If you were a child in the 80s, your parents and teachers probably forbade you to trade Garbage Pail Kids cards with other children. One of the things that set this series and its characters apart was that the ideas for the characters weren’t exactly common or innocent -- the original trading cards introduced kids with comical deformities or abnormalities or captured them in some gruesome state.
So, who among them were the best Garbage Pail Kids in the unique series? Let’s find out!
Top 20 Garbage Pail Kids Of All Time
1. Adam Bomb/Blasted Billy
Adam Bomb is undoubtedly in the top spot for the best Garbage Pail Kids, as his iconic character was most frequently used to market the series. Adam is a smiling boy sitting on his behind, with a remote control detonator in his hands. He’d just recently pressed the button, resulting in the nuclear bomb explosion of his brains.
Blasted Billy, his counterpart, looks the same as Adam Bomb, but with a different cardboard backing. For some reason, though, Blasted Billy is not nearly as popular as the Adam Bomb series.
2. Bad Breath Seth
There are two interpretations we can get from Bad Breath Seth’s Pail Kids character. The more literal meaning would be to take care of your oral hygiene, as Seth looks like he has the most abhorrent tooth-brushing habits. We see Seth’s ghastly breath causing a bird to drop dead in the background and a plant to wilt. A child wearing a protective gas mask is climbing his form on the right-hand side. He is such a danger (even to himself!) that his nose is plugged!
A much less literal interpretation is that the Pail Kids card maybe signifying the ideas of toxic pollution in the world.
3. Brutal Brad
People would have a different reception had the Brutal Brad card been created this year.
Brutal Brad is a caveman who’d just bludgeoned the wits out of a cavewoman until she lost all consciousness and dragged her along to who-knows-where. We understand how this theme can be triggering to people who have experienced a form of domestic violence.
4. Cut-Up Carmen
Cut-Up Carmen is a nightmare for kids who love playing with cut-up paper dolls. Carmen visibly hates being in her card cover and would like to escape -- but instead of working neatly along the dotted lines in the case of regular paper dolls, she is snipping off her leg in half instead.
And instead of pretty things like hearts, dresses, and shoes, Carmen’s design features a leg cast, a bandaid, a nuclear explosion, and something that looks an awful lot like vomit.
5. Dead Ted
Dead Ted started the craze for amazing zombies before they were considered cool things! We loved this Kids card cover and thought it had one of the best artworks in the series. Dead Ted had just crawled his way out of his grave under the pale light of a full moon. Perhaps he’s on a search to eat brains.
On the other hand, parents were not a fan -- they thought he was why Pail Kids gave children nightmares.
6. Dough Boyd
Dough Boyd is a nod to the popularity of the Pillsbury DoughBoy. This Pail Kids cover shows the poor boy being prodded by a human finger, which caused him to start working and expelling little brown muffins from his behind. The image in the cards made us not want to eat muffins anymore.
7. Electric Bill
Electric Bill cards greatly disturbed people. Instead of the kid smiling wide-eyed in the image like other characters, you can see the pain in his features. A prisoner child wearing prisoner garb is strapped into an electric chair, getting his brains fried.
We know the popular series is not trying to be political, but perhaps the Pail Kids cards want people to look at the important theme of the death penalty in the years to come.
8. Evil Eddie
Evil Eddie, along with Nasty Nick, was one of the first Pail Kids characters in circulation. The popular cards show a child vampire holding a life-size Barbie doll, with his fangs coated in blood. The doll has bloody punctures along the side of her neck, all the life sucked out of her.
9. Fake Jake
At first glance, the Fake Jake cards look like he’s just an innocent kid attending school. His rose-colored cheeks and bright eyes indicate nothing but interest in learning! Don’t be fooled, though -- the little boy is merely a picture cutout, and there is something more sinister lurking behind him, pretending to be Jake. What puzzles us are this impostor’s intentions.
10. Hollow Wayne
Hollow Wayne are amazing Halloween-themed Pail Kid cards. A pumpkin head has just been carved, and his brains are exposed, and eyeballs gouged. A blood-stained knife reflects a child’s extremely terrified face. He’s one of the best kids in the series!
11. Hot Head Harvey
Hot Head Harvey was a parody of the Transformers because of the popularity of the series during that time. Hot Head Harvey is a well-loved blue, white, and red robot with the face of a chubby-cheeked doll. Hot Head Harvey is one of our favorite kids!
