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    Woody Woodpecker (1940-1943, late 1961-1972 and 2017)

    Woody Woodpecker
    A great character with dark incarnations (and origins as well).
    Gender: Male
    Type: Psychopathic Trickster With a Destructive Streak
    The Dark Side of Woody Woodpecker
    Species: Woodpecker
    Portrayed by: Mel Blanc (1940-1941)
    Ben Hardaway
    Danny Webb
    Kent Rogers
    Grace Stafford (late 1961-1972)
    Cherry Davis (1988)
    Eric Bauza (2017-present)
    Status: Alive
    Media of origin: Woody Woodpecker


    Woodrow "Woody" Woodpecker is the eponymous main protagonist of the theatrical short series of the same name 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 to 1943, back when Woody used to be a completely deranged insane bird with an unusually garish design), as well as his incarnation from the late 1961-1972 shorts and his 2017 live-action version, 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 the 1940-1943 shorts, late 1961-1972, and live-action versions)

    1940-1943

    1. During his first few years, Woody's design is very ugly and creepy. He has a beak with a big chin like a pelican, thick feet, weird green tails, and dopey-looking buck teeth. It makes him look like a crazy psychopath.
    2. Speaking of being psychopathic, this is his main characteristic during his early years, as he shows the desire to kill and eat his rivals in some shorts. During these years, he is just a mindless heckler who goes about causing havoc on sheer principle.
      • In "Pantry Panic" he and a cat kill a moose. Earlier, 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 who was sitting with him.
      • In "The Hollywood Matador", he terrorizes and eventually kills Oxnar offscreen and sells his remains as hamburgers.
      • It's additionally revealed in "The Hollywood Matador" that he supports bullfighting, which is a violent sport that encourages animal abuse.
    3. 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 acts as an antagonist to the two pandas in said short.
    4. In his first starring short "Woody Woodpecker", he acts like an extremely annoying and idiotic character to the point of disturbing viewers in a theater at the end of the short.
    5. He has a racist moment in "The Screwdriver" where he appears dressed as a stereotypical Chinese man with a 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.
    6. In "The Dizzy Acrobat", he almost kills an elephant by making it almost explode while it's inflated with water.
    7. 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.
    8. Unlike other screwball characters created before and after him, such as Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny from Warner Bros. Cartoons' Looney Tunes at the 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.

    Late-1961-1972

    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, hence making his later characterization come off as a watered-down version of Chuck Jones' 1950s incarnation of Bugs Bunny, 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.
    2. All of his charm, personality and screwball edge are watered-down in this era, with him instead becoming an overtly non-raucous, gentle and tame character, no fresh energy to be found in his antics.
    3. His exploits are plain, predictable and unintelligent, stripped of all edge & story in favor of continuously downgraded, lukewarm gagwork aimed at an incredibly young generation.
    4. He is also a massive butt-monkey and punching bag who tends to lose or at least end worse for wear, with the worst examples being "Skinfolks", "Woody's Clip Joint" and "Shutter Bug".
    5. Most of the conflicts he gets into are extremely atypical, boring, gratuitously predictable and lowbrow. Many of them also rip-off older, more original, much better episodes. For a complete list:
      • "Franken-Stymied", "Science Friction", "What's Peckin'", "Woody and the Beanstalk", "Hassle in a Castle" and "Monster of Ceremonies" are all the "slapstick antics in a castle" setting, and also knock-off "Woody Dines Out".
      • "Phantom of the Horse Opera", "Short in the Saddle", "Saddle Sore Woody", "Woodpecker Wanted" (while okay), "Janie Get Your Gun", "Sissy Sheriff", "Have Gun Can't Travel", "Horse Play", "Lotsa Luck", "Fat in the Saddle", "One Horse Town", "Woody's Knight Mare" (while decent), "Phoney Pony", "Wild Bill Hiccup" and "Gold Diggin' Woodpecker" are all the "Wild West/pet comic relief" setting, and also knock-off "Wild and Woody!".
      • "Woody's Kook-Out", "Home Sweet Homewrecker", "Rock-a-Bye Gator" (while good), "Rocket Racket", "Little Woody Riding Hood", "Greedy Gabby Gator" (while decent), Three Little Woodpeckers", "Woodpecker Wanted", "Canned Dog Feud", "Rough Riding Hood" (while okay), "The Big Bite", "Little Skeeter" and "Coo Coo Nuts" are all the "predator-vs.-prey shenanigans" setting.
      • "Room and Bored", "Lonesome Ranger" to an extent, "Little Skeeter" and "Hi-Rise Wise Guys" are the "protagonist is disturbed and hijinks ensue" settings.

