Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner
Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner are a duo of cartoon characters from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. In each episode, the cunning, insidious and constantly hungry Coyote repeatedly attempts to catch and subsequently eat the Road Runner, a fast-running ground bird, but is never successful. Instead of his animal instincts, the Coyote uses absurdly complex contraptions (sometimes in the manner of Rube Goldberg) to try to catch his prey, which comically backfire, with the Coyote often getting injured in slapstick fashion. Many of the items for these contrivances are mail-ordered from a variety of companies that are all named Acme.
|Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner|
|Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies characters|
The duo as seen in To Beep or Not to Beep
|First appearance||Fast and Furry-ous (September 17, 1949)|
|Created by||Chuck Jones|
|Voiced by||Wile E. Coyote:|
Mel Blanc (1952–1986)
Paul Julian (1953, 1955, 1966, 1992)
Richard Andrews (1983)
Joe Alaskey (1990, 1998, 2003)
Keith Scott (1991–1992)
Seth MacFarlane (1999–2009)
Dee Bradley Baker (2003)
Maurice LaMarche (2008)
Jess Harnell (2010)
James Arnold Taylor (2014)
JP Karliak (2015–present)
Martin Starr (2018)
Eric Bauza (2018)
Paul Julian (1949–1994, 1996–present; Vocal archives only)
Mel Blanc (1964–1974)
Richard Andrews (1983)
Keith Scott (1991, 2000)
Kevin Shinick (2011–2013)
Seth Green (2012)
Eric Bauza (2018)
|Species||Wile E. Coyote: Coyote|
Road Runner: Greater roadrunner
One running gag involves the Coyote trying (in vain) to shield himself with a little parasol against a great falling boulder that is about to crush him. Another running gag involves the Coyote falling from a high cliff. After he goes over the edge, the rest of the scene, shot from a bird's-eye view, shows him falling into a canyon so deep, that his figure is eventually lost to sight. This is followed, a second or two later, by the rising of a dust cloud from the canyon floor as the Coyote hits.
The characters were created for Warner Bros. in 1948 by animation director Chuck Jones and writer Michael Maltese, with Maltese also setting the template for their adventures. 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), beginning with 1952's Operation: Rabbit, introducing himself as "Wile E. Coyote—Genius", voiced with an upper-class accent by Mel Blanc. The Road Runner vocalizes only with his signature sound, "beep, beep", recorded by Paul Julian (although some viewers claim it sounds more like "meep meep"), and an accompanying "popping-cork" tongue noise.
Jones based the Coyote on Mark Twain's book Roughing It, 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. Jones modelled the Coyote's appearance on fellow animator Ken Harris.
The Coyote's name of Wile E. is a pun of the word "wily." The "E" stands for "Ethelbert" in one issue of a Looney Tunes comic book. The Coyote's surname is routinely pronounced with a long "e" (// ky-OH-tee), but in one cartoon short, To Hare Is Human, Wile E. is heard pronouncing it with a diphthong (// 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 pun of the name Don Quixote.
List of cartoonsEdit
The series consists of:
- 49 shorts, mostly about 6 to 7 minutes long, but including three web cartoons which are "three-minute, three-dimensional cartoons in widescreen (scope)".
- One half-hour special, released theatrically (26 minutes).
