Screwy Squirrel and Meathead and their Offscreen Teleportation doubles together: Oh, brother! NOT THAT!
(cue Big Ball of Violence)
After quitting Warner Bros. Cartoonsnote in 1941 following a squabble with Leon Schlesinger, director Tex Avery was hired by the MGM cartoon studio to give them something to offer the public aside from Harman and Ising's cutesy one-shot shorts or Hanna and Barbera's newly-launched Tom and Jerry series.
And to say he succeeded with flying colors would be an understatement.
Free of the budgetary and creative constraints he'd faced at Warners, and with a staff of skilled animators (some of whom were even ex-Disney employees) at his side, Avery went on to make some of the funniest and most acclaimed cartoon shorts of The Golden Age of Animation, if not of all time. From 1942 to 1957, he cranked out dozens of classics, many of which would codify the Zany Cartoon and thereby serve as an influence on countless followers, including master animator Richard Williams and Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi.
Syndicated reruns of the shorts on UHF stations during The Dark Age of Animation and on various Turner networks (including TBS, TNT, and most notably, Cartoon Network) during The Renaissance Age of Animation cemented their popularity in the lexicon of pop culture and helped them influence future generations of cartoonists and cartoon enthusiasts.
Warner Archive released a blu-ray collection of 19 shorts in February 2020, followed by another in December. WB's ownership of Avery's work for MGM is ironic given that he left the former studio on bad terms in 1941.
Notable Shorts Include:
- Batty Baseball
- Blitz Wolf: Academy Award nominee.
- Red Hot Riding Hood
- Northwest Hounded Police
- King Size Canary
- The Cat That Hated People
- Bad Luck Blackie
- Little Rural Riding Hood
- Little Johnny Jet: Academy Award nominee.
- Little 'Tinker
- Screwball Squirrel (1944)
- Señor Droopy
- Swing Shift Cinderella
- Magical Maestro: Selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
- Tetralogy of Tomorrow: a series of four shorts parodying "Technology of the Future" films.
- Blitz Wolf: Tex's first MGM short, and a biting attack on Adolf Hitler. Also the first appearance of Tex's recurring Wolf character.
- The Early Bird Dood It
- Dumb-Hounded: The debut of Droopy, who attempts to capture the convict Wolf.
- Red Hot Riding Hood: Debut of "Red".
- Who Killed Who?
- One Ham's Family
- What's Buzzin', Buzzard?
- Screwball Squirrel (1944): First appearance of Screwy Squirrel.
- Batty Baseball
- Happy-Go-Nutty: The second appearance of Screwy Squirrel.
- Big Heel-Watha: The third appearance of Screwy Squirrel
- The Screwy Truant: The fourth appearance of Screwy Squirrel.
- The Shooting of Dan McGoo: Droopy's second cartoon, and the second appearance of "Red".
- Jerky Turkey: Public Domain.
- Swing Shift Cinderella: A follow up to Red Hot Riding Hood.
- Wild and Woolfy: One of the first cartoons to air on Cartoon Network
- Lonesome Lenny: The last appearance of Screwy Squirrel, as he is severely impaired in the end of the cartoon.
- The Hick Chick
- Northwest Hounded Police: A remake of "Dumb-Hounded", and also one of Tex's best cartoons.
- Henpecked Hoboes: The debut of George and Junior the bears.
- Hound Hunters
- Red Hot Rangers
- Uncle Tom's Cabaña: A parody of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and one of Tex's more...outdated cartoons, basically his equivilent of Bob Clampett's Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs. Red also makes an appearance as Little Eva.
- Slap Happy Lion: Has the Tom and Jerry closing card on its reissue print due to an accidental switch with this short and the T&J short "Smarty Cat"
- King Size Canary: Another one of his most known cartoons. One of the first cartoons to air on Cartoon Network.
- What Price Fleadom
- Little 'Tinker
- Half-Pint Pygmy: Another one of Tex's more politically incorrect cartoons. Also the last appearance of George and Junior.
- Lucky Ducky
- The Cat That Hated People: Tex Avery's answer to Porky in Wackyland
- Bad Luck Blackie
- Señor Droopy: Notable, if just for the Roger Rabbit Effect ending, complete with a cameo of actress Lina Romay!
- The House of Tomorrow: The first of Tex's "Tetralogy Of Tomorrow."
- Doggone Tired: Public Domain.
- Wags To Riches
- Little Rural Riding Hood: Yet another follow up to Red Hot Riding Hood, with Stock Footage from Swing Shift Cinderella combined with a Country Hick plot.
- The Counterfeit Cat
- Ventriloquist Cat
- The Cuckoo Clock
- Garden Gopher
- The Chump Champ
- The Peachy Cobbler
- Cock-A-Doodle Dog
- Daredevil Droopy
- Droopy's Good Deed
- Symphony in Slang: A short that takes the Hurricane of Puns trope and milks it for all its worth. It's as funny as it sounds.
- Car of Tomorrow: The second of Avery's "Tetralogy Of Tomorrow."
- Droopy's Double Trouble
- Magical Maestro: Preserved in the National Film Registry.
- One Cab's Family: A short that bears a remarkable resemblance to the 1937 Friz Freleng-directed Warner Bros. cartoon "Streamlined Greta Green". It also seems to be the design inspiration for Pixar's Cars. It also came out the same year as the Disney cartoon "Susie the Little Blue Coupe", which also featured anthropomorphic cars (stylized in a conspicuously-similar way). Notably Lighter and Softer and more melodramatic than the majority of Avery's later work, possibly due to the one-time influence of veteran Disney storyman Roy Williams.
- Rock-A-Bye Bear
- Little Johnny Jet: A follow-up/rehash of One Cab's Family, but WITH PLANES!
- TV of Tomorrow: The third of Avery's "Tetralogy Of Tomorrow."
- The Three Little Pups: First appearance of Tex's Southern wolf voiced by Daws Butler.
- Drag-A-Long Droopy
- Billy Boy: A short centered on a baby Extreme Omnigoat. Also the second appearance of the Southern wolf.
- Homesteader Droopy
- The Farm Of Tomorrow: Fourth and last of the "Tetralogy Of Tomorrow."
- The Flea Circus
- Dixieland Droopy
- Field and Scream
- The First Bad Man
- Deputy Droopy: A partial remake of the short "Rock-A-Bye Bear". In production during the shutdown of Avery's unit in 1953; resultantly forcing longtime Avery animator Mike Lah to complete it (hence his co-director credit on the final release)
- Cellbound: Likewise completed by Mike Lah and animated by a crew sourced from the Hanna-Barbera unit due to the prior dissolution of Avery's unit
- Millionare Droopy: The last of the original Droopy cartoons. A Cinema Scope remake of "Wags To Riches".
- Abhorrent Admirer: Red's grandmother in "Red Hot Riding Hood," and her fairy godmother in "Swing Shift Cinderella," just to name a couple.
- Accordion Man: Plenty of times. A literal one that hasn't been flattened appears in "The Cat That Hated People."
- Anachronism Stew: Highly abundant and played for laughs in "Jerky Turkey," which alludes, among other things, to the Navy (1775); the Democrats (1830) and Republicans (1854); and cigarettes (the 1830's).
- And Call Him "George": Avery's fondness for Of Mice and Men parodies arguably increased following his move to MGM.
- Anvil on Head: Common in many cartoons.
Spike: TIIIIIIIIM—Tree: *falls completely the wrong way and smashes down on Spike hard enough for him to go straight through it and not even move*Spike: —BER.
- Any time it involved Spike and a tree (or in one case, a main pole in a circus tent), the following dialogue was obligatory:
- Art Evolution:
- Believe it or not, over time Droopy's face becomes less...droopy. Also, MGM cartoons as a whole leaned more and more towards Limited Animation as time went on.
- Screwy had a slightly different, ironically more cute design in his first two shorts, which was quickly replaced by his more goofy pinhead design.
- Red kept a consistent appearance in her shorts, but she was slightly shorter in her initial appearance.
- Ass in a Lion Skin: "Little 'Tinker," near the end when B.O. Skunk tries to woo a female by painting his fur like a fox. The girl fox he meets turns out, after they fall into a creek and their paint washes off, actually to be another skunk in disguise. Cue them kissing.
- George and Junior try this trick in their shorts many times, though it always backfires on them, usually either due to Junior becoming confused and forgetting that George is the one in disguise, or for example in the case of "Hound Hunters" in which they are dog catchers trying to attract dogs by dressing in a cat suit, the scheme works too well.
