McDonald’s Characters From The Weirdest To The Most Iconic

By Doug Norrie | Updated

McDonald's Characters

These days, McDonald’s is mostly known for its iconic menu offerings and thousands of locations. But there was a time when the Golden Arches were pushing a group of characters hard as part of their core marketing. While Ronald McDonald has stood the test of time, it’s easy to forget that there were many, many others introduced into this group.

Let’s go through the McDonald’s characters through the years, from the most iconic to the downright weird.


Ronald McDonald is the iconic face of McDonald’s and has been for decades. He began as a creation by former celebrity weatherman Willard Scott who, in the early 1960s, thought to combine the appeal of the restaurant with the fame of Bozo the Clown. The rest is history. 

Eight actors in total have portrayed Ronald McDonald and the character is as much a part of the brand identity as anything (or anyone) else. Does it still work in this day and age? I suppose that’s up for debate, but after 60 years, Ronald isn’t going anywhere.


Like when there’s a little mischief afoot when it comes to your fast food options? Then look no further than The Hamburglar who’s been casing the joint for decades. Introduced in the 1970s, the Hamburglar is a cunning thief who has an insatiable craving for McDonald’s hamburgers. It’s really that simple.

Originally he came off much more like a villain, but over the years got more cartoon-y and silly. That was definitely for the better.


Like The Hamburglar, Grimace also came along in the 1970s when McDonald’s was making a big character push as part of its branding. Big, purple, and amorphously-shaped sums up the look here and the thing was originally known for wanting to get hands (mitts? blobs?) on milkshakes.

We have no idea what Grimace actually is, and that’s kind of the point.


What would the cast of McDonald’s be without a little government influence and elected leadership? That’s essentially the idea with Mayor McCheese who presides over McDonaldland. He’s got a cheeseburger for a head and wears a sash to let you know he’s important.


Can’t run McDonaldland without the long arm of the law. Officer Big Mac was more about safety than concerned with making actual arrests (even though the Hamburglar has been asking for it). And like Mayor McCheese, we are operating with a big old burger head on top of a little old body.


A lot of the early McDonald’s characters were conceived around two groups. The ones in charge of McDonaldland and those looking to steal different pieces of the Golden Arches’ menu. Captain Crook was the latter with his main goal set around nabbing the Filet O-Fish sandwich. The character was part of a number of campaigns during the 1970s as well.


The Professor came around in the 1980s as another part of McDonald’s branding and advertising push. Known for the lab coat and wild white hair, this dude would create contraptions and science experiments having to do with various McDonald’s-related items.


The Fry Kids were brought around to promote the french fries. Do they look at all like the offerings after which they were named? Of course not. It isn’t even close. But these things came in different colors and could often be seen trying to get into a red box of McDonald’s french fries. Not a bad gig.


Birdie the Early Bird came around when McDonald’s wanted to promote the breakfast menu. With bright yellow feathers, a pink jumpsuit, and blue cap, Birdie actually had a bit of popularity among the core group of characters for a while. She wanted her friends to get on the Egg McMuffins and Hotcakes and had a bit more energy than some of the other folks.


The Happy Meal Gang took their name right from the menu item of the same name and rolled with Ronald McDonald to make sure kids knew about this very thing. Unlike some of the other characters, these were just definitive menu items (burger, fries, drink) put into cartoon form.


McDonald’s needed something or someone to introduce the Shamrock Shakes and that’s where we got Uncle O’Grimacey. With an Irish vibe through and through, this thing was essentially a green Grimace in a leprechaun suit.


Trying to bring a bit of an alien and UFO vibe to things was CosMc who came around at the beginning of the 1980s. But dude didn’t last all that long. There was a brief comeback in 1999 when the McDonaldland gang tried to make it to the Moon, but that was just about it.


The McNugget Buddies were a group of characters who moved in packs (just like the different McNugget piece variations) and came in a variety of themes. They eventually became part of the Happy Meal Gang and would have ideas in unison. There was some distinguishing between their individual personalities, but not a ton.


We’re starting to get to the deep cuts now and Bernice might be one of those for you. This character was another resident of McDonaldland and was mostly focused an eating things that weren’t exactly edible. In one meta commercial for the company, Bernice eats the script.


Iam Hungry only lasted about three years for the brand despite the name being an easy way to remember that you might want more food, and soon. This thing was a massive green head and Muppet-like features who could even trend on the scary side if you caught him outside of a McDonald’s commercial.


Mac Tonight was what happened when McDonald’s tried to bring a little cool to the brand. The moon-shaped head and dark sunglasses had that night lounge singer vibe and this dude would definitely work to belt out songs. He lasted through the late 1980s and early 1990s before his jazzy ways were phased out.


Sundae was Ronald McDonald’s dog and appeared in the shortlived (for a reason) The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald. Verne Troyer of Austin Powers fame was actually the one who donned this costume for the run.