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Western Animation / Rabbit Fire

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Daffy Duck once again successfully negotiates his way into a gunshot.

"You're despicable. Yes! You're despicable! And, and... and picable! And you're very, definitely despicable! How a person can get so, so despicable in one lifetime is-is beyond me! It isn't though I haven't met a lot of people. Goodness knows it isn't that! It isn't that's that! Goodness knows! It isn't-! It's... it's... despicable."
Daffy Duck

"Rabbit Fire" is a 1951 Looney Tunes short directed by Chuck Jones, featuring another attempt by Elmer Fudd to hunt Bugs Bunny, only with a new twist: this one also features Daffy Duck, and he and Bugs each spend the entire picture trying to get Elmer to shoot the other.

This short is quite possibly the most iconic Looney Tunes short, featuring the famous "Duck season!", "Wabbit season!" scene, and establishing the rivalry between the studio's two biggest animated stars, Bugs and Daffy. This was not the first time that the two of them appeared in a short together — that distinction belongs to "Porky Pig's Feat" — but it was the first to have them both as major characters and audiences immediately loved their chemistry. It was the first in a trilogy of Bugs-Daffy-Elmer cartoons known as the "hunting trilogy," the others being "Rabbit Seasoning" (1952) and "Duck! Rabbit! Duck!" (1953). The duo proved so successful as a team that later cartoons, shows, and movies all paired these two up in one way or another. It's also the point where Daffy's persona changed from the screwball prankster, whose wacky-yet-clever behavior made him as formidable a foe for hunter-types as Bugs, to the often-greedy, selfish, bitterly sarcastic and jealous Daffy that's better known in modern times (in order to make Daffy a better foil for Bugs, rather than simply have two alpha personalities bounce off of one another). While the portrayal has stuck around, Daffy has occasionally reverted to his original personality in a few productions since, most notably in New Looney Tunes in 2018 and Looney Tunes Cartoons in 2020.

"Rabbit Fire" provides examples of:

  • Ambiguous Situation: Unlike the later entries in the Hunting Trilogy of Bugs Bunny cartoons, it’s never made clear whether it's actually Duck Season or Rabbit Season, and by the end, Bugs and Daffy Take a Third Option and say that it's Elmer Season. Was it actually Rabbit Season and Bugs was trying to survive, or was it actually Duck Season and Daffy was trying to convince Elmer otherwise?
  • Amusing Injuries: Getting shot in the face has never been funnier.
  • Aside Glance: Easy to miss, but Bugs does one — complete with eyebrow wiggle — just before pulling the switch on Daffy in the Duck Season, Rabbit Season argument.
  • Ass in a Lion Skin: Bugs pretends to be a duck; Daffy pretends to be a rabbit and a dog.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Elmer falls for one of Bugs' female disguises again.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: What eventually causes Bugs and Daffy to flip the tables and declare that it's Elmer Season is the fact that Elmer hunts for rather sadistic purposes.
    Elmer: I'm sowwy, fewwas, but I'm a vegetawian. I just hunt for the sport of it! Heheheheheheheh.
    Bugs: Oh, yeah?! Well, there's other sport besides hunting, y'know!
  • Bookends: At the end of the cartoon, Bugs and Daffy take turns tearing "Rabbit Season" and "Duck Season" notices off of a tree, only to see an "Elmer Season" notice at the very bottom. As Elmer hightails it out of there, the camera cuts to the pair in hunters' garb, who then shush the camera.
    Bugs and Daffy: [in unison] Shhhh!
    Bugs: Be vewy, vewy quiet. We're hunting Elmers!
    Daffy: [imitating Elmer] Hahahahahaha!
  • Bowdlerise: This cartoon (and the other two shorts in the "Hunter's Trilogy") has been shown in edited form on nearly every American network TV channel (and one cable channel), all for the same gag: Daffy getting shot in the face by Elmer.
    • Versions of these cartoons shown on ABC and "The Merrie Melodies Show" (the syndicated and FOX versions from the 1990s) would cut to a freeze-framed shot of Bugs looking off-camera while the audio of Daffy getting shot was still heard.
    • CBS and the now-defunct WB, however, edited both audio and visual of Daffy getting blasted. In both cases, Elmer levels his gun at Daffy, and then it abruptly cuts to the duck already shot.
    • Nickelodeon (the one cable channel mentioned above) actually left "Rabbit Seasoning" and "Duck! Rabbit! Duck!" intact in the editing department, but "Rabbit Fire" wasn't so lucky. In this case, the famous "no more bullets" part (where Daffy looks down the barrel of Elmer's rifle and gets shot through his scalp) was cut.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Daffy Duck, who up until this point had been the franchise's perennial Screwball Squirrel, finally meets his match when he attempts to scapegoat Bugs.
  • Character Catchphrase: Daffy says "You're despicable" for the first time here... then goes on a rant about how despicable Bugs is (which is the page quote).
  • Character Check: Though this is Jones' Characterisation Click Moment for his fall guy take on Daffy, he still has traces of his Cloudcuckoolander personality here, even bursting into his "Woo hoo" laugh at the start of the short. Not to mention he is still competent when he works alongside Bugs instead of against him.
  • Duck Season, Rabbit Season: The argument in this short is the Trope Namer. It is only the first part of a very funny gag. It's a combination of the normal trope as well as the "light switch" variant — Bugs and Daffy are actually pushing a gun barrel towards each other every time they say their line. When Bugs says "rabbit season," he also takes the barrel and pushes it towards Daffy, but then quickly back towards himself. When Daffy says "duck season," he pulls the gun back at himself.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: The Trope Namer himself appears.
  • Enemy Mine: Bugs and Daffy start working together towards the end.
  • Evil Vegetarian: Bugs and Daffy start reading Duck and Rabbit "1000 Ways How to Cook" books respectively to get Elmer to hunt their "tastier" rival... only for Elmer to reveal he's a vegetarian who hunts for sports. Bugs does not take kindly to this.
    Bugs: Oh, yeah?! Well, there's other sport besides hunting, y'know!
    Daffy: Anyone for tennis?
    Daffy: [dazed] Nith game.
  • Eyebrow Waggle: Bugs gives a very subtle one to the audience during the Duck Season, Rabbit Season bit, hinting that he's about to switch it around.
  • Head Turned Backwards: After the third Duck Season, Rabbit Season routine, the blast from Elmer's gun flips Daffy's head backwards and upside down.
  • Hollywood Healing: Though Daffy hardly seems injured by his shotgun blasts to the face anyway, all it seems to do is misplace his beak.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: At the end of the short, as Bugs and Daffy continue to pull away posters saying "Rabbit Season" and "Duck Season" alternately, each trying to convince Elmer to shoot the other, they finally reach the final poster, which reads "Elmer Season". In the next shot we see Bugs and Daffy dressed as hunters, carrying rifles and "hunting for Elmers".
  • Irony: Elmer is a vegetarian who hunts for the fun of it.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: Turns out there was One Buwwet Weft.
  • Karmic Trickster: As expected. Yes, Bugs puts Daffy through the wringer, but Daffy started it with the fake rabbit tracks. Then Elmer insists on shooting both of them, and it doesn't end well for him either.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: What's an elephant doing in the North American woods? Rule of Funny.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The elephant's voice is based on comedian Joe Besser (best known today as one of The Three Stooges), and his one line includes one of Besser's catchphrases. ("You do and I'll give you such a pinch!")
  • "Oh, Crap!" Smile: The look on Elmer's face when he realises that Bugs and Daffy have found a poster proclaiming it to be Elmer Season, and are giving him very evil grins indeed.
  • One Bullet Left: The arguable Trope Namer.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Daffy as a hunting dog, which entails fake doggie ears and a plunger for a tail. Also, Bugs and Daffy disguising themselves as each other. And they all work!
  • Point That Somewhere Else: Bugs and Daffy move Elmer's rifle back and forth between the two of them during the Duck Season, Rabbit Season routine.
  • Pun-Based Title: Like so many shorts involving Bugs, this one is a pun on "Rapid Fire".
  • Specific Situation Books: Bugs pulls out a book called "1000 Ways to Cook a Duck" and starts reading it. A minute later, Daffy pulls out "1000 Ways to Cook a Rabbit" and reads that too.
  • Take a Third Option: The ending, with Elmer Season.
  • Too Dumb to Live: "I say it's duck season. And I say fire!" He does this several times.
  • Unbuilt Trope: This is the first short to establish Bugs and Daffy's Comically Lopsided Rivalry. However the premise itself is more chaotic and built more around Elmer dealing with two trickster animals. The duo's banter only takes up the first half of the short (and Daffy does actually keep even footing with Bugs in a couple gags, not quite fully clicked into his later role). The remainder is them using Teeth-Clenched Teamwork against Elmer, with both of them winning, seeming like a rare Team Rocket Wins for Daffy to modern viewers. By the second short "Rabbit Seasoning" the dynamic is has been fully realised, with Elmer more an oblivious middle man between the two's feud. It's also worth noting that this short was among a large amount of one-off crossovers with Daffy and other Looney Tunes entrants during this era (eg. Henery Hawk, Sylvester, Marvin), the Bugs pairing just happening to click long-term.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Bugs uses this disguise at one point, as usual.

Bugs and Daffy: [in unison] Shhhh!
Daffy: Hahahahahaha!


"We're Hunting Elmers"

Best of luck, Elmer.

How well does it match the trope?

4.98 (59 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheHunterBecomesTheHunted

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