Sports and television.
Long considered the backbone of the entertainment industry, live sporting events routinely comprise the top spots of weekly Nielsen television ratings in the United States and around the world.
Last year, the New York Times confirmed that the NFL and other sports absolutely dominate the TV market during the afternoon and evenings when they are played.
When the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees played the 2001 MLB World Series less than two months after Sept. 11, 2001, America watched in record numbers. Arizona's dramatic Game 7 victory was seen by over 39.1 million viewers.
Of the top 20 highest rated broadcasts of all time, 11 were sporting events and 10 were Super Bowls.
The phenomenon extends across the pond, too. The most-watched broadcast in United Kingdom history was the 1966 World Cup, edging out the second-place funeral of Princess Diana.
Germany's No. 1 was the 2010 FIFA World Cup—indeed, 10 of the top 11 most watched German programs of all time were sporting events.
For Canada, it was the gold medal game of the men's hockey tournament in the 2010 Winter Olympics; for Australia, it was tennis edging out rugby by 29,000 viewers; for India, it was cricket.
Simply put, sports dominate live event television consumption.
Faced with this indubitable reality, creators of America's most treasured animated series have routinely made reference to sports, going so far as to assign their characters as fans of real-life sports teams.
Fans love it, going so far as to take to online discussion boards to debate which team a cartoon character roots for.
That said, this list presents the best cartoon characters who are fans of real-life sports teams.
One more thing, the NBA is not represented in this list because no animated characters appear to appreciate a league that would entertain the idea of canceling its season due to a silly figure like 49-51.
This one is an honorable mention for two reasons.
First, while Yosemite Sam is depicted as someone who clearly hates the New York Yankees, this brief clip never really defines who Yosemite Sam is a fan of, or if he is in fact a fan of baseball whatsoever.
Second, it is quite obvious that this clip is a pun on the American Civil War. Union soldiers were often referred to as Yankees by the Confederacy, and this clip is clearly a gag based on the fact that MLB's Yankees have the same nickname as those Northern soldiers.
Yosemite Sam is clearly a Southern gentleman and Bugs Bunny has once again seized the opportunity to overact while setting up yet another signature Looney Tunes witticism.
Aldermach Maggotbone is Satan in Comedy Central's Ugly Americans. As the modern-day devil, Aldermach watches his daughter Callie live her life in New York City while he must live underground.
Still, this doesn't prevent Aldermach from regularly visiting the Big Apple and enjoying all it has to offer, including its sports scene.
While colloquial folklore specifies that God is a Yankees fan, Aldermach prefers to stay out of baseball entirely, choosing the New York Jets as his favorite team.
Though he wears a uniform suit at work, Aldermach is occasionally seen lounging around in Jets attire and cheering for the Jets on television.
The very unreal squid named Early Cuyler happens to be a huge fan of a very real collegiate football team.
Listen to Cuyler spew his knowledge of Georgia Bulldogs history and show off his—um—Gator bait hat.
Cuyler is such a huge Georgia fan that when he recorded a rap with T-Pain, Early ad-libbed the lyrics, "Auburn sucks."
Television nuclear power employee Homer Simpson has been called many things—stupid, clumsy, insane—but the one thing you can never call him is a bad sports fan.
When neighborino Ned Flanders invited the Simpsons to Israel in "The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed" episode of The Simpsons, Homer found several ways to express his true Carolina pride.
When Flanders and Simpson enter King David's tomb, Homer unabashedly pounds fists with a holy statue. Upon later visiting the tomb of the Savior, Homer takes a nap on what he calls "the tomb of the unknown Savior."
Homer also miraculously picked out a Panthers yarmulke out of a truck bed full of generic black and blue yarmulkes.
Homer might be a terrible when it comes to religious issues—or issues of showing respect or tact—but he is a dedicated sports fan. He also dislikes the Denver Broncos, complaining when the team suddenly appears on his front lawn.
Then again, Homer had previously expressed an interest in being John Elway as well as owning the Dallas Cowboys—it is ultimately unclear whether Homer is capable of maintaining a long-term interest in one sports franchise.
Though she is never named, the mother of Philip J. Fry in Futurama is either a terrible parent, an extremely dedicated New York Mets fan or, most likely, both.
She first appears in "The Luck of the Fryrish" in which a sentimental Philip J. is retelling stories from his youth as he grows homesick 1,000 years removed from his own time.
The following a brief transcript which demonstrates Mrs. Fry's true commitment to the New York Mets and/or her neglect of motherhood.
Doctor: Push, Mrs. Fry. You're almost there.
Mrs. Fry: (shouting) Hey, keep it down! It's the ninth inning.
Radio: And Groady leans into the pitch. It hits him! The Mets win!
Mrs. Fry: This is the happiest day of my life!
Doctor: Here's your baby, ma'am. (Doctor places Philip J. Fry on Mrs. Fry's lap)
Mrs. Fry: Yeah, OK, thanks.
Dedicated Futurama fans have even employed excerpts from the game Mrs. Fry was listening to on the radio when she gave birth in an attempt to calculate Philip J.'s true birthday.
For those interested, it is Aug. 14, 1974.
Like Homer Simpson with the Carolina Panthers, what makes Father Maxi's commitment to the Denver Broncos so amazing is where and when he chooses to express his fanaticism.
During South Park's "Spontaneous Combustion" episode, Father Maxi is officiating a funeral service for local child Kenny McCormick. As he commands a somber congregation to bow their heads and join him in prayer, what he says next cements his dedication to the Denver Broncos.
Lord, though we have lost Neil Smith to free agency and Steve Atwater to the Jets, still we hope our beloved Broncos can bring home another Super Bowl championship and once again bathe in the glory of your light. Amen.
Then again, the fact that Kenny dies in almost every episode might just explain Father Maxi's unique prayer.
Having the main character work at the CIA is an excellent excuse for a cartoon to introduce random and physically impossible inventions under the guise of the devices being top secret government projects.
In American Dad, Stan Smith is that CIA Agent and routinely abuses his power by bringing home CIA devises or otherwise terrorizing his family, friends and neighbors.
In "The Vacation Goo," Smith and his family are planning an annual vacation to Maui. To wife Francine and children Steve and Hayley, the family is having a blast in Hawaii, but it turns out to be merely a diversion orchestrated by Stan.
Stan's latest CIA escapade involves borrowing a device known as "the goo" and submerging the family in the device's three cryogenic style tubes. Smith is able to manipulate the device to simulate an alternate reality for his wife and children who are in "the goo," sending them on a vacation to Hawaii while he watches his beloved Georgetown Hoyas.
When his family ultimately discovers they have been duped by "the goo," they venture upstairs to confront a relaxed Stan Smith who is in the midst of a Hoyas game:
Francine: (Angrily) In all of our vacations, the only thing that ever brought this family together has been a big fat lie?
Stan: (Cheering) Yes!
Stan: (Seriously) That's "Yes" to you and "Yes" to the game.
Though Family Guy did dedicate one entire episode of their show to the New England Patriots, bumbling oaf Peter Griffin is a more consistent Boston Red Sox fan.
Griffin was employed by the Patriots, whereas he has attended Red Sox games without any other reason than his enthusiasm over Red Sox baseball.
The following is a list of Griffin's interactions with and about the Red Sox organization:
- Takes his family to Opening Day vs. the New York Yankees instead of reporting to work. He is subsequently disciplined and almost fired for playing hooky ("Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington").
- Snatches a home-run ball away from Jeremy the Terminally Ill Boy, similar to how real life fans routinely scramble for home run and foul balls while pushing other fans out of the way ("Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington").
- Visits Fenway Park to attend another regular season contest with his dog and infant son. Griffin and his dog enter the stadium and take their seats, oblivious to the fact that they have left a baby locked in the family car ("The Courtship of Stewie's Father").
- Takes his father to a baseball game at the club's AAA affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox ("Holy Crap").
- Talks Red Sox baseball and strategy with a family member ("Brothers & Sisters").
- Intentionally provokes a group of New Yorkers into a fight by bashing the New York Yankees ("Lethal Weapons").
As you might be able to discern from Carl Brutananadilewski's long rant, Carl is a New York Giants fan—big time.
Cartoon Network's Adult Swim hit a sports and entertainment goldmine when Aqua Teen Hunger Force creators Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis came up with the idea for Carl.
Placing him in New York Giants gear and having him do a series of standalone tirades about sports was absolutely genius.
The only reason Carl isn't the No. 1 spot is I'm not exactly sure if Carl is more of a Giants fan or more of a completely crazy person.
Though Hank Hill is a former high school running back who lives in fictional Arlen, Texas, he is a huge fan of the Dallas Cowboys.
Because King of the Hill creators Mike Judge and Greg Daniels ensured that Hank's love of football and the Cowboys would be a regularly featured theme of the show, it would be impossible to cite one and only one scene to prove Hank's devotion.
Instead, the following is a partial list of times Hank Hill has referenced his love for the Cowboys, shown his disdain for other teams or both:
- Creates a film featuring his home town of Arlen in an attempt to coax the Cowboys into moving their official training camp there ("Hank's Cowboy Movie").
- After hearing the official propane supplier of the Cowboys mention they are fans of the Oklahoma Sooners, Hank frantically covers his ears while chanting "Stampede! Go you Dallas Cowboys, go!" ("Hank's Cowboy Movie").
- When Arlen High fullback and potential future Cowboy David Kala'iki Ali'i is at risk of failing his classes and becoming academically ineligible to play football, Hill volunteers to teach Ali'i about propane. Though Ali'i clearly fails Hill's simplified final exam, Hank still gives the QB an "A" so he can continue playing ("Peggy Makes the Big Leagues").
- When his son Bobby begins enjoying soccer instead of football, Hank tells Bobby an ugly truth ("Three Coaches and a Bobby").
- When his wife Peggy suffers a nervous breakdown and steals the family Thanksgiving turkey, Hank instructs Bobby to "do two things I pray you'll never have to do again, tape the Cowboys game and give me an apron" ("Goodbye Normal Jeans").
- Hires a drug addict instead of a qualified job candidate after the addict mentions he likes the Dallas Cowboys and the qualified candidate admits she has never heard of Troy Aikman ("Junkie Business").
- When telling Bobby an ancient Buddhist story, replaces the main character with a Cowboys football player and replaces the antagonists with Detroit Lions ("Death of a Propane Salesman").
- Tells time in terms of how many Super Bowls the Cowboys have won ("Chasing Bobby").
- Repeatedly refers to his adoration of legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry, including...
- Dreams Landry is an airplane pilot in the same room as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln ("Trans-Fascism").
- During a varnish-induced hallucination, imagines he and Landry are whack-o-moles and that Landry is his life coach ("Hillennium").
- While attempting to discover his true parentage, imagines he is Landry's son ("Yankee Hankie").