Despite the characters’ lack of aging, cartoons sometimes like to depict its characters observing birthdays. Depending on the cartoon, either “wacky hijinks” may ensue (such as “The Simpsons” or “The Flintstones”) or more serious goings-on may take place (Superman’s birthday in “For the Man Who Has Everything”). Either way, expect the characters to “turn” their usual, never-changing ages once again (Lisa Simpson turning eight, Superman turning 29, etc.). The old joke “you’re turning 29 again, right?” is literally true for most cartoon characters’ cases…and Superman in particular, who really was permanently 29 from the 70s through the early 90s. (DC raised his age to 35 after “The Death of Superman,” but the New 52 reboot’s managed to reduce his age to 27.)
Here’s a few random cartoons that depict birthdays:
One “Super Chicken” episode on the late 60s Jay Ward cartoon “George of the Jungle” sees our heroic chicken and his lion sidekick Fred try to stop a “birthday bandit” from using mechanical toys to rob birthday parties. Pretty hilarious from start to finish: the narrator noting “the robbery” as part of the usual birthday party customs; said robbery’s victims (Kid (sobbing): “My teddy bear’s gone!” Dad (also sobbing): “So’s my TV set!”); our heroes staging a fake birthday party as a trap…a party that lasts for two weeks (cue the picture accompanying this post); Fred getting repeatedly blown up through the whole adventure; and a robotic toy double of Super Chicken (playing into the ending).
This early 2000s Disney cartoon, made partly to cash in on the popularity of “The PowerPuff Girls” (only featuring Batman-like non-superpowered crimefighting kids) featured a villain named “The Birthday Bandit.” The Bandit’s shtick was, like Super Chicken’s foe, robbing birthday parties. Voiced by Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker of “Star Wars” fame), the Bandit resembled a goofier version of his other famous character, the Joker from “Batman: The Animated Series.” Like the Joker’s sidekick Harley Quinn, the Birthday Bandit counts a woman as part of his henchmen, who’re dubbed the “Party Favors.”
A few episodes have revolved around Fred’s birthday. An early first season episode sees a wild party thrown in the gang’s new pool end up with Fred getting arrested, after he assaults a cop who Fred thought was someone pulling a gag. A season three episode sees the others try to throw a surprise birthday party for Fred, which doesn’t go well when the guest of honor (kept away from home by Barney) goes missing. The series states that Fred’s birthday is on February 2 (Groundhog Day).
Of course, the most famous Flintstones birthday episode is none other than the birth of Pebbles herself. Bamm-Bamm’s adoption was featured in his debut episode; I’d assume the Rubbles celebrate that day as his “birthday.” Decades later, we also see the birth of the adult Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm’s twin offspring, Chip and Roxy.
The Jetsons’ 80s revival featured George fretting about his birthday in one episode. Another episode during that time has George state he’s 38 years old, bumped up slightly from his mid-30s age in the show’s original 60s run. This still implies he got married and had “daughter Judy” when he was barely out of college…
The Simpsons family members’ birthdays have been shown in a few episodes. Lisa’s birthday is seen in the famous Michael Jackson episode (where she’s “turning eight”), while Homer in another episode notes his birthday’s “the same day as the dog’s.” Bart’s birthday is also shown significantly in one episode: he attempts to cash in on multiple free birthday offers, which is followed by a birthday party at a Chuck E. Cheese-like restaurant; cue: Nelson cramming multiple balls down a skeeball game, lousy animatronic singing robots, etc.
And yes, the births of the various family members have also been shown through the series’ run.
This 1991 Looney Tunes short focuses on Bugs Bunny’s “51st-and-a-half anniversary,” parodying the hype at the time for Bugs’ 50th birthday in 1990. (“Tiny Toon Adventures” sometimes had the characters note how old Bugs is…). The short features the “making of” a sappy cartoon celebrating Bugs’ anniversary, taking shots at the idea of the Looney Tunes all being “pals.” Pretty hilarious, especially the scenes of Daffy telling off Elmer Fudd and the short’s closing (Yosemite Sam hurtling at Bugs a stream of creative insults; I liked “you low-down, flop-eared, son of a kangaroo!”). The full short’s available on YouTube.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force
The episode “Spirit Journey Formation Anniversary” features Meatwad’s birthday, which goes south quickly once Master Shake uses it to try to launch a scheme to create a new, “better” birthday song than “Happy Birthday to You.” Cue a trip to a condemned “Pizza Potamus” restaurant (Chuck E. Cheese with Hanna-Barbera’s Peter Potamus as the mascot), a heavy metal musician to play the song (guest star Zakk Wylde), and Meatwad trying to eat said restaurant’s exposed wiring.
The various DC Comics characters’ birthdays have been featured in comics over the years, to the point they published a 1976 wall calendar highlighting the various heroes’ birthdays. I’ve written about most of the JLAers’ birthdays: