Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner

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Wile E. Coyote
Wile E Coyote.png
Wile E. Coyote
First appearance Fast and Furry-ous (September 17, 1949)
Created by Chuck Jones
Voiced by Silent (1949–1952)
Mel Blanc (1952–1986, only in Wile E. and Bugs Bunny shorts, and Adventures of the Road Runner)
Joe Alaskey (Tiny Toon Adventures, webtoon),
Dee Bradley Baker (Duck Dodgers)
Daran Norris (Scooby Doo! & Looney Tunes Cartoon Universe)
Information
Aliases The Coyote
Species Coyote
Gender Male
Nationality American
The Road Runner
Roadrunner looney tunes.png
The Road Runner
First appearance Fast and Furry-ous (September 17, 1949)
Created by Chuck Jones, Michael Maltese
Voiced by Paul Julian
Information
Species Roadrunner
Gender Male
Nationality American

Wile E. Coyote (also known simply as "The Coyote") and The Road Runner are a duo of characters from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. In the cartoons, Coyote repeatedly attempts to catch and subsequently eat the Road Runner, a fast-running ground bird, but is never successful. Coyote, instead of his species' animal instincts, uses absurdly complex contraptions (sometimes in the manner of Rube Goldberg) and elaborate plans to pursue his prey, which always comically backfire with Wile normally getting injured by the slapstick humor.

The characters were created by animation director Chuck Jones in 1948 for Warner Bros., while the template for their adventures was the work of writer Michael Maltese. The characters star in a long-running series of theatrical cartoon shorts (the first 16 of which were written by Maltese) and occasional made-for-television cartoons. It was originally meant to parody chase cartoons like Tom and Jerry, but became popular in its own right.

The Coyote appears separately as an occasional antagonist of Bugs Bunny in five shorts from 1952 to 1963: Operation: Rabbit, To Hare Is Human, Rabbit's Feat, Compressed Hare, and Hare-Breadth Hurry. While he is generally silent in the Coyote-Road Runner shorts, he speaks with a refined accent in these solo outings (except for Hare-Breadth Hurry), introducing himself as "Wile E. Coyote — super genius", voiced with an upper-class accent by Mel Blanc.[1] The Road Runner vocalizes only with a signature sound, "Beep, Beep", recorded by Paul Julian, and an occasional "popping-cork" tongue noise.[2]

To date, 48 cartoons have been made featuring these characters (including the three CGI shorts), the majority by Chuck Jones.

TV Guide included Wile E. Coyote in their 2013 list of The 60 Nastiest Villains of All Time.[3]

Creation[edit]

Jones based the Coyote on Mark Twain's book Roughing It,[4] in which Twain described the coyote as "a long, slim, sick and sorry-looking skeleton" that is "a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry." Jones said he created the Coyote-Road Runner cartoons as a parody of traditional "cat and mouse" cartoons such as MGM's Tom and Jerry, which Jones would work on as a director later in his career.[5] Jones modelled the Coyote's appearance on fellow animator Ken Harris.[6]

The Coyote's name of Wile E. is a play on the word "wily." The "E" was said to stand for Ethelbert in one issue of a Looney Tunes comic book, but its writer had not intended it to be canon.[7] The Coyote's surname is routinely pronounced with a long "e" (/kˈt/ ky-OH-tee), but in one cartoon short, To Hare Is Human, Wile E. is heard pronouncing it with a diphthong (/kˈt/ ky-OH-tay). Early model sheets for the character prior to his initial appearance (in Fast and Furry-ous) identified him as "Don Coyote", a play on Don Quixote.[8]

List of cartoons[edit]

The series consists of:

  • 48 shorts, mostly about 6 to 7 minutes long, but including three webtoons which are "three-minute, three-dimensional cartoons in widescreen (scope)".[9]
  • One half-hour special (26 minutes).
  • One feature-length film that combines live action and animation (91 minutes).
# Release date Title Duration Credits Pseudo-Latin names given Acme Corporation devices used Books Studied
Story/writing Direction For the Road Runner For the Coyote
1 September 17, 1949 (1949-09-17) Fast and Furry-ous 6:55 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Acceleratii incredibus Carnivorous vulgaris ACME Super Outfit
2 May 24, 1952 (1952-05-24) Beep, Beep 6:45 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Accelerati incredibilus Carnivorous vulgaris Aspirin, Matches, Rocket-Powered Roller Skates
3 August 23, 1952 (1952-08-23) Going! Going! Gosh! 6:25 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Acceleratti incredibilis Carnivorous vulgaris an anvil, a weather balloon, a street cleaner's bin, and a fan
4 September 19, 1953 (1953-09-19) Zipping Along 6:55 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Velocitus tremenjus Road-Runnerus digestus Giant Kite Kit, Bomb, Detonator, Nitroglycerin "Hypnotism Self-Taught" by Hershenburger
5 August 14, 1954 (1954-08-14) Stop! Look! And Hasten! 7:00 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Hot-roddicus supersonicus Eatibus anythingus Bird Seed, Triple Strength Fortified Leg Muscle Vitamins "How to Build a Burmese Tiger Trap"
6 April 30, 1955 (1955-04-30) Ready, Set, Zoom! 6:55 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Speedipus Rex Famishus-Famishus Glue, Female Road-Runner Costume
7 December 10, 1955 (1955-12-10) Guided Muscle 6:40 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Velocitus delectiblus Eatibus almost anythingus ACME Grease
8 May 5, 1956 (1956-05-05) Gee Whiz-z-z-z-z-z-z 6:35 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Delicius-delicius Eatius birdius ACME Triple Strength Battleship Steel Armor Plate, Rubber Band, Anvil, Jet Bike (Made with Iron Handle Bars and a Jet Motor)
9 November 10, 1956 (1956-11-10) There They Go-Go-Go! 6:35 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Dig-outius tid-bittius Famishius fantasticus
10 January 26, 1957 (1957-01-26) Scrambled Aches 6:50 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Tastyus supersonicus Eternalii famishiis ACME Dehydrated Boulders, Outboard Steam Roller
11 September 14, 1957 (1957-09-14) Zoom and Bored 6:15 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Birdibus zippibus Famishus vulgarus ACME Bumblebees
12 April 12, 1958 (1958-04-12) Whoa, Be-Gone! 6:10 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Birdius high-ballius Famishius vulgaris ingeniusi Tornado Kit, Rubber Band (For Tripping Road-Runners), Water Pistol
13 October 11, 1958 (1958-10-11) Hook, Line and Stinker 5:55 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Burnius-roadibus Famishius-famishius Bird Seed
14 December 6, 1958 (1958-12-06) Hip Hip-Hurry! 6:13 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones digoutius-unbelieveablii eatius-slobbius Hi-Speed Tonic, Mouse Snare
15 May 9, 1959 (1959-05-09) Hot-Rod and Reel! 6:25 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Super-sonicus-tastius Famishius-famishius Jet-Propelled Pogo Stick, Jet-Propelled Unicycle
16 October 10, 1959 (1959-10-10) Wild About Hurry 6:45 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Batoutahelius Hardheadipus oedipus Giant Elastic Rubber Band, 5 Miles of Railroad Track, Rocket Sled, Bird Seed, Iron Pellets, Indestructo Steel Ball
17 January 9, 1960 (1960-01-09) Fastest with the Mostest 7:20 Chuck Jones Velocitus incalcublii Carnivorous slobbius Balloon Basket, Balloon,
18 October 8, 1960 (1960-10-08) Hopalong Casualty 6:05 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones speedipus-rex Hard-headipus ravenus Christmas Packaging Machine, Earthquake Pills
19 January 21, 1961 (1961-01-21) Zip 'N Snort 5:50 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones digoutius-hot-rodis evereadii eatibus Iron Pellets, Bird Seed, Axle Grease
20 June 3, 1961 (1961-06-03) Lickety-Splat 6:20 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones,
Abe Levitow
Fastius tasty-us Appetitius giganticus Roller skis, Boomerang
21 November 11, 1961 (1961-11-11) Beep Prepared 6:00 John Dunn,
Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones,
Maurice Noble
Tid-bittius velocitus Hungrii flea-bagius ACME Iron Bird Seed Iron Bird Seed, Little-Giant Do-It-Yourself Rocket Sled
Film June 2, 1962 (1962-06-02) Adventures of the Road Runner 26:00 John Dunn,
Chuck Jones,
Michael Maltese
Chuck Jones Super-Sonnicus Idioticus Desertous-operativus Idioticus
22 June 30, 1962 (1962-06-30) Zoom at the Top 6:30 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones,
Maurice Noble
disappearialis quickius overconfidentii vulgaris Bird seed, instant icicle-maker, boomerang
23 December 28, 1963 (1963-12-28) To Beep or Not to Beep1 6:35 John Dunn,
Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones,
Maurice Noble
24 June 6, 1964 (1964-06-06) War and Pieces 6:40 John Dunn Chuck Jones,
Maurice Noble
Burn-em upus asphaltus Caninus nervous rex Invisible Paint
25 January 1, 1965 (1965-01-01) Zip Zip Hooray!2 6:15 John Dunn Chuck Jones Super-Sonnicus Idioticus
26 February 1, 1965 (1965-02-01) Road Runner a Go-Go2 6:05 John Dunn Chuck Jones None, although Wile E. Coyote does study a film
27 February 27, 1965 (1965-02-27) The Wild Chase 6:30 Friz Freleng,
Hawley Pratt
Iron Pellets, Bird Seed
28 July 31, 1965 (1965-07-31) Rushing Roulette 6:20 David Detiege Robert McKimson Sproing Boots
29 August 21, 1965 (1965-08-21) Run, Run, Sweet Road Runner 6:00 Rudy Larriva Rudy Larriva
30 September 18, 1965 (1965-09-18) Tired and Feathered 6:20 Rudy Larriva Rudy Larriva Dynamite, Assorted Washers Birds And Their Habitat
31 October 9, 1965 (1965-10-09) Boulder Wham! 6:30 Len Janson Rudy Larriva Deluxe Hi-bounce Trampoline Kit Hypnotism for Beginners
32 October 30, 1965 (1965-10-30) Just Plane Beep 6:45 Don Jurwich Rudy Larriva War Surplus Biplane untitled flight instruction book
33 November 13, 1965 (1965-11-13) Hairied and Hurried 6:45 Nick Bennion Rudy Larriva Snow Machine, Magnetic Gun, Practice Bombs, Super Bomb, Kit
34 December 11, 1965 (1965-12-11) Highway Runnery 6:45 Al Bertino Rudy Larriva
35 December 25, 1965 (1965-12-25) Chaser on the Rocks 6:45 Tom Dagenais Rudy Larriva
36 January 8, 1966 (1966-01-08) Shot and Bothered 6:30 Nick Bennion Rudy Larriva Suction Cups
37 January 29, 1966 (1966-01-29) Out and Out Rout 6:00 Dale Hale Rudy Larriva No ACME labeled devices used. "Hunting Birds", "The History of Speed", "How to Sail"
38 February 19, 1966 (1966-02-19) The Solid Tin Coyote 6:15 Don Jurwich Rudy Larriva
39 March 12, 1966 (1966-03-12) Clippety Clobbered 6:15 Tom Dagenais Rudy Larriva
40 November 5, 1966 (1966-11-05) Sugar and Spies 6:20 Tom Dagenais Robert McKimson Do-it-Yourself Kit Remote Control Missile-Bombs
41 November 27, 1979 (1979-11-27) Freeze Frame 6:05 John W. Dunn
Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones Semper food-ellus Grotesques appetitus Instant Snow Maker, Speed Skates, Jet-Propelled Skis, Dog Sled, 92 lb. Dogs, Rocking Horse, Road-Runner Lasso Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Road Runners (But Were Afraid To Ask)
42 May 21, 1980 (1980-05-21) Soup or Sonic 9:10 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones,
Phil Monroe
Ultra-sonicus ad infinitum Nemesis ridiculii Frisbee Disc, Little-Giant Fire Crackers, Giant Fly Trap, Explosive Tennis Balls,
43 December 21, 1994 (1994-12-21) Chariots of Fur3 7:00 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones Boulevardius-burnupius Dogius ignoramii Giant Mouse Trap, Instant Road, Cactus Costume, Lightning Bolts
44 December 30, 2000 (2000-12-30) Little Go Beep 7:55 Kathleen Helppie-Shipley,
Earl Kress
Spike Brandt Morselus babyfatius tastius Poor schnookius Badger Trap, Stretch Hamstring, Jack in the Box with a Boxing Glove and a Big Trike with Aqua Rockets,
45 November 1, 2003 (2003-11-01) The Whizzard of Ow 7:00 Chris Kelly Bret Haaland Geococcyx californianus4 Canis latrans4 Book of Magic, Flying Broom, Bomb, Clear Paint "ACME Book of Magic"
Film November 14, 2003 (2003-11-14) Looney Tunes: Back in Action 91:00 Larry Doyle Joe Dante Desertus operatus idioticus Missile Launcher, Train of Death, Anvil,
46 July 30, 2010 (2010-07-30) Coyote Falls3 2:59 Tom Sheppard[10] Matthew O'Callaghan Bird Seed, Bungee Cord
47 September 24, 2010 (2010-09-24) Fur of Flying3 3:03[11] Tom Sheppard Matthew O'Callaghan[11] Bonnie Bike, Mega-Motor, Football Helmet, Ceiling Fan
48 December 17, 2010 (2010-12-17) Rabid Rider3 3:07 Tom Sheppard Matthew O'Callaghan Hyper-Sonic Transport
49 TBA Flash In The Pain TBA Tom Sheppard Matthew O'Callaghan TBA TBA

1Re-edited form Adventures of the Road-Runner, by Chuck Jones, and with new music direction from Bill Lava.
2Re-edited form Adventures of the Road-Runner, by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises
3These cartoons were shown with a feature-length film. Chariots of Fur was shown with Richie Rich, Coyote Falls was shown with Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore,[9] Fur of Flying was shown with Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole,[12] Rabid Rider was shown with Yogi Bear.
4Actual Latin name of the Greater Roadrunner and Coyote respectively

In Stop! Look! And Hasten!, Wile E. follows the instructions in a manual titled How to Build a Burmese Tiger Trap. Hearing the trap activated, he leaps in and immediately withdraws, panicked, because instead of the Road Runner he has caught an actual Burmese tiger, who is identified as such and given the pseudo-Latin name "surprisibus! surprisibus!".

In Soup or Sonic, the "beep, beep" of the Road Runner is also given the pseudo-Latin name "beepus-beepus". It might also be noted that in this cartoon, Wile E. finally "catches" the Road Runner; however, he has been shrunk down to minute size and is dwarfed by the Road Runner. Recovering from the shock, he then turns to the viewer and holds up a sign reading: "Okay wise guys, you always wanted me to catch him. Now what do I do?"

Scenery[edit]

The desert scenery in the first two Road Runner cartoons, Fast and Furry-ous (1949) and Beep, Beep (1952), was designed by Robert Gribbroek and was quite realistic. In most later cartoons the scenery was designed by Maurice Noble and was far more abstract. Several different styles were used. In The Wild Chase (1965), featuring a race between the Road Runner and Speedy Gonzales, it is stated that the Road Runner is from Texas, insofar as the race announcer calls it the "Texas Road Burner." That suggests that most of the Road Runner and Coyote cartoons could take place in Texas. However, in To Beep or Not to Beep, the catapult is constructed by the Road-Runner Manufacturing Company, which has locations in Taos, Phoenix, Santa Fe, and Flagstaff, suggesting that it takes place in or near the Four Corners (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado) region, specifically Monument Valley.

In Going! Going! Gosh! (late 1952) through Guided Muscle (late 1954) the scenery was "semi-realistic" with an offwhite sky (possibly suggesting overcast/cloudy weather condition). Gravity-defying rock formations appeared in Ready, Set, Zoom! (early 1954). A bright yellow sky made its debut in Gee Whiz-z-z-z-z-z-z (1956) but was not used consistently until There They Go-Go-Go!, later in the same year.

Zoom and Bored (late 1957) introduced a major change in background style. Sharp, top-heavy rock formations became more prominent, and warm colors (yellow, orange, and red) were favored. Bushes were crescent-shaped. Except for Whoa, Be-Gone! (early 1958), whose scenery design harked back to Guided Muscle in certain aspects (such as off-white sky), this style of scenery was retained as far as Fastest with the Mostest (1960). Hopalong Casualty (1960) changed the color scheme, with the sky reverting to blue, and some rocks becoming off-white, while the bright yellow desert sand color is retained, along with the 'sharp' style of rock formations pioneered by Zoom and Bored. The crescent shapes used for bushes starting with Zoom and Bored were retained, and also applied to clouds. In the last scene of War and Pieces (1964), Wile E. Coyote's rocket blasts him through the center of the Earth to China, which is portrayed with abstract Oriental backgrounds.

The Format Films cartoons used a style of scenery similar to Hopalong Casualty and its successors, albeit less detailed and with small puffy clouds rather than crescent-shaped ones.

Freeze Frame, a made-for-television short originally shown as part of the 1979 CBS special Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales, depicts the Road Runner taking a turn that leads the chase into mountains and across a wintry landscape of ice and snow.

Acme Corporation[edit]

Main article: Acme Corporation

Wile E. Coyote often obtains complex and ludicrous devices from a mail-order company, the fictitious Acme Corporation, which he hopes will help him catch the Road Runner. The devices invariably fail in improbable and spectacular ways. Whether this is result of operator error or faulty merchandise is debatable. The coyote usually ends up burnt to a crisp, squashed flat, or at the bottom of a canyon (some shorts show him suffering a combination of these fates). Occasionally Acme products do work quite well (e.g. the Dehydrated Boulders, Bat-Man Outfit, Rocket Sled, Jet Powered Roller Skates, or Earthquake Pills). In this case their success often works against the coyote. For example, the Dehydrated Boulder, upon hydration, becomes so large that it crushes him, or the Coyote finds out that the Earthquake Pills bottle label's fine print states that the pills aren’t effective on road runners, right after he swallows the whole bottle, thinking they're ineffective. Other times he uses items that are implausible, such as a superhero outfit, thinking he could fly wearing it. (He cannot.)

How the coyote acquires these products without money is not explained until the 2003 movie Looney Tunes: Back in Action, in which he is shown to be an employee of Acme. In a Tiny Toon Adventures episode, Wile E. makes mention of his protégé Calamity Coyote possessing an unlimited Acme credit card account, which might serve as another possible explanation. Wile E. being a "beta tester" for Acme has been another suggested explanation. Wile E. also uses war equipment such as cannons, rocket launchers, grenades, and bayonets which are "generic", not Acme products. In a Cartoon Network commercial promoting Looney Tunes, they ask the Coyote why he insists on purchasing products from the Acme Corporation when all previous contraptions have backfired on him, to which the Coyote responds with a wooden sign (right after another item blows up in his face): "Good line of Credit."

In Whoa, Be-Gone!, after successfully avoiding being hit by his own rocket, the coyote is run over by an "ACME" truck emerging from a tunnel.

The company name was likely chosen for its irony (acme means the highest point, as of achievement or development). Also, a company named ACME would have shown up in the first part of a telephone directory. Some people have said ACME comes from the common expansion A (or American) Company that Makes (or Making) Everything, a backronym of the word. The origin of the name might also be related to the Acme company that built a fine line of animation stands and optical printers; however, the most likely explanation is the Sears house brand called Acme that appeared in their ubiquitous early 1900s mail-order catalogues.

In two Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote short films, Ajax (Disney) was used instead of Acme Corporation. In some others, the names "A-1" and "Ace" and "Fleet-Foot" are used.

Laws and rules[edit]

As in other cartoons, the Road Runner and the coyote follow the laws of cartoon physics. For example, the Road Runner has the ability to enter the painted image of a cave, while the coyote cannot (unless there is an opening through which he can fall). Sometimes, however, this is reversed, and the Road Runner can burst through a painting of a broken bridge and continue on his way, while the Coyote will instead enter the mirage painting and fall down the precipice of the cliff where the bridge is out. Sometimes the coyote is allowed to hang in midair until he realizes that he is about to plummet into a chasm (a process occasionally referred to elsewhere as Road-Runnering or a Wile E. Coyote moment). The coyote can overtake rocks (or cannons) which fall earlier than he does, and end up being squashed by them. If a chase sequence runs over the edge of a cliff, the Road Runner is not affected by gravity, whereas the Coyote will realize his error eventually and fall to the ground below. A chase sequence that happens upon railroad tracks inevitably results in the Coyote being run over by a train. If the Coyote uses an explosive (for instance, dynamite) that is triggered by a mechanism that is supposed to force the explosive in a forward motion toward its target, the actual mechanism itself will always shoot forward, leaving the explosive behind to detonate in the Coyote's face. Similarly, a complex apparatus that is supposed to propel an object like a boulder or steel ball forward, or trigger a trap, will not work on the Road Runner, but always will on the Coyote. For instance, the Road Runner can jump up and down on the trigger of a large animal trap and eat bird seed off from it, going completely unharmed and not setting off the trap; when the Coyote places the tiniest droplet of oil on the trigger, the trap snaps shut on him without fail. At certain times, the Coyote may don an exquisite Acme costume or propulsion device that briefly allows him to catch up to the Road Runner. This will always result in him losing track of his proximity to large cliffs or walls, and the Road Runner will dart around an extremely sharp turn on a cliff, but the Coyote will rocket right over the edge and fall to the ground.

In his book Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist,[13] Chuck Jones claimed that he and the artists behind the Road Runner and Wile E. cartoons adhered to some simple but strict rules:

  1. "The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going "beep beep"." This rule was broken in Clippety Clobbered when the Road Runner drops a boulder on the Coyote after painting it with "invisible paint", and has been broken in several CGI shorts from The Looney Tunes Show.
  2. "No outside force can harm the Coyote — only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products." Trains and trucks were the exception from time to time.
  3. "The Coyote could stop anytime — if he were not a fanatic. (Repeat: "A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim." — George Santayana)."
  4. "No dialogue ever, except "beep-beep!"" This rule was violated in some cartoons such as in Zoom at the Top where the Coyote says the word "ouch" after he gets hurt in a bear trap.
  5. "The Road Runner must stay on the road — otherwise, logically, he would not be called Road Runner." This rule was broken in several shorts including cactus mines, cliff edges, mountain tops and railways.
  6. "All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters — the southwest American desert."
  7. "All materials tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation." Although in Rushing Roulette, the Coyote uses Ajax Stix-All glue.
  8. "Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote's greatest enemy." For example, falling off a cliff.
  9. "The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures."

In an interview[2] years after the series was made, writer Michael Maltese said he had never heard of the "Rules."

