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Western Animation / Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines

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"Nab him! Jab him! Tab him! Grab him! Stop that pigeon, now!"

One of two Spin Offs from Wacky Races, this series, which originally aired Saturday mornings on CBS in 1969–70, is best remembered for its bizarre aircraft designs.

Dick Dastardly leads the Vulture Squadron in pursuit of the courier Yankee Doodle Pigeon. The squadron's other members are Dastardly's Wacky Races partner Muttley, a snickering dog who's always begging for a medal; Klunk, an aircraft mechanic who speaks primarily in vocal sound effects; and Zilly, a nervous coward whose only redeeming quality is his ability to translate Klunk's speech for Dastardly. The Mean Machine, Dastardly's car from Wacky Races, can frequently be seen in this series as well, although the cast's main vehicles in the series are their biplanes, or triplanes, or... um... quadplanes, or whatever other contraption they can slap together and throw into the air despite its dubious aerodynamics, all for the sake of stopping that damned Yankee Doodle from completing his missions.

Although this cartoon is presumably set during World War I, Dastardly always has access to a telephone, even in flight, over which the General communicates with him. And, just as Dastardly never won a Wacky Race, he never catches the pigeon. There are two Dastardly & Muttley cartoons along with "Wing Dings", which are short comedy blackouts. A supporting segment, Magnificent Muttley, concerns Muttley's flights of heroic fantasy.

The series' entire voice cast consists of Don Messick (Muttley, Klunk and Zilly) and Paul Winchell (Dick Dastardly and the General). Messick even provides the falsetto voices of Muttley's girlfriends in the Magnificent Muttley segments.

A comic series based on the original series titled Dastardly & Muttley was released in 2017, written by Garth Ennis— yes, that Garth Ennis. In it, Dick (known as Lt. Col. Richard "Dick" Atcherly) is an Air Force Pilot while Muttley is his partner who ends up fused with his dog due to Applied Phlebotinum that results in cartoon physics and lunacy manifesting in the real world. Unlike the original series, it is set in contemporary times.

The 2017 reboot of Wacky Races subsequently revealed that the Dastardly in this series is the grandfather of the Dastardly from the reboot and the father of Dastardly from the original Wacky Races, that he still owns his plane from this series, and that the pigeon is still alive.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: The Swedish farm maiden who takes a shining to Zilly in "Barnstormers." After Zilly ditches her by pretending he has the measles, the farm maiden turns her attention to Dick Dastardly.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: In "Pest Pilots", Zilly manages to walk on air, but falls after Dastardly points out that what he's doing is impossible.
    Zilly: Why did he have to tell me that?
  • Ageless Birthday Episode: Two of them. "Sappy Birthday" involves Muttley's birthday, and in "Happy Bird Day", Dick Dastardly thinks it's the general who is having a birthday until it turns out to actually be Dastardly's birthday. Neither of them clarify the character's age.
  • The Alleged Car: Or plane in this case. The dilapidated aircraft the Squadron buys from Bargain Bill's used plane lot is guaranteed "to go three miles or three minutes, whichever occurs first." $3000 for that?? (Dastardly ponied up $10 and Muttley's medal to get it.)
  • Alliterative Name: Dick Dastardly. In the comic adaptation of the episode "Camouflage Hoparoo" (Gold Key, Hanna-Barbera Fun-In #2 as "It's Flop and Go-Go"), The General is identified as General Gibberish.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: Often used in Wing Dings gags, such as when is Klunk is told to mop a floor with Muttley, and uses him as a mop.
    Klunk: Sorry, Muttley, but orders are orders.
  • Anachronism Stew: This isn't the most historically accurate representation of World War One in pop culture.
  • And You Were There: In "Movie Stuntman", Zilly appears as a cameraman, one of the few times one of the main characters besides Dastardly and Muttley has a speaking role in one of the Magnificent Muttley shorts.
  • Angrish: Muttley's "sanafrazzin rasafrassin." Dastardly has done this a couple of times as well, as a lampshade.
    • The General is only heard communicating over the phone this way.
    • Muttley's angrish is lampshaded in the Vulture Squadron Flight Book premium from Kellogg's (the show's sponsor in the first season). As follows:
    • Sanafrazzin: Not as strong as "rasafrassin."
    • Rasafrassin: Like "sanafrazzin," only stronger.
    • Sanafrazzin Rasafrassin: Wow, what you said!
  • Animation Bump: Sort of. Whenever Klunk makes his signature weird noises, his head stretches out in ways that are rarely seen in Limited Animation.
  • Anti-Sneeze Finger: One episode featured the Anti-Sneeze missile, which would hit anyone who sneezes. A misfired pepper shot forced the Vulture Squadron members to use the Anti-Sneeze Finger technique to avoid being targeted. It ended as well as expected in that cartoon.
  • Are We Getting This?: In "Lens A Hand," Dick Dastardly has Muttley take photos of the Squadron in action to prove to the General that they're not just collecting flight pay. Muttley gets everything—mistakes and all.
  • Bamboo Technology: In "Have Plane Will Travel", the General transfers the Vulture Squadron to an island where Klunk makes planes out of whatever they can find.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Never try to confiscate a medal from Muttley - he has plenty of teeth.
    • On one occasion, Dastardly's is having his crew call him "D-D". However, this nickname is used countless times in the series, and most of the time he doesn't seem to mind.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Downplayed by Zilly's coat, which could easily accommodate two people despite looking only slightly oversized on him.
  • Birthday Episode:
    • "Sappy Birthday", where they celebrated Muttley's birthday.
    • "Happy Bird Day", where they tried to celebrate the general's birthday but found out that it was actually Dick's birthday.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: In a Wing Dings blackout, Klunk invents a seed that grows an ice cream tree. The catch: they're cucumber, lima beans, zucchini and asparagus flavors.
    Klunk: Can I help it if I'm a vegetarian?
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: In "Lens a Hand", Dastardly trades Muttley his own medal for photos of Dastardly screwing up enough to warrant demotion if the General ever saw them. (A trunk shows Dastardly has a ton of medals to give out but presumably they're worthless.)
  • Blinding Camera Flash: Muttley does this to Dastardly in "Lens a Hand".
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: "Sky Hi-IQ" had an aptitude test's results cause Muttley to become the new leader of the Vulture Squadron. During this instance of Swapped Roles, Dastardly takes the opportunity to do his own versions of Muttley snickering at his misfortunes and muttering "Rassn frassn Rick Rastardly".
  • Broke Episode: In "A Plain Shortage of Planes", after the Vulture Squadron's regular planes are destroyed during the team's first attempt to catch the pigeon, the General informs Dastardly there are no new planes available for them. The squadron's attempts to catch the pigeon for the rest of the episode include a plane bought from Bargain Bill's Used Plane Lot and whatever Klunk can build from the remaining parts of planes used in past attempts.
  • Bungling Inventor: Klunk tries to invent stuff to capture Yankee Doodle Pigeon, but his inventions never work.
  • Canis Major: The squadron had a giant green dog named Arnold as their new mascot in a Wing Dings blackout.
  • Captain Crash: Just having the Squadron board their planes violates many FAA regulations.
  • Character Catchphrase: Dastardly's "Drat and double drat!" Also:
    Dastardly: [plummeting to the ground] MUTTLEY! DO SOMETHING!
    Zilly: Oh my! Oh dear!
    Muttley: [when demanding a medal] Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme!
    Dastardly: [after Klunk says something] What did he say? What did he say?
  • Chest of Medals:
    • Muttley imagines himself this way in "Sky-Hi I.Q."
    • In the comic book story "Bug Brained" (Hanna-Barbera Fun-In #7), Muttley is kicked out of the Squadron after Dastardly suspected him of being a mole spilling their secrets to the enemy. It turns out it was the pigeon's machinations so the General orders Dastardly to get Muttley back. It concludes with Dastardly on his knees pinning medal after medal on Muttley (his only condition for returning).
    Dastardly: Keep 'em coming, Zilly! I'm going to pin medals on him till he falls flat on his big fat face!
  • Circus Episode: The Magnificent Muttley short "The Big Topper" has Muttley imagining himself and Dick Dastardly as rival circus performers.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Dastardly and Muttley appeared in nine issues of Gold Key Comics' Hanna-Barbera Fun-In (first series, February 1970 - January 1972) and two issues of Golden Comics Digest (Hanna-Barbera TV Fun Favorites issues #7 and #10). These stories largely reduce Klunk and Zilly's roles, and give both Muttley and Yankee Doodle Pigeon the ability to speak coherantly. In many stories not distilled from TV episodes, gunfire is used quite a bit. Also, the General—always heard but never seen on the show—is shown in two stories but in different designs, by Mike Arens ("Heroic Dum-Dums", issue #4) and Jack Manning ("Bug Brained", issue #7).
    • A number of stories distilled from TV episodes had their titles changed. As follows:
      • Issue #1: "Mission Impassable" (from "Stop That Pigeon"), "Feather Fuddle" (from "Follow That Feather").
      • Issue #2: "It's Flop And Go-Go" (from "Camouflage Hoparoo").
      • Issue #6: "The Chicken Flyboy" (very loosely from "Home Sweet Homing Pigeon"), "Command Performance" (very loosely from two episodes—"Sappy Birthday" and "Sky-Hi I.Q.").
    • Original stories:
      • #3 - "Spy in the Sky." Dastardly sends Muttley to spy on the pigeon and learn his weakness.
      • #4 - "Heroic Dum-Dums." The General sends Dick and Muttley behind enemy lines to retrieve the pigeon's message satchel.
      • #5 - "Secret Weapon." Klunk displays a variety of weapons.
      • #6 - "Pigeon Problems." This time, the General parcels out his own plans.
      • #7 - "Bug Brained." Dastardly suspects a mole within the ranks when Yankee Doodle avoids the squadron's ambushes.
      • #9 - "Operation No-No." Muttley discovers a weapon—a balloon filled with an explosive gas that follows its target's slipstream.
      • #10 - "Truce or Consequences." During a one-day truce, Dick and Muttley entice the pigeon over in a plot to disgrace him.
      • Golden Comics Digest #7 - "The Pigeon Plot." Dastardly impersonates an air inspector.
      • Golden Comics Digest #10 - "The Secret Weapon" (not related to the Fun-In #5 story). The pigeon infiltrates Vulture Squadron headquarters and initiates a sabotage plan.
  • Complexity Addiction:
    • Occasionally the Vulture Squadron's plans will contain the seed of a good idea that they screw up by overcomplicating. For instance, in one episode, they have the fairly clever idea of sneaking up on Yankee Doodle Pigeon in a silent glider, but rather than grab him, they instead try to plant a chunk of metal on him so they can attract him with a magnet.
