Words Of Wisdom From Cartoon Characters We Know And Love

By Sachin P

We know that, unfortunately, cartoons aren’t real. With the broken physics, spontaneous musical numbers, and happily ever afters, it can be hard to relate cartoons to our everyday lives. But if you take another look, you’ll find that those animated classics are full of wisdom that is applicable to everyday life. One could even argue that certain characters could rival famous Greek philosophers!

While not every movie and TV series have these hidden gems, there are more than you might’ve realized. Certainly, there were plenty of quotes that went over our heads as kids. Today we’re going to explore some of the not-so-hidden words of wisdom from beloved cartoon characters.

Move over Hakuna Matata because these timeless quotes are our new life mottos.

Rafiki — The Lion King

The wise mandrill was as amusing as he was enigmatic, so it’s no surprise that he had a few memorable lines that are more impactful for adults. Don’t feel bad, though. Simba didn’t pick up on it right away, either.

Image courtesy of Disney

You can let your past define you or shape you. Simba spent so long running from his past; it was only when he accepted it, learned from it, and moved through the pain that he could claim his spot on Pride Rock.

Jake — Adventure Time

We have to stumble, we have to fall, and we have to feel pain before we take our first steps. But it’s through those hardships that we learn lessons—both consciously and unconsciously. Clearly, Jake from Adventure Time is a big fan of The Lion King.

Image courtesy of Cartoon Network

Don’t let failure get you down. Even Sir Isaac Newton had to learn to add two plus two. You won’t be perfect immediately, and those skills might even come later in life. Besides, how will you know what you’re capable of if you’re afraid to make mistakes?

Big Bird — Sesame Street

Bad days are inevitable. They may not be permanent, and they may not be frequent, but you will have to live through one (or many) at some point in your life. But don’t let one terrible day dictate who you are as a person.

Image courtesy of Sesame Workshop

You are the master of your fate. It might be harder for those with chronic depression, but nothing is impossible, especially with the right tools. With the love and support of your family and friends, you can weather this storm.

Anton Ego — Ratatouille

Dour Anton Ego might not look like it, but he’s a success story. He came from an underprivileged background but earned a name for himself and could dine at 5-star restaurants. He knows more than anyone that status, upbringing, and early exposure don’t define success.

Image courtesy of Pixar

Privilege doesn’t guarantee success either. Talent and skill require drive, passion, and heart. That’s what made Rémy such a good chef. He loved the joy cooking brought him and others. It might take a bit more work, but a diamond in the rough can still shine.

Olaf — Frozen

Olaf may be goofy, but he’s got some nuggets of wisdom to share. He knows that there is love in sacrifice; there is love in letting go. Because the moment you truly start loving, you have to accept that pain is also a part of that relationship.

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The moment you accept this duality as something you have to eventually face, you grow as a person. Because maturity is not measured in years but in understanding the moment you are currently living in and in appreciating the people who shape your life.

Edna Mode — The Incredibles

Edna is a spunky powerful girl boss, and we often forget how much trauma lies in her past. We all know the famous “no capes” rule. The woman abhors capes because her costume designs led to the unfortunate demise of nearly a dozen Supers.

Image courtesy of Pixar

She likely went through a lot of grief each time, but she pushed forward to make the next stellar outfit. Instead of letting those failures hold her back, she looked only to the future. She learned from the past but didn’t dwell on it.

Lois Foutley — As told by Ginger

A relationship requires a lot of work. When you consider the amount of energy, thought, communication, sacrifice, compromise, and change that goes into creating (and maintaining) a healthy relationship, you cannot take it lightly. And while it takes work, you can’t force those things, either.

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No offense to our moms, but Lois earned Mother of the Year for this piece of advice. Movies, TV shows, and peer pressure might make you think that being in a relationship is important, but it has value and is worth more than the “pride” that comes with no longer being single.

Carl — Up!

True love is spontaneous. It can be love at first sight, or it might take a while to know that we are head over heels in love with another person. But whether it takes a second or a decade, love is a powerful force.

