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Road Runner

Released by: Warner Bros.
First Appeared: 1949
Creator: Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese
Beep beep ! ! !
Welcome on the Road Runner's desert road...

Be quick if you want to take a look at this running bird!.

The Road Runner shorts are very simple in their premise: the Road Runner, a flightless cartoon bird (loosely based on a real bird, the Greater Roadrunner), is chased down the highways of the Southwestern United States by a hungry toon coyote, named Wile E. Coyote (a pun on "wily coyote"). Despite numerous clever attempts, the coyote never catches or kills the Road Runner, and all of his elaborate schemes end up injuring himself in humorous instances of highly exaggerated cartoon slapstick violence.

There is almost never any "spoken" communication, save the Road Runner's "beep-beep" (which actually sounds more like "mheep-mheep") and the Road Runner sticking out his tongue (which sounds vaguely like a bottle being uncorked), but the two characters do sometimes communicate by holding up signs to each other, the audience, or the cartoonist (though both these rules were broken later). Another key element is that while Wile E. is the aggressor in the series, he and his hopelessly futile efforts are the focus of the audience's sympathy as well as virtually all of the humor. Wile E. seems doomed, like Sisyphus, forever to try but never to succeed. The Road Runner lacks a developed personality and is largely just an object, not a character.

Wile E. Coyote later appeared in some Bugs Bunny shorts, as well as the Little Beeper cartoons featured on Tiny Toon Adventures, when he talks. In the Bugs Bunny shorts in particular, he calls himself a "super genius" and claims an IQ of 207 (Zip Zip Hooray!, 1965).


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 subsequent cartoons the scenery was designed by Maurice Noble and was far more abstract. Several different styles were used.

In Going! Going! Gosh! (late 1952) through Guided Muscle (late 1955) the scenery was 'semi-realistic' with an offwhite sky. A bright yellow sky made its debut in Gee Whizzzzz! (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 the style of the rock formations, which became much 'harder' in appearance, and often gravity-defying in appearance. Except for Whoa Be-Gone (early 1958), whose scenery design harked back to Guided Muscle in certain aspects, 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 'sharp' style of rock formation pioneered by Zoom and Bored. The Format Films cartoons used a style of scenery which was essentially a paler version of Hopalong Casualty's.

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