- Baseball Episode: "Batty Baseball," natch.
- Bears Are Bad News: "Rock-A-Bye Bear"."QUIET! SHUDDUP! QUIET!! I HATE NOISE!! I CAN'T STANDS NOISE!! WHAT THE MATTA? YOU DEEF OR SOMETHIN'??"
- Because You Were Nice to Me: In "Peachy Cobbler", in return for the kindhearted cobbler giving them his last piece of bread (while they were disguised as snow birds), the elves decided to finish all his shoe orders for him.
- Berserk Button: Whatever you do to Droopy, don't ever, EVER deface a picture of the girl he loves...or take away his son's milk.Droopy: Y'know what? That makes me mad!
- Big "SHUT UP!":
- Joe Bear shouts this a lot in "Rock-a-Bye Bear".
- In the "House of Tomorrow" short, there's a machine for kids to ask questions to, so the parents won't have to. When a little kid in a sailor suit starts rambling questions, the machine screams "AAAAAHHHH, SHADDUP!" and sticks a plunger on his mouth.
- Black Comedy Cannibalism: The premise of "What's Buzzin' Buzzard?", with the two buzzards trying to eat each other.
- Born in the Theatre: Definitely a favorite of Tex's, from characters running off of the film they're printed on, to yelling at members of the movie theater audience, to pulling stray hairs out of the theater projectors, to passing the boundary of the Toon universe where Technicolor ends.
- Brick Joke: The pin-up in "Rock-A-Bye Bear". Early on, Spike folds it into a paper airplane to keep from blowing a whistle and throws it out the window. It comes back at the end, just in time for the other dog to whistle at it and wake the bear.
- Broken Record: While Screwy Squirrel was being chased by Meathead, the soundtrack gets stuck, as does the film. After a while, Screwy steps over to a record player where the soundtrack is playing, adjusts the needle and gets back in position so the chase begins again.
- Butter Face: Several cartoons use this gag, such as "Big Heel-Watha" and "The Chump Champ".
- By the Lights of Their Eyes: Parodied in "Who Killed Who?" — a pair of eyes peek through a slot on the door, and when spotted, the slot shuts... leaving the eyes on the other side of it. The eyes proceed to bang themselves on the slot to get it reopened.
- Cartoon Conductor: In "The Magical Maestro", a magician switches places with a conductor so he can get revenge on a performer during a concert, who disallowed the magician as an opening act. Since the magician was using a magic wand for a baton, he not only had Cartoon Conductor power over the orchestra, he could also physically change the performer into whatever embarrassing form he wanted.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Lampshaded in "King Size Canary." The hobo cat is about to eat a mouse (which was in a sealed can of cat food, no less), but the mouse tells him, "I've seen this cartoon before, and brother, believe me if you're smart you won't eat me. 'Cuz before this picture's over, I save your life!" The mouse makes good on his word after all (scaring away a dog as a giant), but how does the cat repay him? By attempting to eat him!
- Cloud Cuckoo Land: "The Cat Who Hated People" is this especially but as "Half Pint Pygmy" goes on, the jungle animals become more and more surreal (like two giraffes connected by their necks with no head between them.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Played with in "Screwball Squirrel," when Screwy is provoking Meathead into chasing him by insulting him through a payphone:Screwy Squirrel: Why, you— (notices audience) Oh, pardon me. (closes door and... blows a raspberry into the speaker.)
- This may also have been because at the time The Hays Code prohibited the sound of flatulence in film, even if it was made by blowing a raspberry.
- Cock-a-Doodle Dawn: In "Cock-a-Doodle Dog", though instead of just crowing at dawn the pesky rooster crows all day long after Butch had no sleep the previous night.
- Country Mouse: The premise of "Little Rural Riding Hood." The Country Wolf is invited to the city by his cousin, who warns him that "Here in the city we do not yell and whistle at the ladies." When Country Wolf sees Red, however, he simply can't help himself.
- Crushing Handshake: In Droopy's Double Trouble, Droopy's super strong twin cousin Drippy crushes the hand of Droopy's superior, the mansion's head butler, upon extending it for a shake.
- Cuckoo Clock Gag:
- In Who Killed Who?, the victim receives a note that he will die at midnight. When the clock chimes midnight, a skeletal bird emerges and says "At the sound of the gun, it will be exactly 12:00."