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Carl, the man who made us cry within the first five minutes of Up! knows what he’s talking about. Don’t confuse love with other feelings. You’ll know your love is real when your mind and heart alike will sacrifice it all to keep that feeling alive.

Lilo & Stitch

Family doesn’t mean blood ties. To be in a family is to surround yourself with people who love and support you. Family is a warm hug that’s always waiting for you, no matter how long you’ve been apart or what struggles you’ve gone through.

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Sadly, Nani and Lilo lost part of their family in a tragic accident, but the Pelekai’s family bonds still remained strong. Whether they have gone or simply gone astray, family bonds cannot be broken. That love will last through thick and thin.

Rapunzel — Tangled

Comfort zones exist for a reason. The familiar grounds help us feel safe. But the thing with comfort zones is that there is no room for growth. Sure, you can expand your comfort zone, but you’ll never grow as a person if you live in that space.

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Those first few steps outside your comfort zone may be difficult and scary, but if you push past that and explore what the world has to offer, you learn and grow. It may take years to see the results, but it’s certainly worth it.

Quasimodo — The Hunchback of Notre Dame

You know, for a recluse and an outcast, Quasimodo had the most powerful optimistic outlook on life out of all the characters. Now don’t get us wrong. We are not promoting that you be overly optimistic because that’s still rather dangerous.

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No, what Quasi is telling us is that it’s important to keep trying. When there’s a difficult task ahead, there will never be the “right time” to tackle it. And you can’t achieve your goals if you don’t try. So, every day holds an equal opportunity to forge ahead.

Po — Kung Fu Panda

Success can have many interpretations. One can say that success is arbitrary and it differs from person to person, but in reality, there is one thing that remains constant when you consider what counts as success. That thing is… you.

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It comes down to you and what you’re willing to sacrifice. There are no shortcuts in life, nor are there any secret keys to success. If you start your journey by knowing who you are, then you’re already halfway there.

The Emperor of China — Mulan

Ever noticed how certain things that happen to be very rare and extremely inaccessible have a common trait? It’s not their value; it’s their beauty. Tough and inhospitable conditions, whether by unlucky circumstances or an innate requirement, give birth to beautiful blooms.

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The Emperor knows this, too. But was he talking about a flower? Nope. The elderly leader is the master of metaphors. The “flower” is the human spirit. The more challenges and hardships human beings tend to overcome, the more evolved they become, just like a flower.

Elastigirl — The Incredibles

As a Super in a Superhero-hating world, Mrs. Parr, aka Elastigirl, knows all about the importance of your secret identity. When the family washed ashore on Nomanisan Island, Helen passed on this lesson to her eager young heroes, Dash and Violet.

Image courtesy of Pixar

She wasn’t referring to identity theft, though that’s not to be taken lightly either. Elastigirl meant that Dash and Violet should protect that one thing that makes them who they are. Know yourself, nurture what makes you unique, and never let anyone take that away from you.

Tex — Cars

It helps to have a winning mindset in this race that we call life. We need to adapt to navigate life’s ups and downs. But some people get lost along the way and become competitive to the point that the only thing they can see is winning.

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Tex knows that it’s truly about the journey, not the destination. Like racing, life is full of twists and turns and even obstacles. You gotta keep your eye on the prize—just know that the “prize” doesn’t mean coming in first place.

Master Splinter — Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

What sets us apart as human beings? Is it our intellect? Our use of tools? Some would even say it’s our capacity for compassion. Well, we hate to break it to you, but other animal species can do that, too.

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We’ll see commentaries on documentaries about altruistic animals behaving selfishly, but it’s important to reflect on ourselves, too. A lack of compassion is a truly dark thing. The “green-eyed monster” of envy pales in comparison to the destructive force of apathy.

Master Shifu — Kung Fu Panda

You know Master Shifu has some sage advice. When you’ve spent decades training to be a master of martial arts, you pick up a thing or two. Sure, he’s a reference to real-world kung-fu masters, but that doesn’t make his guidance any less wise.

Image courtesy of DreamWorks

That’s gospel right there. You can have all the resources in the world, but it’s all for naught if you don’t have inner peace. Understand and accept who you are. Only then can you face the world and all the challenges that lay ahead.

Christopher Robin — Winnie the Pooh

According to Buddhism, there are four kinds of people. (1) People who know that they know, (2) people who don’t know that they know, (3) people who know that they don’t know, and lastly, (4) people who don’t know that they don’t know.

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We’re not saying Christopher Robin is Bhuddist, but he sure gets type number two and knows to recognize it in his best friend, Pooh. But what’s more important than anything is having loved ones who believe in us and show us what we’re capable of.

Genie — Aladdin

Robin Williams always put his heart into his performances, and we can still feel that today, over three decades later, when we watch Aladdin. We all remember “Friend Like Me,” but don’t discount Genie’s other wonderful lines—most of which were ad-libbed by Mr. Williams.

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What an astute quote, isn’t it? This is basically a fancy way of saying not to judge a book by its cover. Unless you don’t know the circumstances of someone or something, do not be quick to judge or assume.

Master Oogway — Kung Fu Panda

Master Oogway was one of the wisest characters in the history of animation. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that Kung Fu Panda is full of brilliant characters, all of whom offer sage advice we’d love to plaster on our walls.

Image courtesy of DreamWorks

Having inner peace is important, but maintaining it can be hard. This world is full of obstacles that can send us reeling. When you feel overwhelmed, remember this quote. There are merits of keeping stoic and calm. Slow down your mind and the answers might become clear.

Princess Bubblegum — Adventure Time

Society has come a long way, but mental health disorders still have such a negative stigma attached to them. People are finally starting to learn and understand their fellow humans. If you need a reminder, just think of this quote from Princess Bubblegum.

Image courtesy of Cartoon Network

There is no “normal,” and once we accept that, the world is a much nicer place. We can’t force square pegs into round holes, nor do we need to decipher why the pegs are square. Just accept that as fact and go forward from there.

Cookie Monster — Sesame Street

The concept of friendship is something that we should be thankful for, and best friends are an irreplaceable gift. We hope you have the privilege of having one or two in your life. With a BFF by your side, you can live life to the fullest.

Image courtesy of Sesame Workshop

Hold your friends tight, and don’t take them for granted. Cookie Monster knows the value of friendship. Good friends deserve the best we can give them, whether it’s a part of yourself or something that’ll make their day, and in turn, yours, brighter.

Patrick — SpongeBob SquarePants

Who would have thought Patrick Star would have a nugget of wisdom to share? Maybe he’s so full of fluff that there’s room for these seeds of knowledge to grow. Think of it like Emmet’s empty head from The Lego Movie.

Image courtesy of Nickelodeon

That’s actually pretty deep, Patrick. We might think that external forces are what’s stressing us out, but chances are the problem lies deeper than that. Look deep inside yourself, and you might find the answer to those problems plaguing you.

Iroh — Avatar: The Last Airbender

No list of meaningful quotes would be complete without an entry from everyone’s favorite uncle, Iroh. The man’s heart is as big as his love of tea. We’d give anything to get a hug and a pep talk from him.

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Take it from The Dragon of the West. Inner strength isn’t about willpower and determination alone. It’s having the mental fortitude to see even a sliver of light when the world tries to tear you down. The hope you give yourself is stronger than anything someone could give you.

Snow White — Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Age is a state of mind. This actually has two meanings. For one, there are plenty of people who go through difficult times in their youth, and mature sooner than their peers. The other is that growing old doesn’t mean growing up.

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Snow White clearly relates to the latter. Physical aging is something that is constant, but that should not be the case for your mind. This can take many forms, from the little ways you find joy in your daily life, to learning new things decades later than average.

Jack Skellington — The Nightmare Before Christmas

We have all heard the phrase “seeing is believing,” and while witnessing something makes it easier to have faith, your belief shouldn’t hinge solely upon the “pics or it didn’t happen” rule. And we’re not just talking about religion here.

Image courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

You can’t see the wind, yet you feel its refreshing embrace. You can’t see love, yet you feel it in every fiber of your being. Forget tangible proof. You just have to close your eyes and let your heart lead the way.

