Crushes on cartoon characters — awkward, but we’ve all had them. The Legend of Korra Rewatchable team admits to some of their biggest ones.
Attraction to an animated character may seem like a weird thing to admit, but according to questionable internet polling site IsItNormal.com, 89% of people consider a cartoon crush to be normal, and slightly more scientific sources have dubbed the common phenomenon as natural. Some, like a standard, realistically drawn Disney prince or princess, are easy to envision in real life. Some aren’t even human. Given that children are exposed to so much animated material, it stands to reason that some of our first and most formative fantasies may stem from this time, before we were old enough to realize the potential strangeness.
As Rewatchable continues recapping our first animated universe with Avatar: The Legend of Korra, we’ve got to admit that we’ve been introduced to some pretty sexy 2D characters along the way, and we haven’t been quiet about voicing our opinions on their looks and chemistry.
In Avatar: The Last Airbender Prince Zuko and the trio of Dangerous Ladies were obviously the main crush-worthy contenders for our adult audience – they’re a little further out of childhood than some of the other characters. Zuko’s hairbending – not to mention his writhing, sweaty metamorphosis in Ba Sing Sae – upgraded him from an angry topknot weirdo to a sweet, scarred hunk of flaming hot awkwardness, and The Beach was like a bikini-filled episode of Baywatch up in this joint. Things get even worse when the Gaang hides out in Zuko’s homeland, because apparently the country’s steamy legacy extends to beautifying everyone who crosses its borders. Maybe it’s that maroon looks great on everyone, because Fire Nation outfits are a smokin’ game changer.
Avatar: The Legend of Korra featured more detailed animation, plus an 18+ lead cast, making their prettiness a little less awkward for Rewatchable’s over-20s crowd. The new Team Avatar make up a crush-worthy foursome in and of themselves, with something for all tastes. There’s sporty and confident Korra, the glamorous genius Asami, Mako’s hip and brooding smoulder and Bolin’s wholesome mover-star grin, but the buck doesn’t stop there. Korra is full of animated hotties from all generations. Even Tenzin got a shirtless scene, and he is ripped.
In season 3, we meet the extended Beifong family and learn that Toph’s five grandchildren could give the Fire Nation teens a run for their money, as could their mother, the elegant Suyin. Everyone in Zaofu looks like a cross between Downton Abbey and Portlandia, and it’s kind of overwhelming. Even the Avatar villains are beautiful: we’ll never forget the reveal of Fire Lord Ozai’s painfully perfect face, and season 3’s Red Lotus are all as enigmatically attractive as they are powerful.
Given that the Avatar series is a Nickelodeon property and did, initially, have a very young audience, it’s likely that some of these lust-benders might have served as the formative cartoon crushes of a new generation. We remember how that is, so some of the Rewatchable team have revealed their feelings about the biggest animated heartthrobs from their own pasts.
Disney’s Robin Hood
Proving that charm and a great set of eyebrows can break down any barrier, including that of species, my earliest animated crush was on Robin Hood in the 1970s Disney classic. What a fox. Literally. As I grew older, I learnt that I was not alone in this predicament — vixens loooove Robin. But what is it about Fox Robin that makes him so desirable? Is it his soothing voice, his skill with a bow, the twinkle in his eye, his kindness to small rabbits that he really should have been snacking on for lunch, his willingness to cross-dress in the name of justice? Let’s not ruin the fantasy by addressing the obvious hindrance — what’s a little fur between friends? I once made my father draw a Crayola picture of Robin for me, which I insisted on keeping pinned up in the kitchen, and this crush certainly inspired a lifelong infatuation with the character of Robin Hood in all his forms – even the boring human ones. – Natalie Fisher
Max Goof, ‘A Goofy Movie’
Disney princes are fine and dandy, but what about the son of one of Disney’s most beloved icons? Yes, that’s right. I’m talking about Max Goof, the never-quite-cool kid that fanboyed over Powerline and became an X-Games champion. He was the adorable pal you wanted to hang with on the weekends and recreate Powerline’s awesome dance movies that his FATHER helped create. In An Extremely Goofy Movie Max went from angsty teen to a more angsty young adult trying to keep a safe distance between his father and his social life. But when it comes to keeping up appearances, Max does not have the easiest father to work with. Why can’t he just live? At the end of the day Max always knows that for however ridiculous his father is, he can count on him and that’s admirable. Although college didn’t quite pay off for Max Goof (his future on House of Mouse sees him parking the cars of Disney’s superstars) he can still make a heart flutter whenever “I 2 I” or “Stand Out” begins to play. – Brittany Lovely
