What gives Bugs Bunny his lasting power? In the cartoon masterpiece Duck Amuck, a rogue animator tortures Daffy Duck by constantly changing the background around him. The ending reveals Bugs Bunny as the animator. (Smithsonian.com)
What gives Bugs Bunny his lasting power?
Lexile

Seventy-five years ago, a gangly, gray rabbit hopped out of a hole in the ground. He knocked on a bald man's head. Then he asked, "What's Up, Doc?"  The phrase was made to the tune of the crunch of a large carrot.
 
Though the rabbit had appeared in previous short films, this was a fateful scene in the 1940 Warner Brothers animated short "A Wild Hare."  It introduced the version of the rabbit that would become the cultural icon of Bugs Bunny.
 
Earlier shorts referred to "Happy Rabbit." And while "A Wild Hare" didn't use the name Bugs Bunny, it was the first where the character had a specific personality and appearance. And a catchphrase.
 
In the short film, Bugs takes great pleasure in eluding the "wabbit" hunting Elmer Fudd.
 
In the decades since, Bugs has appeared in over 150 films. He has earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And he was the first animated character to get his face on a postage stamp. TV Guide ranked him number one atop a list of the 50 greatest cartoon characters.
 
The "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies" films came out of the Warner Brothers animation studios. A team of artists, directors and voice actors collaborated on the classic cartoons. Bugs was unlike Disney's Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. They came with their own set of physical characteristics. But they lacked personality. Bugs was defined by his wise guy attitude and witty banter.
 
According to Linda Jones Clough, the business partner and daughter of famed animator Chuck Jones, Bugs rocketed to fame because he was "character driven, rather than gag driven."  And while every director put his own spin on Bugs Bunny, they all agreed on one thing. Bugs was never to be mean-spirited.
 
That quality was very important to his fame.
 
"It was very important that he be provoked," said Chuck Jones in a 1998 interview. "Because otherwise he'd be a bully. And we didn't want that. We wanted him to be a nice person." 
 
They wanted him to be a nice person. But not a pushover. For the directors and audiences alike, Bugs was more than just a cartoon character.
 
"[My father's] attitude was that Bugs already existed. And they were just writing about him," said Jones Clough. "He would come home in the evening and say to my mother, 'You won't believe what Bugs Bunny said today!' "

"'What do you mean?' she would say. 'You wrote it.'"
 
"'No, I discovered under the circumstances that this is what he would say."
 
For years after Bugs first spoke his signature question, it seemed as though America couldn't get enough of the character. Or his trickster ways. Within four years, films starring Bugs from the "Merrie Melodies" and "Looney Tunes" series were popular enough to be sold to theaters. They appeared in a separate category called "Bugs Bunny Specials."
 
In that same era, Bugs successfully overlapped the world of entertainment and politics. He sneaked his way into World War II propaganda and advertisements for war bonds. The Marine Corps gave him honorary status as a private. That came after he appeared in a marine uniform exclaiming that a marine was a real superman. It was part of the 1943 film "Super-Rabbit."  

But like any public figure, Bugs has engaged in his fair share of questionable activity. War-era films star Bugs as the hero pitted against offensively caricatured Japanese and German soldiers.
 
Still, Bugs moved past that questionable phase. He continues to win the hearts and laughs of the people all over the world.
 
Perhaps what audiences love the most about Bugs Bunny is not his unique personality. Rather, it is his ability to stay true to it. From his opera debut in "What's Opera, Doc?" to his jaunt in live action films, such as "Space Jam", Bugs Bunny doesn't change.
 
More recent animated characters from Bart Simpson to Eric Cartman have established themselves through a sliding scale of meanness. But Bugs remains the lovable character. He only plays tricks on those who deserve it most.


Merrie Melodies - A Wild Hare (1940) by Cartoonzof2006
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How did Warner Brothers keep Bugs a "nice person?"
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (274)
  • levenicel-Orv
    9/18/2015 - 02:37 p.m.

    for real if they make bugs bunny a bad person he would have to be a bully and they would have to shut him down and i didnt know that he was number one out of all tv cartoon charecters and he was he ha over 150 films andhe was on the hollywood walk of fame that is amazing lokks like they did a good job with them

  • terrim-win
    9/20/2015 - 11:23 a.m.

    He is 75 years old. He is a very popular person at many different places including six fags.I still can't believe he has played in over 150 films. Bugs Bunny is cool!

  • terrim-win
    9/20/2015 - 11:32 a.m.

    I still can't believe that he is 75 years old. Bugs Bunny is featured it a lot of things including six flags. My favorite film that he played in was Space Jam.

  • howell-nelson,kairo-cas
    9/21/2015 - 07:47 a.m.

    Bugs bunny is a character all of his own. He is light-hearted but always plays tricks on people who deserve it the most. Even though his image was questioned in the 1940s. He still makes people laugh 75 years after he was created. Bugs bunny has always been apart of my life and i grew up watching him and Elmer Fudd. He is very funny and he reminds me of myself

  • amolikak-win
    9/21/2015 - 08:00 a.m.

    I thought this article was fascinating because it explained how they created Bugs Bunny to be a nice person and all the movies and short films he's in.

  • bittlingmeyer,catherine-cas
    9/21/2015 - 10:15 a.m.

    Warner brothers made bugs bunny a nice person by making his "insults" funny and making him a cartoon rabbit which attracted kids attention.

    My opinion on this article is that i learned some things i never knew before like how he was made and thought of etc.

  • clark,cole-cas
    9/21/2015 - 10:25 a.m.

    Bugs Bunny keeps a nice personality by never doing anything unprovoked. Bugs Bunny has a nice spirit and isn't mean to any characters unless they're mean to bugs, making him a "wise guy" kind of character. He is always happy about life but doesn't get pushed around. Also Bugs Bunny is still a nice person because of the attitude that's been set for him, he can never be seen as a angry person.

  • chancec-rei
    9/21/2015 - 10:26 a.m.

    He kept him a nice person by making him stay a long time but he is still nice. Also i think he kept him so long because he wanted to entertain kids that love this show.

  • strattonm-rei
    9/21/2015 - 10:28 a.m.

    Bugs Bunny was a great roll model for people around the world.Bugs was a great nice and fun person for kids and e also made great movies and even had his own place in the theaters called Bugs Bunny Specials.

  • daniellet-rei
    9/21/2015 - 10:32 a.m.

    The Warner brothers keep Bugs a nice person by trying to say that he is doing that to entertain and to tell the story of each episode.

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