- One feature-length film that combines live action and animation
|#||Release date||Title||Duration||Credits||Acme Corporation devices used||Books Studied|
|1||September 17, 1949||Fast and Furry-ous||6:55||Michael Maltese||Charles M. Jones||ACME Super Outfit|
|2||May 24, 1952||Beep, Beep||6:45||Michael Maltese||Charles M. Jones||Aspirin, Matches, Rocket-Powered Roller Skates|
|3||August 23, 1952||Going! Going! Gosh!||6:25||Michael Maltese||Charles M. Jones||An anvil, a weather balloon, a street cleaner's bin, and a fan|
|4||September 19, 1953||Zipping Along||6:55||Michael Maltese||Charles M. Jones||Giant Kite Kit, Bomb, Detonator, Nitroglycerin, Bird Seed||"Hypnotism Self-Taught" by Hershenburger|
|5||August 14, 1954||Stop! Look! And Hasten!||7:00||Michael Maltese||Charles M. Jones||Bird Seed, Triple Strength Fortified Leg Muscle Vitamins||"How to Build a Burmese Tiger Trap"|
|6||April 30, 1955||Ready, Set, Zoom!||6:55||Michael Maltese||Charles M. Jones||Glue, Female Road-Runner Costume|
|7||December 10, 1955||Guided Muscle||6:40||Michael Maltese||Charles M. Jones||ACME Grease||"How to Tar and Feather a Roadrunner (10th printing)"|
|8||May 5, 1956||Gee Whiz-z-z-z-z-z-z||6:35||Michael Maltese||Charles M. Jones||ACME Triple Strength Battleship Steel Armor Plate, ACME Batman's Outfit, Rubber Band, Anvil, Jet Bike (Made with Iron Handle Bars and a Jet Motor)|
|9||November 10, 1956||There They Go-Go-Go!||6:35||Michael Maltese||Chuck Jones||No ACME branded devices used|
|10||January 26, 1957||Scrambled Aches||6:50||Michael Maltese||Chuck Jones||ACME Dehydrated Boulders, Outboard Steam Roller|
|11||September 14, 1957||Zoom and Bored||6:15||Michael Maltese||Chuck Jones||ACME Bumblebees|
|12||April 12, 1958||Whoa, Be-Gone!||6:10||Michael Maltese||Chuck Jones||Tornado Kit, Rubber Band (For Tripping Road-Runners), Water Pistol|
|13||October 11, 1958||Hook, Line and Stinker||5:55||Michael Maltese||Chuck Jones||Bird Seed|
|14||December 6, 1958||Hip Hip-Hurry!||6:13||Michael Maltese||Chuck Jones||Hi-Speed Tonic, Mouse Snare|
|15||May 9, 1959||Hot-Rod and Reel!||6:25||Michael Maltese||Chuck Jones||Jet-Propelled Pogo Stick, Jet-Propelled Unicycle|
|16||October 10, 1959||Wild About Hurry||6:45||Michael Maltese||Chuck Jones||Giant Elastic Rubber Band, 5 Miles of Railroad Track, Rocket Sled, Bird Seed, Iron Pellets, Indestructo Steel Ball|
|17||January 9, 1960||Fastest with the Mostest||7:20||Michael Maltese (uncredited)||Chuck Jones||Balloon Basket, Balloon,|
|18||October 8, 1960||Hopalong Casualty||6:05||Chuck Jones||Chuck Jones||Christmas Packaging Machine, Earthquake Pills|
|19||January 21, 1961||Zip 'N Snort||5:50||Chuck Jones||Chuck Jones||Iron Pellets, Bird Seed, Axle Grease|
|20||June 3, 1961||Lickety-Splat||6:20||Chuck Jones||Chuck Jones,
|Roller skis, Boomerang|
|21||November 11, 1961||Beep Prepared||6:00||John Dunn,
|ACME Iron Bird Seed, Little-Giant Do-It-Yourself Rocket Sled|
|Film||June 2, 1962||Adventures of the Road Runner||26:00||John Dunn,
|Acme Batman's Outfit|
|22||June 30, 1962||Zoom at the Top||6:30||Chuck Jones||Chuck Jones,
|Bird seed, instant icicle-maker, boomerang|
|23||December 28, 1963||To Beep or Not to Beep1||6:35||John Dunn,
|24||June 6, 1964||War and Pieces||6:40||John Dunn||Chuck Jones,
|25||January 1, 1965||Zip Zip Hooray!2||6:15||John Dunn||Chuck Jones,
