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Western Animation / Private Snafu

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Situation Normal. All Fouled Up.

A Wartime Cartoon series made during the 1940s, starring the eponymous Private Snafunote  set during the struggle of World War II. Produced by Warner Bros. for the Army-Navy Screen Magazine, these cartoons showed Snafu's adventures in the Army. They usually ended with various Aesops concerning proper military behavior, via the confoundingly insipid acts of the brash but ignorant Snafu.

It could be considered a Spin-Off of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons, supported by a few cameos of Bugs Bunny and usage of Mel Blanc as the voice of the bumbling Snafu, though, unlike the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons, the Private Snafu shorts were more adult, allowing a lot of scenes and gags that wouldn't have been approved by The Hays Code (mostly showing women in various states of undress and other sexual referencesnote , but there was also some crude humornote  and swearingnote ).

The Private Snafu shorts were largely sealed away after the end of the war, never to be seen again...until Cartoon Network aired some as part of two Toon Heads specials: one about Warner Bros.' lost and rare works and another about World War II cartoons. A few shorts appeared as extras in the Looney Tunes: Golden Collection DVDs (and there's even a documentary on how the shorts were made and what impact they had on the history of animation). Because the films were created by the US federal government, they have been in the Public Domain since day one, and some of them are available for viewing on the Internet Archive.

A complete chronological DVD release of the whole set of Private Snafu cartoons, newly remastered from the best extant film elements, was released by Thunderbean in December 2010. A high-definition BluRay version was released in 2015.

Oh, and Thedore Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss) wrote many of the early shorts in his characteristic rhyme. Think about that next time you read any of his children's books (The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Green Eggs and Ham, etc) to your son/daughter/younger sibling/younger relative/children at school.


Private Snafu series by Warner Bros.

  • Coming Snafu (Chuck Jones): June 1943
  • Gripes (Friz Freleng): July 1943
  • Spies (Chuck Jones): August 1943
  • The Goldbrick (Frank Tashlin): September 1943
  • The Infantry Blues (Chuck Jones): September 1943
  • Fighting Tools (Bob Clampett): October 1943
  • The Home Front (Frank Tashlin): November 1943
  • Rumors (Friz Freleng): December 1943
  • Booby Traps (Bob Clampett): January 1944
  • Snafuperman (Friz Freleng): March 1944
  • Private Snafu vs. Malaria Mike (Chuck Jones): March 1944
  • A Lecture on Camouflage (Chuck Jones): April 1944
  • Gas (Chuck Jones): May 1944
  • The Chow Hound (Frank Tashlin): June 1944
  • Censored (Frank Tashlin): July 1944
  • Outpost (Chuck Jones): August 1944
  • Pay Day (Friz Freleng): September 1944
  • Target Snafu (Friz Freleng): October 1944
  • Three Brothers (Friz Freleng): December 1944
  • In the Aleutians - Isles of Enchantment (Chuck Jones): February 1945
  • It's Murder She Says (Chuck Jones): February 1945
  • Hot Spot (Friz Freleng): July 1945
  • No Buddy Atoll (Chuck Jones): October 1945
  • Operation Snafu (Friz Freleng): December 1945

Unreleased shorts

  • Going Home (Chuck Jones): Planned for 1945, supposedly shelved as the bomb mentioned was too much like the atom bombs under development. Found in modern collections
  • Secrets of the Caribbean (Chuck Jones): Completed in 1945, masters were sent to the army, but was never released as the war wound down. No extant copies have been found, and it is believed to be a lost film

In addition to the Private Snafu series proper made by the Warner Bros. studio, since the character was owned by the Army and was pretty popular with the troops, Snafu makes appearances in cartoons made by other studios, part of the Army's educational Few Quick Facts series. These are mostly quick cameos.

    Appearances in the Few Quick Facts series by other studios 


  • Few Quick Facts: Voting for Servicemen Overseas (1944)
  • Few Quick Facts: Venereal Disease (1944) (lost cartoon)
  • Few Quick Facts: GI Bill of Rights (1946)


  • Few Quick Facts about Fear (1945)
  • Few Quick Facts about Inflation (1945)
  • Few Quick Facts: Japan (1945)
  • Few Quick Facts: Lend/Lease (1945)
  • Few Quick Facts on Weapons of War (1945) (lost cartoon)


  • Few Quick Facts: Safety (1944)
  • Few Quick Facts: Diarrhea and Dysentery (1944)
  • Few Quick Facts: Shoes (1944)
  • Few Quick Facts: Accidents (1944)

Planned series

  • Seaman Tarfu in the Navy (Harmon & Ising): Released in 1945, only one short was made. Contains a cameo by Snafu.

Contains examples of:

  • Adults Dressed as Children: In "Spies", one of the Japanese spies is disguised as a baby in a pram. Snafu, to nobody's surprise, fails to notice.
  • An Aesop: Usually pertaining to the need for military discipline and protocols as well as the home war effort.
    • "Gripes": What the Army puts you through may be rough, but without proper authority and training, soldiers' morale can go to pot. In a sense, this can also be applied to the workforce, as without proper guidance, things can go to hell.
    • "Snafuperman": It is necessary to study your maps and field manuals before you go out into the offensive, just like how its important for using it to explore unknown areas.
    • "Three Brothers": Your job in places like Army may seem boring, or even embarrassing, but every little thing counts to ensure success.
    • "Fighting Tools": No matter how advanced your equipment is, it's useless without proper maintenance and treatment.
    • "The Goldbrick": Slacking on training will leave one physically and mentally unprepared for combat.
    • As a whole, the shorts constantly remind viewers that, while the military's training and regulations may be burdensome, war is a life or death situation and these things are necessary to achieve victory and survive.
  • All Just a Dream: Several of the cartoons end with Snafu about to face the consequences of his actions (usually his imminent demise) only to wake up. He is then shown mending his ways.
  • Armed Farces: Notable as an officially sanctioned example, using a humorous Anti-Role Model to drive home potentially life-saving lessons for soldiers in WWII
  • Asian Buck Teeth: The Japanese soldiers are depicted with prominent front teeth.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Some episodes end with the enemy forces successfully killing off Snafu as a result of his incompetence.
  • Bad Samaritan: Goldie the Goldbrick, who is really a Japanese spy hoping to convince enough soldiers to slack off and enable Japan to win the war.
  • Bankruptcy Barrel: In "Payday", Snafu winds up wearing nothing but a cardboard box after he loses all of his money playing craps.
  • Bedlah Babe: Snafu stumbles on to a harem full of these in "Booby Traps". Of course, the whole thing turns out to be one giant booby trap.
  • Behind a Stick: In "A Few Quick Facts about Fear", Snafu and his warhorse manage to hide behind a tree trunk that is far narrower than the horse is wide.
  • Big Eater: Snafu in "Chow Hound".
  • Bizarre Seasons: The extreme changeability of the weather is one of the main sources of humour in "In the Aleutians - Isles of Enchantment". A Running Gag is Snafu marching along and passing from broiling sunshine to blizzards to torrential rains in a matter of steps, with him constantly changing clothes to fit the weather.
  • Black Comedy: Multiple shorts end with the enemy forces succeeding and killing off Snafu. Still using Looney Tunes slapstick of course.
  • Blowing Smoke Rings: In "A Lecture on Camouflage", Snafu blows smoke rings while resting. The camouflaged Nazi stalking him blows smoke swastikas.
  • Boob-Based Gag: A set of exploding Fake Boobs are used in one cartoon.
  • Booby Trap: Has an entire cartoon on the subject, including one literal example.
  • Bowdlerise: Two shorts have aired on Cartoon Network edited:
    • "Spies": When the short aired on the ToonHeads special about lost and rare WB shorts, the scenes of the Japanese spies were edited (the scene of the Japanese spy posing as a baby was cut and the Japanese spy in the phone was digitally covered up with a black square) and the scene of Snafu drinking booze and the booze rotting his brain lock was sped up so that way no time was spent on the alcohol in his body (and, for reasons unknown, the use of Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" was replaced with generic jazz music). When "Spies" was on the ToonHeads episode about Private Snafu shorts, it was uncut.
