The highly memeable Baby Yoda (officially known as “The Child”) was introduced to the world through The Mandalorian, Star Wars’ first live-action series, in November 2019. Soon after, the Internet was saturated with images of this small, green puppet with disproportionately large ears and eyes.
Baby Yoda is not the first undeniably cute creature to have commandeered the attention of the public—and in the pantheon of cute, Baby Yoda is far from the top.
YouGov set out to determine America’s cutest character by asking people to choose the cuter of two characters in a series of head-to-head matchups. The cutest characters to emerge from YouGov’s trials were the classics—not the Disney+ newcomer Baby Yoda, who ranked 38th out of 114 characters.
The crown for cutest goes to Thumper, the bunny sidekick from Bambi. Thumper was chosen as the cuter character in 82.3% of the matchups he was presented in. Not far behind Thumper is Bambi himself, winning 82.2% of his head-to-head contests.
Rounding out the top ten are the remaining characters that won more than 70% of their match-ups: Lady (Lady and the Tramp), Patch (101 Dalmatians), Winnie the Pooh, Lucky (101 Dalmatians), Tweety Bird (Looney Tunes), Simba (Lion King), Nala (Lion King), and Dumbo. The Walt Disney Company dominates this top ten, with the only non-Disney character being Tweety Bird, an icon of Warner Bros’ Looney Tunes.
The characters that faced off were sourced from YouGov panelist submissions—but humans (animated or otherwise) were excluded. You can page or search through the table below to see where your favorite character ranks, or how characters from your favorite franchise (e.g., Star Wars) are ranked.
Often, what a person rates “cute” varies by generation. For simplicity and sample size, we divided respondents into two groups: Millennial or younger (born 1982 or after) are considered the younger Americans, and Gen X or older (born before 1982) are considered older Americans.
Six of the top 10 characters were the same for both age groups. Of those that differed, the Millennial and younger cohort included Nala (Lion King), Yoshi (Nintendo), Kirby (Nintendo), and Berlioz (Aristocats) in their top ten, while Gen X and older respondents had Tweety Bird (Looney Tunes), Lucky (101 Dalmatians), Snoopy (Peanuts), and Dumbo.
YouGov analyzed where the generational cohorts differed most by finding the biggest ten winning percentage differences where Gen X and above found the character cuter, and ten where Millennials and below found them cuter.
The biggest differences here show that younger Americans classify newer characters—particularly those from video games—as cuter than older Americans do. For instance, Kirby (Nintendo) won 69.4% of the time for Millennials and younger, but only 34.3% for those Gen X and above. That means his win score was 35.2 percentage points higher among younger Americans, giving Kirby the biggest generational split.
In contrast, older Americans were more likely than younger Americans to consider Porky Pig (Looney Tunes) cute. His win score was 21.9 percentage points higher among older Americans.
Other video game characters—like Pokémon’s Charmander, Jigglypuff, and Pikachu or the Nintendo characters Toad and Yoshi—are also more often considered cute by younger Americans.
Unfortunately for Baby Yoda, it may take a few more decades before he can challenge Thumper’s cuteness. YouGov’s analysis found that the more recently a character has been introduced, the lower is its cuteness win percentage. That could, in part, be sparked by nostalgia: what people find cute is wrapped up in what they watched as kids. But some of this relationship could also be due to familiarity, as more people have seen Bambi (1942) than have watched The Mandalorian (2019).
But this relationship is not deterministic: Some recent characters are seen as cuter than older characters, and a few overperform (or underperform) the year they were introduced. The characters that fall above the line were rated cuter than the expectation for the year they were introduced.
The three that overperform most are Simba and Nala from The Lion King as well as Dug from Up. The underperformers are those furthest away from the line underneath it: Chewbacca (Star Wars), Donkey Kong (Nintendo), and The Brain (Pinky and the Brain).
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