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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.
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"Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century" (an obvious parody of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century) 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.

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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.
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  • 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.
  • 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!"
  • Large Ham: DUCK DODGERS! IN THE 24th AND A HALF CENTURY!
  • Layman's Terms: Dodgers explaining how they will navigate to Planet X.
  • 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."
  • Pyrrhic Villainy: By the hero, yet, since between the two of them Dodgers and Marvin end up blowing up Planet X, the very thing they were fighting over (including the supply of illudium phosdex Dodgers was sent to retrieve). Not that Dodgers realizes it at the time, as focused as he is on winning.
  • Raygun Gothic: Very much so.
  • Retro Rocket: Both Dodgers' and Marvin's.
  • 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.

 
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