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?
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).