|26||February 1, 1965||Road Runner a Go-Go2||6:05||John Dunn||Chuck Jones,
|None, although Wile E. Coyote does study a film|
|27||February 27, 1965||The Wild Chase||6:30||Friz Freleng||Friz Freleng,
|Iron Pellets, Bird Seed, Cheese|
|28||July 31, 1965||Rushing Roulette||6:20||David Detiege||Robert McKimson||Sproing Boots|
|29||August 21, 1965||Run, Run, Sweet Road Runner||6:00||Rudy Larriva||Rudy Larriva||Lightning Rod|
|30||September 18, 1965||Tired and Feathered||6:20||Rudy Larriva||Rudy Larriva||Dynamite, Assorted Washers||Birds And Their Habitat|
|31||October 9, 1965||Boulder Wham!||6:30||Len Janson||Rudy Larriva||Deluxe Hi-bounce Trampoline Kit||Hypnotism for Beginners|
|32||October 30, 1965||Just Plane Beep||6:45||Don Jurwich||Rudy Larriva||War Surplus Biplane||Untitled flight instruction book|
|33||November 13, 1965||Hairied and Hurried||6:45||Nick Bennion||Rudy Larriva||Snow Machine, Magnetic Gun, Practice Bombs, Super Bomb, Kit|
|34||December 11, 1965||Highway Runnery||6:45||Al Bertino||Rudy Larriva|
|35||December 25, 1965||Chaser on the Rocks||6:45||Tom Dagenais||Rudy Larriva|
|36||January 8, 1966||Shot and Bothered||6:30||Nick Bennion||Rudy Larriva||Suction Cups|
|37||January 29, 1966||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||The Solid Tin Coyote||6:15||Don Jurwich||Rudy Larriva|
|39||March 12, 1966||Clippety Clobbered||6:15||Tom Dagenais||Rudy Larriva|
|40||November 5, 1966||Sugar and Spies||6:20||Tom Dagenais||Robert McKimson||Do-it-Yourself Kit Remote Control Missile-Bombs|
|41||November 27, 1979||Freeze Frame||6:05||John W. Dunn
|Chuck Jones||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||Soup or Sonic||9:10||Chuck Jones||Chuck Jones,
|Frisbee Disc, Little-Giant Fire Crackers, Giant Fly Trap, Explosive Tennis Balls,|
|43||December 21, 1994||Chariots of Fur3||7:00||Chuck Jones||Chuck Jones||Giant Mouse Trap, Instant Road, Cactus Costume, Lightning Bolts|
|44||December 30, 2000||Little Go Beep||7:55||Kathleen Helppie-Shipley,
|Spike Brandt||Badger Trap, Stretch Hamstring, Jack in the Box with a Boxing Glove and a Big Trike with Aqua Rockets|
|45||November 1, 2003||The Whizzard of Ow||7:00||Chris Kelly||Bret Haaland||Book of Magic, Flying Broom, Bomb, Clear Paint||"ACME Book of Magic"|
|Film||November 14, 2003||Looney Tunes: Back in Action||91:00||Larry Doyle||Joe Dante||Missile Launcher, Train of Death, Anvil|
|46||July 30, 2010||Coyote Falls3||2:59 On BBC Life||Tom Sheppard||Matthew O'Callaghan||Bird Seed, Bungee Cord|
|47||September 24, 2010||Fur of Flying3||3:03||Tom Sheppard||Matthew O'Callaghan||Acme Bonnie Bike, Acme Mega-Motor, Acme Football Helmet, Acme Ceiling Fan|
|48||December 17, 2010||Rabid Rider3||3:07||Tom Sheppard||Matthew O'Callaghan||Acme Hyper-Sonic Transport|
|49||June 10, 2014||Flash in the Pain||3:13||Tom Sheppard||Matthew O'Callaghan||Acme Molecular Transporter|
1 Re-edited from Adventures of the Road-Runner, by Chuck Jones, and with new music direction from Bill Lava.
2 Re-edited from Adventures of the Road-Runner, by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises
3 These 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, Fur of Flying was shown with Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, Rabid Rider was shown with Yogi Bear. Flash in the Pain was shown at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival on June 10, 2014.
The desert scenery in the first three Road Runner cartoons, Fast and Furry-ous (1949), Beep, Beep (1952), and Going! Going! Gosh! (also 1952), were designed by Robert Gribbroek and was quite realistic. In most later cartoons the scenery was designed by Maurice Noble and was far more abstract.
Wile E. Coyote often obtains various 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 fashion. Whether this is a 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. In another case 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", i.e. 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 August, September and October 1982, the National Lampoon published a three part series chronicling the lawsuit Wile E. filed against the Acme Corporation over the faulty items they sold him in his pursuit of the Road Runner. Even though the Road Runner appeared as a witness for the plaintiff, the Coyote still lost the suit.
Laws and rulesEdit
In his book Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist, Chuck Jones claimed that he and the artists behind the Road Runner and Wile E. cartoons adhered to some simple but strict rules:
- "The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going ‘Beep-Beep!’" This only applies to direct harm. However, the Road Runner is able to indirectly harm Wile E. One of the most common instances of indirect harm was done with a startling "Beep-Beep" that ends up sending Wile E. off a cliff. Rule 1 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.
- "No outside force can harm the Coyote — only his own ineptitude or the failure of the Acme products." Trains and trucks were the exceptions from time to time.
- "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)."
- "No dialogue ever, except ‘Beep-Beep!’" Various onomatopoeic exclamations (such as yowling in pain) are seemingly not considered dialogue. 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, as well as in shorts such as "Adventures of the Road Runner" which don't follow the standard formula.
- "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 patches, mines, cliff edges, mountain tops and railways.
- "All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters — the southwest American desert."
- "All materials tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation." However, there have been instances in which Wile E. utilizes products not obtained from Acme; in Rushing Roulette, the Coyote uses AJAX Stix-All glue. In Zip 'N Snort, aside from the Acme Iron Pellets, Wile E. also had a box of AJAX Bird Seed. In Fast and Furry-ous, even though one item, the Super Outfit, was from Acme, for some reason the Jet-Propelled Tennis Shoes was from "Fleet-Feet". On one occasion, he uses a manual: How to Build a Burmese Tiger Trap (though the publisher is not indicated), hoping to catch the Roadrunner. To his shock, the trap works precisely as promised, and actually does catch a Burmese tiger ("Surprisibus Surprisibus").
- "Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote's greatest enemy." For example, falling off a cliff.
- "The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures."
- "The audience's sympathy must remain with the Coyote."
- "The Coyote may not catch the Road Runner."; either that or at least not eat him. There have been two instances where the Road Runner is caught; once by Wile E's giant robot coyote ("The Solid Tin Coyote"), only for the robot to eat Wile E. instead of the Road Runner. The second instance is in "Soup Or Sonic", however, Wile E. has been compressed into an extremely small size by a narrowing pipe, and is unable to actually eat the Road Runner, who is massive from his point of view. (he communicates to the viewers with wooden signposts: "Okay, wise guys — you always wanted me to catch him: now what do I do?")
These rules were not always followed. And in an interview years after the series was made, principal writer of the original 16 episodes Michael Maltese stated he had never heard of these or any "rules" and dismissed them as "post production observation".
- Animation vs. Reality Mixing: 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 painting and fall down the precipice of the cliff where the bridge is out.
- Gravity: 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 be subject to normal earth gravity and eventually fall to the ground below.
- The Road Runner is able to run fast enough to go through time.
- If the Coyote uses an explosive (commonly 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 shoot forward, leaving the explosive behind to detonate in the Coyote's face.
- Delayed Reaction: (a) 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 does so perfectly on the Coyote - when he inspects it after its failure to ensnare the Road Runner. (b) the Road Runner can jump up and down on the trigger of a large animal trap and eat the intended trap trigger bird seed off it and leave unharmed without setting off the trap; but when the Coyote places the tiniest droplet of oil on the trigger, the trap snaps shut on him without fail.
- On other occasions, the Coyote dons an exquisite Acme costume or propulsion device that briefly allows him to catch up to the Road Runner, but ultimately always results in him losing track of his proximity to large cliffs or walls, and while the Road Runner darts around an extremely sharp turn near a cliff defying physics, the Coyote succumbs to physics and will rocket right over the edge and plummet spectacularly to the ground.
Both animals would also typically be introduced in a similar fashion; the action would slow to a halt, and a caption would appear with both their common name and a mock genus/species name in faux-Latin. For example, in "Zoom at the Top" Road Runner was classified as an example of "Disappearialis Quickius", while Coyote was identified as "Overconfidentii Vulgaris".
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 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 their respective usual targets. 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 animation, the remaining eleven of these final Road Runner films were somewhat cheap looking and jerky. Also, the music was very different and of poorer quality than the older features; this was a byproduct of music director Bill Lava (who had replaced the recently deceased Milt Franklyn three years prior) being relegated to the use of pre-composed music cues (due to budget cuts) rather than a proper score, as seen with The Wild Chase, Rushing Roulette, and Run Run, Sweet Road Runner (the third being the only of the "Larriva Eleven" to have a proper score). These eleven shorts (mostly the latter ten) have been considered disappointing to fans of the original shorts.
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 received mixed to poor reviews 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 Larriva-directed 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.
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 obvious 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.
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, as it wasn't used until 1951 (in 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, a convention that would also appear in early children's book adaptations 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" 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. Wile E. was able to speak in some of his appearances in the DC comics.
In 2017, DC Comics featured a Looney Tunes and DC Comics crossovers that reimagined the characters in a darker style. Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote had a crossover with the bounty hunter Lobo in The Lobo/Road Runner Special. In this version, Road Runner, Wile E, and other Looney Tunes character are reimagined as standard animals who were experimented upon with alien DNA at Acme to transform them into their cartoon forms. In the backup story done in more traditional cartoon style, Lobo tries to hunt down Road Runner, but is limited by Bugs to be more kid-friendly in his language and approach.
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.
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.
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. 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, some thought resembling blackface, were removed, as were animated characters smoking 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.
Wile E. and the Road Runner later appeared in several episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures. In this series, Wile E. Coyote (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]
Road Runner appears in an episode of the 1990 series Taz-Mania in which Taz grabs him by the leg & gets ready to eat him 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".
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 (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) and Rev Runner (voiced by Rob Paulsen). 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 Road Runner 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 Road Runner. The pair get on rather well, despite the number of gadgets Tech designs in order to stop Rev from talking; also they have their moments where they do not 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 barest minimum of social skills. They are both portrayed as smart, but Tech is the better inventor and at times Rev is shown doing stupid things. References to their ancestors' 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 and Wile E. feature in 3D computer animated cartoons or cartoon animation in the Cartoon Network TV series The Looney Tunes Show. The CGI shorts were only included in season one, but Wile E. and Road Runner still appeared throughout the series in 2D animation.
Wile E. Coyote also appears in the TV series Wabbit, voiced by JP Karliak, in a similar vein to his previous pairings with Bugs Bunny. He appears as Bugs' annoying, know-it-all neighbor who would always use his inventions to compete with Bugs. The Road Runner began making appearances when the series was renamed New Looney Tunes in 2017.
The characters appeared in seven 3-D shorts attached to Warner Bros. features. Three have been screened with features, while the rest serve as segments in season 1 of The Looney Tunes Show. A short called Flash in the Pain was shown on the web in 2015, but was not shown in theaters.
Warner Bros. is developing a live-action/animation hybrid film centered on Wile E. Coyote titled Coyote vs. Acme with The Lego Batman Movie director Chris McKay on board to produce. Jon and Josh Silberman were originally set to write the screenplay. In December 18, 2019, it was reported that Dave Green will direct the project. It was also reported that the project is looking for a new writer, with Jon and Josh Silberman instead co-producing the film alongside McKay.
Wile E. CoyoteEdit
- Mel Blanc (1952–1986)
- Paul Julian (imitating the Road Runner in Zipping Along, Ready, Set, Zoom!, a The Road Runner Show bumper and Road Runner's Death Valley Rally)
- Richard Andrews (Bugs Bunny Exercise and Adventure Album)
- Joe Alaskey (Tiny Toon Adventures, Bugs Bunny's Silly Seals, Looney Tunes: Reality Check)
- Keith Scott (Spectacular Light and Show Illuminanza, The Looney Tunes Radio Show)
- Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy)
- Dee Bradley Baker (Duck Dodgers)
- Maurice LaMarche (Looney Tunes: Cartoon Conductor)
- Jess Harnell (The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!)
- James Arnold Taylor (Scooby Doo and Looney Tunes: Cartoon Universe)
- JP Karliak (New Looney Tunes)
- Martin Starr (Robot Chicken)
- Eric Bauza (Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem)
The voice artist Paul Julian originated the character's voice. Before and after his death, his voice was appearing in various media, for example, in TV series, shorts and video games, such as 2014's Looney Tunes Dash. In addition, other voice actors have replaced him. These voice actors are:
- Mel Blanc (1964 Greeting Card Record, The New Adventures of Bugs Bunny (1973), Four More Adventures of Bugs Bunny (1974))
- Richard Andrews (Bugs Bunny Exercise and Adventure Album)
- Keith Scott (Road Runner Roller Coaster commercial, The Looney Tunes Radio Show)
- Kevin Shinick (Mad)
- Seth Green (Robot Chicken)
- Eric Bauza (Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem)
Several Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner-themed video games have been produced:
- Road Runner (arcade game by Atari, later ported to the Commodore 64, NES, Atari 2600, and several PC platforms)
- Electronic Road Runner (self-contained LCD game from Tiger Electronics released in 1990)
- Looney Tunes (Game Boy game by Sunsoft).
- The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle (NES/Game Boy game by Kemco)
- The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2 (Game Boy game by Kemco)
- The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout (NES game by Kemco)
- Road Runner's Death Valley Rally (Super NES game by Sunsoft)
- Wile E. Coyote's Revenge (Super NES game by Sunsoft)
- Desert Speedtrap (Sega Game Gear and Sega Master System game by Sega/Probe Software)
- Bugs Bunny: Crazy Castle 3 (Game Boy game by Kemco)
- Desert Demolition (Sega Mega Drive/Genesis game by Sega/BlueSky Software)
- Sheep, Dog, 'n' Wolf (for the original PlayStation and published by Infogrames, actually based on the Wolf and Sheepdog cartoons, but Road Runner does make two cameo appearance)
- Looney Tunes B-Ball (Wile E. is a playable character)
- Space Jam
- Looney Tunes Racing (Wile E. is a playable character. The Road Runner is also seen in the game as a non-playable character.)
- Taz Express (Nintendo 64) game published by Infogrames (Wile E is an antagonist)
- Taz: Wanted (Wile E. appears)
- Looney Tunes: Back in Action (published by Electronic Arts)
- Looney Tunes Double Pack (published by Majesco Entertainment, developed by WayForward Technologies, where "Acme Antics" is the Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner half of the double pack)
- Looney Tunes: Space Race (Wile E. is a playable character.)
- Looney Tunes Acme Arsenal (Wile E. has his own level in the PS2 version.)
- Looney Tunes: Cartoon Conductor
- Looney Tunes Dash (iOS and Android game)
- Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem (iOS and Android game)
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 cultureEdit
Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner have been frequently referenced in popular culture.
Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner appeared in the 1988 Touchstone/Amblin film Who Framed Roger Rabbit; they are seen silhouetted by the elevator doors, and in full in the final scene with other characters.
Wile E. Coyote has appeared twice 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. His second appearance was in "PTV", in which Wile E. attempts to get a refund for a giant-sized slingshot at an ACME retailer where Peter works. Peter says that Wile E. cannot return the slingshot, but can get store credit. Wile E's wife then arrives and tells her husband to hurry up.
Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner appeared in Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy, in the short "Die, Sweet Roadrunner, Die". In this short, Wile E. crushes the Road Runner with a large boulder and eats him, but then struggles to find purpose in life, having not trained for anything else other than chasing the Road Runner. Ultimately, after a short-lived job as a waiter in a local diner, and a suicide attempt (by way of catapulting himself into a mountain at close range), Wile E. finally realizes what he is to do with his life, and reveals he is now an advocate for Christianity.
In the Johnny Test episode "Johnny vs. Bling Bling 3", Johnny and Dukey use running shoes, with Bling Bling Boy in hot pursuit, as well as the Latin names.
Both Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner have appeared in Robot Chicken on multiple occasions. In the Season 6 sketch "Wile E. Piphany", Wile E., after yet another failed attempt at catching the Road Runner, gives up, and, feeling his life no longer has meaning, commits suicide with an ACME Suicide Kit (which, despite costing a lot of money, only consists of a roll of duct tape and a plastic bag). The Road Runner attends his funeral, but it turns out to be a trap; Wile E. had faked his death, and the funeral is fake as well - he then roasts the Road Runner alive with a flamethrower. At his abode, while devouring the bird, Wile E. communicates with the viewers (by way of wooden signs) "In case you were wondering... yes, I have an erection." A short from Season 9 serves as a parody of the television series How to Get Away with Murder, and features Wile E. as an egotistical criminology professor who describes to his students the "unsolvable" murder of the Road Runner (never revealing to them that he himself committed it). The students initially refuse to believe the murder took place as it did when presented with the items used to commit it (a pile of bird seed, a collection of ball bearings, an oversized magnet, and a rocket powered hang glider) due to the absurdity of it, so Wile E. brings them to the desert to provide a demonstration. While there, he is discovered to have committed the murder after a student looks through Acme Corporation's Homeland Security mandated list of individuals who purchased rocket powered merchandise (of whom Wile E. was the only one), whereupon he is executed via the electric chair. A second Season 9 short features Wile E. selling a piece of artwork depicting a road going off into a horizon line. The Road Runner arrives and runs through the painting as if it were a real road (a reference to an iconic gag from the original shorts); Wile E. attempts to chase him, but runs smack into the painting instead, whereupon he dies instantly.
The series as a whole is mentioned briefly during one of the two endings in the 1996 point-and-click adventure game Harvester when a character compares the violence in video games to "road runner cartoons".
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.
Dee Snider, lead singer of the glam metal band Twisted Sister stated in his Congressional testimony before the PRMC hearings on adding Parental Advisory labels for what they deemed were increasingly offensive lyrics, imagery, violence and misogyny in music and music videos, that the music video for the band's signature song "We're Not Gonna Take It" was based heavily on the cartoon, specifically how the band's foil in the video, assuming the role of Wile E. Coyote, seems more or less unharmed in each successive scene, much as he does in the cartoon, despite whatever severe injury or accident befalls him, and bearing no resemblance to the lyrics of the song.
Terry Pratchett included an oblique reference to the cartoon in Thief of Time where Newgate Ludd (later Lobsang Ludd) managed to stop time for himself whilst falling; this is referred to as "The Stance of the Coyote", echoing the cartoon physics of the Coyote's falls.
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