This is the list of McDonald's characters that appeared in McDonaldland commercials, merchandise, or other media related to its franchise.
- Ronald McDonald – The primary icon of McDonald's. He is a clown with red hair and a big red smile who wears on a yellow suit and red shoes. He also wears a red and white striped shirt underneath with yellow gloves in 1963. Originally, he looked nothing compared to who he is today, wearing a yellow and red striped suit with a tray of a McDonald's Hamburger, french fries, and milkshakes. He also used it as a hat too. From 1971 to 1998 (2000 in the last McDonaldland commercials), Ronald's suit had french fry bags for pockets with two large ones around the lower body and an average sized french fry bag on the heart. The sleeve and leg stripes were thin, and the neck collar was long. Starting with Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald, in 1998, Ronald wore a different looking suit replacing the french fry bag pockets, with standard red ones and the one on the heart being a red circle with the "M" in the center. The neck collar also slightly shrunk in a smaller appearance and the stripes are thicker. This would become their permanent look starting in 2000. Ronald, Grimace, Birdie and Fry Kids now interact with a birthday child in claymation, as he used to in the McDonaldland era. He was first portrayed by Willard Scott (who also played Bozo the Clown) and various other actors over the years.
- Sundae – Ronald's dog. He only appears in "The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald", where he's animated with puppetry in 1998-2003. Sundae often speaks negatively in a monotone (e.g. "There's nothing like a good song, except that wasn't much of a song!" or "Do you think we could just have a normal adventure?"). He hates ticks. He has a conflict with Hamburglar, mostly in "Visitors from Outer Space," when he called Hamburglar both "Bun-Head" and "Hammy" and was excited when he was going to space for 3,000 years. Sundae has shown up as a normal dog in some 2000s commercials for McDonald's. Sundae was portrayed by Verne Troyer and voiced by Dee Bradley Baker.
- Grimace – Grimace is a large, purple character in 1971-2011 as the "Evil Grimace". In Grimace's first two appearances, he was depicted with two pairs of arms with which to steal milkshakes and pops. "Evil" was soon dropped from Grimace's moniker, and Grimace was reintroduced in 1972 as one of the good guys. In 1974, Grimace was redesigned, going from two pairs of arms to the single pair he has today. Grimace's role continued to grow, and by the mid-1970s, he was a major character in McDonaldland. Commercials and merchandise generally portray Grimace as a well-meaning simpleton whose clumsy antics provide a comic foil to Ronald McDonald. His appearance also changed to accommodate this factor in 1985, from a giant purple slob with a pink mouth and small pupils, to a gentle giant with movable eyebrows and eyelids, and a more kid-friendlier smile with a black mouth and a pink tongue. The character was retained after the streamlining of the characters in the 1980s, and soon details of Grimace's background and family life began to emerge. The character's Uncle O'Grimacey first appeared in 1986 (see below) and would visit only one month per year, around St. Patrick's Day, bringing Shamrock Shakes. Additional family were revealed in a McDonaldland VHS tape "The Legend of Grimace Island": Grimace has an unnamed mom, an unnamed dad, a grandma named "Winky", a great-great grandma named Jenny Grimace, and might have a brother named "King Gonga", who is the king of all Grimaces. In "Grimace's Oddysey", Grimace is portrayed as a ham radio enthusiast who uses a homemade transmitter made from a colander. Grimace was played by Patti Saunders (1971–1984) and voiced by Frank Welker in the commercials, Larry Moran in some commercials, and by Kevin Michael Richardson in "The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald."
- Hamburglar – The Hamburglar was a pint-sized burglar in 1971-2011 and was one of the first villains on the commercials. He is dressed in a black-and-white hooped shirt and pants, a red cape, a wide-brimmed hat, and red gloves. His primary object of theft was hamburgers, hence his name. The character, like Grimace, started out as a villain, only he was old, had a long nose, gray hair, and was called the Lone Jogger in some 1970s commercials, sporting a shirt that said "Lone Jogger". Hamburglar spoke in gibberish which was often translated by Captain Crook. He was revised in 1985 where his look changed from a trollish old man to a red-headed Dennis the Menace-type child who spoke, wore a shorter brimmed hat, and a black cape with yellow in the inside. Previously his unintelligible muttering became the familiar "robble robble." In the 2000s, McDonald's experimented with the possibility of animating the characters to improve ratings. In "The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald," he takes on a new sporty appearance wearing green goggles, a leather jacket, striped shirt, shorts and sneakers. He loves playing tricks on his friends and still loves burgers. The very last appearances of Hamburglar on television were prime time commercials promoting the dollar menu. One spot featured the Hamburglar and Grimace with Cedric The Entertainer, and the very last spot featured the Hamburglar with tennis stars, Venus and Serena Williams. Various other spots featuring the Hamburglar and characters alongside famous celebrities were planned but were canceled. A conflict emerged between agencies as to whether to continue using the characters or follow through with ad agency Leo Burnett's desire to elevate the "I'm lovin' it" campaign and phase out the characters completely. The latter was chosen, and the Hamburglar and the McDonaldland characters were not retired. Hamburglar was voiced by Howard Morris in most commercials, Charlie Adler in some 1980s commercials and 'The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald, and Carl W. Wolfe in some 1990s commercials.
- Birdie the Early Bird – She was the first identifiably female character in 1980-2011 to promote the company's new breakfast items. She is a yellow bird wearing a pink jumpsuit and flight cap and scarf; in later years her legs were orange. In the ads she is frequently portrayed as a poor flyer and somewhat clumsy in general. Birdie's origin is explained in one old commercial: a giant egg falls from the night sky into McDonaldland, and Ronald McDonald decides to show the egg love. Birdie was a regular in "The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald", but shown in a different outfit. In "Scared Silly", she believed that aliens took her birdbath. In "Visitors from Outer Space", Birdie took karate lessons and is as good as her karate teacher which he refers to her as "Little Bird". Birdie was played by actress Patty Maloney and voiced by Russi Taylor in the commercials and by Christine Cavanaugh in "The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald."
- Fry Kids – They are characters used to promote McDonald's french fries. When they first appeared in 1972-2008, they were called Gobblins and liked to steal and gobble up the other characters' French fries. Accompanying them was the "Keep Your Eyes on Your Fries" jingle. Their name was later changed to the Fry Guys in 1983, then the Fry Kids in 1987, as female characters (the "Fry Girls") were introduced. They are differently-colored, shaggy, ball-like creatures with long legs and no arms, almost resembling a pom-pon with legs and eyes. The characters were retained after the streamlining of the characters in the 1980s and appeared until 1996. In "The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald," the Fry Kids were featured with black noses and visible mouths. The Fry Kids spoke in a sped-up voice in the 1980s commercials, were variously voiced in the 1990s commercials, and were voiced by Kath Soucie, Paul Greenberg, and Nika Futterman in "The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald".
- Mayor McCheese – Mayor McCheese was an enormous cheeseburger who appeared from 1971–2008; he has a burger for a head, and sports a top hat, a diplomat's sash, and a pair of pince-nez spectacles. He is portrayed as a giggly, bumbling, and somewhat incompetent mayor who was based on H.R. Pufnstuf. Though the character was dropped during the streamlining of the characters in the mid-1980s, he did appear in a 1999 "The Wacky World of Ronald McDonald" VHS entitled "Have Time, Will Travel" and a non-speaking cameo in "The Monster O' McDonaldland Loch". Mayor McCheese was voiced by Howard Morris impersonating Ed Wynn in the commercials and by Bob Joles (also impersonating Ed Wynn) in "The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald."
- Officer Big Mac – He was featured in 1970-2008. In addition to McDonald's signature sandwich, Big Mac was the name of a character in McDonaldland. He was similar to Mayor McCheese in that he had a large Big Mac for a head, except he was the chief of police and as such he wore a constable uniform with a disproportionately small custodian helmet resting atop his head bun. As the main source of law and order in McDonaldland, Officer Big Mac spent most of his time chasing the Hamburglar and Captain Crook. The character was dropped during the streamlining of the characters in the mid-1980s. Officer Big Mac was voiced by Ted Cassidy.
- Captain Crook – Captain Crook was a pirate in 1970-1999 and is similar in appearance to the famed Captain Hook from Disney's 1953 movie Peter Pan. Unlike the Hamburglar, this villain spent his time trying to steal Filet-O-Fish sandwiches from citizens of McDonaldland while avoiding being caught by Officer Big Mac. He would often translate for Hamburglar. As part of the nautical theme of the character, Captain Crook used ships and waterways as means to escape being captured. In the 1970s, he was a major character with an unseen mouth and a rubber mask. In the 1980s, he was a supporting background character renamed "The Captain" where he had an almost Muppet-like look and was often seen with a parrot. The character was dropped during the streamlining of the characters in the mid-1980s. Captain Crook was voiced by Lennie Weinrib.
- The Professor – A bearded scientist-type character in a lab coat in 1971-2001 and served as McDonaldland's local inventor and researcher. In the 1970s, he was a minor character who rarely spoke. Around the 1980s, the Professor was a major character, and was redesigned to include a lightbulb-topped helmet and a mustache. Though the character was dropped during the streamlining of the characters in the mid-1980s, he did appear in McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure where he invents a rocketship to take Ronald and his friends to Magical Moon and appeared in M.C. Kids. The Professor was voiced by Howard Morris in the 1970s and by Andre Stojka in the 1980s.
