Wendy's has a cute little girl with pigtails, Burger King has... well, a Burger King, and McDonald's has a menagerie of characters who romp about in a magical burgery world called McDonaldland, and it's as weird as you barely remember. McDonald's began with only a clown, but as the brand expanded to new markets - and appealing to children became the name of the game - the company branched out with more characters than could fit in a McDonald's ball pit.
The McDonaldland characters were zanier than those of the other franchises, and were featured not only in commercials and toys, but also in an animated series called The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald. The characters continued to serve their burger masters from 1970 until 2003, when the majority of them were retired, making them some of the longest-lasting characters in any non-cereal advertising campaign.
While you might not think of comparing the convoluted character menagerie of McDonaldland to a cast of characters like those in the MCU, let's not forget that Star-Lord referred to Thanos as "Grimace," ultimately tying the two together for all eternity.
When he was first introduced in 1971, the Hamburglar was an antagonist who worked to nab hamburgers from Ronald McDonald. Believe it or not, Hamburglar isn't the character's actual name. He was born Hamilton B. Urglar, and he wasn't always known as that either. Back in the early 1970s, he looked very different. He was an old man with a long pointy nose and gray hair. He was called "The Lone Jogger" in some of those commercials, but the name never stuck.
By 1985, he underwent a reimagining, and the Hamburglar of old was transformed into a good guy. The change was reflected in his speech, too, as he was completely uninteligible in the beginning, but spoke normally by '85.
Hamburglar's design went through a complete overhaul in 2015, when he appeared as a grown man wearing a Mackintosh jacket over a black and white shirt. He also wore black jeans, sneakers, and had some stubble on his face, which retained its signature mask. For the kids who grew up with the more animated characters from the 1980s, the redesign wasn't going to cut it. There is even a #NotMyHamburglar hashtag on Twitter devoted to lampooning the newly designed character.
Like many of the characters, Grimace has evolved over the years. Today, he is a cute, teardrop-shaped purple monster everyone loves, but he didn't start out like that. Originally, he had four arms, and he used them to take your milkshakes. Yes, the beloved Grimace began as a villain, but much like the Hamburglar, he's left his criminal misdeeds in the past and joined the good side.
As time went on, Grimace's family began showing up alongside him, including his mother, father, a grandmother named Winky, and a great-great-grandmother named Jenny Grimace. He has a brother, or possible brother, named King Gonga, who rules over the other Grimaces. He also has two aunts named Millie and Tillie, and an uncle named Uncle O'Grimacey.
O'Grimacey shows up around the same time every year to advertise Shamrock Shakes. He wears a green hat, a vest with shamrocks all over it, and carries a wooden cane, and his job is to deliver Shamrock Shakes to all the citizens of McDonaldland.
If you're foolish enough to swipe some hamburgers while visiting McDonaldland, you're going to have to answer to the law. The man you'll have to face is none other than Officer Big Mac, and if you just assumed upon hearing that name that he's a guy with a giant Big Mac for a head, you'd be right.
Officer Big Mac is the chief of police in McDonaldland, where he represents law and order. His main responsibility is to round up the Hamburglar when he makes off with anything. He had a good following in the 1970s and early '80s, but was dropped from the McDonaldland lineup when the characters received a redesign in '85. He can still be found in some McDonald's Playlands.
McDonaldland has a professional lawman, so it stands to reason that the place would have some sort of government running operations and producing hamburgers for the people to enjoy. The man in charge is one Mayor McCheese, and he first got the job all the way back in 1971 when the characters were introduced.
Mayor McCheese has a cheeseburger for a head and wears a top hat and diplomat's sash sporting the word "Mayor." He's not around anymore, having been dropped by the company due to some legal issues (more on that below), though he did have a cameo in The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald.