Frogs and toads are amphibious species you can find nearly anywhere in the world, and therefore, they are one of the most beloved and commonly used creatures in cartoons of various cultures.
Considering how often these little guys pop up in television, film, books and other illustrated works, picking the best characters can be quite the challenge, but we’re ready to take it on!
Therefore, for the sake of this article, we won’t just be sticking to the cartoon strips of newspapers, but rather, we’re going to give you eight of the most memorable and influential frog and toad cartoons across many mediums and platforms, from shows to movies and books. So, let’s hop to it!
1. Michigan J. Frog From Looney Tunes
Apart from Kermit the Frog, Michigan J. Frog is the most renowned frog character in existence. Although many don’t always know him by name, they definitely recognize this classy, top-hatted character by appearance.
Michigan J. Frog is an iconic animated cartoon character created by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and featured in their vibrant Merrie Melodies series that aired from 1931 to 1969 alongside its popular partner series, Looney Tunes.
Despite his small stature, Michigan J. Frog lights up the screen with his big voice as he struts around in his gentlemanly top hat, swinging in his cane and belting the catchiest of melodies.
Originally voiced by popular Hollywood nightclub singer William Roberts, Michigan J. Frog switches from singing bouncy tunes like Hello, My Ragtime Gal and Michigan Rag to sweet, melodic tunes like Come Back to Erin with stunning precision and ease, all while being blissfully unaware of the money-grabbing shenanigans occurring around him.
2. Prince Naveen From The Princess And The Frog
We never thought we’d see the day where a frog would be so charismatic and charming that we’d contemplate changing species just to be with him, but it has arrived.
Prince Naveen is the carefree, jazz-loving, ukulele-playing prince of Maldonia depicted in Disney’s 2009 film, The Princess and the Frog. The film is based on the classic German fairytale, “The Frog Prince,” written by the Brothers Grimm in 1812.
This sweet talker prioritizes embracing the joys of life far higher than his royal duties, which is why his parents send him to New Orleans and cut him off until he can return with a wife (and hopefully, a sense of responsibility).
Of course, Naveen tries to find the easy way out and makes a deal with the witch doctor, Dr. Facilier, who twists Naveen’s desire for freedom by transforming him into a frog. The spell can only be broken when Naveen kisses a princess, leading him to entreat co-protagonist Tiana to give him a quick peck.
However, since Tiana is only dressed up as a princess for a local party and not one by blood, the spell backfires and transforms her into a frog as well. Together, Tiana and Naveen traverse New Orleans and the surrounding bayou in pursuit of something that will break the spell and return them to their human forms.
3. King Harold From Shrek
While we’re on the subject of royals turned frogs and the classic tale of “The Frog Prince,” our next cartoon character is an alternative interpretation of this timeless fairytale set in a very different world.
King Harold is the ruling king of Far Far Away, husband of Queen Lillian, father of Princess Fiona, and unenthusiastic Father-In-Law of standoffish but humorous ogre Shrek. He appears first in DreamWorks’ Shrek 2, released in 2004, but is also present in Shrek the Third (2007) and flashbacks of Shrek Forever After (2010).
King Harold’s character is another fun twist on “The Frog Prince” as viewers see him in human form through almost the entire film before they discover Harold was actually born a frog and transformed into a human by the Fairy Godmother (CTNF).
With this information, Fairy Godmother blackmails Harold to get rid of Shrek until the king decides his daughter’s happiness is more important. He then blocks a curse cast by Fairy Godmother aimed at Shrek and is reverted to his original frog form.
4. Mr. Toad From The Wind in The Willows
While frogs might be the more popularly represented species in cartoons, there is still a fair share of toad characters as well, and few are as spirited and adventurous as Mr. James Thaddeus Toad.
More commonly referred to as Mr. Toad, James Thaddeus Toad is the protagonist of “The Wind in the Willows,” a 1908 novel by Kenneth Grahame that was then adapted and animated by The Walt Disney Company in their 1949 film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
As the squire of Toad Hall, Toad has a wide range of responsibilities he frequently shirks in pursuit of more exciting adventures. Despite their best efforts to set him on the right path and save the manor, Toad’s friends watch as their irresponsible companion bounces around town with his carefree horse Cyril.
