Wile E. Coyote and Road
Runner are cartoon characters from a series
of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons, created
by Chuck Jones for Warner Brothers. Chuck Jones
based the films on a Mark Twain book called Roughing
It, in which Twain noted that coyotes are starving
and hungry and would chase a roadrunner.
Chuck Jones originally created the Road Runner cartoons
as a parody of traditional "cat and mouse"
cartoons (such as Tom and Jerry) which were increasingly
popular at the time.
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).
-and many more...
The Acme Corporation
Wile E. Coyote often obtains complex and ludicrous
devices (Rube Goldberg machines) from a mail-order
company, the fictitious Acme Corporation, which
he hopes will help him catch the Road Runner. The
devices invariably backfire in improbable and spectacular
ways. The coyote usually ends up burnt to a crisp,
squashed flat, or at the bottom of a ravine. How
the coyote acquires these 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 which Wile E. uses a missile launcher to
DJ Drake, Kate Houghton, Bugs Bunny, and Daffy Duck,
but it failed when the missile went back to him.
Back at Acme Corporation, Wile E. is apologizing
for the clusminess he made. At Acme Corporation,
Wile E. is tying Damian Drake, and plans to use
Acme explosives at Damian, and using the train of
death to kill him. In the end, Wile E. got exploded
in the train after the exploding devices went to
him. Perhaps Wile E. is a "beta tester."
In a Tiny Toon Adventures episode, Wile makes mention
of his protege Calamity Coyote possessing an unlimited
Acme credit card account, which might serve as another
The company name was likely chosen for its irony
(acme means the highest point, as of achievement
or development). The common expansion A Company
that Makes Everything is a backronym.
Among the products by the Acme Corporation are:
* Acme catapults
* Acme earthquake pills
* Acme rocket sled kits
* Acme portable holes
* Acme Burmese tiger trap kit
* Acme jet-propelled roller skates
* Acme super leg vitamins
* and - a wide selection of explosives: TNT, dynamite,
nitroglycerin . . .
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. Sometimes
the coyote is allowed to hang in midair until he
realizes that he is about to plummet into a chasm.
The coyote can overtake rocks which fall before
he does, and end up being squashed by them.
The numerous failures of Acme products resulted
in a fictitious "lawsuit" filed by Wile
E. Coyote against Acme, which appears in various
forms on Internet spoof sites
Scrambled Aches screenshot Enlarge Scrambled Aches
screenshot In his book, Chuck Amuck, Chuck Jones
explains some of the rules the writers and artists
followed in making the Coyote-Road Runner series:
1. The 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 the Acme products.
3. The coyote can stop any time-if he were not a
fanatic. (Repeat: "A fanatic is one who redoubles
his effort when he has forgotten his aim."-George
4. There may be no dialogue ever, except "beep-beep!"
The coyote may, however, speak to the audience through
wooden signs that he holds up.
5. The Road Runner must stay on the road -otherwise,
logically, he would not be called "Road Runner".
6. All action must be confined to the natural environment
of the two characters-the southwest American desert.
7. All materials, tools, weapons, or mechanical
conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.
8. Whenever possible, gravity should be made the
coyote's greatest enemy.
9. The coyote is always more humiliated than harmed
by his failures.
There was also a tenth and more unofficial rule:
* The sympathy of the audience must lie with the
The rules were followed with rare exceptions. Sometimes
the episode is concluded with Wile E. being flattened
by a truck (with the Road Runner grinning from the
rear window). In the 1961 two-reel theatrical short
The Adventures of the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote
actually speaks dialogue as he lectures on how best
to catch the Road Runner. In the 1979 made-for television
short Freeze Frame, Wile E. Coyote chases the Road
Runner up into a snowy mountainous region, where
most of the short is spent. In the rare 2000 short
Little Go Beep, they explain the fourth rule by
showing a baby Wile E.'s father (voiced by Stan
Freberg) telling him not to speak until he has caught
the Road Runner. Chuck Jones directed Freeze Frame,
and advised on Little Go Beep.
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E. Coyote !
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