Looney Tunes is a Warner Brothers cartoon series that preceded the Merrie Melodies series, and is both WB's first animated theatrical series and the second longest continuous animated series in any medium.
The two series were given two separate names because originally, Warner Bros. wanted them to be two separate cartoons series (in the same manner that Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies were separate from the Mickey Mouse series).
In the beginning years, both Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies drew their storylines from Warner's vast music library.
From 1934 to 1943 Merrie Melodies were produced in color and Looney Tunes in black and white; after that the only real difference between the two was in the variation between the opening theme music and titles. By this time the theme music for Looney Tunes was "Merrie Go Round Broke Down" by Cliff Friend and Dave Franklin and the theme music for Merrie Melodies was an adaptation of "Merrily We Roll Along" by Charles Tobias, Murray Mencher & Eddie Cantor.
Bosko was Looney Tunes' first major star, but when he moved over to MGM in an entirely different incarnation, Buddy took his place. However, when Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, and Bugs Bunny were introduced, Looney Tunes deviated from its original musical concept. While the early thirties cartoons never directly catered to a younger audience, the cartoons consisted mostly of musical singing/dancing and generally contained a childlike innocence (mostly as a result of imitating the Disney style). By the late thirties, the cartoons had became edgier, funnier and were more firmly targeted to adult movie-goers of the time. The Warner Bros. cartoon shorts themselves continued to be box office draws no matter what cartoon series name they came under.
The characters' popularity was strengthened even more when they began airing on network and syndicated television in the late 1950s under various titles and formats. However since the syndication was targeted for children (Saturday mornings), this also began a slow conversion of popular opinion that the cartoons were made for children causing several edits to be made throughout the years (to remove innuendo, politically incorrect material or extreme violence).
The original Looney Tunes theatrical series ran from 1930 to 1969 (the last short being Bugged By A Bee ). Theatrical animated shorts then went dormant until 1987 when new shorts were made to introduce Looney Tunes to a new generation of audiences (new shorts have been produced and released sporadically since then).
In 1996, Space Jam, a feature film mixing animation and live action was released starring Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan, who at the time was retired from basketball. The movie was somewhat successful, and it introduced a new character named Lola Bunny.
In 2002, the show Baby Looney Tunes, which has a similar premise to Muppet Babies, premiered. In 2003, another feature film was released in an attempt to recapture the spirit of the original shorts, the live action/animated Looney Tunes: Back In Action. The film was a box-office disappointment, thus putting the theatrical future of Bugs and company in limbo.
However, thanks to continued television airings, revival theatrical screenings, and the Golden Collection DVD box sets, the Looney Tunes and its characters have remained a part of Western animation heritage.
Many shorts from the World War II era are no longer aired on television nor available for sale by Warner Bros. due to racial stereotypes of Japanese, Germans, Italians, Jews, and African-Americans included in some of the cartoons. This has caused dismay among many collectors and fans who feel that these classic segments of popular culture and history have become casualties to political correctness.
Characters introduced in The Thirties:
Characters introduced in The Forties:
Characters introduced in The Fifties:
Recurring Characters introduced in The Sixties and Beyond: