Failed Looney Tunes characters you forgot about

Generations of kids around the world have grown up watching endless TV reruns of Looney Tunes, or Merrie Melodies, or, if you want to get really technical about it, animated theatrical shorts produced by Warner Bros. in the 1930s, '40s, '50s, and '60s. So many enduring characters began life in these cartoons, such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and the Tasmanian Devil. But with all of the hits came quite a few misses. Here are a few Looney Tunes that didn't last long and to whom the passage of time has said … "that's all folks."

Claude the Cat

There was that one feline character that was beloved by millions and remained part of the core group of Looney Tunes characters for decades throughout multiple iterations, remakes, reboots, and reimaginings. That's Sylvester we're talking about. In the 1940s and '50s, Warner Brothers introduced another cat into the mix named Claude.

He had a very similar character design to Sylvester, only he was yellow with red highlights, as opposed to black and white. Also, like Sylvester, he was rarely if ever successful in his pursuits. Claude starred in the Oscar-nominated 1949 short "Mouse Wreckers," but that was one of only a dozen or so he was in altogether before Warner Brothers realized how redundant he was.  After "No Barking" in 1954, they said no meow Claude 'toons.

Petunia Pig

All of us deserve love, even cartoon characters. Or maybe just Disney cartoon characters. Mickey and Minnie had each other, Donald and Daisy had each other. Even Goofy, a guy so goofy his name is literally Goofy, had a long-term, interspecies thing with Clarabelle.

In the rival universe of Warner cartoons, however, the characters are almost always male, and never seemed to pair off. Porky Pig got his shot at a long-term relationship in 1937, with a cartoon called "Porky's Romance." Porky is into Petunia (who, it should be noted, looks exactly like Porky, but with a dark wig and pigtails), but she just laughs in his face. Petunia appeared in only a few more cartoons, notably 1939's "Naughty Neighbors," a riff on Romeo and Juliet, in which Porky and Petunia's love is thwarted by the number-one thwarter of love: their rival hillbilly families.

Despite a happy ending (Porky throws a "Feud Pacifier"—some kind of love grenade—into the two warring clans, and then Petunia plants one on him), Petunia was used less and less from then on. She was phased out of animated cartoons in the early 1940s, but appeared over the years in comics, as well as in the rare short where the plot needed more porcine presence than Porky alone could puh-buh-dee-puh-buh-dee-puh-buh-dee-puh-buh-dee provide.

The Dover Boys

These characters were a forgettable parody of a series of kids' books that are even more forgettable. From 1899 to 1926, book publisher Stratemeyer Syndicate released more than two dozen titles in the Rover Boys series. The Rover Boys were Tom, Sam, and Dick Rover — military school cadets who would have G-rated, easy-to-read adventures. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, they weren't.

More than a decade after the last Rover Boys book was published, Warner Brothers released a cartoon in 1942 called "The Dover Boys at Pimento University." It's about Tom, Dick, and Larry Rover, who attend the civilian learning institution known as Pimento University. (P.U. — get it?) The whole thing is filled with cheese puns for some strange reason, and for some other, even stranger reason, all three Dover boys are engaged to the same young lady.

But the cartoon couldn't manage enough attention to earn a sequel, despite the hilariously controversial angle that is interfamilial plural marriage. (Not to mention cheese puns. There's nothing more cheddar than a cheese pun.) Maybe, someday, however what way, they'll show up again. Because broken down into its weird and goofy elements, "The Dover Boys" provides a deep well of meme-able content on Tumblr.

Cool Cat and Colonel Rimfire

After a brief period in which it outsourced its cartoon production to other studios, Warner Bros. started making its own cartoons again — albeit with slashed budgets and a focus on characters who were so formulaic, making new cartoons would be quick and easy. This was 1967 and, not so coincidentally, this is when the studio's most popular cartoons had Wile E. Coyote endlessly chasing around the Road Runner.

But WB at least tried to create new characters … formulaic ones, but still, "A" for effort in creating Cool Cat and Colonel Rimfire. (Okay, "B-plus.") This was yet another entry in WB's long line of cartoons about dumb predators hunting smart prey (Elmer Fudd vs. Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird vs. Sylvester). Cool Cat was a tiger who spoke like a hep, hep beatnik, man. (In other words, he was cool.) His always-foiled nemesis: a big-game hunter named Colonel Rimfire who wanted to kill Cool Cat and mount his head in his den, or whatever.

When Cool Cat creator Alex Lovy left Warner a year later, Robert McKimson took over production on the character and dropped Colonel Rimfire in favor of other nemeses for Cool Cat, such as a tribe of Native Americans and a bee. Those didn't work either. The last big Cool Cat cartoon came in 1969, just about two years after his first. Also, it was the one where squared off against Native Americans, and the 'toon bore the very unfortunate title of "Injun Trouble." And this is why Cool Cat has been on ice for almost 50 years.

Bobo the Elephant

This adorable elephant, who is definitely not supposed to remind anyone of Disney's Dumbo, appeared in only two Warner cartoons: "Hobo Bobo" in 1947 and "Gone Batty" in 1954. The first one was kind of dark and weird: Bobo escapes a life of hard labor in his homeland of India by stowing away on a ship after painting himself pink, fooling the sailors onboard into thinking he was imaginary, as pink elephants are thought to be a drunken hallucination. (This is a nice reminder that cartoons weren't always geared toward kids.) But he makes it to the US, where he's arrested for being, uh, an unattended baby elephant or something, and is sentenced to work at the circus.

The only other cartoon the admittedly cute Bobo starred in was called "Gone Batty." This is a sports pun alluding to how in the short, Bobo plays baseball with his trunk. But he's incredibly good — like, he hits pitches so hard, it knocks holes through the other team's gloves, which is as frightening as it is impressive.

Clearly, Bobo was juicing, which would explain why that was the end of his run as a cartoon star.

Beans the Cat

When cartoons started being produced en masse to run in movie theaters in the 1930s, they were little more than a novelty. The animation was often choppy or stilted, the dialogue was minimal, and the soundtrack was loaded up with tinny voices singing old-timey folk songs. The result: early cartoons are … kind of spooky.

Once the animation got more sophisticated and streamlined, cartoons got way better, leaving earlier toons to the dustbin of history. Such was the fate of Beans, one of Warner's first-ever characters: a cat/man/thing creature. Also pushing Beans aside was his misfortune of being overshadowed in his 1935 debut, "I Haven't Got a Hat," by all-time great Porky Pig. Audiences latched on to him much more so than they did the generic (and spooky) Beans, who would ultimately appear in less than a dozen vaguely creepy shorts in 1935 and 1936. After that, he neither had a hat nor a job.

Cecil Turtle

Every manic hare needs a slow and goofy turtle foil, just like in the classic "Tortoise and the Hare" fable. In fact, that's exactly the inspiration for these cartoons. All of them featured the slow, likable Cecil winning some kind of race with the suddenly villainous Bugs Bunny. Every single one of them.

One of the cartoons has the turtle beating Bugs by trickery. A second one has the Rabbit Mafia betting on the race, and when Bugs loses because he dressed like a turtle and the mob stopped him from winning, all three mob members commit suicide with a single bullet. Cartoon science, just run with it. A third match saw the turtle win by attaching rockets to his shell, but by that point, it was clear that this one-note character had to be retired permanently. Even mob violence, and a jerk like Bugs getting his just desserts, couldn't make up for the tiresomely repetitive nature of Cecil's adventures.

Pete Puma

There are "dog people" and "cat people," and the people behind Warner Bros. cartoons were clearly the latter. In addition to Sylvester, Claude the Cat, and Cool Cat, the studio also introduced Pete, who was a puma. He was gregarious, enthusiastic, and possessing of a curious, infectious, and downright weird laugh (high-yeeeeeeeeee!!), but it wasn't enough to distinguish Pete in the WB's overcrowded field of animated cats.

Not counting a few cameos in modern kids' cartoons, the character appeared in only three short cartoons in the WB heyday of the 1950s and '60s, initially as yet another victim of Bugs Bunny's mischievously violent pranks. But really, once your list of animals reaches the relative obscurity of "puma," you've gone too far and it's time to kill off a few kitties.

The Goofy Gophers

The first cartoon these gophers appeared in — 1947's "The Goofy Gophers" – was written by Bob Clampett, the guy who created Tweety Bird. So clearly he had a type: tiny, precocious animals who made life a living nightmare for an animal with the misfortune of being bigger and dumber than they.

While Tweety made short work of Sylvester, the Goofy Gophers squared off against a dog, and then later Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, and Daffy Duck. They just never clicked with audiences enough to become a big thing on their own, however, appearing in only eight pun-tastically titled shorts from 1947 to 1965, such as "I Gopher You," "Gopher Broke," and "Lumber Jerks." It was only when these cartoons showed up in TV cartoon compilations in the '60s that anyone even thought to give these also-rans actual names: Mac and Tosh. (As in, if you combine them you get "macintosh," not unlike the "chippendale" one gets from combining the names of the very similar-looking Disney rodent duo, Chip n' Dale.) The "Goofy Gophers" was merely shorthand that stuck.

At any rate, they were based on a turn-of-the-century comic strip about two ludicrous Frenchmen called Alphonse and Gaston. Like Mac and Tosh, they were overly polite to one another, quoted literature, and used big words. In short, they didn't quite fit the tried-and-true cartoon fare of one animal smashing the other with a mallet.

Inki

There exist a collection of early Warner Bros. cartoons called "the Censored 11." All trade in broad, offensive stereotypes of African-American characters, were heavily inspired by minstrel shows and blackface performers, and were kept off of TV by WB not including them in the package of cartoons that would be endlessly rerun over the decades. And yet, Inki somehow made it through those filters … although, those who decided what cartoons would actually be seen avoided Inki more and more as the '60s wore on — no Inki cartoon has been released on a video collection since 1986, for instance.

One look at the guy, and you'll immediately see why. Inki presents the stories of a little boy in the jungles of Africa on a hunting expedition. Some might call the character "dated," or "a product of its time," or "holy hell so blatantly racist." Appearing in just five cartoons between 1939 and 1950, Inki had very dark skin, big lips, huge white teeth, and his hair was wrapped around a bone. (Inki as in inky? Meaning black? Ugh, yes.) So, yeah, Inki is probably not a candidate for revival anytime soon.