Bugs Bunny (character)

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This article is about the character. For other uses, see Bugs Bunny.
Bugs Bunny
Bugs Bunny.jpg
"Eh… What's up, Doc?"
Species Rabbit
Gender Male
Member of Tune Squad
Looney Builders
Affiliation Daffy Duck
Porky Pig
Elmer Fudd
Lola Bunny
Father Jor-El in The Looney Tunes Show
Mother Lara-El in The Looney Tunes Show
Other relative(s) One nephew, Clyde Bunny
One descendent, Ace Bunny, in Loonatics Unleashed
Marital status Single[Note 1]
First appearance LT: Porky's Hare Hunt (preliminary version, 1938)
MM: A Wild Hare (official, 1940)
Played by Mel Blanc (1938-1989)
Jeff Bergman (since 1990)
Greg Burson (1991-1997)
Billy West (1996-2006)
Joe Alaskey (1997-2011)
Samuel Vincent (2002-2005)
Eric Bauza (since 2018)
Bugs Bunny Beta.jpeg
Bugs as "Happy Rabbit"
Bugs Bunny A Wild Hare.jpeg
Bugs in "A Wild Hare"
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Tiny Toon Adventures
SJ Bugs.png
Space Jam
BLT S1 Bugs.png
Baby Looney Tunes
File:BLT S2 Bugs.png
Baby Looney Tunes
File:BIA Bugs.png
The Looney Tunes Show
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The Looney Tunes Show
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New Looney Tunes
File:ANL Bugs.png
Space Jam: A New Legacy
File:ANL CGI Bugs.png
CGI Bugs in Space Jam: A New Legacy
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Looney Tunes Cartoons
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Bugs Bunny Builders
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Tiny Toons Looniversity

Bugs Bunny is an anthropomorphic rabbit and is one of the main characters of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies theatrical shorts. He is a trickster known for his pronounced Brooklyn accent, mischievous personality, and his catchphrase, "What's up, Doc?" His voice was originated by Mel Blanc.

Although not the first Looney Tunes character (that being Bosko), or the first popular Warner Bros. Cartoons star (that being both Porky Pig and Daffy Duck), Bugs is acknowledged for being one of the most beloved and recognizable cartoon characters. He is also the mascot of the Warner Bros. company.

Bugs' protégés in Tiny Toon Adventures are Buster Bunny and Babs Bunny.

Character description

Appearances

TV series

Movies

Shorts

Specials

Comics

Video games

Theme parks

Podcasts

Biography

Debut Series

Rabbit Season!

We're All a Little Looney

Come on and Slam! And Welcome to the Jam!

Bugs Gets Modern

Going Down the Rabbit Hole

Bugs Gets Retro

It's Hard Hat Time

Bugs Sells Out

Development

Prototype

According to Chase Craig, who wrote and drew the first Bugs Bunny comic Sunday pages and the first Bugs comic book, "Bugs was not the creation of any one man; however, he rather represented the creative talents of perhaps five or six directors and many cartoon writers including Charlie Thorson."[1] A preliminary iteration of Bugs debuted in the 1938 Looney Tunes short, "Porky's Hare Hunt", directed by Ben "Bugs" Hardaway and an uncredited Cal Dalton. The cartoon had a similar premise to 1937's "Porky's Duck Hunt" by Tex Avery, where Porky is cast as hunter trying to track down a silly prey who constantly drives his pursuer insane. In Hare Hunt, the duck is replaced by an unnamed white rabbit with a "rural buffoon" personality. Mel Blanc provided the voice of the rabbit and gave him a heckling, guttural laugh, which he would later use for Walter Lantz's Woody Woodpecker. The rabbit was popular enough that the staff of Termite Terrance decided to use him again.[2]

The rabbit appeared a second time in Prest-O Change-O (1939), directed by Chuck Jones, as a pet rabbit of the unseen magician Sham-Fu the Magician. Compared to his previous appearance in Porky's Hare Hunt, this version of the Rabbit appears to be more controlled, while also having a cool and graceful personality. He retained the guttural laugh but was otherwise silent.

The rabbit's third appearance came in Hare-Um Scare-Um, directed again by Dalton and Hardaway. This cartoon was the first to depict him with grey fur instead of white. Like his first appearance in Porky's Hare Hunt, he retained his screwball personality. Charlie Thorson, lead animator on the film, gave the character a name. He had written "Bug's Bunny" on the model sheet that he drew for Hardaway.[2][3] In promotional material for the cartoon, including a surviving 1939 presskit, the name on the model sheet was altered to become the rabbit's own name: "Bugs" Bunny (quotation marks only used, on and off, until 1944).[4] In his autobiography, Blanc claimed that another proposed name for the character was "Happy Rabbit."[5] In the actual cartoons and publicity, however, the name "Happy" only seems to have been used in reference to Bugs Hardaway. In Hare-um Scare-um, a newspaper headline reads, "Happy Hardaway."

Tedd Pierce, the head of the story department, had been approached by Thorson, who asked him to design a better rabbit. The decision was influenced by Thorson's experience in designing hares, as he had designed Max Hare in Toby Tortoise Returns, the sequel to Disney's 1935 Silly Symphony short, The Tortoise and the Hare. For Hardaway, Thorson created the model sheet previously mentioned, with six different rabbit poses. Thorson's model sheet is "a comic rendition of the stereotypical fuzzy bunny". He had a pear-shaped body with a protruding rear end. His face was flat and had large expressive eyes. He had an exaggerated long neck, gloved hands with three fingers, oversized feet, and a "smart aleck" grin. The result was influenced by Disney's tendency to draw animals in the style of cute infants.[6]

In Jones' Elmer's Candid Camera (1940), the rabbit meets Elmer Fudd for the first time. The short's version of the rabbit skews closer to the appearance of modern-day Bugs, taller and with a similar face—but retaining the more primitive voice. The short retains the rabbit's cool-headed personality from Prest-O Change-O, but acted more like a scourging bully with how he instigated on Elmer.

Official debut

While Porky's Hare Hunt was the first Warner Bros. cartoon to star the prototype Bugs Bunny, A Wild Hare, directed by Tex Avery and released on July 27, 1940, is widely considered to be the first official Bugs Bunny cartoon. It is the first film where Elmer and Bugs, both redesigned by Bob Givens, are shown in their fully developed forms as hunter and tormentor, respectively; the first in which Mel Blanc uses what became Bugs' standard voice; and the first in which Bugs uses his catchphrase, "What's up, Doc?"[7] A Wild Hare was a huge success in theaters and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cartoon Short Subject.[8]

For the film, Avery asked Givens to remodel the rabbit, which resulted the character to closely resemble Max Hare. He had a more elongated body, stood more erect, and looked more poised. As for his vocalization, Blanc gave Bugs the voice of a city slicker, which he later described as a mixture of Brooklyn and Bronx dialects.[9] The personality of Bugs was also solidified in this cartoon, where he acted more as a confident and casual trickster instead of a zany lunatic. According to animation historian Michael Barrier, the rabbit was as audacious as he had been in Hare-um Scare-um and as cool and collected as in Prest-O Change-O.[10]

The second cartoon featuring the new Bugs, Elmer's Pet Rabbit (1941), is the first to use Bugs' name on-screen: it appears in a title card, "featuring Bugs Bunny," at the start of the film. However, unlike A Wild Hare, Bugs in the short had a noticeably different characterization; Bugs' appearance looked slightly different with yellow gloves and a lack of buck teeth, has a deeper voice, and his personality is more thuggish in comparison to his nonchalant persona from A Wild Hare. After Pet Rabbit, however, subsequent Bugs appearances returned to normal: the Wild Hare visual design and personality returned, and Blanc re-used the voice characterization from that short.

Gallery

Main article: Bugs Bunny (character)/Gallery

Toys and merchandise

Behind the scenes

  • According to Tex Avery, "What's up, Doc?" was a common expression used in his native home state of Texas, although he did not think much of the phrase.[11]
  • Bugs started the idea that rabbits enjoy carrots, which are in fact not healthy for them to eat all the time.
  • Mel Blanc described that Bugs' accent is a combination of Brooklyn and Bronx dialects.[9]
  • When Blanc provided the voice of Bugs in recording sessions, he would regularly spit out carrots on a wastebucket and then continue the script. Blanc stated that he did not like carrots, and had previously tried replacing it with other vegetables like celery, but to no satisfying results.[12]
  • In a 1996 interview, when Chuck Jones was asked about the idea of Bugs dressing up in drag, Chuck Jones stated that when it was made, nobody was aware of the term "transvestite", but nonetheless did explain that he liked the concept and found it funny.[13]
    • Due to Bugs Bunny's frequent use of cross-dressing, he has been seen as a positive icon among both the drag and LGBTQ+ community.[14]

In popular culture

  • In the Gilligan's Island episode "You've Been Disconnected," Mr. Howell tells Gilligan that he eats more carrots than Bugs Bunny.
  • In the 1983 film Blue Thunder, when Braddock gives Lymangood a talking down, he mentions that Lymangood thought having a good time when he was a kid was watching Bugs Bunny and gnawing on a fudgsicle.
  • In the 1984 Gremlins movie, there are different stuffed dolls of Bugs in the department store. Later, Bugs makes a cameo in the opening to the 1990 sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
  • In the 1987 film Innerspace, Tuck Pendelton has a Bugs doll in his apartment.
  • Bugs famously appeared alongside Mickey Mouse in the 1988 Disney film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? where he is seen skydiving with Mickey and Eddie. He later appears along with a bunch of other toons near the end of the film.
  • In the 1989 film UHF, starring Weird Al Yankovic, there is a poster of Bugs and Daffy in his character's apartment.
  • In the Full House episode "13 Candles," Michelle dances with a Bugs Bunny doll, to which her uncle Jesse comments, "Now this is a party. You got singing, dancing, cwazy wabbits..."
  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Opera," Jerry sings the theme song of The Bugs Bunny Show while waiting for George and Kramer to visit the opera. Elain mockingly tells him, "all your knowledge of high culture comes from Bugs Bunny cartoons."
  • In The Fairly Odd Parents TV movie Channel Chasers, Timmy, Cosmo, Wanda, and Future Timmy travel into an episode of a Bugs Bunny-like cartoon. Future Timmy, Cosmo and Wanda resemble Bugs, while the present day Timmy takes on Elmer Fudd's role as a hunter. Cosmo greets the Daffy Duck spoof with "Eh, what's up, dork?"
  • In the 2005 film Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Wallace references Bugs' catchphrase by saying "What's up, dog?" to Gromit, while also eating a carrot.
  • In Team Fortress 2, one of the voice lines used for the Sniper when the player dominates a Medic is, "What's up, Doc?! Heh, heh, heh!"
  • In The Tom and Jerry Show episode "You Are What You Eat," Spike the dog takes a bite out of a carrot, which makes him look and act a little like Bugs when he greets Tom with Bugs' signature pose while saying, "Eh, what's up?"
  • In the 2019 film Doctor Sleep, Bugs and Wile E. Coyote's appearances in Rabbit's Feat are used when young Danny and his mother Wendy watch the short on the TV, before Danny tells her that he would leave to the bathroom.
  • In The Really Loud House episode "The Blemish Dilmesh," Lynn Sr. said, "What's up?" when he saw the new neighborhood doctor walk outside the the Loud house.
  • In the 2023 film The Flash, the alternate 2013 version of Barry Allen has a Looney Tunes background screen on his computer, which includes Bugs, Sylvester, Daffy, Road Runner, Wile E., and Tweety.

Batman: The Animated Series

  • "On Leather Wings:" Bruce Wayne responds to Dr. March's phone call by answering, "What's up, Doc?"
  • "Joker's Wild:" During the Joker's escape at Arkham Asylum, he utters "What a maroon," a line attributed to Bugs. Later in the episode, Bugs is briefly seen on the television when the Arkham inmates force him to change the channel.

Bobby's World

  • "Adventures in Bobbysitting:" Derek whispers to Bobby, "If she calls Mom and Dad, this means war!", which is one of Bugs' catchphrases.
  • "Me and Roger:" Bobby has a daydream where he is a raccoon who outsmarts his dog Roger, who in the daydream, is a Elmer-like hunter who hunts "Webblys." Bobby's catchphrase in the daydream is "What's up, dork?", a play on "What's up, Doc?"

Moesha

  • "Sleep, Perchance to Dream:" Moesha deflects Niecy grilling her about her romantic dream involving Hakeem by bringing up her nightmare about Bugs Bunny.
  • "Netcam:" At the end of the episode, Hakeem wears a sweater with Bugs on it.

The Simpsons

Main article: The Simpsons
  • "Bart the Murderer": When Bart picks a horse called "Don't Have a Cow Man" to win a horse race, one of the horses is named "Ooh, Ain't I a Stinker?", referencing one of Bugs Bunny's catchphrases.
  • "Brother's Little Helper": Chief Wiggum says to Bart "That's the end of your Looney Tune, Drugs Bunny!"
  • "The President Wore Pearls": Homer shows Lisa a collection of Bugs Bunny postage stamps.
  • "The Last of the Red Hat Mamas": The rabbit at the Easter celebration is called Hugs Bunny, a reference to Bugs Bunny.
  • "Homer the Father": The Itchy & Scratchy cartoon in the episode is titled "Ain't I a Stinger?", punning one of Bugs Bunny's catchphrases.
  • "Penny-Wiseguys": Bart mentions Bugs Bunny during the school concert, which is playing Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Franz Liszt. Bugs also played the song in the 1946 short, "Rhapsody Rabbit".
  • "Treehouse of Horror XXVI": After killing Bart in the "Wanted: Dead, Then Alive" segment, one of the lyrics Sideshow Bob sings is "I did what could not be done to Bugs Bunny by Elmer Fudd."
  • "Treehouse of Horror XXIX": The song that Bart sings in the "Multiplisa-ty" segment is "You'll Be Trapped", a parody of "This Is It", the theme song for The Bugs Bunny Show.
  • "Girls in the Band": Mr. Largo has the band hold a note for a long time, causing an overweight trumpet player's formal wear to unravel. Bugs does the same thing to the opera singer Giovanni Jones, in the 1949 short "Long-Haired Hare".

Family Guy

Main article: Family Guy
  • "The Story on Page One": After Meg is blown up by a bomb and her beak is turned upside down just like Daffy's in "Rabbit Fire", she uses one of Bugs' catchphrase by saying "Of course you know this means war!"
  • Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story: During "Stewie B. Goodie" Elmer and Bugs' rivalry comes to an end as Elmer fatally shoots Bugs. Bugs is voice by Seth McFarlane.
  • "E. Peterbus Unum": Peter's grandfather, who used to work at Warner Bros., said that he wanted to call Bugs Bunny "Ephraim The R*tarded Rabbit". Everyone except Peter's grandfather turns down the name.
  • "Movin' In": While watching opera, Stewie tells Brian, "Bugs Bunny is about to make this tenor hold a note far longer than anyone should. Ain't he a stinker?" This is likely a reference to "What's Opera, Doc?"

Robot Chicken

Main article: Robot Chicken
  • "Rodiggiti": During "8 Carrot", Bugs battles Elmer Fudd in a rap battle, parodying the Eminem film 8 Mile. Bugs is voiced by Bill Farmer.
  • "Snarfer Image": In "Wooper" Bugs is one of the people sent back in time to be killed by Elmer Fudd.
  • "Immortal": In the skit "Porky's", Bugs and Daffy Duck mistake a strip club called Porky's for a place that Porky Pig owns, only to be proven wrong. Although they were appalled by what they saw in the strip club, they immediately go back in.
  • "Not Enough Women": in "Wabbit Cwossdwessing", Bugs takes his crossdressing skills to the next level; by getting gender reassignment surgery.

Notes

  1. Although he normally potrayed as single, he was married at one point to Mrs. Bugs Bunny in the 1942 short Hold the Lion, Please.

References

  1. Walz, Eugene (1998). Cartoon Charlie: The Life and Art of Animation Pioneer Charles Thorson. Great Plains Publications. pp. 26. ISBN 0-9697804-9-4. Retrieved January 28, 2023.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Bugs Bunny". Encyclopædia Britannica. Britannica.com. Retrieved January 28, 2023.
  3. Barrier, Michael (November 6, 2003). Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age. United States: Oxford University Press. p. 672. ISBN 978-0-19-516729-0. Retrieved April 30, 2023.
  4. "Leading the Animation Conversation » Rare 1939 Looney Tunes Book found!". Cartoon Brew. April 3, 2008. Archived from the original on December 16, 2008. Retrieved April 30, 2023.
  5. Blanc, Mel; Bashe, Philip (1989). That's Not All, Folks!. Clayton South, VIC, Australia: Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-51244-3.
  6. Walz (1998), p. 49-67
  7. Adamson, Joe (1975). Tex Avery: King of Cartoons. New York City: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80248-1.
  8. "1940 academy awards".
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mel Blanc on Late Night with David Letterman (November 15, 1982).
  10. Barrier (2003), p. 359-362
  11. Adamson, Joe (1975). Tex Avery: King of Cartoons. New York City: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80248-1.
  12. Blanc, Mel; Bashe, Philip (January 1, 1989). That's Not All Folks. New York: Warner Books. ISBN ‎978-0446390897. "I don't especially like carrots, at least not raw. And second, I found it impossible to chew, swallow, and be ready to say my next line. We tried substituting other vegetables, including apples and celery, but with unsatisfactory results. The solution was to stop recording so that I could spit out the carrot into a wastebasket and then proceed with the script. In the course of a recording session I usually went through enough carrots to fill several. Bugs Bunny did for carrots what Popeye the Sailor did for Spinach. How many lip-locked, head-swelling children were coerced into eating their carrots by mothers cooing, '... but Bugs Bunny eats HIS carrots.'" - Mel Blanc.
  13. Furniss, Maureen; Jones, Chuck (March 7, 2005). Chuck Jones: Conversations. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1-57806-729-4. "The thing was at that time, if a man dressed up like a woman, there was no transvestite. Nobody even knew the term. [...] It was just funny. The man would put on a woman's hat, and they would think that was funny. They wouldn't think that the man was turning into something "inappropriate." [...] We found that out as we went along." - Chuck Jones.
  14. White, Jeanette (Dec 2, 2021) "Did Bugs Bunny Beat RuPaul to the Title of Drag Superstar?" CBR. Retrieved April 30, 2023.