dbz-youtube-promo-muscle-cartoons
YouTube/Funimation

Hey bodybuilders, remember when you were a kid on Saturday morning. When you weren’t, you know, being active, you were probably doing what most of us did — watching cartoons. Fortunately the 80s and 90s were crammed with some of the most insanely ripped characters ever drawn. You might not have realized, but they probably sent out some subliminal weightlifting messages.

No. 10: Brock Samson: Venture Bros. (2004-Present)

brock-samson-youtube
YouTube/Adult Swim

photo courtesy of: YouTube/Adult Swim

The only active series on our list, not only is main character Brock Samson built like an Apache helicopter, but his accomplishments inspire true greatness. He went to State University on a football scholarship. He lost his virginity at age 14. And his undercover aliases include: “Walking Swedish Murder Machine”, “Super Kill-Guy”, and “Murderist Extraordinaire.” That said, his wheels seriously hurt his rank on our list — never skip leg day!

No. 9: Johnny Bravo (1997-2004)

Johnny-Bravo
Cartoon Network

photo courtesy of: Cartoon Network/Youtube

He’s sort of the stereotypical meathead, right? But, he’s awesome. Always looking good. Always chasing babes. Never without a reason to flex his biceps. Johnny Bravo, we get you.

No. 8: G. I. Joe (1983-1986)

GI-Joe-Cartoon
Hasbro

photo courtesy of: Hasbro

Gung Ho. Snake Eyes. Hawk. Flint. Duke. Sgt. Slaughter. It’s hard to pick out the most stacked Joe. Actually, no, it was probably Sgt. Slaughter. G.I. Joe was basically a military “best bod” competition, featuring men and women who worked out daily by smashing COBRA Troopers’ windpipes. That’s dedication to schedule.

No. 7: The Tick (1994-1996)

tick-youtube
FOX/YouTube

photo courtesy of: FOX/YouTube

This superhero send-up featured a titular hero who was as buff as he was absurd. Originally devised as a comic book, the cartoon was the middle step between the first iteration and the final, a live-action show starring Puddy from Seinfeld in a body suit with abs, pecs and obliques that clearly aren’t his. High-five.

6: X-Men (1992-1997)

x-men-youtube
X-men/Youtube

photo courtesy of: FOX/YouTube

In addition to having the greatest theme song in the history of cartoons, the early 90s X-Men series left no mutant muscle behind. Even Cyclops – the X-Men’s resident nerdboy – was unfathomably ripped. Mutant powers must come with a membership to Gold’s.

5: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-1996)

tmnt-youtube-default
CBS/YouTube

photo courtesy of: CBS/YouTube

These guys climb our ranks because their physiques could barely fit in their shells. Even by mutant creature standards, visible six-packs poking through rock-hard exoskeletons is worthy of respect. The only question is, who do we credit the lean mass to, ninjitsu training or sewer cardio?

4: The New Adventures of He-Man (1990)

He-Man-image
Mattel/Filmation

photo courtesy of: Mattel/Filmation

He-Man may have actually been the first bodybuilder. His outfit certainly suggests he knew how to pose. And his good looks wouldn’t have been out of place on stage at the Olympia or the Arnold Classic. Even his nemesis, Skeletor, obviously hit the gym. Probably the competing gym across the street. Dick.

3: Thundercats (1985-1989)

thundercats-moviepilot
Warner Bros./moviepilot

photo courtesy of: WarnerBros/MoviePilot.com

Thundercats, HOOOO!

This motley crew of cat people benefitted from an all protein diet of heroism. Ripped leader Lion-O was jacked enough to pull off a powder blue one-piece, while Panthro, his right hand man (essentially, his spotter) opted for a more Borat-ish look. Both gave aspiring bodybuilders some cool cats to follow. Plus, Cheetarah … meow!

2: Dragon Ball Z (1989-1996)

kai-greene-fusion-dbz
Funimation/YouTube

photos courtesty of: Funimation/YouTube/Imgur

KAMEHAMEHA! So cries Goku every time he unleashes a “Turtle Devastation Wave” on an unlucky foe. In doing so, Goku flexes just about every muscle he has in what amounts to an epic pose-down with evil. Also, the DBZ creators took weight training very seriously. Intensified artificial gravity chambers and hyperbolic time technology made for some of the most entertaining training sequences ever drawn by man. Oh, and to any of you bros rolling your eyes at an anime show, know this. Kai Greene, and several pro bodybuilders, are huge DBZ fans (see ‘fusion’ image below).

kai-greene-fusion-imgur
Imgur

1: The Incredible Hulk (1986)

the-hulk
The-Hulk

OK, Bruce Banner did admit he isn’t 100 percent natural, but we’re not casting stones! The Hulk rocked our May 2012 cover because he’s the most muscle-crazy character of all time … period. Beside being a classic cartoon (with two adaptations), the franchise was a successful comic book series, live-action show (starring legendary bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno) and slightly less successful movie. Everyone has their favorite, but there’s no way we could give the top jacked cartoon slot to another show.

Unranked Honorable Mentions

Popeye (1960-1962)Let’s be honest, Popeye had a lot going on. His face suggested some sort of palsy. His girlfriend was almost certainly battling an eating disorder. And Bluto was just a royal douche pretty much all the time. BUT, Popeye clearly found time to work out. Obviously, he focused on forearm strength but, as evidenced by his spinach-induced heats, he was a full-body beast as well, meaning he likely supplemented that spinach with a few of Wimpy’s burgers. No bun.  

George of the Jungle (1967)Even though steak and eggs don’t really exist in the jungle, GotJ was the early-childhood definition of a steak and eggs build. His classic “V” shape must have been cultivated doing overhand grip pullups on tree branches, and swinging vines instead of kettlebells.  

Powdered Toast Man: The Ren & Stimpy ShowMost kids watched Ren & Stimpy because they weren’t supposed to. But future bodybuilders watched it because of Powdered Toast Man. A totally oblivious superhero, PTM’s physique couldn’t be ignored. From chest to abs to quads to calves, he was set. And his glutes were so impressive that he actually flew ass first (by launching himself out of a toaster). 

McBain: The Simpsons (1989-present)Most Simpsons fans will rattle off “Comic Book Guy” or “Ralph Wiggum” as favorite characters. Not bodybuilders. For them, only McBain – aka Ranier Wolfcastle – stands tall. A spoof on larger-than-life action heroes like Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, McBain only reinforces how awesome they were. 

Captain Planet (1990-1996)While not “huge”, in the traditional sense, CP still packed on a solid stack of lean muscle to compliment his lean, green mullet. Experts and competitors alike can agree that his impressive physique is a result of two things: eating clean, as a champion of the environment should, and benching Planeteers in his spare time.

Larry the Lobster: Spongebob Squarepants (1999-Present): If Larry were more of a central character (and not all pecs), the big-hearted crustacean would have been a shoo-in for our three spots. That said, here’s a shoutout to honor those “big meaty claws.”