Things we learned from our favorite cartoons

Most of us had a favorite cartoon when we were growing up, one that we couldn’t wait to watch and that we still remember even years later. When we think of cartoons, the life lessons we learned from them may not be what’s foremost in our minds, but whether we were aware of it or not, we all managed to learn a lot about life and what’s really important. Hidden within the silly jokes and dramatic moments, there were some great life lessons, and no matter how old we get, these lessons managed to stick with us.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

The first life lesson that comes to mind is that just because you fail at something once, doesn’t mean that you should give up trying forever. The classic example of this, of course, is Wile E. Coyote from Looney Tunes. All he wanted in life was to be able to catch Road Runner (and have her for dinner, eek!). He never succeeded, thankfully, and hijinks inevitably ensued–no matter how creative he got, or how many ACME crates he ordered, he could never seem to catch up to her (though honestly, did any of us ever really want him to?). The point is that he never gave up, and neither did Road Runner, for that matter.

Wile E Coyote chasing RoadRunner

Moana is another cartoon that teaches us this lesson (among others). Moana didn’t give up on her goal, her friends, or her people back home; she knew what she needed to do and she did it. Even when she was tricked by a demi-god, had to keep rescuing the hapless Hei Hei, or when things really seemed hopeless, she never gave up.

Moana sailing

Be Brave

Going hand in hand with never giving up, being brave is another one of those lessons that we see again and again in cartoons. Indeed, many of the classic animated Disney movies teach us to be brave in the face of overwhelming odds. Mulan, Moana, Ariel, Rapunzel, Belle, Merida–all of these Disney princesses had to face their fears in order to reach their goal.

Merida from Brave

Though Shaggy and Scooby from Scooby-Doo were humorously cowards, they always managed to cast their fears aside when they needed to help their friends. This taught us both that it’s normal to be scared sometimes (which is also an important life lesson), but also that we need to be brave when people are relying on us.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

The Powerpuff Girls are a classic example of not judging a book by its cover. While Bubbles, Buttercup, and Blossom may not look very intimidating, give them a reason to and they’ll show you just what Chemical X can do! The Powerpuff Girls show us that though they be small (and girls), they be mighty!

Powerpuff Girls

We learned this lesson in Scooby-Doo, as well–how often did the ghost or monster the Mystery Inc. crew were sent to investigate wind up being a human in disguise? We learned that we need to be careful to always look at all the facts before jumping to conclusions!

Scooby Doo and the gang

Always Try to Make the World a Better Place

Viral sensation SpongeBob SquarePants taught us that we should always try to make the world a better place. Anytime something went wrong down in Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob would try to make it right. Regardless of the fact that he is a pants-wearing sponge that lives in a pineapple under the sea, SpongeBob taught us all how important it is to try to be a good person (or sponge).

Spongebob Squarepants

Though the current generation may not remember it, Captain Planet was a huge deal for kids during the 90s. It was a show about a group of chosen teenagers from around the world (Planeteers) working together to save the environment; combining their powers of earth, fire, wind, water, and heart to summon a super-being called Captain Planet to help them fight the Eco-Villains. Did it turns us all into fervid environmentalists? No, but it did serve to teach us all valuable lessons about the importance of trying to make the world a better place, even if you don’t have superpowers.

Captain Planet

Clothes Don’t Work the Same in Cartoons; or, Don’t Forget Your Pants

It’s the thing we’ve all noticed but no one talks about: why do cartoon characters always wear the same clothes? What’s the lesson here? Were we supposed to learn that we shouldn’t judge people by their appearance? That we should simplify our lives with a mono-wardrobe? By the same turn, what are we supposed to have learned from the many, many cartoon animals who didn’t wear pants at all? It seems to be the rule that if you’re a bear or a duck (whose name isn’t Daffy), then you’re going pants-less. And how come some characters wear clothes and others don’t? (Perhaps the lesson we’re to learn from this is to always be curious and ask questions.)

Pooh thinking of pants

At the risk of sounding corny, maybe the most enduring life lesson we have all learned from animated adventures is that the only limit is our imagination. In such a fanciful medium, where seemingly anything is possible, the sky’s the limit! Who is your favorite character, show, or film, and what valuable life lesson did you learn? As always, let us know in the comments below!