    2017-2024

    1. He was severely flanderized beyond recognition in the live-action film, where he went from being a comedic, speedy, and mischievous yet sympathetic slapstick screwball protagonist into an unlikable sadist who annoys and tortures Lance and his family and makes everyone's life bad, as well as outright taking pleasure in attempting to murder people, as well as taking photos of the people he harms for his enjoyment, enough to make his original psychopathic 1940-1943 incarnation seem like a lovable saint in comparison.
      • Granted, Woody may have been a mischievous screwball prankster in the original cartoons (especially in the earlier 1940s cartoons), but it has never reached to this extent of making him a completely malicious and sadistic psychopath who brings certain vibes of a serial killer with the thrill of causing trouble and harm to others for no reason but for kicks, making this very out of character for him.
    2. While Eric Bauza didn't do so bad as the character, his voice sounds like it was sped up too much, though strangely also slowed down at the same time, as well as being exported poorly, thus somewhat wasting his talent, an issue that would carry over in the web series.
      • His singing is very bad, unlike in the original cartoons. This is very notable when he sings a pop rendition of his signature song "Everybody Thinks I'm Crazy" as originally heard in the Woody Woodpecker cartoon short "Woody Woodpecker" (1941).
    3. Some of his dialogue is incredibly poor and laughable as well, mainly due to how he tries too hard to be "hip" and "trendy" using outdated slang and bad remarks, as well as references to pop culture. Such as when he outsmarts the hunters at the beginning with "Okay boys, you got me fair and square. NOT!!!", or even when he calls Lance's son Tommy as his "BFF" which he refers to as his "Bringer of Free Food".
    4. He provides way too much toilet humor, something which is never found in any of his original cartoons, such as when he farts out his signature laugh, defecates on a guy's chocolate ice cream and the guy eats it (which, when he does, Woody is disgusted), and also on Lance's girlfriend.
    5. Most of the injuries that he conflicts on Lance and Vanessa in the film are more lifelike, humiliating, and hurtful rather than being cartoonish and funny, most notably the scene where he gets both of them covered in wet cement and gets their caravan house burned down, the latter being the reason why Vanessa decides to break up with Lance.
    6. He is extremely destructive since most of his sadistic antics have led to him destroying a family RV with an explosion and he even gets Lance's building destroyed despite wanting to "redeem" himself.
    7. He even strips two underage boys to their underwear and threatens to go even further with his infamous line "Get ready to go commando!". This scene was meant to be funny as a way to poke fun at them but instead, it comes across as rather pedophilic and even zoophilic, considering he's an adult and a woodpecker.
    8. The only reason why he stops abusing Lance and his family in this film is because they keep bribing him with his favorite peanut butter biscuit, which can convey a bad lesson about family and the environment and automatically cancels the film's lesson about tree felling.
    9. In the final scene, after being freed by Lance, blinded by his hate and his rancor, Woody very violently wounds Otis and Nate, hurting them infinitely, throwing them over and chasing them relentlessly, refusing to let them go, making them fall off the bridge, and finally having them arrested.
    10. He never gets any comeuppance for his actions. Not to mention, he never admits he was ever wrong for all the trouble he's caused, nor does he show any remorse for anything he caused.
    11. Because of his destructive, annoying, and obnoxious actions as described above, instead of coming across as an "anti-heroic troublemaker", he comes off as more of a main antagonist labeled as "the hero" of the film rather than the main protagonist of the film. Not helping is the fact that despite being called Woody Woodpecker, the first half of the film focuses on Lance and his son, and none of any of his animated co-stars like Wally Walrus (a false antagonist mind you), Miss Meany, or Buzz Buzzard (both whom are true antagonists mind you) ever appear in the movie.
      • He was even described by a forest ranger as this "trickster who has haunted the woods because of the chaos and mayhem he's caused", and his backstory is treated like he's the scariest person in the wilderness because of how speedy and destructively mischievous he's known to be.
    12. His character in this film is an awkward hybrid of both Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck from the Looney Tunes franchise and Jerry Mouse from the Tom and Jerry franchise, but if you take away everything likable from all three of these characters, you get this version of Woody in a nutshell.
    13. His CGI design, while it closely resembles his modern character design from the early-1950s Walter Lantz cartoons-present, can look unintentionally creepy because of his overly detailed eyes, especially in his green irises circling his eyeballs. Here are examples of his poor animation:
      • To begin with, the lip-syncing for his speech is completely off-track, which is mostly unbelievable and unacceptable for a major big-budget Hollywood feature film production.
      • When he flies, he seems to stretch strangely, and feathers often enter inside the character's head. Not to mention this animation is reused countless times.
      • In a scene from the movie, when Woody is poking Lance in his bed at night, it looks like a Photoshop clipping too light for the scene, giving a very amateur touch to the animation.
      • Woody doesn't fly, but instead simply floats in the air without flapping his wings.
      • Speaking of which, as mentioned above, since none of the characters other than Woody Woodpecker himself from the cartoons such as Wally Walrus, Miss Meany, Buzz Buzzard, Chilly Willy Andy Panda, etc, appear in this movie, his appearance in CGI animation looks very out-of-place in a live-action movie/environment, not helping is how the CGI animation quality used on him is very poor even by Universal and 2017 standards.
      • Due to his crappy CGI, Woody looks more like a little rubber puppet, and his big googly eyes are two white balloons popping exit of their sockets.
    14. His atrocious flanderization has ruined his reputation as a whole and therefore succeeded in turning him into one of the most hated characters of all time. In other words, he gives the original Woody Woodpecker a bad name.

    "A-A-A-Awesome Qualities!"

    In General

    1. He's at least hilarious in the episodes in which he appears.
      • 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.
    2. Mel Blanc, Danny Webb, Kent Rogers, Grace Stafford and Eric Bauza all did a great job voicing him, especially the former being his original voice actor in his first three cartoons, and despite the latter's voice performance being flawed.
    3. His late 1961-1972 version is the most likable and tolerable of the three.

    1940-1943

    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.
      1. He's also likable in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, despite him using his 1943 design in that film.
    2. He is aware that he is "crazy as a loon", as pointed out by the animals around him, so he decides on his own terms to go into therapy in "Woody Woodpecker". Too bad his impulses end up taking over him.
    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" (where he simply wanted to fly a plane), "The Loan Stranger" ( in which he is being confronted by a loan shark wolf) and "The Screwball" (in which he is causing trouble because others are bothering him).
    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", so he's at least not a Karma or Idiot Houdini.
    6. Some of his mischievous behavior (like the ones mentioned in BQ#2) is justifiable, as he and the cat were starving, and back then, bullfighting wasn't as immoral and controversial as it is nowadays.
    7. There are many fans who like him and some even consider him the best version of Woody Woodpecker (even some Americans)

    Late-1961 to 1972

    1. He still has his mischievous moments, although rarely.
    2. His design is still decent, as it is faithful to how he looks like in the 1950s, albeit without the green irises in his eyes.
    3. There are many episodes where he is likable and even has his original personality.
    4. Some might argue that his personality no longer being so vindictive and selfish makes him more likable.

    2017-2024

    1. He got better later on, even trying to help rebuild, only because they keep bribing him with peanut butter biscuits (see WHWA#11).
    2. To be fair, he didn't intentionally cause Lance's newly built blue house to burn down.
    3. He is much more likable in all the other incarnations of the franchise, including the earlier 1990s version and he got better later on, even trying to help rebuild, only because they keep bribing him with peanut butter biscuits.
      • On top of that, Alex Zamm, who worked on his 2017 live-action film, eventually learned from his mistakes and therefore undid his flanderization and returned Woody to his old personality in the 2018 web series.
    4. His design is at least faithful to how he looks in the 1950s cartoons.
    5. His voice is surprisingly good, even though it is pitch shifted, as mentioned above, thanks to Eric Bauza voicing him.
    6. He served as drummer instead of Lyle, to help Tommy and Jill make their Rock show a success, and indeed it was, only thanks to him.
    7. After the party at the firefly festival, Woody goes to the house in the woods and carves a wooden sculpture above the fireplace with Tommy, Lance and him together, because having grown fond of them, he wanted to give them a gift and he also did it with the heart, that's one of the few very nice things about him in the movie.

    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.
    • "Ration Bored" shows Woody dying, and this is considered the end of the first incarnation of the character. However, Woody appears alive and well in the following episodes, rendering "Ration Bored" non-canon. (Although, it could be argued that the 1940-1943 incarnation died, as in later episodes, he is seen with a very different design, making "Ration Bored" canon possibly, as Woody's new design would be like a reincarnation)
    • His line "I'm a necessary evil!" became an internet meme in Brazil, mainly because due to a mistake in the Brazilian dub where he says "devil" instead of "evil".
    • The first version of Woody Woodpecker from the early-1940s would become an inspiration for the creepy Woody Woodpecker cameo in the movie Son of the Mask.
    • Many Brazilian fans of Woody Woodpecker refer to the first version of Woody as "Pica-Pau Biruta" (Crazed Woodpecker or Crazed Woody Woodpecker), This is due to the translation of the title of the first short in the series, Woody Woodpecker, which in Brazil became Pica-Pau Biruta.).

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