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Woody Woodpecker

File:Dvdwoody 767.jpg
"Is this trip really necessary? Sure it's necessary! I'M a necessary evil!"
—Woody, from the opening of Ration Bored, in his more Jerkass persona.

Debut: Knock Knock (1940)

A prominent example of the Screwy Squirrel character, Woody Woodpecker was the star character of the Walter Lantz cartoon studio and is the mascot of Universal Studios [1]. In the earliest cartoons, he was essentially Lantz's answer to Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny, being a strange hybrid of the two characters, with the energy, looniness and demented nature of Classic Daffy merged with hints of the wiseacre attitude of Bugs--also enforced by the fact that they even got Bugs' and Daffy's voice actor for the first three cartoons!

After the first batch of cartoons however, the wiseacre bit of Woody was casually dropped in favor of the more Screwy Squirrel aspects of his character. But things changed when original director Alex Lovy stepped down and ex-Disney animator Shamus Culhane took over direction of the shorts for a few years, ramping up the direction of the previous cartoons considerably, as well as giving Woody his iconic redesign. His take on Woody was much more fleshed out than the previous incarnation--wheras the original character was just a mindless heckler that went about causing havoc on sheer principle, Shamus supplied Woody with more clearly defined traits so that we could understand why he was going about causing trouble--specifically, by estasblishing that he is a selfish, ignorant being who only stands for himself and will not stop at nothing to achieve his goals, regardless of whoever gets in his way. He also helped firmly establish Woody's trait of being a Big Eater (which did pop up in early cartoons, but wasn't a central part of the character) which served as the basis for many of his cartoons. However, Culhane's direction, for all of his improvements, made Woody a bit too unlikable, taking him from being a screwy bird to sometimes being flat out malacious in some episodes (i.e. The Barber of Seville).

But this changed yet again when Disney veteran Dick Lundy took the directors chair, and toned down Woody considerably, establishing that he cannot go crazy unless given a genuine reason to. During his direction, Lundy essentially turned Woody into an ersatz Donald Duck, mixed in with Woody's typical Screwy Squirrel tendencies.


Wally Walrus

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Debut: The Beach Nut (1944)

Woody's original set in stone rival of swedish descent, Wally was made to serve as Woody's short tempered comic foil, as Elmer Fudd was to Bugs Bunny, or as Squidward is to SpongeBob. Slow witted, but short tempered.


Buzz Buzzard

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Debut: Wet Blanket Policy (1948)

Woody's other comic foil, Buzz Buzzard is a sleazy, greedy conman who will stoop to any depths to get what he wants.


SUPPORTING CHARACTERS

Winnie Woodpecker

File:Woodywoodpecker35 5518.jpg

Debut: Real Gone Woody (1954)

Woody's girlfriend. While she only appeared in one of the original theatrical cartoons (and in a very one-dimensional role at that) she became a recurring character in the comics and became much more prominent in the newer show. Similar in personality to Woody, but much more dignified.


Knothead and Splinter

File:Knothead splinter 4404.gif

Debut: Get Lost (1956)[2]

Woody's Nephew and Niece respectively.

  • Bratty Half-Pint(s)
  • Canon Immigrant: The characters originally appeared in Lantz's New Funnies comics (1952-), but were later brought into the cartoons.
  • Chaste Toons
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Splinter is a rare female bird example of shirtless cartoon animal.
  • Retcon: In the earliest comics, the kids were Nuthead (sic) and Splinter; both were boys; and the pair were Woody's adopted wards, not his relatives. First Splinter became a girl; then Nuthead became Knothead; then (in the cartoons) the pair became nephew and niece.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Splinter

Ms. Meany

An ugly, nasty, and occasionally smart-alecky old lady who often gets the better of Woody if he causes her trouble. First appeared late in the series, but became a regular very fast. Also a frequent player in The New Woody Woodpecker Show, often as Woody's short-tempered landlady.

Debut: Calling Dr. Woodpecker (1963)


Andy Panda

File:Andy panda 4393.jpg

Debut: Life Begins For Andy Panda (1939)

Walter Lantz's second star character after the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit series ran out of gas. Started off as an infant, but gradually grew up to become The Everyman. Woody Woodpecker made his debut in his 5th short. Phased out by 1949, but made a cameo in the 50's short The Woody Woodpecker Polka. While he wasn't a recurring character of the series, his shorts were usually shown alongside Woody's in the original Woody Woodpecker show. Appeared in 27 shorts total (28 if you count his cameo in The Woody Woodpecker Polka).


Chilly Willy

File:Chilly Willy 4096.jpg

Debut: Chilly Willy (1953)

A little penguin living in Fairbanks, Alaska who, oddly enough, hates the cold and goes out of his way to find warmth. While not directly connected to Woody Woodpecker, his shorts were aired alongside his on the original Woody Woodpecker show.

Notes

  1. although this position was briefly taken from him by Fievel in the 80's, he seems to have earned it back
  2. theatrical debut-note that they appeared earlier in comics
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