    • "Censored": When this short aired once on a late-night showing of ToonHeads, the scene of Snafu's girlfriend decoding his letter home was edited, as Snafu's girlfriend was topless (it was implied, but still, it sent the censors on edge and had to be removed). It should be noted that only two of the scenes where she's topless (answering the door to get the mail and leaning over the vanity to decode the letter) were cut; the scene of her on the phone with her mom about what the letter said wasn't censored, nor were the pin-up photos around Snafu's sleeping quarters that also depicted topless women (albeit more stylized).
  • Butt Biter: In "Private Snafu vs. Malaria Mike", Malaria Mike bites Snafu on the ass using a steel proboscis shaped like a harpoon.
  • The Cameo: Bugs Bunny cameos in the shorts "Gas" and "Three Brothers". Daffy Duck cameos in "Fighting Tools". And Snafu's design was recycled from a soldier briefly seen in the 1942 Chuck Jones short "The Draft Horse", making it a pre-debut cameo. Plus, Snafu himself makes an appearance in the Animaniacs short "Boot Camping".
  • Cigar Chomper: The Technical Fairy First Class is never seen without a cigar clenched in his teeth.
  • Civilized Animal:
    • The bull and his cow girlfriend/wife in "Chow Hound"
    • Also, the mosquitoes in "Target Snafu," and "Private Snafu vs Malaria Mike" are this.
  • Clip Its Wings: In "Coming Snafu", Snafu is towing a plane and, as usual, not paying attention when he drives between two pylons and rips the wings off it.
  • Coconut Meets Cranium: In a rare moment of competence, Snafu performs a Vine Swing and drops a pile of coconuts on the head of a Japanese sailor in "No Buddy Atoll".
  • Couldn't Find a Lighter: In "Hot Spot", the Devil lights his cigar off the hellfire of his Fire and Brimstone Hell.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: In "Going Home", Snafu hears from the radio that his old regiment was attacked because someone leaked information. Snafu wishes that the one responsible (not knowing that it was him) would get run over by a streetcar. And at that moment, a streetcar goes through his living room and runs him over for the Iris Out.
  • Custom Uniform: In "Gripes", Snafu is given command of the army and does away with all regulation. One of the soldiers starts wearing a uniform patterned after a zoot suit.
  • Cut a Slice, Take the Rest: In "Spies", Snafu pours a single shot of liquor from a bottle, then throws away the shot glass and guzzles down the bottle.
  • Deadly Gas: In "Gas", Snafu is stalked by a sentient cloud of poison gas: hampered by his extremely poor gas mask protocol.
  • Deranged Animation: The climax of "Rumors", which features the bologna (meant to represent the gossip growing out of control) becoming sentient creatures and reaching the point where the rumor from earlier turns into "We've lost the war". These nightmarish creatures in question look like something ripped out of a Dr. Seuss book—no surprise, since he worked on these shorts.
  • Digital Destruction: The print of "The Goldbrick" on the fourth Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD set has the video and audio very slow and warped.
  • Dirty Old Man: Snafu assumes his grandpa is attending burlesque shows in "Home Front".
  • Distracted by the Sexy: At least one short warned of the dangers of accidentally revealing sensitive information to beautiful women who might turn out to be spies. Also parodied in "Booby Traps", where it makes it seem like he's distracted by a harem of girls—only to reveal that it was a piano that caught his attention!
  • Downer Ending: It's of the Played for Laughs sort, but often Snafu bought the farm. Sometimes subverted and he wises up and survives, such as the gas-mask episode.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Prior to these shorts, Snafu first appeared in the 1942 Chuck Jones short "The Draft Horse".
  • Evil Counterpart: Goldie the Goldbrick is this to Snafu's Technical Fairy, First Class.
  • Fanservice:
    • Being made specifically for the enlisted men, these were more risque than the regular Looney Tunes series. In particular, "Censored", which features Sally Lou in just 1940s-era panties, garters, and stockings. There's no actual nudity, but pretty close.
    • The mermaids in "A Lecture on Camouflage" are fully nude.
    • Likewise nude is Snafus pin-up pic from his grab-bag in "No Buddy Island".
  • Family Theme Naming: In "Three Brothers", it's revealed that Snafu has two brothers serving in the army too: Fubar note  and Tarfu note .
  • "Far Side" Island: Snafu and a Japanese sailor find themselves stranded on one in "No Buddy Atoll".
  • Felony Misdemeanor: The cartoons were commissioned by the military during wartime, so they were highly classified, to the point that artists who worked on them had to paint individual frames out of order so they would not know the secret contents. The irony of course is that if they had fallen into the wrong hands, the enemy would have learned completely innocuous facts such as not to spread rumors and always use mosquito netting.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Snafu went there at the end of "Spies". Incidentally, the Devil wore a lapel pin with a swastika on it. Also, we get a glimpse of Hell again in "Hot Spot".
  • Friend or Foe?: In Snafuperman, Snafu accidentally air-raids the White House because he thought it was Berlin, and attack an American tank (and piss off General Patton) because he thought it was a Japanese tank. The moral is "study the field manual and maps."
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: The episode "Payday" follows this plot with Snafu. While Private Snafu's pay won't make him rich, it's enough that after the war he could afford to support a wife, a child, and to live in a suburban house and drive a new car. Or it would have been if he didn't waste it all during the war.
  • Garden Garment: In "A Lecture on Camouflage", Snafu appears wearing only a fig leaf as a demonstration of 'the first man to ever use camouflage'.
  • Genius Bruiser: The Nazi soldier in Fighting Tools, who's not only five times bigger than Snafu, but far better at taking care of his weapons.
  • Gilligan Cut: In Coming Snafu, after getting in trouble for his usual carelessness, Snafu back sasses military officials, boasting that he knows his rights as a soldier. Cut to Snafu fuming in jail.
    Snafu: I want a lawyer! GET ME A LAWYER!!!
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Technical Fairy First Class plays the Good Angel in "Pay Day", but this being Snafu, he has no chance in hell against his evil counterpart.
  • Goo Goo Get Up: In "Spies", one of the Japanese spies is disguised as a baby. Snafu, naturally, fails to notice.
  • Gossip Evolution: Military style! "Rumors" begins with Snafu being informed that it looks like a good day for a bombing, taking this to mean that they're about to get bombed, and spreading to others who in turn spread it until it becomes a rumor that they're about to lose the war. (In a nice touch of visual metaphor, the passage of the rumors is represented by baloney flying out of people's mouths.)
  • Gossipy Hens: This is what Snafu imagines his mother and her bridge partners to be (literally seeing them transform into hens) in "The Home Front".
  • Grass Is Greener:
    • "The Infantry Blues" has Snafu griping about how difficult being in the infantry is and wishes he was in the Tank Corps, Navy, or Air Force where they have it easier. Technical Fairy First Class shows up to show Snafu that the other branches are just as difficult and everyone needs to work hard to achieve victory.
    • In "The Home Front," Snafu envies his family and girlfriend back stateside, and how they have their usual, comfortable lives while he has to suffer in deployment. He soon sees that every one of them (including the grandfather) are also very hard at work to support the war effort, through construction, keeping a war garden, and joining the WAC.
  • Hammerspace: Loads, e.g. Tarfus sailor wardrobe in "Seaman Tarfu in the Navy".
  • Horny Sailors: A Running Gag in "Seaman Tarfu in the Navy" is a sailor lecherously pursuing a beautiful woman for the entire cartoon, even across the bottom of the ocean, only to lose her to Snafu.
  • Hospital Hottie: A sexy nurse is seen tending to Snafu while he is faking being sick while his squad is drilling in the rain in "The Goldbrick".
  • Hotter and Sexier: Compared with the general release Looney Tunes cartoons (which do get a little risque at times, but are pretty much bound by The Hays Code not to go too far), these cartoons featured a lot more female nudity, swearing (mostly "hell" and "damn," which back then, were considered taboo), and more "adult" jokes, since their audience were young, male, semi-educated soldiers who needed the morale boost when fighting overseas and enjoyed lowbrow humor and the scantily-clad women. If Looney Tunes was The Simpsons of the 1930s and '40s, Private Snafu was the South Park.
  • Human Head on the Wall: At the end of "Private Snafu vs. Malaria Mike", Malaria Mike has Snafu's head mounted on his wall above his fireplace.
  • Humanoid Female Animal: The female mosquitoes in "It's Murder She Says."
  • Incredibly Conspicuous Drag: Snafu in "Operation Snafu" is not particularly convincing as a woman, but still apparently manages to fool a guard. In defense of the poor short-sighted Japanese gentleman it must be said that Snafu passed the Eek, a (Mechanical) Mouse!! test. Also, the Japanese officer knew it was Snafu, and soon after getting close to him, reaches down his dress in search of the intelligence he had stolen. Snafu slaps him, of course.
  • Insect Gender-Bender: Averted with the bloodsucking mosquitoes in "It's Murder She Says" as they are female as in real life, but played straight with the titular male bloodsucking mosquito in "Target Snafu," and "Private Snafu vs Malaria Mike" as male mosquitoes only feed on fruit and nectar off plants.
  • Instant Gravestone: Snafu gets one after he is flattened by a Japanese tank in "The Goldbrick".
  • Instant Illness: In both "Private Snafu vs. Malaria Mike" and "It's Murder She Says", anyone bitten by a mosquito immediately develops all of he symptoms of malaria (and in the case of one unfortunate tree, immediately expires).
  • Interactive Narrator: In "Booby Traps", Snafu gets in an argument with the narrator after the narrator describes him as 'a boob'.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: In "It's Murder She Says", Anopheles Annie says this to other female mosquitos in the bar, and in flashback she does look very attractive—for an anthropomorphic mosquito—before the US Army's malaria eradication program turned her into the broken down wreck she is now.
  • Jerkass: It's understandable since it's a military instructional cartoon, but Snafu is an arrogant, selfish, stupid, and rather nasty, singleminded solider who brings his own fates on himself due to his incompetence.
  • Joke of the Butt: "Censored" has a gag where Snafu fails to sneak past the electric eye because of his rump coming into contact with the beam.
  • Kavorka Man: Despite Snafu being homely, short, dumb, witless and rude, he seems to have no problem getting the affections of extremely beautiful and curvy young women.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: The narration of the very first cartoon explains the derivation of the name Snafu. As the letters SNAFU are displayed on screen, the narrator says: "Snafu. Situation Normal, All ..." (the narrator pauses as the letter "F" on screen vibrates) "... All Fouled Up."
  • Laughably Evil: The key reason Snafu getting outsmarted or even killed by the enemy front doesn't come off as a sudden dark swerve. This is essentially the goofy bungling wartime caricatures in Looney Tunes cartoons scoring a Team Rocket Wins.
  • Leitmotif: Snafu's "Theme" consists of a classic five note snippet called "You're A Horse's Ass", which fits the bumbling soldiers inept personality.
  • Let's Meet the Meat: "The Chow Hound." Not only does the steer want people to eat him, but after seeing all the brave men volunteering to serve, he leaves his blushing bride on the wedding night in order to volunteer as food for allied soldiers. Since the episode is a warning to soldiers not to waste food, the end of the episode features the ghost of the steer eagerly watching as Snafu eats a plate of him, and actually becoming dismayed and angry when Snafu leaves half his meal unfinished.
  • Loose Lips:
    • The essential Aesop to the short, Spies, in which Snafu inadvertently blabs bit by bit all the spies around him need to know about his ship's departure time. It results in the Axis literally blowing him to hell.
    • Also the point of "Going Home". After his discharge, Snafu continues to discuss military matters out in public, leading to his platoon being wiped out.
  • Male Gaze: A lot of the featured nubile women have the camera emphasize on their boobs, butts and legs. Not surprising when you remember these were shorts created with soldiers in mind.
  • Mildly Military: Deconstructed in "Gripes". Snafu is frustrated at the military's rigorous discipline standards, so when the Technical Fairy First Class makes him his base's commander, he greatly relaxes them... which means the troops under his command are woefully unprepared when the Germans attack.
  • Mime and Music-Only Cartoon:
    • "Pay Day", by Friz Freleng, is pretty much dialog free, relying on music and timing to accentuate the visual gags. The only dialog is at the very end.
    • Similarly "Operation Snafu" (also by Freleng) is a mostly silent cartoon besides some gibberish by the Japanese caricatures.
  • Mobile Shrubbery: In "A Lecture on Camouflage", after his jeep is shot by a Nazi shell, Snafu takes cover in the nearby woods, but the Technical Fairy First Class reminds him to cover his tracks. After doing so, it is time for Snafu to relax. He smokes under the shade of a tree. He is not alarmed when the tree asks for a light, speaking in a German accent. The Fairy has to remind him that the enemy can use camouflage too. Snafu sneaks away, but he is being followed by enemy soldiers posing as a tree, a tree stump, and a boulder.
  • Mosquito Miscreants: In "Private Snafu vs. Malaria Mike", "Target Snafu" and "It's Murder She Says".
  • Mouse Trap: In "Booby Traps", one of the booby traps that almost does for Snafu is a giant mousetrap.
  • Ms. Fanservice: When the story calls for it, the female characters could be sexy in a way that The Hays Code would never allow.
    • In "The Home Front," Snafu complains that his grandfather is doing no work for the war, but spends his time watching the girly shows, which are shown relatively explicitly for the era.
  • Musical Episode: "Fighting Tools", where almost all the dialogue is sung to the tune of "The Gay Caballero"
  • Naked People Are Funny: The ending of "Fighting Tools" has Snafu being stark naked in a POW Camp after being blown out of his clothes by a Nazi grenade.
  • Napoleon Delusion: After Snafu is locked up in a padded cell at the end of "Rumors", he is joined by a crazed baloney wearing a Napoleon hat. (It Makes Sense in Context.)
  • Negative Continuity: Hence how Snafu is able to come back after being killed 6 times.
  • Never Bareheaded: The Technical Fairy First Class is never seen without his garrison cap.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: "That's the conditions that prevail!" (Jimmy Durante as walrus in "In the Aleutians - Isles of Enchantment")
  • No-Dialogue Episode: "Pay Day" and "Operation Snafu" contain very little dialogue, in the former the only spoken dialogue is provided by a mouse and in the later we only have the gibberish spoken by the Japanese officers.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: In "Outpost", lonesome Snafu dreams of a woman...and so does his trusty avian sidekick.
    • And the female mosquitoes in "It's Murder She Says", of course. See below.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Played for laughs in "Booby Traps."
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Though the Nazi forces tend to be given the same silly front as standard Looney Tunes examples (right down to Mel Blanc's goofiest German accent), they are treated as much more lethal and resilient, and sometimes even successfully bump off Snafu in the end. Justified as these shorts were for the purpose of military viewing and showing soldiers to take their jobs seriously.
  • Off the Chart: In "It's Murder She Says", the graph showing the malaria rates goes off the top of the chart, with several extra charts stuck on above the original to capture the rise, before going off the edge of the screen.
  • Open Shirt Taunt: In "Fighting Tools", a German soldier opens his shirt to taunt Snafu when he sees that his rifle is leaking mud.
    Hmm, that rifle looks just a bit gooey
    If you t'ink I am scared, you're plum screwy
    Go on, fire away, buck, you're damn gun's full of muck
    Und nothing comes out but just hooey
  • Out of Focus: "Hot Spot" and "The Chow Hound" focus considerably less on Snafu himself.
  • Painted Tunnel, Real Train: Extremely rare non-chase-related example in "Hot Spot".
  • Parasol of Pain: In "No Buddy Atoll", Snafu accidentally knocks out his Japanese foe when he mistakenly triggers the umbrella function on his Swiss-Army Weapon.
  • Pathetic Drooping Weapon: Justified in "Fighting Tools", that details the importance of weapon maintenance. Snafu is shown employing a Vicker's Machine Gun against a German soldier, but since Snafu didn't hook up the cooling jacket's water supply, the barrel goes floppy as the weapon liquifies into a puddle, not unlike melting ice cream.
  • Peeling Potatoes: Snafu is stuck on KP in "Gripes"; peeling potatoes with his feet while scrubbing pots with his hands and sweeping the floor with his butt.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Snafu smacks a Nazi in the face with his rifle butt in "Fighting Tools": the rifle having jammed because of Snafu's lack of maintenance. This does not help him.
  • Playing Sick: In "The Goldbrick", Snafu fakes being sick so he can get of drill in the rain, and spends the day cosied up in bed being tended to by a Hospital Hottie. However, avoiding training leaves him unprepared when his unit goes into action in the South Pacific.
  • Polka-Dot Disease: In "The Goldbrick", Goldie the Goldbrick paints Snafu's face with 'measles paint' to cover him in spots so he can feign illness and get out of drill.
  • Polka-Dot Paint: In "The Goldbrick", Goldie the Goldbrick applies a coat of spotted 'measles paint' to Snafu's face to allow him to fake being sick.
  • Potty Emergency: Unsurprisingly, given the subject matter, Snafu suffers one in "Few Quick Facts: Diarrhea and Dysentery".
  • Public Domain Animation: As the films were made for army training and sanctioned by the government, all Private Snafu cartoons are in the public domain.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: "The Outpost" is intended to explain why being assigned to remote and/or unpleasant stations is important work in its own way.
  • Read the Freaking Manual: The Aesop to the short, "Snafuperman" about the consequences of not reading your field manuals.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Geisel's trademark rhyming shows up mainly in "Gripes", "Spies", and "Rumors" (the latter, only in the narration).
  • Right Out of My Clothes: Happens to Snafu in "Fighting Tools" when his jeep is blown up by a Nazi grenade, and he ends the cartoon stark naked in a POW Camp.
  • Right Way/Wrong Way Pair: Snafu plays both roles in the pair — he does it wrong, and then goes back and does it right (most of the time. You have shorts like "Spies" where he doesn't know what he did wrong until it was too late).
  • Running Gag: The sailor following the hot babe in "Seaman Tarfu in the Navy". Completely with The Stinger after the end credits:
    Snafu (taking the girl away from the sailor): "What do you expect, the army made this picture!"
  • The Runt at the End: In "Three Brothers", Snafu's brother Fubar is working in the K-9 Corps. As a target dummy. He gets pursued by a pack of attack dogs. The last one, lagging behind the others, is a tiny and extremely yappy Chihuahua.
  • Safe Driving Aesop: This trope was Played for Laughs in one episode that had Snafu driving a jeep, but getting distracted by a poster of a woman in lingerie and crashing. Explosions ensued, but being a cartoon, Snafu was perfectly okay. Since the shorts were entertaining, soldiers paid attention and they still got the message across.
  • Satan: Appears in "Spies" and "Hot Spot".
  • Scenery Censor: Sally Lou's breasts are (barely) covered by Snafu's letter in "Censored".
  • Schmuck Bait: The various booby traps in the short of that name.
  • Self-Duplication: In "Gas", the sentient cloud of Deadly Gas splits itself into three in order to surround Snafu.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: "The Chow Hound", where a bull sacrifices his body to become meat which would be served as food to Snafu—only for Snafu to eat so much beforehand that he throws out said meat made from the bull, much to his ghost's chagrin.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Carl Stalling makes one to his early Disney work by reusing a musical score he composed for the Silly Symphonies short "Hell's Bells" in the opening of "Hot Spot".
    • "Snafuperman" is a pretty obvious one to Superman. It even uses the iconic Max Fleischer Superman theme.
  • Spin-Off: Of the Looney Tunes shorts.
  • Stealth Pun: The short Hot Spot has the Devil watching the army travel through a desert. Throughout the short, we see him breaking down in the heat as he strips out of his business suit and uses any liquids to keep himself cool. The joke, of course, is that it's hotter than Hell out there!
  • Stocking Filler: Snafu's girlfriend Sally Lou spends all of "Censored" in stockings, suspenders and panties and nothing else.
  • Super Window Jump: In "Rumors", Snafu enters the barracks to hide by jumping in through a closed window. He then exits by jumping out a different closed window.
  • Swallow the Key: The Japanese soldier in "Operation Snafu". (And the war secret too, later on. In a strange lapse of competence, Snafu kidnaps the soldier along with the secret and rows back to America.)
  • Swiss-Army Weapon: Snafu wields a pretty useless one in "No Buddy Atoll". (Until he accidentally pulls out an umbrella which promptly knocks out the foe.)
  • Tae Kwon Door: In "Operation Snafu", Snafu tricks the three Japs chasing him into bowing, then slams a door on their heads.
  • Take That!: "Snafuperman" is huge one towards the Superman Theatrical Cartoons created by Max Fleischer, showing that even if you have Superman's powers, you will be more of a detriment than an asset to the army if you don't pay attention to your formal military training.
  • That Poor Plant:
    • In "Gas", the flowers in the meadow where Snafu is lazing wither and die as the sentient cloud of Deadly Gas touches down.
    • In "Private Snafu vs. Malaria Mike", Mike misses Snafu and bites a tree, which then develops all the symptoms of malaria and keels over.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Private Snafu is killed in 6 shorts.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Adolf Hitler and the Nazis that show up.
    • Defied in a way, as many Nazis —and even the Japanese— though somewhat comical, are shown as far more competent than their bumbling counterparts seen in civilian propaganda. Several of Snafu's screwups result in Nazi victories (Weapons of War, where a Nazi captures Snafu since the latter had taken poor care of his equipment and Spies, where Nazi spies send information straight to Hitler, who sends his U-boat fleet after the Ship Snafu is on). The reason for this is that civilian propaganda's aim was to allay fears at home by depicting the Axis powers as a joke, while the goal of military propaganda was to demonstrate the opposite, telling soldiers that their enemies were a real, very dangerous threat and had to be taken seriously.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: On some occasions, Snafu's failures would turn out to be All Just a Dream with Snafu living to learn from his earlier errors. In the last handful of shorts he outright succeeds in a few missions with minimal trial and error.
  • Tokyo Rose: When Tokyo Rose begins spewing her anti-American propaganda over the airwaves in "Tokyo Woes", Seaman Hook is inspired to fight back, using War Bonds as literal weapons against her.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Private Snafu. Of course, since it's a primarily an instructional series, the entire point is to show how not to act. That said, it's a wonder he wasn't rejected 4F due to mental incompetence.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Snafu becomes...shockingly competent in the last two shorts, which drop the instructional aspect in favor of basic cartoon shenanigans. Hot Spot has him showing near-inhuman determination in helping transport supplies in the blazing Iran desert up to Russia (with his only major 'screwup' happening because Cartoon Physics decided out of the blue not to work for him), and Operation Snafu has him play Bugs Bunny and steal top-secret war plans from the Japanese. Guess the Army won't let you be a screwup forever...
  • Toplessness from the Back: Snafu's girlfriend Sally Lou in "Censored".
  • Villain Song: The Goldbrick.
  • Vine Swing: In "No Buddy Atoll'', Snafu performs one in order to drop a pile of coconuts on the head of a Japanese sailor.
  • Visual Pun: "Booby Traps" has a female dummy whose breasts turn out to be disguised bombs; i.e. literal 'booby traps'.
  • Vocal Evolution: In the pilot short "Coming Snafu", Mel Blanc's voice for Snafu is pitch shifted higher and lacks as thick an accent, leading him to sound more like his Daffy Duck voice. In later shorts he gave Snafu a deeper more nasally voice, essentially a dopier version of Bugs Bunny.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: In "It's Murder She Says", Anopheles Annie runs off and sticks her head over a rock to throw up after being splashed with a drop of G.I. Repellent.
  • Wartime Cartoon: Not just wartime, but actual military issue.
  • Weapons Understudies: One cartoon went unreleased, supposedly owing to serious similarities to the Manhattan Project, which at the time was a top-secret undertaking.
  • Where's My Gun?: Happens several times to Snafu as a result of his general ineptitude. In "Fighting Tools", he has trouble finding his rifle, and the machine gun and howitzer are located a stupidly long way from his tent (although given everything else he has done to his weapons, not knowing their whereabouts is the least of his problems). In "Gas", it is his gas mask that he can't locate.
  • White Glove Test: The battleship in "Seaman Tarfu in the Navy" has an automatic deck swabbing machine, which is then followed by an automated white glove checking the cleanliness of the deck.
  • Who Needs Enemies?: The first short has Snafu act like such a blundering nuisance that he is imprisoned by his own side.
  • Xylophone Gag: Originated in the cartoon Booby Traps, though unlike other instances of the gag in Looney Tunes, other than Snafu having trouble hitting the correct key at the beginning, the trap actually succeeds in taking the life of the intended victim.
  • Yellow Peril: The Japanese caricatures.


Booby Traps

The very first cartoon to feature this gag.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / XylophoneGag

Media sources: