The Highway Rat is a 2017 animated short film (25 minutes) directed by Jeroen Jaspaert.
It's about a greedy Scottish rat (David Tennant) who robs other Funny Animals of their food. It was the fifth of The BBC's Christmas Animated Adaptations of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler picture books, following The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child, Room on the Broom and Stick Man.
- Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: Rat wears 18th century costume, including a tricorn hat, Badass Cape and Cool Mask.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: All of the other animals, except Rat who is The One Who Wears Shoes.
- Being Good Sucks: The other wimpy animals.
- Broken Aesop: The BBC intended to use the film as a warning about the consequences of stealing and overeating, but most viewers ended up Rooting for the Empire and cheering on the Villain Protagonist.
- Cool Sword: Rat wields a Royal Rapier.
- Defeat Equals Friendship: Between Duck and Rat, after he gives up banditry and finds a job.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Rat is trapped in a cave for months because he stole some cakes.
- A Dog Named "Dog": The adventures of a rat called Rat and a duck called Duck.
- Expy: Rat's mannerisms and costume are based on Adam Ant and The Mark of Zorro (1940).
- Feet-First Introduction: The camera focuses on Rat's Boots of Toughness
- Good Costume Switch: After the Heel Realization Rat leaves his hat, mask and cape in the cave.
- Good Is Not Nice: Duck uses deception to lure Rat into the cave.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Duck wears only a bonnet and an apron.
- HeelFace Turn: The horse feels more and more guilty over Rat's behaviour, and eventually abandons his master.
- The Highwayman: Rat rides a horse, wears the puffy shirt and Nice Hat of The Dandy, and terrorises passing travellers into handing over their food.
- Jerkass Realization: Rat sees a reflection of himself in the cave and recognises the same terrified look from the faces of his victims.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: The horse becomes increasingly appalled by Rat's treatment of his victims, but the last straw is when Rat steals his hay and tries to force him to enter the cave.
- Narrator All Along: The Rat's horse.
- Parody: The verses share a rhythm with Alfred Noyes's poem "The Highwayman".
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The old baker who employs a reformed Rat in his cake shop.
- Unscrupulous Hero: Duck exploits Rat's hunger to lure him into a cave that she claims is full of cakes. The cake was a lie.
- Villain Song: Hand over your pastries and puddings! Hand over your chocolate and cakes! For I am the rat of the highway, and whatever I want I take!
- Violent Glaswegian: Rat threatens his victims and prods them with his sword, but is more of a Harmless Villain whose attempt to steal honey from a beehive is comically thwarted.