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Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner

Wile E. Coyote (also known simply as "The Coyote") and the Road Runner are cartoon characters from a series of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. The characters were created by animation director Chuck Jones in 1948 for Warner Brothers, while the template for their adventures was the work of writer Michael Maltese. The characters went on to star in a long-running series of theatrical cartoon shorts (the first 16 of which were written by Maltese) and the occasional made-for-television cartoon.

The E never refers to a name within the context of the cartoon, but a 1975 comic has it standing for 'Ethelbert'. Although his last name is routinely pronounced with a long "e" as in the real-life animal (e.g. "ky-O'-tee"), in at least one case, he has been heard pronouncing it with a long "a" (e.g. "ky-O'-tay", To Hare is Human) in an attempt to sound refined or intelligent.

The Coyote has separately appeared as an occasional antagonist in Bugs Bunny shorts. While he is generally silent in the Coyote-Road Runner shorts, he speaks with a refined accent in these solo outings, initially voiced by Mel Blanc. The Road Runner vocalizes only with a signature sound, "beep, beep", and an occasional tongue noise. The "beep, beep" was recorded by Paul Julian.

Creation

Jones based the Coyote on Mark Twain's Roughing It, in which Twain describes 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 Tom and Jerry).

Premise

The shorts are simple in their premise: a Road Runner (loosely based on a real bird, the Greater Roadrunner) is chased down the highways of the Southwestern United States by a hungry coyote named Wile E. Coyote (a pun on "wily coyote").

The initial opening usually shows both characters running down the road at such speed as to be just a blur, when suddenly the action freezes, and we get a good look at one of them, usually the Road Runner first, along with a comical fake-Latin name that references speed or tastiness for the Road Runner, and hunger or malevolence for the Coyote. Then the action will resume, Wile E. will come within inches of catching the Road Runner, who will then suddenly shift into a higher gear and rocket away, instantly passing out of sight. Then, after his amazement at this sudden acceleration, Wile E. will begin scheming how to get the bird with his brain instead of speed.

Despite numerous clever attempts, often involving Rube Goldberg devices, the Coyote never catches the Road Runner (with one exception, in a post-regular run television special). The Coyote's elaborate schemes always backfire, injuring him in highly exaggerated slapstick violence. While Wile E. is the aggressor in the series, he and his hopelessly futile efforts and intricate contraptions — almost always from the Acme Corporation — are the focus of the humor and the audience's sympathy, as these contraptions and/or plans invariably fail with catastrophic results for the Coyote.

There is almost never any spoken communication, save the Road Runner's "beep, beep" and the sticking-out of his tongue, but the two characters do sometimes communicate by holding up signs to each other, the audience, or the cartoonist. Wile E. Coyote also shouts from pain on at least one occasion, and wiggles his eyebrows at the audience when feeling particularly pleased with himself (and therefore, usually, just before a catastrophe).

Wile E. Coyote later appeared in some Bugs Bunny shorts, and much later in some of the "Little Beeper" cartoons on Tiny Toon Adventures. In the Bugs Bunny shorts, he calls himself a "super genius" ("Operation: Rabbit", 1952; his first speaking appearance, and his first appearance in which he is called "Wile E. Coyote"); in another cartoon he claims an IQ of 207 ("Zip Zip Hooray!", 1965), and always introduces himself as "Wile E. Coyote, Genius" as if it was a title; said title also appears on his business cards and mailbox.

Signature "beep, beep"

see also: Beep, beep (sound)

The source of the Road Runner's "beep, beep" was background painter Paul Julian, who worked for Friz Freleng's unit. His identity was a mystery for many years, but was confirmed by Jones' primary gag writer Michael Maltese and Julian himself in the DVD commentary for the short "Fast and Furry-ous" on Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 1.

Julian first made the "beep, beep" noise around the Warner Bros. lot (imitating a car horn) as a lighthearted means of getting people out of his way when he was in a hurry. At the producers' request, Julian performed several variations of the sound at a single recording session. Editor Treg Brown then sped up and looped some of them to make even more versions.

The use of a staff member to perform a voice caused a rift with the performers' union. Chuck Jones was forced to agree that, for all future recording sessions, an accredited actor would be used. He got around this by simply reusing Julian's initial recording (and Brown's variants) in all future Road Runner cartoons.

Because of the union problems, the studio refused to acknowledge the real voice of the Road Runner for decades. Many sources erroneously claimed that Mel Blanc performed the character. Blanc, in his autobiography That's Not All Folks!, claimed that a klaxon horn was used in the first short, but that he personally took over the role when that prop later came up missing.

Blanc's account had long been questioned by animation buffs since the Road Runner noise never sounded like an ordinary klaxon and there was no reason the original soundtrack couldn't have been reused or a replacement horn found.

A non-vocal effect was used to make the noise produced when the Road Runner flicks his tongue at the Coyote. In an interview in the above-referenced DVD commentary, Treg Brown revealed one of his assistants created the hollow sound by sticking his thumb into an empty glass bottle and pulling it out rapidly.

List of episodes

The series consists of 45 shorts (mostly about 6-7 min.), 1 short film (26 min.), and 3 Webtoons (2-3 min.).

# Release date Title Duration Credits Pseudo-latin names given
Story/writing Direction for the Road Runner for the Coyote
01 September 16, 1949 Fast and Furry-ous 6:55 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Accelleratii incredibus Carnivorous vulgaris
02 May 24, 1952 Beep, Beep 6:45 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Accelerati incredibilus Carnivorous vulgaris
03 August 23, 1952 Going! Going! Gosh! 6:25 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Acceleratti incredibilis Carnivorous vulgaris
04 September 14, 1953 Zipping Along 6:55 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Velocitus tremenjus Road-Runnerus digestus
05 August 14, 1954 Stop! Look! And Hasten!! 7:00 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Hot-roddicus supersonicus Eatibus anythingus
06 April 30, 1955 Ready, Set, Zoom! 6:55 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Speedipus rex Famishus-famishus
07 December 10, 1955 Guided Muscle 6:40 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Velocitus delectiblus Eatibus almost anythingus
08 May 05, 1956 Gee Whiz-z-z-z-z-z-z 6:35 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Delicius-delicius Eatius birdius
09 November 10, 1956 There They Go-Go-Go! 6:35 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Dig-outius tid-bittius Famishius fantasticus
10 January 26, 1957 Scrambled Aches 6:50 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Tastyus supersonicus Eternalii famishiis
11 September 04, 1957 Zoom and Bored 6:15 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Birdibus zippibus Famishus vulgarus
12 April 12, 1958 Whoa, Be-Gone! 6:10 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Birdius high-ballius Famishius vulgaris ingeniusi
13 October 11, 1958 Hook, Line and Stinker 5:55 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Burnius-roadibus Famishius-famishius
14 December 06, 1958 Hip Hip-Hurry! 6:00 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Digoutius-unbelieveablii Eatius-slobbius
15 May 09, 1959 Hot-Rod and Reel! 6:25 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Super-sonicus-tastius Famishius-famishius
16 October 10, 1959 Wild About Hurry 6:45 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Batoutahelius Hardheadipus oedipus
17 January 19, 1960 Fastest with the Mostest 7:20 None Chuck Jones Velocitus incalculii Carnivorous slobbius
18 October 08, 1960 Hopalong Casualty 6:05 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones Speedipus-rex Hard-headipus ravenus
19 January 21, 1961 Zip 'N Snort 5:50 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones Digoutius-hot-rodis Evereadii eatibus
20 June 03, 1961 Lickety-Splat 6:20 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones
Abe Levitow
Fastius tasty-us Apetitius giganticus
21 November 11, 1961 Beep Prepared 6:00 John Dunn
Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones
Maurice Noble
Tid-bittius velocitus Hungrii flea-bagius
22 June 30, 1962 Zoom at the Top 6:30 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones
Maurice Noble
Disappearialis quickius Overconfidentii vulgaris
Film June 2, 1962 Adventures of the Road-Runner 26:00 John Dunn
Chuck Jones
Michael Maltese
Chuck Jones Super-Sonnicus Idioticus Desertous-operativus Idioticus
23 December 31, 1963 To Beep or Not to Beep* 6:35 John Dunn
Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones
Maurice Noble
None None
24 June 06, 1964 War and Pieces 6:40 John Dunn Chuck Jones
Maurice Noble
''Burn-em upus asphaltus Caninus nervous rex
25 January 1, 1965 Zip Zip Hooray!* 6:15 John Dunn None Super-sonnicus idioticus None
26 February 1, 1965 Roadrunner a Go-Go* 6:05 John Dunn None None None
27 February 27, 1965 The Wild Chase 6:30 None Friz Freleng
Hawley Pratt
None None
28 July 31 1965 Rushing Roulette 6:20 David Detiege Robert McKimson None None
29 August 21 1965 Run, Run, Sweet Road Runner 6:00 Rudy Larriva Rudy Larriva None None
30 September 18, 1965 Tired and Feathered 6:20 Rudy Larriva Rudy Larriva None None
31 October 09, 1965 Boulder Wham! 6:30 Len Janson Rudy Larriva None None
32 October 30, 1965 Just Plane Beep 6:45 Don Jurwich Rudy Larriva None None
33 November 13, 1965 Hairied and Hurried 6:45 Nick Bennion Rudy Larriva None None
34 December 11, 1965 Highway Runnery 6:45 Al Bertino Rudy Larriva None None
35 December 25, 1965 Chaser on the Rocks 6:45 Tom Dagenais Rudy Larriva None None
36 January 08, 1966 Shot and Bothered 6:30 Nick Bennion Rudy Larriva None None
37 January 29, 1966 Out and Out Rout 6:00 Dale Hale Rudy Larriva None None
38 February 19, 1966 The Solid Tin Coyote 6:15 Don Jurwich Rudy Larriva None None
39 March 12, 1966 Clippety Clobbered 6:15 Tom Dagenais Rudy Larriva None None
40 November 05, 1966 Sugar and Spies 6:20 Tom Dagenais Robert McKimson None None
41 November 27, 1979 Freeze Frame 6:05 Chuck Jones
(no on-screen credits)
Chuck Jones
(no on-screen credits)
Semper food-ellus Grotesques appetitus
42 May 21, 1980 Soup or Sonic 9:10 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones
Phil Monroe
Ultra-sonicus ad infinitum Nemesis ridiculii
43 December 21, 1994 Chariots of Fur 7:00 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones Boulevardius-burnupius Dogius ignoramii
44 December 30, 2000 Little Go Beep 7:55 Kathleen Helppie-Shipley
Earl Kress
Spike Brandt Morselus babyfatius tastius Poor schnookius
45 November 1, 2003 The Whizzard Of Ow 7:00 Chris Kelly Bret Haaland Geococcyx californianus*** Canis latrans****
Web Unknown Judge Granny Case 2** TBD Birdius tastius Poultrius devourius
Web Unknown Wild King Dumb** TBD Birdius tastius Poultrius devourius
Web Unknown Wile E. Coyote Ugly** TBD None None
* Part of the animated film Adventures of the Road-Runner

** Webtoon (looneytunes.warnerbros.com)

*** Actual Latin name of the Greater Roadrunner

**** Actual Latin name of the Coyote

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.

Scenery

The desert scenery in the first two Road Runner cartoons, Fast and Furry-ous (1949) and Beep, Beep (mid 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 him the "Texas Road Burner." This suggests that most of the Wile E. and Road Runner cartoons could take place in Texas. However, in episode 23, "To Beep or Not to Beep", the catapult is constructed by the Road-Runner Manufacturing Company, which has locations in Taos, Phoenix, and Flagstaff, suggesting that it takes place in Arizona and New Mexico.

In Going! Going! Gosh! (late 1952) through Guided Muscle (late 1955) 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 1955). A bright yellow sky made its debut in Gee Whiz-z-z-z! (early 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 colours (yellow, orange and red) were favoured. 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 (early 1960). Hopalong Casualty (mid 1960) changed the colour scheme, with the sky reverting to blue, and some rocks becoming off-white, while the bright yellow desert sand colour 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. This scene features a Chinese Road Runner.

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.

The 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 cartoons 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 Earthquake Pills bottle label fine-print states that the pills aren’t effective on Road-Runners.

How the coyote acquires these Acme products without any 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 protege 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 cannon, rocket launchers, grenades, and bayonets which are "generic", not Acme products. In a Cartoon Network commercial promoting Looney Tunes, they ask the Coyote why does he insist 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".

The company name was likely chosen for its irony (acme means the highest point, as of achievement or development). The common expansion A (or American) Company that Makes (or Making) Everything is a backronym. 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.

Laws and rules

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 bust through a painting while the coyote goes through it. 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). The coyote can overtake rocks (or cannons) which fall before he does, and end up being squashed by them.

In "Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times Of An Animated Cartoonist", it is claimed that Chuck Jones and the artists behind the Road Runner and Wile E. cartoons adhered to some simple but strict rules:

  1. Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going "beep, beep".
  2. No outside force can harm the Coyote -- only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products.
  3. The Coyote could stop anytime -- IF he was 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".
  5. Road Runner must stay on the road -- for no other reason than that he's a roadrunner.
  6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters -- the southwest American desert.
  7. All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.
  8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote's greatest enemy.
  9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.
  10. The audience's sympathy must remain with the Coyote.

These rules were not always followed, and in an interview years after the series was made, writer Michael Maltese said he had never heard of the "Rules".

Later cartoons

The original Chuck Jones productions ended in 1963 after Jack 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 Warners to produce cartoons for the big studio to distribute.

Their first to feature the Road Runner was The Wild Chase. This was directed by Friz Freleng himself in 1965. Much of the material was animation lifted from earlier Runner and Gonzales shorts, with the other's characters added in. The cartoon also stars the fastest mouse in Mexico Speedy Gonzales who was the big star at the time.

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).

The remaining 11 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's 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, composed by William Lava. Only one of those 11 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.

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.

In one short (Hare-Breadth Hurry, 1963), Bugs Bunny—with the help of "speed pills"—even sits in for Road Runner, who has "sprained a giblet", and carries out the duties of outsmarting the hungry scavenger. This is the only Bugs Bunny/Wile E. Coyote short in which the coyote does not speak. As usual Wile E. Coyote ends up falling down a canyon. (In a later, made-for-TV short, which had a young Elmer Fudd chasing a young Bugs Bunny, 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.)

In the 1962 pilot for a potential television anthology series (but later released as a theatrical short entitled The Adventures of the Road-Runner—later edited and split into three short subjects called To Beep or Not to Beep, Zip Zip Hooray! and Road Runner A-Go-Go), Wile E. lectures two young TV-watching children about the edible parts of a Road Runner, attempting to explain his somewhat irrational obsession with catching it.

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

Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner have cameo roles in Robert Zemeckis's Who Framed Roger Rabbit during the final scene in Marvin Acme's factory. This is one of several anachronisms in the movie, which is set two years before Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner debuted.

Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner appear as members of the TuneSquad 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.

Wile E. Coyote 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.

Spin-offs

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 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 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

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. This story established the convention that the Road Runner family talked in rhyme in the comics.

Wile E. was called Kelsey Coyote in his comic book debut, a Henery Hawk story in Looney Tunes and Merrie Meolodies #91 (May 1949).

Dell initially published "Beep Beep the Road Runner" as part of Four Color Comics #918, 1008, and 1046 before launching a separate title for the character numbered #4–14 (1960–62), with the three try-out issues counted as the first three issues. After a hiatus, Gold Key Comics took over the character with issues #1–88 (1966–84). During the 1960s, the artwork was done by Pete Alvarado and Phil De Lara; from 1966-1969, the Gold Key issues consisted of Dell reprints. Afterward, new stories began to appear, initially drawn by Alavardo 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, one comic story revealed his middle name to be "Ethelbert 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.

The Road Runner and Wile E. also make appearances in the DC Comics Looney Tunes title.

Television

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 The Bugs Bunny and Road Runner Show, running from 1968 to 1985. By 1980, the shorts were heavily censored. The show was later seen on ABC until 2000, and on Global until 1998.

In the 1970s, Chuck Jones directed three 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 were 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 suddenly, a pint-sized, baby Wile E. Coyote (wearing a diaper and holding a small knife and fork) appears right in front of Bugs, chasing a gold-colored, unhatched (mostly, 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 fully-fledged Runner/Coyote short, Soup or Sonic.

