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Let's Rank the 9 Best Cartoon Ducks!

Why are some of the greatest cartoon characters ducks? Why not roosters, or gophers or sparrows? I’m sure an entire book could be written about the strange decision of all these animators, but here, I’ll simply rank my nine favorite duck cartoon characters in order of greatness.

9. Ludwig Von Drake

Although he has a near perfect design and voice, based in part on Albert Einstein, Ludwig Von Drake’s lack of appearances in Disney cartoons means most audiences are, sadly, unfamiliar with him. That means he goes at the bottom of the list.

8. Darkwing Duck

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Although a classic of the Disney Afternoon hour, Darkwing Duck isn’t solid as a superhero, nor does he have the strong personality of some of the other great duck adventurers. Darkwing Duck is a ship without a port, and while he is beloved, he only comes in at number eight on this list.

7. Duckman

Klasky-Csupo, the famed animation company behind Rugrats attempted to create adult animation with Duckman. The cartoon is good, but it was very similar to Howard the Duck, right down to “duck in a human world discussing satirical issues in a real way” angle. That said, Duckman is a great and often overlooked character.

6. Daisy Duck

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Working as an excellent foil to Donald, and a strong and sassy character in her own right, Daisy Duck comes in at number seven.

5. Launchpad McQuack

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Big, dumb, and goofy, Launchpad McQuack unites the duck worlds of Disney Afternoon together. For that, he takes the honor of being number five on our list.

4. Howard the Duck

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Steve Gerber’s creation for Marvel was deeply weird, satirical, and much maligned in the fandom… until a recent appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy made Howard the Duck popular again. Still, the original Howard comics are a joy to read, and the new series by Chip Zdarsky is a cornerstone in Marvel’s more comedy-oriented publishing that delights to this day.

3. Donald Duck

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One of the all time greats who ended up having two distinct characterizations — he’s been both the guy who couldn’t hold his temper and the avatar for the foolhardy common man in Carl Barks’ brilliant Donald Duck comics. It is the latter interpretation of Donald Duck that lands him this high on our list.

2. Scrooge McDuck

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Scrooge McDuck is an all-time great fictional characters, even if we were counting non-ducks [which, like, why would we do that?]). He lands this high because of his adventurous personality, his complex and equal love for both money and family, and his small role in giving us Indiana Jones (It’s sort of true! Scrooge’s adventures in far off countries in the Carl Barks books — including a scene where a boulder chases him — were inspiration for Indiana Jones). Scrooge McDuck would easily be number one, if the actual number one wasn’t completely untouchable…

1. Daffy Duck

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Long before the anti-hero trend took hold, we had Daffy Duck, a deeply selfish weirdo who always gets his. Any Looney Tune is a perfect straight man for Daffy, and his character has been hugely influential aspect in both animation and comedy.

What do you think? Any ducks I missed? I considered just putting Mallard Fillmore dead last but decided he didn’t even deserve that attention. Tell me in the comments or on Twitter at @AlexFirer!

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Alex Firer
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