Don Markstein's Toonopedia: Hubie and Bertie
Ralph and Sam share their typical work day activities.


Medium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: Warner Bros.
First Appeared: 1953
Creator: Chuck Jones
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More than just Bugs, Daffy and Elmer went into making the Looney Tunes what they are, of course — the Warner Bros. cartoon stars also ranged from Foghorn Leghorn all the way down …

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… to Claude Cat — and points beyond. One of their minor series starred the Coyote character who started by antagonizing (and being antagonized by) The Road Runner, now as "Ralph Wolf", his third separate role; and a new character, unseen in any other context, named Sam Sheepdog.

The name by which we know Ralph best is "Wile E. Coyote", the one he used in his second role. That's how he was identified on his business card, something he didn't have in his first and third roles — the first because in that one, he was a wild predator; and the third because there, he was just a working schlub. That's what his partner, Sam, was too.

Here, his goal was to make off with a sheep, just as he'd gone after a road runner and a rabbit in the other two. But his motive was different. Instead of gratifying an obsession or a monstrous ego, here, he was doing it because it was his job. Sam's job was to guard the sheep, and Ralph's job was to try to steal them. They started by punching a clock when the whistle blew, broke for lunch at the next whistle, and knocked off for the day at the final whistle, punching the same clock on the way out. As they left, they greeted an identical wolf and sheepdog pair, arriving for the next shift.

At lunch, as, presumably, during off-hours, they were as friendly as co-workers usually are, exchanging pleasantries and commiserating about this and that. On the job, they were mortal enemies. Since Ralph's function, in all his roles, was slapstick victim, Sam always won.

The two were first seen in Don't Give Up the Sheep, which was released January 3, 1953. Six more Ralph & Sam cartoons followed, ending with Woolen Under Where, released May 11, 1963. All were directed by Chuck Jones. Mel Blanc did both voices.


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Text ©2006 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Warner Bros.