I Knew She Was An Atheist…

Inspector Gadget‘s niece Penny was always the smart one in the cartoon series. In saejinoh‘s drawing of her, is anyone surprised by her reading material?


This prompted reader Joe to ask the question:

What other cartoon characters are likely to be atheists?

We got Brian from Family Guy.

Lisa Simpson is a Buddhist, but that’s not quite the same thing…

Are there others?

(Thanks to Joe for the link!)

  • http://prenerk.wordpress.com Andrew

    Bender from Futurama, even though he has actually met god after being god.

    I would also put money on Dilbert and dogbert being atheists.

  • matt

    Dilbert is pretty atheistic, in the cartoon series on comedy central I remember several episodes where he went all “there’s a rational explanation for this..” on someone.

    Dogbert’s an agnostic, only because he wants to play all sides and come out on top.

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    Does this mean that all of the Flintstones are young-earth creationists?

  • http://www.myspace.com/reverendredmage Reverend Red Mage

    Velma, from Scooby Doo. She’s always the voice of reason.

    “There’s no such things as ghosts or gods, Shaggy. Jinkies.”

  • Sean

    Bart and Homer Simpson openly mock religion

    Bart: Aren’t we forgeting the true meaning of Christmas? You know, the birth of Santa.

    Homer: Lisa, if the Bible has taught us nothing else, and it hasn’t, it’s that girls should stick to girls sports, such as hot oil wrestling and foxy boxing and such and such.

    Homer: “You know, the one with all the well meaning rules that don’t work out in real life, uh, Christianity”

    Superintendent Chalmers: “Thank the Lor — thank the Lord? That sounded like a prayer. A prayer. A prayer in a public school! God has no place within these walls, just like facts have no place within organized religion.”

    Bart: (saying Grace) “Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing.”

  • http://atheistyogi.worddpress.com Mikayla

    Sweet :) I used to watch that show all the time when I was a kid.

  • Nodster

    Well clearly the Grinch and Herman the Hermit from Yogi’s First Christmas. Naturally, anyone that miserable must be an atheist.

    But seriously, many people aren’t aware of this, but the Mystery Machine had a Darwin fish on the rear bumper. They had to settle for that after their personalized atheist plates were rejected.

    And they would’ve gotten away with the atheist plates if it wasn’t for those meddling Christians and their crazy dog!

  • U747

    Well, they weren’t cartoon characters –

    but I’ve always appreciated that on Full House, they are never shown going to church or mentioning god – at least as far as I remember?
    The girls are raised by 3 men – people who are against gay marriage often make the claim that a father and mother are necessary, but Full House seemed to show otherwise.

    And it was generally considered a show about morals and values…

    I dunno, maybe I’m thinking too much into it – but the show seems to support the idea of non-theistic morality pretty well.

    [ps: there is the exception that uncle jesse & aunt becky gets married in a church. I'm willing to excuse that since most people would've been really confused otherwise.]

  • billybee

    Brian (the dog) on Family Guy.

  • http://darwinsdagger.blogspot.com Darwin’s Dagger

    Lisa Simpson is a Buddhist, but that’s not quite the same thing…

    But she’s very skeptical of the supernatural (remember the episode with the angel fossil) and Buddhism is the least theistic of the major religions.

    Best Bart Simpson Quote “It’s all Christianity, people. The little, stupid differences are nothing next to the big, stupid similarities!”

  • Robin

    I’ll propose Brain from the Animaniacs, though I can’t quote any evidence. The Animaniacs themselves had run-ins with a number of mythical figures, but they were not terribly reverant.

  • Luther Weeks

    Dogbert’s an agnostic, only because he wants to play all sides and come out on top.

    I know plenty of Christians that want to play all sides and come out on top. So it does not follow that Dogbert is therefor agnostic.

    That is falling for what many Christians believe: Bad Morals = Not Religious

    For all we know the Boss and Wally may be very devout. The Boss certainly believes a lot of myths and they both seem to lack positive morals.

    ****
    All cartoon characters are like gods to me, since just like the worshiped gods, they were all created by man.

  • Erik

    Not a cartoon, but I bet Encyclopedia Brown would have grown up to be an atheist, since his whole M.O. was pointing out inconsistencies in other people’s stories/claims.

  • redstripe

    Regrettably, Scott Adams, the Dilbert creator, is not as atheistic as you might think:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/08/scott_adams_wanks_again.php

  • Me

    I don’t think Brian from family guy is a good example of an atheist.

    Ok he claims to be an atheist, but it’s utterly stupid because in the Family Guy universe they *know* that god exists. Peter was Jesus’ best friend! God himself sent a wave of plagues / curses on their house when Peter pretended to be a faith healer! Brian was the first one to acknowledge that it was god sending the curses.

    GOD USES CHEAP TRICKS TO PICK UP WOMEN IN BARS! BRIAN HAS MET GOD!

    Brian also shot the super devil out of the air with a hand gun.

    It just bugs me is all.

  • Simon

    Brian from Family guy is openly atheistic.

    There is one episode of Futurama where Bender find (and loose) Religion, so presumably, he does not have one outside of this particular episode.
    And, while several other religions are mentioned, no character mention his own, in fact, they end up pretty hostile to Bender’s religion. I’d think they mostly are apathetic/non religious, albeit Hermes seems verse in Jamaïcan Voodoo Accounting.

    Reed Richard from the 4 Fantastics is an atheist in the comics, so I guess he also is in the cartoons…

  • Brooks

    I’ll propose Brain from the Animaniacs, though I can’t quote any evidence. The Animaniacs themselves had run-ins with a number of mythical figures, but they were not terribly reverant.

    I think Brain probably thinks he’s a god himself. I seem to remember there was one episode of Pinky And The Brain where Brain tried to take over the world by trying to trick Moses into writing the 11th commandment, thou shalt obey Brain.

  • http://r25productions.com jeremyw

    I haven’t posted before so I don’t know if Hemant needs to still approve me, but Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes.

    Doesn’t he have atheist tendencies?

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-4275-DC-Secularism-Examiner Paul Fidalgo

    Every character on Star Trek….the Animated Series.

  • http://mrvorhias.deviantart.com Mr. Vorhias

    I imagine Dana Scully from the X-Files would be, since she’s always trying to keep things rational and in the realm of logical explanation.

  • Polly

    Do one-time characters count?

    In one episode of “American Dad” Stan (the dad) becomes best friends with an atheist conservative. And though the atheist is resucitated back from the dead believing in an afterlife, he technically only ends up mentioning (and serving) Satan**. I’m pretty sure Haley and Roger(the alien) are atheists, too, though I don’t have evidence for it.

    Homer Simpson looking at a meteor shower: “It’s so beautiful I wish god were alive to see this”

    **Is there a word for people who only believe in a Devil?
    Diabolists?
    Luciferians?
    Satanists?

  • http://www.gregorywalsh.net Greg

    I think we can safely claim Lisa Simpson.

    In the episode in which she converts to Buddhism, she specifically mentions “no creator gods” as part of the appeal.

  • chancelikely

    Mr. Vorhias:

    Ironically, Scully is a Christian and Mulder is the doubter, IIRC.

  • gribblethemunchkin

    Mr Burns from the Simpsons is an atheist.

    He gives a talk in one episode to someone or other and says
    “I’ll keep it short and sweet — Family. Religion. Friendship. These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business. When opportunity knocks, you don’t want to be driving to a maternity hospital or sitting in some phony-baloney church. Or synagogue.”

    I’d guess Doctor Nick is too. And certainly Professor Frink must be.

    As for other cartoon characters, everyone from the Star Wars cartoons. Even the Jedi and sith don’t worship the force nor attribute to it things that cannot be proven.

    Most of the Superheroes from Justice League, etc have the stumbling block to atheism in that they actually hang out with Gods or people directly powered by entities that could accurately be referred to as gods (Dr Fate, Green Lantern, Captain Marvel, etc).

    A better question would perhaps be which cartoon characters would be atheists in our world, since many cartoon worlds actually do have gods. Its not superstition or nonsense to believe in Gods that are fully capable of turning up and shaking your hand (crushing your skull, etc).

  • Claudia

    OK, I know this is a little obsessive, but can someone PLEASE tell me which book is the one to the right, near the flashlight? I know the red one is The God Delusion and the yellow one god is not Great, but I’m stuck on the third book.

    I imagine Dana Scully from the X-Files would be, since she’s always trying to keep things rational and in the realm of logical explanation.

    Actually as I recall she was Catholic, and that this was a topic of some derision on Mulder’s behalf, since she was so skeptical of everything but still clung to that. I vaguely remember an episode about a faith healer or something Christianity related where Scully was the one “wanting to believe” while Mulder was the skeptic.

    Paradoxically, I could never imagine Mulder subscribing to an organized religion or believing in a personal god, even while he believed in just about everything else.

