Female Cartoon Characters Ahead of Their Time


Jun 24, 2014

Female Cartoon Characters Ahead of Their Time

Which female cartoon characters have inspired you? Check out your responses in the gallery above.

The characters in the comic books we read and the cartoons we watch impact the way we see ourselves and the world around us.

Maybe you watched Lisa Simpson take up vegetarianism and had a go at a meat-free month yourself. Or maybe you saw Lucy giving psychiatric advice to Charlie Brown and realized at that moment what your career path would be.

Cartoon characters may only be drawings on a page, but they are some of the most influential, albeit imaginary, figures in our lives.

Check out the gallery above as we highlight a collection of female cartoon characters who were ahead of their time.

NEXT: Female Cartoon Characters Ahead of Their Time! (Photo Gallery) »

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Lucy van Pelt
She'd upset us too if she kept pulling the football away (sorry, Charlie Brown), but Lucy does have some qualities that put her ahead of her time. Not only is she more mature than her peers, but she's also an entrepreneur and amateur psychologist!   Photo: ABC Photo Archives, Getty Images
Wonder Woman
DC Comics introduced Wonder Woman in 1941. This heroine's fight for justice, love, peace, and sexual equality has actually made her into a feminist icon.   Photo: DC Comics
Fa Mulan is one of Disney's most independent and courageous heroines.  Mulan dresses as a man, joins the Imperial Army to save her father and ends up saving her enitre country from a Hun invasion.  Defying her matchmaker in the age of the Han Dynasty, Mulan is definitely ahead of her time! Photo: Everett
Betty Boop
When Betty made her 1930 debut in the cartoon Dizzy Dishes, she was originally drawn as a poodle with floppy ears. Nonetheless, Betty was one of the first overtly sexual female cartoon characters, modeled after the flapper and singing sensation Helen Kane. (Helen Kane actually sued Fleischer Studios for using her signature image and baby voice.) Photo: Fleischer Studios
Four years later, Hollywood enforced the 1934 Production Code censorship rules that forced animators to tone down Betty's overly sexualized appearance. Starting in 1934, Betty wears a longer skirt and looks more like a housewife.  But can you ever really take the "boop-oop-a-doop" out of Betty? Photo: Getty Images
Miss Frizzle
Miss Frizzle of The Magic School Bus is an unconventional teacher with avant-garde teaching methods. After all, what's a better way to learn about something like the human body than shrinking the school bus to the size of a blood cell and taking the class on a field trip?   Photo: Facebook
Lisa Simpson 
Lisa Simpson may get a little self-righteous at times, but wouldn't you if you were a MENSA member at 8 years old? This practicing Buddhist is always ahead of liberal trends. From her Free Tibet activism to her saxophone musicality, we'd sit down for gazpacho with Lisa any time!   Photo: Getty Images
Princess Mononoke
Princess Mononoke is one of Studio Ghibli's fiercest and most complex female characters. Raised by wolves, she would give her life to protect the Great Forest and the animal gods from human destruction. Photo: Miramax        
LIttle Lotta
Harvey Comics' Little Lotta has an insatiable appetite, giving her superhuman strength that she uses for the greater good. She is a plus-size superhero without the plus-size stereotypes, a real outlier for the 1960s! Photo: Harvery Entertainment. Inc.
Beauty and the Beast's Belle, who so often finds solice within the pages of a book, is one to never judge a book by its cover. Her ability to look past the Beast's frightening appearance was a feat the rest of her town could not initially accept.   Photo: Disney, Facebook
Velma Dinkley
This bright teenage detective from Scooby-Doo is always one step ahead.  An analytical thinker, Velma is usually the one who can put all the pieces together and solve the mystery.   Photo: Facebook
Word Girl
WordGirl is not your average ten and a half year old. She's an alien with superpowers--including an excellent vocabulary--going through 5th grade as alias Becky Botsford, fighting evil villains in her free time.   Photo: Scholastic/Soup2Nuts
Marge Simpson
Marge Simpson is the grounding center of the Simpson family. Marge has had her taste of a number of career paths ranging from police officer to anti-violence activist. At the end of the day, Marge is proud to be a homemaker.   Photo: Fox
Helga Pataki
Helga Pataki of Hey, Arnold! is the tomboy genius with a hidden undying love for her friend Arnold.  Her brassy disregard for stereotypical female behavior makes her a grade school feminist before her time.   Photo: Nickelodeon 
Daria Morgendorffer
Daria Morgendorffer is the antisocial and intelligent high schooler who can be a bit apathetic at times. Warning: if you make fun of Daria, she will most likely return the favor.  Photo: Amazon
Dot more than holds her own as the "cute" younger sister of Yakko and Wakko in Animaniacs. Never afraid to speak her mind, Dot shows us that girls are free to be as eccentric and whimsical as the boys.   Photo: Amazon
Penelope Pitstop
Sure, Penelope Pitstop was often portrayed as the classic "damsel in distress," but hey! She was driving a race car in her spin-off The Perils of Penelope Pitstop (1961-1972) long before Danica Patrick became a household name.   Photo: WB Kids
Angelica Pickles
Angelica Pickles is a formidable antagonist at a very young age. She frequently manipulates the babies for her own gain. This type of cognitive planning puts her ahead of her years.   Photo: Nickelodeon
Wilma Flinstone
When Fred gets into trouble, Wilma Flinstone is always there to bail him out. Strong-willed and level-headed, Wilma has the foresight to know when Fred's ill-planned schemes will go awry.   Photo: Cartoon Network
Dora the Explorer 
Dora Marquez is a young Latina adventurer who speaks both English and Spanish in each episode. Dora has been hailed as a positive role model for Latin American children.   Photo: Nickelodeon 
Jane Jetson
Jane Jetson is quite literally ahead of the times, since she lives in the year 2062.  Jane has a special passion for new, cutting edge gadgets and technological inventions that enhance the Jetsons' daily lifestyle.     Photo: ABC, Getty Images
She-Ra is known for her superhuman strength and acrobatic agility.    Photo: Amazon
MAKER Cathy Guisewite is the creator and cartoonist behind the long-running nationally syndicated comic strip Cathy, one of the first mainstream comics created by a woman. Appearing for the first time in 1976, the strip ran for 34 years, chronicling and finding humor in the title character’s eternal struggles with weight, love, work, and her loving but overly involved mother. 

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