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Western Animation / Barney Bear

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Barney Bear is a series of MGM cartoons that ran through 1939 to 1954, initially created and directed by Rudy Ising of the Harman and Ising duo, but direction duties were later given to animators George Gordon, Michael Lah and Preston Blair, and finally Dick Lundy.

The cartoons are centered around the eponymous bear, a grumpy, lazy being who is usually just trying to do his own thing, like going fishing or taking a nap, only to have the world get the better of him and cause him trouble, even if he did nothing to bring such a fate on himself. Essentially, he was MGM's answer to Donald Duck.

While the earliest cartoons were fairly sluggish in pacing and focused more on lush production values than any genuine comedy, things picked up after Rudy Ising stopped directing and let others take over, streamlining the designs and pushing the series to become more influenced by Tex Avery's fast paced style of comedy.

While the cartoons were fairly good on their own terms, they were generally overlooked in favor of the studio's Tom and Jerry and Tex Avery cartoons, which is probably why the series didn't have much output, only lasting 26 cartoons over a 14 year period.

On a side note, he received many comic books over the years, some of which were even made by comic legend Carl Barks. In 2011, Craig Yoe Books released a compilation of all of Barks' Barney Bear stories.

Barney would also make a comeback via appearances in Filmation's The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show in 1980. His most recent appearance was a "blink and you'll miss it" moment as one of the Tiger Queen's mooks in Tom and Jerry: Back to Oz.

Compare Walter Lantz's Andy Panda, who co-incidentally debuted in 1939 and also had his final batch of shorts directed by Dick Lundy.

Not to be confused with Barney the Dinosaur.

     Barney Bear Filmography 
  • Rudolph Ising shorts:
    • The Bear That Couldn't Sleep (1939)
    • The Fishing Bear (1940)
    • The Prospecting Bear (1941)
    • The Rookie Bear (1941)
    • The Flying Bear (1941)
    • The Bear and the Beavers (1942)
    • Wild Honey (1942)
    • Barney Bear's Victory Garden (1942)
    • Bah Wilderness (1943)
    • The Uninvited Pest (1943)
  • George Gordon shorts:
    • Bear Raid Warden (1944)
    • Barney Bear's Polar Pest (1944)
    • The Unwelcome Guest (1945)
  • Preston Blair/Michael Lah shorts:
    • The Bear and the Bean (1948)
    • The Bear and the Hare (1948)
    • Goggle Fishing Bear (1949)
  • Dick Lundy shorts:
    • The Little Wise Quacker (1952)
    • Busybody Bear (1952)
    • Barney's Hungry Cousin (1953)
    • Cobs and Robbers (1953)
    • Heir Bear (1953)
    • Wee-Willie Wildcat (1953)
    • Half-Pint Palomino (1953)
    • The Impossible Possum (1954)
    • Sleepy-Time Squirrel (1954)
    • Bird-Brain Bird Dog (1954)

Barney Bear cartoons with their own pages:

Tropes found in other Barney Bear shorts:

  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: In "The Bear and the Bean", Barney tries to get rid of a Mexican jumping bean by putting it in a box of dynamite and lighting it, but the bean, box, dynamite and all, just bounces back home. Barney first barricades the front door, but just as he's about to do the same with the back door, the box bounces through it and becomes part of the barricade. Barney doesn't notice until moments before it explodes.
  • Animation Bump: The earliest cartoons had some of the most lavish non-Disney animation available at the time.
  • Art Evolution: Barney went through a big redesign after the first several cartoons. His first design was very over-zealously drawn, with more bear-like anatomy and wrinkles displayed on him. Come the later shorts, and Barney received a much more expressive (and easier to animate) redesign.
  • Ascended Extra: Barney's donkey from "The Prospecting Bear" (an Ising-era cartoon) later returned in "Half-Pint Palomino" (a Lundy-era cartoon) and became a recurring character in the comics, where he was given the name of Benny Burro.
  • Beary Friendly: He's a very nice bear.
  • Berserk Board Barricade: In "The Bear That Couldn't Sleep", Barney can't keep his windows locked, so he nails it shut with every stray piece of wood in the house. This backfires when he's locked out of his cave and tries to go in through the window, only to slam into the barricade.
  • Big Eater: Barney's cousin from "Barney's Hungry Cousin".
  • Bittersweet Ending: The cartoon "The Impossible Possum" ends with Barney accidentally destroying his cabin, but at least he had the said possum over for dinner.
  • A Bloody Mess: In "The Bear and the Bean", Barney's shotgun goes off and hits a bottle of ketchup on a shelf, which spills ketchup all over Barney, making him think he's been shot.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: In "Wee-Willie Wildcat".
  • Buried Treasure: "Heir Bear" is about Barney digging for pirate treasure in his backyard. Unfortunately, a gopher is using the chest as a bed, and is not giving it up without a fight.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: Exaggerated in "Bear Raid Warden", where an owl's eyes are so bright they light up the outdoors; Barney has to put shades on the owl to make it dark again.
  • Canon Immigrant: Benny Burro is generally considered to be the same donkey seen in the MGM Oneshot Cartoon "Little Gravel Voice", since they both share identical designs. Supporting this are the MGM comic books, where Benny was a much more prominent character and originally reprised his shtick from the earlier short before being paired with Barney.
  • Cartoon Throbbing: In "The Bean and the Bear", Barney's toes are crushed and swell up so much they pop right out of his boot.
  • The Cat Came Back: Barney's cousin does this in "Barney's Hungry Cousin".
  • The Chew Toy: Barney himself, practically reaching Cosmic Plaything territory. The outcomes of his shorts almost never ends positively for him, especially in shorts like "Barney's Hungry Cousin".
  • Clever Crows: The crows trying to get Barney's corn in "Cobs and Robbers". Two of them even disguise themselves as a scarecrow who offers to help Barney get rid of the other crows so they can then get the corn all to themselves.
  • Counting Sheep: Barney tries it in "The Bear That Couldn't Sleep". By the time he finally falls asleep, he's past the one million mark.
  • Cut a Slice, Take the Rest/Taxman Takes the Winnings: At the end of "Heir Bear", the taxman comes to take "Uncle Sam's share" from the treasure Barney had just uncovered. He takes a coin... for Barney to keep while he collects the rest.
  • Denser and Wackier: The series became this over time, due to incorporating obvious Tex Avery influence.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!: "Wee-Willie Wildcat" opens with Barney overhearing his neighbor William Wildcat spanking his son Willie and intervenes against him, not realizing that Willie has been disobedient. Barney tries to get along with Willie using child psychology, courtesy of a handy book on such, but to no avail, as every attempt results in something bad happening to Barney. The final rule in the child psychology book is: "If all else fails, BOTTOMS UP!" So Barney tries to spank Willie himself — only for William to intervene against him, declaring he will spank his son. Barney decides to join William in spanking the bratty child, only to hurt their hands. It turns out that Willie had hidden the child psychology book under his pants for protection.
  • Downer Ending: Almost every short in the series ends badly for Barney, but especially "Barney's Hungry Cousin".
  • Dragged into Drag: While there's no actual clothing involved, "Half-Pint Palomino" has Barney make his donkey over into a female horse to the latter's great chagrin.
  • Dripping Disturbance: In "The Beat That Couldn't Sleep", Barney is woken up by water dripping on his face from a root over his bed. He ties the root in a knot, but that just causes the water to build up until it bursts, soaking him.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Jellystone Park appears for the first time in "Barney's Hungry Cousin". Coincidentally, one of the staff on Barney Bear, Michael Lah, would go on to work on that show.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The earlier shorts, besides Barney's drastically different design, are more juvenile and sentimental in tone, and with tamer gags and much slower pacing, having far more in common with Disney shorts.
  • Either/Or Title: "Wild Honey" has the subtitle "or, How to Get Along Without a Ration Book" (referring to wartime food rationing).
  • Eye Pop: In "The Prospecting Bear", Barney's eyes grow big as grapefruits at the sight of a cave full of gold.
  • Foot Bath Treatment: In "Polar Pest," the title character is hibernating for the winter when his nephew, a polar bear, shows up. Obviously accustomed to the Arctic, the nephew declares that the house is too hot and starts opening all the windows. Barney frantically attempts to keep the windows closed, but eventually loses the battle. In the next scene, a shivering Barney is giving himself a foot bath while his oblivious nephew begs to be taken ice fishing.
  • Funny X-Ray: In "Wee-Willie Wildcat", after Barney tries to kick a football with a rock inside it, a cross-section of his body shows his entire skeleton shattering to pieces.
  • Furry Confusion: "Barney's Hungry Cousin" has Barney (a bear who lives in a house and wears clothes) and his cousin (a bear who lives in the forest and is naked).
  • Horrible Camping Trip: In "Bah Wilderness".
  • Huge Rider, Tiny Mount: Barney's poor tiny donkey in "The Prospecting Bear", that despite being the size of a small dog has to support the weight of Barney and all his mining gear.
  • Impact Silhouette: After he's Swallowed Whole by a shark in "Goggle Fishing Bear", Barney exits through its mouth, leaving a Barney-shaped hole on his teeth.
  • Inflating Body Gag: In "Heir Bear", the gopher blows up his hand to punch Barney with it.
  • Iron Butt-Monkey: Barney, natch.
  • Karma Houdini: Barney's hungry cousin, from the cartoon of the same name, who for no given reason, gets Barney jailed in the end, via by putting the signs saying not to feed the bears he took down back up, summoning the police, and telling them that Barney tried to feed him, even though the guy spent the whole short stealing Barney's food, and Barney offered him his last sandwich in defeat. He doesn't even give Barney the pleasure of having his stashed lollipop as he's dragged off!
  • Kids Are Cruel/Cats Are Mean: In "Wee-Willie Wildcat".
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "Busybody Bear", Barney unwittingly builds an oversized log dam in his valley to help out the local beaver (much to his chagrin) which subsequently causes the entire area to be flooded.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Rudy Ising based Barney's grumpy yet pleasant disposition on himself, and derived many of his mannerisms from screen actor Wallace Beery.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: Taken to ridiculous extremes in "The Prospecting Bear", where Barney and Benny survive various explosions at close range, including one at the end that obliterates the mountain they're on! Not to mention that Benny eats a whole crate's worth of dynamite, which causes small pops around him when he sneezes, but is somehow still alive and intact by the end.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: In "Barney's Hungry Cousin", his cousin steps out of a falling phone booth just as it smashes into the ground, and is not hurt at all—completely defying all laws of inertia in the process.
  • Popcorn on the Cob: "Cobs and Robbers" ends with two pesky crows turning Barney's corn field into a mountain of popcorn.
  • Rake Take: In "Barney Bear's Victory Garden", Barney steps on a garden hoe, then backs up into a rake, which makes him step on the hoe again.
  • Reaching Between the Lines: In "Barney's Hungry Cousin", Barney tries to hide from his cousin inside a phone booth. As he is about to take a bite of a sandwich he has, the phone in the booth rings and he answers it. Barney's cousin pops his head out through the mouthpiece of the phone and eats the sandwich, while the rest of his body is standing in a phone booth next door with nothing between the two booths!
  • Rump Roast: Barney gets hot embers from his fireplace dropped into his pants in "The Bear That Couldn't Sleep". He has to run outside to put it out in the snow, and gets locked out.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: In "Wild Honey", Barney tries to get honey from a wild hive, but is quickly confronted by hundreds of bees. After luring them away with a wind-up female bee decoy, Barney raids the hive, but then the bees wise up and descend en masse on the poor bruin, chasing him into a pond and leaving him full of welts.
  • Sentient Vehicle: Barney's plane in "The Flying Bear".
  • Shout-Out:
    • "The Unwelcome Guest" features a nod to "Red Hot Riding Hood", via a book Barney is reading.
    • In "Wee Willie Wildcat", there is a nod to "Señor Droopy", in which a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey is ruined by a real donkey that kicks a blindfolded Barney into a billboard for a ballet. The result is a gag that similarly occurs to the bull at one point in "Senor Droopy": a dazed Barney slides off the billboard, taking the image of the ballerina off with him and stumbling around to ballet music playing in the background before finally falling over.
  • Shut Up, Scary Thing!: In "Goggle Fishing Bear", the seal tries to warn Barney about the shark, but Barney keeps shooing it away. When the shark finally arrives, Barney thinks it's the seal again and tries to spear it with his trident, only to find himself facing an angry shark.
  • Simpleton Voice: Barney's hungry cousin.
  • Smelly Skunk: The skunk that pesters Barney throughout "The Unwelcome Guest".
  • Stock Scream: When Willie Wildcat is being spanked, his cries of pain are the same ones as Tom.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills:
    • The endings of both "Bah Wilderness" and "Busybody Bear", where the whole forest and valley are flooded, with a disgruntled Barney laying underwater.
    • Barney spends much of "Goggle Fishing Bear" underwater without a snorkel or scuba gear.
  • Sweet Seal: A seal pup is Barney's foil in "Goggle Fishing Bear".
  • Synchronized Swarming: The bee swarm in "Wild Honey" first form a "Bee-19" bomber that drops bee bombs on Barney, then a bow and arrow.
  • Threatening Shark: "Google Fishing Bear" has Barney being chased by a shark, until he is rescued by the seal that had been bothering him earlier.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The beavers in "Barney and the Beavers" form a mob to get back their wood. One is even shown holding a noose.
  • Totem Pole Trench: "Cobs and Robbers" has two crows disguise themselves full-body as a scarecrow this way.
  • Twist Ending: "Half-Pint Palomino" ends with Barney capturing the tiny horse and turning him in for the money reward—only for the horse to summon his son, a horse even tinier than he is, so he can collect the reward instead of Barney.
  • Vandalism Backfire: In "Bear Raid Warden", Barney is an air raid warden, tasked with making sure people's lights are out in case of an air raid. In the end, he sees a house with all its lights on and goes inside and tears everything apart putting out the lights. It's only at the end when he realizes the house he just ransacked was his.
  • Wartime Cartoon: "Bear Raid Warden", "The Flying Bear", and "Barney Bear's Victory Garden". "Wild Honey" has brief references to wartime food rationing.
  • Worm Sign: In "Heir Bear" when Barney chases the gopher underground, the gopher's sign being followed by Barney's larger one.
  • X-Ray of Pain: In "Wee-Willie Wildcat", after Barney tries to kick a football with a rock inside it, a cross-section of his body shows his entire skeleton shattering to pieces.