Cartoons have given audiences of all ages, races, genders, and sexual orientations escape routes into new worlds and situations. Whether their plots be as mundane as hanging out with friends or as fantastical as slaying dragons, cartoons offer a reprieve from the real world, while reflecting it back at us through our TV screens, tablets, and computers.
What makes cartoons even better is when they reflect your own identities back at you. Positive representation in live-action and animated shows leave a substantial impact on viewers. Faves like Sailor Moon, Adventure Time, The Legend of Korra, Steven Universe, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and more have highlighted queer and trans characters throughout the years.
Thankfully, we had plenty of cartoons giving us the LGBTQ+ representation we deserve in 2022. So, here are a few shows that either debuted their series or premiered new seasons this year, and the LGBTQ+ representation they gave us.
1. Dragon Age: Absolution (Netflix)
Netflix’s latest animated creation marks another foray into the video game universe with Dragon Age: Absolution. Based on the hit video game franchise Dragon Age, the show focuses on a ragtag group of fighters and mages seeking to steal a powerful artifact from a devious mage. Did we mention that this collective of misfits are really queer? Between Hira and Miriam’s deep relationship and Roland and Lacklon’s steamy tension, there’s plenty of queer representation in this show.
2. Harley Quinn (HBO Max)
Harley Quinn rolled onto the scene in 2019, highlighting this maiden of madness in a new animated light. Stepping from outside of Joker’s shadow and into her own crew, this show is equal parts crass comedy and excessive violence and has become a hit on HBO Max. It also features multiple queer characters, with this season focusing on Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy’s relationship.
3. Craig of the Creek (Cartoon Network)
Cartoon Network has been known for pushing the envelope on the shows it offers. Craig of the Creek is unapologetically doing just that by showing kids just being kids, including queer ones. The show focuses on Craig, his group of neighborhood friends, and the neighborhood creek they hang out at. Now on season 4, the show highlighted a cute queer storyline between characters Kelsey and Stacks who, through a book club meeting, discover that there’s more between them than they thought.
4. Dota: Dragon’s Blood (Netflix)
Another Netflix animated show based off of a popular video game franchise, Dota: Dragon’s Blood gives viewers plenty of elves, knights, and dragons to enjoy. But it also gives plenty of queer representation too. While the show focuses on the Dragon Knight Davion’s adventure with his soul shared with a dragon, elves like Fymryn still get plenty of shine. Actually, she’s part of a queer polycule and we think that’s pretty cool.
5. Baymax (Disney+)
The lovable, yet powerful, robot from Big Hero 6 makes a return in their own TV series, Baymax!. The robot is as thoughtful as ever, shown within multiple episodes, but episodes 3 and 4 stand out in particular. In episode 3, in an attempt to support a young friend who just started their first period, Baymax goes to the store to find the right period products to support her. Thankfully, multiple people come to Baymax’s aid, including a trans man. In episode 4, Baymax plays matchmaker, putting together two queer men at the end of the episode.
6. Helluva Boss (YouTube)
Ok, they’re here, they’re queer, and they’re demonic. Get used to it. Helluva Boss is a YouTube series that focuses around the ups and downs of running an assassination company in hell called I.M.P. (Immediate Murder Professionals). The boss in question is Blitzo. He’s a pansexual demon with an off and on again relationship with Goetial demon Stolas. Throw in bisexual demon Moxxie and you have three different queer main characters in Helluva Boss.
7. Human Resources (Netflix)
The lovechild spin-off of Big Mouth is just as uproariously funny as its predecessor. Human Resources gives viewers a behind the scenes look at the monsters who represent our feelings, first shown in Big Mouth. The show, just like Big Mouth, hosts several queer actors and characters, including the charming (and at times menacing) Walter the Lovebug.
8. The Legend of Vox Machina (Prime Video)
Based on the hit web series that was based on a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, The Legend of Vox Machina brings plenty of stellar animation and laughs to fantasy fans all over. The show follows the Vox Machina team as they search for gold and glory on different missions. Representing for the LGBTQ+ community are bisexual twins Vax and Vex and pansexual gnome Scanlan.
9. Solar Opposites (Hulu)
In the same vein as the outlandish show Rick & Morty, Solar Opposites is giving galactic and gay at the same time. The series centers around four aliens and their pupa, who crash land on Earth. Adjusting to their new home, the characters get into plenty of out of this world shenanigans. Korvo and Terry, the de facto parents of this family, became a queer couple as the show unfolds.
10. Dead End: Paranormal Park (Netflix)
Last, but certainly not least is Dead End: Paranormal Park. This wonderfully animated show follows two teens, Barney and Norma, as they become employees at a Dolly Parton-esque amusement park. The two navigate everyday life and the paranormal as they come into their own. With several queer characters present, our eyes are glued to our dynamic duo Barney and Norma, with Barney being a gay trans teenage boy and Norma being a bisexual autistic teenage girl.