  • http://twitter.com/untheist Eddie

    Lisa Simpson is a Secular Humanist,…. so for me thats good enough…

  • Skeptimal

    Calvin may not have been an atheist, but Hobbes definitely was. I remember Calvin being on a rant about how unfair it was that he had to be good to get into heaven, when there might not be one. Hobbes responded that he was perfectly satisfied with this life.

  • Mike

    In Season 20, Episode 10 Lisa Simpson calls herself a rational skeptic at the 12:31 mark:

    http://wtso.net/movie/445-2010_Take_My_Life_Please.html

    If she is a rational skeptic, then she is likely an atheist.

  • http://twitter.com/untheist Eddie

    CAPTAIN PLANET!

    Captain Planet kids believed in Gaia, which is really an old greek thing but they just use her to represent nature.

    And they are all humanists.. i mean “The power is yours!”… thats humanism all the way.

    So I guess the Captain Planet characters could be deemed sort of pantheistic humanists

  • Danielle

    Hmmm, will the real Scott Adams please stand up? In his blog, he’s frequently advocated “science over superstition.” Also, check out:

    http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2008/01/how-to-get-elec.html

    Money quote: “If I ran for president, I’d have to get past the country’s distaste for atheists.”

    Maybe the other link was satire? Or maybe this is. ;-)

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-2044-Atheism-Examiner Trina Hoaks

    Not a cartoon… but Dr. House is an atheist. :)

  • http://stereoroid.com/ brian t

    I’m pretty sure that Asterix was an atheist. Obelix and the other characters would swear oaths on Toutatis, hoping that the sky would not fall on their heads, but Asterix is portrayed as the most sane member of his village. (Which isn’t saying much, though.) If I would pick one Asterix book to recommend, it would be The Mansions Of The Gods, which has interesting takes on urbanization, property speculation, and colonialism.

  • http://www.shaesplace.com/blog Shae

    I’d place my bets on some or all of the South Park kids and some or all of Matt Groenig’s Life in Hell rabbits.

  • sc0tt

    Mr. Whoopee from Tennessee Tuxedo
    Tintin
    The Incredible Hulk
    Scrooge McDuck
    Johnny Quest and Hadji

  • Shane

    If anyone else used to watch the old X-men cartoons, Colossus is an atheist (from communist Russia). Wolverine was also an atheist although he later delves into Catholicism, Buddhism, and Shintoism (in the cartoon a bit and probably more so in the comic book source material) and is probably more a searching, skeptical agnostic who wants to believe.

  • http://atheistyogi.worddpress.com Mikayla

    And is that The God Delusion in the background? XD

  • Erik

    Eddie:

    Captain Planet kids believed in Gaia, which is really an old greek thing but they just use her to represent nature.

    Isn’t that basically what all religions do, use god(s) to represent natural phenomenon they don’t understand?

  • Dave

    The seeming entirety of Futurama
    Dr. Venture of the Venture Bros.
    Frylock

  • Vincent

    Wasn’t Beast from the Xmen cartoon also an atheist?

    What about the classics? Was Bugs Bunny ever shown doing anything religious? I’m pretty sure he used Elmer Fudd’s religiosity to trick him once or twice.
    The coyote and roadrunner?
    Popeye was always a very practical man. Sure he had some weird metabolic reaction to spinach, but he never credited god for that.

    I used to watch a show called Galaxy Rangers. Pretty sure they were all atheists.
    How about the Transformers?

  • Thilina

    Homer Simpson in the episode where he becomes smarter (by having a crayon removed from his brain) proves that god doesn’t exist (and the evidence is promptly destroyed by Ned). So we could count that. And i particularly like the line “I’m not usually a praying man, but if you’re up their save me, Superman”. He’s also seen worshipping everything from a waffle stuck to the roof, to a fire breathing statue he created so it’s questionable.

    Brian came out as an atheist.

    Also i don’t think we should be counting superheroes as atheists (x-men, justice league, etc.), its hard to pray to a god that may by comparison seem weaker than you.
    And are you still an atheist if you think you are god? (as many super-powered villains tend to think) just asking :)

  • Brooks

    Japanese animation wise, Heero Yuy from Gundam Wing was an atheist. There was one episode where he specifically said he doesn’t believe in God. I think Trieze and Duo might be atheists too since they were very blasphemous about God in the series. Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist was an agnostic and Roy Mustang was an atheist. In the original manga, Maes Hughes is also an agnostic. I don’t know if Misato from the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion is an atheist, but there was one episode where she said that acts of men were better than acts of God.

