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Western Animation / Tortoise Beats Hare

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Tortoise Beats Hare is a 1941 Merry Melodies short starring Bugs Bunny and directed by Tex Avery (here credited as his real name, Fred) and the first episode of season 1 of Looney Tunes. It's a twisted retelling of "The Tortoise and The Hare."

The short begins with Bugs reading the title card and throwing a fit at the mere thought that a turtle could beat a rabbit. He then proceeds to literally tear down the fourth wall to find one Cecil Turtle and bets him ten bucks that a turtle can't beat a rabbit, unaware that Cecil has a few tricks up his sleeve.

Chuck Jones reportedly hated the cartoon and considered it a failure, feeling that Tex had swapped Bugs' in-control, defensive personality in favor of making him the loser ala Elmer Fudd while giving Cecil Turtle Bugs' personality. It's undoubtedly a very different take on the character.


Received two sequels, Tortoise Wins by a Hare and Rabbit Transit.

Tropes present in this short

  • Ac CENT Upon The Wrong Syl LA Ble: The short opens with Bugs reading the names on the title card and mispronouncing all of them (save Carl Stalling, who's name is rather hard to mispronounce).
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Neither Bugs nor the audience suspects quiet, timid Cecil of being the Magnificent Bastard he turns out to be.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Frequently.
    • It opens with Bugs walking in front of the title card, then ranting to the audience when he gets to the title. He then tears down the title card, revealing a wooded background which he runs through in order to find Cecil.
    • After seeing (who he thinks is) Cecil ahead of him, Bugs stops and turns to the audience to go on about how crazy it was.
    • At one point, Cecil turns to the audience and chuckles "We do stuff like this to [Bugs] all through the picture."
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  • Break the Haughty: This was the first cartoon to break the mold of Bugs The Trickster and instead presents him as an egotistical sore loser.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Averted for the sake of comedy. Cecil counts on Bugs's inflated ego to not stop to realize that his many identical turtle friends are making it look as though he's faster than a rabbit until it's too late.
  • Cluster Bleep-Bomb: Bugs, furious about losing the race to Cecil, strangles him while angrily grunting "YOU BLANKITY BLANK BLANK TURTLE!!"
  • Deliberately Jumping the Gun: Played for laughs. Bugs and Cecil Turtle are at the starting line for the race.
    Bugs: One for the money! [Tiptoes a bit past the line] Two for the show! [Tiptoes a bit further] Three to make like ready [Tiptoes a bit further] And four to... [Runs a long way past the line] Go!
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: "Tortoise Beats Hare. T-tortoise beats hare??" Spit Take "TORTOISE BEATS HARE???"
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: A Tex Avery-ified retelling of "The Tortoise and The Hare."
  • Late to the Realization: Bugs doesn't realize he's been conned until the very end.
    Bugs: Hey, I wonder if I was tricked!"
    (Turns to see a huge group of turtles, all of whom Cecil has paid off with Bugs's money)
    Turtles: Mmmmm, it's a possibility!
    (The turtles all give Bugs a "Take That!" Kiss, iris out)
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Bugs briefly drops his trademark Flatbush accent while screaming the cartoon's title in Mel Blanc's normal voice.
  • Rage Against the Author
    Bugs (Aghast): "Why these screwy guys don't know what they're talkin' about!! Why, the big bunch'a joiks! And I oughta know: I work for 'em."
  • Reaching Between the Lines: Cecil, in his phone call to Chester, leans over the split screen to emphasize that he wants Chester and the other turtles to "give [Bugs] the works."
  • Sore Loser: Bugs tells Cecil to "choke on" his ten bucks and makes a face at him when he loses. Subverted in that Cecil cheated.
  • Split-Screen Phone Call: Cecil calls his cousin to rally the gang against Bugs. Lampshades when Cecil leans through the split screen to poke his cousin in the chest.
  • Troll: Cecil!! Challenges a rabbit to a race that he knows he'll lose, then pays off all of his identical friends to stand all over the running path to screw with Bugs's head and think that he's losing despite never seeing the turtle pass him, all just to bruise his ego.
  • Twin Switch: Cecil wins by having nine identical cousins pose as him and appear ahead of Bugs in the race.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: As Bugs pounds on Cecil's door, he bellows "Open up, or I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house i-!" before catching himself and sheepishly apologizing.

Example of: