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Wartime Cartoon

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Daffy Duck gives Adolf Hitler the business.

"Musso gone, Goering gone, you'll be in the cart when they're all gone. You won't have nothing left to draw!"
Carl Giles engages in a little Self-Deprecation

The term Wartime Cartoon refers primarily to cartoons made or released in The Golden Age of Animation during World War II and having some specific reference to the war effort. Many wartimes are explicit propaganda, while others make humorous jabs at conditions on the home front such as the rationing of fuels, materials, food products and consumer goods.

While some wartimes have remained popular as period pieces, many of these are now considered controversial due to the offensive caricatures of Italians, Germans and (especially) Japanese (see Those Wacky Nazis and Yellow Peril, respectively). Of course, with The Holocaust now common knowledge, it's interesting how the racial policies of the Nazis were relatively rarely dwelt upon in those cartoons. So imagine the shock of the general public when the Final Solution death camps were discoverednote  and their realization that, no matter what awful things the Allied propaganda might have claimed about them up to then, Those Wacky Nazis were actually worse, with them committing acts of villainy that beggared the worst of nightmares. The hideous crimes the Japanese committed throughout the war (and even earlier in their invasion of China) means that many whose relatives (and countries) suffered at their hands believe the Japanese shouldn't get to complain about anything bad that happened to Japan as a result (this extends, of course, to Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

Typical trademarks of these cartoons that are usually spoofed: propaganda elements, racist caricatures, ample references to activities to help the war effort (i.e., Shout Outs to save scrap iron, conserve gasoline, buy war bonds, or grow a Victory Garden). Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Hideki Tojo, and/or Emperor Hirohito often make a cameo and are ridiculed.

Subtrope of Propaganda Piece.


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  • Disney had several.
    • One of the best remembered is Donald Duck in Nutzi Land, in which Donald dreams he's a factory worker in a surreal version of Nazi Germany. This cartoon was the source of the song "Der Fuehrer's Face" (which the short was later renamed after), famously recorded by Spike Jones and his City Slickers:
      "Vhen der Fuehrer says, 'Ve ist der master race', / Ve heil! (raspberry) Heil! (raspberry) / Right in der Fuehrer's face! / Not to love der Fuehrer ist a great disgrace / So ve heil! (raspberry) Heil! (raspberry) / Right in der Fuehrer's face!"
    • Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series included an alternate version of "Der Fuehrer's Face" directed at the Fleetlord of the alien invasion.
  • Disney had a series of shorts devoted to the war effort beginning with Donald Gets Drafted, along with the feature-length animated documentary Victory Through Air Power. These cartoons were actually recognized by the real-life United States Military; on his 50th birthday, Donald Duck was officially promoted to the rank of Buck Sergeant in the army and given an honorable discharge.
    • One of them, Commando Duck, dealt with Donald taking out the Japanese air force; he accidentally does so by flooding it. The Japanese snipers appear to have attended the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, too, which must have helped.
    • Subverted, because some of the Donald Duck soldier cartoons were not direct propaganda and had a "Beetle Bailey" sense of humor to them. These cartoons tended to show Pete as Donald's commanding officer.
      • It maybe was even Inverted for some cartoons. Donald Gets Drafted, for example, actually satirized how the real condition of enlistment and training compared to the glamorized propaganda by mocking Don's awful experience in boot camp after being enticed by military recruitment.
      • This could also be why he tends to end up in the Army, when the Navy, or the Marines might have been a better place to make use of the services of an anthropomorphic waterfowl. Since the U.S. didn't have a separate Air Force at the time, it makes sense that Donald was in the Army, hoping to get assigned to the Army Air Forces, which he actually does in one short.
    • In addition, Donald was the star for a major propaganda film called The New Spirit which encouraged Americans to pay their income tax promptly, followed by the sequel The Spirit of '43. (No sequel was needed in '44, because by then Federal Income Tax Withholding had been introduced.) Reportedly, many more Americans did their civic duty because of these films.
  • A more subtle version occurs in Chicken Little (not the movie) which had Foxy Loxy using Hitler's tactics to break apart a farm community to eat them all. The short has no obvious Nazi imagery (though the original pitch involved Foxy reading Mein Kampf instead of a psychology book), but the message was clear. The animators also sneak a subtle reference to the Nazis in. The star Foxy Loxy used to make Chicken Little think the sky was falling? It was from the sign of an astrologer - Madame Izan.
  • The short "Reason and Emotion" starts as a simple visualization of the struggle between the mind's reasonable and emotional sides before delving into how Hitler manipulates his country's emotions to remove all reason. The propaganda aspects were removed and re-edited on later broadcasts, like on Disney's TV series The Wonderful World of Disney to have a new ending about balancing both sides.
  • 1943's Education for Death can be viewed as a particularly dark deconstruction of the Wartime Cartoon: It follows the life of a German boy called Hans from birth (where his parents prove to a judge they're of Aryan pedigree), through being told distorted fairy tales glorifying Hitler as a toddler, being taught to hate a bunny being eaten by a fox (since "the strong shall rule the weak"), participating in Book Burning, and after the next few years spent "marching and heiling, heiling and marching" he, now in his teens, has become a "good Nazi" who says, thinks, and does only what he's told to. In the end, he and others march off to war, their figures fading into rows of graves with swastikas on them. It's up to the audience if the dramatic depiction, or the fact that Real Life Nazism operated similarly, is more chilling. All things considered, it does show that not all Germans accepted National Socialism of free will, but rather were forced and indoctrinated into it from a young age. It further portrays Hans' mother to be deeply afraid of it all.
  • The aforementioned Victory Through Air Power is an animated feature explaining the vital importance of air superiority in modern war. Opening with a montage of aviation history, it finishes with a rather prescient and chilling prediction of the saturation bombing of Axis cities to come. It was remarkably prescient about other things too, predicting a "combat plane" that proved to be only slightly over-the-top compared to the B-29 and a rocket powered bunker-buster that the RAF later defictionalized as the "Disney Bomb".
  • Rubber rationing is referenced in the Donald Duck cartoon "Donald's Tire Trouble", which shows that the tires on Don's car are patched with stray pieces of rubber, including a glove, a hot water bottle and a toilet plunger. To date, this is the only Wartime Cartoon available on Disney+, for obvious reasons.
    Donald: Doggone rubber shortage!
  • The Goofy cartoon "Victory Vehicles" references gas rationing and rubber shortages, with citizens looking for replacements for the automobile, eventually settling on the pogo stick. Cut from TV showings is a scene featuring a billboard exhorting people to "Beat the Jap with scrap" and a line of narration about how surplus cement for roads could be dropped on Tokyo and Berlin.
  • Another Goofy cartoon, "How to Be a Sailor", was pretty straightforward but then went on a war theme in the final scene with Goofy in the Navy. In true Goofy style, he ends up launching himself from a torpedo tube at various Japanese battleships, all with very Japanese caricatured faces on the bows and each with a rendition of the Japanese battle flag, all of which the torpedoing Goofy manages to blow up and sink as the cartoon ends. At the same time, for good measure, Goofy, still torpedoing, also shatters the Japanese rising sun like a window. (Needless to say, this scene was cut from most TV broadcasts.)
  • Disney's first wartime cartoons were actually made before the US joined the war: four public service announcements for the National Film Board of Canada, making use of reused footage from Disney cartoons of the past. They are: All Together, Seven Wise Dwarfs, The Thrifty Pig, and Donald's Decision.
  • Disney also made industrial training and technical films like Four Methods of Flush Riveting for Lockheed Aircraft Co. Disney made or contributed to a lot of similar films, because animation proved to be an ideal tool for demonstrating things (like the inside of an engine or the bottom of a rivet hole) that could not be depicted otherwise.
  • Disney also maintained a five man staff solely to create insignia for every US or Allied unit that requested one. Units as diverse as the Flying Tigers, HMS Illustrious, and the Free French Pilots of the RAF all received Disney insignia, as did about half of the submarines of the US Pacific Fleet. Pugnacious Donald Duck, Disney's "designated draftee" showed up most often, appearing in 216 insignia. Mickey, by contrast, served mainly on the home front.
  • Disney produced training videos, such as "Stop that Tank," which depicted the use and operation of the Boys Anti-tank rifle, created for the Canadian government. While meant for training purposes, it depicted Hitler as a buffoon, German tanks as toylike, and massively oversold the usefulness of antitank rifles. note 

