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Ranking The Best Bears In Pop Culture History

Cocaine Bear, a film based on the true story of a bear who accidentally snorted mounds of misplaced cocaine and went on a murderous rampage in the forests of Tennessee, is finally out in theaters. It’s a movie that feels tailor-made for a release date during Fat Bear Week — a conservationist’s version of March Madness, and not the week between Christmas and New Year’s when I stop counting calories and eat peanut butter straight from the jar with my bare hands — but that’s neither here nor there. Cocaine Bear is out now, ready to be judged by the masses who question what a honey-hunting furry oaf looks like when they’re high out of their mind on that sweet nose candy.

Cocaine Bear has emerged as a kind of of-the-moment icon, but don’t get it twisted, this is not the first carnivoran mammal to grace the big (or small) screen. Below, please find our ranking of the pop culture bears who walked so Cocaine Bear could run … wild through woods … higher than a bat’s ass … on the Devil’s sugar.

12. Ted


A walking, talking, constantly dry-humping case study in why nostalgia is toxic, this childhood teddy brought to life and forced to age into his 30s with Mark Wahlberg as his only companion is proof Toy Story got it wrong. Sometimes it is okay to outgrow our youth and hurl its stuffed carcass into a burning dumpster fire. Ted can’t help that he’s a plight to society, a foul-mouthed relic of his friend’s prepubescent immaturity, but he made a choice to commit sex acts on top of sellable produce and hygienically speaking, we can’t support that.

11. Fozzie


We hate to say this, but Fozzie would likely not survive our current cancel culture. It’s not that his jokes are too controversial, but there’s something about his pork-pied Blues Brothers vibe that feels like he’s one bad punchline away from becoming the Muppet Joker and in 2023, we only have room for one problematic bear.

10. Yogi Bear and Boo Boo Bear

Yogi Boo Boo Bear

Yogi Bear gets marks for his unwavering self-confidence. Boo Boo Bear gets marks for his strong moral compass. Both are furry amateur thieves who delight in wreaking havoc on the pic-a-nic baskets of unsuspecting park visitors. Who doesn’t love a chaotically good anti-hero? But it’s the existence of the 2010 film starring Dan Akroyd and Justin Timberlake as the lunch-swiping duo that brings their pop-culture power meter down a notch. Like Drew Barrymore impersonating a serial-killing-robotic-doll on daytime television, it’s something you just can’t unsee.

9. Coca-Cola Polar Bears

Coca Cola Bear
Coca Cola

The Coca-Cola Bears are addicts, people! They crave that sugary, syrupy high only the brand’s glass bottles can give. They need help. They need to be drinking more water. But they’re cute and fluffy and endangered and floating on blocks of ice that are slowly melting because Kylie Jenner wants to beat Calabasas traffic by way of her private jet so really, if this is what brings them joy, we’ll take the Marie Kondo approach.

8. The Revenant Bear

The Revenant
20th Century Fox

This might anger some, but when you decide to do a ranking of the best bears in pop culture history, you don’t set out to make friends: The Revenant Bear is an ally. He was forced to lay eyes upon one-too-many deep dives into Leonardo DiCaprio’s strange dating history and he just snapped. He is all of us. But he didn’t finish the job, so we now have to read about the 19-year-old international model *he’s attending LA listening parties with. (Leo, not the bear.)

7. Baloo


This fun-loving sloth bear is the poster child for the quiet quitting crowd. An ant-munching, river-lazing, jungle-dwelling himbo, he’s a great hang and a loyal friend even if his party girl ways often get him into trouble. He is, in a nutshell, the Chris Hemsworth of bears.

6. Iorek Byrnison


Some bears are cute. Some are terrifying. And some, like this battle-scarred behemoth from HBO’s His Dark Materials, are undeniable sex symbols. Is it weird to lust after an armored polar bear who becomes the reluctant father figure for an abandoned girl with a terrible destiny? Sure, but that’s something the writers of this show should’ve thought about before adding mounds on mounds of muscle to this hunky chunk of CGI bear beef. We’re only responding as nature intended.

5. Po


A two-toned butterball who exists on dumplings and is voiced by the hottest chaos tornado in Hollywood – Jack Black? No notes.

4. Winnie the Pooh


Is he a pervert or a fashion pioneer? A body-confident rebel or a lazy bumpkin behind on his laundry? There’s a mystery to this Hundred Acre-dwelling teddy with a honey addiction and the dad bod to match. How did he get here? Why is he friends with a seven-year-old boy? What’s lurking behind those pitch-black button voids? We may never know, but we respect the allure.

3. Little John

Little John

When SZA told the ladies it was “cuffing season” and announced she was looking for a “big boy,” she was talking about petite John.

2. Paddington

The Weinstein Company

This Peruvian immigrant in a blue toggle coat and red bucket hat stole our hearts – and all of the marmalade in England – nearly a decade ago and not even a brief prison stint in a jail designed by Wes Anderson could diminish our unhealthy attachment to this tiny troublemaker.

1. Cocaine Bear

cocaine bear

In the words of camp icon Ariana DeBose: The category is an outstanding debut and Cocaine Bear (like Angela Bassett) did the thing. Cocaine Bear (like Jamie Lee Curtis) is all of us. When Stephen Spielberg uttered the words, “You saved Hollywood’s ass,” he wasn’t talking to Tom Cruise, he was addressing Cocaine Bear.