However, Toad’s uncontrollable affinity for fads sends him into a raving maniac when he witnesses his very first motorcar. After being framed for stealing one of these shiny contraptions, Toad is wrongfully imprisoned, forcing his friends and himself on a journey to clear Toad’s name and restore Toad Hall to its former glory.
5. Aogaeru From Spirited Away
Speaking of spirited cartoons, our next character might play a minor role in his film, but he is a fan favorite for both American and Japanese viewers despite his limited time on screen.
Aogaeru is a frog spirit and bathhouse worker in the Japanese animated film “Spirited Away,” arguably Studio Ghibli’s most proclaimed film released in 2001.
Not much is known about Aoegaeru’s personality considering his relatively small role in the film, but the one thing viewers can be certain of is his greed. Aogaeru’s appearance is extremely memorable for most Ghibli fans due to his interaction with one of Spirited Away and Ghibli film’s most iconic characters, No-Face, who lures the frog into his clutches with an enticing handful of gold.
Unable to resist the temptation, Aogaeru hops onto the bath where No-Face is resting inside and desperately snatches for the glittering pebbles, leading to his doom. Disturbingly, the most unsettling part of this scene isn’t Aogaeur’s unwavering greed, but the fact that you can still see him bouncing around in No-Faces stomach after the mysterious figure voraciously swallows him.
6. Gamakichi From Ghibli
Ghibli films aren’t the only Japanese representation on this list. In fact, this next toad character is from one of the longest and most successful manga and anime series ever created.
Gamakichi is a comedic and condescending toad in the Naruto universe from Mount Myōboku. He is also the eldest son of Gamabunta, the older brother of Gamatatsu, and the personal summon of Naruto Uzumaki.
Although it was tough to choose between Gamakichi, his father, and his younger brother, we decided he was worthy of his place on this list, considering his strong relationship with protagonist Naruto Uzumaki.
After Naruto initially fails to summon Gamabunta during the fight with the transformed Gaara, his poor chakra control summons Gamakichi instead. Throughout the battle, Naruto doggedly protects Gamakichi, resulting in the Toad’s approval of the young ninja and leading to him and to frequently answering Naruto’s future summons for assistance in training and battles.
7. Pepe the Frog From Boy’s Club
The modern world has brought many dangers with it, but few as threatening as a well-timed meme, and in 2008, one of the most popular frog-related memes with a now-controversial affiliation was sweeping the internet.
Pepe the Frog was originally a comic character featured in Matt Furie’s 2005 comic Boy’s Club before it was repurposed for politicized internet memes in 2008, predominantly on Myspace, Gaia Online, and 4chan.
Also referred to as the “sad frog meme,” Pepe the Frog is often paired with an image or quote to add a sense of awkwardness or a suggestive edge to the content. It reached its peak popularity in 2015 on 4chan and Tumblr until the meme took a dark turn.
During the 2016 election, Pepe the Frog started becoming synonymous with Trump and was slowly appropriated by the alt-right to represent anti-Semitic beliefs and general bigotry. Over time, this amphibious cartoon was slowly incorporated into more political spheres and is even 2019–2020 Hong Kong protests as a symbol of resistance (CTNF).
8. Frog And Toad From Frog And Toad
For some, the phrase “Frog And Toad” actually brings back childhood memories of two beloved storybook characters with valuable life lessons.
Frog and Toad are protagonists in a series of children’s books, written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. There are four books total in the series that were released between 1970 and 1979 that won several awards and were later adapted into two 1980s Claymation shorts.
The books follow the loving friendship between Frog and Toad as they help each other through everyday life struggles, such as house cleaning and kite flying. Along the way, they teach young readers important social skills and lessons, such as the dangers of procrastination and how to accept others for who they are. Learn more about how frog and toad are symbols of the LGBTQIA2+ rights movement at the end of this article on our blog.
More Fun Frog And Toad Content
If you enjoyed this article about cartoon frogs and toads you may enjoy finding them and attracting them to your yard in real life. Have a look at some of the in-depth toad and frog guides on our site below:
- 32 Way to Find Toads And Frogs
- What Toads Can You Find Toads in the USA?
- Where Can You Find Frogs in the USA?
- Attract Frogs to Your Yard
- Attract Toads to Your Garden
GoodReads, The Wind in The Willows
IMDB, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad