Animation History
May 3, 2021 posted by Jerry Beck

My Top Ten Favorite Bugs Bunny Cartoons

Yes – this post is an out-and-out plug for this week on MeTV

This week we are tying into Toon In With Me and their weeklong tribute to Bugs Bunny, airing every morning at 7am ET/PT on MeTV. I will be one of several talking heads on screen, extolling the virtues of our favorite wabbit, in-between screenings of restored prints of The Best of Bugs Bunny.

My fellow guest speakers (via Zoom) are Jeff Bergman (former voice of Bugs Bunny), Billy West (voice of Bugs in Space Jam), Robert McKimson Jr. (son of director Robert McKimson), and Ruth Clampett (daughter of director Bob Clampett).

Each day is built around a theme. Here is a guide to what you will see.

Monday, May 3 at 7AM | 6C

“Rabbit Tracks”

Tracing the origin of Bugs Bunny, from his white-furred prototype to the wacky gray rabbit we know and love today. Cartoons include Porky’s Hare Hunt (1938), Prest-O Change-O (1939), Hare-Um Scare-Um (1939), A Wild Hare (1940) and Elmer’s Candid Camera (1940).

Tuesday, May 4 at 7AM | 6C

“Of Course You Realize This Means War”

On day two, they examine Bugs’ biggest adversaries — human, animal, and alien. Cartoons include Wabbit Twouble (1941), Duck! Rabbit, Duck! (1953), Wild and Wooly Hare (1959), Hare-Way to the Stars (1959), and Devil May Hare (1954).

Wednesday, May 5 at 7AM | 6C

“Ballads for a Bunny”

Day three examines Bugs’ musical side, and the many ways Looney Tunes incorporated classical music and opera. Cartoons include Rhapsody Rabbit (1946), Long-Haired Hare (1949), Rabbit of Seville (1950), Baton Bunny (1959), and What’s Opera, Doc? (1957).

Thursday, May 6 at 7AM | 6C

“Hollywood Bugs”

On day four, cartoons with a Hollywood connection. Cartoons include Slick Hare (1947), What’s Cookin’ Doc? (1944), A Star is Bored (1956), A Hare Grows in Manhattan (1947), and What’s Up, Doc? (1950).

Friday, May 7 at 7AM | 6C

“Wascally Winners”

On the fifth and final day, they will present the fan-favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons as voted online by viewers. It’s billed as the “First Annual Toony Awards”! Cartoons will include Little Red Riding Rabbit (1944), Bully for Bugs (1953), Hillbilly Hare (1950), Baseball Bugs (1946), and… your vote for the best Bugs Bunny cartoon of all time!

So what are your Favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons? There are so many good ones; If you could limit the list to ten, what would they be?

As for me, I created this subjective list below. They are in no particular order – except maybe chronologic. You’ll note that there are only eight pictured – the other two titles of my Top Ten are listed in this previous post: McKimson’s Acrobatty Bunny and Jones’ Operation Rabbit.

I purposely didn’t choose acknowledged classics like What’s Opera Doc? or A Wild Hare. I went for titles that are personally meaningful to me. Ones I can happily watch over and over. Comfort food selections – the Bugs Bunny cartoons I frequently quote from, the ones I believe contain the quintessential personalty of the character. Let’s begin with…


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways: That perfect Clampett model sheet for Bugs. The McKimson animation. Cecil Turtle’s mother. The Rabbit gambling mob. “Streamline design!” Mel Blanc’s greatest performance. “You FOOLS! I’m da rabbit!” The suicide end gag… on and on. All in all: A Clampett classic.


