Western Animation: Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner aka: Wile E Coyoteand The Roadrunner
"Now we're going to watch one of my favorite cartoons about a pathetic Coyote who spends his life in the futile pursuit of a sadistic roadrunner, who mocks him and laughs at him as he's repeatedly crushed and maimed! I hope you enjoy it!"
An extremely popular series of Looney Tunes short subjects made by Chuck Jones during The Golden Age of Animation, the Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner shorts are centered on the titular duo as the smart but obsessive coyote does everything within his power (and uses everything within the ACME catalog) to capture the Road Runner for dinner. Despite the penchant for formula and sporadic entries in the original theatrical lineup, the shorts have remained extremely popular to this day, lasting for 40 shorts in the classic era, with new shorts being created recently for theaters!They have recently made a comeback via CGI in The Looney Tunes Show.
Fast and Furry-ous
Going! Going! Gosh!
Stop! Look! And Hasten!
Ready, Set, Zoom!
There They Go-Go-Go!
Zoom and Bored
Hook, Line and Stinker
Hip Hip Hurry!
Hot-Rod and Reel!
Wild About Hurry
Fastest With The Mostest
Zip 'N Snort
Adventures of the Road-Runner: A TV pilot intended for a proposed series of Road-Runner cartoons.
Zoom at the Top
To Beep or Not to Beep
War and Pieces
Zip Zip Hooray!: Recycles footage from the Adventures of Road Runner TV pilot.
Road Runner a Go-Go: Also recycles footage from the Adventures of Road Runner pilot.
The Wild Chase: (Friz Freleng, Hawley Pratt)
Rushing Roulette: (Robert McKimson)
Run, Run, Sweet Road Runner: 1st of the "Larriva Eleven".
Tired and Feathered
Just Plane Beep
Hairied and Hurried
Chaser on the Rocks
Shot and Bothered
Out and Out Rout
The Solid Tin Coyote
Clippety Clobbered: Last of the "Larriva Eleven".
Sugar and Spies (McKimson): Last of the original theatrical Road Runners.
Art Evolution: The designs of the two characters did change a bit over the years, but this trope was more evident in the background designs. The first three cartoons had scenic, but fairly bland-looking backgrounds, which gave way to more abstract designs starting with Maurice Noble's arrival. They gradually got more and more unusual, eventually leading to some flat-out weird scenery in "Gee Whiz-z-z-z-z-z-z" before settling down into a more consistent style from 1957 onwards.
Crossover: Two, on a technicality. "Hare-breadth Hurry" has Bugs Bunny filling in for a sidelined Road Runner, while "The Wild Chase" has a cannonball race between the Road Runner and Speedy Gonzales, with the Coyote and Sylvester in pursuit.
Wile E. also crossed into a few Bugs Bunny cartoons as well. These are where the "Wile E. Coyote, Super-Genius" persona come from.
Depending on the Writer: The Road Runner is variably either a wild creature going simply about its life and avoiding getting caught, or a sadistic trickster who deliberately sabotages the Coyote's plans and seems to enjoy seeing him get hurt.
Some later shorts show a possible method of survival, opening with the Coyote trying to eat a rock or a cactus, failing, then going in pursuit of the Roadrunner.
Flat Character: The Road Runner himself is nondescript in personality, with the shorts choosing to give focus to Wile E. Coyote instead.
Arguably this is no longer the case in The Looney Tunes Show, where The Road Runner is portrayed as finding Wile E. Coyote's efforts playfully amusing; he gets as close to the Coyote as possible, including posing for photos with him, and in the short 'Heavy Metal' he repeatedly runs back through the same tunnel to encourage the Coyote to chase him again.
But, as the quote above shows, the Road Runner of the original shorts can easily be viewed as sadistic, making fun of the Coyote's suffering, kind of like Tweety for Sylvester.
Hero Antagonist: The Road Runner can be considered the hero of this short, being hunted after by a hungry predator. However his character is kept deliberately flat and Out of Focus in each short so that the audience's sympathy is instead with Wile E Coyote.
Hollywood Magnetism: Wile E. Coyote got bitten by this once. In his attempt to catch Bugs Bunny with an iron carrot, his super-magnet ended up attracting all sorts of metal junk instead, including the Eiffel Tower, an ocean liner and finally a ballistic missile, which blew him to kingdom come.
Perpetual Smiler: The Road Runner—the only time he ever changes from this is when he sees the eponymous giant robot from "The Solid Tin Coyote".
He also changes it into a thoughtful frown as he seemingly forgets his Catchphrase in "The Whizzard of Ow".
Racing The Train: In the cartoon "Zipping Along," the establishing scene features the bird zipping along a train, although he leaves the road and never attempts to beat the train to the crossing.
The Road Runner's observation of safety is reprised in a later Operation:Lifesaver commercial aimed at children. In it, the Road Runner, despite his ability to put some extra speed in his already fast run, is aware of safety rules concerning railroad crossings and stops to allow a train to pass. Of course, Wile E. Coyote arrogantly doesn't, and he (once again) is crushed beneath another oncoming train.
Recycled IN SPACE!: It's a cat and mouse cartoon IN THE DESERT! AND THE VILLAIN IS WHO EARNS OUR SYMPATHY!
"Y'know, it's amazin' the trouble this joker goes to to get a square meal."
Surprise Jump: The Road Runner frequently does this to the Coyote. Subverted at the end of "Zoom and Bored" where the Coyote had just endured a harrowing journey involving a harpoon gun and had landed safely on solid ground. The Road Runner runs up behind him as usual... but then "says" he doesn't have the heart this time, and leaves.
Team Rocket Wins: Yes, the Coyote catches the Road Runner at one point...but the gag makes it impossible for him to actually eat the bird. He even lampshades it by asking the audience what he should do now.
There are plenty of YouTube videos where Wile E. actually does eat the Road Runner.
And AGAIN in the CGI short "Heartbreak Bridge", where The Road Runner willingly and happily jumps into the Coyote's arms, but this unbalances the bridge they are both standing on, and to save himself the Coyote has to throw the Road Runner to the other side. The rest of the short is the Coyote attempting to keep the bridge balanced while the Road Runner tries to tip it up. Doesn't work out.
And in a Seth Macfarlane short called "Die sweet roadrunner, die",the coyote successfully catches, kills and eats the roadrunner. But then becomes horribly bored and depressed, having no purpose, and attempts suicide (hysterically enough, he does so with an ACME product). Then he finds God and becomes a Jehovah's Witness.
Technicolor Eyes: In the shorts by Matthew O'Callaghan, Wile E.'s are red, and the Road Runner's are turquoise.
The Voiceless: Both of them. Wile E. does speak during four of his five appearances with Bugs Bunny, and again when explaining to two young boys why he wants to eat the road runner.
If you were to count the Road Runner's "BEEP BEEP" as a voice, he would fall under The Unintelligible.
Truth in Television: In Just Plane Beep when coyote shoots the propeller of his biplane off trying to hit the road runner. That was a real problem in WWI before the interrupter gear was invented, and one solution (as was also shown) was to put armor plating on the propeller.
Villain Protagonist: Wile E. Coyote is trying to eat the Road Runner, and is therefore ostensibly the bad guy. But he's just so adorably persistent in how he goes about it that you can't help but root for him.
Chuck Jones in fact had it as written lore that all sympathy must be with the Coyote.
Written Sound Effect: "Chariots of Fur" (Chuck Jones's last Road Runner short) uses these quite a bit, but only once does it do something creative with them — when the Coyote disguises himself as a cactus and tries to garb the Road Runner, but the Road Runner avoids him, the Coyote accidentally wraps his arms around himself in the process, and the smoke trail the Road Runner left behind turns into a "!!YEE-OOWW!!"