- The Hamburger Patch – The Hamburger Patch in 1973, and is part of the fictional city of McDonaldland where McDonald's hamburgers "grew" like fruit on plants from the Hamburger Patch. Even though hamburgers in McDonaldland were anthropomorphized and spoke, they were picked by characters such as Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar for consumption. Advertisements featuring the Hamburger Patch were shown as evidence during the McLibel court case in the United Kingdom. During questioning by defendants, McDonald's Senior Vice President of Marketing David Green admitted that showing the reality of meat production "would not be very appetizing". The Hamburger Patch also featured in books and toys used to promote McDonald's. The characters were dropped during the streamlining of the characters in the mid-1980s.
- Uncle O'Grimacey – He was created in 1977-1985 and even appeared in 1986 for an advertising narrative of McDonald's both in celebration of Saint Patrick's Day and to mark the annual appearance of the Shamrock Shake. O'Grimacey is the Irish uncle of the character Grimace and is a variant of the Grimace-design in that he is green instead of purple, sports a frock coat covered with several four-leaf clovers, and carries a shillelagh. His design motif is not unlike that of a stereotypical depiction of the Irish folkloric leprechaun. O'Grimacey resides in his home country for eleven months of the year and visits his nephew Grimace in March, bringing with him his "incredibly delicious" shake. Uncle O'Grimacey is no longer used by the chain for its promotions of the shake.
- The Happy Meal Gang – A hamburger, fries, and soft drink in regular size in 1984. They were later joined by the McNugget Buddies in 1989. The Happy Meal Hamburger was voiced by Bob Arbogast, the Happy Meal Fries was voiced by Jeff Winkless and later voiced by Bob Bergen, and the Happy Meal Drink was voiced by Hal Smith.
- The McNugget Buddies – A bunch of Chicken McNuggets in regular size in 1989-2001. In "The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald", the McNuggets are shown as large McNuggets with chicken beaks, chicken wings, and cowboy boots. The McNugget Buddies were voiced by Hal Rayle in the commercials and by Pamela Adlon, Lisa Raggio, and Charlie Adler in "The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald."
- CosMc– A temporary character from McDonaldland. CosMc was an alien who wore a large space suit, and he talked like a surfer dude. He was featured in a series of McDonald's commercials in 1980-1985 where he traded some items to Ronald McDonald, Grimace, and the Professor during their picnic. Though he traded the flowers in exchange for the food Ronald brought, he was brought back by Ronald's McMagnet and asked Ronald if they could share. Following the picnic, CosMc left to inform his people about McDonald's' food. CosMc even appeared in 1999 when the McDonaldland gang went to the Moon. CosMc was featured as a character in the video game M.C. Kids where his getaway was located on the moon and helped to locate Hamburglar when he stole Ronald's bag. CosMc is portrayed by Tommy Vicini and voiced by Frank Welker.
- Trash Cans – Talking twin trash cans in 1970-1985 which involved having to deposit garbage into them to feed them. They were highlighted singing a song entitled "Don't Forget to Feed the Waste Baskets".
- Bernice – A strange creature that was introduced in 1992-2001. She ate inedible things like the script in the three-part "Ronald McDonald Makin' Movies" commercial.
- Vulture – An unnamed vulture that spoke in a monotone voice. He was mostly featured in some multi-part McDonald's commercials. In "The Search for Grimace's Voice" commercials, he once loaned a feather to Ronald in order to get Grimace's voice out of a sleeping dragon.
- Iam Hungry – A short-lived McDonaldland character who was the self-proclaimed "Vice President of Snacking" in 1998-2001. The character was a floating, fast-moving green fuzzball with orange arms and a monstrous face. He would often appear when Ronald, Grimace and Birdie were dining with a birthday kid and would constantly crave food. He would never stop pestering them until he got fed. Iam Hungry was featured in "The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald" VHS, titled "Visitors from Outer Space", where he eats the gunk off of Ronald's rocket. Iam Hungry was voiced by Jeff Lupetin.
- Griddler – A short-lived McDonaldland character in 2003-2006 to promote the McGriddles by stealing them from Ronald and his friends.
- Mike the Microphone – He was a one-time character created for the Kid Rhino albums Ronald Makes It Magic and Ronald McDonald presents Silly Sing Along. He guards the door and runs things inside the McDonaldland Magical Radio Station, which Ronald and some kids use for their "Silly Day Broadcast". Mike was voiced by Larry Moran.)
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