Clampett’s final six cartoons, released in 1946, are undeniable classics. His ultimate one, The Big Snooze, appropriately ends with Elmer Fudd quitting and tearing up his contract with “Mr. Warner” (now that Leon is no longer there). Of course Bugs coaxes Fudd out of retirement with a daydream-turned-nightmare that only Clampett could conceive – culminating in Fudd’s fantasy of being chased around Hollywood and Vine, in drag, then falling to his “death” (i.e. returning to the rat-race of making the same cartoon over and over again). “The Wabbits are Coming, Hooray, Hooray…”


There are so many good Bugs vs Sam cartoons – this one is one of the best. Sam’s second Bugs Bunny (his third cartoon if you count Along Came Daffy), his first as a pirate. Freleng nails the personality here and the animation crew (Perez, Champin, Ross and Chiniquy) is running on all cylinders. Quintessential Bugs, who does not give up on giving Sam a cannon blast at every opportunity. The timing of the “Freleng Door Gag”, and the “match into the powder room” sequence, highlight Friz at the height of his abilities. “He’s in there, here’s in there… “


“Someone’s Rockin’ My Dreamboat… Bugs versus Gruesome Gorilla; adopted by a Momma Gorilla, “Upsy-Daisy”, Raymond Scott’s “Dinner Music For a Pack of Hungry Cannibals”. Love it. “Gruesome” is actually a character more powerful than Bugs – but Bugs wins nonetheless simply by tiring him out. I can relate to that.


Jones bullfighting classic. En route to Coachella Valley “and the carrot festival therein” Bugs encounters an unmovable force in a Mexican bull ring. Facial expressions, poses, funny drawings and great timing… this one has it all.


Largely a remake of Racketeer Rabbit, but this re-do is better than the original (in my humble opinion). Freleng revives gangster “Rocky” (from 1950’s Golden Yeggs) and teams him with henchman “Mugsy” for comic gold. Great dialogue by Foster in this one: “Okay Clancy, Take the boys and surround the house”; “Shut Up, shuttin’ up!”; “You heard the boss, Let me have it!”; “Would I throw a lighted match if my friend Rocky was in there?”


Ant-Hill Harry (aka “Baby Face Finster”) hides out in Bugs rabbit hole… and it almost works until Bugs catches the tattooed ex-con shaving. Having Bugs pull his tricks on a toddler might have been in bad taste, but making the babe a bank robber allows us to take much glee in violently punishing the rugrat (wish fulfillment to many a sleep deprived parent). I love Jones’ character design of Bugs, Ant-Hill Harry and various supporting characters here. Beautiful stuff.

Please note: the premise of this film was so good it was essentially ripped off to become a 2006 Wayans brother comedy Little Man.


Longtime readers here know I have a passion for The Bugs Bunny Show, the original ABC Network series that aired in primetime in 1960-1963 (52 episodes). This is the series that introduced me to Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes – way back when. The format of the show was three classic Looney Tunes, introduced by Bugs Bunny, usually on stage with guest characters, in new animation provided by Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng and Robert McKimson. The show in its original format never went into syndication… and variant versions of the show ran on Saturday morning, on all three networks, for over 40 years! The original negatives were futzed with all those years – but the show is restorable (something I hope to help make happen – eventually). I was able to put several of the show’s bridging sequences on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVDs (as bonus material). Here is one of those “host segments” by Jones. The parts that are in black and white currently have issues with the original color negs…

Please feel free to debate my choices in the Comments below. Everyone will have an opinion on this – and no two lists will be the same. I’m really more interested in hearing what your favorites are so… go for it!


  • Well, you wouldn’t but I will: “What’s Opera, Doc?” My favourite Bugs Bunny cartoon of all. Every time I saw it when I was growing up, I had learned a little more about opera since the previous time and therefore understood more of the jokes. So it actually got funnier with repeated viewing. A masterpiece.

    Other than that, my favourite Bugs Bunny cartoons stem mainly from the 1949-50 period. “Rabbit of Seville” and “Long Haired Hare” also rate high on my top ten list. (I’m not a fan of “Baton Bunny”.)

    “Gorilla My Dreams” is another favourite, but I’ll give honourable mention to “Hurdy-Gurdy Hare”, Gruesome Gorilla’s next guest-starring appearance.

    “Bowery Bugs”. Art Davis’s only Bugs Bunny cartoon. Steve Brody cracks me up every second he’s on screen.

    “Hillbilly Hare”. An hysterically funny square dance sequence, and the best-animated violin playing in any Warner Bros. cartoon (though it falls short of Bluto’s performances in “The Spinach Overture” and “Symphony in Spinach”).

    “Bushy Hare”. Bugs in the Australian Outback. “Unga bunga bunga binga binga binga bunnnnnga! …What’d I say?”

