2023 marks the 85th Anniversary of Bug Bunny’s first animated appearance in 1938’s “Porky’s Hare Hunt.” Debuting originally as Happy Rabbit, Bugs eventually became one of the most iconic animated characters of all time. In honor of the landmark anniversary, we’re discussing every animated appearance by Bugs Bunny. We’re big fans of Bugsy and we hope that you are, too.
Follow us on this massive journey where we discover and re-discover Every Bugs Bunny Ever.
A Wild Hare (1940)
Directed by Tex Avery
Produced by Rich Hogan
Music by Carl W. Stalling
Animation by Virgil Ross
“What’s Up, Doc?”
Finally! Here we are that the final turning of the screwball. Bugs Bunny is here and he brings in all of his signature quirks and trademark personality. Everything is present from chomping down on his carrot, to outwitting the bad guy, to his iconic “What’s Up, Doc?” The character has evolved now with no black tipped ears, or black nose. Now he has his great punctuated ears, his pink nose, buck teeth, and sharp puffy tail.
Still technically Happy Rabbit, there’s apparently a lot of debate about who inspired Bugs Bunny with the popular explanation being that Clark Gable inspired the look of Bugs. That’s what I’ve always heard. But other creators and film scholars have claimed that he is a combination of personalities. The fact is that now that Happy Rabbit is for all intents and purposes Bugs Bunny, we begin to see his ultimate persona evolve in to who and what we know him as. The set up is basically Elmer Fudd is in the woods hunting and decides he’s going to hunt himself some rabbit. He finds Bugs’ rabbit hole and decides to lure him out with a carrot.
Bugs goes for the carrot, but Elmer is intent on hunting him, so Bugs in self defense decides to pull his usual antics. This time Bugs is not a bully, but now defending himself as much as he can, and he literally drives Elmer crazy. There are some great gags including the tying up of Elmer’s hunting gun, and the old switcharoo in an animal trap with a skunk. There’s also the first of many call backs to the Civil War, with the short ending on Bugs walking off playing “The Girl I Left Behind.” Tex Avery’s signature slapstick is present here with a lot of Bugs’ chaos being a lot more calculated than random. The legendary Mel Blanc is back as the voice of Bugs Bunny once again, playing the character with a huskier voice, but he’s still pretty much recognizable.
Allegedly this short that introduced us to the more recognizable Bugs Bunny was so popular that movie audiences were calling the box office asking for more from the character. It sounds plausible, as Bugs Bunny is a major departure from Happy Rabbit. As the latter is something of a take off from Daffy Duck, the former becomes his own cartoon protagonist who relies more on his wit, and quick thinking rather than acting maniacal and bouncing in to the picture. The Woody Woodpecker laugh is also thankfully completely gone from his repertoire, depending less on gimmicks.
This time Bugs is the hero and Elmer is the bad guy, now portraying the hunter we all know with his fox hunting cap, and signature shot gun. He also makes his signature declaration “Be vewwy vewwy quiet. I’m hunting wabbit,” all while breaking the fourth wall. This is a tradition and consistent gag that the entirety of Looney Tunes would use right in to the modern era. “A Wild Hare” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons, but sadly lost to “The Milky Way,” another MGM production. “A Wild Hare” is a pseudo remake of “Porky’s Hare Hunt,” but much more fleshed out and cohesive. It’s also much more raucously funny.
This would be a start of a very iconic feud between Elmer Fudd and the “mean old wabbit.”
Find out what we think are the BEST and WORST Bugs Bunny shorts of all time!