    • In another episode, they shoot him with a pepper canister to make him sneeze, so they can hit him with Klunk's sneeze seeking missile. They manage to score a direct hit on him with the pepper from their plane, which begs the question, if they can make that pretty difficult shot, why they don't just use a regular gun?
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • Is the show in canon with Wacky Races, or is it an Alternate Universe? The presence of the Mean Machine suggests they take place in the same universe, but if they do, is it a prequel or a sequel? Wacky Races appears to take place in later time period than Dastardly and Muttley, but how long, given that they look roughly the same age in each series?
    • The 2017 Wacky Races reboot places that Dick Dastardly as the grandson of this D.D. It doesn't explain what the Mean Machine is doing in WWI unless it was kept well preserved up to 1968. Also, Dick made an appearance in an issue of the Laff-A-Lympics comic book in his racing outfit where he says he "spent some time chasing a pigeon" and in his WWI outfit in the then-contemporary Yogi's Treasure Hunt followed by his appearance in The Fender Bender 500 in racing gear once again, so there is nothing conclusive about the time frame.
  • Cool Planes: Everyone in the Vulture Squadron flies an impressive plane in their attempts to stop Yankee Doodle Pigeon.
  • Cowardly Yellow: Zilly wears an oversized yellow pilot's outfit and is the least brave of the team. He is frequently seen objecting to Dick Dastardly's plans to catch Yankee Doodle Pigeon, often hides his head inside the shirt of his pilot's outfit, and speaks with a distinct quiver.
  • Crash Course Landing: Four more inept pilots you will never find. Although in "Sky-Hi I.Q.," it's shown that Dick Dastardly is the only pilot with some semblance of competency.
  • Crossover: Issue #44 DC's Scooby-Doo Team-Up series, "Just Plane Scared," has the Vulture Squadron seeking assistance from Scooby and the gang in stopping (in Dick's words) a "ghost pigeon." Several years later, Dastardly and Scooby would cross paths again in the movie SCOOB!, only with the hero/villain paradigm.
  • Cute Oversized Sleeves: Zilly wears a megaovercoat that makes him the cutest of Dick Dastardly's subordinates... and the Dirty Coward, too. Whenever the mission is too dangerous, he sinks into his coat to dig a hole in the ground and try to escape.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Downplayed with Dick Dastardly in this instance. Instead of cheating to gain an advantage like he did on Wacky Races, here he's simply following orders. Although he will twirl his moustache on occasion signifying he's a villain.
  • Delayed Reaction: While Dastardly and Zilly are riding on top of the former's private train car, the latter asks what the bridge ahead is for, and Dastardly replies, "That's my private... what bridge?" before they crash into it, with the train passing beneath them.
  • Diesel Punk: Could be considered a humorous, kid-friendly version of this, though obviously without the "punk" aspect.
  • Dirty Coward: Zilly will always flee the instant he's in danger.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In "Sky-Hi I.Q.," Muttley becomes leader of the Vulture Squadron and is subjected to the same Humiliation Conga that Dastardly usually goes through. When Dastardly has command reassigned to him (thanks to a screw-up by the efficiency expert who issued aptitude tests to the squadron), he consigns Muttley to a year in the dog house (literally).
  • Ditzy Genius: Dastardly, but even some of his ideas (if not all) come up a cropper. His idea of spraying the planes with invisible gas would have been successful had it not rained. Klunk certainly qualifies as well.
  • Don't Try This at Home: If you learn anything from this show, don't try to stop a pigeon.
  • The Drag-Along: Zilly is such a spineless coward that the other members of the Vulture Squadron have to drag him along or scare him into cooperation when they go on their missions.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Often, Muttley's motivations are not Dick Dastardly's, and has to be convinced somehow not to betray him.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: A rather minor case in that the debut episode, "Fur Out Furlough," has no narrator and is the only episode in the series without one. Perhaps it was why it was chosen to be the debut instead of the first episode produced, "Stop That Pigeon" (week 5 episode).
  • Easy Amnesia: The episode "Who's Who?" had Dick Dastardly forget his identity, the Vulture Squadron, and their mission to stop Yankee Doodle Pigeon after falling from a great height. The other members of the Vulture Squadron try to remedy their leader's amnesia by deliberately causing him to get hit on the head, but that only succeeds in making his amnesia worse. His memory eventually recovers by the end of the episode, only for Klunk and Zilly to start suffering amnesia.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: In "Pest Pilots", the "basement" of the Professor's lab at the ACME Aeroplane Works contains multiple experimental aircraft and methods of launching them, such as a giant robotic hand and cannon. It is also accessed via a Trap Door accessed by pulling a sword held by a suit of armour, in an inexplicable stone walled room in an otherwise normal hangar.
    "My next invention has got to be an easier way to get down to the basement."
  • Epic Fail: Pretty much any time the Vulture Squadron tries to catch Yankee Doodle Pigeon.
    • In one Wing Dings blackout, Dastardly orders Zilly to wash the base's windows. Later, Dastardly returns to inspect Zilly's progress, and to his chagrin, finds big holes in the wall and the windows hanging out to dry on a clothesline.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The General is only called the General and nothing else.
  • Evil Debt Collector: In a "Magnificent Muttley" segment, Muttley found a treasure chest and Dick Dastardly disguised himself as a tax collector to "seize" the treasure as payment for back taxes. The joke was on Dastardly, as the chest contained nothing but dog biscuits.
  • Evil Laugh: Muttley has a distinct one that sounds like the cross between a conventional evil laugh, a dog whining and a chain smoker's wheezing cough.
  • Evil Versus Evil: In "Pest Pilots", the squad crash into the lab of a self-confessed Mad Scientist, who spends most of the episode trying to kill them by getting them to fly his dangerous and untested planes.
  • Expository Theme Tune:
    Muttley, you snickering, floppy eared hound.
    When courage is needed, you're never around.
    Those medals you wear on your moth-eaten chest
    Should be there for bumbling at which you are best.

    You, Zilly, stop sneaking, it's not worth the chance.
    For you'll be returned by the seat of your pants.
    And Klunk, you invent me a thingamabob
    That catches that pigeon or I'll lose my job.
  • Expy: Muttley is an expy of two Hanna-Barbera dogs—Mugger from the movie Hey There, It's Yogi Bear! and Precious Pupp from The Atom Ant Show. When he was developed for Wacky Races, his initial model sheets gave his name as "Sniffer." His wheezing snicker was first used by a smart-aleck dog that gave Huckleberry Hound a hard time some 10 years prior.
    • The laugh may be even older than that, as the evil bulldog in Tex Avery's Bad Luck Blackie also does one (when he isn't giving with a belly laugh).
  • Eyebrow Waggle: Muttley does one to the camera to close out many episodes.
  • The Faceless: The General. Given his nature of contact with Dick Dastardly in the show, it's no surprise.
  • The Fantastic Trope of Wonderous Titles: Probably a reference to Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: A given for Dick Dastardly's antics.
  • File Mixup: In "Sky-Hi IQ", the General sends an efficiency expert to evaluate the Vulture Squadron. The expert deems Muttley the only squadron member to be a competent pilot and makes him the squadron's new leader. He eventually finds out he mixed up Muttley's test with Dick Dastardly's.
  • Forgot I Could Fly: Normally, Muttley uses his tail as a propeller to keep him airborne after the Squadron crashes their planes out, but in some cases submits to the same Amusing Injuries as his comrades. In "Sky-Hi I.Q." in particular, Muttley is assigned as Squadron leader, and after he loses his plane to a botched operation, he plummets to the ground (but is rescued by Dastardly and then sent groundward after Muttley gives him a dinky medal).
  • Forgotten Birthday: "Happy Bird Day" has the Vulture Squadron thinking they forgot the General's birthday and trying to surprise him. It turned out it was actually Dick's birthday and he forgot.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: The human characters were typically drawn with three fingers and a thumb; however, they would occasionally spontaneously grow an extra finger so they could hold up four fingers. The fifth finger would then disappear when they closed their fist.
    • Muttley suddenly grows a fifth digit in "Fly-By-Knights" when he tells Dastardly that the ground to which they're headed is five hundred feet away.
  • Four-Man Band: the Squadron as follows:
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble:
    • Dick Dastardly—Cynic. He doubts some of Klunk's outrageous inventions would actually work, but once in awhile he'll think they're crazy enough to actually work. In largest part, they don't.
    • Muttley—Conflicted. Muttley has to flip a virtual coin in order to either perform a task to earn a medal and other times wonder why he's in this conflict to start with.
    • Klunk—Optimist. He has faith in his inventions working each time. Arguably, it's a blind faith.
    • Zilly—Realist. He doesn't. It's not through any calculations or any flaw in the blueprint—it's his gut feeling and it hasn't failed him yet.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Muttley—Sanguine. He's not afraid to bite someone to get his way or protect his medals, even if it's his commanding officer (although he's been known to be a suck-up as well).
    • Dick Dastardly—Choleric. Carried over from Wacky Races in that he does not suffer incompetence well (even though he's been known to screw up just as bad).
    • Zilly—Melancholic. General Patton would have slapped him silly for his cowardice. He's hesitant to engage for understandable reasons. He knows it won't succeed.
    • Klunk—Phlegmatic. Unflappable, enigmatic and determined as well as verbally not understandable. Klunk is not so much of a suck-up to Dastardly as he knows what his job is.
  • Genre Blind: Everybody in Vulture Squadron, except for Zilly.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: All five principal characters wear flying hemlets with goggles, but at no time are the goggles seen covering their eyes.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Dick Dastardly's "Drat and double drat!" Klunk even said it in "Who's Who?" after Dastardly gets amnesia and one of their operations goes kaput.
  • Got Volunteered: In "Too Many Kooks", Dick Dastardly is tired of Klunk's failed plans to capture Yankee-Doodle Pigeon and "volunteers" Zilly then Muttley to come up with their next plan. When those fail, Dastardly comes up with his own.
    • In the comic book story "Heroic Dum-Dums," the General wants a volunteer to go behind enemy lines. Nobody speaks up until Muttley uses his pointed helmet to shoo a fly away and he jabs Dastardly in the keister, causing him yell out in pain. The General takes this as volunteering. So Dastardly volunteers Muttley to go with him.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Much like Wile E. Coyote, gravity is the Vulture Squadron's worst enemy at the worst possible times.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Zig-zagged as Muttley is more heroic and altruistic in the Magnificent Muttley segment during his daydream fantasies while on the D&M show itself he's still categorically a villain.
  • Heli-Critter: Muttley sometimes uses his tail as a propeller.
  • Honest John's Dealership: The episode "A Plain Shortage Of Planes" has the Squadron getting a beat-up run-down plane at Bargain Bill's Used Plane Lot. Dastardly offers to pony up $10 for it (Bargain Bill asked for $3000, but he took the sawbuck if Dastardly threw in Muttley's medal).
  • How Many Fingers?: Dick Dastardly kits the Vulture Squadron with glasses in the episode "Fly-By-Knights" and tests them out with this line, holding up four fingers. The problem: Zilly sees things upside down so he stands on his head to reply, Klunk sees four times as many things, so he responds with 16, and Muttley sees things from far away so he has to climb on Dastardly's hand to answer.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In "Home Sweet Homing Pigeon," Dastardly's mouth gets stuck in a rope ladder and when he tries to talk, Klunk says, "Talk about me. You're the one who sounds funny!"
  • Indulgent Fantasy Segue: The Magnificent Muttley segments consist of Muttley being ordered around by Dastardly and then fantasizing about being a hero who easily defeats Dastardly the villain.
  • Informed Attribute: The "dreaded" Vulture Squadron—dreaded by whom and for what reason? Other than a very understandable reluctance to share airspace with them.
    • In "Pest Pilots," Dastardly claims the Squadron is quite famous.
  • Instant Ice: Just Add Cold!: An example from "Vacation Trip Trap" provides the page image.
  • Interservice Rivalry: In "Shape Up or Ship Out", the squadron are assigned to fly missions from a naval ship, where the captain and Dastardly spend most of the episode fighting over who's in charge.
  • Just Shoot the Pigeon
    • Played straight in several Gold Key comics stories, where artillery is used against Yankee Doodle quite often.
    • Klunk 'invented' quite a few gunships. Guess how that turned out.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: In "Zilly's a Dilly", Dick Dastardly hires a hypnotist to make Zilly brave. Unfortunately, Zilly becomes too reckless to follow plans and Dastardly decides to turn Zilly back into a coward.
  • Leitmotif: Several, but a piece using a rinky-tink piano during climactic action scenes would be used on Hanna-Barbera shows up to 1980. On The New Scooby-Doo Movies, the episode "The Ghost of the Red Baron" uses it four times.
  • Literal-Minded: In "Camouflage Hoparoo," Dastardly's desk-plane plummets to the ground, then Muttley emerges from a drawer. Dastardly tells him to do something and he does—he spins his tail as a propeller and floats away from the impending crash.
    Dastardly: I meant do something for all of us, you... you deserter!
    • A Wing Dings blackout has Dastardly ordering Muttley to find an empty hanger for his coat. Muttley tows in an empty plane hangar and tosses Dastardly's coat in it.
      Dastardly: I'm sure glad I didn't ask for two shoe trees!
    • Another Wing Dings blackout has Dastardly relaxing at the seashore but being unable to blow up his beach ball. He tells Zilly to do it, and Zilly does—with dynamite.
      Zilly: Anything else you'd like blown up, Chief?
    • Another blackout had the brakes on Dastardly's jeep go out on him. Zilly said he'd fixed them so the jeep would stop on a dime. He tosses a dime in the jeep's path. Upon landing on it, the jeep abruptly stops, unceremoniously jettisoning Dastardly out of it.
      Zilly: You owe me a dime, chief.
      Dastardly: I can't wait to pay you off!
  • Mad Artist: In the Magnificent Muttley episode "Movie Stuntman", Dastardly is a movie director who repeatedly puts Muttley in potentially fatal danger just to get a good action scene.
  • Those Magnificent Flying Machines: They were a key component of the show, of course, although about 98% of them got crashed out through the Vulture Squadron's ineptitude. What Iwao Takamoto wouldn't think of.
  • Meaningful Name: General Gibberish, whose name was revealed in the comic book story "It's Flop and Go-Go." It's possible the name was used in development.
  • Medal of Dishonor: Dastardly gave Muttley two such medals for being a total screw-up—the Doghouse Medal ("Have Plane, Will Travel") and the Order of Sour Grapes ("Fly-By-Knights"). Needless to say, those were medals Muttley didn't appreciate.
  • Midair Collision: The Vulture Squadron does this on a regular basis.
  • Minimalist Cast: Most episodes feature only the Vulture Squadron and the Pigeon.
  • Motionless Chin: A Hanna-Barbera standard, although Dastardly's chin will move when he talks in profile shots.
  • Mythology Gag: Dastardly's Wacky Races car, the Mean Machine, can be seen in several installments of the Magnificent Muttley segment.
    • The name Vulture Squadron is possibly derived from the Jonny Quest episode "Shadow of the Condor," where the Quest party meet a reclusive German WWI ace in the Andes mountains, who was a member of a flying group called the Condor Squadron.
    • In the Magnificent Muttley episode "Start Your Engines," Muttley dreams he's racer Barney Olfield. Dick Dastardly is a competing racer, who, naturally tries to cheat to win like he did on Wacky Races.
    • The name Klunk was first possessed by the lab assistant in the Magilla Gorilla cartoon "Mad Scientist."
  • No Fourth Wall: In "Ceiling Zero Zero", after Don Messick as the narrator plays the "umpteenth time" card over and over:
    Dastardly: (to narrator) Oh, dry up! Who's keeping score?
    • In "Too Many Kooks":
      Narrator: What kind of a fiendish device has Klunk come up with this time Dastardly?
      Dastardly: It's a radio controlled robot pigeon hawk.
  • Non-Uniform Uniform: All the human members of the squad wear pilot's uniforms which are a different colour and style from each other, and every uniform used in World War One.
  • Nothing Personal: Muttley's job is largely to force Zilly into danger against his will, but they're shown to be fairly friendly while off duty. In one episode, where Dastardly has amnesia and is unable to order either of them to do anything, they're both quite happy to lounge around and let the pigeon get away.
  • Number Two: Klunk would take command of the squadron if Dastardly was away or incapacitated. Noticeably, he was also the only member of the squadron who didn't need to be bullied or bribed into doing his job.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: Planes blow up. No one gets killed or seriously injured.
  • Ocular Gushers: Dastardly does this in "Home Sweet Homing Pigeon" as a means of getting Muttley, Klunk and Zilly (who are being discharged) to stay. He makes them cry ocular gushers as well.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Near the end of episode "Medal Muddle", Dick Dastardly was falling and had no medal to offer Muttley so, in order to persuade the dog to save him, Dastardly invoked the trope and promised to help Muttley find his lost medals. Dastardly kept good on his promise.
    • Yankee Doodle Pigeon pleads this of Dastardly in the comic book story "Truce Or Consequences" (see Truce Trickery below.)
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: In "Barnstormers", Vulture Squadron fall into a well, and Dastardly receives a call from the General, answering his unheard question with "yes sir, we're in the well again".
  • Only Sane Man: Zilly's patent cowardice is well founded in that he knows that every plan the Squadron thinks up to stop Yankee Doodle Pigeon will always end in disaster. He even gets tasked with coming up with a plan himself—a giant mailbox—and to say it tanked is an understatement.
  • Offscreen Crash: Only when the Squadron's planes plummet to the ground. Otherwise we see plenty of midair crashes.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: While Dick Dastardly has a forename and surname, it's unknown what Klunk and Zilly's real names are (assuming those aren't their birth-names).
  • Operation: [Blank]: Many of the Squardon's schemes are prefaced such as (for example) Operation Pick-A-Pigeon (from "Go South, Young Pigeon") where they try to select out Yankee Doodle from a flock of ducks being directed into a giant funnel). Two episode titles—"Operation Anvil" and "Operation Birdbrain" (the episode where Dastardly forces the Squadron to think like a pigeon to catch Yankee Doodle Pigeon) and one comic book story ("Operation No-No" from Gold Key's Hanna-Barbera Fun-In #9) effect this as well.
  • Out of Character Is Serious Business: In "Barnstormers", when Dastardly learns that the milkmaid has transferred affections to him, he screams "Forget the pigeon, let's get out of here!", and zooms past the pigeon into the distance.
  • Packed Villain: In one episode, Dick Dastardly gets caught in Klunk's pigeon-packing machine and ends up stuffed in a can labeled "sauerkraut".
  • Pepper Sneeze: The squadron tries to apply this and use a missile that homes in on the piegon after he sneezes. Yankee Doodle Pigeon outwits it and it homes in on the squadron after Dastardly sneezes.
  • Pet the Dog: In "Have Plane Will Travel", Dastardly feels guilty for the pressure he has put on Klunk, thinking his inventor has finally lost his marbles when he starts on a particularly crazy invention.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: In "Stop Which Pigeon?", Dastardly hires a pigeon actor to pose as Yankee Doodle Pigeon when the General arrives for an inspection. When the actor gets sick of Dastardly's treatment he beats him up, revealing himself to be a karate expert.
  • Pinup Girl: In "Medal Muddle", a picture of a female dog standing in a Pin-up Girl pose is shown on the wall over Muttley's bunk.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: Magnificent Muttley episode "Leonardo De Muttley" featured a King offering a reward to whoever invented a flying machine. Dastardly stole two of Muttley's designs, but both resulted in Dastardly believing he should suggest Leonardo to invent the parachute.
  • Politically Correct History: It's never said what country the Vulture Squadron is working for.
    • Given that we can conclude that Yankee Doodle Pigeon is American, it is almost certain that Vulture Squadron fight for Imperial Germany. Of course, the fact that we can only come to this conclusion via indirect deduction (as Vulture Squadron has very little that would mark them as being German) should tell you something. The most telling indication is the Stealth Pun in the "Packed Villain" example above.
      • However, in "Fur Out Furlough", when the General offered a 30-day furlough to whoever caught Yankee Doodle Pigeon, Zilly planned to spend it in Miami and Klunk planned to spend it in Hawaii.
      • On the other hand, the USA was officially neutral in World War One until April 1917, so German citizens would be able to enter provided they had proper visas.
      • The comic Scooby Doo Team Up claims that the squad is working for a Chinese food company! They’re trying to stop the pigeon from delivering pizzas.
  • The Political Officer: Muttley fits into this role, as much of his job includes being tasked to stop desertion attempts (usually by Zilly).
    • In "Sky-Hi IQ", Muttley temporarily became the squadron's leader and Dastardly was the one tasked to stop Zilly's desertion attempt.
    • In "Who's Who?", when Dick Dastardly lost his memory and nobody else was officially assigned to take over, it was revealed that Muttley won't act the role without being ordered by someone of higher rank than his or offered a medal. Klunk once entered the trope's territory by forcing Zilly (and Muttley) into the plane.
  • Prima Donna Director: The General sends one to film the Squadron. He didn't seem to fully understand that he was dealing with active (albeit incompetent) military personnel in action.
  • Production Foreshadowing:
    • In "Fur Out Furlough", Dick Dastardly comments that the 30-day furlough will be all his, prompting Muttley to growl at him until Dastardly adds that the furlough will be Muttley's as well. That foreshadows a Running Gag between the two characters in Yogi's Treasure Hunt.
    • A Kellogg's Rice Krispies commercial with the Squadron has Klunk saying "There goes my promotion" after an operation he created fails. That would be Botch's catchphrase two years later on The Hair Bear Bunch.