  • Nicole C.

    Well, since people are listing anime I’m just going to throw out Heather from the game Silent Hill 3. At one point she says something along the lines of “I don’t care about God or Paradise; if that’s what she believes in then fine.”

    Although she does later barf up a god.

  • Awesomesauce

    Wow, these are great!

    I want to add Sokka from that show Avatar the Last Airbender.

    In one episode, he completely tries to debunk some fortune teller and he’s almost always skeptical about people’s claims until they prove themselves.

    He’s a favorite for most of that cartoon’s fans. His weapons include his intellect and a boomerang!

  • Twin-Skies

    @Awesomesauce

    You’re forgetting his awesome meteor sword :)

    Hmm, Setsuna from 00′s a self-confessed atheist.

    Kino from Kino no Tabi’s (Kino’s Journey) probably agnostic, given her open-minded insight into the often absurd cultures she encounters on her travels.

    Kamina from Gurren Lagann’s probably atheistic too – he was totally pissed off a a priest character in episode 7.

    The captain from the Excelion in Gunbuster was also an atheist, as was at least one admiral from Blue Submarine No. 6

    There’s quite a lot of ‘em in anime apparently.

  • Zar

    There were some Transformers episodes with an atheist tone, especially The God Gambit, which featured a made-up religion used to trick people into obeying evil robots. I don’t think the characters were well-developed enough to show much of a spiritual side, but I do believe that Megatron looked down on superstition. I think most of them had a sort of pantheistic or transcendentalist philosophy.

    /dork

  • Awesomesauce

    Ah, yes. An atheist like Sokka would have his/her sword made out of something nerdy like metal from space.

    I also just thought of one that’s not a cartoon, but is appropriate for this conversation. I suspect that Bert from Sesame Street would also be an atheist.

  • Twin-Skies

    @Awesomesauce

    Well if we’re going to segway into more non-cartoon fiction, I’m thoroughly convinced Mal from firefly is an atheist.

    As is Dr. Horrible, and Bad Horse (The Thoroughbred of Sin!).

  • Awesomesauce

    Oh, duh! I almost forgot Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen.

    He counts because he was animated even in the live-action movie.

    Lol @ Twin-Skies

    I’m sure that non-animated characters are fine to mention. They’re every bit as pretend as cartoons.

  • http://dangerousintersection.org Dan Klarmann

    Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet:
    http://www.peterzale.com/helen/

  • Awesomesauce

    My siblings came up with some good ones.

    * Spike (Cowboy Bebop)

    * Batman

    * Zolo/Zoro & Luffy (One Piece)

    * Launch (Dragon Ball)

    * Any of the alchemists (Full Metal Alchemist)

    * The ninjas in the show Naruto (at least they’re called atheists a few times)

    * Vash the Stampede (Trigun)

    * The main characters in Final Fantasy 10 (especially Auron and any Al bhed characters). The Al Bhed are especially interesting because they use technology instead of magic and are pariahs because of it.

    * Shadow (Final Fantasy 6)

  • Somero

    In the dreamwave comics. The Transformer Jetfire is an atheist.

    Which is werid. Because they have an actual god, named Primus.

    Although there is a mirrorverse where supposedly everyone is an atheist. Because there doesn’t seem to be a Primus.

  • Brooks

    I don’t know if any of them would be atheists, but pretty much all the characters in Digimon and Pokemon would be evolutionists, since it’d be impossible to be otherwise in their universe. I don’t know if Hilda from Outlaw Star is an atheist either, but there was one episode where she said that she doesn’t believe in anything until she sees it for herself.

  • Awesomesauce

    Zangief from Street Fighter.

    He is a Soviet communist after all.

  • Brooks

    As long as we’re going with non-animated fictional characters, Han Solo from Star Wars. There was one scene in episode IV where he said he didn’t believe in an all-powerful force that controls everything. I also think Hermione from Harry Potter would be an atheist in our world. She’s very skeptical and science minded and finds more interest in ancient runes than in psychics. In one scene in Deathly Hallows, her argument against the impossibility of the Resurrection Stone existing for real sounded just like a skeptic’s argument against the existence of God.

  • http://diaphanus.livejournal.com/ Ian Andreas Miller

    I don’t think Brian from family guy is a good example of an atheist.

    Yes, Brian is a Flat Earth Atheist:

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FlatEarthAtheist


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