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The Greatest Cartoon Character Rivalries of All Time

by Benzaemon
8 April 2014 18 Comments

Possibly the world's greatest rundown of cartoon rivalries, we take a look at Jaga and Grune's spaceghost battle, Skeletor's totally senseless plans and the joint suicide of Tom and Jerry...

Every cartoon has good guys and bad guys. Some bad guys wanted to cut down trees (Cyril Sneer) and others wanted to dress up as ghosts and make women sell their theatre (every Scooby Doo villain).

But to make this list the villains had to demand nothing less than the death of their rival. After all, torture, intimidation and murder are some of the worst things in the world, so why not make them the basis for stories aimed at six-year-olds?

Tom vs Jerry

The quintessential battle. Tom and Jerry were cute characters that loved to inflict mind blowing violence on each other.

WHY THE BAD VIBES?

Tom wanted to eat Jerry and Jerry didn’t want to be eaten. Rather than move out of the house (therefore escaping constant harassment and a racially unacceptable maid) Jerry opted to set constant traps which usually resulted in Tom having his brain sliced out.

DID EVIL EVER WIN?

Quite a few times actually. The episodes Tom won in had some very important lessons for kids. In Million Dollar Cat he gives up a million bucks to beat Jerry to death. Not ‘light’ enough for you? Well then check out Blue Cat Blues where the pair commit joint suicide. I’m not even joking.

Dungeon Master vs Venger

In the 80′s, cartoons didn’t demand much in the way of plot substantiation. Dungeons & Dragons just took this to a whole new level…you may remember the interesting take on exposition they had: none. Things just happened in an episode and you either got on board or fucked off. The only constant in this show was a devil man called Venger that hated the hero kids and a weird old dwarf called Dungeon Master who chose to help the children through watching them, smiling.

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WHY THE BAD VIBES?

As one of the rules of old cartoons was that everyone had to finally be revealed to be each other’s fathers or brothers, Dungeon Master turns out to be Venger’s Dad. How that little goblin managed to procreate is beyond me. Maybe he met Debbie McGee – she famously has a penchant for balding wizard gnomes.

Anyway, Venger hated his dad. In a couple of episodes he also bellowed something about wanting the children’s totems to make him more powerful, but this was possibly just the shows typist accidentally transcribing something the writer happened to be screaming out of the window.

DID EVIL EVER WIN?

Quite the opposite. Famously (among intelligent cultural historians) there is a lost episode called REQUIEM. In it, Venger gets transformed back into his original noble self, before he looked wicked (both meanings). It was never broadcast or even animated, but it ends with the kids being given the choice of whether to go back to the theme park or stay in the D&D realm and fight monsters forever. Even in the script, we never get to know what they decided, but based on everything I know about the writers of this series I imagine the answer was “MushroomCrocodileJesus THERE ARE SPIDERS IN MY EYES!!!!!”

He-Man vs Skeletor

When I was young my parents decided to go back to work early. I guess making sure a baby felt loved just never seemed like a big deal to them. Due to the fact that I’d cry every time they left me at the baby sitter’s house, they started bringing me Masters Of The Universe figures to hold onto my affections. What they didn’t count on was me starting to secretly love the figures more than them.

Something about this show just captured my imagination. Maybe it was the barbarian/futuristic fusion. Maybe it was that the amount of flashing in the intro sequence invented epilepsy. But probably it was because the main villain was a blue wrestler with webbed feet and a cackling skull for a head.

WHY THE BAD VIBES?

This one is a bit confusing. Skeletor never actually seems to want anything. He has no real goals and never makes actual plans; as far as I can tell he just fucking loves pissing people off.

DID EVIL EVER WIN?

No way in hell. This show didn’t even need He-Man for Skeletor to fail. His plans made ZERO SENSE. In one episode (The Shaping Staff), he creates a clone of He-Man. It’s identical in every way, except it has glowing eyes, a different voice and it’s fucking blue. Skeletors plans have all the strategic acumen of opening a dogfood shop in Cat Village.

Wile. E Coyote / Road Runner

I hate this cartoon. I really hate it. I don’t understand how any of it works or what logic it functions on. Wile draws a tunnel on a rock. Roadrunner runs through the tunnel that doesn’t exist. Wile tries to run after him and smashes into the rock. What?

And what is the Roadrunner anyway apart from a running blue pile of shit?

WHY THE BAD VIBES?

Wile E Coyote was hungry and wanted to eat the Road Runner. But in half the episodes he just wills costumes, weapons and entire buildings into existence… why not a ham sandwich?

DID EVIL EVER WIN?

In a way. In “Spring is Busting Out All Over” the Coyote does actually catch the Roadrunner but due to some nonsense he’s the size of an insect. He holds up a sign saying “OK wiseguys, you’ve always wanted me to catch him…now what do I do?”

How about stop wasting my fucking time?

Jaga vs Grune

Thundercats combined some of the best characters ever made with the gayest costumes outside of Tom Cruise’s secret wardrobe. Every element of this show was high art; I like the theme tune better than anything that’s been in the charts in the last 15 years.

Most clashes took part between Liono and Mumm-Ra, but the most epic ones took part between Liono’s mentor, Jaga and his long dead arch rival, Grune.

WHY THE BAD VIBES?

On Thundera, Grune was a military commander. As he was awesome he found peace boring and wanted more wars. Jaga the Wise thought that was a terrible idea and beat him senseless. Years later on third earth, Mumm-Ra resurrects Grune, which leads to another battle between him and Jaga… AS GIANT GHOSTS!

During the part where Liono offers up his own strength, allowing Jaga to rain blows down on Grune’s snaggle-toothed head, I remember both crying and laughing at the same time. It was the most wonderful thing I’d ever seen, but I also knew that life had already peaked.

They also fought twice more but I’m too drained to write about them now.

DID EVIL EVER WIN?

Although Thundercats was rad, it was still made during an era when cartoons needed to have a moral appended to them, meaning that evil could never be allowed to win. The problem was that it was a show about anthropomorphic cat warriors so frames of reference for morals tended to be confusing.

Take this episode for example:  after saving the world, Jaga turns to Liono and says “Better an honest enemy than a false friend” and disappears. Cheers Jaga.

Splinter vs Shredder

One of the best things to do in the 90s (if you weren’t old enough to ruin your mind through recreational drugs) was Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Symbolising order and tranquillity was Master Splinter. Symbolising chaos and friggin’ awesome costumes was The Shredder. This may seem like a far out concept to us, but in Japanese culture almost every argument ends with a battle between a ninja in a metal helmet and a giant karate-rat. That’s actually how they decide laws.

WHY THE BAD VIBES?

Hamato Yoshi was a martial art instructor for the Foot Clan, based in Japan. One day he was framed by his rival, Oroku Saki for murdering their master. He moved away to New York City, where he lived as a hermit in its sewers. Later, he found four turtles lying in a pile of pink slime and did what all of us would do; plunged his hands into it, probably laughing his head off. They became the turtles and he became Splinter.

The rest of the story is much more formulaic: Oroku Saki follows him to New York, becomes The Shredder and starts hanging out with an inter-dimensional brain in a robot suit.

DID EVIL EVER WIN?

Sort of. I mean, The Shredder gets beaten every single episode. But Splinter is still a stinking rat that lives in the sewer.

Bugs Bunny vs Elmer Fudd

Let’s start with a fact; Elmer Fudd was trying to kill Bugs Bunny. He was trying to shoot him to death with a gun. Having fun yet kids?

WHY THE BAD VIBES?

Because Bugs Bunny was a fucking annoying bastard. In their first few encounters Elmer started the episode sitting at home, then Bugs would turn up and make his house fall down. After a few cartoons it was decided that having the protagonist of the piece hound another character was not a good message, and so it became that Elmer was a hunter and bugs would retaliate. Unfortunately the creators of this show were morally schizophrenic meaning that throwing throwing your enemy off a cliff, crushing their balls in bear traps and dressing in drag to sexually confuse them became normalised in a generation of children’s minds.

DID EVIL EVER WIN?

