Trying to improve upon classic comic and cartoon characters is like messing with Mother Nature. Still, there's nothing wrong with re-imagining a character from a different point of view. Tools like Photoshop make it easier than ever to give texture and shadow to plain line drawings, so converting our favorite cartoon characters into a more realistic style is too tempting to pass up. This is sometimes called "un-tooning."
Artist Tim O'Brien drew his more worldly version of Charlie Brown and named it Chuck Brown. This was created for a show called "Monsters".
His Mario is pretty well-known also. Pixeloo has also untooned Stewie, Homer Simpson, and a gallery of other animated icons.
Polish surrealist Jaroslaw Kukowski created the painting The New Millenium in 2008. Another site called it "the Teletubbies on their home planet". The Teletubbies are costumed characters instead of cartoons, but a painting still makes them look more real!
Tycho is a character in the webcomic Penny Arcade. This Worth1000 Photoshop entry by JinxRLM made him more realistic. See other untooned characters in the Reality Toons Photoshop contest.
Toronto artist Adnan Saleem of Destination Creation pictured what The Simpsons would look like in a three-dimensional style. There's not a whole lot you can do to make Marge's blue hair look at all real! Saleem later redid Homer Simpson in a manner that was a little more faithful to the cartoon.
Photoshop artist Mata Leone untooned Stan Smith of the show American Dad, among many other cartoons, comic book characters, and even paintings.
In season nine of South Park, the main characters are wanted by the police. A witness made a sketch of them, and this is what it looked like. It is a bit jarring to see a drawing that looks more true-to-life than the actual characters, especially right there on the show!
Other artists have taken the abstract South Park characters and redrawn them more realistically. The above set of family portraits is by Deviant Art member NorthernBanshee.
And another version of the same boys from Deviant Art member Kuroi-Tsuki.
This is just a small sampling of the many cartoon and comic characters getting the realism treatment. More are popping up every day!