    “High Diving Hare”. My favourite of the Yosemite Sam cartoons. Over the years I’ve used the term “Fearless Freep” to refer to someone who brags about all he can do, and then doesn’t show up. There are a lot of Fearless Freeps out there.

    “Rebel Rabbit”. The wabbit at his most wascally.

    “Bully for Bugs”. I have to join you on this one. It’s about as perfect as a cartoon can get.

    I just asked my wife what her favourite Bugs Bunny cartoons are, and she said: “I don’t know their names. But the two opera ones. The Leopold one. Duck season. Nature Boy. The Hansel and Gretel one. I can’t think right now!” It is upon these commonalities of taste that lifelong relationships are built.

  • It’s hard to narrow a list to 10, so I had to include some runners-up.

    Here’s my main list:

    What’s Up, Doc?
    Slick Hare
    Rebel Rabbit
    Hare Breadth Hurry
    Bill of Hare
    Wabbit Twouble
    Rabbit Fire
    High Diving Hare
    My Dream is Yours
    Any Bonds Today?

    And my runners-up:

    Rabbit Hood
    Long Haired Hare
    Bully for Bugs
    A Lad in His Lamp
    Space Jam
    Duck Amuck (yes, I know, but technically….)

    I also wanted to throw in some of my favorite Bugs Bunny comic books:

    Bugs Bunny’s Life Story Album
    Bugs Bunny at the County Fair
    Bugs Bunny Showtime

  • Some of my favorite Bugs Bunnys include:

    Bowery Bugs
    Beanstalk Bunny
    Unruly Hare
    All 3 Cecil and Bugs cartoons
    Hare Diving Hare
    Barber of Seville (why of course!)
    Wabbit Twouble
    Buckaroo Bugs

    Among many others!

  • I don’t think that’s Cecil’s mum in “Tortoise Wins By a Hare.” His use of “sweetyface,” the term used by Wallace Wimple, makes me think that’s his wife. (And Cecil does much better than ol’ Wimp!)

    It’s extremely hard to try to cram so many great cartoons into such a small list. Personally, I think the “fairest” way to do it is to try to spread out the directors. To wit:

    (A) Avery. “A Wild Hare” is a landmark cartoon in many ways, but it stands on its own as being funny and beautifully drawn. A narrow winner over “The Heckling Hare” and “Tortoise Beats Hare” for a top ten finish.

    (B) Davis. Yes, “Bowery Bugs” is his one and only entry, but it’s a triumph not only for Davis and Blanc, but also for Billy Bletcher, in one of his best WB performances. Very fast-paced cartoon, with a number of throw-away gags (like the lemons), and some great set-pieces.

    (C) Tashlin. I think “The Unruly Hare” has to be in a top-ten list, not merely because of diversity, but because Bugs is in absolute top, Elmer-heckling form in this one. It’s also another cartoon that sets an almost literally blazing pace in entire segments.

    (D) Clampett. “Tortoise Wins By a Hare” is clearly Clampett’s best Bugs; even a gem like “Falling Hare” can’t compete with its sheer beauty, brilliance and hilarity. And for many directors, having distant finishers like “The Wacky Wabbit” or “The Big Snooze” would be gems.

    This leaves six spots for Jones and Freleng, which is like the stateroom scene from “A Night at the Opera.” But I’ll try.

    (E) Jones. “Rabbit of Seville,” Jones’ finest cartoon (clever wordplay in the first part, fantastic character animation in the second part) is a must. Out of a large pack of possible cartoons, I’d put in “Super Rabbit” and “Long Haired Hare” as the other Jones entries.

    (F) Freleng. “Mutiny on the Bunny” is perhaps my surprising choice for best Freleng Bugs, and it only wins out narrowly over “Captain Hareblower,” “The Fair-Haired Hare,” “14 Karat Rabbit,” and “Hare Trigger” in the Bugs v. Sam cartoons. I’ve always loved “Hare Do” as the best of the Freleng Bugs v. Elmer cartoons. “Hare Force,” to my mind, was a signal cartoon in that it came at a time when Freleng had not only perfected his take on Bugs, but in general had emerged as one of the best, if not the best, animation directors.

    Of course, this question is a “Willie, Mickey or the Duke” kind of argument, where it’s almost impossible to come up with a wrong answer.

    • Yegads! How could I forget McKimson?!? Well, it shows you the difficulty of cramming a top ten list.

      McKimson’s entries (taking “Hare Do” from Freleng and “Super Rabbit” from Jones) would be “Hillbilly Hare,” with its tremendous second-half sequence, and “Hot Cross Bunny,” with a wild Bugs performance.

    • Excellent list, and superb observations.

  • My favorite Bugs cartoons in no particular order:

    Hare Tonic (the one with the “dread disease rabittutus”)
    Hare-Raising Hare (Gossamer’s debut)
    Hare Trigger (Yosemite Sam’s debut)
    Bugs Bunny Rides Again
    Mississippi Hare
    The Case of the Missing Hare (“Roota, voota, zoot!”)
    Rabbit of Seville
    Beanstalk Bunny
    Racketeer Rabbit
    Ali Baba Bunny (“Hassan Chop!”)

  • I think these would be my top 10 favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons:

    Buccaneer Bunny
    Show Biz Bugs
    The Old Grey Hare
    Wabbit Twouble
    The Big Snooze
    Rebel Rabbit
    Wackiki Wabbit
    Baby Buggy Bunny
    Sahara Hare
    High-Diving Hare

    Runner-ups include Chuck Jones’ “Rabbit Season” trilogy, “Ali Baba Bunny,” “Hare Do” and “Easter Yeggs.”

  • Rabbit Seasoning
    Rabbit of Seville
    Bully for Bugs
    What’s Opera, Doc?
    Knighty Knight Bugs
    Long Haired Hare
    Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears
    Ali Babba Bunny
    Baton Bunny
    Rabbit Fire

  • Toughie. I’ll try a knee-jerk response that I would likely overturn tomorrow.

    I’m a 40s guy, and must stuff the ballot box thusly. But I will never omit Rabbit Of Seville! Never!

    The Big Snooze
    Easter Yeggs
    Haredevil Hare
    The Rabbit Of Seville
    Hare Remover
    Bugs Bunny Rides Again
    Rabbit Fire
    Hare Tonic
    Wackiki Wabbit
    The Old Grey Hare

  • The Bugs Bunny Show has a sound recording credit! Something the theatrical cartoons did NOT display in the credits.
    RCA Sound Recording.

  • What a true joy to see clips from the BB Show. It must’ve baffled beaucoup kiddies (us, included) that he always said the word “tonight” (when it was on Sat. mornings!!, lol) (And then, moved to Sunday mornings!!) A suuuuuper grand memory!! TY!!

  • So, is “What’s Opera, Doc?” in my top ten favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons … nope! In no particular order I just love the following shorts:

    Bugs and Thugs
    Ali Baba Bugs
    Tortoise Wins by a Hare
    Falling Hare
    Rabbit of Seville
    Bugsy and Mugsy
    Wild Hare
    Bedeviled Rabbit
    Bully for Bugs
    Hillbilly Hare

  • Thank you so much, Jerry and the same to all the contributors to this website. It has provided me such tremendous pleasure for several years now. (And to think I used to feel that as an adult I was virtually alone in my passion for this art form.)

  • I first started watching WB’s cartoons on tv in the early fifties on shows like Sheriff John on KTTV
    and Skipper Frank on KTLA in Southern California. I recently discovered METV’s Toon in to ME and
    think the show is terrific. The majority of their toons are from Warner Brothers and many have
    been restored to pristine condition. A large number of them are not yet available on any format of home video. With a limited budget, the cast of the show presents some very creative and entertaining skits. All in all an excellent parody of the kiddie shows of an earlier time. My personal
    favorite Bugs Bunny cartoon is Bugs Bunny Rides Again. Thanks for interesting post.

  • No “From Hare to Heir” mentioned yet? That’s gonna cost you £300.

  • I don’t think anybody can argue with those picks, Jerry (Baby Buggy Bunny is an underrated entry in my book). A couple of these could theoretically be in my top ten as well so I’ll only point out a few of my own.

    Baseball Bugs- One of the first BB shorts I ever saw. A classic.

    Bugs Bunny Rides Again- My personal favorite with Sam.

    Rebel Rabbit- I can see why people either love or really don’t go for the McKimson Bugs. Personally, I love his 40s iteration of the character and the scenes with the game warden and the live action clips are absolutely priceless.

    Rabbit Hood- I saw this when I was younger and didn’t think much of it. Upon revisits I’ve found it to be one of the best BB shorts out there with some razor sharp wit. Another underrated classic.

    The Hasty Hare- I know everybody views Haredevil Hare as the quintessential Bugs and Marvin mashup, and rightly so, but I’m always surprised that this little gem almost never gets even a passing mention. Jones at his peak.

  • Allow me to name a couple of faves that haven’t been mentioned yet (For shame, Doc!)

    McKimson running on all cylinders here–Bugs in his native Noo Yawk environment. Funny, expressive personality animation. Fast-paced, hilarious gags. My favorite Bugs line: “I bet this kid won’t take much more of this guff!”. And yes, Bugs peeps at the naked babe three times.

    What’s this? A Warners TV parody and a late-era Bugs short that are actually funny? Who’da thunk it. The expertly-timed on/off lights routine still makes me laugh. Bonus points for including what must be the most violent gag ever in a WB cartoon–The “You’ve been disconnected” bit in the opening scenes. Still amazed that made it intact in Nickelodeon airings.

  • Ten of my favorite Bugs Bunny shorts in no particular order:

    “Case of the Missing Hare”, a nostalgic favorite from public domain tapes
    “Little Red Riding Rabbit”
    “Hair Raising Hare”
    “Bugs Bunny Rides Again”
    “Wind Blown Hare”, an often overlooked short with Bugs getting swindled by the Three Pigs and getting the best of them at the end in contrast to Cecil Turtle or the Gremlin
    “Hillbilly Hare”
    “Rabbit of Seville”
    “Ballot Box Bunny”, especially for the exploding piano gag
    “Ali Baba Bunny”
    “Hare Way to the Stars”, “Where’s the Ka-boom? There’s supposed to be an Earth shattering ka-boom?”

  • A few years back, BASEBALL BUGS would be shown on the Jumbotron screen during rain delays at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. The crowd reaction was a joy to hear. Big theatre styled laughs! That’s why BASEBALL BUGS is my favorite.

  • In chronological order:


    I’ve avoided myself some great classic (A WILD HARE, TORTOISE WINS BY A HARE, RHAPSODY RABBIT, GORILLA MY DREAMS, HIGH DIVING HARE, LONG-HAIRED HARE, the Hunting Trilogy, WHAT’S OPERA DOC?… that would just be a perfect list!) and the ones I’ve only seen once (THE UNRULY HARE, EASTER YEGGS), desperately trying to remain within the boundaries. And I would have liked to include some misappreciated one (HARE RIBBIN’, REBEL RABBIT, BROOM-STICK BUNNY) which I consider very good.

  • I’m a 1940s guy, myself but there are treasures everywhere in the corpus. This list might change tomorrow (or later today!), but in chronological order:

    Wabbit Twouble
    The Wabbit Who Came to Supper
    Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid
    Case of the Missing Hare
    Little Red Riding Rabbit (a masterpiece—I quote this all the time)
    Buckaroo Bugs (perhaps my favorite Warner’s cartoon of all!)
    The Old Gray Hare
    Baseball Bugs
    Racketeer Rabbit
    Long-Haired Hare

    Bonus Points: Anything with Bugs AND Daffy


    Hmmm. I may need to revise this, there are so many good choices. I always liked the Bugs vs. Cecil Turtle series. I can’t think of the name of last one. I may like that one the best. I always have always been fond of Bugs and the little penguin cartoons. Just about any Bugs and Daffy cartoon is great. SUPER RABBIT is another favorite!

    • Hmmm. I MAY want to replace HAREDEVIL HARE with DEVIL MAY HARE. Bugs vs. Tax cartoons are lots of fun and this one is a classic. The only thing I don’t like about TRANSYLVANIA 6-5000 is that Bugs seems unaware that his host in the hotel is a vampire. I’ve always though if it would be funnier if he absolutely knew what was going on when he sang his “Aba-cadabra-hocus-pocus” song, for instance! For a last Chuck Jones cartoon, it’s not bad.

  • Well, I might as well mention some of my favorites that haven’t been mentioned:

    Jack Rabbit and the Beanstalk (1943)- “Grey hair”.

    Devil May Hare (1954)- First appearance of “Taz-Boy”.

    The Abominable Snow Rabbit (1961)- Granted, more of a Daffy short (Bugs wasn’t even included in the Hallmark ornament from last year), but still memorable.

    Transylvania 6-5000 (1963)- Last Bugs short directed by Jones released

  • LONG-HAIRED HARE – the facial expressions while Giovanni is practicing at home
    OPERATION: RABBIT – Just compare the sci-fi tech with any live action movie of 1952
    BASEBALL BUGS – the sublimely lit backgrounds, the Statue of Liberty come to life, just such a baseball-y feeling to it all!
    BULLY FOR BUGS – the Bull = best character design/animation EVER
    THE OLD GREY HARE – futuristc elderly toons are genius
    HARE CONDITIONED – love the transitional, squatter version of Bugs
    HAIR-RAISING HARE – Peter Lorre, squat Bugs, Gossamer’s debut
    CASE OF THE MISSING HARE – C. Jones discovers the hilariously awkward mannequin challenge
    RABBIT HOOD – classic “knighting” of Sheriff of Nottingham, plus a cameo by live-action Errol Flynn
    WHAT’S OPERA, DOC? – would deserve all the hype even if all it had was the obese horse

  • Aaaaahhhhh! I almost forgot about RABBIT HOOD, OPERATION RABBIT and WATER, WATER EVERY HARE and two obvious classics, LONG-HAIRED HARE and WHAT’S OPERA, DOC?

    Jerry, I MIGHT be able to narrow this down to a “Top 25”! Well, maybe. I suspect Joe Adamson had a devil of a time narrowing his choices down to 50 for his book. I haven’t read that one in years, but it was a good one!

  • Thanks for not listing the dreadful What’s Opera Doc.
    I know I’m in the minority here but to me it’s the most unfunny cartoon I’ve ever seen.

  • There’s way too many good cartoons to pick only 10, but I’ll try anyway.

    Wabbit Twouble
    What’s Cookin’ Doc?
    Tortoise Wins by a Hare
    Little Red Riding Rabbit
    Racketeer Rabbit
    Slick Hare
    Acrobatty Bunny
    Bully For Bugs
    Duck! Rabbit, Duck!
    What’s Opera Doc?

    I picked three each from my favorite Bugs Bunny directors. I also like Bob McKimson as he designed the best looking version of the character. I think Acrobatty Bunny may be the most perfect Bugs Bunny cartoon of all, and there are lots of other Mckinson cartoons that I would love to list. I would also like to include lots of Friz Freleng’s later Bugs Bunny cartoons such as Sahara Hare and Knighty Knight Bugs. But, I like his 1940’s cartoons best!

    What’s Opera Doc is a different animal than the rest of the Bugs Bunny cartoons and has a different all around feel from any cartoon I’ve ever seen from any studio. I never get tired of it and I watch it often.

  • Anyone who can limit their list to ten hasn’t sufficient appreciation for the career this definitive cartoon star has had. Even Mickey Mouse is easier because there are fewer cartoons.

  • Tim:
    What’s bugging you about WHAT’S OPERA, DOC? I had a good friend who was a cartoon art and film collector and he disliked WHAT’S OPERA, DOC? because he grew up during the World War II era and was Jewish. He totally associated the Wagner music with the Hitler marches and book-burnings and couldn’t get past the connotations of the music. For you, is it that the film has been lauded as a “classic” for decades and you’re just sick of looking at it?

  • I love Wind-Blown Hare. Classic!

  • I will give you 2 of mine- A lad and his lamp and a windblown Hare. Yes a McKimson fan here

  • My pics:
    Rabbit of Seville
    Rabbit Seasoning (“Pronoun Trouble”)
    Rabbit’s Kin (“One lump or two?”)
    Little Red Riding Rabbit (“Hey Grandma…!”)
    What’s Opera, Doc?
    Bully for Bugs (“Of course you realize… this means war”)
    Hair-Raising Hare (Gossamer’s sneakers do it for me…)
    Operation: Rabbit (“Wile E. Coyote…. Super Genius”)

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