Disney’s animated series Gargoyles never quite took off in the U.K. like it did elsewhere, but that never stopped me from gaining a strange attachment to the leader of the Manhattan Clan of gargoyles, Goliath. Unlike his biblical namesake, who is referenced on the show as being a “bully and a savage,” Goliath is anything but — he is a fiercely powerful and intelligent character, with a strong sense of morality and justice. He is unwaveringly loyal to those he cares about, and though he has a bit of a temper at times, he doesn’t allow it to cloud his judgement. He is pretty much the polar opposite of his looks, which taught me a very important lesson about judging by them — and who can really resist a guy who is into classic literature? He was a tragic hero who continued to do what was right, no matter the emotional cost. – Donya Abramo
Sinbad, ‘Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas’
One character that gets severely overlooked for his hotness is Sinbad, from the 2003 Dreamworks adaptation of the iconic tale. Let’s face it, as a confused gay kid at the age of seven, seeing this pirate swinging his sword on the jolly seas was the makings of a yet-to-be-realised fantasy. As the years went on, so did my awakening to his charming, charismatic, suave personality. Don’t get me wrong though — it wasn’t all sunshine and roses in my obsessed, pubescent mind, as I was even jealous of his pet dog Spike’s opportunities for intimate cuddle times. As a young teen, the concept of the bad boy was oh-so-endearing and something to aspire to, and my attitude towards Sinbad has definitely reflected my choices in partners. However, no-one has yet been able to fulfil my need for the criminal pirate on the chase for his one true love, who can rein him in and show him what he truly deserves. That was what the movie was about, right? – Jack Farrugia
Miguel, Tulio and Chel, ‘The Road to El Dorado’
Dreamworks got it so very right when they embarked on their 2D movies —- Sinbad already made it onto this list, so what’s three more characters in the grand scheme of things? Miguel, Tulio and Chel are all vastly different when it comes to their personalities and their looks, but they’re all equally as compelling. From Chel’s confidence in her own sexuality and independence (and her no-nonsense attitude towards getting what she wants), to Miguel’s free-spirited nature and kind-hearted soul, and Tulio’s level-headed approach to life and witty repartee, they all had something that hit the right buttons for me. It was a very conflicting movie-watching experience for me as a teenager, before I decided “fuck it, I like all of them.” I don’t know what crossroads demon Dreamworks sold their soul to when coming up with their 2D protagonists, but I’m definitely thankful to them. – Donya Abramo
Diane Nguyen, ‘BoJack Horseman’
As an adult, looking back on the characters that awkwardly stirred some emotional response during childhood is a weird process. But what about watching a current animated series specifically structured to touch on the darker side of the human experience and finding a character quite appealing? Other female characters written for adult animation comedies are often lured into hyper-sexualized plots, as if they were produced in a frat house basement. BoJack Horseman’s Diane stands out as a beacon of mystery, vulnerability and ambition. Is the attraction based on the desire to see this equine studies major from Boston succeed? Maybe. More likely than not, the reason Diane Nguyen is more appealing than her male counterparts is because her story hits closest to home. Diane stands out because she has experienced success, but is not changing the world with it. Watching her go through moments of rage, indecisiveness, depression, and self-realization, Diane is the type of character I want to grab a beer with and commiserate about life with every weekend.– Brittany Lovely
Tadashi Hamada, ‘Big Hero 6’
Tadashi is purely polygons, and isn’t even once romanced in Big Hero 6 (but maybe that’s because he dies before he can get together with bae Honey Lemon, my personal inappropriate cartoon OTP), but that doesn’t stop me from crushing majorly on this self proclaimed nerd. The characters in this movie have weird, oblong body shapes and such, but there’s something so relatable and undeniably sexy about Tadashi’s flawless hair, rosy cheeks, lanky form, and carefree attitude. I can’t get enough of this dweeb, and would love for a film set before the events of the original to perhaps see more of this stupidly sexy science nerd. – Mitch Clow
Teen Simba, ‘The Lion King’
Don’t lie, bitches. You know if you’re a hot-blooded female born circa 1991 your first crush was totally the cartoon lion voiced by Jonathan Tay-Tay. – Ariana Quiñónez