Later cartoons[edit]

The original Chuck Jones productions ended in 1963 after Jack L. Warner closed the Warner Bros. animation studio. War and Pieces, the last Road Runner short directed by Jones, was released in mid-1964. By that time, David DePatie and veteran director Friz Freleng had formed DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, moved into the facility just emptied by Warner, and signed a license with Warner Bros. to produce cartoons for the big studio to distribute.

Their first cartoon to feature the Road Runner was The Wild Chase, directed by Freleng in 1965. The premise was a race between the bird and "the fastest mouse in all of Mexico," Speedy Gonzales, with the Coyote and Sylvester the Cat each trying to make a meal out of his usual target. Much of the material was animation rotoscoped from earlier Runner and Gonzales shorts, with the other characters added in.

In total, DePatie-Freleng produced 14 Road Runner cartoons, two of which were directed by Robert McKimson (Rushing Roulette, 1965, and Sugar and Spies, 1966). Due to cuts in the number of frames used per second in animated features, many of these final Road Runner features were cheap looking and jerky. Also, the music was very different and of poorer quality than the older features (a byproduct of incoming music director Bill Lava, who replaced the suddenly deceased Milt Franklyn and retired Carl Stalling and whose style clashed noticeably with his predecessors). That was disappointing to fans of the original shorts, and many felt it was the final death knell for animation.

The remaining eleven were subcontracted to Format Films and directed under ex-Warner Bros. animator Rudy Larriva. The "Larriva Eleven", as the series was later called, lacked the fast-paced action of the Chuck Jones originals and was poorly received by critics. In Of Mice and Magic, Leonard Maltin calls the series "witless in every sense of the word." In addition, except for the planet Earth scene at the tail end of "Highway Runnery", there was only one clip of the Coyote's fall to the ground, used over and over again. These cartoons can easily be distinguished from Chuck Jones' cartoons, because they feature the modern "Abstract WB" Looney Tunes opening and closing sequences, and they use the same music cues over and over again in the cartoons, also by Lava. Only one of those eleven cartoons — "Run, Run, Sweet Road Runner" — had music that was actually scored instead of the same music cues. Another clear clue is that Jones' previously described "Laws" for the characters were not followed with any significant fidelity, nor were there Latin phrases used when introducing the characters.

Wile E. Coyote and Bugs Bunny[edit]

Wile E. Coyote has also unsuccessfully attempted to catch and eat Bugs Bunny in another series of cartoons. In these cartoons, the coyote takes on the guise of a self-described "super genius" and speaks with a smooth, generic upper-class accent provided by Mel Blanc. While he is incredibly intelligent, he is limited by technology and his own short-sighted arrogance, and is thus often easily outsmarted, a somewhat physical symbolism of "street smarts" besting "book smarts".

In one short (Hare-Breadth Hurry, 1963), Bugs  — with the help of "speed pills" — even stands in for Road Runner, who has "sprained a giblet", and carries out the duties of outsmarting the hungry scavenger. That is the only Bugs Bunny/Wile E. Coyote short in which the coyote does not speak, and to use the Wile E Coyote/Road Runner cartoon formula. As usual Wile E. Coyote ends up falling down a canyon and fails to catch and eat Bugs Bunny, much like how the coyote fails to catch and eat the Road Runner.

In a later, made-for-TV short, which had a young Elmer Fudd chasing a young Bugs, Elmer also falls down a canyon. On the way down he is overtaken by Wile E. Coyote who shows a sign telling Elmer to get out of the way for someone who is more experienced in falling.

Other appearances[edit]

In the 1962 pilot for a proposed television series (but instead released as a theatrical featurrette titled Adventures of the Road-Runner — when the project failed as TV pilot, it was re-edited into To Beep or Not to Beep by Chuck Jones with additional new music by Bill Lava. But a few years later, the short was re-edited again into Zip Zip Hooray! and Road Runner a Go-Go, by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises).

Chuck's 1979 movie The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie features many of Chuck's characters, including Wile E. and Road Runner. However, whereas most of the featured cartoons are single shorts or sometimes isolated clips, the footage of Wile E. and Road Runner is taken from several different cartoons and compiled to run as one extended sequence.

Wile E. and the Road Runner have two cameo roles in Robert Zemeckis' Who Framed Roger Rabbit first silhouetted when the elevator maneuvered by Droopy goes up, and then during the final scene in Marvin Acme's factory with several other studio characters.

Wile E. and the Road Runner appear as members of the Tune Squad team in Space Jam. There, Wile E. rigs one of the basketball hoops with dynamite to prevent one of the Monstars from scoring a slam dunk. And during practice before Lola Bunny shows up, Wile E. gets his hands on a basketball, but the Road Runner steals the ball from him, and heads into a painted image. But Wile E. doesn't know it's a painted image, and he runs right into it.

Wile E. appears as an employee of the Acme Corporation in Looney Tunes: Back in Action. There, his role is similar to that of Mustafa from the Austin Powers movies.

Wile E. also makes a brief cameo in Tweety's High-Flying Adventure, being held by the neck by the Tasmanian Devil holding up a sign that says "Mother" before they both fall in the sea.

Wile E. is an employee at Daffy Duck's store, in the film Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas. He is seen staring hungrily at a vending machine but Daffy does not allow him to eat during work hours. The Road Runner also appears as a delivery boy.

The two appeared in many different advertisements for Shell, Honey Nut Cheerios and Wile E. appears without the bird in adverts for the Energizer Bunny. In 2012, both Wile E. and Road Runner appeared in a GEICO commercial, in which the wandering gecko is lost. While he is doing so, he nearly gets crushed with an anvil, and then a piano. Just after this happens, Road Runner runs up to him, says his trademark phrase, "Beep beep!" and goes on his way. The gecko then gets confused about the Road Runner's catchphrase by saying "Meep, meep." Suddenly, Wile E., chasing the Road Runner, runs up, sees the gecko and imagines him as his dinner, but while doing so, is driven into the ground by a falling ACME safe. The commercial ends with the gecko concluding, "What a strange place."

The Road Runner is the mascot for a brand of ice melt manufactured by Scotwood Industries.[14]

The Road Runner at one point was the mascot for Time Warner Cable Internet's Road Runner High Speed Online, during the period when both entities were under the AOL Time Warner corporate umbrella. After the companies broke up in 2009, Time Warner Cable continued to license the Road Runner name and iconography until the service was rebranded in 2012 as Time Warner Cable Internet.

The two also appeared in the webtoons "Wild King Dumb", "Judge Granny: Case 2" and "Wile E. Coyote Ugly" on looneytunes.com.

Wile E. appears as a defendant on the show Night Court and is subjected to a stern lecture by Judge Harold T. Stone, who tells him to "go to a restaurant, a supermarket, but leave that poor bird alone!" and finds Wile E. guilty of harassment.

Spin-offs[edit]

In another series of Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoons, Chuck Jones used the character design (model sheets and personality) of Wile E. Coyote as "Ralph Wolf". In this series, Ralph continually attempts to steal sheep from a flock being guarded by the eternally vigilant Sam Sheepdog. As with the Road Runner and Coyote series, Ralph Wolf uses all sorts of wild inventions and schemes to steal the sheep, but he is continually foiled by the sheepdog. In a move seen by many as a self-referential gag, Ralph Wolf continually tries to steal the sheep not because he is a fanatic (as Wile E. Coyote was), but because it is his job. In every cartoon, he and the sheepdog punch a timeclock, exchange pleasantries, go to work, take a lunch break, and clock out to go home for the day, all according to a factory-like blowing whistle. The most prominent difference between the coyote and the wolf, aside from their locales, is that Wile E. has a black nose and Ralph has a red nose.

Comic books[edit]

Wile E. was called Kelsey Coyote in his comic book debut, a Henery Hawk story in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies #91 (May 1949). He only made a couple of other appearances at this time and did not have his official name yet that was used sense Operation: Rabbit (his second appearance). The first appearance of the Road Runner in a comic book was in Bugs Bunny Vacation Funnies #8 (August 1958) published by Dell Comics. The feature is titled "Beep Beep the Road Runner" and the story "Desert Dessert". It presents itself as the first meeting between Beep Beep and Wile E. (whose mailbox reads "Wile E. Coyote, Inventor and Genius"), and introduces the Road Runner's wife, Matilda, and their three newly hatched sons (though Matilda would soon disappear from the comics). This story established the convention that the Road Runner family talked in rhyme in the comics (The Road Runner also talked in rhyme in many children book adoptions of the cartoons).

Dell initially published a dedicated "Beep Beep the Road Runner" comic as part of Four Color Comics #918, 1008, and 1046 before launching a separate series for the character numbered #4–14 (1960–1962), with the three try-out issues counted as the first three numbers. After a hiatus, Gold Key Comics took over the character with issues #1–88 (1966–1984). During the 1960s, the artwork was done by Pete Alvarado and Phil DeLara; from 1966–1969, the Gold Key issues consisted of Dell reprints. Afterward, new stories began to appear, initially drawn by Alvarado and De Lara before Jack Manning became the main artist for the title. New and reprinted Beep Beep stories also appeared in Golden Comics Digest and Gold Key's revival of Looney Tunes in the 1970s. During this period, Wile E.'s middle name was revealed to be "Ethelbert"[7] in the story "The Greatest of E's" in issue #53 (cover-date September 1975) of Gold Key Comics' licensed comic book, Beep Beep the Road Runner.[15]

The Road Runner and Wile E. also make appearances in the DC Comics Looney Tunes title. Wile E. was able to speak in some of his appearances in the DC comics.

Television[edit]

The Road Runner and the Coyote appeared on Saturday mornings as the stars of their own TV series, The Road Runner Show, from September 1966 to September 1968, on CBS. At this time it was merged with The Bugs Bunny Show to become The Bugs Bunny and Road Runner Show, running from 1968 to 1985. The show was later seen on ABC until 2000, and on Global until 2001. The theme song of the TV series went as follows:

If you're on a highway and Road Runner goes Beep-Beep,
Just step aside or you might end up in a heap.
Road Runner, Road Runner runs on the road all day,
Even the Coyote can't make him change his ways.

Chorus:

Road Runner,
The Coyote's after you!
Road Runner,
If he catches you, you're through!

(repeat of chorus)

That Coyote is really a crazy clown;
When will he learn that he never can mow him down?
Poor little Road Runner never bothers anyone;
Just running down the road's his idea of having fun!

(non-verbal chorus and repeat of chorus)

In the 1970s, Chuck Jones directed some Road Runner short films for the educational children's TV series The Electric Company. These short cartoons used the Coyote and the Road Runner to display words for children to read, but the cartoons themselves are a refreshing return to Jones' glory days.

In 1979, Freeze Frame, in which Jones moved the chase from the desert to snow-covered mountains, was seen as part of Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales.

At the end of Bugs Bunny's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bunny (the initial sequence of Chuck Jones' TV special, Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All Over), Bugs mentions to the audience that he and Elmer may have been the first pair of characters to have chase scenes in these cartoons, but then a pint-sized baby Wile E. Coyote (wearing a diaper and holding a small knife and fork) runs right in front of Bugs, chasing a gold-colored, mostly unhatched (except for the tail, which is sticking out) Road Runner egg, which is running rapidly while some high-pitched "beep, beep" noises can be heard. This was followed by the full-fledged Runner/Coyote short, Soup or Sonic. Earlier in that story, while kid Elmer was falling from a cliff, Wile E. Coyote's adult self tells him to move over and leave falling to people who know how to do it and then he falls, followed by Elmer.

In the 1980s, ABC began showing many Warner Bros. shorts, but in highly edited form, because the unedited versions were supposedly too violent. Many scenes integral to the stories were taken out, including scenes in which Wile E. Coyote landed at the bottom of the canyon after having fallen from a cliff, or had a boulder or anvil actually make contact with him. In almost all WB animated features, scenes where a character's face was burnt and black, resembling blackface, were removed, as were animated characters smoking cigarettes, or even simulated cigarettes. Some cigar smoking scenes were left in. The unedited versions of these shorts (with the exception of ones with blackface) were not seen again until Cartoon Network, and later Boomerang, began showing them again in the 1990s and early 2000s. Since the release of the WB library of cartoons on DVD, Boomerang has stopped showing the cartoons, presumably to increase sales of the DVDs.

Though Wile E. Coyote isn't seen in Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue he is mentioned by Bugs Bunny saying that he borrowed his time machine.

Wile E. and the Road Runner later appeared in several episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures. In this series, Wile E. (voiced in the Jim Reardon episode "Piece of Mind" by Joe Alaskey) was the dean of Acme Looniversity and the mentor of Calamity Coyote. The Road Runner's protégé in this series was Little Beeper. In the episode "Piece of Mind", Wile E. narrates the life story of Calamity while Calamity is falling from the top of a tall skyscraper. In the direct-to-video movie Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, the Road Runner finally gets a taste of humiliation by getting run over by a mail truck that "brakes for coyotes."

The two were also seen in cameos in Animaniacs. They were together in two "Slappy Squirrel" cartoons: "Bumbie's Mom" and "Little Old Slappy from Pasadena". In the latter the Road Runner gets another taste of humiliation when he is outrun by Slappy's car, and holds up a sign saying "I quit" — immediately afterward, Buttons, who was launched into the air during a previous gag, lands squarely on top of him. Wile E. appears without the bird in a The Wizard of Oz parody, dressed in his batsuit from one short, in a twister (tornado) funnel in "Buttons in Ows". Also, in the beginning of one episode, an artist is seen drawing Road Runner.

In a Cartoon Network TV ad about The Acme Hour, Wile E. Coyote utilized a pair of jet roller skates to catch the Road Runner and (quite surprisingly) didn't fail. While he was cooking his prey, it was revealed that the roller skates came from a generic brand. The ad said that other brand isn't the same thing.[clarification needed][citation needed]

Wile E. and Road Runner appeared in their toddler versions in Baby Looney Tunes, only in songs. However, they both had made a cameo in the episode, "Are We There Yet?", where Road Runner was seen out the window of Floyd's car with Wile E. chasing him.

Wile E. Coyote had a cameo as the true identity of an alien hunter (a parody of Predator) in the Duck Dodgers episode "K-9 Quarry," voiced by Dee Bradley Baker. In that episode, he was hunting Martian Commander X-2 and K-9.

In Loonatics Unleashed, Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner's 28th century descendants are Tech E. Coyote and Rev Runner. Tech E. Coyote was the tech expert of the Loonatics (influenced by the past cartoons with many of the machines ordered by Wile E. from Acme), and has magnetic hands and the ability to molecularly regenerate himself (influenced by the many times in which Wile E. painfully failed to capture Roadrunner and then was shown to have miraculously recovered). Tech E. Coyote speaks, but does not have a British accent as Wile E. Coyote did. Rev Runner is also able to talk, though extremely rapidly, and can fly without the use of jet packs, which are used by other members of the Loonatics. He also has sonic speed, also a take off of Roadrunner. Ironically, the pair get on rather well, despite the number of gadgets Tech designs in order to stop Rev talking. Also they have their moments where they don't get along. When friendship is shown it is often only from Rev to Tech, not the other way around; this could however be attributed to the fact that Tech has only the bare minimum of social skills. They are both portrayed as smart, but Tech is the better inventor and at times Rev was shown doing stupid things. References to ancestor's past are seen in the episode "Family Business" where the other Runners are wary of Tech and Tech relives the famous falling gags done in Coyote/Runner shorts.

Road Runner appears in an episode of the 1990 series Taz-Mania in which Taz grabs it by the leg & gets ready to eat it until the two gators are ready to capture Taz so he lets Road Runner go. In another episode of Taz-Mania the Road Runner cartoons are parodied with Taz dressed as Road Runner and the character Willy Wombat dressed as Wile E. Coyote. Willy tries to catch Taz with Acme Roller Skates but fails, and Taz even says "Beep, beep".

Road Runner and Wile E. feature in 3D computer animated cartoons or cartoon animation in Cartoon Network's new TV series The Looney Tunes Show. The CGI shorts were only included in season one but Wile E. & Road Runner will still appear throughout the series in 2D animation.

Wile E. will also appear in the upcoming TV series Wabbit, as Bugs Bunny's annoying, know-it-all neighbor. It is unknown if Road Runner will appear in the series.

3-D shorts[edit]

The characters are scheduled to appear in seven 3-D short attached to Warner Bros. features. Three have been screened with features, while the rest serve as segments in season one of The Looney Tunes Show.

Video games[edit]

Several Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner-themed video games have been produced:

The arcade game was originally to have been a laserdisc-based title incorporating footage from the actual Road Runner cartoons. Atari eventually decided that the format was too unreliable (laserdisc-based games required a great deal of maintenance) and switched it to more conventional raster-based hardware.

In popular culture[edit]

A mural of Wile E. Coyote smashed into the wall of the Rotch Library at MIT

In the film The Shining,(1980), Danny And Wendy are watching the Road Runner on television, in their hotel room. Later on , when Jack chases Danny and Wendy through the hedges, Jack becomes the Coyote, who fails, while Wendy and Danny become the Road Runner, who successfully escapes to freedom.

Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner have been frequently referenced in popular culture. The Villain (directed by Hal Needham) is a parody of these animated shorts as well as being a spoof of westerns. In The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!, Road Runner gets run down and dies, after which Coyote commits suicide by shooting himself in the head with a prop gun.

Wile E. Coyote has appeared two times in Family Guy: his first episode, I Never Met the Dead Man, depicts him riding in a car with Peter Griffin; when Peter runs over the Road Runner and asks if he hit "that ostrich", Wile E. tells him to keep going.[16] In PTV, Wile E. appears in a flashback when Peter offers a store credit when Wile E. claims a refund for a giant sling shot that "slammed me into a mountain".

Wile E. also appears on the DVD version of Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy in a segment called "Die, Sweet Roadrunner, Die". In the segment, Wile E. finally manages to kill the Road Runner (by accident) and eats him for dinner, and then he has no idea what to do with the rest of his life because he has been "chasing that damn bird for almost 20 years". Wile E. becomes an alcoholic and is fired from his job as a waiter after having an outburst when he messes up an order. Wile E. almost commits suicide by catapulting into a cliff, but has a revelation and decides to be an evangelist.

Wile E. made a cameo in The Simpsons episode "Smoke on the Daughter" on the couch gag in which he paints a fake couch on the living room wall and leaves and the Simpsons then run into the wall as Maggie zooms in and says the Road Runner's catchphrase "Beep, beep!" The Simpsons has also referenced Wile E. and the Road Runner in several other episodes including "The Scorpion's Tale", which showed a real coyote chasing a real roadrunner.

Wile E. appears in the South Park episode "Imaginationland Episode III" in which he was rabid and marches among myriad other evil fictional characters to battle against the surviving good characters. The Looney Tunes characters who appeared with him included Marvin the Martian and Gossamer.

101 Dalmatians: The Series included a parody of the cartoons in the episode The Making Of..., where Cruella De Vil takes the coyote's role, and Spot the Roadrunner's.[17]

Guitarist Mark Knopfler created a song called "Coyote" in homage to the cartoon shows of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, on the 2002 album The Ragpicker's Dream. The Tom Smith song "Operation Desert Storm", which won a Pegasus award for Best Fool Song in 1999, is about the different crazy ways the Coyote's plans fail.[18]

Humorist Ian Frazier created the mock-legal prose piece "Coyote v. Acme",[19] which is included in a book of the same name.

In 2009, a group of EMRTC engineers attempt to recreate Wile E. Coyote's failed contraptions on a TruTV series Man vs. Cartoon.

Road Runner appeared in the Mad segment "Meep! My Dad Says" as a father. In the sketch "RiOa", Road Runner finds a ring in his lunch and gets the power to fly as Wile E. gets hit on the head by an anvil. In "Body of Pwoof", Road Runner is dead and at a hospital and Elmer Fudd blames Wile E. for killing the Road Runner. Road Runner is also seen in the sketch "Does Someone Have to GOa?" In another Mad segment, Road Runner gets arrested for speeding and Wile E. gets arrested for using an illegal rocket.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Flint, Peter (July 11, 1989). "Mel Blanc, Who Provided Voices For 3,000 Cartoons, Is Dead at 81". The New York Times. Retrieved December 1, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b The interviews included in the DVD commentary were recorded by animation historian Michael Barrier for his book Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age.
  3. ^ Bretts, Bruce; Roush, Matt; (March 25, 2013). "Baddies to the Bone: The 60 nastiest villains of all time". TV Guide. pp. 14−15.
  4. ^ Collins, Glen (November 7, 1989). "Chuck Jones on Life and Daffy Duck". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Barrier, Michael (November 6, 2003). Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age. United States: Oxford University Press. p. 672. ISBN 978-0-19-516729-0. Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  6. ^ Wroe, Nicholas (April 19, 2013). "Richard Williams: the master animator". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  7. ^ a b "News from Me (column): "The Name Game" (Feb. 20, 2006), by Mark Evanier". Newsfromme.com. Retrieved 2010-04-10. 
  8. ^ Costello, E.O. "The Warner Brothers Cartoon Companion: Wile E. Coyote". Archived from the original on July 12, 2011. The original model sheet for the character bears a label referring to the character as “Don Coyote”, in reference to Miguel Ceverantes’ Don Quixote. 
  9. ^ a b "blueguerilla.org :: View topic - Looney Tunes exclusive clip: Coyote Falls". Retrieved December 16, 2014. 
  10. ^ Maltin, Leonard (September 27, 2010). "Welcome back, Wile E.". Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy. 
  11. ^ a b "FUR OF FLYING". Retrieved December 16, 2014. 
  12. ^ "latinoreview.com". Retrieved December 16, 2014. 
  13. ^ Jones, Chuck (1999). Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times Of An Animated Cartoonist. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-52620-7. 
  14. ^ "Home - Scotwood Industries". Scotwood Industries, Inc. 
  15. ^ Evanier, News from Me: "Mike Maltese had been occasionally writing the comics in semi-retirement before me, but when he dropped the 'semi' part, I got the job and that was one of the plots I came up with. For the record, the story was drawn by a terrific artist named Jack Manning, and Mr. Maltese complimented me on it. Still, I wouldn't take that as any official endorsement of the Coyote's middle name. If you want to say the Coyote's middle name is Ethelbert, fine. I mean, it's not like someone's going to suddenly whip out Wile E.'s actual birth certificate and yell, 'Aha! Here's incontrovertible proof!' But like I said, I never imagined anyone would take it as part of the official 'canon' of the character. If I had, I'd have said the 'E' stood for Evanier".
  16. ^ Pierson, Robin (August 7, 2009). "Episode 2: I Never Met The Dead Man". The TV Critic. Retrieved 2011-10-23. 
  17. ^ "The Making Of...". 101 Dalmatians: The Series. Season 2. Episode 56. 1998-02-08. American Broadcasting Company. 
  18. ^ "The FuMP: Operation: Desert Storm by Tom Smith". Retrieved December 16, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Coyote v. Acme". Legalnews.net. Retrieved 2010-04-10. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]