[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Steamboat_Willie_5863.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:300:[[WesternAnimation/RunawayBrain "Oh,]] [[ArtEvolution that's old!"]]]]

->''"By 1927-1928, audiences would groan when a cartoon came on. Animation had worn out its welcome. The novelty was gone. If sound hadn't come in, the cartoon would have vanished."''
-->-- '''Creator/ShamusCulhane''' on why "Steamboat Willie" was such an important film for animation

''Steamboat Willie'' is a black-and-white WesternAnimation/MickeyMouse short released on November 18, 1928, and is the cartoon that kicked off what we have come to know as UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfAnimation. It is notable not for being the first Mickey Mouse cartoon (that honor goes to ''WesternAnimation/PlaneCrazy''), nor for being the first sound cartoon[[note]] [[Creator/MaxAndDaveFleischer Fleischer Studios]]' 1924 ''Song Car-Tune'' "Mother, Mother Pin A Rose On Me" holds that honor, and [[TerryToons Paul Terry's]] 1928 short "Dinnertime" was released just a month before Willie hit the theaters[[/note]], but for being the first cartoon with a completely post-produced soundtrack of music, dialogue, and sound effects. Namely, it was the first cartoon to get it right, bringing UsefulNotes/TheSilentAgeOfAnimation to an end.

The short itself begins with the iconic image of Mickey Mouse at the mast of a steamboat, whistling to himself. The [[DesignatedVillain villain]], Pete, the real captain of the ship, steps in and hassles Mickey for not doing his job. The steamboat docks to pick up a cargo of animals, and Minnie Mouse rushes to board the ship as it leaves the dock. Mickey manages to get her on board (by using a hook to pick her up by her panties no less), but an ExtremeOmniGoat eats her [[ItMakesSenseInContext ukulele and her sheets of music]]. Somehow Mickey and Minnie are able to make the most of the situation by cranking the goat's tail, which causes it to play music. The ensuing scenes involve Mickey abusing animals in order to add to the music, by swinging a cat by its tail, choking a duck, pulling on the tails of baby pigs and then playing the mother pig's nipples. [[KickTheDog Animal abuse]] aside, this scene readily showed off what adding sound to cartoons could do. Pete gets angry at Mickey for slacking off again and forces him to peel potatoes. The short ends with Mickey throwing a potato at a parrot for laughing at him.

The short was revolutionary for its time, and its copyright status in the US is still up in the air in 1998, Disney successfully lobbied the U.S. Congress to extend its copyright[[labelnote:*]] (which was originally set to expire in 2006, upon the 40th anniversary of Walt's death)[[/labelnote]] to 2023 (this is part of the reason that the Copyright Term Extension Act is occasionally derisively called the "Mickey Mouse Protection Act"), though by the original law it should have fallen into {{public domain|Animation}} years ago. It may in fact already be in the public domain due to errors in the original copyright formulation, but [[FrivolousLawsuit don't let Disney hear you mention that]].[[labelnote:*]] Also don't let Disney hear you mention that even if the copyright for this cartoon expires, they won't lose control of their classic characters, as they are protected by trademarks, which never expire as long as they are kept active. Disney knows this, as at least one Donald Duck short has fallen into the Public Domain (and Mickey short "The Mad Doctor" may have as well).[[/labelnote]] In several other countries, including Canada and Russia, the short has been in the public domain for several years.

In 1998, 70 years after its debut, the short was chosen for preservation in the UsefulNotes/NationalFilmRegistry. It can be watched on Walt Disney Animation Studios' official Website/YouTube channel [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBgghnQF6E4 here]].

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!!''Steamboat Willie'' contains examples of the following tropes:
* BootstrappedLeitmotif: The chorus to Steamboat Willie has naturally become a theme for Mickey, and Disney in general.
* EverythingIsAnInstrument: Even animals can be used to perform music.
* ExtremeOmniGoat: The goat eats a phonograph and is able to play music afterwards.
* FurryConfusion: Perhaps seeing a three foot mouse swing a [[ThatPoorCat cat]] around by its tail is some form of [[CarnivoreConfusion twisted justice]].
** Not to mention you have a non-anthropomorphic cat in the same cartoon as Pete.
* GenreBusting
* {{iSophagus}}: The goat, which becomes a living phonograph as a result of eating Minnie's sheet music and ukulele.
* KickTheDog: A rare example of someone doing this several times and still being the ''protagonist''.
* MickeyMousing: The {{Trope Maker|s}}, though {{Ur Example}}s do exist in some form; silent cartoons did have musical scores (which would have to be played by a piano player in the movie theater) and characters would often move to the beats, but not to the same extent.
* MoralDissonance and NoAnimalsWereHarmed: It's not okay to abuse animals just so you can make music anymore. Granted, [[PeelingPotatoes it wasn't exactly OK for Mickey either]].
* PantyShot: A very extended one at that.
* PeelingPotatoes: Mickey's punishment for slacking off so much is getting thrown in a room of potatoes.
* PopCulturalOsmosis: The first scene where Mickey is seen steering the steam boat is far more famous than the rest of the cartoon. Most people know that "Steamboat Willie" launched Mickey Mouse as a superstar, but the amount of people who actually saw this cartoon from beginning to end is much lower.
* PrehensileTail: Mickey uses it to pick up a hammer so he can use it to play a barrel like a drum and bang the trash can at the same time.
* RubberHoseLimbs: As is typical of 1920s American cartoons.
* TertiarySexualCharacteristics: Minnie has eyelashes and a flower in her hat.
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