8 great Looney Tunes shorts that don’t star any main characters

Even without Daffy or Bugs, these cartoons are classics.

When most people think of Looney Tunes or Merrie Melodies cartoons, they naturally picture Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and all the other memorable characters that made those shorts so great. But there are plenty of other classic cartoons that don't star a familiar face.

Whether they were a precursor to what would become a well-known character trope or just a different, out-of-the-box idea, these eight shorts are worth watching as much as any Bugs or Daffy outing. They are just the tip of the iceberg — what are your favorite cartoons without a familiar character?

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1. There Auto Be a Law


This Robert Mckimson classic illustrates the history of the automobile. It claims to prove how great modern cars and highways are while humorously undercutting that point by showing modern downsides like traffic jams and convoluted entrance ramps. Though it's the type of cartoon without a traditional plot, each gag builds on the one before it and keeps the short entertaining 'til the end.

2. Dangerous Dan McFoo


This cartoon parody of the poem "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" follows the same basic plot — a fight in a far-north saloon. All of the characters are dogs who look more like Goofy than the usual Looney Tunes canines. The short has fun gags (four horseshoes and an entire horse are hidden in the antagonist's boxing glove), but the real treat is hearing what would later be Elmer Fudd's voice come out of a dog.

3. Tom Thumb in Trouble


This cartoon is unique both for its plot and visual style. The animation looks more like Disney than most other Warner Bros. cartoons and the story is unironically dramatic at times. It follows Tom, the tiny son of a burly mountain man, who almost drowns in a bowl while washing dishes. The moment is played completely straight and gives this short a sincerity and sentimentality not usually seen in Looney Tunes cartoons.

4. Little Blabbermouse


This short follows a talkative mouse on a "skyride" tour of a drugstore. It features a series of puns and visual gags as the tour guide, a mouse version of W.C. Fields, mentions each product. The bottle of smelling salts sniffs like a dog, the rubber bands are an actual brass band. A tobacco can is half pipe tobacco and half chewing tobacco with each side represented by an angel and a devil.

5. Farm Frolics


This mock-educational reel gives information about "the typical American farm." The barn might be typical, but its inhabitants certainly aren't. The narrator shows us a horse who can do all kinds of walks, including a song and dance routine. There are also birds who build an actual house complete with windows and a porch as their nest. One gag involves a mouse with giant ears, likely a small dig at a certain rival animation studio.

6. The Haunted Mouse


This cartoon is in black and white and all the better for it. It feels almost like Tom and Jerry meet The Twilight Zone. It’s about a cat who discovers a literal ghost town with places like the Waldorf Ghostoria hotel and the movie Mr. Smith Ghost to Washington playing at the theater. The cat soon finds a somewhat transparent mouse who torments him as only a ghost can. It's a fun, supernatural take on the usual cat-and-mouse game.

7. The Crackpot Quail


This is a classic cat-and-mouse cartoon involving a hound dog and a quail. The dog sounds a bit like Beaky Buzzard and has a bad habit of running into trees. The quail sounds like if Tweety had Bugs Bunny’s accent and even calls the dog "Doc." It's a fun short with plenty of visual gags, especially the expressiveness of the quail’s forehead feather.

8. The Cat's Tale


This short starts off like dozens of others cartoons. A cat chases a mouse around the house before the mouse escapes into his hole. But then the story takes a turn. The mouse has had enough with this chasing business and confronts the cat face to face. He even convinces the cat to stand up to the bulldog outside — with disastrous results. It's a different take on a familiar premise (and it feels a lot like Tom and Jerry).

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steverem 18 months ago
My favorite Looney Tunes shorts are the ones featuring daydreaming student Ralph Phillips. Chuck Jones at his absolute best.
Amalthea 21 months ago
I loved "The House of Tomorrow", with its plethora of Mother-In-law jokes & the pretty girl (for the men in the audience). There's also 2 cartoon that were similar: a couple of Taxis who have a child who wants to be a Hot Rod; and a couple of prop planes who have a child who wants to be a jet. They're both sweet.
Hardwood30 38 months ago
Watched the final five Bugs Bunny cartoons this morning. It's probably just me but I'm not that big a fan of What's Opera Doc. It's ok, but there are many others I like more. It's late '50's animation with minimal background detail. Chuck Jones did this in many later cartoons particularly the Roadrunner cartoons. I really like the attention to detail you see in the '40's early '50's cartoons. Of the ones shown today, though I've seen it many, many times, I laughed hardest at Little Red Riding Rabbit. What a great cartoon, with a '40's version of a valley girl. And yes Carol I too like Rhapsody in Rivets. It was through these cartoons that I got my interest in classical music. I'm hoping to see Dangerous Dan McFoo (if it hasn't played), and one I can't recall the name) where the two dogs visit the house of tomorrow with all of it's robotic gadgets. I have the complete collection but there is still something about watching them on a hosted tv show like I did back in the '50's/'60's. Mine was hosted by former Our Gang silent star Johnny Downs in San Diego.
CarolKelley 38 months ago
One of my favorites starring none-of-the-usual- suspects is Rhapsody in Rivets where a bunch of animals build a wacky skyscraper to the Hungarian Rhapsody.
Mitchell 38 months ago
A note about the Crackpot Quail: The whistle he does was dubbed in. Originally, he blew raspberries, but the censors nixed that...
Morella72 38 months ago
How could they have left out 1937’s “I Wanna Be a Sailor?” It’s about a parrot who wants to be sailor like his dad and his mom is NOT having it.
Hardwood30 38 months ago
One of my favorites is Malibu Beach Party featuring Jack Benny and other Hollywood stars. Also Gold Rush Daze and others like it. There are a number of ones where things come to life at night such as Have You Got Any Castles. And the pre Bugs Happy Rabbit with a Woody Woodpecker voice. Mel Blank did both. I also like the early Porky's when he was the star. How about Gremlins From the Kremlin where all of the gremlins are caricatures of the Warner animation staff. So much good stuff.
Morella72 Hardwood30 38 months ago
Yes! That’s a fabulous cartoon; one of my all time favourites. You’ve got Jack Benny playing the violin and George Raft floating in the ocean. Classic old Hollywood.
church13 38 months ago
Outstanding selections. I have seen most of them.
Barry22 38 months ago
Those one-shot cartoons are some of the best. There was one where the characters in a bookstore come to life, including the Frankenstein monster.
Andybandit 38 months ago
These look like cute cartoons. I don't remember never heard of any of them.
The_Great_Gazoo 38 months ago
One of the best shorts was Chow Hound, with an ending right out of the Twilight Zone.
After doing a quick wiki check, definitely sounds like something straight out of an EC comic.
LittleMissNoName 38 months ago
Just a few more:
1. The Mouse That Jack Built~ With the cast of the entire Jack Benny Show, including Eddie Rochester, Mary, Mel Blanc and Don Porter voicing their animated rodent counterparts.

2. Nelly's Folly

3. Three Little Bops ~"The Big Bad Wolf, he learned the rule: you gotta get real hot to play real cool! "

I love The Mouse That Jack Built.
didn't the jack benny one have the real jack wake up at the end and make a joke about eating too much cheese......?
they had a couple of honeymooner as mice parodys also
That's the one!
daDoctah 38 months ago
Later there was NOW HEAR THIS (an experiment in sound effects centering around a cursed ear trumpet), HIGH NOTE (notes on a musical score get drunk and mess up the performance), MIGHTY HUNTERS (starring James Swinnerton's Canyon Kiddies), and of course the legendary THE DOVER BOYS AT PIMENTO UNIVERSITY OR THE RIVALS OF ROQUEFORT HALL (unhand her, Dan Backslide!)
Deleted 38 months ago
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LittleMissNoName 38 months ago
Tex, was one of the early pioneers that helped Warner Brothers Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies break away from just being another Disney wannabe. Kinda surprised they didn't mentioned "I Wanna Singa".
Barry22 38 months ago
I was going to mention that also.
Hardwood30 38 months ago
Yes, with Oliver Owl. Maybe some more Bosco and Buddy cartoons. The song in Porky's Hotel, shown recently, was a take off of Honeymoon Hotel from Warner Brothers movie Footlight Parade.
Hardwood30 38 months ago
I've been trying to locate the interviews with Bob Clampett's daughter, and others, but can't find them. Can anyone help?
cperrynaples 37 months ago
Singa featured Judy Garland's voice so it was proably MGM! Fun Fact: Judy's vocal was heard in the first South Park episode, "Cartman Gets An [BLANK] Probe"!
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