Follow TV Tropes


Road Runner vs. Coyote

Go To
The eternal hunt continues...

"Hmmm-hmmm, it's time for me to eat.
Catching a pig is quite a feat!"
The Big Bad Wolf, Richard Scarry's version of The Three Little Pigs

A plot, frequently animated, which involves natural enemies chasing or hunting each other.

If it is any recurring, the antagonist will try several times to capture, kill, or otherwise defeat the protagonist, and keeps failing spectacularly, either because the target is too smart, or because the antagonist is just really unlucky. Often this plot will climax with a plan that looks actually serious, but will fail just as surely as the others.

The rare exceptions to the Failure Is the Only Option aspect may involve Negative Continuity. Frequently linked to Harmless Villain and Amusing Injuries, and may induce Rooting for the Empire if the antagonist is pathetic enough.

Compare Stern Chase, Villain Decay (just here the villain decays immediately by design).


    open/close all folders 

  • From 1993 to 1995, Energizer ran a series of commercials where the fictional Supervolt battery company hired several famous villains (Darth Vader, King Kong, Count Dracula, etc.) to destroy the Energizer Bunny, with either the batteries in their weapons running out of power, or other circumstances allowing the Bunny's escape. A few of these commercials even had Wile E. Coyote himself as one of the Bunny's assassins.
  • In the M&M's Minis commercials, Red and Yellow try unsuccessfully to capture the Minis with various traps.

  • Lamput follows the eponymous Lamput as he escapes from a pair of scientists, Fat Doc and Slim Doc, who want to capture him and throw him back into the laboratory from where he came. Lamput always succeeds in outsmarting the docs.
  • Nu, Pogodi! is the Russian answer to Road Runner and Coyote, with a wolf chasing a hare in a World of Funny Animals setting.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf is about Wolffy the wolf trying to capture and consume a group of goats. He inevitably fails every single time, much to the disappointment of his wife Wolnie, but never gives up.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Nadie and Ellis in El Cazador de la Bruja are constantly on the run, having to evade various traps laid by Rosenberg and the Witch Coven and bounty hunters, sent by the same people.
  • Lupin III will never be captured by Inspector Zenigata. Well... at least not unless Lupin is trying to mess with Zenigata's mind. Zenigata admits that he wouldn't know what to do if Lupin was actually caught permanently.
  • Pokémon: The Series: Team Rocket vs Ash and Pikachu. They must capture the super-Pikachu for their boss! And naturally, they get thwarted and blasted off into the sky by Pikachu's Thunderbolt. Even when they try to go for other Pokémon, if Ash and Pikachu are in the vicinity, expect those Pokémon to get Road Runner immunity as well.

    Comic Books 
  • Deconstructed and played for horror in Animal Man with an Expy of Wile E. Coyote who gets brought to the real world and put on the receiving end of being hunted. He still recovers from each case of Amusing Injuries like a cartoon would, but being transplanted into a real world environment means that each injury has gruesomely realistic effects, from which his body proceeds to painfully stitch itself back together. For added nightmarishness, the man hunting him is a Tragic Villain being driven mad by misfortune in his life and only hunting the coyote in a desperate attempt to end that pain.
  • In the Animaniacs comics, there's the Hotter and Sexier version of this: just like Minerva Mink's first short was a twist on the "hunt" Looney Tunes cartoons by having the huntsman foiled by the hunted's sex appeal instead of resourcefulness, many of her stories have the dog Newt trying to catch Minerva (whether to make pelts out of her or just date her) and failing in painful, amusing ways.
  • The Dutch comic De Generaal by Peter de Smet is filled to the brim with this trope. The main character, The General, assisted by a zany professor and a soldier, and armed with a rather ancient tank, repeatedly tries to take power from The Marshall (seated in a fort; the general's HQ is a preciously guarded tree). Their lack of success in whatever way they try is only surpassed by a motorcycle policeman's failures to book The General for breaking just about any law or rule the policeman thinks applicable.
  • Ghost Rider vs Water Wizard worked like this, mainly due to Ghost Rider being seemingly unstoppable. Water Wizard eventually made a Deal with the Devil, specifically the Evil Sorcerer Moon Dark, and looked like he would finally be able to defeat Ghost Rider, but did not.
  • The Smurfs: In all incarnations of The Smurfs, Gargamel is an impoverished evil sorcerer who plots to catch the Smurfs so he could create gold, eat them, or use them for magic potions. His cat Azrael tries to help him, too.
  • The Tintin album The Broken Ear features this as a subplot. After Colonel Diaz is arbitrarily demoted to corporal by General Alcazar, he makes four failed attempts at assassinating Alcazar. The second and third attempts leave Diaz with Amusing Injuries, though the four attempt does backfire lethally.
  • ¡Viva Zapapa!, also by Peter de Smet, takes the same basic idea as De Generaal, but instead of the complexity of the plans themselves, it's usually the bumbling assistant to The Great Revolutionary Leader Zapapa who manages to scupper those plans (if they had any chance of success in the first place).
  • One story in the Warhammer 40,000 comic Deff Skwadron involves the Orks repeatedly failing to intercept a messenger squig. They breed a special hunting squig to take it down, but find that it won't come back once the messenger is caught. The story ends with the skwadron's boss repeating "Catch that squig!"

    Comic Strips 
  • Parodied several times in Garfield:
    • In one strip, Garfield chases a mouse as Jon cheers him on, only to step on the mouse by accident. He promptly stops and revives the mouse before sending it off unharmed, his dialogue basically explaining it was all an act for Jon's sake.
    • In another strip, Garfield is being chased by a big dog, only to stop and demand to know what's going to happen now the dog has caught him. The answer? They start dancing the tango, with Garfield noting he wants to lead the next time.
    • Another "dog chasing Garfield" strip ends with the reveal that they were actually both trying to chase an ice-cream truck, not chasing each other.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • This pretty much defines Count Dracula and Abraham Van Helsing's (and by extension, his entire family line) relationship in Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. Abraham and his ancestors are all monster hunters who have dedicated themselves to eradicate monsters everywhere, with Dracula himself being their #1 target. In the case of Abe himself, Dracula evades and thwarts all of his attempts on his life to an almost absurd degree. Subverted with Drac and Abraham's great, great granddaughter Ericka as he had absolutely no idea that they were trying to kill him and just happened to waltz around the traps incidentally.
  • In The Sword in the Stone, a scrawny wolf continuously pursues Wart to try to eat him, not just as a human, but later when he's turned into a squirrel. In every case, the wolf's plans are comically foiled by his bad luck.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Blues Brothers puts the titular brothers in the position of "Road Runner" being chased by no less than four 'Coyotes'; a neo-Nazi organization they antagonize by driving them off a bridge, an increasing large representative sample of Illinois' law-enforcement community, a country-and-western band called "The Good Ole' Boys" who they steal a gig from, and a mysterious woman tooled up with a lot of advanced weaponry who turns out to be a woman Jake left at the altar. The Blues Brothers manage to evade, survive or outrun all of their pursuers right up until the very end, where they are arrested immediately after completing their goal. It helps that they're on a mission from God.
  • In Caddyshack, Bill Murray's Carl tries increasingly drastic plans to get a certain gopher.
  • The middle of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie where the Vulgarian spies are attempting to capture the car.
  • A Fish Called Wanda has Michael Palin trying to kill an old woman before she can testify about his boss. Each attempt succeeds in killing not her, but one of her dogs. Palin's character is an animal lover, and this impacts him greatly until, with the killing of the third and last dog, the old woman has a heart attack and snuffs it.
  • Professor Fate's antics against the Great Leslie in The Great Race was pretty much live-action Road Runner cartoon. The film was itself an inspiration for Wacky Races.
  • Jaws (Richard Kiel) from the James Bond movies The Spy Who Loved Me and especially Moonraker. This giant metal teeth-equipped henchman always fails to kill Bond, ends up crashing in things in ways that would kill normal men without so much as an injury, and keeps coming back to try again. The comical factor was amped up in Moonraker with some Oh, Crap! expressions on his face.
  • Of Unknown Origin plays this trope for horror. Bart Hughes gradually undergoes a mental breakdown as he is repeatedly thwarted in his attempts to kill the rat that lives in his new house.
  • Smokey and the Bandit has the Bandit manage to elude the law as it pursues him across the south. Sheriff Buford T. Justice especially keeps failing spectacularly to capture him.
  • The Villain is a Western example wherein the titular bank robber is trying to capture The Handsome Stranger (no really, that's his name) and Charmin'. Every scheme is right out of a Roadrunner cartoon, including painting a tunnel on the side of a rock and getting stuck in his own glue trap.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dinosaur Revolution: The Ornitholestes tries, and fails, to catch a Rhamphorhynchus throughout the second episode. An artist who worked on the show said during production the two were nicknamed "Sylvester and Ptweety".
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: Kind of the whole point of the show — a live-action version of the classic cartoon series by way of Smokey and the Bandit, with Boss Hogg and Rosco coming up with scheme after scheme to destroy the Duke family, but the Dukes always coming out ahead in the end.
  • Farscape: In "Revenging Angel", the protagonist's hallucination was a direct Homage to the Chuck Jones cartoon.
  • LazyTown: The frequent efforts of Robbie Rotten to get rid of Sportacus, only to fail spectacularly every time, fall square into this trope. Especially during the memetic "We Are Number One" song number, where we get the various traps aimed at catching the fast-moving Sportacus invariably backfiring on Robbie and his clones.
  • The Stargate SG-1 episode "Bounty" is about a bunch of bounty hunters going after the Stargate team, and all but one of them fails spectacularly and hilariously.

  • Muse Magazine: Pwt has an obsession with trying to catch Crraw. It's not clear why... other than that Crraw is just annoying.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

  • Ralph in Kevin & Kell used to try to eat Kevin almost every time we saw him. He hasn't tried in years, arguably due to a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Bun-Bun's repeated attempts to kill Santa Claus in Sluggy Freelance. He finally succeeds during the "Holiday Wars" trilogy, but Santa Got Better.
  • Yellow Brick Ramble offers a more literal example than most. Midway through chapter 11, in an area of Winkieland that looks oddly like Arizona, USA, Ozma attempts to push a boulder off a cliff onto the Scarecrow as he passes by. The comic artist has even titled that page "Beep Beep!" just to make the reference even more obvious.

    Web Videos 
  • The climactic chase between Roy and Simon in Return of the Cartoon Man is an homage to this type of cartoon, and uses many of the requisite gags.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog is perceived as this with Sonic and Tails playing the Road Runner while Scratch, Grounder and Dr. Robotnik (whom we call Dr. Eggman these days) usually played the Coyote. In the ending credits, Robotnik tries to smash Sonic in a trap in a road. When Sonic came, Robotnik pushed the button and seemed to have caught Sonic. However, when Robotnik went to check, he found no sign of Sonic whatsoever. While he left the remote control unguarded and stood at the trap area, Sonic appeared and pushed the button, smashing Robotnik. Sonic then left, dropping the remote control at the trap area. When Robotnik, in a pancake shape as a result of the smashing landed, he hit the button, causing the trap to smash him again.
  • Angry Birds Toons revolves around the Bad Piggies attempting to steal the Angry Birds' eggs with the intent to eat them, and they're always thwarted. The show does, however, have the occasional Slice of Life plot instead, applying to either the birds or the pigs.
  • In Animaniacs, about half of Slappy Squirrel’s plots revolve around old villains trying to get Slappy, and failing badly.
  • De Patie Freleng Enterprises had The Ant and the Aardvark series, where the Aardvark tries to catch and eat his rival Charlie the Ant while the two exchange witty banter.
  • Betty Boop occasionally features this trope, except that in her case it's a sexual predator trying to capture her—usually varying by the episode, though "Philip the Fiend" appeared several times.
  • Hanna-Barbera's Blast-Off Buzzard (a segment of 1977's CB Bears) had the title bird in pursuit of Crazy Legs Snake. And unlike H-B shows in general, this segment was completely dialogue-less.
  • The Blue Racer is about the eponymous Blue Racer chasing (and failing to catch) a Japanese beetle. Interestingly, it's the hunter (a snake) who is the super-fast one, but this is still not enough for a significantly more intelligent prey (a beetle) who can do karate chops.
  • Bordertown: in the cold opening of every episode, Bud the border patrol agent is constantly trying to catch the human smuggler El Coyote but he's always outsmarted by him on multiple occasions or by his bad luck.
  • Some Classic Disney Shorts, particularly the ones involving Donald Duck, used this trope, but not quite to the degree of the Warner shorts.
  • De Patie Freleng Enterprises' Crazy Legs Crane was always chasing a dragonfly (a tiny dragon with wings).
  • Dexter's Laboratory:
    • In "Road Rash", Dexter got a bicycle from his parents, leading to a direct homage to the Road Runner cartoons when Dexter tried to get even with a roller-blading Dee Dee.
    • The episode "Mom and Jerry" was a Tom and Jerry pastiche in which Dexter got trapped in the body of a lab mouse and his mom mistook him for a regular mouse. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines: The whole series boils down to the Villain Protagonists trying to, in their own words, "Stop that pigeon!"
  • The Dreamstone toys with the concept somewhat (it probably borrows more from the premise of the Trope Namer's sister series Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog) though is still clearly inspired by it, with the Urpneys frequently using cartoon gadgets to try and steal the Dreamstone from the Land of Dreams. Expect Amusing Injuries galore.
  • The Fairly OddParents! homaged the Road Runner cartoons in "Back to Norm" where Crocker, in possession of a genie, wishes for elaborate traps to capture Timmy Turner, rather than wishing him to Mars.
  • Columbia Cartoons/Screen Gems' The Fox and the Crow shorts of the '40s often have a variation of this dynamics.
  • Garfield and Friends:
    • A similar case of a recurring fox villain in the U.S. Acres segment tries to eat several bird characters and the two chicks Sheldon and Booker. Although the one predator who fails the most is the weasel who tries to steal the farm's chicken.
    • One Garfield sketch deconstructs the "Tom and Jerry" variation of the trope, asking just why cartoons portray cats being bad guys for chasing mice when, in the real world, cats are normally seen as the good guys for doing this, due to the fact that mice spread disease, spoil food and damage property.
  • Get Ace: The Tag for "Ace the Superspy" has Ace flying at super-speed with the Rocket Thrusters, even passing by a real roadrunner, while Ned tries to catch him (and get those braces) with elaborate schemes, with all of this happening in the middle of the desert. Ned even tries the "painted tunnel" trick.
  • A Running Gag in Gravedale High is Mrs. Crone's zombie cat trying (and failing) to catch the Quasimodo-like rat suffering Coyote-style damages (but as it is a zombie cat he never gets really harmed).
  • Grizzy and the Lemmings usually has episodes that inevitably devolve into Grizzy chasing down the Lemmings, for anything that they selfishly fight over. It's something of a deconstruction, as neither side ever gets what it wants in the end.
  • An episode of Johnny Test parodied this concept including Johnny going "beet beet" in the same style as the Roadrunner's trademark "beep beep" sound and Bling Bling Boy questioningly the sheer improbability of a train passing through a fake tunnel AND an anvil falling randomly from the sky. Oh, and Johnny and Bling Bling even had their "Latin" names.
  • The alligators Floyd and Jolene trying to eat the cubs in Kissyfur.
  • Looney Tunes cartoons have been doing it for years.
    • Bugs Bunny: Many characters have attempted to catch and/or kill this Rascally Rabbit, including Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Marvin the Martian, and the Tasmanian Devil, as well as numerous one-time villains, but Bugs is always cunning enough to outsmart them.
    • Daffy Duck: Daffy Duck was the road runner at first (with Elmer or Porky as the coyote), then he became the coyote (with Porky or Speedy Gonzales as the road runner) after he was changed into a near-Butt-Monkey.
    • Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird: Aww, an adorable black-and-white tom-cat tries to catch and eat a cute yellow canary.
    • Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner: These two are the Trope Namers. Interestingly, they were originally intended as a parody of Tom and Jerry (or indeed, Bugs Bunny) type cartoons, where instead of the pursued outwitting the pursuer, the coyote was his own worst enemy due to his increasingly convoluted ploys. (The initial plan had been for the pursuer and pursued to not even make sense, like "an aardvark chasing a wildebeest".) Instead, they were successful enough that subsequent chase cartoons chose to Follow the Leader.
    • Played with in the Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog shorts; the protagonist is in fact the bodyguard, thwarting the antagonist from pursuing its prey (in this case a field of sheep). Amusingly, this is just a routine day job for the two; they're good buddies off the clock.
    • Exaggerated in the Chuck Jones-directed Fair and Worm-er, which features a worm chasing an apple, a bird chasing the worm, a cat chasing the bird, a dog chasing the cat, a dogcatcher chasing the dog, the dogcatcher's wife chasing the dogcatcher, and a mouse chasing the dogcatcher's wife!
  • Oggy and the Cockroaches is an interesting case: while it's clear that the cockroaches are the antagonists of the series, either side of the ongoing fight can be the winner of the fight for the episode, sometimes both sides win, other times neither will, and yet still a third party can end up the winner.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Candace is always trying to bust her brothers but never succeeds, instead she's getting either injured or humiliated. This is the "unlucky" variant, as her brothers do nothing to stop her, and usually don't seem to share her belief that they'd be in trouble if she succeeded. On top of that, Doof's own schemes typically manage to remove the brothers' daily projects from view.
    • Dr. Doofenshmirtz scheming to take over the tri-state area and constantly being thwarted by Perry the Platypus.
  • The wolves Huff and Puff try to eat the eponymous Piggsburg Pigs! always failing Wile E. Coyote-style.
  • Paranormal investigator Professor Dweeb and his Poodle dog trying to capture Slimer in The Real Ghostbusters Spin-Off Slimer has this dynamics.
  • The Donkey Kong segments of the Saturday Supercade. Mario was the Coyote, and DK was the Roadrunner.
  • Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf: Just think of Wacky Races, only with Scooby-Doo and monsters, and the role of Dick Dastardly (basically the Coyote) replaced alternately by Count Dracula and the Hunch Bunch. Except their main target is only Shaggy's car, in hopes he loses the race so he will remain a werewolf forever.
  • A recurring villain in Shaun the Sheep is a Fox that constantly tries to eat the weakest members of the farm, like the chickens of Timmy the lamb.
  • Oddly enough, The Itchy & Scratchy Show in The Simpsons almost never actually use this trope, despite being a parody of Tom and Jerry, the premise being more an ultra-violent screwball cartoon. In almost every episode, Itchy the mouse actually seeks to murder his best friend, the cat Scratchy, for no reason, and always succeeds... except for one occasion, which we never got to see.
  • Taz-Mania: This trope sums up the attempts of both Francis X. Bushlad, and Bull Gator and Axl, to capture Taz, and Taz's attempts to capture the Kee-Wee.
  • Some of Tex Avery MGM Cartoons shorts:
    • Screwy Squirrel. Unlike in most examples, though, Screwy, the roadrunner in this case, is caught and killed at the end of his final short. Who does the deed? A dog version of Lennie Small from Of Mice and Men.
    • George and Junior
    • Droopy vs. Spike
  • Tiny Toons had many teen versions of the original Looney Tunes and some original characters. Among them: Calamity Coyote and Little Beeper (teen versions of the Coyote and the Roadrunner) and Furrball and Sweetiepie (Sylvester and Tweety). There was also a little baby mouse Li'l Sneezer that was sometimes chased by Furrball and, in a curious continuation of the food chain, a nerd worm named Bookworm chased by Sweetiepie, in all cases with bad consequences for the predator. But the writers soon left this formula and focused more on other kind of plots.
  • Tom and Jerry: Tom the tom-cat and Jerry the mouse are a classic example, but these cartoons belong among the rare ones which sometimes Played With this trope. Jerry is very antagonistic in some cartoons, to the point where Tom is the likeable character of the two and viewers rooted for him, hoping he would catch the bloody vermin. In some episodes, Tom has at least some vindication by the end, such as the episode in which he forces Jerry to learn how to "hunt cats" from his nephew. Sometimes Tom and Jerry even collaborate against a common enemy, like a new evil tom-cat in their house.
  • Wacky Races: Dick Dastardly's plans to stop the other racers, which often use the same visual gags as the Road Runner cartoons. One of the writers for both shows was Michael Maltese, who had collaborated with Chuck Jones on the Road Runner shorts.
  • Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch had the former always getting antagonized by the latter, the latter's plans always failing on their part.
  • Zig & Sharko, created by the creators of Oggy and the Cockroaches above. This one plays out more like a traditional Road Runner vs. Coyote, though, with the added addition of Marina (the Road Runner of the series) having extra help to defeat Zig through Sharko, who uses brute force while Marina stays unaware of Zig's plans.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Catch That Pigeon


Blob vs. the Inkies

Those darn Inkies try to catch him, but Blob's a sly one.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / RoadRunnerVsCoyote

Media sources: