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Hmmm-hmmm, it's time for me to eat.

Catching a pig is quite a feat!
The Big Bad Wolf, Richard Scarry's version of The Three Little Pigs

A plot where the antagonist tries several times to capture, kill, or otherwise defeat the protagonist, and keeps failing spectacularly, either because the target is too smart, or because the antagonist is just really unlucky. Often this plot will climax with a plan that looks actually serious, but will fail just as surely as the others.

A Sub-Trope of Failure Is the Only Option, except this specifically focuses on repeated failures in succession.

Compare Catch That Pigeon, Stern Chase, Villain Decay (just here the villain decays immediately by design).

Examples of Road Runner vs. Coyote include:


Anime and Manga

  • Team Rocket from Pokémon. We must capture that Pikachu!
    • Similarly, Team Galactic in Diamond/Pearl. Although they do succeed in capturing some NPC's pokémon, for the most part the (presumably) stolen pokémon they use are pathetic, non-evolved species like Wurmple or Bidoof.
  • Nadie and Ellis in El Cazador de la Bruja are constantly on the run, having to evade various traps laid by Rosenberg and the Witch Coven and bounty hunters, sent by the same people.

Comic Books

  • The Dutch comic De Generaal, and the lesser-known ¡Viva Zapapa!, both by Peter de Smet, are filled to the brim with this trope. The main character, The General, assisted by a zany professor and a soldier, and armed with a rather ancient tank, repeatedly tries to take power from The Marshall (seated in a fort; the general's HQ is a preciously guarded tree). Their lack of success in whatever way they try is only surpassed by a motorcycle policeman's failures to book The General for breaking just about any law or rule the policeman thinks applicable.
    • ¡Viva Zapapa! takes the same basic idea, but instead of the complexity of the plans themselves, it's usually the bumbling assistant to The Great Revolutionary Leader Zapapa who manages to scupper those plans (if they had any chance of success in the first place).

Eastern European Animation

  • Nu Pogodi is pretty mcuh the Russian answer to Road Runner and Coyote.

Fanfic

Film

  • The middle of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie where the Vulgarian spies are attempting to capture the car.
  • The old, old movie The Great Race had this (but on the other hand, that was pretty much a live-action Road Runner cartoon from start to finish.)
    • (And was itself an inspiration for Wacky Races. What comes around...)
  • In Caddyshack, Bill Murray's Carl tries increasingly drastic plans to get a certain gopher...
  • The full premise of Mousehunt.
  • Of Unknown Origin plays this trope for horror. Bart Hughes gradually undergoes a mental breakdown as he is repeatedly thwarted in his attempts to kill the rat that lives in his new house.
  • The Villain is a Western example wherein the titular bank robber is trying to capture The Handsome Stranger (no really, that's his name) and Charmin'. Every scheme is right out of a Roadrunner cartoon, including painting a tunnel on the side of a rock and getting stuck in his own glue trap.

Live Action TV

  • The Stargate SG-1 episode "Bounty".
  • Farscape: "Revenging Angel" - the protagonist's hallucination was a direct Homage to the Chuck Jones cartoon

Machinima

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Cartoons from many companies have been doing it for years.
  • A Dexter's Laboratory episode in which Dexter got a bicycle turned into a direct homage to the Road Runner cartoons when Dexter tried to get even with a roller-blading Dee-Dee.
    • Another episode, "Mom and Jerry", was a Tom and Jerry pastiche in which Dexter got trapped in the body of a mouse and his mom mistook him for a regular mouse. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Superman: The Animated Series episode where Mxyzptlk first appeared.
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: "Stop that pigeon!"
    • As well as Dick Dastardly's plans to stop the other Wacky Racers, which often use the same visual gags as the Road Runner cartoons.
    • This makes sense, as one of the writers for both shows was Michael Maltese, who had collaborated with Chuck Jones on the Road Runner shorts.
  • Fairly Oddparents homaged the Road Runner cartoons in "Back to Norm" where Crocker, in possession of a genie, wishes for elaborate traps to capture Timmy Turner, rather than wishing him to Mars.
  • An episode of Johnny Test parodied this concept including Johnny going "beet beet" in the same style as the Roadrunner's trademark "beep beep" sound and Bling Bling Boy questioningly the sheer improbability of a train passing through a fake tunnel AND an anvil falling randomly from the sky.
  • The Donkey Kong segments of the Saturday Supercade. Mario was the Coyote, and DK was the Roadrunner.
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog is perceived as this with Sonic and Tails playing the Road Runner while Scratch, Grounder and Dr. Robotnik (whom we call Dr. Eggman these days) usually played the Coyote.
  • Candace Flynn from Phineas and Ferb could count as this, since she's always trying to bust her brothers but never succeeds, instead getting either injured or humiliated.
  • The Dreamstone borrows heavily from this, with the Urpneys frequently using cartoon gadgets to try and steal the Dreamstone from the Land Of Dreams. Expect Amusing Injuries galore.
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