On November 18, 1928, Walt Disney’s animated short film Steamboat Willie captivated audiences for being the first animated cartoon with fully synchronized sound.
Two years later on May 6, 1930, Warner Brothers kicked things up another notch with Sinkin’ in the Bathtub, their very first theatrical cartoon short. It eventually became the first in a series of cartoon shorts that would later be called Looney Tunes.
Sinkin’ In The Bathtub debuted to critical acclaim and told the story of Bosko, who gets himself ready to go and see his girlfriend before taking her out for the day. The character of Bosko may not be well-remembered, but his final line sure is: “That’s all, folks!”
You can see the foundation that would eventually lead us into the famed era of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, as well as Looney Tunes’ partner series of cartoon shorts: Merrie Melodies.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and revisit the best Looney Tunes cartoons and Merrie Melodies episodes that were excellent, memorable, and still live with us to this day.
The Looney Tunes: Platinum Collection contains 150 of the best animated shorts on three DVDs. If you’re a fan of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, it’s worth grabbing!
10. “Robin Hood Daffy”
The Daffy Duck spoof of Robin Hood is one of the out-and-out funniest episodes in the whole history of Looney Tunes.
As Daffy tries in vain to convince a Porky Pig-looking Friar Tuck that he is indeed Robin Hood, he ends up putting himself through several agonizing trials to show off his skills.
The episode is pure slapstick pleasure, and the best part is when Daffy attempts to swing from the trees as Robin Hood would do, only to smack into multiple smaller trees as he does.
The gag continues when Daffy cuts down the smaller trees, swings again, and hits a massive boulder that splits from the impact.
9. “Rabbit Fire”
The first short in Chuck Jones’ iconic Hunting Trilogy, “Rabbit Fire” sees Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny try to survive hunting season and the gun-wielding Elmer Fudd.
Daffy’s game is to manipulate Fudd into thinking that it’s Rabbit Season, while Bugs Bunny—in his typical quick-witted fashion—tries to convince Fudd that it’s Duck Season.
The episode is best remembered for the brilliant “Duck season, rabbit season!” argument between Daffy and Bugs, which ends with the declaration of “Elmer Season” and Daffy and Bugs hunting Fudd.
8. “Rabbit Seasoning”
The second episode in the Hunting Trilogy again sees Daffy try and con Elmer Fudd into thinking it’s Rabbit Season.
This entire short is permeated with Bugs’ wordplay skills. He constantly confuses Daffy into asking to be shot by Fudd, causing Daffy to have his bill blown off on multiple occasions.
The best moment comes when Daffy takes Elmer Fudd’s arm as he walks Fudd home, only for Fudd to shoot him once they get there.
7. “Duck! Rabbit, Duck!”
The final episode in the amazing Hunting Trilogy is set in winter as Daffy Duck lures Elmer Fudd towards Bugs Bunny for the final time, thus trying to avoid being shot himself.
When Fudd tries to shoot Bugs, he’s told that he doesn’t have the correct license to shoot a “Fricasseeing Rabbit”—a brilliant moment that’s made better when Daffy asks Bugs to spell “Fricasseeing” only for Bugs to add “D-U-C-K” to the end.
Daffy finally loses his marbles after being repeatedly shot over the trilogy, telling a confused Elmer Fudd: “I’m an Elk, shoot me.” Bugs holds up a sign that reads “Elk Season” and Daffy is blasted again.
6. “What’s Opera, Doc?”
“What’s Opera, Doc?” is the most famous Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd episode in all of Looney Tunes. This animated short is written and performed in an operatic style, featuring real music from real opera during its seven-minute runtime.
Armed with his spear and magic helmet, Elmer Fudd attempts to kill Bugs Bunny before falling in love with Bugs’ Bwünnhilde disguise. When Bugs’ disguise fails, Fudd brings together the wrath of his magic helmet and uses the elements to kill Bugs.
However, he instantly regrets what he has done and takes Bugs’ body away in his arms while weeping. The episode is beautiful in every respect and marks the only time that Elmer succeeded in killing Bugs.
And in a great fourth wall-breaking moment, Bugs addresses the audience while “dead” and asks: “Well, what did you expect from an opera? A happy ending?”
5. “Long-Haired Hare”
When Bugs Bunny plays his banjo and several other musical instruments near the home of famous opera singer Giovanni Jones, the singer smashes Bugs’ instruments for disturbing him. This leads Bugs to declare: “Of course, you know this means war.”
Later that night at Giovanni’s opera, Bugs begins his revenge campaign by playing several cruel tricks on the singer, including one where the singer ends up in a tuba.
But the best gag of all is when Bugs impersonates Leopold Stokowski and conducts Jones to sing at his highest note for an incredibly long time—during which Giovanni turns multiple colors every second.
4. “Claws For Alarm”
Sylvester and Porky might not have become a classic Looney Tunes duo, but they had their moments—like in “Claws For Alarm,” which was one of the sparse outings they had together.
When Porky stops in at a seemingly quiet hotel for the night, Sylvester knows that something is amiss. He subsequently spends the night defending an oblivious Porky from the evil mice that try on several occasions to kill them both.
The pair make for hilarious scenes in the episode. And when Porky decides to stay for a while longer to really rest up, a sleep-deprived gun-wielding Sylvester smacks him with the butt of his rifle.
3. “Feed The Kitty”
“Feed The Kitty” is a heartwarming story of a dog who finds a kitten in the backyard one day, falls in love with it, and so desperately wants to keep it that he has to hide it from his owner.
This one’s different from the usually aggressive Looney Tunes episodes. It’s more like a disaster short in which Marc Anthony the Dog endures any amount of physical and verbal abuse to protect his kitten.
Look for the moment where Marc Anthony thinks his kitten has been made into cookies and faints at the window three times. It was homaged by Pixar in 2002’s Monsters Inc. when Sully—who believes Boo died in the trash compactor—faints three separate times.
2. “Duck Dodgers In The 24th 1/2 Century”
This 1953 animated short features Daffy Duck and Porky Pig as they attempt to claim Planet X in the name of Earth. Moments after their arrival, Marvin the Martian shows up and claims it for Mars.
A miniature war ensues and Planet X is destroyed, with Daffy claiming victory over the minor rock that’s left. The episode is memorable for being bold, original, and riotously funny.
Fifty years after the original “Duck Dodgers In The 24th 1/2 Century” aired, it remained so popular with audiences that it was developed into a full series by Warner Brothers.
Fun fact: George Lucas loved “Duck Dodgers In The 24th 1/2 Century” so much that he wanted it played before showings of Star Wars!
1. “Rabbit Of Seville”
When Bugs flees from Elmer Fudd’s clutches, he takes refuge inside a theater and lures Fudd into their version of the opera. Bugs’ ability to get back at Fudd is brutally showcased as he—dressed as a barber—physically tortures Fudd in various ways.
The whole episode of “Rabbit Of Seville” is set to the musical score of Gioachino Rossini’s “The Barber Of Seville,” with every gag and wince of pain synchronized perfectly to the overture.
The sequence where Bugs applies shaving cream to a dizzy Elmer Fudd’s face before hitting him repeatedly with a straight razor is bone of the greatest smile-inducing moments of Looney Tunes.