Blue is not a color that naturally occurs in nature very often, except for the Floridian cold springs where blue-flavor Gatorade is harvested and bottled directly from the source, of course, I think. The ancient Greeks didn’t have a word for blue, and it’s the last color to appear in most languages. As I learned too late in adulthood, “blue raspberry” isn’t a real thing. Butterflies and birds use reflective fragments to appear blue, but they don’t have any blue pigment. Neither do blue eyes. Not even Sonic the Hedgehog star James Marsden’s. That’s why it is such a beautiful, bluetiful rarity when a character in a movie is blue, of all things. With lovable blue blur Sonic the Hedgehog currently out in theaters and Onward seeing its release this weekend, we figured it couldn’t be that hard to rank (almost) every blue character in cinema. How many could there be?
But first, some ground rules:
—This is a movie ranking. That means no TV characters like Cookie Monster, Grover, Roadrunner, Blue (as in Clues), Bloo from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, or Tobias Fünke. It also means no blue recording artists, so no Crazy Frog or Eiffel 65.
—Also, the characters have to be blue, not just wear it. That rules out the Blue Power Ranger.
—Both of the above rules apply to Bubbles the Powerpuff Girl.
—There are too many blue Pokemon in Detective Pikachu and The Pokémon Movie and they don’t talk, besides.
—The blue monster (or was it an alien?) from Monsters vs. Aliens isn’t here because I saw it once when I was too old to see it and I remember nothing.
—They can’t just be some random blue person in the background of a sci-fi movie; we’re looking mainly at key characters with speaking roles.
And with that, let’s rank the blues.
33. The Girl Car From Cars
So insubstantial and overshadowed by Lightning McQueen and Mater’s bromance (towmance?) that I don’t even know her name. At least they didn’t give her car eyelashes.
32. Aayla Secura, Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones
A bigger deal in the cartoons than in the movie. What does she even do? Don’t tell me. I don’t care. This list has more substantive roles for blue aliens further down.
31. Ronan the Accuser, Guardians of the Galaxy
Even further down.
30. Smurfs, The Smurfs
Oh, Smurf these little guys. Smurfs and its sequel are classic entrants in the “CGI pests bother a live-action grown man” canon, alongside Alvin and the Chipmunks (Jason Lee), Hop (James Marsden), Peter Rabbit (Domhnall Gleeson), and Sonic the Hedgehog (also James Marsden). In Smurfs, a bunch of boy-Smurfs and also one (1) Katy Perry Smurf bother Neil Patrick Harris a whole lot. The late Jonathan Winters and the late Anton Yelchin voiced two of the Smurfs. They probably made a lot of money, which is nice.
29. Blu, Rio
In a movie about a macaw smuggled from Brazil, why is the lead parrot voiced by … Jesse Eisenberg? Who’s the exec who said, “Kids love that madcap ball of fun, Jesse Eisenberg!” We suppose it’s because it’s a voice-over role from 2011, so Tom Holland wasn’t born yet. As far as blue birds go, Eisenberg should’ve voiced a feature-length adaptation of this guy.
28. Sam Eagle, Muppets
27. Osmosis Jones, Osmosis Jones
What a concept! Chris Rock voices a white blood cell who’s really blue who teams up with a cold pill (David Hyde Pierce, who is such a cold pill) to go inside Bill Murray to fight a virus. Like a cop movie, but teeny-tiny.
26. Flik, A Bug’s Life
Dave Foley is an industrious little ant who doesn’t want to be a cog in the ant assembly line, and who uses his inventions and flea-circus friends to fight Kevin Spacey. Remember 1998, when animated movies hadn’t run out of original ideas yet?
25. Draags, Fantastic Planet
The original bald blue baddies made a few points about the human race. The product of a Czechoslovak-French co-production in 1973, the aliens at the center of this allegorical animated indie are the stuff of dorm-room-stoner streaming dreams.
24. Stoner Caterpillar, Alice in Wonderland
Caterpillar animation is fun animation. See the aforementioned Bug’s Life.