12. Jay Decay
Jay Decay is Dead Ted’s cards counterpart. He features the same artwork that Dead Ted does, and the same level of popularity, too! The only thing that differs between the cards sets: Jay Decay was #5b while Dead Ted belonged to #5a.
13. Jolted Joel
Jolted Joel looks like he just wanted to have a good time on his card!
Jolted Joel had just experienced an “electrifying” concert, and his black guitar had zapped him as soon as he started playing. His amazing hair is all up in spikes… and we’re not sure if Jolted Joel can attribute it to just styling.
14. Junky Jeff
Junky Jeff is just smiling and chilling with trash in the background in his cards. A cat is enjoying a meal out of his trash-filled brain. When we ruminate over the card cover, though, we feel that it conveys an important message… the minds of children all over the world are so rotted because of the popularity of television programs . But of course, that’s just our take.
15. Leaky Lou
Poor Leaky Lou… we know he’s just trying to do the kind thing for the human body by drinking water, but his body is filled with holes, and all the liquid is just leaking out! Some are plugged in with cork, but he'll probably need more at this time to make sure the water stays inside.
16. Mean Gene
We love Mean Gene -- he looks like a one-man army! He is wearing a pair of Terminator-esque sunglasses and wielding an amazing machine gun. And if that’s not enough, a roll of lit dynamite is also wrapped around his head, and a grenade strapped on his hip.
17. Midge Fridge
At first glance, Midge Fridge doesn’t look as gruesome as the other popular kids’ characters throughout the years. Upon close inspection, though, the unique art in her sticker trading card sent chills up and down our spine. Midge is a fridge child, with her innards swimming inside jar containers inside the fridge compartments.
18. Nasty Nick
Nasty Nick looks just like Evil Eddie and was also introduced in the first series. Plenty of collectors all over the world would pay top dollar in search of these sticker trading cards in mint condition.
19. Nerdy Norm
We don’t know what things Nerdy Norm went through, but we sure can relate. Nerdy Norm is a child functioning on common addicting substances, including coffee, soda, and cigarettes.
He’s also one of the unique Kids characters whose name puzzles us, as it doesn’t seem to correlate to the art theme or design. We can assume that the Nerdy Norm Kids card is kind of showing us a serious case of addiction.
20. Schizo Fran
Mental health teachers and practitioners turned their noses up at Schizo Fran, who they feel is making a mockery out of schizophrenia, a real illness plaguing the lives of many people. Her character cover is introduced as a little blond girl with two heads who are fighting against each other.
Topps received backlash for this Kids character, and they changed the card name to Fran Fran, which made the original Schizo Fran character in the first series all the more rare and expensive.
Which Garbage Pail Kid is the most valuable?
The most valuable Garbage Pail Kid is Nasty Nick, the first character the company released. Even more valuable is the first run, or Nasty Nick #1a, wherein the die-cut of the card picture is noticeably slightly off-center. But, how much are Garbage Pail Kids really worth?
Which Garbage Pail Kid is considered the most disturbing?
The Garbage Pail Kid that is considered the most disturbing is Brutal Brad or Slain Wayne, but, of course, all characters have their own disturbing appeal. People who have had experience with domestic abuse would find Brutal Brad triggering, and we could not look past the race, politics, and other implicating things surrounding Slain Wayne’s death.
The Garbage Pail Kids were created by cartoonists Art Spiegelman and Mark Newgarden under the Topps Company and were a spoof to the immensely popular -- and wholesome -- Cabbage Patch Kids. The company initially wanted to design stickers for the Cabbage Patch Kids, but licensing was incredibly expensive. They decided to go a different market route and appeal, with hugely different characters.
While disturbing, Garbage Pail Kids characters are well-loved and dear to our hearts! We miss being out with other kids and trading Garbage Pail Kids cards during recess (despite our parents disapproving). This Kids series was also a great way to exercise ideas, interest, and creativity in children and made them think outside the common box.
Do you agree with our pick for the best Garbage Pail Kids? Who’s your favorite? Let us know!
Also, check out our listings here if you haven’t! We’ve got cool Garbage Pail Kids merch for the pop culture fan in you.