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Western Animation / Horton Hatches the Egg

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Seuss meets Slapstick.

In 1942, Dr. Seuss was far from a household name. Also in 1942, the Looney Tunes shorts were skyrocketing in popularity. Bob Clampett had a copy of one of Seuss' books he thought would make for a solid, wacky cartoon. Therefore, in a pairing that might seem bizarre today, he directed a Merrie Melodies short that is an adaptation of the book Horton Hatches the Egg.

The plot of this short follows most of the same beats as the original book, with Horton being convinced by a lazy bird named Mayzie to protect her egg. While poor Horton waits for her return, he remains put and protects the egg at all costs, even if it means he is acquiesced to travel the whole world. However, Horton is determined to make his commitment pay off, because an elephant's faithful, one-hundred percent!

This is notably the first of many Animated Adaptations of Seuss' work, and its combination of the original story with distinctly Looney Tunes humor, slapstick and character mannerisms makes it unique in that regard.

The Looney Tunes adaptation contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Jerkass: Mayzie was already a bitch in the original story, but the Looney Tunes short deliberately increases her Smug Snake behavior.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Horton is pink, something unique to this version. Typically, any time he appears, he's grey like a normal elephant.
  • Book Ends: The short begins with Horton merrily strolling through the forest singing "The Hut Sut Song (Hut Sut Raw)" and ends with him doing the same, this time with his child in tow.
  • Creator Cameo: Bob Clampett voiced the medium-sized hunter.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: Horton's skin is a bright pink in this short, in sharp contrast to all future colorized interpretations of Horton where he is grey instead, much like real elephants.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The oddness of a Dr. Seuss adaptation done under the banner of another franchise, rather than as a standalone project.
  • Extra-Long Episode: The longest Looney Tunes cartoon in the classic era, running 9 minutes and 50 seconds.
  • Gilligan Cut: When the hunters declare they're taking Horton to be a side attraction, he declares they can't make him go, leading to a back in forth between the hunters saying "Oh yes, we can!" and Horton saying "Oh no, you won't!", which ends with:
    Horton: Oh, no yo-...Oh, yes they can. [Pan out to reveal the hunters had dug out the tree and were hauling both it and him away]
  • Green Around the Gills: Horton's face turns green at one point from seasickness.
  • Lorre Lookalike: A fish caricatured after Peter Lorre appears while Horton and his tree sail in a boat.
  • Seen-It-All Suicide: A fish, after seeing Horton sailing away on a ship while still firmly positioned on his tree, says "Now I've seen everything!" and takes a pistol to his head.
  • Simpleton Voice: Horton is given one in the short, probably as a means to garner sympathy for his character as a Kindhearted Simpleton.
  • Smug Snake: Mayzie is implied to be such when she demands her egg back just when it starts to hatch and she whispers to the audience in a malicious tone "The work is all done, now I want it back! Ha ha!"


Video Example(s):


Horton Hatches the Egg

Nowadays Dr. Seuss cartoons would NEVER get away with this!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (41 votes)

Example of:

Main / SeenItAllSuicide

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