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.