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Western Animation / Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century

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"Little does he realize that I have on my disintegration-proof vest. Ha ha ha. You may fire when ready, Grisly."

Duck Dodgers: I claim this planet in the name of the Earth!
Marvin the Martian: [lands his ship] I claim this planet in the name of Mars! Isn't that lovely, hmm?
Duck Dodgers: Look, bud, I've got news for you. I have already claimed this bit of dirt for the Earth. And there just ain't room enough on this planet for the two of us!
Marvin the Martian: [pulls his disintegrating pistol on Dodgers] I do believe you are right.

"Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century" (an obvious parody of Buck Rogers) is a 1953 Chuck Jones-directed Merrie Melodies short featuring Daffy Duck as the eponymous Duck Dodgers, a cocky, spectacularly inept space hero who, with the help of an Eager Young Space Cadet played by Porky Pig, battles Marvin the Martian for control of Planet X, only known location of "Illudium Phosdex," the shaving cream atom.

Also an obvious send-up of the Cold War (whether or not it was intentional is unknown, but most modern viewers will interpret it as such), with Earth representing the United States and Mars ("the Red Planet") the Soviet Union. The escalation of their conflict is a perfect illustration of the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction.

The popularity of this short led to a number of subsequent Duck Dodgers adventures, including a Duck Dodgers cartoon series fifty years later and a video game titled Duck Dodgers Starring Daffy Duck.

This short made it on The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie.

"Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century" provide examples of:

  • 2-D Space: Averted. When plotting a course to Planet X, Dodgers demonstrates that while you navigate space with North, South, East and West, you also use Up and Down (and relative terms such as Downeast), just as you would when navigating in three dimensions.
  • An Aesop: The short features Duck Dodgers in an Escalating War over Planet X with Marvin the Martian, to the point where they both use their "Secret Weapons". Dodgers succeeds in claiming Planet X, by which time it's roughly the size of an end table. A parable of the futility of nuclear war? Whether obvious or not, the creative team behind this short stated that it is an allegory for the Cold War. This can be read in the 50 Greatest Cartoons book.
  • Armor Is Useless: The disintegration-proof vest works perfectly. Too bad it doesn't cover the whole body. Or even protect what it does cover, for that matter; only the vest itself is disintegration-proof.
  • "Bang!" Flag Gun: The Ultimatum Dispatcher.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: The Eager Young Space Cadet.
  • Brick Joke: Duck Dodgers claims that Planet X isn't big enough for the two of them (him and Marvin). By the time their fight is over, this is quite literally true.
  • Bulletproof Vest: The disintegration-proof vest is disintegration-proof... but not the guy inside it.
  • Captain Space, Defender of Earth!: Or, to be more specific... DUCK DODGERS, IN THE TWENTY-FOURTH AND A HALF CENTURY!
    Eager Young Space Cadet: B-b-big deal.
  • Claiming Via Flag: Duck Dodgers is sent to find Planet X, last location of the shaving cream atom. Upon finding it, he stakes claim with a flag on behalf of Earth. Soon afterwards, Marvin the Martian arrives and stakes claim for Mars. The resulting battle lasts the rest of the short.
  • Comically Lopsided Rivalry: Given Marvin was designed to give Bugs Bunny a hard time, Daffy for the large part is completely at his mercy until he enforces a Pyrrhic Victory. The Cadet helps him get in a small Curb-Stomp Cushion with an explosive "birthday gift", however.
  • Complexity Addiction: Dodgers' ludicrously convoluted proposed route to Planet X. Even Dodgers thinks so when the Cadet seems to understand it.
  • Disintegrator Ray:
    • Too bad it disintegrates itself rather than the target. Of course, while Marvin's pistol is A-1 brand, Daffy's pistol is Acme.
      Duck Dodgers: And brother, when it disintegrates, it disintegrates.
      [the gun dissolves into dust]
      Duck Dodgers: Well, what do you know? It disintegrated.
    • Inverted with Porky's Integrating Pistol, which he uses to re-integrate Daffy after the latter is disintegrated.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Or rather, Planet-X-Shattering-Kaboom, the result of Dodgers and Marvin using their Secret Weapons against each other.
  • Escalating War: Between Dodgers and Marvin the Martian.
  • Everything Explodes Ending: The cartoon ends with Dodgers and Marvin blowing up Planet X.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Porky is only ever referred to as the Eager Young Space Cadet.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Instead of being the usual code name for an unknown planet, Planet X is literally "X" of the Alphabet Planets.
  • Exact Words:
    • Dodgers' disintegrating pistol and his disintegration-proof vest.
    • Also, by the end, "This planet ain't big enough for the two of us."
  • Glad I Thought of It: Finding the way to Planet X. Gad, how does he do it?
    Cadet: I d-d-don't know.
  • Had the Silly Thing in Reverse: The Trope Namer occurs when Dodgers tries to lift off in his rocket ship while accidentally having it set to reverse, causing the rocket to nonsensically embed itself in the dirt.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Porky Pig, as the Eager Young Space Cadet, is smarter and a lot more capable than Dodgers. He deduces a quicker and more easily navigable route to Planet X, saves Dodgers when he gets disintegrated, and manages to cause some pain to Marvin.
    Duck Dodgers: Now do you know how to reach Planet X?
    Cadet: Y-y-oh sure!
    Duck Dodgers: [surprised, then looking back at his star chart] Well, I wish you'd explain it to me some time, buster.
  • Instant People: Just Add Water!: The Integrating Pistol.
  • Ironic Echo: "There ain't enough room on this planet for the two of us!"
  • Layman's Terms: Dodgers explaining how they will navigate to Planet X.
  • Martians: Duck Dodgers' arch-enemy Marvin the Martian is one of the more famous examples this side of War of the Worlds. NASA even used a depiction of Marvin on the mission patch for one of its Mars rovers (Daffy-as-Dodgers was on the mission patch for the other rover of the pair).
  • Mineral MacGuffin: Illudium Phosdex — the Shaving Cream Atom.
  • Never My Fault: Dodgers blames the Cadet for Marvin disintegrating him even though it was clearly Dodgers' own fault.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Rivals!: Dodgers and Marvin's battle for control of Planet X results in their reducing the planet to a basketball-sized chunk.
  • No Blood for Phlebotinum: The other Aesop.
  • Non-Natural Number Gag: The title of the short, and the time when it takes place, is the 24½th century.
  • Not Big Enough for the Two of Us: Dodgers delivers this line to Marvin the Martian. After the two blow up the planet during their Escalating War, it becomes quite literal.
  • Not Hyperbole: As noted, by the end, Dodgers is literally right that there's not enough room on what's left of Planet X for both him and Marvin.
  • Only Sane Man: The Eager Young Space Cadet.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Dodgers technically wins in the end, but destroys Planet X in the process. Lampshaded by the Cadet: "B-b-b-b-big deal."
  • Raygun Gothic: Very much so.
  • Retro Rocket: Both Dodgers' and Marvin's.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: Before that cartoon, Marvin The Martian opposed Bugs Bunny. This cartoon first picks him against Daffy. And as this cartoon later became the inspiration for the Duck Dodgers-series, Marvin is nowadays most associated with that role.
  • Screw Your Ultimatum!: Marvin's "Ultimatum Answerer" simply fires a bullet within a bullet at Dodgers.
  • Serious Business: High I.Q sends Dodgers on his mission because the world is almost out of shaving cream.
  • Shaped Like Itself: The Disintegrator Ray disintegrates, alright.
  • Shout-Out: When the Cadet gives Marvin the lit stick of dynamite, he says "Happy b-b-b-birthday, you, uh, thing from another world, you!"
  • Silly Reason for War: Dodgers and Marvin are ultimately fighting for dominance of a single planet for shaving cream.
  • Space Cadet: As in, Eager Young.
  • Spin-Off: This cartoon lays the groundwork for the Duck Dodgers-animated series 50 years later.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Instead of the ridiculously complex route that Dodgers draws up to reach Planet X, Cadet suggests simply following a series of conveniently alphabetized planets. Dodgers first laughs at the notion, then takes it as his own.
  • The Television Talks Back: When Dodgers tries to see what Marvin is up to through a "Super-Video Detecto Set", Marvin shoots Dodgers from the screen on which Dodgers is watching him.
  • Tempting Fate: When Marvin is about to shoot Daffy while the latter has a Disintegration-Proof Vest underneath his uniform, Daffy taunts Marvin. Unfortunately for Daffy, his disintegration-proof vest turns out to be the only part of him that is entirely immune to Marvin's Disintegrator Ray.
    Duck Dodgers: You may fire when ready, Grisly.
  • This Means War!: "That's the last straw! Now I use my Secret Weapon!"
  • Title Drop: Duck Dodgers himself is prone to this.
  • Trick Bullet: Dodgers fires an Ultimatum Dispatcher at Marvin, which shoots a bullet that stops in mid-air, opens and out pops a written ultimatum. Marvin responds with an Ultimatum Answerer, which fires a bullet that stops and shoots a bullet of its own. Dodgers fires his Ultimatum Dispatcher again, and this time the bullet's message reads "Ouch!"
  • Ungrateful Bastard: After the Cadet reintegrates Dodgers, the latter accuses him of butting in just when he had Marvin beat.
  • Unobtanium: The Shaving Cream Atom.
  • Visual Pun: Planet X's name. The unknown zone has all the planet by letters and begins with Planet A. And have the letter printed in them.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The short mainly spoofs sci-fi in general, but Duck Dodgers himself is parodying Buck Rogers.
  • Zeerust: The entire art design is intentionally this, borrowing heavily from 1950's sci-fi aethetics, in a big Raygun Gothic way.

"Eh, bi-bi-bi-big deal."


Duck Dodgers

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