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Western Animation / Yosemite Sam

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Yosemite Sam is a cartoon character starring in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. Having an intense hatred of rabbits, he is an Arch-Enemy of Bugs Bunny.

Yosemite Sam was introduced in 1945 by Friz Freleng as a less sympathetic enemy for Bugs Bunny than the rather mellow and well-mannered Elmer Fudd. As an aggressive bully with a fondness for shootin', Sam gives Bugs moral license to unleash his Karmic Trickster on him without losing any audience sympathy. Sam was one of the rare characters to see exclusive use by only one of the Termite Terrace directors — his creator, Freleng (save for "Dumb Patrol", which was directed by Freleng's longtime animator, Gerry Chiniquy). He never appeared in any Chuck Jones or Robert McKimson cartoons, with one exception: "Hare-Abian Nights", a Clip Show directed by Ken Harris (an animator from Jones' unit) featuring archive footage from Freleng shorts.


Sam has been portrayed either as a prospector, outlaw, pirate, cowboy, black knight, etc., depending on the cartoon, sometimes with different alias if the setting isn't based on Western. At heart, he stays a (usually gunslinging) cowboy, anyway.

Chuck Jones had a great-uncle who used to stay with his family sometimes; he was a retired Texas Ranger, short, redheaded, with a huge mustache and a hair-trigger temper, and generally thought to be the model of Sam. Others, however, say it was Friz Freleng himself who was the model for Sam, himself a short, mustachioed man with a large nose and (according to his daughter) a very bad temper.


Works with their own pages:


  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • In The Looney Tunes Show, where he's no longer such a jerkass and obeys the laws about not firing off his guns at random. According to his musical "Blow My Stack", he's taken several jobs to try and keep his temper under control, but he's just not able to hold himself back.
    • In 2017 DC Comics published a series of one-off Crossover comics featuring the Looney Tunes cast interacting with DC characters. Yosemite Sam was paired off with Jonah Hex and in their comic he is depicted as a far more heroic character than in the original cartoons — still hot-tempered and pistol-packing, but an honest prospector, loyal friend and even a bit of a Heartbroken Badass whose wife had passed away.
  • Angrish: "Raggar fraggar friggin frazzer" is one of his catchphrases. He turns it Up to Eleven in "From Hare To Heir".
  • Arch-Enemy: Bugs Bunny is this to him, but it doesn't work both ways (Bugs' arch-enemy being Elmer Fudd)
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!:
    • "Bunker Hill Bunny": Yosemite Sam charges towards Bugs Bunny's fortress... only to run inside a huge cannon. As soon as he realizes this, he screams "Retreat!". Doubles as an Oh, Crap! moment.
    • The same thing happens in "Captain Hareblower", in which, with a cry of "Charge!", Sam tries to board Bugs' ship, only to swing right into a cannon, after which he again screams "Retreat!"
  • Badass Boast: At the start of almost every cartoon he's in.
  • Badass Moustache: Yosemite Sam sports a huge muttonchop mustache, along with a smaller beard. He even has a musical in The Looney Tunes Show where it sings to him about being his lifelong friend and persuading him to never shave it. In the song, it also displays Prehensile Hair abilities, complete with punching out Daffy Duck for laughing at Sam getting knocked down. In the same show, it's revealed he's had it since he was a baby.
  • Bad Boss: He is sometimes shown to be this he is shown beating or shooting his men for their failures. In one short sounds of beating and shooting come from his ship, and a man covered in bruises and tattered clothes runs out of the ship, telling the audience "I was a human being once".
  • Bandito: Sam appears as Mexican bandito 'Pancho Vanilla' in the Speedy Gonzales short "Pancho's Hideaway".
  • Catch Phrases:
  • The Chew Toy: Being one of Bugs's enemies, his defeats are Played for Laughs. In fact, Word Of God states that he was created specifically to one up Elmer Fudd in this role, as many viewers felt that Fudd was Unintentionally Sympathetic.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Honey's Money, the only short to feature Sam as the main protagonist and not contain any other Looney Tunes characters.
  • Deal with the Devil: Quite literally in Satan's Waiting." He gets sent to Hell and has to deliver Bugs in order to stay on Earth. His efforts are presented through Stock Footage.
  • Determinator: He is capable of facing some of the biggest repeated defeats in his shorts and he always comes back for more.
  • Didn't Think This Through: He'll always enact step one of a plan, and after repeated screw ups maybe have a step two, but find himself short of ideas of how to go on from there before everything blows up in his face without fail. In several cases, he's so impulsive that he'll get tunnel vision in the face of what seems like imminent victory only for it to be pulled over on him with Laser-Guided Karma.
  • Early Installment Character Design Difference: A Southern sheriff in "Stage Door Cartoon" (1944) with the same voice, personality, and look, but without the hair-trigger temper and with a white mustache and eyebrows instead of red, was the prototype for Sam before his true debut in "Hare Trigger" (1945).
  • Evil Redhead: Quite obviously combined with Fiery Redhead.
  • Expy: The De Patie Freleng Enterprises short Panchos Hideaway features the bandit Pancho Vanilla, in terms of personality, role and design, Pancho's largest differences are his darker facial hair and Mexican accent.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: Sam will enter the scene shooting every which way, including propelling himself up in the air by firing down.
  • Graceful Loser: In "Bunker Hill Bunny", after being soundly defeated by Bugs, he admits he's a "Hessian without no aggression" and decides to defect to Bugs' side in the end.
  • The Gunslinger: Sam is most commonly a trigger-happy gunslinger.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: His first musical number, "Blow My Stack" in The Looney Tunes Show even revolves around it. The 1960 short "From Hare to Heir" has Bugs exploit Yosemite's problems with anger management by deducting from his 1 million pound inheritance for each time he is observed (or even rumored to be) losing his temper (of course, with Bugs aggravating him at every turn).
  • Hate Sink: As shown below, Sam was created to a more ruthless foe and a bigger jerk than Elmer Fudd, so that audiences would root more for Bugs.
  • Henpecked Husband: He accidentally turns out to be one to a wealthy shrew in "Honey's Money". He ultimately decides the money is worth the abuse.
  • Hidden Depths: In The Looney Tunes Show, where he admits to having worked at a library, is implied to practice meditation to try and control his temper, and attends Anger Management classes. At the end of You Got Hate Mail, before angrily kicking out a book club, he gives them a very accurate summary as to why their new novel protagonist fails to be a meaningful character.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: "From Hare To Heir" is a double whammy for him. Sawing through the ground right in front of the upstairs bathroom, covering the gap with a rug... What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Yosemite Sam digging for "buried treasure" on bottom of a ship... "What a maroon!".
    • "Mutiny on the Bunny" is only the tip of the iceberg.
  • I Have Many Names: Shanghai Sam, Sam von Schmamm, Riff-Raff Sam, Sam Schultz, etc.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Ironically offered as little a challenge to Bugs as Elmer at times. While designed to be a case downplayed from Elmer Fudd, his zeal and abuse still makes him somewhat pitiful.
  • Insufferable Imbecile: He's no doubt an idiot who's only slightly smarter than Elmer but he's also far more short-tempered, hostile and aggressive. An abrasive and belligerent man that would shoot a gun at anyone.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Sam pronounces "Yosemite" as "Yo-sam-ity".
  • Jerkass: Created for the purpose of being more belligerent than Elmer, giving Bugs a more menacing opponent (or at the very least a palpable Asshole Victim) he could look heroic against.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Pre-Villain Decay, he was this compared to Elmer Fudd, as Elmer was an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain and Yosemite Sam, while still clownish, acted out of malice.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: There are times that he gives up against Bugs and waves the white flag, or begs Bugs to just get out of his life, or "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."
  • Large Ham: Practically all of his dialogue can be presented in all caps.
  • The Napoleon: Initially lots of jokes were about his height, and he sure is irascible and vicious.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: Never seems to have the same profession twice. He's not even a cowboy half the time.
  • Nice Hat: A very large, light-colored cowboy hat.
  • No Indoor Voice: He yells a lot.
  • Oh, Crap!: He flashes this expression a lot when finding himself at the losing end of his latest confrontation with Bugs.
    • In "Roman Legion-Hare", after bonking a lion over the head with a club for roaring at him, when the lion roars at him again after Bugs opens his cage, Sam begins hitting him over the head with the club again, until he realizes the cage is open.
      Sam: How many times do I have to tell... [slowly realizes the cage is open] you... to... [stops hitting the lion with a This Is Gonna Suck face] shut... up?
    • At the end of "Hare Lift" he bails out of a crashing plane with his bank-robbery loot and the last parachute.
      "So long, sucker! Ah, ha, hah, hah, hah! Ah, hah, hah, hah, hah! Ah, hah... [Notices he's about to land right in an open-topped police car filled with officers.] Ah huh... Uh uh... [Lands] oooh!"
  • Pirate: Apart from being a gunslinger, Sam's second most common role is that of a buccaneer.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Has the stature and temperament of a rude and temperamental child, but packs heat (and a mighty fine 'stache, to boot).
  • Recycled INSPACE: Has appeared in almost every stock villain role throughout his run, albeit always maintaining his bandit mask and western dialect. It literally happens in "Lighter Than Hare".
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Bugs' 2 most notable enemies, Sam's Manly Man and Elmer's Sensitive Guy. Clearly based on temperament.
  • Viler New Villain: Introduced as a worse antagonist compared to Elmer Fudd and thus deserving of the Karmic Trickster, being intentionally belligerent and a total Jerkass. It worked with varying degrees, though he's almost always written as viler than Elmer.
  • Villain Decay: While Sam was always a bumbler to some degree, he originally existed as a counter opposite to Elmer Fudd; a persistently evil and violent antagonist that could keep Bugs on his toes. As years passed, while his obnoxious streak remained, he became even easier to dupe than Elmer.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: Though normally a true villain, in "Big House Bunny" he's a police officer who thinks Bugs Bunny is a prisoner trying to escape when Bugs had only ended up there trying to escape hunters.
  • The Von Trope Family: In two separate cartoons, Sam plays a German soldier aiding an enemy cause, both with a different name with the word "von" in it. In one, Bunker Hill Bunny, set during The American Revolution, Sam plays a Hessian named Sam von Schmamm. In the other, Dumb Patrol, set during World War I, he plays a German pilot named Baron Sam Von Shpamm.
  • Worth It: Played straight in Honey's Money (see its own entry); subverted in Hare Trimmed (when he beats a hasty retreat at the altar). Curiously, the former involved a $5 million inheritance and the latter was $50 million.
  • Worthy Opponent: Created as a more formidable villain compared to Elmer, it didn't ''quite'' last, however.


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