Three times. Hare Brush (Bugs goes to Alcatraz), Rabbit Rampage (Bugs tormented by an off screen animator that turns out to be Fudd) and What’s Opera Doc (Bugs Dead).

Optimus Prime vs Megatron

Transformers was a brilliant cartoon, great toys and culminated in an animated 80s film with an all star cast. After Transformers: The Animated Movie came out it was widely believed that nothing could possibly spoil the franchise. “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED” screamed God, and Michael Bay appeared in a glowing crater in the middle of the desert.

WHY THE BAD VIBES?

It’s a long and detailed tale with over twenty years of retcons, multimedia fiction and international storytelling. The short version is that one is a good robot and one is a bad robot.

DID EVIL EVER WIN?

In the biggest way possible. The start of the 80s movie has Prime arriving at the scene of devastation and smouldering autobots, grimly stating: ‘Megatron must be stopped, no matter what the cost’ and launching into one of the most epic battle scenes in animated history, which climaxed in the death of two of the most iconic characters ever. The creators of the film have stated that they wanted to try something new, to treat kids like adults and show character mortality. Definitely a superb idea; after all, if there’s one thing kids are great at, it’s taking the news that their favourite person is dead.

Of course it was a disaster that brought scores of complaints from parents; how DARE the film upset their children by showing consequence of action?! It’s much safer to show somebody get their ears cut off with sheers and have them grow back by the next scene.

If you like it, Pass it on

image descriptionCOMMENTS

Juan 9:39 am, 7-Jan-2013

Loved this

Paul 11:15 am, 7-Jan-2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jHU2bbLJIQ

Paul 11:17 am, 7-Jan-2013

Elmer kills Bugs... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeRMOOg9ztw

Fin C 1:32 pm, 7-Jan-2013

Awesome sauce! Rodimus Prime taught me how to rip a vital component out of the chest of a successful leader and become instantly amazing.

Tony Clark 2:16 pm, 7-Jan-2013

Dear Sir, I wish to complain about some of the aforementioned "facts" in your article 'The greatest cartoon character rivalries of all time.' You state - incorrectly - that, "In their first few encounters Elmer started the episode sitting at home, then Bugs would turn up and make his house fall down." I would point out, Sir, that Buggs Bunny and Elmer Fudd both make their official debut in Tex Avery's 'A Wild Hare' (released July 27, 1940)*. In said cartoon, the action takes place entirely OUTDOORS. I would like to stress that at NO POINT does any house "fall down". I don't mind your casual inaccuracies if you keep them to yourself, but please don't peddle them on the internet. There are children on here. Yours in good faith, Anthony James Clark. * Porky's Hare Hunt (1938) nonewhithstanding.

Al 6:52 pm, 7-Jan-2013

Damn right! Why should Skeletor get to live at Castle Grayskull? I can't see a reason.

lili 12:19 am, 8-Jan-2013

i love how transformers writers thought kids were ready to accept death. good call on killing optimus fuckwads

Karl 6:50 am, 8-Jan-2013

Excellent write up. Bang on regarding the death Prime & Megatron, that shook my world.

James Fisher 5:34 pm, 10-Jan-2013

This article just goes to show how blessed I was to be born in the early 80s . . . Now I just buy the t-shirts instead of the action figures.

sally 10:15 pm, 20-Jan-2013

he-man is king grayskull he put skeletor his in place

colin elliott 1:26 pm, 14-Feb-2013

Bit harsh on the roadrunner though mate! Loved it, nice piece @crimsonavenger

Dawn 7:56 pm, 14-Feb-2013

What about the witch vs Chorlton in Chorlton and the Wheelies?

Mark 9:13 am, 3-Apr-2013

Absolute Genius

Joshua Burt 10:50 am, 3-Apr-2013

My favourite read for ages. Very nice.

TFP 12:38 pm, 7-Apr-2013

Enjoyable.

mike 2:15 pm, 15-Apr-2013

top cat and officer dibble, great piece by the way

Lou 81 4:54 pm, 16-Apr-2013

Majestic. Particularly the 'He-Man versus Skeletor' section.

Chris Hirons 1:40 pm, 30-Aug-2013

Very funny, also very true!

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