Raise your hands if you have seen Warner Brothers’ famous cartoon show, ‘Road Runner’. Yes, Wile E. Coyote chasing the Road Runner in vain all over a rocky desert landscape! Do we not enjoy it still? We do, almost as much as we do ‘Tom and Jerry’!
So, what made Road Runner a roaring success? Careful planning, I would say. Animator Chuck Jones, the creator of ‘Road Runner’, formed 11-rules in 1948 which were to be followed while making the series. Those very rules made ‘Road Runner’ what it is today – a phenomenal success.
Rule 1. The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going “beep, beep.”
Rule 2. No outside force can harm the Coyote – only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products.
Rule 3. The Coyote could stop anytime – if he were not a fanatic.
(Repeat: “A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.” – George Santayana)
Rule 4. No dialogue ever, except “beep, beep” and yowling in pain.
Rule 5. The Road Runner must stay on the road – for no other reason than that he’s a roadrunner.
Rule 6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters – the southwest American desert.
Rule 7. All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.
Rule 8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy.
Rule 9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.
Rule 10. The audience’s sympathy must remain with the Coyote.
Rule 11. The Coyote is not allowed to catch or eat the Road Runner.
Filmmaker Amos Posner had tweeted a photo of a document listing the rules on display at ‘What’s Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones’ exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York. Nine of the rules can be seen in the picture.
Still obsessed with Chuck Jones’ coyote/roadrunner rules. Awesome to so clearly, concisely define your characters. pic.twitter.com/MRd4zguD93
— Amos Posner (@AmosPosner) March 4, 2015
You see, rules often bring out the best of things.