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 protege 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 is outrun by Slappy's car and holds up a sign saying "I quit"—immediately afterwards, 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".

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.

In the 2000s, toddler versions of Wile E. and the Road Runner have been featured in episodes of the series Baby Looney Tunes.

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). 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 super 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. They are both portrayed as smart, but Tech is the better inventor.

In the Cartoon Network TV series Class of 3000, Wile E. Coyote is seen constantly in one episode, using rocket shoes and howling like a real life coyote. His Latin name is "Jokis Callbackus".

Commercial appearances

  • The Plymouth Road Runner was a muscle car produced by the Plymouth division of Chrysler between 1968 and 1980. An official licensee of Warner Bros. (paying $50,000 for the privilege), Plymouth used the image of the cartoon bird on the sides and the car had a special horn (with "Voice of Road Runner" labels) that sounds like the bird's signature 'beep, beep'. Some engine options (notably the 426 Hemi) included Road Runner "Coyote Duster" graphics on the air cleaner. The rear spoiler and one of the headlight covers of the 1970 Plymouth Superbird version of the Road Runner included a graphic of the Road Runner holding a crash helmet.
  • General Motors used the Road Runner on its marketing campaign in 1985 for its Holden Barina in Australia.
  • In 1991, Shell Oil New Zealand ran a series of advertisements called "Change for Good" promoting a switch to Unleaded 91 Octane fuel. One of these advertisements had Wile E. Coyote driving into a Shell Service Station and the attendant suggests a "Change for Good." After filling up Wile E Coyote's vehicle is now transformed and he is able to drive off to catch Road Runner.
  • In 1996, Road Runner became the mascot for Time Warner's cable internet service, also named Road Runner. One commercial involved Wile E. as the "mascot" of DSL. Road Runner is also the mascot of Time Warner's car sales website, BeepBeep.com, and appears in commercials on Time Warner cable systems in several television markets.
  • In 1996, Wile E. Coyote appeared alongside football star Deion Sanders in a Pepsi commercial.
  • From 1997 to 1998, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote appeared in a Pontiac Grand Prix car commercial. Wile E. chases the Road Runner while driving the car. Pontiac used a tagline "Wider is Better".
  • In 2004, Wile E. appeared (along with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck) in an Aflac commercial, in which he is shown as being a prime candidate for the company's services. Before he plummets, taking an animated version of the Aflac duck with him, he holds up a sign with the company's tagline, "Ask About It at Work".
  • In the 1990s, Wile E. appeared in Energizer commercials trying to capture the Energizer Bunny.
  • In the 1980s, both Wile E. and Road Runner appeared in a Honey Nut Cheerios commercial.Before Wile E. was about to fall off a cliff, the Honey Nut Cheerios bee saved him by convincing him to take and eat a bowl of the cereal.
  • A McDonald's TV commercial in the 1980s showed the Road Runner running in and ordering using his "beep, beep" while the order taker translated everything he said. Then he picked up the bag and ran over the Coyote on his way out the door.
  • Delivery company Purolator Courier used the Road Runner's "beep, beep" in a TV commercial and actually had the phone number 1-800-BEEP-BEEP.
  • In New Mexico, where the state bird is the Greater Roadrunner, a commuter train called the Rail Runner uses the Road Runner's signature "beep, beep" as a signal that the train doors are about to close.
  • In 2006, Road Runner appeared in a Florida TV commercial for Bright House Networks.
  • Oceanic Cable company in Hawaii (a regional branding of Time Warner Cable) uses the Roadrunner as mascot for its high-speed cable modem service. They have also used other Looney Tunes characters, most notably Yosemite Sam, as pitchmen.

Video games

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.

References in other games

In Gex: Enter The Gecko in the level Out of Toon there is a coyote-shaped hole on the side of a cliff.

References in pop culture

  • Wile E. Coyote has made two appearances in Family Guy: In one, Peter runs over the Road Runner, and Wile E. Coyote is in the front seat with him, telling him that Road Runner is fine and to just keep going. In the second, it is revealed that Peter was running the whole ACME corporation, while Wile E. tries to get a refund for a slingshot that had just "slammed [him] into a mountain".
  • Wile E. Coyote has also made a cameo in the sitcom Night Court: During one of the four "Day in the Life" episodes (where the court has to process a large number of cases by midnight), Judge Stone (played by Harry Anderson) starts delivering a lecture from the bench to a defendant, detailing all the options that are available for a hungry man, ending with 'But stop harassing that bird!'. The scene then cut to a wide-angle shot showing prosecutor Dan Fielding (John Larroquette) and defense attorney Christine Sullivan (Markie Post); standing between them was an animated Wile E. Coyote.
  • Mark Knopfler, the lead guitarist and singer of Dire Straits, 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".
  • On the season three The Simpsons episode "Homer Alone", Homer chases Bart through the house at the beginning with the screen freezing on the characters, showing comedic scientific names. Another reference is made in season eight, episode 14, "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show." June Bellamy, the character supplying the voices for Itchy and Scratchy explains that she gained voice acting experience by starting out as Road Runner. Being "cheap bastards," they had paid her to say "beep" only once, then simply doubled it up on the soundtrack. In another episode, Sideshow Bob is discussing his problems with killing Bart Simpson, leading Principal Skinner to say that "That boy's like the Roadrunner." The nineteenth season episode "Smoke on the Daughter", Wile E. Coyote makes a cameo appearance during the couch gag, involving the old painting gag in the Simpsons' living room and Maggie Simpson imitating the Road Runner's trademark "beep, beep"!
  • Wile E. Coyote made a brief appearance in the "Just Desserts" episode of Bounty Hamster. In it, Marion attempts several Acme-aided stunts similar or identical to some of Wile E. Coyote's exploits. Eventually, Wile E. helps him out of one and advises him to order from a different catalogue (saying it took him thirty painful years to discover this). As can be expected, helping Marion causes the latest device to drop rocks on him.
  • The 1994 Hanna-Barbera TV movie Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights had a brief homage to the Road Runner cartoons in which during a scene where Magilla Gorilla (portraying Sinbad the Sailor) and an evil captain try to steal a rhuk egg from a high rock. The Captain keeps falling off the rock, and it shows the same camera angle as when Wile E. Coyote falls off the cliff, and when the Captain lands on the ground, we see a small puff of dust off in the distance when he crashes, just like the coyote.
  • In the 2000 movie The 6th Day, a villain named P. Wiley (played by Rodney Rowland) is named after the character, since the character dies a record 3 times in the film, but is brought back by cloning technology.
  • In 2001, the season-three episode "Revenging Angel" of the television series Farscape featured extended cartoon sequences in which characters of the show, John Crichton and Ka D'Argo, played parodies of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. In these sequences, which were hallucinations experienced by Crichton, D'Argo purses Crichton using a variety of familiar gags, such as OZME-brand rockets, explosive "froonium," and fake wormholes painted onto rock walls.
  • Economist Paul Krugman refers to a sudden decline in the value of the US Dollar as a "Wile. E. Coyote scenario".
  • In the series "All in the Family" Archie asks Edith "What's with the Road-Runner cartoon?" when she is in a hurry.
  • In a 2004 episode of What's New, Scooby Doo? entitled "New Mexico, Old Monster", the Mystery Machine drives through the desert and Scooby-Doo hears a "beep, beep" and the signature tongue sound, and looks out of the window to see the Road Runner zooming by and being chased by Wile E. Coyote, complete with the appropriate sound effects. The Coyote uses a jet pack and helmet in order to catch the Road Runner, but winds up crashing into a boulder. Scooby confusedly asks, "beep, beep?".
  • Wile E. Coyote appears in the South Park episode Imaginationland Episode III. He is among the evil creatures seen in the fight with the remaining good characters. In this appearance, he is shown to be foaming at the mouth.
  • In the film Under Siege, the character William Stranix uses the call sign "Road Runner" when communicating over the radio. He explains to his subordinates that he chose the name because he's "never been caught". Stranix's allies the code word "Wile E. Coyote" to refer to the United States military.
  • The 1990 Married... With Children episode "Who'll Stop the Rain" has a scene where Al is going to try and patch up a leaky roof during a thunderstorm, and he mentions he'll need the right equipment to do so. Peg sarcastically asks, "A Wile E. Coyote mask?" leading into laughter from the studio audience.
  • In a sketch on In Living Color (Season 5, Episode 10), Wile E. Coyote is put on trial by Congress for displaying excessive violence in his cartoons; Elmer Fudd is his lawyer.
  • Humorist Ian Frazier created the mock-legal prose piece "Coyote v. Acme, which is included in a book of the same name.
  • A song named "Crank Dat Roadrunner" has been released by The Concrete Boyz Ft. Lil' Runna.
  • In some World Wrestling Entertainment matches where there is a significant risk of falling from heights (especially ladder matches) a camera is placed directly above the wrestling ring. Because the angle of the camera provides a view very similar to the view of Wile E Coyote falling down in canyons, many wrestlers and announcers have affectionately referred to it as the Wile E Coyote Camera.
  • An editorial cartoon in the early 1990s by Steve Kelley referring to the then-current debate regarding assault rifles depicts Wile E. Coyote standing over a dead roadrunner with a smoking assault-rifle in his hands. The caption read: "I tried everything. Then I got an assault rifle."
  • A bootleg T-shirt sold throughout Australia during the late 1980s depicted Wile E. Coyote sodomizing the Road Runner, with the caption: 'Got ya, ya bastard.'
  • In Madagascar the video game, in the level "Penguin Mutiny", if one looks closely at the bowling pin boxes the name ACME Bowling Pins can be observed. ACME is the name of the company that supplies Wile E. Coyote with an arsenal of weapons.
  • Geordie comedian Ross Noble references Road Runner on his Randomist DVD, describing Pope John Paul II as "some sort of Holy Road Runner" as a humorous reference to the fact that the Pope appeared to be indestructible.
  • In Grant Morrison's Animal Man #5, the hero encounters a Wile E. Coyote-like character, a wolf named Crafty who came from a 'cartoon world' where he constantly gets 'killed' only to be painfully resurrected. Wanting to "bear any punishment that will bring peace to the world", Crafty was exiled into the 'real world' (the DC Universe) by his cartoonist (referred to as "God"). Crafty eventually gets shot dead in the heart, then starts bleeding colorless blood which is painted red by his creator.
  • In the NBA, at every Phoenix Suns home game, the famous "beep, beep" from Road Runner is heard after every shot made by the quick guard, Leandro Barbosa
  • The band "The Great Divide" performed a song on their 1999 album Revolutions called "Wile E. Coyote" as a tribute to the Coyote.
  • In the "Road Rash" segment of an episode of Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter on a bicycle chases his sister Dee Dee who's on roller skates in what is clearly a take-off on or homage to the Roadrunner cartoons. Dee Dee repeats the phrase "Can't catch me" in place of "beep, beep", though she does say that and does the tongue bit once. Dexter tries several inventions, all of which backfire on him; falls into a canyon a couple of times; and uses fake jewelry in the same way Wile E. Coyote used bird seed as a lure.
  • In Spider-Man (1994 TV series) episode 5 The Menace Of Mysterio, after Spider-man is tricked with an illusion by Mysterio (Comics), Spider-man states that he feels like a certain coyote.
  • In the Teen Titans episode 494,Beast Boy chased Control Freak while looking like Wile E. Coyote.He also fell in the same manner.
  • In a Johnny Test episode "Johnny vs Bling Bling 3" Johnny races through the desert saying Beep-Beep; Bling-Bling tries to stop Johnny but gets blown up by his own missle; falls into a canyon; gets run over by a truck after painting a fake wall tunnel-which Johnny passes through; and then tries to fend off an falling anvil with a tiny umbrella.
  • In the movie UHF, "Weird Al" Yankovic's character introduces a Road Runner cartoon as a sad, depressing story of a "pathetic coyote" futily chasing a "sadistic roadrunner."
  • On the September 18, 2008 episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart refers to an event in the news and calls it the Wile E. Coyote principle, and shows a scene in which Wile E. is standing in mid-air, only falling after noticing that he is in mid-air.
  • On the October 9, 2008 episode of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Keith Olbermann reports on George Will's calling Sarah Palin "Sancho Panza". A caption on the bottom of the screen says "Wile E. Quixote".

See also

Footnotes

Sources

External links

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