Greatest Cartoon Rivalries17
By Bridgett Michele Lawrence
Greatest Cartoon Rivalries
Rivalries have existed since the dawn of time. Cain and Abel. Achilles and Hector. Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. The list goes on and on. With so much fighting going on it makes you think, “Can’t we all just get along?” But where’s the fun in that? The reality is that we enjoy watching a good fight. Whether we are on the playground watching the new kid get stomped by the school bully or ringside at a boxing match, we love watching two opposing forces duke it out. Nowhere is this more evident than in cartoons. Through the magic of animation, we can have a front row seat to watch the battle between the forces of good and evil, right and wrong and the quest for power and the preservation of justice play out minus all the tears and bloodshed – like Diarmid versus the rabbits in the twisted and NSFW animated series Bewildering Life.
In fact, we know that no matter how many times our hero falls, has a stick of dynamite blow up in his face or is shot down by his arch nemesis, he’ll be back next week ready to fight the good fight again. Was he a glutton for punishment? Perhaps. But what some of our favorite cartoon rivalries teach us is the power of persistence. If you fall, get back up (even if you did just fall over a cliff). If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And if your enemy hands you a ticking bomb, for the love of God, please get rid of it. And who said Saturday morning cartoons weren’t educational? Cartoons rivalries like those found in Transformers, Popeye and Pinky and the Brain show us that sometimes the lines between good and evil, right and wrong and human and nonhuman can be skewed with comedic results.
Bewildering Life – Don’t Mess With The Rabbits
Tom and Jerry
Arguably the most famous cartoon rivalry of all time, Tom and Jerry follows the antics of Tom, a mischievous house cat, and Jerry, the witty mouse who constantly antagonizes him by beating him at his own game. The two rivals play a dangerous game of, dare I say, cat and mouse, which often leaves poor Tom bruised, battered and none the wiser. He continues trying to catch Jerry despite brutal opposition in the form of axes, pistols, explosives and the occasional reprimand from the rodent-loving housekeeper. Despite all Tom’s efforts, Jerry outsmarts and outruns him every time. But it didn’t seem like Tom had a lot going on in the smarts department in the first place. After all, in one cartoon he actually accepts a lighted stick of dynamite as a present from Jerry. Good thing cats have nine lives. This iconic cat and mouse duo were introduced in February 1940 in a short called Puss Gets the Boot written and directed by legendary animation team William Hanna and Joseph Barbara and distributed by MGM studios. In the short, Jerry breaks every fragile object in the house in an effort to get Tom kicked out of the house. Who knew a little mouse could case so much trouble? Apparently, no one did. But the shorts were so popular they won seven academy awards and spawned a successful series that ran until the late 1970’s. Not bad for a housecat and a tiny mouse.
Sylvester and Tweety Bird
“I tawt I taw a puddy tat. I did, I did taw a puddy tat!” The “puddy tat” in question is Sylvester J. Pussycat, the loveable feline created by Friz Freleng in 1945 and brought to life by talented voice actor Mel Blanc. Despite the fact that Sylvester spent much of his waking hours trying to find a way to make the adorable canary Tweety Bird his dinner, he found his way into the hearts of adults and children alike. Perhaps it was his endearing speech impediment as evidenced by his token phrase, “Thufferin thuccotash!” Or maybe we loved him because he was drawn to resemble a clown with his large, red nose and drooping crotch. C’mon. Everybody loves clowns. Whatever the reason, the never-ending rivalry between Sylvester and Tweety Bird is one that has been captivating audiences since 1947. Sylvester and Tweety Bird appeared in 39 cartoons together from 1947 – 1964, two of which earned academy awards.
Wylie E. Coyote and the Road Runner
Ah, the thrill of the chase. Never has there been a more futile chase than that of Wile E. Coyote desperately trying to catch the Road Runner. Created by animation legend Chuck Jones in 1948, the Road Runner cartoons pit a hungry, carnivorous Coyote against a speedy, flight less bird whose major pass time is running along the roads in the southwestern desert. Try as he might, the coyote is never successful at catching the bird and his attempts usually result in some painful calamity befalling upon him. He falls over cliffs, smashes into the sides of walls and falls prey to explosive devices as the seemingly happy-go-lucky Road Runner speeds by giving his signature you-can’t-catch-me taunt, “Meep, Meep!” In fact, this is the only communication between the two save for Wile E. Coyote occasionally raising a sign spelling out his demise. As the coyote gets more desperate in his pursuit, so do his schemes. He attempts to fly using a Superman costume, tries to catapult himself at the Road Runner with a sling shot and even straps a wheeled helmet to his head and tries to ride upside down on a cliff. We have to give him an A for effort. His folly is the stuff cartoon history is made of. Not to mention the fact that the rivalry between Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner may quite possibly have been the first documented case of road rage. Think about that the next time someone cuts you off on the highway. Meep, Meep!
Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd
“Shh. Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting wabbits.” For years Elmer Fudd vowed to get that “wascally wabbit” but never could. The hunter, armed with his rifle and hunting cap, tried without much success to trick Bugs Bunny into falling into his traps. But the wise-cracking, carrot-munching, sarcastic Bugs would always outsmart Elmer every time, usually popping up behind him, tapping him on the shoulder to say his iconic phrase, “Eh. What’s up, doc?” Bugs Bunny, named after director Ben “Bugs” Hardaway, had his first encounter with Elmer Fudd in the 1940 cartoon The Wild Hare, which was nominated for an Oscar. Elmer is the loveable hunter whose love for hunting “wabbits” is undermined by his inability to actually capture one. The unfortunate fact of the matter is Elmer is just not that smart. His child-like persona and shallow intellect is never a match for Bugs. Although he is never able to match wits with our beloved Bugs Bunny, it sure is entertaining watching him try.
Popeye and Bluto
This crude-talking, pipe-smoking, feisty sailor is the epitome of a man’s man. He stands for justice, doesn’t take back talk and never backs down from a fight especially when it’s over his woman. Just what every girl wants: a man who is willing to fight for her honor. In the ultimate showcase of love (or possibly a manifestation of the stupidity of the male ego), Popeye fights the husky, muscle-bound bully Bluto (later called Brutus) time and time again for his beloved Olive Oyl. You would think Bluto would realize he’s no match for Popeye – especially once he’s had his power-packed spinach lunch. After all, the two have been locking fists since Popeye’s creation by E.C. Segar in 1929. But I guess Limp Bizkit’s was on to something when he said, “I did it all for the nookie.” No man is safe from the wiles of a woman. Not even cartoon ones.
He-Man and Skeletor
What started as an action figure collection from Mattel gave way to a full blown 80’s cartoon series chronicling the epic battle for power between He-Man and the evil Skeletor. “I have the power!” He-Man’s impassioned battle cry as he lifted the mystical Sword of Power still resounds in the hearts of big kids who were fortunate enough to grow up during the eighties. Premiering in 1983, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe retold the classic tale of the unconventional hero. Adam, a privileged prince of a distant land, discovers that he has been given power over the universe by a mysterious sorceress who is the keeper of the magical Castle Greyskull. The power comes to Adam in the form of a sword that transforms the wimpy kid into the all mighty He-Man complete with super human strength, exceptional courage and a team of fearless comrades. Along with the power comes the duty to defend the universe and the castle against the wicked plans of Skeletor, the demon keeper of Snake Mountain, and his evil minions. The successful series spawned a new slew of action figures, lunch boxes, a live-action movie and even a cartoon spin-off featuring his female counterpart She-Ra. (Girls wanna kick some evil demon ass too.)
The Autobots and the Decepticons
Before the battle for the earth played out in theaters across the country with Shia LaBeouf precariously caught in the middle, the war raged between the transformers on the small screen in the form of an animated Saturday morning cartoon. The Transformers were divided into two types of humanoid robots who could transform at will into cars, trucks, airplanes and other mechanical devices. The benevolent Autobots, displaced from their home on Cybertron, are left to defend earth and its inhabitants from the energy thirsty Decepticons who want nothing more than to deplete the earth of its valuable resources. Led by their fearless and wise leader Optimus Prime, the “robots in disguise” fight tirelessly to protect the planet and their new human friends against the attacks of the Decepticons and their evil leader Megatron. The popular cartoon aired from 1984 until 1987 and was the inspiration for a feature length cartoon movie in 1986 as well as the 2007 live-action remake and its sequel in 2009. The Transformers franchise continues to thrive, proving again and again that there is indeed “more than meets the eye” to these robotic heroes.
The Brain and the World
“What are we gonna do tonight, Brain?” “The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!” These words, spoken nightly by a tiny, diabolical genius to his bumbling sidekick, were the ultimate battle cry for the war between the Brain and his arch nemesis- the World. The Brain, a lab rat with an exceptionally high IQ, escapes from his cage each night and sets about the daunting task of over throwing the world. His plans, genius as they may be, are usually thwarted by the mistakes of his less than competent partner in crime Pinky. Although his plans for world domination could be seen as sinister, the Brain whole heartedly believes the world would be a much better place if he were in control. Fueled by an insatiable drive, he hatches elaborate schemes ranging from mass hypnosis to enlarging himself to terrorize the city so he can ultimately save it. Alas, none of his plans prove successful although not for a lack of trying. Oh well, Brain. Maybe tomorrow night. Or the night after that. The Brain’s quest for world domination began in 1995 after the pair appeared as supporting characters on the popular WB cartoon the Animaniacs. Pinky and the Brain ran from 1995 to 2001.
Bewildering Life – Finders Keepers
Bewildering Life -The Mickey McGee Show
Bridgett Michele Lawrence is a Los Angeles based screenwriter. She earned her BFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, a degree which she holds near and dear to her heart although it has yet to earn her the multi-million dollar script deal that she anticipated. She fully intends to file a complaint with the alumni association. Bridgett writes for television, film and the web and enjoys spending quality time with her DVR. In 2009, her award-winning pilot, The Value of Ex, garnered the attention of Executives at the CW and Overbrook Entertainment. Bridgett is also the co-creator, co-producer and co-star of Valley Girls, a comedic web series following the antics of three unemployed friends determined to turn their Hollywood Dreams into reality – by any means necessary. Although the show is loosely based on the experiences of herself and her two friends, she denies having any relation to her character. She is not a deranged screenwriter. She just plays one on TV.