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Western Animation / The Old Grey Hare

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"The Old Grey Hare" is a Bob Clampett Merry Melodies short released in 1944.

Elmer Fudd, frustrated with his inability to catch Bugs, sits under a tree and is transported into the far off year 2000 (which, back then, was considered futuristic and far-off). Now an old man armed with a laser gun, he goes after an equally aged Bugs Bunny and upon managing to succeed, Bugs sets up a flashback to when they were young children and how it all began. As Bugs feigns his death and digs his own grave, he manages to trick Elmer inside and bury him alive.

It was considered for The 50 Greatest Cartoons, but only managed to end as a runner-up.


This short features:

  • As the Good Book Says...: As Bugs buries Elmer with sand he calls him Methuselah.
  • Black Comedy: Elmer is buried alive and given a stick of dynamite, which explodes off-screen.
  • Buried Alive: Done to Elmer.
  • *Crack!* "Oh, My Back!": While running away, Old Bugs complains about his lumbago.
  • Credits Gag: After the film irises out when Bugs hands Elmer the stick of dynamite, the ending title card violently shakes when the bomb goes off. Most TV versions replace the shaking card with one that doesn't shake (though the sound is still there). Cartoon Network was one of the channels that aired this cartoon with the non-shaking end card, but The Bob Clampett Show actually aired it the way it was meant to be (and of course, the DVD version on The Looney Tunes Golden Collection has it the way it was originally shown).
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  • Disappeared Dad/Missing Mom: We see rabbit holes for both Baby Bugs' father and mother but neither parent appears onscreen.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: According to this cartoon, Bugs and Elmer first met as babies.
  • Failed Future Forecast:
    • At one point, it's mentioned that Bing Crosby is still alive in the year 2000 (while he died in 1977 in Real Life) and still waiting for his horse to cross the finish line.
    • A newspaper headline reads that "Smellevision replaces Television: Carl Stalling Sez It Will Never Work!". Stalling had passed away in 1972 and television (despite some ups and downs) is still popular in 2000 and beyond.
    • What is funny (and probably the only accurate prediction in this cartoon, albeit unintentional), though, is that in 2002 the show Baby Looney Tunes would debut, which features a baby version of Bugs and Elmer rather similar to this cartoon.
  • Flashback: Elmer flashes back to when he and Bugs were babies.
  • Free-Range Children: According to the flashback Elmer was already chasing Bugs when they were babies. Which makes you wonder where their parents where at?
  • Fun with Subtitles: When Baby Bugs first appears, he asks Baby Elmer "What's Up, Doc" in baby talk, with Baby Elmer looking down at the subtitles to find out what was being said.
  • Future Loser: Elmer is still the same loser in 2000 as he was in the 1940s.
  • Mid-Battle Tea Break: Baby Bugs and Baby Elmer stop in the middle of a chase for nap time.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: It bears noting that this is the only Bugs Bunny cartoon where his regular design is never used. Bugs only appears as either a decrepit elder, or as an infant.
  • Origin Story: It is implied that Bugs and Elmer have been chasing one another from babyhood on.
  • Pinball Gag: When Bugs is hit, score points flash around him, ending with a big "TILT"/
  • Pun: Elmer's grave reads "Rest in Pieces".
  • Pun-Based Title: "The Old Grey Mare" is a traditional song.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Bugs Bunny as a baby.
  • Ridiculously Successful Future Self: Even in old age Bugs is still able to fool Elmer like he always did.
  • Shout-Out: Bugs' final line "Well, now, I wouldn't say that!" is a reference to the popular catchphrase of the character Richard Q. Peavey in The Great Gildersleeve.
  • Something Completely Different: We never saw baby or old age versions of Bugs and Elmer before. We also never see Bugs in his natural appearance for the entire short.
  • Spinoff Babies: Kind of, Elmer and Bugs are shown as babies in a flashback.
  • Standard Snippet: The music heard when Elmer digs Bugs' grave is "Träumerei" by Robert Schumann.
  • Time Skip: Bugs and Elmer are shown in then distant year of 2000, where they are both old.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Elmer and Bugs are shown in what was then half a century later.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: This is one of those cartoons where the otherwise heroic Bugs who easily wins the audience's sympathy by defeating his aggressors actually comes across as being extremely cruel. Some TV airings have altered the ending a bit because of the scene where he literally buries Elmer alive and even then gives him a stick of dynamite, which explodes off screen. We don't learn whether this actually killed off Elmer, but it's still quite dark.


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