11 Female '90s Animated Characters Who Will Always Be Your Heroes

Cartoons are the lifeblood of the '90s childhood experience. I'm sorry other generations, but '90s cartoons were the best. Not only were they funny, groundbreaking, and subversive, but '90s cartoons had the coolest female characters. From the Disney princesses on the big screen to the Powerpuff Girls on the small screen, there were awesome animated girls and women everywhere you turned. It truly was a golden age of animation, and '90s kids were all the better for having so many amazing female characters to look up to and identify with.

What other generation can boast characters as diverse as Mulan, The Powerpuff Girls, Daria, and Susie Carmichael? Disney, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and all of the other animated content creators of the era totally had your back when it came to creating characters young women could see as heroes. Sure, the decade had its share of cartoon bros — Beavis and Butt-head and Ren and Stimpy were also created in the '90s — but female characters were just as busy having adventures, kicking butt, and hanging with their besties.

There are so many characters to choose from, but the 11 animated female characters on this list will forever be life heroes to '90s girls, and anyone else who is lucky enough to find them.

1. Daria Morgendorffer, Daria

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Everything I know about feminism I learned from Daria. She was smart, laconic, deeply intellectual, but also cooly detached — she was everything I wanted to be when I grew up. She was an empowered teen who understood the importance of friendship and pizza. I do not want to imagine what growing up without Daria would have been like.

2. Belle, Beauty & The Beast

People will be debating until the end of time whether Belle was a feminist or anti-feminist character, all I know is that she was one of the first heroines I encountered who loved to read and learn. She was also brave and fiercely protective of her family, making her a Disney princess who made her own choices.

3. Blossom, Buttercup, & Bubbles, The Powerpuff Girls

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An attempt to make "perfect" little girls results in three tiny superheroes that no one wanted to mess with. They could be totally into ponies and rainbows and still kick butt. Is it it any wonder the show has already been given a reboot?

4. Ashley Funicello Spinelli, Recess

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Ashley made it cool to be enjoy "boy" stuff. She was into wrestling, and embraced her tough girl persona, but she also loved art. Her wide range of interests and self-assured attitude were totally inspirational.

5. Mulan, Mulan

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Mulan chose to embrace who she believed she was, rather than what others wanted her to be, and courageousness has earned her a spot as one of Disney's greatest princesses.

6. Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons

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Lisa is still going strong on TV today, but the '90s introduced this iconic young woman into pop culture history. Her unwavering intelligence and forward thinking attitude have made Lisa a character who could never be forgotten.

7. Usagi Tsukino, Sailor Moon

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A reluctant hero, Sailor Moon was far from perfect. She complained and she whined, but she also had an amazing heart. More importantly, she grew into a leader, proving heroes don't have to be perfect they just have to endure.

8. Susie Carmichael, Rugrats

Before Susie came along, there was no one to stand up to Angelica. Susie came on the scene as a kind, witty kid who stood up to bullies and, from time to time, forced Angelica to see the world didn't revolve around her.

9. Eliza Thornberry, The Wild Thornberrys

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Eliza not only talked to animals, she adored them and spent most of her childhood helping them sort out their problems. Didn't everyone want to be her when they grew up?

10. Pocahontas, Pocahontas

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Disney fudged the history, but Pocahontas' passion for peace and nature taught so many kids the value of protecting the world around them. She was also a fiercely brave character who had a raccoon for a BFF. What more could you ask for?

11. Elisa Maza, Gargoyles

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Not many people would be cool with finding out Gargoyles came to life, never mind helping them, but being the fearless NYPD detective that she was, Elisa rolled with it. She was a skilled fighter with an open mind and heart who represented the power of simply being human on a show where she often had to be the voice of humanity.

Who knows where '90s kids would be without heroes like these amazing animated characters?

Image: Cartoon Network