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Western Animation / Crusader Rabbit

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The first Animated Series produced specifically for television, Crusader Rabbit was created by Jay Ward and Alex Anderson in 1948. It featured the serialized adventures of a rabbit and his tiger sidekick, Ragland T. Tiger (Rags for short).

Anderson's original intent was not to create a rabbit or tiger character, but to create characters whose personalities were contrary to their appearance. The rabbit was conceived by Ward as a crusading Don Quixote.

Ward and Anderson initially tried to sell the series to NBC as part of a package, The Comic Strips of Television, which included an early incarnation of Dudley Do-Right. When they were turned down, they turned to syndication, where an initial run of 195 episodes, divided into 10 "crusades", aired from 1950 to 1952 (many of the stations who aired it were NBC affiliates, including its O&Os in New York and Los Angeles). note 

A second run of 260 episodes, divided into 13 "crusades", were syndicated in 1957. This second run was produced in color by Capital Entreprises and Creston Films (a.k.a. TV Spots Inc.) without the involvement of Ward and Anderson, who lost the rights following a legal battle between them, producer Jerry Fairbanks and NBC.

Some of the earliest episodes can be found in the Internet Archive's Moving Picture Collection.

This series provides examples of:

  • Animated Series: The first one to be produced specifically for television.
  • Art Shift: Crusader started out with droopy jowls. It was later refined and he was made cuter.
  • Cliffhanger: Usually twenty episodes made up a "crusade", each episode ending with a single title for the following episode (as opposed to the Either/Or Title that Rocky and Bullwinkle made popular). When Capital and Creston/TV Spots took over making the show, two packages were made available — the serialized episodes and then, around 1960, story arcs re-edited as a 45-minute featurette "movie."
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Crusader and Rags' arch-nemesis Dudley Nightshade.
  • Limited Animation: The initial 1950-52 run, outside of the opening credits, features only occasional bits of simple animation, the rest being static images described by a narrator. The series had a low budget to work with, which forced the usage of a lot of shortcuts.
  • Righteous Rabbit: His first crusade is to stop the slaughter of rabbits in Texas.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Ragland T. Tiger's name is a reference to the jazz standard "Tiger Rag".
    • In the first episode, in the circus where is jailed Rags, there are some posters, one of these with the picture of a woman and the text "Have You Seen Maisie?". The MGM's Maisie movie series, featured Anne Sothern, quoting The Other Wiki, "as [a] brassy but kindhearted Brooklyn burlesque dancer Mary Anastasia O'Connor, who also goes by the stage name Maisie Ravier". This doubles as a Parental Bonus.
  • Species Surname: Crusader's sidekick Ragland T. Tiger (a.k.a. "Rags") who is a tiger. (Crusader himself might count if Crusader is his first name and not some kind of title.)
  • Talking Animal: Both Crusader himself and his sidekick Rags are a talking rabbit and tiger respectively.
  • White Bunny: Crusader is consistently depicted with a white coat of fur in both promotional material and the show itself, which is in black and white.