Talkin’ Nerdy: The Cold, Hard Truth About Tiny Toons
We recently came across this little nugget on the Anime Superhero Forum:
“Its really strange how the Tiny Toons characters did not appear as recurring characters in other Looney Tunes cartoon series like Taz-Mania, Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, Duck Dodgers (2003), Looney Tunes Show (2011), New Looney Tunes/wabbit or the HBO Max Looney Tunes Cartoons (2020). Does Warner Bros think the Tiny Toons are not good enough to add to any cartoon series that has the Looney Tunes?.” (Yeah, I’m including the poor punctuation.)
-Really, dude? This is strange to you? You really don’t know why you don’t see Tiny Toons characters turning up in non-TT projects like Taz-Mania, Duck Dodgers and Wabbit/New Looney Tunes? Seriously?
Well, the concrete reason is because the Tiny Toons characters are co-owned by Amblin Entertainment, and Amblin would have to be associated or involved with any such project in order for Warner Bros. to use them, but there’s another, very obvious fly in this particular ointment, a fly the size of a brontosaurus. Here’s the cold, hard truth about Tiny Toon Adventures in relation to the rest of the WB lore:
The Looney Tunes don’t need the Tiny Toons. At all. The Tiny Toons need the Looney Tunes, but not vice-versa.
What would the Tiny Toons do in a Looney Tunes project? Seriously, I’m asking: what exactly would they do? What purpose would they serve, beyond popping up on screen every so often to remind us that they exist? The problem with trying to integrate the Tiny Toons characters into the Looney Tunes universe is simply that the Tiny Toons are just super-deformed teen versions of the Looney Tunes characters; take away the ‘kid factor’ and they’re just clones of the Looney Tunes and they’d just be redundant appearing alongside of them. Why would you need Buster Bunny when you have Bugs Bunny? Why do you need Plucky Duck when you have Daffy Duck? What need is there for Dizzy Devil when Taz is around? And so on.
As previously stated, Warner Bros. would have to secure permission and/or collaboration from Amblin to use the Tiny Toons for anything, but frankly such a move wouldn’t be worth the effort; Warner doesn’t need the Tiny Toons for anything since they already have the Looney Tunes, whom they own lock, stock and barrel. If you own the rights to Rice Krispies, then you have no reason to buy a cheap knockoff cereal from Aldi.
This is also the reason why the WB shows that came after Tiny Toons have fared better and are remembered more fondly. Tiny Toons‘ greatest success was that of a trailblazer: the series kick-started Warner Bros. Animation’s Silver Age, leading to the likes of Animaniacs, Pinky & the Brain, Freakazoid! et al, but those shows, most notably Animaniacs, are celebrated more and have more staying power because the casts of those shows were original characters with no blatant ties or associations with any pre-existing franchise. Yeah it was cool whenever A! or F! would reference or call back to or feature a brief cameo by a Looney Tunes star, but they didn’t rely on those characters in order for their shows to work or their characters to flourish; the casts of A! and F! could stand on their own. By contrast, the notoriety and legacy of Looney Tunes is baked into Tiny Toon Adventures’ DNA; the Tiny Toons could not and would not exist without Looney Tunes, and at the end of the day, they’re basically just knockoffs that we don’t need when the genuine articles are around. If Tiny Toons had never happened, the Looney Tunes would still continue to exist as they always have.
You know how you never see Scrappy-Doo turning up in these latest Scooby-Doo projects?
The calmer, more rational Scrappy who actually helped move the plots along and devised his ‘Scrappy Traps’ was basically a composite stand-in for Fred and Velma…
…But now that Mysteries, Inc. is back together as a Five Man Band, they don’t need Scrappy anymore.
Or how about Roger Rabbit?
After Who Framed Roger Rabbit? came out in 1987, in the wake of the huge “toon boom” that followed the movie, Disney tired making a big push to incorporate Roger into the Disney shorts gang alongside Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pluto et al, but despite Disney’s best efforts (including having Betty White flat-out state in a Disney anniversary special that Roger was the Disney gang’s “new buddy”) this didn’t happen. Know why? Well, for one thing, again, Roger is co-owned by Amblin, so the Mouse House couldn’t really use him without their involvement or association. For another, let’s look at this character for a moment; what’s he known for? He’s well-meaning, but kind of a bumbler; he’s a little accident prone and has a habit of causing chaos and confusion wherever he goes. Hmm, that sounds kind of familiar. Who else in the Mickey Gang is like that? Maybe…
Yeah, aside from ownership rights, the reason Roger Rabbit was never fully integrated into the Disney shorts canon was because Roger was basically Goofy, and Mickey’s Gang already had a Goofy. Sticking Roger in there with them would’ve just been redundant.
It’s the same principle with the Tiny Toons: now that Warner is doing stuff with the Looney Tunes again, they don’t need to use the Tiny Toons for stuff, as they were just teenage stand-ins for the Looney Tunes. Tiny Toon Adventures was a nice kiddification/love letter to the Looney Tunes franchise, but those characters just aren’t needed now, as they didn’t bring anything new to the table that Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Elmer, Sam and the others don’t already contribute. And that’s the reason.
-Side bar: in this same thread, we came across this post:
“If it weren’t for Tiny Toons we’d never have Lola. Remember Babs didn’t really have an LT counterpart so when Space Jam was made they gave her one years after the fact. Even though they never met.”
Sorry, but that’s simply incorrect. Lola Bunny’s creation had nothing to do with Babs. Lola’s first appearance was Space Jam, which opened in 1996; Tiny Toons ran from 1990 to 1995, and was already over by the time Space Jam came around.
Lola was based on Honey Bunny, a character from the Looney Tunes comic books; a female Bugs counterpart who served as his love interest or rival, depending on what the situation called for.
The story goes that Honey Bunny was going to make her big screen debut in Space Jam, but the movie’s execs weren’t pleased with her appearance; they thought she looked like Bugs in drag, so the artists redesigned the character, making her curvier and more feminine looking, until they eventually decided that this was a completely different character, thus Lola was born. She was not created to be a mentor for Babs. That issue was addressed in the TTA episode “Fields of Honey” where Honey was given a revisionist history to make her seem more important and interesting than she actually was, instead of just being Minnie Mouse to Bosko’s Mickey. So the above statement isn’t remotely accurate.
But thanks for playing, and enjoy your complimentary set of steak knives!