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Western Animation / Pepé Le Pew

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"You know, it is possible to be too attractive!"

Pepé Le Pew is one of the more famous Looney Tunes characters, although he's not quite as big as some of the other 'core' cast members of the series. He first appeared in the 1945 short "Odor-Able Kitty", although it wasn't until the 1949 short 'For Scent-imental Reasons' that the standard formula for his skits were set in stone.

Standard formula consists of the following: A female black cat (whose official name is Penelope Pussycat, although she was often called by other names until Penelope was officially decided on) somehow gets a white stripe down her back either by accident, her own means, or by someone else. Pepé, being the hopeless romantic he is, would always mistake Penelope as a female skunk and try to "woo" her, despite being unaware of how strong his stench is. Naturally, Hilarity Ensues.


While it didn't have as much slapstick as the standard Looney Tunes shorts (it had its fair share, as seen in 1951's "Scent-imental Romeo" and 1953's "Wild Over You," but mostly, it was a Romantic Comedy turned on its head, often bordering on Black Comedy, given how ridiculously luckless the female cat is in trying to escape Pepe's amorous advancesnote ), it often made up with witty, often sexually suggestive (both for its time and now) dialogue. Not to say this guy doesn't have a fan following (Penelope sure does).

His deep French accent was inspired by Hollywood icon Charles Boyer, with some shades of Maurice Chevaliernote .



  • Odor Able Kitty (1945):
  • Scent-imental Over You (1947)
  • Odor of the Day (1948, the only cartoon in which Pepé is not a "lovebird" nor does he have a French accent; directed by Arthur Davis)
  • For Scent-imental Reasons (1949), Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film
  • Scentimental Romeo (1951)
  • Little Beau Pepé (1952)
  • Wild Over You (1953)
  • Dog Pounded (1954) - Pepe makes a cameo in this short when Sylvester chases away an entire dog pound by dressing like a skunk.
  • The Cat's Bah (1954)
  • Past Perfumance (1955)
  • Two Scent's Worth (1955)
  • Heaven Scent (1956)
  • Touché and Go (1957)
  • Really Scent (1959)- Directed by Abe Levitow with Jones' animators. The only time in which Pepé is not chasing Penelope (here called Fabrette), as she'd happily get with him if not for his smell.
  • Who Scent You? (1960)
  • A Scent of the Matterhorn (1961)
  • Louvre Come Back to Me! (1962)

Pepé cartoons with their own work pages:

