Western Animation: Yosemite Sam


Yosemite Sam is a cartoon character starring in Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies. Having an intense hatred of rabbits, he is an Arch-Enemy of Bugs Bunny.

Yosemite Sam was introduced in 1945 by Friz Freleng as more antagonistic, less sympathetic enemy for Bugs Bunny than the rather mellow and well-mannered Elmer Fudd. Sam is most often the agressor in the cartoons he stars in, allowing Bugs to unleash his Karmic Trickster on him without losing any audience sympathy.

Sam has been portrayed either as a prospector, outlaw, pirate, cowboy, black knight, etc., depending on the cartoon, sometimes with different alias if the setting isn't based on Western. At heart, he stays a (usually gunslinging) cowboy, anyway.

Chuck Jones had a great-uncle who used to stay with his family sometimes; he was a retired Texas Ranger, short, redheaded, with an huge mustache and a hair-trigger temper, and generally thought to be the model of Sam.

Yosemite Sam (and his cartoons) have shown the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Heroism: In The Looney Tunes Show, where he's no longer such a jerkass and obeys the laws about not firing off his guns at random. According to his musical "Blow My Stack", he's taken several jobs to try and keep his temper under control, but he's just not able to hold himself back.
  • Angrish: "Raggar fraggar friggin frazzer" is one of his catchphrases. He turns it Up to Eleven in From Hare To Heir.
  • Arch-Enemy: Bugs Bunny is this to him, but it doesn't work both ways (Bugs' arch-enemy being Elmer Fudd)
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: "Bunker Hill Bunny": Yosemite Sam charges towards Bugs Bunny's fortress... only to run inside huge cannon. As soon as he realizes this, he screams "Retreat!". Doubles as an Oh Crap! moment.
  • Badass Boast: At the start of almost every cartoon he's in.
  • Badass Moustache: Yosemite Sam sports a huge muttonchop mustache, along with a smaller beard. He even has a musical in The Looney Tunes Show where it sings to him about being his lifelong friend and persuading him to never shave it. In the song, it also displays Prehensile Hair abilities, complete with punching out Daffy Duck for laughing at Sam getting knocked down. In the same show, it's revealed he's had it since he was a baby.
  • Bad Boss: He is sometimes shown to be this he is shown beating or shooting his men for their failures. In one short sounds of beating and shooting come from his ship, and a man covered in bruises and tattered clothes runs out of the ship, telling the audience "I was a human being once".
  • Bandito: Sam appears as Mexican bandito 'Pancho Vanilla' in the Speedy Gonzales short "Pancho's Hideaway".
  • Catch Phrases: "I hates rabbits." / "Great horny toads!"
  • The Chew Toy: Obviously, being one of Bugs's enemies.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Honey's Money, the only short to feature Sam as the main protagonist and not contain any other Looney Tunes characters.
  • Determinator
  • Evil Redhead: Quite obviously combined with Fiery Redhead.
  • Expy: The De Patie Freleng Enterprises short Panchos Hideaway features the bandit Pancho Vanilla, in terms of personality, role and design, Pancho's largest differences are his darker facial hair and mexican accent.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: Sam will enter the scene shooting every which way, including propelling himself up in the air by firing down.
  • The Gunslinger: Sam is most commonly a trigger-happy gunslinger.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: His first musical number, "Blow My Stack" in The Looney Tunes Show even revolves around it. The 1960 short "From Hare to Heir" has Bugs exploit Yosemite's problems with anger management by deducting from his 1 million pound inheritance for each time he is observed (or even rumored to be) losing his temper (of course, with Bugs aggravating him at every turn).
  • Harmless Villain : Ironically offered as little a challenge to Bugs as Elmer at times.
  • Henpecked Husband: In "Honey's Money".
  • Hidden Depths: In The Looney Tunes Show, where he admits to having worked at a library, is implied to practice meditation to try and control his temper, and attends Anger Management classes. At the end of You Got Hate Mail, before angrily kicking out a book club, he gives them a very accurate summary as to why their new novel protagonist fails to be a meaningful character.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Yosemite Sam digging for "buried treasure" on bottom of a ship... what a maroon.
    • "Mutiny on the Bunny" is only the tip of the iceberg.
  • I Have Many Names: Shanghai Sam, Sam von Schmamm, Riff-Raff Sam, Sam Schultz, etc.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: While designed to be a case downplayed from Elmer Fudd, his zeal and abuse still makes him somewhat pitiful.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: Sam pronounces "Yosemite" as "Yo-sam-ity".
  • Jerkass: Created for the purpose of being more belligerent than Elmer, giving Bugs a more menacing opponent (or at the very least a palpable Asshole Victim) he could look heroic against.
  • Man Child: Has the stature and temperament of a child, but packs heat (and a mighty fine 'stache, to boot).
  • Large Ham
  • The Napoleon: Initially lots of jokes were about his height, and he sure is irascible.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: Never seems to have the same profession twice. He's not even a cowboy half the time.
  • Nice Hat: A very large, light-colored cowboy hat.
  • No Indoor Voice: He yells a lot.
  • Oh Crap!: See "Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!" example above.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: Has appeared in almost every stock villain role throughout his run, albeit always maintaining his bandit mask and western dialect. It literally happens in "Lighter Than Hare".
  • Worth It: Played straight in “Honey's Money” (see its own entry); subverted in “Hare Trimmed” (when he beats a hasty retreat at the altar). Curiously, the former involved a $5 million inheritance and the latter was $50 million.
  • Worthy Opponent: Created as a more formidable villain compared to Elmer, it didn't ''quite'' last however.