The Hillbilly Bears is a Funny Animal series by Hanna-Barbera that first aired as a segment on The Atom Ant Show between 1965 and 1967, and was later added to syndicated reruns of The Banana Splits.
Set in the Hillbilly Hills, the series stars a rural family of Funny Animal bears called the Ruggs — parents Paw and Maw, their young son Shag, and their teenage daughter Floral. Whether they're feuding with the rival Hopper family (despite Floral's romance with the Hoppers' son Claude), dealing with the local wildlife, or encountering well-meaning but disruptive city slickers, the Ruggs' lives are full of wacky misadventure.
After their own series ended, the Ruggs guest starred in several of H-B's Massive Multiplayer Crossover projects, such as Yogi's Ark Lark, Yogi's Gang and Yogi's Treasure Hunt. They've also been used in some Cartoon Network and [adult swim] parodies, such as an appearance on Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law and a Boomerang short that has Maw and Paw appearing on an Expy of The Jerry Springer Show. Paw and Shag also have a Cameo in Wacky Races (2017). As with many parts of the H-B canon, the Ruggs make full appearances in Jellystone!, with Shag in particular as a major character.
Compare with Punkin' Puss and Mushmouse, H-B's other cartoon from The '60s about rural funny animals living in the Hillbilly Hills.
- Accidental Hero: In “Just Plane Around,” Paw inadvertently prevents a pair of Russian spies from stealing an experimental jet fighter. As far as he knows, he’s just putting a new convertible through its paces.
- Alien Abduction: Paw gets kidnapped by extraterrestrials in "Saucy Saucers," courtesy of two Little Green Men who want to study Earth creatures. Their experiments leave Paw giving off X-Ray Sparks — so Maw uses him to power a floor lamp.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: None of the Ruggs (or other anthro characters) wear shoes. Who needs them in the Hillbilly Hills? Might overlap with Does Not Like Shoes and/or Earthy Barefoot Character.
- Beary Funny: It's an animated comedy whose protagonists are bears.
- Big Damn Heroes: In "Picnic Panicked", Claude Hopper catches a boulder that was about to hit Paw. Immediately subverted when Claude throws it away and it lands on Paw.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Claude and Floral clearly would take their childhood friendship to the next level, if only their feuding folks would stop trying to shoot each other.
- Deep South: Presumably the Hillbilly Hills are located in the rural US South.
- Early-Installment Weirdness:
- At first Paw's speech was complete gibberish, but it soon changed into its more recognizable mumble with words and laughs mixed in.
- As per most of the show the teenage son of the neighbors is referred to as Claude Hopper. His father is Paw Hopper. In Paw Hopper's earliest appearances he was also named Claude. However, it is possible one is a Senior and the other a Junior — though this would complicate the fact that the second son is generally called Junior Hopper.
- Episode Title Card: Features the promo image seen above, accompanied by a brief rendition of "Turkey in the Straw".
- Feuding Families: The Ruggs' intermittent feud with the Hoppers is the focus of several episodes.
- Fire-Breathing Diner:
- This happens to Paw Rugg in "Going Going Gone Gopher" after he dips some turnips in spicy mustard to try and get rid of a gopher. After seeing it have no effect on the gopher, he tries one, resulting in Paw’s fire-breathing reaction.
- Happens to Paw again when he eats Maw's red hot grits in "Goldilocks and the Four Bears." His fire-breathing reaction kicks off the plot — the Ruggs take a walk to let the grits cool off, allowing Tuesday Goldihooks to come in and make herself at home.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: The plot of "Goldilocks and the Four Bears", in which vacationing starlet Tuesday Goldihooks takes over the Ruggs' house while the family is out for a walk. Lampshaded when Shag compares the episode's events with a story he heard once.
- Funny Animal: While the Ruggs and Hoppers are bears, they behave like humans for the most part. They walk bipedally, use human implements and live in houses, eat human food, wear clothing, and (except for Paw) speak intelligible English that humans can comprehend.
- Furry Confusion: Paw has trouble with regular animals as much as he does talking ones.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Paw and Maw Rugg both use corncob pipes, which were typically associated with backwoods folksy types back in the day.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Floral is a Nice Girl whose blond hair and fur distinguish her from the other Ruggs.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Maw Rugg just wears a bonnet and apron. Shag just wears a hat and a vest. Oddly averted with Paw who wears overalls and a shirt. Floral averted this by wearing a dress.
- Happily Married: For the most part, Paw and Maw seem to be a happy couple. The Hoppers also count.
- Hypocrite: In "Courtin' Disaster", Maw goes along with Paw Hopper's attempt to call a truce so Floral and Claude can date, but she hits Paw with the same frying pan he was going to use on Claude — and starts the feud again after Claude insults her cooking ("those aren't biscuits, them is cannonballs!").
- I Know Karate: Paw learns the fine art of Asian martial arts from Sumo, a Japanese fighting bear, in "Judo Kudos." He tries his newfound skill out on Claude Hopper.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Although Paw Rugg and Paw Hopper frequently shoot at each other, neither of them ever hits anything.
- Lessons in Sophistication: Paw has his rough edges sanded down when Maw sends him to charm school in the My Fair Lady parody "My Fair Hillbilly," but they quickly wear off.
- Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: The Ruggs, the Hoppers, and some villagers seen in "Picnic Panicked" are all anthro bears; everyone else is either human or an ordinary animal, with the exception of the aliens in "Saucy Saucers".
- Punny Name: The children are named Shag and Floral Rugg, both of which are categories of this type of floor covering. Claude Hopper is also a play on "clodhopper". Paw and Maw Rugg's names reference their role as father (Pa) and mother (Ma), but "paw" and "maw" are also body parts of a bear.
- Remember the New Guy?: In one episode when the Hoppers come out to shoot the Ruggs, the former clan shows a younger daughter. She is unnamed, never appears in any model sheet, and is not seen in later episodes.
- Ring Around the Collar: Like most Hanna-Barbera characters from this time, Floral wears an accessory around her neck (a small scarf in this case) to facilitate animation shortcuts. Paw's shirt top and Maw's kerchief serve a similar function. Similarly to Dixie and Mushmouse, Shag averts this with the vest he wears.
- Signature Headgear: The Ruggs and Hoppers all wear distinctive headgear except for the mothers in each family, who prefer bonnets.
- Signature Laugh: Floral has a distinctive girlish giggle, which one hears a lot of in "Picnic Panicked".
- Slapstick: A lot of the comedy involved is physical in nature, featuring plenty of Amusing Injuries. Paw is on the receiving end of much of it.
- Southern Belle: Floral acts like one sometimes, exuding old-school giggling girlish charm on such occasions.
- Three Shorts: The last on The Atom Ant Show.
- The Unintelligible: Paw for the most part talks in mumbles and at first was far harder to comprehend. One wonders what a conversation between Paw and Boomhauer would be like...
- Verbal Tic: Paw exhibits a unique mix of unintelligible grumbling and the occasional interspersed perceivable word.
- Vocal Evolution: As mentioned above, Paw couldn't be understood at all in early episodes, which left the other characters having to repeat and/or explain everything he said. No wonder he became more intelligible as the series continued.
- Shag: Paw, whatcha doing down there?Paw: RennafrinnasoobbaputtingindexallaaarannnajinnadownthereheheheheeShag: You putting indexes down there for tropers to find us better? That's a smart one, Paw.