Voted the #1 cartoon character of all time by TV Guide, Bugs Bunny is an American institution–and he made his debut in the Warner Brothers short cartoon A Wild Hare on July 27, 1940. That was 12 years after that other great American cartoon character Mickey Mouse. Bugs, however, was a much more subversive, mischievous, and wise-cracking character than the jolly little mouse ever was, immediately endearing himself to kids and adults alike.
Bugs Bunny got his name somewhat by accident, gaining the moniker when a canister of film was labeled “Bugs’ Bunny” to indicate it was a short about a bunny done by animator Ben “Bugs” Hardaway. The name stuck and the rest is history. Bugs Bunny actually appeared in several cartoons prior to A Wild Hare, but like all iconic cartoon characters (including his rival Mickey), he underwent changes before finally being cemented and has remained relatively unchanged since 1940.
The most remarkable thing about the Looney Toons cartoons, however, is that there are some really shocking things that used to happen in them. The kind of stuff that would cause many a letter to be written by angry parents in this day and age.
Check out the videos below to see some of Bugs’ best (or worst) moments–none of which would ever appear in a modern cartoon. Whether it’s Bugs shooting a concertgoer, playing Russian Roulette with Yosemite Sam, or *gasp* appearing in blackface, Bugs has a pretty incredible history of doing things that are horribly shocking in retrospect.