Fun Facts About Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner

Wile E. Coyote and the Road
Runner are two of the world’s most beloved cartoon foes. This dueling duet made their cinematic debut in Fast and
on September 16, 1949. It was almost three years before the next Wile E.
Coyote and the Road Runner film, Beep,
would appear. 

CJXCEL-41 copy

Over a span of
fourteen years, their creator Chuck Jones, would direct a total of twenty three
short films (1949 – 1963), showing that the food chain isn’t what it’s cracked
up to be…at least not for this bewildered coyote. The cartoon Beep Prepared was nominated for an
Academy Award
(tm) in 1961.

Chuck Jones and Michael
Maltese created Fast and Furry-ous as
a parody of chase movies that CJXCEL-82 copy were popular at the time. Unwittingly, their
chase parody was better than the rest and they became the chase films of the 20th century.  

In his book Chuck Amuck, Jones writes: “I first
became interested in the coyote while devouring Mark Twain’s Roughing It at the age of seven. I had
heard of the coyote only in passing references from passing adults and thought
of it – if I thought of it at all – as a sort of dissolute collie.  As it turns out, that is just about what a
coyote is; and no one saw it more clearly than Mark Twain.

Jones also writes: “The
author’s (Mark Twain) description of a coyote went like this: 'The coyote is a long, slim,
sick and sorry-looking skeleton with a grey wolf skin stretched over it…he is a
living, breathing allegory of want. Who could resist such an enchanting creature?’"

As for the Road Runner’s
trademark sound, “it came from a background artist named Paul Julian,” says
Chuck. “One day he was coming down the hall carrying a lot of background
paintings and couldn’t see where he was going, so he just went ‘Beep, Beep’.
When I heard it, I realized that’s the sound the Road Runner should make."

In animation, it’s important
to maintain a consistency with each character. For the Coyote-Road Runner
series, Jones and his staff were always cognizant of the following rules:

RULE 1.  The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except
by going “Beep-Beep!”

RULE 2.  No outside force can harm the Coyote – only
his own ineptitude or the failure of ACME products.

  CJXCEL-65 copy RULE 3.  The Coyote could stop anytime – if he were
not a fanatic. “A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten
his aim” – George Santayana.

RULE 4.  No dialog ever except “Beep-Beep!”

RULE 5.  The Road Runner must stay on the road –
otherwise, logically, he would not be called a Road Runner.

RULE 6.  All action must be confined to the natural
environment of the two characters – the Southwest American desert.

RULE 7.  All materials, tools, weapons, or mechanical
conveniences must be obtained from the ACME Corporation.

RULE 8.  Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s
greatest enemy.

RULE 9.  The Coyote is always more humiliated than
harmed by his failures. 

21 thoughts on “Fun Facts About Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner

  1. Larry Levine

    Wile E. Coyote is my favorite Chuck Jones created character. Whether he’s chasing the Road Runner or (as his super-genius alter ego) tangling with Bugs Bunny, the Coyote never allows failure to dampen his determination.

  2. John Higgins a.k.a. Trypticon

    Love it! Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing moments of Mr. Jones’ life and work.
    I lived in New Mexico for a few years while serving in the U.S. Air Force and saw my share of coyotes and road runners (The state bird of NM, but then you knew that). Unfortunately , I never saw the the two in conflict.
    I think it’s a shame that it has become nearly impossible to watch these works of art in their original form. Luckily, I had the chance to see them as a child in their original form and entirety.
    I’ve always felt o censor these classic gems has more to do with a failed home than gratuitous violence.
    I’m so happy to have discovered this blog,
    Thank you and please keep up the wonderful work.

  3. Josh McDonald

    The Roadrunner cartoons — appearing regularly on CTW’s “The Electric Company” — were among the very first cartoons I ever saw. They hooked me for life. I do remember that, even at that callow and carefree age, I somehow intuited that First Rule of RoadRunner cartoons.
    Great stuff!

  4. GW

    It’s ridiculous how these classic cartoons have been maligned as too violent. I grew up watching them and I loved them.

  5. Stephen Treadwell

    I think Road Runner cartoons are very stupid & don’t understand how they can be so popular. They’re not very cute & they’re so weird. Tom & Jerry is by far better. It’s a lot cuter & not as predictable. Besides Tom & Jerry themselves are so much cuter than the coyote and the road runner.

  6. M.Boehmer

    Stephen it’s such a shame you can’t see the fun, how Road Runner finds ways each time to trick the trickster. Yes Tom & Jerry is good but with the Road Runner you get to use your imagination

  7. Stephen Treadwell

    I don’t need sympathy for not liking road runner cartoons. There are plenty of cartoons I do like & besides I’m one of the few people who likes that version of Tom and Jerry where they’re friends. Those are, by far, my favorite cartoons.

  8. Stephen Treadwell

    The main reason I prefer T&J to R R is that R R cartoons are so much more one-sided. In R.R. the little guy always defeats the big guy while in T&J there are lots of exceptions.

  9. Stephen Treadwell

    Some people think R R cartoons have the most beautiful landscape of all cartoons. How can they say that? What’s beautiful about the desert?

  10. Robert Patrick

    Stephen, many artists have found the American southwest a land of incredible beauty and a rich visual resource. Its austerity, colors, magnificent geological formations all blend together to deliver a potent & compelling landscape. That landscape, for Chuck Jones and for Maurice Noble, his layout & color designer, was the perfect stage on which to present the Wile E. Coyote & Road Runner cartoons. The desolation of the desert mirrored the difficulties encountered by Wile E. as he went about his business of trying to capture the Road Runner. It’s the very isolation of the desert that reinforces his fanaticism and desperation.

  11. nutty

    Stephen, Everything in America isn’t about a happy ending, or being cute and accessible, or, god forbid, heroes. The reason so many of us love Wile. E. is that he simply never gives up.
    It doesn’t matter if he’s cute or not. I take that back. It’s exactly because he’s not like the rest of TV world, with perfect teeth, perfectly happy families, draped with syrup and cheese to make it even more perfect.
    We’ve all experienced moments of realisation where whatever we do, we just can’t win. Wile E. supremely connects reality and make believe.
    You get my point. 🙂

  12. Jose

    excuse my bad english, but you´re right nutty…The Coyote is who we are.
    “We’ve all experienced moments of realisation where whatever we do, we just can’t win.”

  13. Stephen Treadwell

    Let me tell you one reason I don’t like Road Runner cartoons. I think Road Runner’s a very boring character considering he never gets hurt. That’s more than can be said for Jerry from Tom and Jerry.

  14. Sam Crawford

    Stephen… I find it odd that you don’t find the Road Runner funny because “he never gets hurt.”
    I have enjoyed the Road Runner – Coyote cartoons since I was a young child in the mid-60s. It’s the struggle, and Wile E’s misadventures, that provides the humour.
    What I do find sad is that more recent showings of these cartoons have had the “violence” edited out. What nonsense! Having the Coyote hit the ground in a puff of dust, or having an anvil land on his head so that he walks away like an accordian is FUNNY, and has never tempted me to try these stunts myself. I know the difference between animation and reality.
    Chuck Jones is a genius!

  15. Stephen Rhodes Treadwell

    How’s come so many people have responded to messages I’ve left here? In other places on google where I leave messages nobody ever responds. By the way I wish someone would answer my question about how you use more imagination w/ Road Runner than you do w/ Tom & Jerry. I can’t see that Road Runner’s in any way better than Tom & Jerry. Tom & Jerry cartoons are so much more original. For one thing Road Runner & Wile Coyote never team up w/ each other like Tom & Jerry do in some episodes. Another thing; I really mean it about Road Runner not getting hurt. One good thing about T & J is that sometimes funny things happen to Tom, sometimes they happen to Jerry & sometimes they happen to another character in the cartoon.

  16. Robert Patrick

    Dear Stephen,
    The reason so many reply to your posts is that they are very passionate about the characters and the cartoons created by Chuck Jones, just as you are. And like you, they have very definite opinions about those characters and cartoons.
    Although Tom & Jerry cartoons directed by Chuck Jones incorporated aspects of the ‘chase’ trope used in his Road Runner cartoons, they also differed in many ways, just as you also noted: sometimes Tom gets the wrong end of the stick and other times it’s Jerry.
    I can only assume that’s one of the reasons you enjoy the Tom & Jerry cartoons, just as many people love the Road Runner cartoons for the very fact that only the Coyote seems to fail & nothing ever really happens to the Road Runner.
    Chuck Jones once said that the Road Runner was a force of nature and that pretty much says it all about that character. Thank you for spurring such an outpouring of opinion!
    All the best, Robert Patrick (full disclosure: I post most of the articles on this blog.)

  17. Stephen Rhodes Treadwell

    Thanks for telling me this but what do you mean the T&J’s directed by Chuck Jones? What about the ones directed by HB? By the way any idea why people, like I said, never respond in other places I’ve left messages about cartoons? For instance in some other place, not here, I said I don’t care what anyone says, Tom & Jerry the movie is very good, & I never found any responses to that.

  18. Aquaria

    Just because you don’t get a response doesn’t mean you have a valid point. People have lives, so they don’t answer because they were distracted. People aren’t necessarily as impressed with your ideas as you are, and may believe that further communication isn’t worth the aggravation of dealing with a single-minded narcissist who thinks everything he says is gold. You may not have communicated what you were trying to say well, so they didn’t know how important a point was to you. It’s nothing personal.
    Another thing: Thinking T&J the movie is good is a matter of OPINION. You think it’s good. Who are we to tell you what to think? Tell people why (in the appropriate fora), and let them argue the point, rather than just saying It’s good it’s good it’s good it’s good. So what? Why is it good to you?
    IOW: You really need to grow up and get out more.
    What people can do is

  19. Stephen Rhodes Treadwell

    For one thing I enjoyed the part where Tom & Jerry surprised each other by talking. I would have thought most people would have liked that part; it seems to me like the sort of thing people like to see happen in movie or TV show. Besides that I thought it was cool having them meet a dog & a flea who were friends & having them teach T&J a cat & a mouse can be friends too.

  20. Peter Fay

    I wonder if I’m the only one who sees the Road Runner cartoons as representing mankind’s struggle to achieve his goals no matter how much failure he endures? The key to this thought is that no matter how many times the Coyote fails, he never gives up. He’s driven by some unseen motivation to succeed in his quest like how people are determined to be successful in their field of expertise.


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