23. Blue Meanies, Yellow Submarine
[SPICY THOUGHTS ALERT] I, too, dislike The Beatles and therefore side with the Blue Meanies.
22. Max Rebo, Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi
Like a cuter version of Hooter from Captain EO. When George Lucas rereleased the original trilogy with CGI, poor Max was nowhere to be found. Justice for Max Rebo.
21. Na’vi, Avatar
The original horny humanoid cat people.
20. Rihanna, a.k.a. Bubble the Glamopod, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Rihanna ranks so low, even though she’s the highlight of Valerian, because unlike another blue shape-shifter on the list, all of Bubble’s best moments are when she’s not blue at all.
19. Paul Giamatti in Big Fat Liar
We don’t have stars anymore. Not like Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes. We don’t have good studio comedies anymore. Not like Big Fat Liar. The scene where they dye Paul Giamatti’s swimming-pool water to turn him blue? That was history.
18. Dr. Manhattan, Watchmen
If we were counting the TV version of Dr. Manhattan, he’d probably place higher. As it were, Billy Crudup’s version of the smartest man alive in Zack Snyder’s 2009 Watchmen remains a compelling figure, but doesn’t compare to the heart and romance of the 2019 version.
17. Nebula, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Sister of Gamora, daughter of Thanos, writer of Karen Gillan’s checks, Nebula is a humorless cyborg who brings a grounded presence and real gravitas to the kooky Guardians movies.
16. Beast, X-Men: The Last Stand
As much as it breaks my heart to put Dr. Frasier Crane dabbling in furry cosplay in the middle of the pack, he’s simply the least essential of the X-Men’s many blue mutants — especially considering that the Hulk already does the whole baleful-monster-nerd thing better.
15. Megamind, Megamind
Sometimes I look at 2010, the year of dueling lovable supervillain movies Despicable Me and Megamind, and think to myself a decade later, The wrong kid died. Maybe, if Megamind had been a tad sharper or made its central David Cross–voiced Minion cuter, we wouldn’t be stuck with the minions of today. At least a new generation of Megamind revisionists love it.
14. Yondu, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Had Michael Rooker’s blue space bandit Yondu only been in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, he would have ranked much lower. He’s a fine second-tier adversary, fleshes out Peter’s backstory, and does that cool thing with the whistle. But it was the second movie that gave him a very satisfying emotional arc to his story, a rarity for a minor character in the over-bloated MCU. If you didn’t appreciate it at the time, watch this Lindsay Ellis video and then try to think about Yondu without crying.
13. Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog
Here he is. Better than Yondu, but not quite as cool as Hades. Yet another blue alien, Sonic is lovable and fun enough and not nearly as scary as he could have been.
12. Hades, Hercules
James Woods aside, Hades is a fun and threatening Disney villain, but he would have gone a lot further if he had a proper Disney villain song.
11. Diva Plavalaguna, The Fifth Element
Legendary. The Diva Plavalaguna invented vocals. When movies call themselves “space operas” and they don’t feature this type of space opera, I call the Better Business Bureau.
10. Mystique, X-Men
Mystique is a shape-shifter, which is arguably the coolest mutant superpower. Her blueness is central to her identity, as it is for the other X-Men on this list. While those other characters don’t have the option of assimilation, what makes Mystique so intriguing is the way she relates to her mutant status as someone who can pass outside of it. In this dissertation, I will … (1/398)
9. Abe Sapien, Hellboy
Guillermo del Toro and Doug Jones love their tortured fish boys, that’s for darn sure. Abe is voiced in the first movie by David Hyde Pierce, which makes perfect sense and also means I must place him exactly seven spots higher than the inferior Crane brother Kelsey Grammer. He has the mind of a dolphin, the aim of a marksman, and the heart of C3P0. Total fishman package.
8. Violet Beauregarde, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Violet loses points for being slightly less iconic a brat than the tyrant Veruca Salt. Is there a ’90s alt girl band named Violet Beauregarde? We didn’t think so. Still, even if she kind of straddles the border between blue and purple (on the one hand she becomes a blueberry but on the other she’s “turning violet, Violet!”), chewing gum is no crime. Except in certain sovereign municipalities.
7. Sulley, Monsters, Inc.
There’s a reason all those Disney+ commercials that aired during the Oscars ended with the shot of Boo hugging Sulley. John Goodman played Sulley like the world’s best imaginary friend, and Pixar may as well have patented Digital Fur Technology for this warm, lovable guy. Mike Wazowski usually steals all his thunder, but Sulley holds his own in the meme space.
6. Stitch, Lilo & Stitch
Stitch was the co-lead of the only good Disney Animation Studios movie of the aughts, even if his alien chaos plot sometimes grabbed too much attention from the gorgeous Lilo and Nani plot. I’m in the pro-Stitch camp though. He feels like a precursor to everything from Toothless to Baby Yoda. He has a fun voice to imitate. He says the ohana thing. If you were a kid in the golden age of Stitch merch, you know how cute it was. Stitch is the last classic hand-drawn Disney character, and that feels significant.
5. Nightcrawler, X2
Look! It’s everyone’s favorite action star, triple threat Alan Cumming! Nightcrawler is somehow an irascible scamp and a shy, pious sweetie at the same time, an impossible balance to pull off, prehensile tail or no. When so much of the action in superhero comic-book adaptations can suffer from looking muddled and boring onscreen, Nightcrawler’s acrobatic powers are immensely fun to watch in X2. An immigrant, a circus freak, and a conflicted man of God, Nightcrawler is so many things at once and it all somehow works.
4. Dory, Finding Nemo
This forgetful blue tang fish voiced by Ellen DeGeneres is one of Pixar’s most beloved creations, enough so that she spawned (fish pun?) a successful sequel over a decade after Finding Nemo. Ellen DeGeneres plays her as the perfect bubbly counterpart to Albert Brooks’s beleaguered clown fish, and it’s always so refreshing and rare when a female character in a children’s movie gets to be the idiosyncratic comedic relief and not just a big lollipop-head L.O.L. Doll person. If Dory were a DreamWorks character, they would’ve given her fish titties.
3. Sadness, Inside Out
Nothing gets me in my feelings more than children’s media where the message is “It’s okay to be sad sometimes.” Sadness, with her asymmetrical bob and big chunky knit and overall blueness, is the perfect embodiment of that, and her arc makes Inside Out cathartic and clever in equal measure. Plus, she’s just so cute and blobby. We can’t wait for all of the Gen-Z The Office stans to put two and two together and find out that Phyllis Smith did her voice.
2. Gonzo, The Muppets Movie
Gonzo is a romantic in a cast of romantics, a weirdo in a cast of weirdos. Gonzo’s a striver and a dreamer, not as cringey as Fozzie, not as out-there as Animal. He and Camilla were really the first to say “love is love,” and they have a healthier relationship than Kermit and Piggy if we really want to get into it. He dances like nobody’s watching and dresses like everyone’s blind. He maximizes the zany potential of the Muppets as a concept, stuffing himself into cannons and getting thrown into walls. Like all of the best characters on this list, his blueness signifies his otherness, a theme that’s explored to mixed results in Muppets From Space. Long live Gonzo.
1. Genie, Aladdin
The Genie sums up everything that works about Aladdin as an animated classic: funny, jazzy, colorful, a touch irreverent, ultimately earnest. It’s not often that you see such synergy between a voice actor’s performance and the expressiveness of the animation; Williams’s vocal flexibility paired with creative, shape-shifting animation makes Genie larger than life and set a gold standard. Watch the reel animator Eric Goldberg made to convince Williams to take on the role, by animating Genie to a recording of Williams’s stand-up. He opened a Pandora’s box of A-list celebrities voicing animated characters for the spectacle of it; this was one of the rare instances it worked. Best blue character, and it’s not even close.