- The short The Cuckoo Clock is about a cat who is driven mad by the incessant cuckooing of a screwy bird and tries to destroy it.
- Curse Cut Short: At the end of "Blitz Wolf."
- Deadpan Snarker: Droopy, but especially to the Wolf in "The Shooting of Dan McGoo", after the wolf claims his Gargle Blaster was watered down."What do you want for ten cents? Gasoline?"
- Deliberately Jumping the Gun: In "The Chump Champ", Droopy and Spike are competing in sports events. For the first event, the 100 meter dash, Spike has the starting pistol, but after going "On your mark, get set..." he runs to within one step away from the finish line. The moment he yells "Go!" and fires the gun, Droopy instantly zips to the finish line, then tells Spike that he might be cheating.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Michael Lah is credited in "Cellbound" as both animator and director.
- Deranged Animation: Particularly in the cartoon "The Cat That Hated People" when the cat goes to the moon and is freaked out by the bizarre inhabitants he sees.
- Determinator: In "Henpecked Hoboes", George and Junior send a rooster flying to the North Pole by rocket, and he spends the rest of the cartoon relentlessly trying to get back to the barn, and is clearly exhausted and worn out by the time he gets back there. Makes the revenge he gets on the hen worth it though.
- Disguised in Drag: Spike in "Ventriloquist Cat" (female cat) and "The Garden Gopher" (female gopher).
- Disney Acid Sequence: The moon scenes in "The Cat that Hated People."
- Distracted by the Sexy: In the 1949 short "The House of Tomorrow", when the narrator shows a TV with three screens for each member of the familynote and shows the "tired businessman's" TV screen which shows footage of a woman (actress Joi Lansing) in a 1949 "French bathing suit" (a.k.a. bikini), the narrator starts stammering.
- Dog Faces: One of the few non-Disney examples. Examples include the detective and victim in "Who Killed Who", the baseball players in "Batty Baseball", and the head butler in "Droopy's Double Trouble."
- Dogs Hate Squirrels: Screwy was often shown making life hell for dogs. In particular his archenemy was Meathead Dog who would try his darn best to get back at the psychotic squirrel only to be painfully fooled each time. In their debut cartoon, Screwball Squirrel, Screwy gets Meathead riled up by calling him yellow for choosing to chase birds instead of squirrels.
- Dogs Love Fire Hydrants: In one of the starring George and Junior as dog catchers, they dress as fire hydrants to attract a dog they've been trying to catch. They end up being chased by every dog in town.
- In the first Droopy cartoon, he walks behind a hydrant, and after a brief pause, walks out with a look of embarrassment on his face.
- Dope Slap: The tall bandit delivers a few to his shorter partner in "Deputy Droopy". Spike gets one from his own tongue in "Rock-a-bye Bear".
- Downer Ending: Though all of his cartoons are Played for Laughs, he wasn't afraid to end on something of a downer every once in a while. Lampshaded in at least three cartoons where the protagonist meets with a terrible fate ("Batty Baseball," "The Early Bird Dood It," and Screwy Squirrel's last short "Lonesome Lenny"), when a character holds up a sign that says "Sad ending, isn't it?"
- Driven to Suicide: Though sometimes shocking to modern audiences, some of Avery's cartoons ended with the main character shooting themselves, such as "Red Hot Riding Hood".
- Elongating Arm Gag:
- In "Who Killed Who?", first the cop stretches his leg to a door on the other end of a spacious hall; then when the killer has him at gun point and tells him to "reach for the ceiling", the cop stretches his arms all the way to the ceiling, three stories up.
- In "Lonesome Lenny", Screwy Squirrel escapes the titular Lenny by running out of his house to the woods. Lenny then sticks his arm down a hole on the ground, and the camera follows all the way to where Screwy is, wherein Lenny's hand emerges from another hole and pulls him all the way back.
- Eyelash Fluttering: In "Little 'Tinker", a bunny bats her eyelashes at B.O. Skunk. One of said eyelashes even takes on the shape of a beckoning finger.
- The Faceless: Meathead the dog after Screwy Squirrel pulls his face off with flypaper.
- Fake-Out Opening: "Screwball Squirrel" starts off with a tongue in cheek opening of a forest with cutesy animals and a squirrel going out for a stroll. Then Screwy shows up, beats the squirrel to a pulp, and the cartoon officially begins.
- "Red Hot Riding Hood" and "Swing Shift Cinderella" likewise start out mocking the cliché fairy tale cartoons of the 1930's before getting to the real fun. The former even has a Lemony Narrator complimenting the action as mawkishly as he can before the characters eventually get fed up and start to protest.
- Fake Rabies: In the Droopy short "Wags to Riches," Spike puts shaving cream on a sleeping Droopy and phones in a report of a mad dog, but a fan blows the foam onto Spike's face just as the dog catcher arrives.
- Family-Unfriendly Violence
- Finger Gun: Dinosaur Dan in "The First Bad Man" uses his own finger as a gun when his real gun runs out of bullets. Also used by Spike/Butch in "Wags to Riches" (but not in "Millionaire Droopy") after attempting to shoot Droopy.
- Fire and Brimstone Hell: Where the Hitler-type wolf ends up in after getting killed in "Blitz Wolf".Wolf: Where am I? Have I been blown to...A bunch of devils: (in unison) Eh... it's a possibility.
- First-Step Fixation: In "Happy Go Nutty", Screwball Squirrel is in an insane asylum. He slowly opens the door to his cell, looks around to see that nobody is watching... and then closes the door again so he can cut the bars with a file.
- Flat Joy: Droopy is a Trope Codifier.
- Glamorous Wartime Singer: Red was based off of these. In one of her later shorts she does sing a song with a wartime theme.
- Gross-Up Close-Up: A possible Ur-Example occurs in "Cock-A-Doodle Dog", where the camera does a close up on the sleep-deprived Butch's bloodshot eyes (which are made to look like a road map).
- Hat Damage: Amazingly averted in "The Early Bird Dood It". Although the worms' hat is continuously used as a early bird-warning system, it's the only thing in the whole cartoon that doesn't take damage.
- Hospital Hottie: The chicken nurse from the end of "The Hick Chick". Really, she's basically Red if she was a chicken.
- Hurricane of Puns: While a typical Avery cartoon contains plenty of puns, Symphony in Slang in particular is nothing but puns, since the angels interpret the life story of a recently-deceased man literally because this man is a hipster who uses a lot of incomprehensible slang terms.
- Hypocritical Humor: In "Little Rural Riding Hood", when the country wolf is unable to control himself at the sight of Red and tries to rush the stage to join her, his cousin, the city wolf, has no choice but to return him home to the country — only to become equally crazily attracted to the country version of Red, thus prompting the country wolf to take him home to the city!
- Also, Joe Bear ("Rock-a-bye Bear") HATES NOISE!! IF THERE'S ONE THING HE CAN'T STAND, IT'S NOISE!!
- Incoming Ham: From "Rock-a-bye Bear":"SHUT UP! QUIET! DON'T KNOCK SO LOUD! THERE'S ONE THING I HATE, AND THAT'S NOISE! I SAY, I HATE NOISE!"
- The Insomniac: Butch in "Cock-A-Doodle Dog", because he's being kept awake by a noisy rooster.
- Instant Gravestone: Little Tinker features this after an elderly rabbit, in a fit of mad lust for B.O. Skunk's Frank Sinatra impression, jumps out of her wheelchair, does cartwheels, jumps into the air and lands in the ground. A tombstone then appears that reads "Oh Frankie!".
- Instant Waking Skills: In "Rock-a-Bye Bear," a dog is house-sitting for a bear that's going into hibernation; but this bear will instantly wake up at the sound of a pin drop and pummel the dog yelling "QUIET!! SHADDUP! QUIET!!" Hilarity Ensues as a rival dog attempts to wake the bear up and steal the watchdog's job.
- Insult Backfire: In "Happy-Go-Nutty", Screwy Squirrel tells the dog to "go lay an egg". He does.
- Interactive Narrator: "Red Hot Riding Hood" begins this way, with the Wolf, Red Riding Hood and Granny complaining about doing the same story the same way every time.
- Iris Out: Meathead concedes defeat and asks for "Screwball Squirrel" to end, but Screwy holds back the iris and convinces him to go for one last shot a la hide-and-seek.
- Just Whistle: In Bad Luck Blackie a kitten being bullied by a dog makes a deal with a black cat that whenever he blows on a whistle the black cat will come and cross the dog's path, causing bad luck.
- Karma Houdini: Screwy Squirrel, who had seemingly no motivation besides meanness for torturing the dog and who never got his comeuppance. Except, in his final cartoon, the ending suggests the dog killed him - see Downer Ending.
- Kick the Dog: In Uncle Tom's Cabaña, one of the services Simon Legree advertises is "Dogs kicked" (the other ones are "widows evicted", "old ladies tripped" and "kittens drowned").
- Kiss Up the Arm: In Little 'Tinker, BO Skunk thinks he's doing this to a female rabbit he's trying to woo, but she runs off because of his smell and he ends up kissing along a tree branch before kissing an owl on the beak, who promptly passes out.
- Lame Pun Reaction: In "The Car of Tomorrow", the narrator groans at a pun about a car with "seal-beam headlights", with barking, live seals coming out of them.
- Laser-Guided Karma: In "The Magical Maestro" a magician who was shunned as an opening act for a singer, gets revenge by taking the conductor's place and using his magic wand to mess with the singer's performance. At one point, however, his wig falls off and reveals his true identity, so the singer steals the wand and gets revenge by putting the magician through the same things he was put through.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Droopy, when someone has a laugh at his expense for any reason and is about to be severely punished by him for it.Droopy: You know what? That makes me mad!
- Literal Ass-KickingGeorge: Junior... bend over.
- Medium Awareness: Many times the cartoons characters in Avery's shorts knew they were in a cartoon.
- This exchange from "The Early Bird Dood It," as the worm and bird pass by a movie billboard with the lobby card of the very cartoon they're in:Bird: Hey! I hear that's a pretty funny cartoon.Worm: Well, I sure hope it's funnier than this one!
- The book the old coot is reading in Who Killed Who? is titled "Who Killed Who (From the cartoon of the same name)."
- This exchange from "The Early Bird Dood It," as the worm and bird pass by a movie billboard with the lobby card of the very cartoon they're in:
- Medium Blending: Several cartoons include live-action footage as scenes that form part of the story or often as a Cutaway Gag, or inserted into the cartoon world on televisions. Also the moment actress Lina Romay interacts with Droopy, as described above.
- Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: "Lucky Ducky." No spoken dialogue, a few sound effects, a disclaimer at the beginning. And that's it.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: "The Farm of Tomorrow" consists of bizarre cross-breeding experiments such as an ostrich with a chicken (for bigger drumsticks), a duck with a banana (you peel the feathers off instead of plucking), a racehorse with a giraffe (this horse is a cinch to win by a neck) and a dove with a high chair (a stool pigeon).
- Mockumentary: The "Tetralogy of Tomorrow" collection ("The House of Tomorrow", "The Car of...", "T.V. of...", and "Farm of..."), parodies the informational shorts which used to regularly play in theaters before the feature films. The unrelated cartoons, "Field and Scream" and "The First Bad Man", are also this.
- Ms. Fanservice: Red is a classic example. She was intended to be a Ms. Fanservice for World War II troops at the time.
- "The House of Tomorrow" and "T.V. of Tomorrow" include live-action footage of women in swimsuits for Male Gaze viewing.
- Napoleon Delusion: Screwy Squirrel had one, and then gave it to his unfortunate antagonist Meathead.
- Narrator All Along: The narrator of "The First Bad Man" was Dinosaur Dan all along.
- No Fourth Wall: Avery's cartoons were famous for letting the audience know that he knew they were out there!
- No Indoor Voice: The bear in "Rock-a-Bye Bear," who ironically hates noise despite the fact that he's always shouting.
- Not So Stoic: Whenever Droopy receives a kiss from Red, he generally reacts the same way Wolfie would, even kidnapping her at the end of Wild and Woolfy.
- Not the Fall That Kills You…: The killer in "Dumb-Hounded" jumps off a tall building to his supposed death, but he has "good brakes" that he uses to screech himself to a halt just before hitting the pavement, on which he lands as gentle as a feather.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: "The House of Tomorrow" had a Running Gag about features "for the mother-in-law" that were clearly intended to show she's not welcome.
- The "mother-in-law" gag gets repeated in "Car of Tomorrow" and "Field and Scream" and "The First Bad Man"; all (along with "House of...") parodies of documentaries.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Lampshaded in "Screwball Squirrel":Screwy Squirrel: Uh, you people want in on a little secret? You wanna know how I tricked that guy all through the picture?
(a second Screwy Squirrel appears)
Both Screwy Squirrels: We was twins all the time!
(they both laugh, but then two identical Meatheads walk over and pick them up)
Both Meatheads: So was we! (they laugh à la Screwy Squirrel)
- Also Droopy's modus operandi.
- One-Shot Character: Many of the shorts fell into this.
- Open Mouth, Insert Foot: One of the literal gags in "Symphony in Slang," as the hipster explains that "every time [he] opened [his] mouth, [he] put [his] foot in it."
- Pathetic Drooping Weapon: In Lucky Ducky, the hunter Junior attempts to shoot at a duck inside a log, but then the duck pulls out a scary mask that frightens the gun, causing it to shrink, go limp, and waste its shot on the ground.
- The Pearly Gates: The short Symphony in Slang opens with a line of deceased souls at the Pearly Gates being given halos by St. Peter and allowed into Heaven.
- Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat: As seen in The Magical Maestro, in which a magician and his rabbits taking revenge on an opera singer after being spurned from being the show's opening act.
- Racing the Train: The cartoon One Cab's Family, starting around 5:15.
- Rapid-Fire Descriptors: The short Big Heel-Watha describes the title character as a "flat-faced, pigeon-toed, knob-kneed, blubber-headed tub of lard".
- Reference Overdosed: So many of his cartoons allude to now-obscure radio references.
- Scooby-Dooby Doors: Many cartoons, making Tex the Ur-Example if not the Trope Namer.
- Screeching Stop: In "One Ham's Family", a Bratty Half-Pint does a careless Banister Slide but manages to stop, shrieking sound included, mere millimeters away from the expensive vase perched on the finial. It gets lampshaded by what they say next: "I've got me good brakes, haven't I, folks?".
- Screwball Squirrel: Screwy Squirrel is a completely off-the-rockers squirrel who messes with Meathead Dog for no apparent reason. His debut cartoon is the Trope Namer.
- Self-Deprecation: Tex had a habit of lampshading his own corny gags as early as his first MGM cartoon, Blitz Wolf.
- Sentient Vehicle: Occurs twice in two separate cartoons, One Cab's Family (with cars) and its Spiritual Successor, Little Johnny Jet (with planes).
- Sexophone: Hot Trumpet variant whenever an attractive woman struts onto the scene. Always the same riff too ("Frankie and Johnny").
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: "Deputy Droopy" has the sheriff tell Deputy Droopy that if he heard a sound, he'd come in, guns blazing. Two outlaws that are trying to sneak in and rob the safe therefore go to absurd lengths to ensure the sheriff doesn't hear any sounds. After a while of this, they decide the money "ain't worth it" and turn themselves in, only for the sheriff to reveal that his hearing aid battery has been dead for a week, and therefore he can't hear a thing.
- Shot-for-Shot Remake: His last two shorts ("Millionaire Droopy" and "Cat's Meow") were remakes of earlier shorts ("Wags to Riches" and "Ventriloquist Cat", respectively) done for Cinemascope.
- Sophisticated as Hell: The very English fox in the Droopy cartoon "Out-Foxed" lapses into this at one point.Droopy: Hello, Mr. Fox. Now can I catch you?
Fox: Ah, as they say in America... (Brooklyn accent) Are you kiddin'?
- Spiritual Successor: Many characters had a Hanna-Barbera Expy since many H-B people (not least the name partners) came out of the MGM cartoon studio.
- Stepping Out to React:
- In "Deputy Droopy", Droopy is guarding some money in a bank while the sheriff is sleeping in the next room. The robbers incapacitate Droopy, leaving him Bound and Gagged. In the entire short, Droop is trying to make a sound so the sheriff'll wake up and get the robbers. Most of the time he's hurting, tickling or doing something else to the robbers. They run away out of town to express pain, laugh, etc. Eventually, they surrender and go to the cell themselves. The final punchline is that all four characters use hearing aids which, with the exception of Droopy's, have dead batteries.
- The same gag was first used in "Rock-A-Bye Bear", where Spike the bulldog is hired by a bear to guard his house while he hibernates. The bear demands absolute quiet and threatens to fire Spike if he makes any noise. Another dog, who wants the job, tries to make noise, and every time Spike has to run outside the house to shout, laugh, burp, sneeze, etc., then run back inside.
- Stock Scream: A lot of the screams were also used a lot in Tom and Jerry.
- Talking Animal
- Take That!: Tex loved making fun of Disney, as well as Harman and Ising's own "cutesy cartoons" they made for MGM. Just watch the opening of "Screwball Squirrel" for example.
- Taps: In "The Cuckoo Clock", a cat tries to catch a cuckoo bird. When he finally catches it and eats it, he realizes the sadness of his death and tries to do a Moment of Silence. The bird - who just fooled the cat into believing he ate him, when it was actually a wind-up toy filled with TNT - starts playing Taps... and then the TNT explodes off-screen and the bird switches to a cheery tune.
- A similar gag is used also in "The Early Bird Dood It".
- A Taste of Their Own Medicine: In "Cock-A-Doodle-Dog", Butch is relentlessly kept up by a rooster who won't stop crowing. After multiple attempts to stop him by force fail, eventually the rooster turns in for the evening, only for Butch to now keep him awake by mimicking his crowing, with the rooster's own attempts to get silence now backfiring onto him.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: Droopy used to say this, almost word for word. Of course, he had to, due to his monotone way of speaking, you couldn't tell how he was feeling.Droopy: You know what? That makes me mad.
- Through a Face Full of Fur: For instance, in his MGM short "Who Killed Who?", a ghost blushes after being caught in an Eek, a Mouse!! moment.
- Too Gruesome for Cartoon Physics: "Batty Baseball" (1944) has two instances. An irate spectator is yelling "Kill the umpire! Get'im outta there! Kill the umpire!" and suddenly a gunshot rings out and the guy looks pale. He and the rest of the spectators then stand up and doff their hats as the now dead umpire is taken out of the stadium offscreen. There is a Running Gag of a catcher jumping in front of the batter as he's swinging, narrowly avoiding getting hit by the bat. At the end of the cartoon, the camera suddenly zooms in on the batter as he swings and there's a loud, crashing sound. The announcer declares a moment of silence, and as Taps plays, the catcher's soul is shown floating up to heaven, carrying a sign that reads "Sad ending, isn't it?"
- The Peachy Cobbler (1950), a spoof of The Elves and the Cobbler, has a similar set up to the catcher gag. Two elves are nailing a heel on a shoe, with one placing his head over the nail as a guide to the other who is holding the hammer. As in the previous cartoon, the camera zooms in on the hammering elf's face as he hits his mate's head with a shattering sound. The elf looks shocked, then sweeps up the remains, which sound like broken glass.
- Unlikely Hero: DroopyDroopy: You know what? I'm the hero.
- Unreliable Narrator: Uncle Tom in "Uncle Tom's Cabaña", who claims (amongst other things) that he was tied to a railway track and run over by a train, tied to log and sawed in half in a sawmill, thrown off a cliff, eaten by a alligator, run over a steamroller, and thrown off the Umpire State building, falling 14 miles and then picking up the building and throwing it over the moon and into the ocean.
- Unstoppable Rage: When Droopy says he's mad, somebody's in for a world of hurt.
- Visual Pun: It's hard to find an Avery cartoon that doesn't have at least one. "Symphony in Slang" is made entirely of them.
- Vile Vulture: "What's Buzzin', Buzzard?" is about two vultures who are so desperate for food they try to eat each other.
- Wartime Cartoon: Many of his WWII-era cartoons qualify, "Blitz Wolf" being the one that dealt with WWII directly.
- Wild Take: Trope Codifier
- Wolf Whistle: Tex's cartoons are known for this. For example, Wolf would (literally) whistle whenever Head-Turning Beauty Red made an appearance.
- Wolverine Publicity: Red is prominently displayed in the Droopy DVD sets artwork and packaging, even though she appears in exactly two of the shorts included on the set.
- Woodland Creatures: Played with and parodied in "Screwball Squirrel" and "Little 'Tinker".
- Zany Cartoon
- Zeerust: The "of Tomorrow" shorts, which parodied documentaries about future technology that were popular in the late 1940s.
"Long darn list, isn't it?"