Bugs Bunny’s milestone 80th birthday year coincides with the debut of Looney Tunes Cartoons, the critically acclaimed HBO Max Original series produced by Warner Bros. Animation. Warner Bros. is throwing a celebration like no other.

A Wild Hare

Tex Avery (1940)

A Wild Hare is a 1940 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies cartoon supervised by Tex Avery. The short subject features Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny. The short is Bugs Bunny’s first official appearance.

Bugs’s nonchalant stance, as explained many years later by Chuck Jones, and again by Friz Freleng and Bob Clampett, comes from the 1934 movie It Happened One Night, from a scene where Clark Gable’s character is leaning against a fence eating carrots more quickly than he is swallowing (as Bugs would later do), giving instructions with his mouth full to Claudette Colbert’s character. This scene was so famous at the time that most people immediately saw the connection.

The line, “What’s up, Doc?”, was added by director Tex Avery for this film. Avery explained later that it was a common expression in Texas where he was from, and he didn’t think much of the phrase. But when this short was screened in theaters, the scene of Bugs calmly chewing a carrot, followed by the nonchalant “What’s Up, Doc?”, went against any 1940s audience’s expectation of how a rabbit might react to a hunter and caused complete pandemonium in the audience, bringing down the house in every theater. As a result of this popularity, Bugs eats a carrot and utters some version of the phrase in almost every one of his cartoons; sometimes entirely out of context.

Porky’s Hare Hunt

Ben “Bugs” Hardaway & Cal Dalton (1938)

This cartoon marked the first appearance of the rabbit that would evolve into Bugs Bunny, who is barely recognizable compared to his more familiar later form. Bugs’ first official appearance would come two years later in A Wild Hare.

While Porky’s Hare Hunt was the first Warner Bros. cartoon to feature a Bugs Bunny-like rabbit, A Wild Hare, directed by Tex Avery and released on July 27, 1940, is widely considered to be the first official Bugs Bunny cartoon.

The first “true” appearance of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Elmer is a dimwitted hunter, “wooking for wabbits.” Bugs is a clever, smooth-talking character, who confuses Elmer with double-talk and misdirection. Elmer is no match for the wascally wabbit, even when he thinks Bugs is dead.

Bugs Bunny’s 80th Anniversary Extravaganza

Comic Con (2020)

Take a trip through eight decades of laughs and carrots when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) presents an all-encompassing look at one of the world’s most beloved and recognizable stars. Join three of the current voices of Bugs Bunny–Billy West (Space Jam, Futurama, Doug), Jeff Bergman (Tiny Toon Adventures, Our Cartoon President), and Eric Bauza (Looney Tunes Cartoons, Muppet Babies)–alongside Looney Tunes Cartoons executive producer Pete Browngardt (Uncle Grandpa), movie historian, author and TV personality Leonard Maltin (Entertainment Tonight), animation historian and author Jerry Beck (Animation Scoop), and Warner Archive senior vice president George Feltenstein as they cover the gamut of Bugs’ history from theatrical shorts to Saturday morning cartoons and the new HBO-MAX series. Actress Yvette Nicole Brown (Community, Avengers: Endgame, DC Super Hero Girls) will moderate the panel.

To see more Bugs Bunny cartoons click here: https://play.hbomax.com/page/urn:hbo:page:looney-tunes?utm_id=sa%7c71700000067032079%7c58700005866967669%7cp53640660949&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5OX60syo6gIVNh6tBh2I4w08EAAYASAAEgJ-9_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

Happy Birthday, Bugs. Thanks for the years of laughter.