Road Runner, also known as Beep Beep, is a Looney Tunes character created by Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese.
Road Runner debuted with his frequent adversary Wile E. Coyote in 1949's "Fast and Furry-ous". To date, 48 cartoons have been made featuring these characters, including the computer-animated shorts, most of which were directed by Chuck Jones. In each cartoon, Wile E. Coyote utilizes absurdly complex gizmos (often from ACME, a mail-order company and recurring gimmick in Looney Tunes) and elaborate plans to try to catch his prey, rather than his natural guile, but fails every time.
In general, he, along with Wile E. Coyote, are one of the most beloved cartoon characters. But he unfortunately was flanderized in the infamous Larriva Eleven.
Despicable Qualities That Don't Deserve Bird Seed
NOTE: This article will be focusing on the Larriva Eleven cartoons, and to a lesser extent, "Rushing Roulette" and "Sugar and Spies", since the original Road Runner is likable.
- To get Bugs Bunny out of his Rabbit Hole: The main problem with Road Runner in these cartoons is that he acts completely out-of-character in the Larriva Eleven cartoons compared to his other appearances in the Chuck Jones originals from the classic era and the revival era cartoons, and to a lesser extent, Friz Freleng's "The Wild Chase", and even the two Robert McKimson Road Runner cartoons "Rushing Roulette" and "Sugar and Spies", mainly due to how he frequently breaks the Road Runner cartoons' number one rule where the Road Runner is never allowed to harm the Coyote except by going "Beep, beep", which are all brought in as the result of his director Rudy Larriva failing to actually understand why Chuck Jones' Road Runner cartoons as a whole worked so well.
- He used to be a blissfully ignorant/unaware Road Runner in the aforementioned and more superior set of cartoons who didn't really know that he was being hunted nor is he aware of the Coyote's existence, but now it feels like he's actively trying to get Wile E. Coyote into trouble and mishap, hence making him come off as a flat-out sadistic jerk which fits more in line with Gene Deitch's version of Jerry Mouse than Chuck Jones' original Road Runner.
- Because of these reasons below, this consequently results the dynamic between the Road Runner and the Coyote in these cartoons to be badly butchered beyond belief, with the Road Runner coming off as the sadistic antagonist and the Coyote as the pitiful Butt-Monkey protagonist/anti-hero with the Coyote constantly getting tortured for little to no reasons thanks to the sadistic Road Runner, unlike the Chuck Jones originals from the classic era and the revival era cartoons, and to a lesser extent, Friz Freleng's "The Wild Chase", and even the two Robert McKimson Road Runner cartoons "Rushing Roulette" and "Sugar and Spies" where it is kind of opposite where the Coyote justifiably receives his comeuppances for attempting to catch and eat the practically innocent Road Runner via the Coyote's own ineptitude and recklessness and/or the failure of the Acme products he uses.
- Even though he's nowhere near as bad as Daffy in this era, he can be really malicious and mean-spirited to Wile E. Coyote, as he has done lots of awful things to the Coyote that also break the laws of his cartoons, and they're more painful and hurtful than funny.
- Firing him out of a cannon in "Chaser on the Rocks".
- Abusing the fact that the Coyote, whose is almost dying of thirst, just needed a drink in the cartoon and constantly attacking him. Keep in mind that for once (in that scene anyways), Wile E. wasn't even trying to get him in this cartoon in the slightest.
- Driving multiple vehicles over him in numerous episodes.
- Hypnotizing Coyote into walking off a cliff in "Boulder Wham!", even though he was likeable in that short.
- Activates the bird trap which Wile E. gets stuck on in "Tired and Feathered".
- And finally, while nowhere near as rampant as in the Larriva Eleven, even his appearances in "Rushing Roulette" and "Sugar and Spies" isn't immune to this as well:
- Sending Coyote off to the moon using a remote at the end of "Sugar and Spies", as well as mailing a bomb back to him in the same episode.
- In "Rushing Roulette" he throws the Coyote off a mountain on a trolley. Also he sets Coyote ablaze on top of a mountain, somewhere where he CAN'T GET DOWN FROM in that same short.
- Granted, the Road Runner did occasionally break this number 1 rule of "No harming the Coyote except by going "Beep, beep"", these moments were few and far between and cleverly used to wrap things up in said cartoons, and not to mention, most of the time, the Road Runner is frequently unaware that he's harming the Coyote and even if he did, it was all out of self-defense to protect himself from the Coyote's hungry advances. But, to have the Road Runner actively harm the Coyote out of pure malice in these cartoons does makes this out of character for him.
- Firing him out of a cannon in "Chaser on the Rocks".
- His design, while still good, goes off-model quite a bit, making him, at times, look like an awkward hybrid of both Chuck Jones' Road Runner and Walter Lantz's 1960s redesign of Woody Woodpecker (who co-incidentally is also a bird who shares a similar beak design as him). And due to the poor quality animation of his cartoons, his size changes inconsistently to be almost as big as or smaller than the Coyote between shots.
- His gags have gone from fast-paced, hilarious and entertaining to mostly flat, stale, unfunny, slow-paced, cruel and sadistic in these cartoons.
- He frequently does a victory dance of hopping while laughing "Beep, beep" every time when Wile E. Coyote is defeated, which is extremely punchable and adds to his overly sadistic nature.
- He's also a technical Gary-Stu in most of the shorts here, apart from "The Solid Tin Coyote", as he never really gets caught by the Coyote and always outsmarts him. Yes, this could be implied for the shorts outside this period, but keep in mind there he was at least likeable.
- Worse, he receives zero comeuppances for all the times he actively (and maliciously) harms the Coyote in each of these cartoons nor does he shows any remorse for his cruel actions, hence making him a huge Karma Houdini.
- Speaking of which, in the Chuck Jones originals the Road Runner even once showed remorse when he realized that he had gone too far with harming the Coyote with his beeping at the ending of "Zoom and Bored". But in the Larriva Eleven, he hardly ever does that.
- Because of these reasons above, though mostly the first two, this shows why the Road Runner was overall ruined as a character in this period of shorts.
"Beep, Beep!" Qualities
- He is at least likable in both "Run, Run, Sweet Road Runner", "Boulder Wham!", "Just Plane Beep", "Hairied and Hurried", "Shot and Bothered", and "The Solid Tin Coyote" since he paid more attention to the Road Runner rules by not breaking the number one rule, and therefore don't have him totally flanderized as sadistic or cruel.
- Also, "The Solid Tin Coyote" shows that he isn't completely infallible.
- Despite also being flanderized in the two Robert McKimson-directed Road Runner cartoons "Rushing Roulette" and "Sugar and Spies", he is still somewhat tolerable in those two cartoons since he doesn't break the number one rule of not harming the Coyote except by beeping as often compared to most of his other appearances in the Larriva Eleven.
- At least he's nowhere near as infamously flanderized and as much of a mean-spirited jerk as Daffy Duck during this era (and to some extent, Claude Cat during the 1952-1962 cartoons).
- His design, despite going off-model and inconsistently changing in sizes quite a bit, it's still decent.
- His design in "Rushing Roulette" and "Sugar and Spies" is still great and looks far superior to Rudy Larriva's redesigns, as it remains mostly unchanged from Chuck Jones' original design.
- "Beep Beep!" is still a memorable line.
- He was a much better character outside these shorts and has redeemed himself since the 1979-revival era.
- Robert McKimson, who directed both "Rushing Roulette" and "Sugar and Spies", despite not ruining the Road Runner as badly as that of Rudy Larriva, would eventually learn from his mistakes and therefore pay more attention to Chuck Jones' Road Runner rules when directing the animated mid-shorts segments of The Road Runner Show, therefore ending his Wile E Coyote and Road Runner legacy on a high note before his death on September 29, 1977.
- To be fair, he wouldn't have been as bad as he was if it weren't for the ineptitude of his director Rudy Larriva (and to some extent, Robert McKimson) who had a very rather poor grasp of Chuck Jones' Road Runner cartoons and the Road Runner character in general, which is not helped further by the lower budgets and the tighter deadlines the animation crew had to deal with at the time. However, it might be possible that Larriva was unaware of Chuck Jones' Road Runner rules, as he left Jones' unit in 1943, six years before the characters debuted.
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