    • This show and the same year's Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! would briefly co-op Ted Nichols' background music from each other. 51 years later, the two entities would seen together in the movie SCOOB!.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: All members of the Vulture Squadron could be considered this. They do not even know why the messages are important, they just follow the orders. Zilly, Klunk and Muttley are ready to leave when their dischargement papers arrive and have to be promised a reward to participate willingly. Even Dick is mostly in it for the money and the medals since he was happy when he got one without having caught the pigeon.
  • Reaching Between the Lines: The General's arm usually reaches Dick through the phone to punish the latter for something. In "Sky-Hi IQ", the General uses the phone to pull back the efficiency expert he sent to evaluate the Vulture Squadron.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: In “Have Plane Will Travel”, the General reassigns the Vulture Squadron to a tiny desert island in the middle of the ocean. At the end of the episode, they’ve managed to screw up that punishment assignment, so they’re reassigned to the moon. Subverted because the pigeon's presence in those areas means the reassignments weren't necessarily punishments.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Some of the soundtracks in Wing Dings are reused from Wacky Races.
    • Snippets of Wacky Races music can be heard in "Follow That Feather," "Barnstormers," "Coonskin Caper" and "Have Plane, Will Travel."
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand: In "Fur Out Furlough", the Vulture Squadron not only compete to catch the pigeon and win the thirty day furlough, but actively sabotage each other as well.
  • Road Runner vs. Coyote: Appropriately enough, since one of the writers, Mike Maltese, had previously worked under Chuck Jones on various Looney Tunes shorts... including, yes, the Road Runner and Coyote.
  • Scooby Snacks: Medals act like this for Muttley when he's offered one prior to performing a task. Other times he receives one after rescuing Dastardly from a fall.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In "Home Sweet Homing Pigeon", Zilly attempts to leave after finding out they're doing an operation called Operation Tar and Feathers by rowing away in the air. He's forced to come back when Dastardly threatens to cry if he doesn't get back into formation.
  • Shrunk in the Wash: Happens to Dastardly's uniform in one Wing Dings blackout. Zilly's solution? Shrink Dastardly to fit his uniform!
  • Signature Laugh: Muttley's famous "ehehehehehe" snickering whenever Dastardly got hurt or failed.
  • The So-Called Coward: In "Windy Windmill", when Zilly's plane becomes the last one available, Dastardly wants the whole squadron to use it and Zilly is concerned that the plane will be overloaded. Dastardly doesn't take it seriously and Zilly's worries about his plane turn out to be well-founded.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Muttley, of course. His speech is cleared up in several issues of the Gold Key Comics (Hanna-Barbera Fun-In).
  • Spin-Off: As noted, of Wacky Races. In March 1970, CBS created what was essentially the Dick Dastardly Hour when they swapped The Perils of Penelope Pitstop (which followed Dastardly & Muttley) with Wacky Races (which aired at 12:30 Eastern).
  • Status Quo Is God:
    • Spoiler alert: they don't catch the pigeon. Ever.
    • In "Home Sweet Homing Pigeon", Muttley, Zilly, and Klunk try to quit the Vulture Squadron, but Dastardly guilt trips them into helping him try and catch Yankee Doodle Pigeon a few more times and eventually tricks them into signing up for four years of reenlistment.
  • Suddenly Speaking: Yankee Doodle Pigeon in the comic books. Also Muttley, whose speech impediment is cleared up in a few comics stories.
  • Super Cell Reception: The candlestick phone Dick Dastardly used to communicate with the General had to be cellular. It appeared in the air sans landline and even as far away as Arabia.
  • Superhero Episode: The Magnificent Muttley installment "Super Muttley." Dick Dastardly is a safe cracker in the dream image and tries to drop a safe on Super Muttley, but it naturally backfires.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Dick towards the rest of the Vulture Squadron. Heck, it's pretty much in the opening theme tune, which starts with Dick giving Muttley a Reason You Suck Speech.
  • Tar and Feathers: The Vulture Squadron's first attempt to stop the pigeon in "Home Sweet Homing Pigeon" consists on this. Klunk drops the tar and Zilly and Muttley drop the feathers. They miss the target and Dastardly and his plane are hit instead.
  • Team Rocket Wins:
    • Dastardly actually wins one, though not against the pigeon. In "Home Sweet Homing Pigeon", he tricks Muttley, Zilly and Klunk, whose discharges are imminent, into re-enlisting. It ends with Dastardly doing a Muttley snicker.
    • At the end of "Vacation Trip Trap", Dastardly, whose furlough was repeatedly interrupted by the Squadron's bumbling attempts to catch the pigeon, is presented with a gold medal by the squadron for "valour above and beyond the call of duty while on vacation". A stunned Dastardly gives the only smile of genuine happiness he's ever managed, then floats up into the air with glee like Muttley.
    • Subverted in "Stop Which Pigeon?": Dastardly nabs the pigeon after diving into an aerial swimming pool created by Klunk. He then releases the pigeon when he [Dastardly] remembers that he can't swim.
    • They do catch Yankee Doodle Pigeon in "Heroic Dum-Dums" (Fun-In #4, November 1970) by salting his tail (an old wives' tale). Dastardly and Muttley's assignment was to obtain Yankee Doodle's message satchel, which they do and then they turn him loose, figuring that he'll be humiliated for not completing his mission. The satchel was bogus—it contained a jigsaw puzzle which simply read "Sucker!" while Yankee Doodle kept his real satchel under his flying helmet. Cue the General relieving Dastardly of his medals.
    • In Magnificent Muttley, Dastardly manages to make Muttley's dream a nightmare in Movie Stuntman.
    • It has been implied from the movie SCOOB! that Dick Dastardly finally stopped Yankee Doodle Pigeon. Perhaps subverted as Yankee Doodle Pigeon has made appearances on the HBO Max series Jellystone!.
    • Technically, the whole series may count as a Team Rocket Wins as it was the first cartoon show where the stars of the show are the villains.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Muttley's imaginary girlfriends in the Magnificant Muttley segments look like him with blonde curls, long eyelashes and lipstick.
  • Three Shorts: With the addition of the "Wing Dings" blackouts, every episode consisted of two regular shorts and one Magnificent Muttley short. The first six weeks followed the ABCA pattern; the other eleven followed AABC.
  • Title Confusion: Due to its theme song, the series is often called Stop That Pigeon or Stop the Pigeon.
    • Lampshaded in a 1986 episode of Yogi's Treasure Hunt. Dick and Muttley capture Snooper and Blabber and tortures them by making them watch episodes of Dastardly & Muttley.
      Snooper: Oh, no...not "Stop That Pigeon"-type cartoons!
    • Stop That Pigeon was the show's original name. The premise initially had Klunk and Zilly with a jolly, jelly-bellied Red Baron-type figure and an orange dachshund in pilot's goggles. Dick and Muttley were originally slated to be good guys (!) in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop but wound up in this series.
  • Title Drop: the narrator of the comic book story "The Secret Weapon" (Golden Comics Digest #10):
    Yankee Doodle Pigeon would love his messenger job if not for one thing...correction, two things...the enemies, Dastardly and Muttley in their flying machines...
  • Toilet Humor: An extremely mild version for 1969. In the Magnificent Muttley installment "Admiral Bird Dog" (with Muttley as the Admiral trekking to the North Pole), Dastardly doesn't see any justification of a dog trying to get to the North Pole: "Now, if it was the North Fire Hydrant, I could understand it!"
  • Too Dumb to Live: Seriously, Muttley, you never thought to consider using your other finger to stop that sneeze...
    • Maybe he needed that to fly the plane.
  • Translator Buddy: Zilly translates Klunk's babbling to the rest of the Squadron.
  • Trivial Title: The episode titles "Follow That Feather" and "Operation Anvil" are about each episode's last attempt to stop Yankee Doodle Pigeon and have nothing to do with the other attempts.
  • Truce Trickery: The comic book story "Truce or Consequences" (Gold Key, Fun-In #10, January 1972) has Dick and Muttley luring Yankee Doodle Pigeon over to their side during a 24-hour truce, hypnotizing him and making him pose for photos depicting him as a traitor. With 30 seconds left in the truce and finding himself AWOL, Yankee Doodle consigns himself to the ultimate journey. But his final words—"ABOUT FACE!!"—cause Muttley to turn the cannon aimed at him towards Dastardly.
  • The Unintelligible:
    • Klunk, although you can hear him say words between his babbling that clues you in on what he means to say.
    • Subverted with the General, as if you listen closely, you can tell he's just talking very fast.
  • Victory by Endurance: The episode "There's no Fuel Like a Re-Fool" starts in the middle of an endurance hunt with the Vulture Squadron waiting until the pigeon is too tired to properly escape. By the time the pigeon is about to be captured, the planes run out of fuel, making it the pigeon's victory. The rest of the episode is centered about the squadron's attempts to make sure fuel won't be a problem anymore.
  • Villain Protagonist: Dick Dastardly is the main character and is always trying to intercept a pigeon's efforts in delivering secret messages to the good guys.
  • The Voice: The General is only heard from the phone and never seen in person.
  • We Have Forgotten the Phlebotinum: In "Have Plane, Will Travel," the squadron is stationed on an island where Klunk creates a plane out of a tree trunk which is catapulted with the squadron into the air. Dastardly asks how they're supposed to stay up, to which Klunk answers "Spin the propellor"...which Klunk forgot to install.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • In Gold Key Comics' Fun-In issues #7 and 10 and the two Golden Comics Digest stories, Klunk and Zilly are conspicuously absent. (Zilly does turn up in the last panel of the issue #7 story.)
    • At the beginning of "A Plain Shortage of Planes", Dastardly's and Klunk's planes are destroyed when Muttley makes Zilly's crash into them and it kickstarts a plot about the lack of available planes for the Vulture Squadron. However, Muttley's plane wasn't damaged and it's never been confirmed Zilly's was. Neither plane has even been mentioned for the rest of the episode.
    • They are seen in the pile of wreckage later in the episode, although it's not made clear how they ended up there.
  • World of Pun: The "Wing Dings" are full of them.
  • Writing Lines: The Magnificent Muttley segment "Leonardo De Muttley" begins with Dastardly ordering Muttley to write "I will mind my own business" 100 times on a blackboard.
  • Wrong Turn at Albuquerque: The ending of "Ceiling Zero Zero" where a tornado from Klunk's weather machine blows the Squadron to Arabia and Dastardly has to report to the General that they'll be AWOL for a couple of months.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Stop That Pigeon


Dastardly can't swim

In another scheme by the Vulture Squadron to catch Yankee Doodle Pigeon, Dastardly captures him by diving into a large tub from above, remembering at the last moment that he can't swim.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / ForgotICouldntSwim

Media sources: