Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / Modern Inventions

Go To
Your hat, sir!

Modern Inventions is a 1937 animated short film from Disney, directed by Jack King. It is notorious for having the first contribution of Carl Barks in the Donald Duck franchise, and being the final Disney short to be released by United Artists.

The short begins with Donald deciding to visit "The Museum of Modern Marvels", which showcases various futuristic electronic appliances and inventions and enters the museum for free thanks to his trusty coin in a string.

In the museum, Donald encounters and struggles with many strange and whimsical machines, such as a butler robot that constantly chases him and takes away his many hats, a robotic hitch-hiker that pokes him after tricking it, a wrapping machine that is actually dangerous and whose warning Donald ignores, and a fully-automated baby carriage that is a bit overprotective.

The short finishes with Donald attempting to scam a robotic barber chair with the same stingy coin he used to enter the museum and winds up getting a haircut on his behind and a shoe-shined face, throwing a final tantrum when his last hat is taken away by the robot butler.


  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: All of the robots in the short causes Donald trouble.
  • Benevolent A.I.: The automatic baby carriage is this in comparison with the rest of the robots in the short, treating Donald nicer than the rest of them. However, the carriage has some trouble with feeding babies and is a bit overprotective, as it doesn't let Donald out of the carriage.
  • Berserk Button:
    • While he can't do anything about it, Donald hates having his hats taken away from his head, to the point that he initially reacts aggressively when the automatic barber chair takes his last hat before immediately realizing it was doing its intended job as a haircutting machine.
    • The Hitch-Hiker's Aid doesn't like to be tricked at all, as Donald quickly learns when it pokes his eyes in retaliation.
    • The robot butler doesn't take it well if a visitor is breaking the rules, chasing Donald when he rebels by wearing a civil war kepi hat upon having his Napoleon hat stolen.
  • Coin-on-a-String Trick: Donald uses one to enter the museum for free. Later, near the ending, he tries the same trick with a robotic barber chair to get a free haircut, but ends up having his butt trimmed and his face shoeshined.
  • Cyber Cyclops: The robot butler is a one-eyed robot footman. He's not evil but is rather imposing... and insists on taking one's hat, much to Donald's chagrin.
  • The Diaper Change: Donald eventually gets more than he bargains for when he decides to mess with the automatic baby carriage and the robot puts him in a diaper, which Donald laughs off.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Donald tosses away the museum's warning that the Automatic Bundle-Wrapper is too dangerous to use and activates the machine anyway. As a result, the machine traps him and wraps him in plastic
  • Everyone Has Standards: While the museum doesn't usually have warnings about the defects of the displaying robots, even it finds the Automatic Bundle-Wrapper to be extremely dangerous and has a warning in front of it to warn the visitors to not touch it, which Donald ignores.
  • Eye Poke: The Hitch-Hiker's Aid robot does this to Donald's eyes for making fun of it before retreating back into the briefcase.
  • Friendly Tickle Torture: As part of its programming, the automated baby carriage does this to Donald, even playing "This Little Piggy" with his toes.
  • Gag Haircut: Donald gets an embarrassing haircut on his butt and gets his face painted in black polish face after he tries to scam the robot chair.
  • Goo Goo Getup: While hiding in the automated baby carriage, Donald changes his hat to a baby bonnet and decides to play the role of an infant to test the carriage. The robot in the carriage later puts a diaper on him.
  • Hammerspace: Donald keeps pulling hats out of seemingly nowhere.
  • The Hilarity of Hats: Part of the humor of the short comes from the diverse variety of hats that Donald pulls out of nowhere and his reactions to the robot butler taking them away from him.
  • Hostile Hitchhiker: The Hitch-Hiker's Aid pokes Donald's eyes, but to be fair, Donald tricked him into coming out of his briefcase and laughed at him.
  • Humiliation Conga: The very final new invention Donald Duck comes across is a robot barber chair that cuts hair. Donald uses a coin-on-a-string to fool the machine into having a haircut for free: but it goes horribly wrong when the machine flips Donald upside down and starts to trim his butt. While in the middle of being molested by the machine he gets a shoeshined face. The cartoon ends with Donald having a shiny black face and a trimmed butt that's now wearing his hat, which to add insult to injury, is taken away by the robot butler, leaving him without any hats left. One wonders what he may have tried to do to get home after he left the Museum of Modern Marvels.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The whole short revolves around Donald entering the museum for free and messing with the displayed robots, with the duck getting his karmic desserts for messing with them.
  • Manchild: Upon realizing that he hid in a robotic baby carriage, Donald decides to act as a brat while he stays on it.
  • Oh, Crap!: Donald has this reaction when he activates the gift-wrapping and when the butler robot chasers him after disobeying him by putting a civil war kepi.
  • Packed Hero: Donald is wrapped in cellophane by a gift-wrapping machine.
  • Pain to the Ass:
    • On the baby carriage, Donald Duck is accidentally pinched in the ass when the automatic baby carriage puts a diaper on him.
    • The robotic barber chair turns Donald upside-down, ties a towel around his feathery fanny and gives his tail feathers an unwanted trim, and heats his rear end with a hot towel.
  • Raised by Robots: The automatic baby carriage is designed with this intention in mind.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Just after taking Donald's Napoleonic hat, the Robot Butler's eye turns red with anger after witnessing Donald with a civil war kepi insulting him, and began chasing Donald, much to his horror.
  • Running Gag: The robot butler taking Donald's hats, with each time Donald summoning another one.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Upon activating the Automatic Bundle-Wrapper, Donald attempts to flee upon seeing arms coming to grab him but is quickly caught by the dangerous machine. Later on, he attempts to leave the baby carriage when it throws milk to his face, but the carriage locks him in order to not let the "baby" fall from itself.


Video Example(s):


Robot Nurse Maid (Donald Duck)

In the short, "Modern Inventions", after finding himself in a machine that treats its user like a baby, Donald Duck decides to mess around with it, and gets more than he bargains for.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / GooGooGetup

Media sources: