Woody Woodpecker (1940-1943, late 1961-1972)

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This article is about the 1940-1943 and 1961-1972 incarnations of the character. You may be looking for the character's 2017 incarnation.
Woody Woodpecker (1940-1943, late 1961-1972)
Woody Woodpecker 1940.jpg
A great character with a dark origin.
Gender: Male
Type: Annoying Woodpecker
Species: Woodpecker
Portrayed by: Mel Blanc (1940-1941)
Ben Hardaway
Danny Webb
Kent Rogers
Grace Stafford (late 1961-1972)
Status: Alive
Media of origin: Woody Woodpecker


Woody Woodpecker is a cartoon anthropomorphic woodpecker that has appeared in theatrical short films produced by the Walter Lantz Studio and distributed by Universal Studios from 1940 to 1972.

He has generally changed a lot in terms of appearance and personality over the years, but his original incarnation (the version of the early years from 1940-1943, back when Woody used to be a deranged insane bird with an unusually garish design), as well as his incarnation from the late 1961-1972 shorts, are not considered as perfect as his other incarnations in the following years and have more flaws than qualities.

"A-A-A-Awful Qualities!"

(NOTE: This will focus exclusively on his very first version in the 1940-1943 shorts, and the late 1961-1972 version)

1940-1943 version only

  1. During the first few years of his existence, Woody's design was very ugly and creepy. He had a beak with a big chin like a pelican, thick feet, and dopey-looking buck teeth. It made him look like a crazy psychopath. Even his creator Walter Lantz was criticized for his ugly character design and Universal's then-distributor Bernie Krieser initially refused to show his cartoons in theaters because of it.
    • Not helping matters was the fact that Walter Lantz himself created the character shortly after an acorn woodpecker disturbed his honeymoon with his wife Grace Stafford by drilling holes on the roof of the cabin they spent the night in.
  2. Talking about psychopath, this is the main characteristic that defined Woody during his early years, as he shows the desire to even not hesitate to KILL and eat his rivals in some of the shorts. During these years, he was just a mindless heckler that went about causing havoc on sheer principle.
    • In "Pantry Panic" he and a cat kill a moose. Later, he literally stares the starvation (personified as something vaguely resembling the Grim Reaper) and makes an evil laugh as an attempt to mock the spirit.
    • In "The Hollywood Matador", he kills Oxnar the Terrible.
  3. It's revealed in "The Hollywood Matador" that he supports bullfighting, which is a violent sport that encourages animal abuse.
  4. In his debut short, "Knock Knock", he disturbs the life of Andy Panda and his father by frequently drilling holes in the roof of their home just for fun, and therefore acted as the main antagonist to the two pandas in said short.
  5. In his first starring short, "Woody Woodpecker", he acts like an extremely annoying and idiotic character to the point of disturbing the viewers in the cinema at the end of the short.
  6. He has a racist moment in "The Screwdriver" where he appears dressed as a stereotyped Chinaman with rickshaw.
    • On top of that, the entire episode revolves around Woody violating traffic regulations by speeding on the road and he never gets punished for his actions. Thus, making him a Karma Houdini.
  7. In "The Dizzy Acrobat", he almost kills an elephant by making it almost explode while it's inflated with water.
  8. In "Ration Bored", he steals gas from a police officer and disturbs him to the point that he (accidentally) is responsible for his death at the end of the episode (Woody ends up dying as well).
    1. In this same episode, at the beginning, there is a controversial scene after Woody reads "Is this trip really necessary?" in the sign, he breaks the fourth wall, responding to the viewer I'm necessary EVIL! while also personifying a demonic face with horns. This scene has caused controversy among religious people who believe that Woody is related to evil.
  9. Unlike other screwball characters created before and after him, such as Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny from Warner Bros. Cartoons' Looney Tunes at the same time, he is outright malicious and far more aggressive and antagonistic than these two Warner Bros. screwball characters, as he often starts the conflict with his annoyance and aggressive lunacy. In short, during that time he's basically Walter Lantz's version of the early screwball version of Daffy Duck, but if you take away everything likable about the screwball Daffy, you get this Woody in a nutshell.
    • It doesn't help the fact that his signature laugh "HA-HA-HA-HAA-HA! HA-HA-HA-HAA-HA! HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!" is a variation of a similar laugh which Mel Blanc originally gave to Happy Rabbit (Bugs Bunny's original "prototype" incarnation) from Looney Tunes, whom in return is already a bad rabbit version rip-off of the early screwball version of Daffy Duck to begin with, hence making the Daffy Duck rip-off vibes in this early version of Woody even more obvious.
  10. The first version of Woody would become an inspiration for the creepy Woody Woodpecker cameo in the awful movie Son of the Mask.

Late-1961 to 1972 version only

  1. He got flanderized again in late 1961-1972, where he was watered down into a bland hero-type character, which is literally the exact opposite of his original 1940-1943 characterization, although he is not as bad as before.
    • Adding onto that, he gained a pointy, stiff-looking "cute" design in those years, as Walter Lantz wanted Woody to appeal more to kids.

"A-A-A-Awesome Qualities!"

In General

  1. He's at least hilarious in the episodes in which he appears.
  2. His iconic laugh "HA-HA-HA-HAA-HA! HA-HA-HA-HAA-HA! HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!" can been seen as funny to some people.
  3. Mel Blanc, Danny Webb, Kent Rogers and Grace Stafford all did a great job voicing him, especially the former being his original voice actor in his first three cartoons.

1940-1943 version only

  1. Woody would gradually evolve and become more likable in the following years (except in late 1961-1972), courtesy of developers Shamus Culhane, Dick Lundy and Grace Stafford. However, he would get another flanderization in his 2017 live-action movie, where he became an immature sadist who annoys and tortures people, but reverted back to his original characterization afterwards in the 2018 web series.
  2. He knew that he indeed was "crazy as a loon", as pointed out by the animals around him, so he tried to go into therapy even though it doesn't really change anything as shown in "Woody Woodpecker".
  3. His design improved between 1942 and 1943, becoming less ugly and more similar to his modern design, even receiving Mickey Mouse-like white gloves in his character design beginning with "Ration Bored", although it would change into a pointy, stiff-looking "cute" design in 1961-1972 (as mentioned above in BQ #11 before reverting back to the old design.
  4. He's more tolerable in the shorts "Ace in the Hole", "The Loan Stranger" and "The Screwball".
  5. He does get his comeuppance at the end of most of the shorts he appears in such as "Knock Knock" (his debut cartoon), "Woody Woodpecker", "Ace in the Hole", "The Screwball" and "Ration Bored".
  6. Some of his mischievous behavior (like the ones mentioned in BQ#2) are justifiable, as he and the cat were starving, and back then, bullfighting wasn't as immoral and controversial as it is nowadays.

Late-1961 to 1972 version only

  1. His incarnation in late 1961-1972, despite being bland, is much more of an improvement in comparison to his original early-1940s incarnation, and isn't too bad.

Trivia

  • Woody Woodpecker's original creation was loosely based on a real-life acorn woodpecker that disturbed creator Walter Lantz and his wife Grace Stafford when they were on a honeymoon in June Lake, California in 1941 by drilling holes on the roof of the cabin they spent the night in. It was Grace Stafford who then suggested her husband Walter Lantz to make a cartoon about the aforementioned woodpecker, hence resulting to Woody's creation in the early-1940s.
  • The last short in which he appears, "Ration Bored" shows him dying, this being considered the end of the first incarnation of the character.
  • His line "I'm necessary evil!" became an internet meme in Brazil, mainly because due to a mistake in the Brazilian dub where he speaks Devil instead of Evil.

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