donkey even becoming a father). However, something that has stayed consistent is the improvement of their bond, which is now an irreplaceable highlight of every new entry in the franchise.
15 Phineas and Ferb
There are only so many days of summer vacation, and step-brothers Phineas and Ferb intend to make the most of theirs. Every day, with the help of their friends, they create new and exciting projects ranging from giant roller coasters to portals leading to Mars. Meanwhile, their older sister Candace tries to bust them to their mom.
Phineas and Ferb definitely feel like a pair of brothers. Phineas is the more talkative of the two and comes up with the plans, while Ferb silently follows his lead and usually only gives one line per episode. The enthusiasm they share over their sibling projects is infectious and helped elevate Phineas and Ferb to one of Disney’s best animated shows.
14 Lilo and Stitch
The 2002 animated Disney classic, Lilo & Stitch, gave fans the chaotic yet lovable duo they didn’t know they needed. When the mischievous Stitch crash lands on the earth, he soon encounters the misunderstood outcast, Lilo. Since then, their unbreakable bond has gotten them through several sequels and series full of aliens, school bullies, and massive waves by the beach.
What makes the duo’s story so heartwarming and unforgettable is the way Lilo teaches Stitch kindness and compassion, while Stitch helps Lilo embrace herself and become more bold and daring. For fans wanting to rediscover the iconic duos’ wild adventures throughout the years, they have plenty of options to choose from, starting with Stitch! The Movie, the sequel series Lilo & Stitch: The Series, the spin-off Stitch!, and so much more.
13 Beavis and Butt-Head
Who says famous cartoon duos have to be well-behaved? Beavis and Butt-Head certainly aren’t. The two characters are beloved for their crass humor, obsession with heavy metal, and tendency to embrace the art of doing nothing all day. The legendary show they starred in, Beavis and Butt-Head, captured the peak of slacker culture in the ‘90s, and didn’t pull any punches with its offensive comedy.
The teenage slackers have gone on to inspire a generation of cynical and sarcastic youth, who have likely already seen the series’ revival on Paramount+ and the latest movie featuring the duo, 2022’s remarkably smart comedy Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe.
12 Batman and Robin
A crime-fighting tandem that needs no introduction, Batman and Robin’s partnership is among the most well-known in the world of comics and superheroes. Whether fans know them as the Caped Crusaders or the Dynamic Duo, one thing’s for sure, they have been unstoppable since their team-up’s debut in Detective Comics #38 in 1940.
The unbeatable team has been seen across a variety of media, most prominently in comics, but also in movies, shows, and video games. That said, it’s worth noting that despite their undeniable popularity, when considering only animation on the small and big screens, Batman and Robin don’t have many on-screen pairings in cartoons, often appearing separately. One of the more memorable titles where the duo shines is the Batman TV show from the 1960s.
11 Bart and Lisa Simpson
A mischievous duo that needs no introduction, Bart and Lisa are the legendary siblings for the long-running animated series The Simpsons. The enduring funny duo is made up of the rebellious older brother who loves pranks, Bart, and the intelligent and conscientious younger sister, Lisa. In the Simpsons’ household and in Springfield Elementary, the two always clash.
Their contrasting personalities make them a delight to watch, and, in fact, their relationship is responsible for some of the best episodes of The Simpsons. Despite their bickering and clear differences, there have been moments that remind viewers how much they care about each other – fans with siblings can likely relate.
10 Ash Ketchum and Pikachu
Originating from the Pokémon games, Ash and Pikachu make up one of the most legendary cartoon pairs in cinematic history. From the original series to the several movies, the world of Pokémon is an overwhelming one full of fascinating, terrifying, and sometimes charming creatures. One thing remains the same for fans, though, and that’s the way they can count on Ash and Pikachu to take them on exhilarating adventures through that world.
Ash is the determined Pokémon trainer who embarks on a thrilling yet grueling journey to become a Pokémon Master. When he befriends Pikachu, the duo becomes a powerful pairing that only gets better with each new challenge. Although they can sometimes both go on their own arcs (with Pikachu even starring in 2019’s Detective Pikachu), the two pals will always find their way back to each other.
9 Buzz Lightyear and Woody
Friends for infinity and beyond, Buzz and Woody are the stars of the Toy Story franchise. When they met for the first time in the 1995 film, Buzz was a space ranger who didn’t know that he was a toy. It would take some insistence and a fierce rivalry with Andy’s favorite toy, Woody, for that to change.
Although the Toy Story movies are full of well-designed characters like Mr. Potato Head, Slinky Dog, Bo Peep, and more, Buzz and Woody undoubtedly still have a special place in fans’ hearts. It’s their love-hate relationship that kickstarted the franchise, and it’s also their strong bond that has kept each new movie interesting. With the way things turned out in Toy Story 4, though, it would be interesting to see where the duo cartoon characters go next.
8 Cosmo and Wanda
Nickelodeon’s The Fairly OddParents depicts the experiences of 10-year-old Timmy Turner, who is neglected by his parents and abused by Vicky, his babysitter. His life changes – for better or worse – when two fairy godparents, Cosmo and Wanda, enter his life and make all his dreams come true.
Cosmo and Wanda are the chaotic yet endearing duo that serves as the true stars of the show, with their antics usually underscoring the worst parts of parenting in the show. They’re well-intentioned yet constantly make mistakes, which often lead to comedic scenarios with a dash of magic. Just as they were for Timmy, the legendary animated characters likely served as fans’ second parents during their childhoods. And although the recent continuation of the series on Paramount+, The Fairly OddParents: Fairly Odder, didn’t quite stick the landing, the revival is a testament to just how popular Cosmo and Wanda still are.
7 Elsa and Anna
The beloved sisters from Disney’s Frozen franchise have become among the most popular animated duos in recent memory. Quickly becoming symbols and sisterhood and empowerment, Elsa and Anna are an iconic female duo in animation who have emphasized the transformative power of love.
The duo’s story highlights the strength of familial bonds, no matter how different the siblings may be from each other. They are no damsels in distress, but rather multi-dimensional characters who transcend traditional portrayals of princesses – not to mention have become a global phenomenon. In this way, they continue to be sources of inspiration for young viewers around the world.
6 Finn and Jake
Finn the human and Jake the dog live together in the mystical land of Ooo. Together they fight evil to protect the various princesses, look for treasure, or just because they’re bored. With Finn’s skill with the sword and Jake’s shape-shifting, there’s no problem they can’t overcome except their immaturity.
Adventure Time kick-started a new golden era for Cartoon Network in the 2010s, and Finn and Jake were a big part of that success. While both have a love for adventure, Jake tries to act as the voice of reason, though his wisdom is often flawed. Finn meanwhile has a lot to learn about growing up and forming relationships, which offers many chances for the two to learn from and work off one another.