Mickey Mouse

The Brits are the masters of self-deprecating humor. Most of their hit skits, like those in A Bit of Fry & Laurie, Monty Python, and Not the Nine O’clock News, deal with this concept. But why? Well, let’s answer it with a quote by Mickey Mouse.

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If you can find humor in this show that you call life, you will be able to withstand any hate from the outside world. A clear outlook towards all life starts with one’s self. Learn to appreciate who you are in every way a human can, and that includes jokes.

Cinderella — Cinderella

Would you work hard for something that you didn’t believe in? Well, in most cases, that is our current situation. Gotta love 9-to-5 jobs. But what if the roles switched and we actually had the chance to work for something that we believed in?

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Well, then, achieving your goals will be decided by how hard and how smart you are willing to work. How well you can balance your work and your life. Cinderella was right. Keep your eye on the prize, and believe in yourself.

Edna Mode — The Incredibles

Luck favors the bold. Sure. That quote has weight; it has meaning. But it’s not always applicable. For some, being bold isn’t the problem, nor is it a solution. So, let’s see what Edna Mode has to say about it.

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This one is for everyone who thinks they’re overprepared. The thing is, you never know what life will throw at you. Being prepared means being ready to handle a plethora of challenges that may come your way and learning to adapt and move forward despite them.

Sophie — Howl’s Moving Castle

If you like movies with lessons that aren’t shoved down your throat (sorry, Fern Gully), look no further than Hayao Miyazaki. His movies are masterpieces filled with stunning animation and wondrous characters. Howl’s Moving Castle, for example, is a masterpiece with its female empowerment and anti-war themes.

Image courtesy of Studio Ghibli

Sophie might have been speaking to Calcifer, a little fire demon, but the quote remains true for us mere mortals. No matter how perfect your life may seem, everyone has to deal with adversity. And it’s in those times that the truly strong people shine through.

Mewtwo — Pokémon: The First Movie

Mewtwo was one of the wisest Pokémon to exist. It’s not just because they can actually speak in full sentences—though that does help—but it’s their creation that led to their existence that gives their words weight. Just look at this quote from Pokémon #150.

Image courtesy of OLM, Inc.

This one actually hurts a little when we think about how Mewtwo was “born.” They clearly believe in nurture over nature in that philosophical debate, and we agree. And it’s more than that. It’s how we nurture others that matters in life.

Piglet — Winnie-The-Pooh

All the difference we see in this world makes it a worthwhile place to live in. Our differences in race, faith, creed, ideas, likes, dislikes, and nearly everything are what make us human. That’s something we should cherish and nourish.

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So, is persecuting your neighbor for having a different opinion—or anything—as to what you have, the right thing? Absolutely no. We should be humble enough to accept all differences. After all, what kind of world would it be without diversity?

Tiana — Princess and the Frog

Life is not a fairytale. We think that we are mature enough to accept that fact, but Pandora was quick enough to close the box, so she retained hope. Even though life isn’t a fantasy, people can hope that they can work to achieve that for themselves.

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Tiana was spot on. For life to become a fairytale, you don’t need a castle, nor do you need to fly or grant wishes. A fairy tale life, where you live happily ever after, is attainable. Happiness and peace of mind can provide that in spades.

Peter Pan — Peter Pan

Faith, trust, and pixie dust. While pixie dust doesn’t exist, unfortunately, the other two are still very applicable to our lives. Are you unsure of the big changes that you are going to make in your life? Then take some time for yourself to trust the process.

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Faith is built on a firm foundation of trust. Once trust is established, faith arrives to supplement your decisions. Once you pair these two traits with a clear mind and a level heart, there will be only a little you can’t accomplish.

Professor Bomba — Epic

Remember Professor Bomba from the movie Epic? Well, the movie never states what he’s a professor of, but looking at this quote, we think it’s a safe bet to say he’s a professor of philosophy. Or perhaps he has a degree in psychology…

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox

When we talk about someone “finding their way,” it’s important to remember that it means that, at some point, they got lost. The first person to set off on a journey into uncharted territory finds a way for others by getting lost. So have faith, and work hard. The results will come.

Alice — Alice in Wonderland

The fantastical tale of Alice in Wonderland has more than just silly riddles and vibrant characters. Young Alice is wise beyond her years. The young Brit could easily go toe-to-toe with Aristotle. Just check out this little quote from her.

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Dwelling in the past won’t do anyone any good. And it’s more than just not regretting your decisions, because every moment that led to your now shaped who you are. You’ll never be the same person again, for better or for worse.

Elsa — Frozen

Of course, the snow queen’s famous song is on this list. There’s a reason “Let It Go” is still popular almost ten years later. Elsa’s tale is of a person with depression (we’ll die on that hill), but the song rings true for anyone who’s held regrets and hidden who they are.

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Let go of the guilt. Let go of the self-hate that holds you back. Let go of whatever’s keeping you down and let yourself be free. Most importantly, embrace who you are; don’t hide it away from yourself or from the world.

Zeus — Hercules

Zeus in the original mythology isn’t exactly a great role model, but Papa Zeus in Disney’s Hercules is a jolly old man. We bet he gives great bear hugs. Sitting at the top of Mount Olympus, Zeus knows what strength is.

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We bet Iroh would approve of this line. Inner strength isn’t how well you can break through obstacles with your muscles; it’s how well you can make it through with your wit and will. A hero is made from their dedication to do what’s right, not what gets the crowds roaring.

The Blue Fairy — Pinocchio

For us as human beings, our conscience happens to be one of the most powerful tools that we possess. If we listen to our conscience, if we let our conscience show us the way, then living a life worth living won’t be an impossible task.

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The Blue Fairy was on the money when she shared this advice. A good conscience is a key that opens the door to a better tomorrow, not just for you but for everyone around you. Let it guide you to be a better person.

Wreck-It Ralph

Everyone loves a good redemption story, but Wreck-It Ralph took on the trope in a way few movies have done before. Within the first act of the film, we see what life is like for the “villains” when they’re not in a game.

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It took Ralph a while to realize that just because the game’s program called him the bad guy didn’t mean he had to be the villain. Take it from Ralph; don’t try to be someone you’re not. Embrace who you are.

Fairy Godmother — Cinderella

If there was ever a character that personified the importance of patience, that would be the fairy godmother! When she said to Cinderella “Even miracles take a little time,” she was indirectly teaching us the virtue of being patient in life.

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There are instances where you could do with a bit of impatience, but not in every scenario. The better you are at keeping a level head and being patient when things are against you, the quicker you will find a solution for them.

Gerald — Hey Arnold!

Arnold might have been the star of the classic Nick show, but who could forget his best friend, Gerald? Their friendship was legendary and something we’d be lucky to have. Arnold and Gerald were the real deal, and you know it.

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Gerald dropped a real gem when he said that line. Of course reality is messy! That uncertainty is what makes life interesting. If you were sure of the outcome of the things you do in life, would you even try?

Pocahontas — Pocahontas

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and get so eager that we just have to know how things will turn out. But the moment you find the answer, you change the story. How would you know the outcome of a decision if you don’t let it play out?

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You have to let life take its course. If you intervene unnecessarily, you can halt progress or even ruin things for someone else. As humans, it’s only natural to want to satiate our curiosity. It’s noble to seek answers, but at what cost?

Buzz Lightyear — Toy Story

Nearly everyone has heard of the phrase “To Infinity and Beyond!” But is there a meaning or is it some catchphrase like “Bazinga” from Big Bang Theory or “Cowabunga” from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? You betcha! Let’s take a moment to dive in, shall we?

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There are different levels of infinity. The infinity an ant knows is “smaller” than our infinity, which is “smaller” than the infinity of the cosmos. Even in an incomprehensibly vast measure of the world, there will always be more to explore.

Snow White — Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

People can and will try to devalue you. You will buy into those and end up trying to devalue yourself. In such an event, remember this quote by Snow White. “Remember you’re the one who can fill the world with sunshine.”

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Never undervalue the contributions you make to the world. They could be far greater than you could possibly understand or comprehend. Always know that you matter. Act on that. Go on, seize the day. Make someone else’s day, extraordinary. Make the most of the chance you’re given.