1. Black Dynamite, “Black Dynamite”
Who’s super cool, knows kung-fu, and is ready to school any dope-peddlin’ fool dumb enough to step up and get smacked down by the meanest mother around? Blaxploitation sensation Black Dynamite is back in an all-new animated series on Adult Swim, boasting the same brand of super-fly insanity that once rocked and socked the silver screen.
2. Brock Samson, “The Venture Bros.”
True story: if you open any Webster’s Dictionary to the word “manly,” it’ll just show a picture of Venture Bros. bodyguard Brock Samson. Smoking three cigars. While riding a shark. And wrestling a polar bear. At the same damn time.
3. Aeon Flux, “Aeon Flux”
Acrobatic ultra-assassin Aeon Flux might not have the most consistent mortality rate, but there’s a reason that this svelte, pistol-packing super-soldier is the scourge of the fascist police state of Bregna. But for all her bodacious badassery, this slender siren always doesn’t stand a chance against her fiercest enemy: a gentle breeze.
4. Wolverine, “X-Men: The Animated Series”
Of all the portrayals that this claw-wielding Canuck has seen over the years, nothing matches the unmetered animosity and gravel-voiced gruffness of his X-Men: The Animated Series iteration. Protip: turn a blind eye to every time Logan pines for Jean “Marvel Girl” Grey like a lovesick schoolboy and his badass-ity is increased about tenfold.
5. Scarlett, “G.I. Joe”
Crossbow-equipped secret agent Shana O’Hara — codename Scarlett — was a pioneering name for animated heroines in the 1980s. This fiery redhead easily held her own against the unchecked testosterone of her Joe compatriots, played a crucial role in toppling terrorist organization Cobra’s weekly schemes, and still took time out of her busy schedule to teach anonymous youths how to water-ski. Now that’s what we call a real American hero.
6. Action Hank, “Dexter’s Laboratory”
Crazy cool crimefighter Action Hank is essentially Chuck Norris, Shaft, and Rambo all rolled up and decked out with a bulletproof beard. The idol of young genius Dexter, Hank taught the pint-sized mastermind — and an entire generation of pre-teens — that it’s not the beard on the outside that matters, but the beard on the inside. Words to live by, Hank.
7. Turanga Leela, “Futurama”
True, it’s not tough to look like the galaxy’s biggest badass when you spend your weekdays bumming around with the putzy Planet Express crew, but one-eyed aviator Leela (pictured above fighting William Shatner in hand-to-hand combat, natch) is never above busting out some outstanding aerial manuevers — or a more traditional boot to the face — if that’s what it takes to save the day.
8. Samurai Jack, “Samurai Jack”
During a grisly battle with sinister shape-shifting shadow Aku, this steely samurai prince was unstuck in time and plunged into a surreal, dystopian future. Armed with nothing but his trusty blade and fierce determination, Jack was like a time-trotting, kimono-clad Clint Eastwood, and remains one of the most fearless animated heroes around.
9. Goliath, “Gargoyles”
Unbearably sunny disposition notwithstanding (but seriously, this guy’s colder than the stone he once slumbered in) the millennia-old leader of the Manhattan Clan is one of New York City’s premiere protectors, and that’s coming from a city that includes pretty much every big-screen badass to date.
10. Lana Kane, “Archer”
Much like Leela above, super-spy Lana Kane’s inimitable abilities both on and off the battlefield are admittedly amplified by being one of the only competent agents in her crew — in this case, the International Secret Intelligence Service. The straight man to goofy golden boy (and begrudging ex-beau) Sterling Archer, Lana’s quick to quip and even quicker to spray any enemies in her path with her twin Tec-9s. Just do yourself a favor and don’t bring up her freakishly huge hands.