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Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner
Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies characters
The duo as seen in To Beep or Not to Beep (1963)
First appearanceFast and Furry-ous (1949)
Created byChuck Jones
Michael Maltese
Voiced byWile E. Coyote:
Mel Blanc (1952–1989)
Richard Andrews (1983)[1]
Joe Alaskey (1990–2003)[2]
Dee Bradley Baker (2003)[3]
Maurice LaMarche (2008)[4]
James Arnold Taylor (2014)[5]
JP Karliak (2015–2020)[6]
Eric Bauza (2018–present)
Road Runner:
Paul Julian (1949–1994, 1996–present; Vocal archives only)[7]
Mel Blanc (1964, 1973–1974)[8][9][10]
Richard Andrews (1983)[1]
Joe Alaskey (2008)[11][2]
Eric Bauza (2018)
(see below)
In-universe information
SpeciesWile E. Coyote: Coyote
Road Runner: Greater roadrunner
GenderMale (both)

Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner are a duo of cartoon characters from the Looney Tunes series of animated cartoons. In each episode, the cunning, devious and constantly hungry Coyote repeatedly attempts to catch and subsequently eat the Road Runner, but is successful (in catching the Road Runner, not eating it) only on extremely rare occasions.[12] Instead of his animal instincts, the Coyote uses absurdly complex contraptions (sometimes in the manner of Rube Goldberg) to try to catch his prey, which comically backfire, with the Coyote often getting injured in slapstick fashion. Many of the items for these contrivances are mail-ordered from a variety of companies that are all named Acme Corporation.

One running gag involves the Coyote trying (in vain) to shield himself with a little parasol against a great falling boulder that is about to crush him. Another running gag involves the Coyote falling from a high cliff. After he goes over the edge, the rest of the scene, shot from a bird's-eye view, shows him falling into a canyon so deep, that his figure is eventually lost to sight. This is followed, a second or two later, by the rising of a dust cloud from the canyon floor as the Coyote hits.

The characters were created for Warner Bros. in 1948 by animation director Chuck Jones and writer Michael Maltese, with Maltese also setting the template for their adventures. The characters star in a long-running series of theatrical cartoon shorts (the first 16 of which were written by Maltese) and occasional made-for-television cartoons. It was originally meant to parody chase cartoons like Tom and Jerry,[13] but became popular in its own right.

The Coyote appears separately as an occasional antagonist of Bugs Bunny in five shorts from 1952 to 1963: Operation: Rabbit, To Hare Is Human, Rabbit's Feat, Compressed Hare, and Hare-Breadth Hurry. While he is generally silent in the Coyote-Road Runner shorts, he speaks with a refined accent in these solo outings (except for Hare-Breadth Hurry), beginning with 1952's Operation: Rabbit, introducing himself as "Wile E. Coyote—Genius", voiced by Mel Blanc.[14] The Road Runner vocalizes only with his signature sound, "beep, beep", recorded by Paul Julian (although some viewers claim it sounds more like "meep meep"), and an accompanying "popping-cork" tongue noise.[15]

To date, 49 cartoons have been made featuring these characters (including the four CGI shorts), the majority by Chuck Jones.

TV Guide included Wile E. Coyote in its 2013 list of "The 60 Nastiest Villains of All Time".[16]


Jones based the Coyote on Mark Twain's book Roughing It,[17] in which Twain described the coyote as "a long, slim, sick and sorry-looking skeleton" that is "a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry." Jones said he created the Coyote-Road Runner cartoons as a parody of traditional "cat and mouse" cartoons such as MGM's Tom and Jerry.[18] Jones modelled the Coyote's appearance on fellow animator Ken Harris.[19]

The Coyote's name of Wile E. is a pun of the word "wily." The "E" stands for "Ethelbert" in one issue of a Looney Tunes comic book.[20] The Coyote's surname is routinely pronounced with a long "e" (/kˈt/ ky-OH-tee), but in one cartoon short, To Hare Is Human, Wile E. is heard pronouncing it with a diphthong (/kˈt/ ky-OH-tay). Early model sheets for the character prior to his initial appearance (in Fast and Furry-ous) identified him as "Don Coyote", a pun on Don Quixote.[21]

The Road Runner's "beep, beep sound" was inspired by background artist Paul Julian's imitation of a car horn.[22] Julian voiced the various recordings of the phrase used throughout the Road Runner cartoons, although on-screen he was uncredited for his work. According to animation historian Michael Barrier, Julian's preferred spelling of the sound effect was either "hmeep hmeep"[23] or "mweep, mweep".[24]

List of cartoons

The series consists of:

  • 49 shorts, mostly about 6 to 7 minutes long, but including three web cartoons which are "three-minute, three-dimensional cartoons in widescreen (scope)".[25]
  • One half-hour special, released theatrically (26 minutes).
  • One feature-length film that combines live action and animation
# Release date Title Duration Credits Acme Corporation devices used Books studied
Story/writing Direction
1 September 17, 1949 (1949-09-17) Fast and Furry-ous 6:55 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones ACME Super Outfit
2 May 24, 1952 (1952-05-24) Beep, Beep 6:45 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Aspirin, Matches, Rocket-Powered Roller Skates
3 August 23, 1952 (1952-08-23) Going! Going! Gosh! 6:25 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones An anvil, a weather balloon, a street cleaner's bin, and a fan
4 September 19, 1953 (1953-09-19) Zipping Along 6:55 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Giant Kite Kit, Bomb, Detonator, Nitroglycerin, Bird Seed "Hypnotism Self-Taught" by Hershenburger
5 August 14, 1954 (1954-08-14) Stop! Look! And Hasten! 7:00 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Bird Seed, Triple Strength Fortified Leg Muscle Vitamins "How to Build a Burmese Tiger Trap"
6 April 30, 1955 (1955-04-30) Ready, Set, Zoom! 6:55 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones Glue, Female Road-Runner Costume
7 December 10, 1955 (1955-12-10) Guided Muscle 6:40 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones ACME Grease "How to Tar and Feather a Roadrunner (10th printing)"
8 May 5, 1956 (1956-05-05) Gee Whiz-z-z-z-z-z-z 6:35 Michael Maltese Charles M. Jones ACME Triple Strength Battleship Steel Armor Plate, ACME Batman's Outfit, Rubber Band, Anvil, Jet Bike (Made with Iron Handle Bars and a Jet Motor)
9 November 10, 1956 (1956-11-10) There They Go-Go-Go! 6:35 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones No ACME branded devices used
10 January 26, 1957 (1957-01-26) Scrambled Aches 6:50 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones ACME Dehydrated Boulders, Outboard Steam Roller
11 September 14, 1957 (1957-09-14) Zoom and Bored 6:15 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones ACME Bumblebees
12 April 12, 1958 (1958-04-12) Whoa, Be-Gone! 6:10 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Tornado Kit, Rubber Band (For Tripping Road-Runners), Water Pistol
13 October 11, 1958 (1958-10-11) Hook, Line and Stinker 5:55 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Bird Seed
14 December 6, 1958 (1958-12-06) Hip Hip-Hurry! 6:13 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Hi-Speed Tonic, Mouse Snare
15 May 9, 1959 (1959-05-09) Hot-Rod and Reel! 6:25 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Jet-Propelled Pogo Stick, Jet-Propelled Unicycle
16 October 10, 1959 (1959-10-10) Wild About Hurry 6:45 Michael Maltese Chuck Jones Giant Elastic Rubber Band, 5 Miles of Railroad Track, Rocket Sled, Bird Seed, Iron Pellets, Indestructo Steel Ball
17 January 9, 1960 (1960-01-09) Fastest with the Mostest 7:20 Michael Maltese (uncredited) Chuck Jones Balloon Basket, Balloon,
18 October 8, 1960 (1960-10-08) Hopalong Casualty 6:05 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones Christmas Packaging Machine, Earthquake Pills
19 January 21, 1961 (1961-01-21) Zip 'N Snort 5:50 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones Iron Pellets, Bird Seed, Axle Grease
20 June 3, 1961 (1961-06-03) Lickety-Splat 6:20 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones,
Abe Levitow
Roller skis, Boomerang
21 November 11, 1961 (1961-11-11) Beep Prepared 6:00 John Dunn,
Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones,
Maurice Noble
ACME Iron Bird Seed, Little-Giant Do-It-Yourself Rocket Sled
Film June 2, 1962 (1962-06-02) Adventures of the Road Runner 26:00 John Dunn,
Chuck Jones,
Michael Maltese
Chuck Jones,
Maurice Noble,
Tom Ray
Acme Batman's Outfit
22 June 30, 1962 (1962-06-30) Zoom at the Top 6:30 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones,
Maurice Noble
Bird seed, instant icicle-maker, boomerang
23 December 28, 1963 (1963-12-28) To Beep or Not to Beep1 6:35 John Dunn,
Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones,
Maurice Noble
24 June 6, 1964 (1964-06-06) War and Pieces 6:40 John Dunn Chuck Jones,
Maurice Noble
Invisible Paint
25 January 1, 1965 (1965-01-01) Zip Zip Hooray!2 6:15 John Dunn Chuck Jones,
Maurice Noble
26 February 1, 1965 (1965-02-01) Road Runner a Go-Go2 6:05 John Dunn Chuck Jones,
Maurice Noble
None, although Wile E. Coyote does study a film
27 February 27, 1965 (1965-02-27) The Wild Chase 6:30 Friz Freleng Friz Freleng,
Hawley Pratt
Iron Pellets, Bird Seed, Cheese
28 July 31, 1965 (1965-07-31) Rushing Roulette 6:20 David Detiege Robert McKimson Sproing Boots
29 August 21, 1965 (1965-08-21) Run, Run, Sweet Road Runner 6:00 Rudy Larriva Rudy Larriva Lightning Rod
30 September 18, 1965 (1965-09-18) Tired and Feathered 6:20 Rudy Larriva Rudy Larriva Dynamite, Assorted Washers Birds And Their Habitat
31 October 9, 1965 (1965-10-09) Boulder Wham! 6:30 Len Janson Rudy Larriva Deluxe Hi-bounce Trampoline Kit Hypnotism for Beginners
32 October 30, 1965 (1965-10-30) Just Plane Beep 6:45 Don Jurwich Rudy Larriva War Surplus Biplane Untitled flight instruction book
33 November 13, 1965 (1965-11-13) Hairied and Hurried 6:45 Nick Bennion Rudy Larriva Snow Machine, Magnetic Gun, Practice Bombs, Super Bomb, Kit
34 December 11, 1965 (1965-12-11) Highway Runnery 6:45 Al Bertino Rudy Larriva
35 December 25, 1965 (1965-12-25) Chaser on the Rocks 6:45 Tom Dagenais Rudy Larriva
36 January 8, 1966 (1966-01-08) Shot and Bothered 6:30 Nick Bennion Rudy Larriva Suction Cups
37 January 29, 1966 (1966-01-29) Out and Out Rout 6:00 Dale Hale Rudy Larriva No ACME labeled devices used. "Hunting Birds", "The History of Speed", "How to Sail"
38 February 19, 1966 (1966-02-19) The Solid Tin Coyote 6:15 Don Jurwich Rudy Larriva
39 March 12, 1966 (1966-03-12) Clippety Clobbered 6:15 Tom Dagenais Rudy Larriva
40 November 5, 1966 (1966-11-05) Sugar and Spies 6:20 Tom Dagenais Robert McKimson Do-it-Yourself Kit Remote Control Missile-Bombs
41 November 27, 1979 (1979-11-27) Freeze Frame 6:05 John W. Dunn
Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones Instant Snow Maker, Speed Skates, Jet-Propelled Skis, Dog Sled, 92 lb. Dogs, Rocking Horse, Road-Runner Lasso Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Road Runners (But Were Afraid To Ask)
42 May 21, 1980 (1980-05-21) Soup or Sonic 9:10 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones,
Phil Monroe
Frisbee Disc, Little-Giant Fire Crackers, Giant Fly Trap, Explosive Tennis Balls,
43 December 21, 1994 (1994-12-21) Chariots of Fur3 7:00 Chuck Jones Chuck Jones Giant Mouse Trap, Instant Road, Cactus Costume, Lightning Bolts
44 December 30, 2000 (2000-12-30) Little Go Beep 7:55 Kathleen Helppie-Shipley,
Earl Kress
Spike Brandt Badger Trap, Stretch Hamstring, Jack in the Box with a Boxing Glove and a Big Trike with Aqua Rockets
45 November 1, 2003 (2003-11-01) The Whizzard of Ow 7:00 Chris Kelly Bret Haaland Book of Magic, Flying Broom, Bomb, Clear Paint "ACME Book of Magic"
Film November 14, 2003 (2003-11-14) Looney Tunes: Back in Action 91:00 Larry Doyle Joe Dante Missile Launcher, Train of Death, Anvil
46 July 30, 2010 (2010-07-30) Coyote Falls3 2:59 Tom Sheppard[27] Matthew O'Callaghan Bird Seed, Bungee Cord
47 September 24, 2010 (2010-09-24) Fur of Flying3 3:03[28] Tom Sheppard Matthew O'Callaghan[28] Acme Bonnie Bike, Acme Mega-Motor, Acme Football Helmet, Acme Ceiling Fan
48 December 17, 2010 (2010-12-17) Rabid Rider3 3:07 Tom Sheppard Matthew O'Callaghan Acme Hyper-Sonic Transport
49 June 10, 2014 Flash in the Pain[29][30] 3:13 Tom Sheppard Matthew O'Callaghan Acme Molecular Transporter
50 May 27, 2020 Cactus if you can[31] 2:11 Michael Ruocco
David Gemmill
David Gemmill Acme Super Suc

1 Re-edited from Adventures of the Road-Runner, by Chuck Jones, and with new music direction from Bill Lava.
2 Re-edited from Adventures of the Road-Runner, by DePatie–Freleng Enterprises
3 These cartoons were shown with a feature-length film. Chariots of Fur was shown with Richie Rich, Coyote Falls was shown with Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore,[25] Fur of Flying was shown with Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole,[32] Rabid Rider was shown with Yogi Bear. Flash in the Pain was shown at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival on June 10, 2014.[29][30]


The desert scenery in the first three Road Runner cartoons, Fast and Furry-ous (1949), Beep, Beep (1952), and Going! Going! Gosh! (also 1952), were designed by Robert Gribbroek and was quite realistic. In most later cartoons the scenery was designed by Maurice Noble and was far more abstract.

Acme Corporation

Wile E. Coyote often obtains various complex and ludicrous devices from a mail-order company, the fictitious Acme Corporation, which he hopes will help him catch the Road Runner. The devices invariably fail in improbable and spectacular fashion.

In August, September and October 1982, the National Lampoon published a three part series chronicling the lawsuit Wile E. filed against the Acme Corporation over the faulty items they sold him in his pursuit of the Road Runner. Even though the Road Runner appeared as a witness for the plaintiff, the Coyote still lost the suit.[33]

Laws and rules

In his book Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist,[34] Chuck Jones claimed that he and the artists behind the Road Runner and Wile E. cartoons adhered to some simple but strict rules:

  1. "The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going ‘Beep-Beep!’" This only applies to direct harm. However, the Road Runner is able to indirectly harm Wile. One of the most common instances of indirect harm was done with a startling "Beep-Beep" that ends up sending Wile off a cliff. Rule 1 was broken in Clippety Clobbered when the Road Runner drops a boulder on the Coyote after painting it with "invisible paint", and has been broken in several CGI shorts from The Looney Tunes Show.
  2. "No outside force can harm the Coyote — only his own ineptitude or the failure of the Acme products." Trains and trucks were the exceptions from time to time.
  3. "The Coyote could stop anytime — if he were not a fanatic. (Repeat: ‘A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.’ — George Santayana)."
  4. "No dialogue ever, except ‘Beep-Beep!’" Various onomatopoeic exclamations (such as yowling in pain) are seemingly not considered dialogue. This rule was violated in some cartoons such as in Zoom at the Top where the Coyote says the word "Ouch." after he gets hurt in a bear trap, as well as in shorts such as "Adventures of the Road Runner" which don't follow the standard formula. Several times Wile E Coyote instead of speaking holds up a sign with captions such as "What In Heavens name am I doing" or "Please close this cartoon before I fall." In one episode after the Coyote fails again due to cartoon physics he holds up a sign that reads "I wouldn't mind it so much except what he did breaks the law of gravity" In reply the Road Runner holds up a sign that reads "Sure But I never studied Law".
  5. "The Road Runner must stay on the road — otherwise, logically, he would not be called Road Runner." This rule was broken in several shorts including cactus patches, mines, cliff edges, mountain tops and railways.
  6. "All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters — the southwest American desert." This rule was broken in Freeze Frame when Wile discovers that roadrunners hate snow and ice, chases the roadrunner onto a snowy summit, and devises various traps there, which, apparently, was right next to the desert. Much to Wile's surprise, the Road Runner did not show any sign of abhorrence.
  7. "All materials tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation." However, there have been instances in which Wile E. utilizes products not obtained from Acme; in Rushing Roulette, the Coyote uses AJAX Stix-All glue. In Zip 'N Snort, aside from the Acme Iron Pellets, Wile also had a box of AJAX Bird Seed. In Fast and Furry-ous, even though one item, the Super Outfit, was from Acme, for some reason the Jet-Propelled Tennis Shoes was from "Fleet-Feet". On one occasion, he uses a manual: How to Build a Burmese Tiger Trap (though the publisher is not indicated), hoping to catch the Roadrunner. To his shock, the trap works precisely as promised, and actually does catch a Burmese tiger ("Surprisibus Surprisibus"). In To Beep or Not to Beep the Coyote keeps trying to use a catapault that literally keeps backfiring on him; at the end the catapault is revealed to be made by the "Road Runner Manufacturing Company"!
  8. "Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote's greatest enemy." For example, falling off a cliff.
  9. "The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures."

These rules were not always followed. And in an interview[15] years after the series was made, principal writer of the original 16 episodes Michael Maltese stated he had never heard of these or any "rules" and dismissed them as "post production observation".

As in other cartoons, the Road Runner and the coyote follow certain laws of cartoon physics, peculiar to an animation universe. Some examples:[citation needed]

  • Animation vs. Reality Mixing: the Road Runner has the ability to enter the painted image of a cave, while the coyote cannot (unless there is an opening through which he can fall). Sometimes, however, this is reversed, and the Road Runner can burst through a painting of a broken bridge and continue on his way, while the Coyote will instead enter the painting and fall down the precipice of the cliff where the bridge is out.
  • Gravity: sometimes the coyote is allowed to hang in midair until he realizes that he is about to plummet into a chasm (a process occasionally referred to elsewhere as Road-Runnering or a Wile E. Coyote moment). The coyote can overtake rocks (or cannons) which fall earlier than he does, and end up being squashed by them. If a chase sequence runs over the edge of a cliff, the Road Runner is not affected by gravity, whereas the Coyote will be subject to normal earth gravity and eventually fall to the ground below.
  • The Road Runner is able to run fast enough to go through time.
  • If the Coyote uses an explosive (commonly dynamite) that is triggered by a mechanism that is supposed to force the explosive in a forward motion toward its target, the actual mechanism itself will shoot forward, leaving the explosive behind to detonate in the Coyote's face.
  • Delayed Reaction: (a) a complex apparatus that is supposed to propel an object like a boulder or steel ball forward, or trigger a trap, will not work on the Road Runner, but always does so perfectly on the Coyote - when he inspects it after its failure to ensnare the Road Runner. (b) the Road Runner can jump up and down on the trigger of a large animal trap and eat the intended trap trigger bird seed off it and leave unharmed without setting off the trap; but when the Coyote places the tiniest droplet of oil on the trigger, the trap snaps shut on him without fail.
  • On other occasions, the Coyote dons an exquisite Acme costume or propulsion device that briefly allows him to catch up to the Road Runner, but ultimately always results in him losing track of his proximity to large cliffs or walls, and while the Road Runner darts around an extremely sharp turn near a cliff defying physics, the Coyote succumbs to physics and will rocket right over the edge and plummet spectacularly to the ground.
  • In what might be called cartoon biology, the Road Runner always runs faster than the Coyote, whilst in reality, a coyote can outrun a roadrunner.[35]

Both animals were typically introduced in a similar fashion; the action would slow to a halt, and a caption would appear with both their common name and a mock genus/species name in faux-Latin. For example, in "Zoom at the Top" Road Runner was classified as an example of "Disappearialis Quickius", while Coyote was identified as "Overconfidentii Vulgaris".

Later cartoons

The original Chuck Jones productions ended in 1963 after Jack L. Warner closed the Warner Bros. animation studio. War and Pieces, the last Road Runner short directed by Jones, was released in mid-1964. By that time, David H. DePatie and director Friz Freleng had formed DePatie–Freleng Enterprises, moved into the facility just emptied by Warner, and signed a license with Warner Bros. to produce cartoons for the big studio to distribute.

Their first cartoon to feature the Road Runner was The Wild Chase, directed by Freleng in 1965. The premise was a race between the bird and "the fastest mouse in all of Mexico," Speedy Gonzales, with the Coyote and Sylvester the Cat each trying to make a meal out of their respective usual targets. Much of the material was animation rotoscoped from earlier Runner and Gonzales shorts, with the other characters added in.

In total, DePatie-Freleng produced 14 Road Runner cartoons, two of which were directed by Robert McKimson (Rushing Roulette, 1965, and Sugar and Spies, 1966). Due to cuts in the number of frames used per second in animation, the remaining eleven of these final Road Runner films were somewhat cheap looking and jerky. Also, the music was very different and of poorer quality than the older features; this was a byproduct of music director Bill Lava (who had replaced the recently deceased Milt Franklyn three years prior) being relegated to the use of pre-composed music cues (due to budget cuts) rather than a proper score, as heard with The Wild Chase, Rushing Roulette, and Run Run, Sweet Road Runner (the third being the only of the "Larriva Eleven" to have a proper score). These eleven shorts have been considered disappointing to fans of the original shorts.

The remaining eleven were subcontracted to Format Films and directed under ex-Warner Bros. animator Rudy Larriva. The "Larriva Eleven", as the series was later called, lacked the fast-paced action of the Chuck Jones originals and received mixed to poor reviews by critics. In Of Mice and Magic, Leonard Maltin calls the series "witless in every sense of the word." In addition, except for the planet Earth scene at the tail end of "Highway Runnery", there was only one clip of the Coyote's fall to the ground, used over and over again. These cartoons can easily be distinguished from Chuck Jones' cartoons, because they feature the modern "Abstract WB" Looney Tunes opening and closing sequences, and they use the same music cues over and over again in the cartoons, also by Lava. Only one of those eleven Larriva-directed cartoons — Run, Run, Sweet Road Runner — had music that was actually scored instead of the same music cues. Another clear clue is that Jones' previously described "laws" for the characters were not followed with any significant fidelity, nor were there Latin phrases used when introducing the characters.


In another series of Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoons, Chuck Jones used the character design (model sheets and personality) of Wile E. Coyote as "Ralph Wolf". In this series, Ralph continually attempts to steal sheep from a flock being guarded by the eternally vigilant Sam Sheepdog. As with the Road Runner and Coyote series, Ralph Wolf uses all sorts of wild inventions and schemes to steal the sheep, but he is continually foiled by the sheepdog. In a move seen by many as a self-referential gag, Ralph Wolf continually tries to steal the sheep not because he is a fanatic (as Wile E. Coyote was), but because it is his job. In every cartoon, he and the sheepdog punch a timeclock, exchange pleasantries, go to work, take a lunch break, and clock out to go home for the day, all according to a factory-like blowing whistle. The most obvious difference between the coyote and the wolf, aside from their locales, is that Wile E. has a black nose and Ralph has a red nose.

Comic books

Wile E. was called Kelsey Coyote in his comic book debut, a Henery Hawk story in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies #91 (May 1949). He only made a couple of other appearances at this time and did not have his official name yet, as it wasn't used until 1951 (in Operation: Rabbit, his second appearance).[36]

The first appearance of the Road Runner in a comic book was in Bugs Bunny Vacation Funnies #8 (August 1958) published by Dell Comics. The feature is titled "Beep Beep the Road Runner" and the story "Desert Dessert". It presents itself as the first meeting between Beep Beep and Wile E. (whose mailbox reads "Wile E. Coyote, Inventor and Genius"), and introduces the Road Runner's wife, Matilda, and their three newly hatched sons (though Matilda soon disappeared from the comics). This story established the convention that the Road Runner family talked in rhyme, a convention that also appeared in early children's book adaptations of the cartoons.

Dell initially published a dedicated "Beep Beep the Road Runner" comic as part of Four Color Comics #918, 1008, and 1046 before launching a separate series for the character numbered #4–14 (1960–1962), with the three try-out issues counted as the first three numbers. After a hiatus, Gold Key Comics took over the character with issues #1–88 (1966–1984). During the 1960s, the artwork was done by Pete Alvarado and Phil DeLara; from 1966 to 1969, the Gold Key issues consisted of Dell reprints. Afterward, new stories began to appear, initially drawn by Alvarado and De Lara before Jack Manning became the main artist for the title. New and reprinted Beep Beep stories also appeared in Golden Comics Digest and Gold Key's revival of Looney Tunes in the 1970s. During this period, Wile E.'s middle name was revealed to be "Ethelbert"[20] in the story "The Greatest of E's" in issue #53 (cover-date September 1975) of Gold Key Comics' licensed comic book, Beep Beep the Road Runner.[37]

The Road Runner and Wile E. also make appearances in the DC Comics Looney Tunes title. Wile E. was able to speak in some of his appearances in the DC comics.

In 2017, DC Comics featured a Looney Tunes and DC Comics crossovers that reimagined the characters in a darker style. Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote had a crossover with the bounty hunter Lobo in The Lobo/Road Runner Special. In this version, Road Runner, Wile E, and other Looney Tunes characters are reimagined as standard animals who were experimented upon with alien DNA at Acme to transform them into their cartoon forms. In the backup story done in more traditional cartoon style, Lobo tries to hunt down Road Runner, but is limited by Bugs to be more kid-friendly in his language and approach.[38][39]


The Road Runner and the Coyote appeared on Saturday mornings as the stars of their own TV series, The Road Runner Show, from September 1966 to September 1968, on CBS. At this time it was merged with The Bugs Bunny Show to become The Bugs Bunny and Road Runner Show, running from 1968 to 1985. The show was later seen on ABC until 2000, and on Global until 2001.

In the 1970s, Chuck Jones directed some Road Runner short films for the educational children's TV series The Electric Company. These short cartoons used the Coyote and the Road Runner to display words for children to read, but the cartoons themselves are a refreshing return to Jones' glory days.

In 1979, Freeze Frame, in which Jones moved the chase from the desert to snow-covered mountains, was seen as part of Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales.

At the end of Bugs Bunny's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bunny (the initial sequence of Chuck Jones' TV special, Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All Over), Bugs mentions to the audience that he and Elmer may have been the first pair of characters to have chase scenes in these cartoons, but then a pint-sized baby Wile E. Coyote (wearing a diaper and holding a small knife and fork) runs right in front of Bugs, chasing a gold-colored, mostly unhatched (except for the tail, which is sticking out) Road Runner egg, which is running rapidly while some high-pitched "beep, beep" noises can be heard. This was followed by the full-fledged Runner/Coyote short, Soup or Sonic. Earlier in that story, while kid Elmer was falling from a cliff, Wile E. Coyote's adult self tells him to move over and leave falling to people who know how to do it and then he falls, followed by Elmer.

In the 1980s, ABC began showing many Warner Bros. shorts, but in highly edited form. Many scenes integral to the stories were taken out, including scenes in which Wile E. Coyote landed at the bottom of the canyon after having fallen from a cliff, or had a boulder or anvil actually make contact with him. In almost all WB animated features, scenes where a character's face was burnt and black, some thought resembling blackface, were removed, as were animated characters smoking cigarettes. Some cigar smoking scenes were left in. The unedited versions of these shorts (with the exception of ones with blackface) were not seen again until Cartoon Network, and later Boomerang, began showing them again in the 1990s and early 2000s. Since the release of the WB library of cartoons on DVD, the cartoons gradually disappeared from television, presumably to increase sales of the DVDs. However, Cartoon Network began to air them again in 2011, coinciding with the premiere of The Looney Tunes Show (2011), and the shorts were afterwards moved to Boomerang where they have remained.

Wile E. and the Road Runner appeared in several episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures. In this series, Wile E. Coyote (voiced in the Jim Reardon episode "Piece of Mind" by Joe Alaskey) was the dean of Acme Looniversity and the mentor of Calamity Coyote. The Road Runner's protégé in this series was Little Beeper. In the episode "Piece of Mind", Wile E. narrates the life story of Calamity while Calamity is falling from the top of a tall skyscraper. In the direct-to-video movie Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, the Road Runner finally gets a taste of humiliation by getting run over by a mail truck that "brakes for coyotes."

The two were also seen in cameos in Animaniacs. They were together in two "Slappy Squirrel" cartoons: "Bumbie's Mom" and "Little Old Slappy from Pasadena". In the latter the Road Runner gets another taste of humiliation when he is outrun by Slappy's car, and holds up a sign saying "I quit"—immediately afterward, Buttons, who was launched into the air during a previous gag, lands squarely on top of him. Wile E. appears without the bird in a The Wizard of Oz parody, dressed in his batsuit from one short, in a twister (tornado) funnel in "Buttons in Ows". Also, in the beginning of one episode, an artist is seen drawing Road Runner.

In a Cartoon Network TV ad about The Acme Hour, Wile E. Coyote utilized a pair of jet roller skates to catch the Road Runner and (quite surprisingly) didn't fail. While he was cooking his prey, it was revealed that the roller skates came from a generic brand. The ad said that other brand isn't the same thing.[clarification needed][citation needed]

Road Runner appears in an episode of the 1991 series Taz-Mania in which Taz grabs him by the leg & gets ready to eat him until the two gators are ready to capture Taz so he lets Road Runner go. In another episode of Taz-Mania the Road Runner cartoons are parodied with Taz dressed as Road Runner and the character Willy Wombat dressed as Wile E. Coyote. Willy tries to catch Taz with Acme Roller Skates but fails, and Taz even says "Beep, beep".

Wile E. and Road Runner appeared in their toddler versions in Baby Looney Tunes, only in songs. However, they both had made a cameo in the episode, "Are We There Yet?", where Road Runner was seen out the window of Floyd's car with Wile E. chasing him.

Wile E. Coyote had a cameo as the true identity of an alien hunter (a parody of Predator) in the Duck Dodgers episode "K-9 Quarry," voiced by Dee Bradley Baker. In that episode, he was hunting Martian Commander X-2 and K-9.

In Loonatics Unleashed, Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner's 28th century descendants are Tech E. Coyote (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) and Rev Runner (voiced by Rob Paulsen). Tech E. Coyote was the tech expert of the Loonatics (influenced by the past cartoons with many of the machines ordered by Wile E. from Acme), and has magnetic hands and the ability to molecularly regenerate himself (influenced by the many times in which Wile E. painfully failed to capture Road Runner and then was shown to have miraculously recovered). Tech E. Coyote speaks, but does not have a British accent as Wile E. Coyote did. Rev Runner is also able to talk, though extremely rapidly, and can fly without the use of jet packs, which are used by other members of the Loonatics. He also has sonic speed, also a take off of Road Runner. The pair get on rather well, despite the number of gadgets Tech designs in order to stop Rev from talking; also they have their moments where they do not get along. When friendship is shown it is often only from Rev to Tech, not the other way around; this could, however, be attributed to the fact that Tech has only the barest minimum of social skills. They are both portrayed as smart, but Tech is the better inventor and at times Rev is shown doing stupid things. References to their ancestors' past are seen in the episode "Family Business" where the other Runners are wary of Tech and Tech relives the famous falling gags done in Coyote/Runner shorts.

Road Runner and Wile E. feature in 3D computer animated cartoons or cartoon animation in the Cartoon Network TV series The Looney Tunes Show. The CGI shorts were only included in season one, but Wile E. and Road Runner still appeared throughout the series in 2D animation.

Wile E. Coyote also appears in the TV series Wabbit, voiced by JP Karliak, in a similar vein to his previous pairings with Bugs Bunny. He appears as Bugs' annoying, know-it-all neighbor who always uses his inventions to compete with Bugs. The Road Runner began making appearances when the series was renamed New Looney Tunes in 2017.

Wile E. and the Road Runner also both appear in their own cartoon shorts in the HBO Max streaming series Looney Tunes Cartoons.

Wile E. was also in an episode of Night Court (Season 7, Episode 22: Sill Another Day in the Life) in which Judge Harold T. Stone (Harry Anderson) found him guilty of harassment and told him to leave the poor bird alone. [40]

3-D shorts

The characters appeared in seven 3-D shorts attached to Warner Bros. features. Three have been screened with features, while the rest serve as segments in season 1 of The Looney Tunes Show. A short called Flash in the Pain was shown on the web in 2015, but was not shown in theaters.


Warner Bros. is developing a live-action/animation hybrid film centered on Wile E. Coyote titled Coyote vs. Acme with The Lego Batman Movie director Chris McKay on board to produce.[41][42] Jon and Josh Silberman were originally set to write the screenplay.[41] On December 18, 2019, it was reported that Dave Green will direct the project.[42] It was also reported that the project is looking for a new writer, with Jon and Josh Silberman instead co-producing the film alongside McKay.[42] However, by December 2020, McKay departed the project while Jon and Josh Silberman left their roles as producers and resumed their screenwritng roles, with Samy Burch, Jeremy Slater, and James Gunn also writing the film. Gunn will also co-produce the project alongside Chris DeFaria. It was also announced that the film is scheduled to be released on July 21, 2023.[43]

Voice actors

Wile E. Coyote

Road Runner

The voice artist Paul Julian originated the character's voice. Before and after his death, his voice was appearing in various media, for example, in TV series, shorts and video games, such as 2014's Looney Tunes Dash. In addition, other voice actors have replaced him. These voice actors are:

Video games

Several Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner-themed video games have been produced:

In popular culture

A mural of Wile E. Coyote smashed into the wall of the Rotch Library at MIT. Due to differences in floor height in connected buildings, this hallway unexpectedly ends in a wall.
A mural of Wile E. Coyote smashed into the wall of the Rotch Library at MIT. Due to differences in floor height in connected buildings, this hallway unexpectedly ends in a wall.

Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner have been frequently referenced in popular culture.

The cartoons have been referenced in the 1979 live-action film The Villain with Kirk Douglas' character, Cactus Jack Slade, in the role of the Coyote.

Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner appeared in the 1988 Touchstone/Amblin film Who Framed Roger Rabbit; they are seen silhouetted by the elevator doors, and in full in the final scene with other characters.

Wile E. Coyote has appeared twice in Family Guy: his first episode, "I Never Met the Dead Man", depicts him riding in a car with Peter Griffin; when Peter runs over the Road Runner and asks if he hit "that ostrich", Wile E. tells him to keep going.[62] His second appearance was in "PTV", in which Wile E. attempts to get a refund for a giant-sized slingshot at an ACME retailer where Peter works. Peter says that Wile E. cannot return the slingshot, but can get store credit. Wile E's wife then arrives and tells her husband to hurry up.

Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner appeared in Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy, in the short "Die, Sweet Roadrunner, Die". In this short, Wile E. crushes the Road Runner with a large boulder and eats him, but then struggles to find purpose in life, having not trained for anything else other than chasing the Road Runner. Ultimately, after a short-lived job as a waiter in a local diner, and a suicide attempt (by way of catapulting himself into a mountain at close range), Wile E. finally realizes what he is to do with his life, and reveals he is now an advocate for Christianity.

In the Johnny Test episode "Johnny vs. Bling Bling 3", Johnny and Dukey use running shoes, with Bling Bling Boy in hot pursuit, as well as the Latin names, the canyon fall gag, the fake tunnel physics gag, getting run over by a truck and getting hit by an anvil.

In the Dino Dana episode, "Get That Incisivosaurus!", Dino Dana tries getting the feather of the Incisivosaurus, but, her plans keep failing, her inspirations come when her dad's old cartoon show. Also, the Fox and the Hare May be a parody of Wile E Coyote and Road Runner.

Both Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner have appeared in Robot Chicken on multiple occasions. In the Season 6 sketch "Wile E. Piphany", Wile E., after yet another failed attempt at catching the Road Runner, gives up, and, feeling his life no longer has meaning, commits suicide with an ACME Suicide Kit (which, despite costing a lot of money, only consists of a roll of duct tape and a plastic bag). The Road Runner attends his funeral, but it turns out to be a trap; Wile E. had faked his death, and the funeral is fake as well - he then roasts the Road Runner alive with a flamethrower. At his abode, while devouring the bird, Wile E. communicates with the viewers (by way of wooden signs) "In case you were wondering... yes, I have an erection." A short from Season 9 serves as a parody of the television series How to Get Away with Murder, and features Wile E. as an egotistical criminology professor who describes to his students the "unsolvable" murder of the Road Runner (never revealing to them that he himself committed it). The students initially refuse to believe the murder took place as it did when presented with the items used to commit it (a pile of bird seed, a collection of ball bearings, an oversized magnet, and a rocket powered hang glider) due to the absurdity of it, so Wile E. brings them to the desert to provide a demonstration. While there, he is discovered to have committed the murder after a student looks through Acme Corporation's Homeland Security mandated list of individuals who purchased rocket powered merchandise (of whom Wile E. was the only one), whereupon he is executed via the electric chair. A second Season 9 short features Wile E. selling a piece of artwork depicting a road going off into a horizon line. The Road Runner arrives and runs through the painting as if it were a real road (a reference to an iconic gag from the original shorts); Wile E. attempts to chase him, but runs smack into the painting instead, whereupon he dies instantly.

The series as a whole is mentioned briefly during one of the two endings in the 1996 point-and-click adventure game Harvester when a character compares the violence in video games to "road runner cartoons".

Guitarist Mark Knopfler created a song called "Coyote" in homage to the cartoon shows of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, on the 2002 album The Ragpicker's Dream. The Tom Smith song "Operation: Desert Storm", which won a Pegasus award for Best Fool Song in 1999, is about the different crazy ways the Coyote's plans fail.[63]

Dee Snider, lead singer of the glam metal band Twisted Sister stated in his Congressional testimony before the PRMC hearings on adding Parental Advisory labels for what they deemed were increasingly offensive lyrics, imagery, violence and misogyny in music and music videos, that the music video for the band's signature song "We're Not Gonna Take It" was based heavily on the cartoon, specifically how the band's foil in the video, assuming the role of Wile E. Coyote, seems more or less unharmed in each successive scene, much as he does in the cartoon, despite whatever severe injury or accident befalls him, and bearing no resemblance to the lyrics of the song.[64]

Humorist Ian Frazier created the mock-legal prose piece "Coyote v. Acme",[65] which is included in a book of the same name.[66]

Terry Pratchett included an oblique reference to the cartoon in Thief of Time where Newgate Ludd (later Lobsang Ludd) managed to stop time for himself whilst falling; this is referred to as "The Stance of the Coyote", echoing the cartoon physics of the Coyote's falls.[67]

All Elite Wrestling, which airs on a WarnerMedia cable channel (WarnerMedia owns the Looney Tunes franchise), referenced it when Jon Moxley referenced the dud bomb explosion at AEW Revolution. In Moxley's vingette during the ensuing Dynamite fallout show, he referenced the Exploding Barbed Wire match conclusion against Kenny Omega, taunting Omega for the alleged botch with a reference to Wile E. Coyote's Acme Industries products: "Let me ask you a question, when that bomb came in the mail did it come in a box with big, bold letters that said ‘ACME’ on it? I’ve made more explosive volcanoes in fourth-grade science class, what the hell was that?”

During a scene in The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!, the Drawn Together cast accidentally run over and kill the Road Runner with Foxxy Love's van. Upon noticing this, Wile E. Coyote runs up to the Road Runner's corpse and declares "Without you, my life really has no meaning", before shooting himself with a "Bang!" flag gun.

See also


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  22. ^ Michael Barrier. "Beep, Beep (film)" on Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 2 (Region 2 DVD release) (DVD commentary). Event occurs at 0m26s. Actually the title is somewhat of a misnomer; the actual 'beep beep' sound you just heard the Road Runner make was made by a background painter named Paul Julian, who used to make it in the hallways at Warner Brothers when he was carrying a large painting along, so people would get out of his way. Chuck Jones heard him make that - or Treg Brown I guess, actually, the sound effects wizard at Warner Brothers - heard him make that noise and suggested that they record that for the Road Runner, and it's been the standard Road Runner noise ever since.
  23. ^ Michael Barrier. "Fast and Furry-ous" on Looney Tunes All-Stars: Part 1 (Region 2 DVD release) (DVD commentary). Event occurs at 6m10s. Even though the expression was spelled 'beep beep' on the screen, and that the word 'beep' was used in many subsequent Road Runner cartoon titles, Paul Julian insisted that the correct spelling was 'H-M-E-E-P"; 'hmeep hmeep', rather than 'beep beep'. But obviously after dozens of Road Runner cartoons, and other appearances of the Road Runner and Coyote in other media, with the word 'beep' attached, it's much too late to make any change in that spelling.
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External links

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