I’ve always wanted the coyote to catch the road runner in that classic Looney Tunes showdown. Is that terrible?
Why Won’t Wile E. Coyote Ever Catch Road Runner?
When I asked the audience what the next stupid animal battle should be (way back in the Cat vs. Turtle battle) the answer was definitive: coyote vs. road runner.
I’m a bit traumatized by the cartoon battle between the coyote and road runner because I always, always, always rooted for Coyote and was always, always, always disappointed. Bitterly disappointed. I never laughed, but I always hoped.
But, one day, there was this epic episode between the coyote and the road runner
I don’t remember exactly how it went but I do remember the coyote actually caught the roadrunner. Really! In a dinner plate and a lid—such a classic cartoon mood. And I was so happy. Finally! After all that chasing! You go coyote!
So the coyote brought his prize home, but (of course) when he lifted the lid the roadrunner was gone. GONE! With no notice!
HOW did the road runner do that? WHERE did he go? WHEN did he get out?
We were watching the whole time!
It was a turning point for me, because there was no longer justice in cartoons. I knew then Wile E. Coyote, Genius, would never catch his prey. Never.
There’s a book called Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist, written by the cartoon’s creator Chuck Jones. In it he he writes the rules Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner live by.
Since you’ll find conflicting evidence in the actual cartoon, let’s say these are more “guidelines”
- Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going “beep, beep”
- No outside force can harm the Coyote—only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products. Trains and trucks were the exception from time to time
- The Coyote could stop anytime—IF he were not a fanatic. (Repeat: “A fanatic is one who re-doubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.”—George Santayana)
- No dialogue ever, except “beep, beep” and yowling in pain
- Road Runner must stay on the road—for no other reason than that he’s a roadrunner
- All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters—the southwest American desert
- All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation
- Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy
- The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures
- The audience’s sympathy must remain with the Coyote
- The Coyote is not allowed to catch the Road Runner
It’s the last rule that makes me especially sad. I don’t think I could watch the show anymore. I’d be too forlorn. Poor, poor coyote. You will never win.
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