1 9 6 6 – 1 9 6 8 (USA)
Originally, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner were the stars of Warner Bros. theatrical cartoons. Like their contemporaries, they were packaged into Saturday morning’s The Bugs Bunny Show, but by 1966, the two had become popular enough to earn their own spin-off.
Created by legendary animator Chuck Jones, the series had a simple premise: The coyote, who was very hungry, tried to catch the Road Runner, who was very fast.
Wile E. would try anything to catch his prey, utilising a wide variety of products from the Acme Company (rocket skates, giant magnets, foot springs, etc.) Regardless of the scheme, it would always backfire, and Wile E. would end up trapping, flattening, or blowing himself up.
The coyote was persistent, though. No matter how many failures he met with, no matter how many times he fell off a cliff, no matter how many signs he held up with the word “Ouch!” written on them, he refused to give up.
Signs were the only way Wile E. communicated in his shorts with the Road Runner, and the bird only spoke the two-word catchphrase, “Beep Beep!”
The cartoons took place in the Southwest American desert, giving the bird a wide variety of boulders and cacti with which to crush or impale the coyote.
The Road Runner cartoons are remembered fondly because of the simplicity of the tales. The plot stayed the same, while the action was different every time.
Each episode even started the same way, with a shot of the Road Runner and his fake Latin name in parentheses underneath (birdicus speeedicus), then the same bit with the Coyote (famishus unbelievacus). The names would change each episode.
Chuck Jones famously published a list of rules for the cartoon, including; “No outside influence can harm the Coyote – only his own ineptitude or the failure of the Acme products”, “whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy” and “the Road Runner must stay on the road – otherwise logically, he would not be called a road runner”.
While this particular Warner Bros. cartoon was, hands down, the most violent, it was also one of the most popular. The lack of dialogue made it simple enough for even the smallest child to understand exactly what the Coyote was planning and to enjoy the inevitable outcome.
Wile E. Coyote