    Famous Studios 
  • Famous Studios did four war-themed Superman shorts — the rather racist "Japoteurs" (rarely included in compilations), the somewhat less offensive "The Eleventh Hour", and two where Superman battled the Nazis. Bizarrely, it was one of the Nazi battles that featured the most dehumanizing racial caricatures in any of these shorts, the target here of course being... Black Africans. In "Jungle Drums", a couple of Nazis have tricked the superstitious natives of Darkest Africa into doing their bidding. In their capacity as gods/high priests/whatever, the Nazis wear Klan-like outfits, presumably to emphasize their bad-guy racism. The effect is rather spoiled by the fact that the "natives" are portrayed as positively demonic, inhuman forces of mindless menace, obviously played more for fear/loathing than the ostensible "villains", a couple of insipidly mean-spirited Germans.
  • Popeye
    • The shorts "You're a Sap, Mr. Jap" and "Scrap the Japs", in which Popeye battles the Japanese Navy. "Mr. Jap" is profoundly disturbing, as not only does it have the expected caricatures of Japanese people (buck teeth, glasses, wooden sandals, saying "so solly" a lot, being sneaky, manufacturing cheap products, etc.), but the last minute depicts a Japanese soldier mourning the Navy's impending loss to Popeye; he drinks gasoline, eats firecrackers, lights a match, and then wraps his body around Popeye's. Popeye looks down the soldier's throat, realizes he's about to explode, and abandons ship. It's all done in a strangely serious manner.
    • There were also shorts that featured Popeye fighting the Nazis such as, Spinach For Britain in which Popeye battled a German U-boat while delivering some of his spinach to the United Kingdom.
    • Seeing Red, White, and Blue features Bluto getting a notice in the mail that he's been drafted into the Navy. He and Popeye then stumble upon a group of Japanese saboteurs whom they promptly beat the stuffing out of. Ending with Popeye sending his fist in the shape of Uncle Sam's fist across the world to punch both Hideki Tojo and Hitler in the face.
    • Another cartoon, " A Jolly Good Furlough," had a brief rationing gag in which Olive Oyl's car was shown to have old shoes mounted on the wheels instead of tires.
    • The Popeye short "Rocket to Mars", released the year after the war was over, had Popeye battle an impending Martian invasion. On the way to Mars he passes a planet shaped like an eight-ball, with Emperor Hirohito behind it, a Visual Pun showing that Japan was "behind the eight-ball" (meaning "in a difficult situation").
    • "Ration for the Duration" opens with Popeye and his nephews planting a victory garden. It turns into a parody of "Jack and the Beanstalk" with a giant hoarding things like sugar, tires, and shoes (among other goods) which Popeye, being a participant in rationing, doesn't approve of and decides to take them to help the war effort.
    • "Her Honor, the Mare" (the first regular short in color) opens with a horse being rejected by a glue factory and has 4-F stamped on his rear end.
    • "The Mighty Navy" opens with Popeye enlisting in the navy. After the typical slapstick gags that lead to Popeye Peeling Potatoes, the ship he's serving on is attacked by a fleet of enemy vessels, which Popeye dispatches after the pre-requisite Spinach power-up. The cartoon ends with Popeye's picture displayed as the new insignia of a Navy bomber squadron. Oddly enough this cartoon had no racist images of Germans or Japanese; the enemy is faceless throughout (we only see their ships and planes) and the only flag shown simply reads "Enemy (Name Your Own)".
  • Several entries in the Noveltoons series deal with war-related topics
    • Yankee Doodle Donkey: Spunky the Donkey enlists in the Wags, an Army division for dogs (that promises to "hound the Axis"). Being a completely different species, Spunky is rejected by his commanding officer, a Drill Sergeant Nasty bulldog. Spunky later comes in handy when an invading flea army that detests horse meat attacks the troops.
    • When G.I. Johnny Comes Home A sing-along cartoon filled with gags featuring servicemen coming home and readjusting to civilian life.
    • Spree For All: Snuffy Smith comes home from his tour of duty of military service, hoping to settle into a comfortable and peaceful post-war lifestyle. However, pair of feuding hillbilly families puts an end to his hopes of peaceful living. This cartoon was made during, but released after, the war.
  • The Little Lulu cartoon "It's Nifty To Be Thrifty" serves a an example from a child's point of view. Lulu tries to ask for money for candy from her father, who is being hammered by the massive increase of taxes brought on by the war. Lulu's father tries to impress upon her the importance of thrift by telling her the story of The Grasshopper and the Ants, who later serve as a Good Angel, Bad Angel when Lulu is tempted to spend her money in candy later in the cartoon (similar to the aforementioned The Spirit of '43, the ant is depicted as a Thrifty Scot).

    Tex Avery MGM Cartoons 
  • At MGM, Tex Avery made a cartoon called Blitz Wolf involving the three little pigs as soldiers and the big bad wolf as Hitler. The same man played the "smart little pig" both here and in Disney's "Three Little Pigs" short.
    • The disclaimer given at the beginning states that the wolf's depiction is non-fictitious and purely intentional... but the tires depicted in it are, in fact, completely bogus.note 
    • The smart little pig's brick house has a "No Dogs Allowed" sign with the word "dogs" crossed out and substituted for the word "Japs", and at one point they use a long cannon to blow up Tokyo.
    • Fred Quimby reportedly ordered Tex Avery to never make another short like Blitz Wolf during the duration, because there was no way to know who was going to win the war. This also might explain the conspicuous lack of MGM wartime cartoons, at least compared to other studios.
    • By 1945, when the outcome looked much more favorable, Avery released Jerky Turkey which has almost too many war references to count. For starters: The Pilgrim's ship has a fuel ration card and offensive armament, when they land at Plymouth Rock they are greeted by a billboard asking "Was this trip really necessary?" and the town cryer is a literal "Crier" who's sobbing because he he got a 1-A grade on his draft physical, meaning deployment was inevitable.
  • Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood and variants had servicemen as a primary market — in Swing Shift Cinderella the fairy godmother uses her magic wand to turn a pumpkin into an estate wagon, the Wolf grabs the wand and turns a bathtub into an open roadster and speeds off, and she chases after him, turning a garbage can into a Jeep. Oh, and the reason the fairy godmother's magic wears off at midnight? Cinderella's shift at Lockheed starts at that hour.
  • Some of Tex' cartoons had wartime references that were deleted when they were reissued. The Droopy cartoon "The Shooting of Dan McGoo" has the Wolf offer Red a carton of cigarettes, which were strictly rationed during the war. When the cartoon was reissued after the war, the carton of cigarettes was changed to a pearl necklace. The Wolf's bounty in Northwest Hounded Police was originally a measly $1.25 as set by the Office of Price Administration (which capped the price of goods during the war), but the reissue removed the reward and the reference to the OPA from the Wolf's "Wanted!" Poster.
  • Tex Avery was fond of using meat rationing as a theme in otherwise non-war-related cartoons such as Big Heel-Watha (the only short where Screwy Squirrel does decide to mess with a dog), and What's Buzzin', Buzzard?
  • Tex also took a jab at the draft in the 1944 MGM cartoon "Batty Baseball". One early scene shows most of the baseball players are missing—called up because they're 1A. Besides the catcher, the only other player present is the pitcher—a 4F draft reject.

    Tom & Jerry 
  • "The Yankee Doodle Mouse" was the closest Tom and Jerry ever came to having a World War II-themed short. In it, Tom and Jerry fight a war-style battle in a basement with plenty of WWII references. It ends with Jerry saluting the flag (made by a firework that Tom rode into space before it exploded), and sending off a telegram saying "Send More Cats!", a Shout-Out to the "Send More Japs!" telegram sent by the defenders of Wake Island after repelling a Japanese landing attempt.
  • In "The Lonesome Mouse", we see Jerry paint a Hitler mustache and comb-over on a picture of Tom and then spit at it.

    MGM Oneshots 
  • Two of the MGM Oneshot Cartoons are explicit wartime cartoons: "War Dogs" and "The Stork's Holiday". "Innertube Antics" plot is also a nod to the strict rationing of rubber during the war years.
  • Barney Bear had at least two wartime shorts.
    • "The Rookie Bear", where he is drafted into the army, and "Barney Bear's Victory Garden" which has Barney prepare a victory garden. One gag had him get the soil ready by making a huge portrait of Hitler so that it gets bombed by passing B-19s. Another scene depicts Benito Mussolini as an eggplant.
    • There was also "Bear Raid Warden", which depicts him as an overzealous air-raid warden determined to keep all lights off at night.
  • "Inner Tube Antics" has a donkey dealing with a leaky inner tube buried in his yard that tends to snicker as its air leaks. The donkey keeps trying to yank it out of the ground for the neighborhood rubber drive, resulting in his uncovering a huge pile of tires and rubber tubes.

    Warner Bros. 
Lots of Looney Tunes cartoons from that era had subtle jokes in them reflecting home-front conditions, even ones that don't overtly address the war. Gas rationing "A" cards were common, as were jokes about scrap metal collections, victory gardens, civil defense drills (someone yelling "Put out that light!"), and general shortages of rubber, butter and meat. Some of the gags ever persisted well after the end of WWII itself.
  • Crazy Cruise, a 1942 short begun by Tex Avery and finished by Bob Clampett, has a final ending gag with a group of grey rabbits running away from an unseen enemy. But one rabbit stays behind, who turns around to reveal himself as Bugs Bunny, wearing an army helmet who says, "Eh, t'umbs up, doc! T'umbs up!", and his ears form a "V" as Beethoven's Fifth plays.
  • That same year, Bugs starred with Porky and Elmer in a minute and a half short, officially untitled but now known as Any Bonds Today?, where he sings Irving Berlin's "Any Bonds Today?" to promote U.S. War Bonds. Many fans and historians consider this short the point where Bugs overtook Porky as the face of the Warner Bros. Cartoons.
  • In "An Itch in Time" features a tiny flea pestering Elmer Fudd's pet dog. Released at the height of the war in 1943, it is predictably rife with food rationing jokes. The flea carries a tiny set of ration stamps, and diligently tears them off before biting, and at the end of the cartoon, he carries both Elmer and the dog away on a plate marked "Blue Plate Special, no points" while singing "No more meatless Tuesdays for me!" Said flea also takes refuge in a "Hair Raid Shelter"
  • The 1943 Bugs Bunny cartoon Falling Hare, in which Bugs battles a gremlin which is seeking to sabotage the war effort, culminating in an imminent plane crash which halts inches above the ground because the plane — due to having a low-priority gas ration sticker — has run out of fuel.
    Gremlin: "Sorry folks! We ran out of gas!"
    Bugs: "Yeah, you know how it is with these "A" cards!"
  • In 1942's A Tale of Two Kitties a pair of cats try to get at Tweety (this being his very first short, he isn't named yet) in his nest. In their final attempt, one puts on a crude pair of wooden wings and tries to fly up to the nest. Tweety puts on an "Air Raid Warden" helmet and calls in a sighting of an "unidentified object". Spotlights immediately light up the sky and anti-aircraft guns shoot the cat down. One of the cats is also briefly seen tending to a Victory Garden, while the other has a blink-and-miss-it gag where he's wearing a British-style army helmet and smoking a cigar, an obvious Shout-Out to Winston Churchill.
  • Little Red Riding Rabbit is a wartime retelling of the classic nursery story in which Grandma never appears, because she's off working the swing shift at Lockheed.
  • Daffy the Commando had him bamboozling a pair of Nazi soldiers, and culminated in Daffy hitting Hitler over the head with a mallet, upon which Der Fuhrer gave an indignant shout of "SCHULTZ!"
  • In the "Blue Danube" section of A Corny Concerto, the evil buzzard steals all of the ducklings except for baby Daffy, who gets marked with a "Rejected 4-F" sign. 4-F indicated that someone had failed their draft physical and was considered unfit for military service.
  • Characters that fall down or take a long slide often will use the phrase "Was that/Is this trip really necessary?", a common slogan used to encourage people not to take unnecessary trips to free up gas and rubber for the war effort and to free up space on trains to ferry troops to their duty locations. Daffy uses it when he's dropped down a trap door in The Great Piggy Bank Robbery. In "Baseball Bugs", after calmly tagging out a runner who had been running the bases, Bugs holds up a sign with the same message. Another cartoon ended with Bugs Bunny escaping on a train but suddenly realizing that "None of us civilians should be doing any unnecessary traveling these days" before jumping off and walking towards the sunset.
    • Another instance of this happened in "Nasty Quacks," when Daffy packs up and leaves a man's house, then comes back to tell him that the government doesn't want anyone to do any non-essential traveling — the war had ended by the time the short was released, but rationing of some items and commodities was still in effect until the economy could switch over from a wartime footing to a peacetime footing again. Production Lead Time is also a factor: Bob Clampett and Frank Tashlin left Warner Bros. when the war was still going on, but their cartoons wouldn't be released to theaters until after the war was over.
  • In Wagon Heels, the wagon train Porky Pig is scouting for passes a billboard that asks "Is this trip REALLY necessary?"
  • The Bugs Bunny cartoon Super-Rabbit (a parody of the Superman Theatrical Cartoons) ends with Bugs going into a phonebooth and changing into "a real superman" — a Marine. He then promptly marches off to war. The actual United States Marines were so flattered by this that they actually made Bugs a Marine. He was eventually promoted to Master Sergeant.
  • Friz Freleng's Herr Meets Hare, in which Bugs leads Herman Goering through a Humiliation Conga. Notable for being the first time Bugs is depicted tunneling underground as a mode of transportation, and the first time he says "I knew I should have taken a left turn at Albuquerque" and was the inspiration for the Brunhilde opera sequence that would later be seen in Chuck Jones's magnum opus (among many), What's Opera, Doc?
  • Scrap Happy Daffy had him protecting a huge scrap metal heap from the Germans, who attacked with a submarine firing a torpedo with a Nazi goat inside it. And then Daffy is inspired by patriotic visions ("Americans don't give up!") to become a "Super American" (duck) and thrash the Nazi saboteurs.
  • Draftee Daffy seems quite edgy in retrospect—it has fair-weather patriot Daffy Duck dodging "the little man from the draft board", who it turns out will even follow him to Hell to serve the notice. At one point, Daffy tries to escape by buying a plane ticket only to be met with "Is this trip REALLY necessary?"
  • Private Snafu was made primarily to teach military men proper behavior and skills. It was produced by Warner Brothers, and the earlier toons were written by Dr. Seuss (the dialogue in some is of the silly-rhyming style he'd later use in his children's books). Chuck Jones directed a bunch of them; this was his and Seuss' collaboration before How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Unlike the Looney Tunes cartoons made for general audiences, the Private Snafu cartoons made for the military included a lot more risque gags, mostly involving women in various stages of undress (mostly bras, panties, and stockings, but there are times where the women shown are topless) and uses of mild profanity (which, back then were considered shocking). Aside from what not to do when on leave, one cartoon shows why you should use mosquito netting when posted in the tropics. Another, why having your mail censored is a necessary frustration. Famously, a Private Snafu cartoon late in the war about the importance of not blabbering too much about military matters when on leave was later pulled when the joke (Snafu telling his date all about a secret new bomb that could level an island) came a little too close to describing the then-underway Manhattan Project.
  • One Merrie Melodies cartoon, "Foney Fables", poked fun at rationing with a parody of "Old Mother Hubbard" — she goes to fetch her poor dog a bone and opens one door of her cupboard to show that nothing's in it...but the dog opens the other door to reveal a huge cache of food, then turns her in for hoarding. Another gag has a goose that usually lays golden eggs contributing to a scrap metal pile by laying aluminum ones instead. Yet another parodies "The Grasshopper and The Ant" with the ant chiding the grasshopper's laziness until the grasshopper reveals he's done his part as well by buying War Bonds.
  • The Looney Tunes short The Ducktators involved duck versions of Hitler, Mussolini, and Hideki Tojo attempting to take over a barnyard. Unlike most of the cartoons on this list, this short has been shown on public domain video and during the early days of television (with the "Buy War Bonds" ending removed). Cartoon Network's animation history show, Toon Heads and the last volume of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD did manage to show The Ducktators with the original ending intact.
  • Bob Clampett's Russian Rhapsody (1944) features Hitler himself flying a plane to bomb Moscow, but getting thwarted by a group of Gremlins.
  • Friz Freleng's Fifth Column Mouse (1943) was an allegorical tale of the start of World War II. A cat (Hitler, though he takes a Japanese look and accent at one point) convinces one of the mice (Neville Chamberlain) that he will not eat them if they treat him as their master. After the cat turns on them, they build a robot dog which chases him out of the house to the tune of "We Did it Before".
  • Frank Tashlin's Brother Brat, centered around Porky Pig babysitting a surly, violent infant while his mother is at work in a defense plant and opens with a stirring vignette saluting women working such roles. Tashlin's cinematic style is shown to great effect. Has aired on television a few times (mostly on the Ted Turner-owned networks like TBS and Cartoon Network), with the ending of baby Percy imitating Winston Churchill removed (probably because the censors balked at the image of a baby holding a cigar, yet the mother asking Porky, "You want those Nazis and Japs bombed off the Earth, don't ya?!"
  • The Fighting 69th 1/2, released in early 1941, featured a battle between red ants and black ants that was an allegory of World War One.
  • There were also several rather controversial shorts produced that you'll rarely — if ever — see on television, including Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips (where Bugs encounters stereotyped Japanese soldiers on a Pacific island) and Norm McCabe's Tokio Jokio (a mockumentary of the Japanese and their everyday lives, with most gags resulting in them getting killed by everyone and everything they come across—though it does include such visual puns as the "Imperial Plane Spotter", who goes around painting polka dots on airplanes, and a rather darkly ironic joke about the fire prevention headquarters being burned to the ground. Tokio Jokio was in fact deemed offensive even at the time, and WarnerMedia refuses to air or release it in any form.
  • The banned 1943 short Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs. Not only do the racist stereotypes make showing it unlikely, but there's plenty of other wartime gags included. A group of killers named "Murder Inc." advertise that they will rub out anybody for $1.00, midgets are half-price, and Japs are free. When the evil queen is introduced, we see she's a hoarder of sugar, coffee, and tires (all of which were rationed during World War II). The prince's fancy roadster has wheels cobbled from old shoes in lieu of tires, and the heroic dwarfs are in the Army.
  • Interestingly, the only cartoon that actually featured Bugs Bunny directly in the Army didn't debut until after WWII, but instead in the midst of The Korean War -— 1952's Forward March Hare wherein Bugs mistakenly gets a conscription letter meant for his neighbor.
  • In One Meat Brawl, a groundhog emerges from his hole on Groundhog Day and is immediately fired on by a pack of hunters. Retreating to safety, he blames it on "meat shortages". The cartoon debuted post-WWII (1947), but rationing was sill fresh enough in the public mind to be played as a gag.
  • Frank Tashlin's Plane Daffy stars the duck in a squadron of carrier pigeons. As the resident woman-hater, he's sent out to deliver an important message without being seduced by Nazi spy Hatta Mari, who's managed to claim 28 of the previous pigeons.
    • This, from WB's WWII cartoons (censored in some of the later broadcasts for reasons you'll see below):
      (Daffy, despite swallowing the secret to protect it, is trapped by Hatta Mari in an X-Ray device)
      Hatta: (saluting Hitler, Goering, and Goebbels watching from a remote screen) Look, mein Fuhrer! An important military secret!
      Hitler: Ach! Das is goot!
      (the X-ray shows a note in Daffy's stomach reading "Hitler is a Stinker")
      Hitler: HITLER IS A SCHTINKER?! Dot's no military secret!
      Goering and Goebbels: Ja, everybody knows dot!
      (Hitler gives them a Death Glare; they promptly pull out pistols and shoot themselves in the head)
      Daffy: They lose more darn Nutzis that way! Woo-hoo!
  • In Hare Conditioned, Bugs is being chased though a department store by the manager, and at one point, disguises himself as the elevator operator. As they are going up in the elevator, Bugs calls out the next floor as having items such as "Rubber tires, nylon hose, sugar, bourbon, butter...and other picture postcards." The joke is that these were items rationed during the war and weren't available to the public in any meaningful quantity, the rest of the cartoon didn't even reference the war.
  • 1942's Daffy Duckaroo has a group of indians attack a traveling Daffy, and steal the tires off his trailer. They then angrily give them back because they're the wrong size. In another scene, he's shown pointing a gun at his pursuer and making "pop" noises, explaining "We don't use any ammunition folks, we save it all for the army!"
  • Ding Dog Daddy, also from 1942, features a lonely dog who falls in love with a metal statue of a female dog that he affectionately calls "Daisy". At the end, he's left heartbroken when the scrap men haul "her" off to be melted down for the war effort.
  • Swooner Crooner has Porky Pig managing the "Flockheed Eggcraft Factory", namely a chicken ranch. Hens with badges that say "war worker" march into the ranch ever day and lay eggs for the American war effort, in assembly line manner. The punchline begins when a rooster version of Frank Sinatra starts swooning all the hens, keeping them from their jobs. It eventually takes a rooster Bing Crosby to bring them back, starting a hilarious sequence of one-upmanship.
  • Who's Who in the Zoo, directed by Norm McCabe, has a couple of gags referencing the war:
    • When a black panther finishes slurping the milk from its dish, he notices a star on the bottom. He laughs nervously and says, "Aluminuminuminum", then tosses it into a scrap pile for the war effort.
    • Then there's a distressed father rabbit of about 500, who gets a letter from the US government telling him to "increase production".
  • In 1942's The Wacky Wabbit, Elmer Fudd goes looking for gold in the desert to help the war effort. There's even a little sign at the beginning to plant a victory garden.

    Walter Lantz 
  • Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B
  • $21 A Day (Once A Month)
  • Andy Panda's Victory Garden
  • Ration Bored: The whole plot is based on Woody stealing gas due to the wartime rationing of it. The title is even a pun on the "Ration Board".
  • Woody Dines Out: Makes a couple of nods of the wartime conditions.
  • Take Heed, Mr. Tojo: An outsourced short for Warner Bros. Seaman Hook series, directed by Shamus Culhane.
  • The Enemy Bacteria: A military instructional film made by Lantz's studio.
  • The Barber of Seville: Woody is interested in a V-shaped "victory cut" hairdo. But the barber was drafted.

    Columbia Cartoons 
  • Screen Gems made several wartime shorts, most notably "Song of Victory", which features an allegory of how World War II started.

    Other cartoons from World War II 
  • "All Out for 'V'" is a Terrytoons 1942 short in which a bunch of forest critters rally to do factory work for the American war effort.
  • "My Boy, Johnny" from Terrytoons is somewhat unconventional. It's a 1944 short considering how American society will change after the war when all the boys come home from Europe and the Pacific.
  • Momotaro's Sea Eagles and Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors are Japanese animated films from the war period, featuring cute characters based on Japanese mythology invading East Asia and killing Allies — proving that both sides played this game.
  • Nimbus Libéré, a cartoon produced under German pressure in Vichy France, in which a French family is killed during an Allied bombing raid. What makes the cartoon really weird is that the bomber pilots are Western cartoon heroes—Popeye, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck etc. It capitalized on Allied bombings over France in an attempt to win popular support, and also threw in an anti-Semitic caricature. However, the cartoon looks and sounds so bad that it probably drove those who saw it to support the Allies instead. Watch it at your own risk.
  • George Pal's "Tulips Shall Grow" (1942) has the "Screwballs", Robot Soldiers that resemble actual balls with screws in them who are obvious analogues for the Nazis, come rolling into Holland bringing devastation and misery. (The Nazis occupied Holland in 1940.)
  • Hell Bent For Election is a propaganda short commissioned by the United Auto Workers to encourage its members to reeelect Franklin Delano Roosevelt, produced by the studio that would later be known as UPA. In it, the 1944 presidential candidates are depicted as trains - Roosevelt is the modern Win the War Special, while Republican Dewey Thomas is the outdated Defeatist Limited. Joe Worker is supposed to let Roosevelt through, but Thomas' lackey tries to get him to fall asleep at the switch so that the Defeatist would pass instead. After an Opinion-Changing Dream, Joe pulls the switch just in time, and Roosevelt speeds towards Washington, while Thomas derails and crashes.
  • On the funny pages, Dick Tracy battled Pruneface, spy for the Nazis and manufacturer of nerve gas. In another series of strips, Tracy faces off against Nazi spy The Brow, who finally ends up falling off a building to get graphically impaled on a flagpole flying the U.S. Flag. Quite subtle, that...
  • In Little Orphan Annie, Daddy Warbucks became a general and Annie, at one point, blew up a Nazi sub. She also led the war effort on the home front with her "Junior Commandos", which was imitated in real life.
  • The British Anthology Comic The Beano and The Dandy had obvious wartime propaganda issues, such as the strips "Musso the Wop" from The Beano and "Addie and Hermy" in The Dandy. There weren't just comic strips mocking the Axis leadership - characters that had existed before the war, such as Desperate Dan, Lord Snooty and Pansy Potter, occasionally fought the Nazis during the war.

    Non-WWII wartime cartoons 
  • The Ur-Example dates back to World War I, with The Sinking of the Lusitania by Winsor McCay in 1918. McCay personally drew over 25,000 frames of realistic animation by hand to create a nine-minute documentary of the ship's sinking, explicitly making the propaganda point that it was an act of war aggression by the Germans. It is also regarded as the first film to treat animation as a serious, dramatic art form and not be a comedy.
  • As North Korea and the USA have still been fighting for decades, a North Korean educational anti-American propaganda animation Pencil Cannonball (Korean: 연필포탄) is as weird as it is interesting. It's about a boy who dislikes studying mathematics, and one day when he's doing homework he falls asleep and dreams that NorthAmerican submarines are attacking, and that he's a general leading a few Child Soldiers who use pencil cannonballs to blast them away Unfortunately, he doesn't know how to use a protractor, so he's unable to hit them. In the end it's All Just a Dream, though. You can see it yourself.
  • If You're looking for a cartoon that portrays Israel in a negative light, The Child And The Invader is the one for you, my friend. Innocent Palestinian children versus an evil IDF soldier.
  • The North Korean animated series Squirrel and Hedgehog, which is an allegory for The Korean War.
  • The Armenian-made Kill Dim cartoons pertain to the Nagorno-Karabakh War (caution: they're likely to offend you if you're from Azerbaijan).
  • Since summer 2022, Ukraine has Patron the Dog, a cartoon starring an animated version of Patron (Патрон, "cartridge" in Ukrainian), the bomb/mine-sniffing Jack Russell Terrier who's a mascot of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine and became famous nationally and internationally during the Russian invasion.

    Modern homages and parodies 
  • In The Simpsons episode Itchy and Scratchy The Movie Itchy & Scratchy did a wartime cartoon where they team up (briefly) to kill Hitler. After chopping Hitler's head off, Itchy does the same to Scratchy. On top of that, FDR runs in and kicks both Hitler and Scratchy in the butt while Itchy holds a sign, "Save Scrap Iron".
  • An "X-Presidents" cartoon on Saturday Night Live parodied these, as the titular former president superheroes tried to get SpongeBob SquarePants to make a cartoon supporting the war in Iraq. SpongeBob wasn't interested, and things turned ugly.
  • South Park paid homage to wartime cartoons in "Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants", where Cartman bamboozles Osama bin Laden a la Bugs Bunny while the other boys escape from the terrorist leader's lair.
    • Another episode features Cartman asking Santa Claus to bring Christmas to Iraq and they end up shooting him down and kidnapping him, so it's up to the boys and Jesus to rescue him. The ending features Jesus and Santa blowing away many terrorists with machine guns, but Jesus ends up sacrificing himself so they can escape and, to save time, Santa turns the terrorists' weapons into toys and candy so they can't shoot them down.
    • Part 1 of "Imaginationland" features terrorists invading Imaginationland and killing many fictional characters. They use a rocket character to release the evil characters, getting killed themselves in the process.
    • "I'm a Little Bit Country", which looks at protests over the war in Iraq. Turns out the answer is to go to war and then protest against it.
  • Family Guy has Osama Bin Laden making a fool of himself while trying to record a death threat. Stewie eventually shows up and kicks his ass, before blowing up his cave and escaping back to Quahog. The whole thing doubles as a send-up of the openings to the The Naked Gun movies.
    • Another memorable bit has a suicide bomber asking his handlers what he's going to do afterwards, and their (failed) attempts to explain the concept to him.
    • A suicide bomber gets to heaven and tries to cash in on his promise of seventy-some-odd virgins. He's shown a huge group of comic book and gaming nerds playing Magic: The Gathering, much to his dismay.
    • The pre-9/11 episode "Road to Rhode Island" has Stewie distracting the guards at an airport security check by singing and dancing so that his bag (full of weapons) goes through the x-ray undetected. Upon picking it up, he says "Let's hope Osama Bin Laden doesn't know show tunes!" As he walks away, Osama shows up using the same technique. The Osama scene is cut from the later airings and the Volume 1 DVD but is intact on the "Freakin' Sweet Collection" DVD.
  • Animaniacs has a short with the Warner Siblings that would have fit right in with actual propaganda cartoons, which focuses on recycling for the war effort. With all the zany gags that implies.
  • Freedom Force, being a big tribute to comics of the era, naturally has this in spades.
  • City of Heroes likewise has quite a few tributes. Much of the Backstory involves the major heroes and villains fighting in WWII, and the trailer includes a hero throwing a Nazi tank. The game even has a Nazi villain group, the 5th Column, which players can fight against.
  • An episode of Histeria! based on World War II had a skit with the leaders of the Allied Forces as a band of superheroes called "The Freedom League".
  • Epic Mickey, while not being a homage per se, draws a "race" of NPCs from this kind of cartoon.
  • In The Rocketeer, Howard Hughes shows Cliff Secord a Nazi propaganda cartoon showing squadrons of jetpack-wearing Nazis as the vanguard of an invasion force against America.
  • Casey and Andy has this.
  • Fallout 4 has seven "What Makes You S.P.E.C.I.A.L.?" videos aimed to explain the game's skill system to new players. In-universe, they're propaganda cartoons produced by Vault-Tec to help the population prepare for a nuclear apocalypse (although the writers at Vault-Tec would have had to be pretty prescient to know that people and animals would mutate from radiation exposure, and that caps would become the main form of currency - among other things).
  • Referenced briefly on Who Framed Roger Rabbit: One of the posters on R.K. Maroon's office is for "Herman's Shermans", presumably a Baby Herman/Roger Rabbit wartime short. It depicts Baby Herman as General Sherman chasing Roger as Hitler in a tank.
  • The short "H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion" in The ABCs of Death is a straightforward parody of a typical anti-Nazi World War II cartoon, featuring a British bulldog hero who visits a nightclub and is seduced by a German Foxy Vixen, who lures him into a trap. However, it's done in live-action, with human actors wearing animal costumes, and the result is rather uncanny to look at.
  • Short Subject (better known as Mickey Mouse in Vietnam) is a dark parody of World War II propaganda cartoons made to protest the Vietnam War. In it, Mickey Mouse joins the Army, gets shipped off to Vietnam, and is promptly shot in the head.


We're In To Win

Daffy Duck sings about collecting scrap to help the war effort.

How well does it match the trope?

4.75 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ListSong

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