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Western Animation / The Ant and the Aardvark

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Quit calling me an aardvark! I'm an anteater!

"Y'know, it takes 200,000 ants just to make a decent sandwich, and I'm having trouble with just one. And the day's half over."
The Aardvark

The Ant and the Aardvark was a theatrical cartoon series created by De Patie Freleng Enterprises, the same company who created The Pink Panther, among other cartoons, including most of the Looney Tunes cartoons from the late 1960s. The series consisted of 17 cartoons that ran from 1969 to 1971. It followed the misadventures of a hapless blue aardvark (with a suspiciously similar voice and comedic shtick to Jackie Mason) who tried but failed to eat a relaxed, sarcastic red ant named Charlie (vocally modelled on Dean Martin). After its initial theatrical run, The Ant and the Aardvark later became a part of The Pink Panther Show, with all 17 episodes airing in reruns, with the characters themselves being integrated into later iterations of The Pink Panther itself, such as Pink Panther and Pals.

This show contains examples of:

  • Aardvark Trunks: The titular Aardvark looks more like an anteater with his mouth at the end of his snout, and even then, it's super flexible and he usually tries to eat Ant by sucking him rather than slurping him up. Even worse in Pink Panther and Pals, this time, the Aardvark's snout is curved upwards like an elephant's.
  • Aerosol Spray Backfire: In "Technology, Phooey", Aardvark attempts to use some spray on Charlie. But instead, he inadvertently ends up spraying himself, which results in the side effect reaction of him switching positions quickly and spasmodically, and changing into an assortment of colors and patterns.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: "Technology Phooey" has the Aardvark building a computer to help him catch an ant. None of the computer's ideas work because it turns out it's really an automatic pop-up toaster.
    Aardvark: (from a mountain of toast) Anybody got a pound of butter?
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: The eponymous Aardvark is colored blue, which is unusual for a real aardvark. A rival aardvark seen in a couple shorts is purely green.
  • American Accents: John Byner imitated Jackie Mason to provide the voice (and accent) for the Aardvark.
  • Amicable Ants: Charlie Ant is the hero, constantly evading the Aardvark's attempts to eat him. In the original cartoons, he has the demeanor of a snarky but laid-back Cool Old Guy. In Pink Panther and Pals, he's Younger and Hipper, becoming more of a party animal who gets along great with most of the other jungle denizens.
  • Androcles' Lion: This was the plot to "Scratch a Tiger", where the Tiger agrees to protect Charlie and his gang from the Aardvark after he pulled a thorn out of his foot. In the end, the Tiger steps on another thorn and this time the Aardvark pulls it out. You can guess what happens next.
  • Annoying Patient: The episode "From Bed to Worse" was actually based around this trope.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Aardvarks can eat ants, but they actually normally eat termites. The aardvark in this cartoon has its mouth at the tip of its snout like an anteater, but has ears like an aardvark. To stretch things further, this aardvark hates termites, and won't eat anything but ants.
    • The Aardvark also feeds via Vacuum Mouth, rather than by extending a long sticky tongue as real aardvarks or anteaters do.
    • At least in the first episode, he acted like an actual aardvark: he actually licked Charlie, and when said ant took refuge in an anthill, the Aardvark promptly burrowed in after him!
    • Aardvarks are also nocturnal, and like to dig holes themselves.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: While he is barefoot, the Aardvark goes around in pants and a t-shirt, the same blue color as his fur.
  • Beach Episode: "Dune Bug".
  • Bears Are Bad News: The bear who beats the crap out of the Aardvark in his house in "The Froze Nose Knows".
  • Bullying a Dragon: Rather like Sylvester before him, the Aardvark ends up in a hospital with an angry dog in "From Bed to Worse". His response to the dog's noisy barking, when limping by, is to smack the dog's leg cast. Soon enough the dog gets his revenge.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Aardvark, sometimes in ways that would make Wile E. Coyote wince.
  • Cold Snap: "The Froze Nose Knows".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both Charlie and the Aardvark. Charlie's nemesis with his brainless schemes gives him more than enough stimulation to practice snarking. As for the Aardvark, his snarkiness can be divided into two types: the first is the one that comes before a plan and involves lots of puns, and the second comes after the plan and the fall and naturally ends up directed to himself.
  • Deserted Island: The Aardvark winds up on one of these in "Isle of Caprice".
  • Evil vs. Evil: "I've Got Ants in My Plans" and "Odd Ant Out" see the Aardvark go up against his green rival to claim Charlie and a can of chocolate-covered ants, respectively. Painful injuries for both ensue.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Happens fairly often to the Aardvark.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: In the pilot episode, when the Aardvark tries to suck Charlie out of his anthill, he ends up getting a snootful of Charlie's tabasco sauce which propels him upward like a rocket.
  • Forcibly Formed Physique: One episode has the Aardvark go sledding down a snowy hill in pursuit of Charlie, who passes through a wire mesh fence... and so does the Aardvark. Once the Aardvark's sled slows to a stop, he observes that his body is entirely cut in a criss-cross pattern, and examines a square piece taken from his snout. The Aardvark then puts it back hastily, and sits perfectly still, hoping that nothing worse happens.
  • Funny X-Ray: In "From Bed to Worse", after the Aardvark has sucked Charlie into his mouth through a straw and swallowed him whole, the nurse walks in at the start of lunchtime to find Charlie's bed empty, followed by the Aardvark getting a telltale hiccup from the straw incident after she wonders where Charlie went. In a panic, she grabs Aardvark and takes him to the X-ray machine. The plaque confirms her worst fear, as it shows the panicked Charlie jumping inside him. One trip to the ER later, and Charlie is back in bed eating the sugar cube she had given him, while Aardvark sports a bandage on his belly.
    Charlie: You bad old Aardvark!
    Aardvark: This hurt me a lot worse than it does you. Believe me.
  • Green Around the Gills: The Aardvark's face turns green briefly in "The Ant from Uncle", when Charlie lights a cigar in his stomach and smoke comes out of his ears.
    • He does this in the debut cartoon, using a cigar to smoke out Charlie, but he's not in his ant hill. The Aardvark turns green and collapses.
    Charlie: Hey, pal... is there anything I can do for ya?
    Aardvark [weakly]: Yeah... make a wish for me. Wish I was dead.
  • Growling Gut: Happened to the Aardvark in "Odd Ant Out".
  • Hated by All: Any character the Aardvark meets is guaranteed to be on Charlie's side and will beat him up either to defend Charlie or simply out of spite.
  • Hour of Power: The vitamins in "Don't Hustle an Ant with Muscle" make Charlie strong enough to beat up the Aardvark, but they wear off by the end of the short. Cutting him off from his supply, the Aardvark thinks he's finally got his prey cornered in the back of a truck. Too bad for him that it's a delivery truck for the very same vitamins and that Charlie just had some.
  • Humiliation Conga: Sometimes the Aardvark doesn't just have one thing blow up in his face... at times, he makes Wile E. Coyote look lucky.
  • I Am Not Weasel:
    • The Aardvark refers to himself as an anteater in most of the cartoons, and he does look more like an anteater than an aardvark. Anteaters and aardvarks are only distantly related in Real Life.
    • "Dune Bug": After other failures to sneak onto the beach, the Aardvark tries to pass himself off as a dog on a leash. Not only is he believed to be one, but the lifeguard calls a dogcatcher to send him to the pound. The Aardvark asserts he's really an aardvark, only to change his tune when locked up in the truck with a bunch of dogs that are now glaring at him. Charlie walks by, just as the Aardvark is insisting he's just a funny-looking dog.
      Aardvark: Hey, Ant, do me a favor. Tell these dogs I'm a dog.
      Charlie: Don't let him kid ya, fellas. You oughta know a cat when you see one.
      [Mauling ensues]
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Parodied in "Hasty but Tasty" when the Aardvark, on a motorcycle, falls over a cliff into a river, heading for the Inevitable Waterfall. He restarts the bike at the last possible moment and does an aquatic U-turn... right into another waterfall.
  • Informed Species: Granted, his resemblance to one isn't as bad as Arthur's, but the Aardvark doesn't look very much like an actual aardvark (though he does have a lot of resemblance to an anteater, and refers to himself as an anteater all the time). He's got the aardvark ears, at least.
  • Insult Backfire: In "From Bed to Worse" we get this exchange:
    Aardvark [using a long straw]: Look, ant! I am inventing a new kind of communication system between us! If you want to say something to me, all you do is speak through the tube!
    Charlie: There's only one thing I got to say to you! You're a stupid, long-nosed—[Gets sucked into the straw.]
    Aardvark [gulps]: I hated to cut him off in the middle of an insult, but I couldn't resist his aroma!
  • Jerkass: The Aardvark. Very much so. And he's got the brains to match.
  • Just Whistle: From "Mumbo Jumbo," the brotherhood forest animals (local 202) adopt the call "Zimbala zoombala" in case a critter is in trouble. Charlie applies this when the aardvark is in pursuit of him and Tiny the elephant comes to his rescue.
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: This happens after Charlie takes some vitamins.
  • No Can Opener: This is the plot of "Odd Ant Out". The blue and green aardvarks fight over a can of chocolate-covered ants, but neither of them has a can opener. In a delicious irony, they didn't even need one as the can has a pull-off ring cap.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: John Byner voiced the Aardvark in the style of comedian Jackie Mason, note  while voicing and Charlie Ant in the style of singer/western actor Dean Martin. In fact, most of the minor characters that John Byner voiced were imitations of famous celebrities of that time period.
  • No Indoor Voice: The lifeguard from "Dune Bug," who constantly mistook Aardvark for a dog.
  • No Name Given: While the ant is often referred to as Charlie, the aardvark is just Aardvark.
  • No Sympathy: Double subverted in "Mumbo Jumbo" after the Aardvark is flattened by Charlie's elephant buddy falling out of a tree. Charlie and the elephant make sure the other is okay, but they appear to not notice the squished Aardvark. The double subversion occurs during this exchange.
    Aardvark: Nobody asks me if I'm hurt.
    Elephant: Are you hurt?
    Aardvark: Yeah, yeah, I'm hurt.
    Elephant: Good.
  • The Noun and the Noun
  • Nude-Colored Clothes: The Aardvark is a rare animal example.
  • Oh, Crap!: In "Don't Hustle an Ant With Muscle," Charlie discovers vitamins that give him Super-Strength. When the effects wear off, Charlie gets chased by the Aardvark once more, leading them to jump into a moving truck. The Aardvark thinks he's finally caught his quarry—until he realizes that they are in the truck that was carrying the same vitamins and that Charlie has just taken some, leading to a Curb-Stomp Battle on the Aardvark once more.
  • Palatial Sandcastle: In "Dune Bug", Charlie builds a sandcastle on the beach and moves into it. Of course, this is just a normal-sized sandcastle, but an ant is very small, so...
  • Panthera Awesome: The tiger from "Scratch a Tiger".
  • Pepper Sneeze: In "Ants in the Pantry", the Aardvark inhales a large amount of pepper and sneezes hard enough to go flying out of the house through a brick wall. When he sneezes again, he re-enters the house through the same hole.
  • Picnic Episode: The first episode.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: The vitamins in "Don't Hustle an Ant with Muscle" turn Charlie into a muscle-bound powerhouse, which puts the Aardvark on defense.
  • Portable Hole: The instant hole from the second episode.
  • Pun: The Aardvark spouts a never-ending series of puns just because he can.
    Aardvark [in a hospital]: And that's enough out of you, dog! If you don't like the cast system around here, take a walk!
    Aardvark: That's one reason why they don't send ants to college! Nobody likes a smart ant!
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: In "From Bed to Worse", the Aardvark says while whacking with his cane on the dog's leg cast: "DON'T! WHACK! BE! WHACK! A! WHACK! WISE! WHACK! GUY! WHACK!" All it gets him is (another!) Slasher Smile.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The Aardvark will do this every once in a while.
  • The Rival: The green aardvark in "I've Got Ants in My Plans" and "Odd Ant Out".
  • Road Runner vs. Coyote: Only this time the Road Runner is a Deadpan Snarker. The Aardvark never has a chance.
  • Rule of Funny: Whenever the Aardvark tries to suck up Charlie, the sound of a vacuum cleaner is used.
  • Running Gag: The whole series runs on this trope. There's usually at least one per episode:
    • "Hasty But Tasty", the instant hole showing up at unfortunate times and foiling the Aardvark's plans.
    • "Dune Bug", the Aardvark getting kicked off the beach by the lifeguard, who keeps telling him "OFF THE BEACH!!!!".
    • "Isle of Caprice", the shark chasing after the Aardvark every time he tries to invade the ants' island.
    • "Scratch A Tiger", the tiger beating up the Aardvark every time he tries to eat the ants.
    • "Science Friction", the scientist kicking the Aardvark out of his lab when he tries to eat Charlie.
    • "Mumbo Jumbo", the Aardvark getting beaten up by Charlie's friend, Tiny the elephant.
    • "Don't Hustle an Ant With Muscle", Charlie using his newfound strength to give the Aardvark the what-for.
    • "Rough Brunch", Term eating any of the wood around him to help Charlie out against the Aardvark.
  • Sarcasm Failure:
    • In "Technology, Phooey", the Aardvark's quicksand trap backfires on him, prompting him to quip, "I'd say something right now, but it would only be censored!"
    • In "Never Bug an Ant", Charlie moves his anthill over flat land. The Aardvark puts a lit stick of dynamite in the anthill, runs and covers his ears. Charlie yells "POW!" as the Aardvark puts his head in and says "Hey, Ant! Whaddaya think of that?" After the dynamite explodes in his face, the Aardvark walks off saying, "I know what I think of that...but I shouldn't say it in public!"
  • Second-Face Smoke: The Aardvark tries doing this to Charlie in the first short with a cigar, taking deep drags and blowing the smoke into the anthill to "smoke him out." It backfires, and the Aardvark is the one who ends up sick from the smoke, while Charlie isn't harmed.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The Boris Karloff-sounding scientist used this a lot when examining Charlie in "Science Friction".
  • She's a Man in Japan: The Aardvark is supposed to be female in Germany, for unknown reason. It's given a female voice actor and is called Elise or "(die) blaue Elise" ("blue Elise") by the Ant (who's called Charlie) and sometimes herself.
  • Shout-Out: To Charley's Aunt (1892), a classic Broadway comedy also adapted to numerous films over the years. 1950s revivals featured the likes of Jackie Gleason and Ray Bolger, making the name choice for Charlie Ant quite obvious.
  • Slasher Smile: The dog has a really disturbing one in "From Bed to Worse." After no fewer than three scenes with the same Slasher Smile, the Aardvark even lampshades it:
    Aardvark: You know something? I think he's dead.note 
  • Smug Smiler: The 2010 revival of the show has the Aardvark grinning in a conniving way much more often than when he first appeared, even though he doesn't really have any more reason to.
  • Strong Ants: Charlie himself. Played to a ridiculous extent in "Don't Hustle an Ant with Muscle".
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Much like Wile E. Coyote, the Aardvark is a predator obsessed with one specific prey that he always fails to catch.
  • Super-Speed: The episode "Isle of Caprice" ends with the Aardvark sinking the island he was marooned on. He says "Well, Honolulu is about 2000 miles from here. But with him (the Shark) on my tail, I should get there in 15 minutes!" before running off to the sunset with shark in hot pursuit. Assuming he's not exaggerating, to travel that distance in a short time, that poor Aardvark would be traveling 8,000 mph (over 10 times the speed of sound)!
    • That would make the Aardvark predate Sonic as a fast moving blue insectivore.
  • Swallowed Whole: On some rare occasions, Charlie would be swallowed up by the Aardvark, but he would either escape or be rescued like a Distressed Dude. "From Bed to Worse" is a case in point, in which Aardvark is x-rayed after he is discovered to have swallowed Charlie, in which the x-ray pic shows the latter jumping inside him, acting all like, "Help me! Get me out of here!"
  • Termite Trouble: The episode "Rough Brunch" had the Aardvark being accosted by a termite named Term, who just so happened to be Charlie's cousin.
  • Threatening Shark: The shark who chases after the Aardvark in "Isle of Caprice".
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: Aardvark's body color diverted from normal in a few of the featurettes in various cases (even his clothes). The following in which these occurred include:
    • In the very first short, titled "The Ant And The Aardvark", the Aardvark's entire body turned red after sticking his snout in Charlie's ant hill, trying to suck him in. The hue change happens when he inhales Tabasco sauce, flames emit from the bottom of his feet, and he launches into the air like a rocket before landing in a lake. He then drinks up some of a lake to cool down, which reverts his color to his usual blue.
    • In the same short, the Aardvark's full body turns green from illness, after inhaling and exhaling cigar smoke into Charlie's ant hill in an effort to smoke him out of it (his eyes become a bloodshot reddish/pinkish color as well).
    • In "Hasty But Tasty", the Aardvark's usual blue hue is changed to black, following an explosion from a rocket when it and Aardvark fall into the "instant hole" at the end.
    • In "Isle of Caprice", the Aardvark's body also turns black from another explosion after attempting to fire himself from a cannon and to another island. It does fire, but he isn't shot out of it, so he doesn't launch.
    • In "Technology, Phooey", the Aardvark attempts to use some spray on Charlie. But instead, he inadvertently ends up spraying himself, which results in the side effect reaction of him switching positions quickly and spasmodically, and changing into an assortment of colors and patterns.
    • In "The Froze Nose Knows", the Aardvark's body becomes a pale shade of blue twice, covered with ice, shivering and walking away stiffly once, and back to his cave to warm up, and thaw off the ice, after having fallen into a hole in a frozen lake while pursuing Charlie; the other time when he gets into bed with a bear (who moved into what was the anteater's cave, having stolen it and claiming it as his home), who pummels and sends him flying across and back outside. Aardvark climbs out the hole the second time, quits pursuing Charlie and hitchhikes to Palm Springs.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Sort of. The closest that Aardvark ever comes to a victory is at the end of "Scratch a Tiger". By pulling a thorn out of a Tiger's paw, the Tiger agrees to help him catch Charlie (though it's never confirmed if they actually succeeded).
  • Tree Buchet: Happens a lot.
  • Vacuum Mouth: Aardvark often does this as his method of trying to eat Charlie (but fails every time), complete with the sound of a vacuum cleaner.


Video Example(s):


Picked a Kook

When the Aardvark tries to suck Charlie out of his anthill, he ends up getting a snootful of Tabasco sauce that launches him into a nearby lake.

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