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These 9 Rules Turned the Road Runner Cartoons into Classics

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Are you a Road Runner Fan?

First created in 1948, the Warner Bros. hit was originally just a parody of Tom and Jerry’s chase antics:

Photo Credit: GIPHY/MGM

But Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote soon took off on their own.

Much like Tom and Jerry before them, the Road Runner cartoons didn’t rely on dialogue to communicate with the viewer.

[aside citation=”Chuck Jones: Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist”]’Beep! Beep!’ is the Esperanto of Comedy.[/aside]

Photo Credit: GIPHY/Warner Bros.

In fact, it was this lack of dialogue, along with several other “rules,” that helped make the cartoon so popular – even today.

 

Here’s a transcript of the rules from Jones’s bookChuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an animated Cartoonist:

  1. The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going “beep beep.”
  2. No outside force can harm the Coyote — Only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products.
  3. The Coyote could stop anytime — IF he were not a fanatic. (Repeat: “A Fanatic is someone who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.” — George Santayana
  4. No dialogue ever, except “beep-beep!”
  5. The Road Runner must stay on the road — otherwise, logically, he would not be called Road Runner.
  6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters — the southwest American desert.
  7. All materials tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.
  8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy.
  9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.

Now, there has been some dispute as to whether the rules actually existed as a guideline for writers or if this list is something Jones cobbled together from observation.

Photo Credit: Alan Light

Either way, the rules hold up.

Almost all of the cartoons adhere to the rules on the above list. Whether the writers knew it or not, they were creating a consistent world that was easy to communicate across just about any social barrier you could imagine.

Photo Credit: GIPHY/Warner Bros.

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