Blue Smurfs and green Ninja Turtles: The cartoon-character color wheel.

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July 29 2011 6:53 AM

Red Skull Is Red, Smurfette Is Blue

A beautiful color wheel showcasing the entire cartoon character spectrum.

This Friday the Smurfs movie premieres, bringing its world of blue people into our world of normal-colored ones. We at Slateare lovers of all colors of cartoon peoples, from the yellow figures of The Simpsons to the frequently blue and green heroes of the Marvel Comics Universe, and so we wanted to champion the full diversity of the animated world. In the interactive graphic below you'll find the complete rainbow of cartoon characters, from Pink Panthers to Grape Apes to red, well, whatever Zoidberg is. You'll notice a few fleshy humanoids, too. Of course not every iconic character could be included—the cartooniverse is too vast for us to completely chronicle here—but we've handpicked beloved creatures of every hue.

Why are the Smurfs blue? Why is Doug's Beebe Bluff purple? Our aim is not to answer these existential questions. When asked why the Simpsons are yellow, Yeardley Smith (voice of Lisa) explained only that Matt Groening "thought that it would be really funny if, when people watched The Simpsons, they thought that maybe the color on their TV was off." Indeed, these characters simply travel in different worlds—worlds, it's worth remembering, in which humans of all races would often be oddly colored outcasts. (In one episode of The Simpsons, Homer warns of "horrible freaks, with pink skin, no overbites, and five fingers on each hand!")

We invite you to explore our color wheel. Is that a purple Tiny Toon? A glaucous ThunderCat? Hover your mouse over the character to find out.

Natalie Matthews-Ramo is a Slate Web and interactive designer.

Brahna Siegelberg is a Slate intern.

Isabel Slepoy is a Slate intern.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

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