Ruff was a kitten and Reddy a dog, and together they got involved in clandestine escapades involving anything from alien invasions to swamp pirates to treasure plunderers. In some adventures, they are assisted by Professor Gizmo, a kindly old scientist. Taking a cue from Crusader Rabbit, it was serialized with 13 episodes making up a story arc and four story arcs making up a season. They were seen as features of the network show which had live action segments. The first run (195760) was hosted by Jimmy Blaine, the second run (196264) had Captain Bob Cottle in the host segments. The first run also featured cartoons from Columbia's theatrical short subjects.
Ruff & Reddy, which was all but rejected by Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn (he was overruled by Columbia's financial officer, John Mitchell—the studio bankrolled and distributed the series), was sponsored by General Foods (maker of Post cereals) and was a modest success. Hanna-Barbera would achieve runaway success a year later with The Huckleberry Hound Show.
A comic series based on the original show was released in 2017, featuring Ruff and Reddy as a couple of has-been actors attempting to revitalize their careers.
In the HBO Max series Jellystone!, Ruff and Reddy are reimagined as child-age robots.
This Hanna-Barbera cartoon provides examples of:
- Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Both Ruff and Reddy; Ruff wears a bow tie and Reddy has a dog collar.
- Artistic License Paleontology: The Dimetrodon is not only described as a dinosaur, but is both shown and stated to be strictly herbivorous. The real animal was a carnivorous synapsyd (a primitive relative of mammals).
- Assurance Backfire: From the narrator in the "Westward Ho Ho Ho" story arc:Narrator: Good old Reddy. He never makes the same mistake twice. He just keeps making new ones!
- Ax-Crazy: Salt Water Daffy, who always has a tommy gun in hand.
- Butt-Monkey: Reddy. Noble but not too bright.
- The Cameo: Ruff and Reddy appeared briefly in 1972's Yogi's Ark Lark (the pilot to Yogi's Gang), and Ruff cameoed in a 1986 episode of Yogi's Treasure Hunt.
- Captain Obvious: Like many serialized cartoons of the time, Ruff And Reddy had a narrator with a penchant for describing virtually everything going on in the episode.
- Cat/Dog Dichotomy: See Cute Kitten and Dogs Are Dumb.
- Catchphrase: Captain Greedy's "I'll boil them in oil!" and "I hate them to pieces!"
- Ruff would sometimes say "Steady, Reddy" whenever his canine pal would lose his cool.
- Comic-Book Adaptation:
- Ruff and Reddy appeared in 12 issues from Dell Comics, starting with Dell Four Color Comics #937 (adaptation of the "Pint-Sized Pachyderm" story arc). Most issues were drawn by Harvey Eisenberg, others were drawn by Pete Alvarado.
- Professor Gizmo is a central figure in the Marvel Comics special Laff-A-Lympics publication "The Man Who Stole Thursdays" (summer, 1978). Ruff and Reddy are seen in a framed picture on Gizmo's wall in a panel.
- Much more recently, as part of DC Comics' Hanna-Barbera Beyond initiative, Ruff and Reddy are now depicted as a pair of struggling stand-up comedians in the 1950s; their first appearance is as the backup to Green Lantern / Space Ghost.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Reddy. He may be dense and a little chicken at times, but when it comes to Ruff and anyone weaker than its antagonizer, he'll step up to the plate.
- Cute Kitten: Ruff.
- Dastardly Whiplash: Scary Harry Safari.
- Dogs Are Dumb: Reddy isn't the sharpest tool in the shed.
- Food Pills: In the Lillipuni Planet story arc, Ruff and Reddy are tricked by a professor into being launched into space on a fact finding mission to the moon. Inside the rocket, Reddy asks for a six-course lunch:Professor: You'll find everything you need on board. Hamburger pills...
Reddy: Hamburger pills??!
Professor: Hot dog pills, lemonade pills, and milkshake capsules.
Reddy: What if I get a headache?
Professor: Then you take an aspirin sandwich.
- Mythology Gag: The name Quick Draw McGraw appears on a note nailed to a sheriff's door in an episode involving a ghost town and missing sheep. Also, the cave boy Ubble-Ubble ("Chickosaurus" story arc) was said to be the inspiration for Bamm-Bamm on The Flintstones.
- Off-Model: Captain Greedy appeared in a Ruff & Reddy comic book story but looked absolutely nothing like the antagonist of the TV show.
- One-Wheeled Wonder: The Muni Mula men balance on a single wheel.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Many "next episode" titles fall into this.
- Sdrawkcab Name: The first story arc, "Planet Pirates," had our heroes taken to a planet Professor Gizmo called Muni-mula, which is backwards for "aluminum," the substance of which the planet is made.
- Shorter Means Smarter: Ruff is clearly the brains of the outfit. Also, Prof. Gizmo is almost as short as Ruff.
- The Smart Guy: Ruff. And Professor Gizmo sometimes.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: At the end of the Chickosaurus story arc, Professor Gizmo adopts cave boy Ubble-Ubble. In the Prof's ensuing appearances on the show, we never see or hear of Ubble-Ubble again.
- You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!: Reddy in spades. As mentioned, he'll shy away from confrontations, but pick on Ruff or anyone smaller than its antagonist and he'll get riled.