Other shorts provide examples of the following tropes:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: One of the few rare male examples, and possibly the most popular when one wants to prove that not all examples are women who are ugly, fat, or driven crazy by love. Penelope the cat, however, is a straight example (on the occasions where Pepé gets what he deserves).
  • Adapted Out: The only major Looney Tunes character who will not appear in Space Jam: A New Legacy.
  • Adjective Animal Alehouse: One of Pepe's shorts included an establishment called the Yellow Dogge Inn.
  • All There in the Script: The female cat Pepé chased went through a string of names in the shorts, but official media and merchandise almost always refer to her as Penelope (which was her name in 1954's "The Cat's Bah").
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Let's be real: would a 21st-century viewer be familiar with the rather outdated stereotype that French people are smelly and horny (besides looking it up online)?
  • Artistic License: Pepé is French, but striped skunks are only native to North America. Of course, his first appearance, assuming you count it as canon, reveals that he's actually faking the accent, and he and his wife have American accents.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: In "Scentimental Romeo", a zookeeper is shown throwing a raw steak into Pepe's zoo pen for food. In reality, skunks are omnivorous but prefer smaller creatures they can easily overpower like insects, spiders, and mice. Raw steak would not be suitable for a skunk.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: There are occasional hints that Penelope actually does have feelings for Pepé. She just finds his overly aggressive flirting and scent overbearing.
    • In at least two of the original shorts, Penelope becomes infatuated with Pepé when his scent is neutralized. One where she gets stuffed up by a cold after falling into a rain barrel, and another when Pepé dowses himself in a mix of perfume that not only overpowers his odor but also serves as an aphrodisiac to Penelope.
    • Some of the most recent material to come out (such as the Bah Humduck Christmas special and the Valentine's Day commercial) seems to suggest that officially they are in fact a couple.
  • Anything That Moves: So long as it's black and white striped (and even when it's not), such is the case in a lot of the modern revival Looney Tunes media, such as the DC Comics and The Looney Tunes Show (in which Pepé goes after human women). "Past Perfumance" (from 1956) is probably the only Golden Age Pepé cartoon that showed that he will still go after a cat, even after learning that she was never a skunk to start with. And in "Scent-imental Over You" for no real reason he actually is willing to disguise himself as a dog to return a Chihuahua's affections. "I am stupid, no?"
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: None of the French is real. More often than not, it's just English with a prefix of "le."
  • The Big Damn Kiss: In the 2006 Looney Tunes Christmas special, Bah, Humduck!, Pepe corners Penelope with mistletoe. She grabs him and smooches him. When she grabs him, Pepe doesn't look prepared for his affections to be requited.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Presumably not the intention of the character in his original incarnation, which was to parody romantic comedies, but this trope is a common interpretation of Pepe's cartoonishly extreme womanizing, albeit a light example. Although according to some sources, Jones apparently claimed that Pepe was a Stealth Insult to a particularly creepy Warner Exec in the 50's whose secretaries kept quitting because he was way too handsy, meaning that this was completely intentional.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Moreso than being a Stalker with a Crush. In fact, those two tropes go hand in hand for him. Subverted in that there are times where Pepe does get the girl, whether it's implied (as seen in the endings to "Scentimental Over You," "Heaven Scent," "Wild Over You," and "Louvre Comes Back to Me") or directly stated/shown (cf. "The Cat's Bah")
  • Chained Heat: The end of "The Cat's Bah" where Pepe somehow caught Penelope and chained her to his ankle. Penelope wastes no time breaking out a file.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Pepe's always saving (what he thinks are) female skunks from peril just so he can smother them with affection (cf. "For Scentimental Reasons," "Two Scents Worth," "Past Perfumance," and "A Scent of the Matterhorn").
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Some of the cats Pepe chased who weren't Penelope haven't been brought up again in any media he's been in for well over decades now. Some of them include; the orange male cat he chased in his first short, the wildcat that broke out from the zoo, or Fabrette, a cat with a natural Skunk Stripe down her back who actually did have a thing for him from the start. There's also the Chihuahua he once chased after, too.
  • Depraved Bisexual: At best, Pepe fits this trope (at worst, he's a Stalker with a Crush who goes after Anything That Moves as long as it's black and white striped. The D.C. Comics have him as either/or, depending on writer). In 1951's "Scentimental Romeo" had Pepe make out with a human man inside a Tunnel of Love ride. The man is so traumatized that he signs up for the French Foreign Legion and passes out. It Makes Sense in Context... sort of.
    • Being fair to Pepe, the tunnel was dark and he thought the man was Penelope. As soon as he realizes his mistake, he angrily berates the man accusing him of indecency while the poor man limps away.
    • In another episode, he tried to make love with Sylvester.
  • Did Not Get the Girl:
    • Believe it or not, there was a Pepe cartoon were Penelope runs off and Pepe doesn't continue the chase. That cartoon was 1951's "Scentimental Romeo" and the chase is interrupted when the zookeeper takes Pepe back to the zoo and Pepe bids a tearful farewell to Penelope.
    • The ending to "Odor-Able Kitty", though rather loosely for two reasons: (a) the "female skunk" he was chasing was actually a male cat who painted himself up as a skunk so he can get back at the butcher, housewife, and pitbull who keep beating him up, and (b) the ending revealed that Pepe wasn't French and was married with two kids.
  • Dreary Half-Lidded Eyes: Pepe's default expression, to show his lasciviousness.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • In "Really Scent," the Penelope cat is so depressed over her failed romance with Pepe that she nearly drowns herself. The narrator convinces her to try a different tack, since "if you can't beat them, join them."
    • Subverted in "For Scent-Imental Reasons", when Pepe pretends to shoot himself so he can get Penelope's attention and tells her "I missed".
  • Dub Species Change: Brazilian dubs change Pepe into an opossum.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In Pepe's first cartoon, "Odorable Kitty," it's revealed in the end that Pepe is actually named Henry, has a wife and kids, and doesn't speak in a French accent. Pepe's wife and kids were never seen again after that. Also, the first cat he chased after was a male cat.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: Played With in "Scentimental Romeo". After failing to get meat from a zookeeper feeding zoo animals, Penelope disguises herself as a skunk and sneaks into the skunk's pen. She gets to eat the raw steak the zookeeper throws inside but doesn't get to finish it as Pepe wakes up and instantly grabs her at first sight.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: In "Wild Over You" a wildcat escapes from the Paris zoo, catching his attention.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Even if said French is broken and full of bad Puns.
  • Fauxreigner: Pepe was this in his original appearance.
  • Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better: Like most animal Looney Tunes characters both Pepe and Penelope continuously switched how they stood and walked.
  • Funny Foreigner: He is quite the comedic character, and has a French accent.
  • French Jerk: He goes after a female cat (whom he thinks is a skunk) and smothers her with affection without any regard for her feelings.
  • Gainax Ending: The first short has this. See Early Installment Weirdness above.
  • The Glomp: Is always getting all close to his love interests, hugging them.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Some of the "female skunks" Pepe chases are cats that had intentionally painted their white stripes to trick others into mistaking them for skunks.
  • Handsome Lech: "Lech" being the operative word. Probably the only other animated French character who's more of a lech than Pepe Le Pew is France from Hetalia: Axis Powers.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Pepe would occasionally use the term "making love" in the old sense of "making out".
  • Hypocritical Humor: Pepe begging Penelope to control herself when she goes after him on "For Scentimental Reasons" and "Little Beau Pepe."
  • Interspecies Romance: Only twice does Pepe find out his love interest is not a skunk, but it doesn't deter his interest at all.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While he is guilty of narcissism and stalker-ish behavior, when interacting with those who are not the objects of his affection, he's often shown to be a polite and friendly guy, such as when he happily greeted a frog in "A Scent of the Matterhorn".
  • Maurice Chevalier Accent: Not directly based on Maurice Chevalier, but his typical accent and honh honh honh laugh are frequently in play when Pepe speaks.
  • Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: If you consider smelling like a skunk minor, it's been implied that the only thing holding Penelope back from him is his odor.
  • No Guy Wants to Be Chased: Pepe will pursue his victims anywhere for love but panics when the tables are turned on him. He lampshades this at the end of Little Beau Pepe:
    "Why is it that whenever a man is captured by a woman, all he wish to do is get away?"
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Toward his love interests.
  • Oddball in the Series:
    • "Odor of the Day" is the only Pepe short that doesn't follow the basic formula for his shorts, instead acting more like a Bugs Bunny-Esque screwball comedy.
    • "Really Scent" is a downplayed example. While it has the same overall premise of the shorts, at points it almost acts as an Internal Deconstruction of Pepe's formula.note 
  • Poor Communication Kills: In the majority of his cartoons, he is unaware that the reason that Penelope (and everyone else) runs away from him is his stink. In "Really Scent", he finally looks up the word "Pew"note  in the dictionary and is shocked to see what it means.
  • Punny Name: His name (p-ew) literally states that he's a stinky creature.
  • Rejection Affection: No matter how many times Penelope flees from him, or even attacks him, Pepe always thinks she's just playing hard to get.
  • Smells Sexy: At the end of "Little Beau Pepe", Pepe concocts a super cologne that makes him irresistible to Penelope.
  • Smelly Skunk: Naturally. On a very rare occasion, Penelope (called "Fabrette" in that short) became one of these when she got her own odor on the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" premise.
  • Something Completely Different: "Odor of the Day" is the only Pepe cartoon that isn't a Romantic Comedy (it's your typical Looney Tunes screwball comedy) and one of two Pepe shorts that isn't directed by Chuck Jones (three if you count the random cameo at the end of the Sylvester and Tweety cartoon, "Dog Pounded"). "Odor of the Day" was directed by Art Davis. It's also the only Pepe cartoon in which Pepe is The Voiceless (until the end, in which he and the dog character say "Gesundheit!" to each other after both sneeze).
  • Spiritual Successor: On Tiny Toon Adventures, there's Fifi La Fume, who acts just like Pepe (except that she likes it when men go after her), right down to mistaking black and white striped animals for male skunks (though it was revealed that she has a crush on Pepe Le Pew on an episode where Elmyra mistakes Fifi for a cat). However, she is much different than Pepe in other aspects, most notably that she interacts with the other Tiny Toons much more often (while Pepe rarely interacted with any of the other Looney Tunes in the Golden Age shorts. Modern revivals either don't have Pepe at all or do have him interacting with the other characters), and actually uses her stink as a weapon (although later on Pepe himself would sometimes use this trait in a way, such as in Space Jam).
  • Stalker with a Crush: So very much (and Played for Laughs).
  • Strictly Formula: Zigzagged. A lot of the cartoons do follow a formula of the cat getting painted and Pepe spending the rest of the cartoon chasing her, but the actual outcome is almost always different.
    • "Odor of the Day" is completely detached from the usual formula in favor of Pepe having a rivalry with a dog over shelter in the cold. See Something Completely Different above.
    • Incidentally the Pepe formula was made to avert this, since they were among the few series in he Looney Tunes series not to utilise the "Karmic Trickster vs Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain" dynamic. Pepe, in Jones' own words, was unique in being "a character who just wanted to get laid".
  • Thinks Like a Romance Novel: Does he ever!
  • Too Kinky to Torture: A lot of the Pepe cartoons have Pepe brushing off the cat's violent attempts at deterring him as "flirting." 1953's "Wild Over You" is the definitive cartoon for proof of this trope.
  • Tuxedo and Martini: New Looney Tunes changes Pepe into this type of character.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Sort of. In one short, Pepe actually had himself de-scented to make himself desirable to Penelope. Unfortunately, Penelope had herself treated with Limburger cheese at the same time, so she could tolerate Pepe's stink. The result? The tables are turned on Pepé as Penelope chases after him.
  • Victory by Endurance: Pepe had a very iconic hopping gait (and a very specific sound effect to accompany it), which he used to catch up to Penelope (or just about anyone he's chasing), who would tire herself out faster the more she tried to run.
  • The Voiceless: Penelope almost never spoke besides grunts or meow noises. The exception being the revival short "Carrotblanca", which inexplicably gives her a proper speaking role with a British accent.
  • Wilting Odor: As Le Pew strolls down the street, flowers wilt, birds fall from the trees, and people all around head for the hills, while Pepe remains oblivious to it all. One cartoon takes place in the Louvre, where even the artwork isn't immune to his stench (although The Mona Lisa manages to maintain her smile, acknowledging that it's not easy).


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