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Western Animation / The Litterbug

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Donald Duck goes from getting into a mess to literally making a mess

Litterbug, litterbug, shame on you.
Look at the terrible things you do.
Littering, cluttering every place.
My, but it’s disgraceful.
Litterbug, litterbug, where’s your pride?
Making a mess of the countryside.
Spoiling and soiling each lovely view.
Shame, oh, shame on you.
—"The Litterbug Song"

The Litterbug is an animated short released in 1961 produced by Walt Disney and directed by Hamilton Luske. It would be the last theatrical short from The Golden Age of Animation to feature Donald Duck, though the character would appear in a few educational shorts released later that decade.

The short examines a peculiar type of pest that’s proven to be a major nuisance to society: the Litterbug (with Donald Duck playing the title role). Various types of Litterbugs that consciously or unconsciously leave a lot of trash in their wake are explained with the help of a book on Pest Control.


Tropes in this Short:

  • Blind Shoulder Toss: Some of the different types of Litterbugs do this with their trash repeatedly to emphasize their careless nature. Not even driving stops them from throwing waste behind them.
  • The Cameo: Mr. Busy appears as one of the woodland creatures singing the titular song’s reprise at the end of the short after Donald makes a mess of their forest.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: The Sneakbug wears one while stealthily leaving behind litter in odd places such as manholes and taxis with a dog already inside.
  • Cut-and-Paste Suburb: The primary home of The Litterbug/Donald Duck, with the narrator describing it as “nests in parallel rows”. When they wake up from a winter slumber, the Litterbugs perform their tasks at the same time, including dumping trash on their neighbor’s lawn.
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  • Funny Terrain Cross Section: Some Litterbugs (known as Beachbugs) head for the beaches and leave trash behind once they’re done visiting. This particular portion closes with a cross-section of terrain featuring various junk that both current Litterbugs and their distant ancestors have left behind.
  • Green Aesop: Don’t leave trash wherever you go, otherwise it will have negative consequences on the environment. The live-action footage during the opening credits emphasize this message.
  • Mockumentary: The short is presented as a wildlife documentary, with the Litterbug and its habits described as if it were a harmful insect like the mosquito or the boll weevil.
  • Narrator: Provided by John Dehner, with some of the narration appearing in the Pest Control book.
  • Punny Name: The author of the Pest Control book that explains the Litterbug is Dr. D.D.Tee, named after the DDT insecticide that in later years was controversial for its environmental impact and health risks.
  • Rewind Gag: After the Sneakbug is shown hiding trash faster than the naked eye can see, the film is wound back and played again in slow motion to show his actions more clearly.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The narration is in rhyme, as was customary in Disney educational shorts of the time.
  • Smoking Is Not Cool: One version of The Unconscious Carrier is a heavy smoker (as in, smoking different cigarettes and pipes simultaneously) who literally has smoke in their eyes while throwing out many matches to light up their smokes. Not only do they make things trashier, but they also unwittingly set said trash on fire in the process.
  • Storybook Opening: The short opens on a book on Pest Control, which describes several real-life pests before getting to the Litterbug.
  • Trash of the Titans: Whether it is a town, beaches, mountainsides, or some other location, the Litterbug will create a big mess with their trash and leave it behind to the detriment of others.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: The Litterbug Song, which calls them out on their thoughtlessness and leaving behind so much waste in an otherwise beautiful world. It’s sung at the beginning and end of the short.
  • The Voiceless: Donald Duck as the various Litterbugs is never given any lines of dialogue throughout the short. Huey, Dewey, and Louie also appear, but they don't have a speaking role as well.
  • Wildlife Commentary Spoof: The narrator describes the Litterbug as if he were a species of insect, going on to describe several subspecies.
  • Woodland Creatures: A group of them show up to sing a reprise of The Litterbug Song while Donald is camping at their mountainside.