The Coyote and the Roadrunner are sure that they will win the head-to-head match-up between Old School and New School cartoons as The Roadrunner Show faces American Dad! However, the race doesn’t always go to the swiftest. If Stan Smith, the CIA agent, gun-toting dad of American Dad! has his way (and he usually does), he will succeed where the Coyote always fails in blowing the competition away for good, and American Dad! will claim the victory. Who will win? Who will lose? Which of these two cartoons is your favorite? Please leave your comments below!
The Road Runner Show
The Road Runner Show, which ran for two seasons on CBS (1966–68), and then on ABC for two seasons (1971–73), was an animated anthology series which compiled theatrical Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, which were produced by Warner Bros. Cartoons between 1948 and 1966. There were two Road Runner/Coyote cartoons during each episode, with another WB animated character(s) segment in the middle (usually Tweety and Sylvester).
CBS combined The Road Runner Show with The Bugs Bunny Show in 1968. The Road Runner and the Coyote more often shared at least an hour with Bugs Bunny on CBS during the late 1960s through the mid-1980s. All in all, there were 48 episodes produced.
American Dad! is produced by Underdog Productions and Fuzzy Door Productions for 20th Century Fox. It was created, in part, by Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy. The pilot episode aired in the United States on Fox on February 6, 2005, thirty minutes after the end of Super Bowl XXXIX; the regular series began May 1, 2005, after the season premiere of Family Guy. American Dad! follows the events of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent Stan Smith and his family.
The production season 1 consisted of 19 episodes. However, since the season started in May, episodes from production season 2 were added as part of season 1 to complete the longer-than-average season.
A fourth production cycle of episodes was picked up with 22 production episodes aired in 2008-2009. Since this is as of now outdated information from the show’s wiki site, there have been more episodes made, as the series is still running. However, the site does state that the series has been picked up for a seventh season, and by adding up the listed episodes through season five, I counted 96 episodes up until then.
Category 1 – Main Characters
The Roadrunner Show
* Wile E. Coyote – He was silent until 1952, then he was voiced by
Mel Blanc (1952–1961, only in Wile E. and Bugs Bunny shorts),
Joe Alaskey (Tiny Toon Adventures), Dee
Bradley Baker (Duck Dodgers), and Maurice LaMarche
(webtoon, Looney Tunes: Cartoon Conductor)
* The Roadrunner – Voiced by Paul Julian (1949–1995),
Dee Bradley Baker (1995–current), and by Frank Welker
(Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Tiny Toon Adventures, Looney
Tunes: Acme Arsenal, The Looney Tunes Show)
* Stan Smith (Seth MacFarlane)
* Francine Smith (Wendy Schaal)
* Hayley Smith (Rachael MacFarlane)
* Steve Smith (Scott Grimes)
* Roger (Seth MacFarlane)
* Klaus (Dee Bradley Baker)
Though there have been wonderful voice actors who have done the voices of Wile E. Coyote, there are still only that character and the Roadrunner in The Roadrunner Show as its main characters. The Roadrunner only expresses itself by saying “Beep! Beep!” Only so much expressiveness can be gotten out of that tiny word, so there really is just one major character in The Roadrunner Show who says much of anything, and that’s Wile E. Coyote. So, by default alone, I’d say American Dad! would be the winner of this category, but it has very talented voice actors/actresses doing the voices, as well.
Category 2 – Secondary Characters
The Roadrunner Show
This section will be short and sweet, because there are very few secondary characters in The Roadrunner Show to speak of. In one episode, two kids dressed in cowboy costumes watch a Roadrunner cartoon on television and comment on it, but I could not even find the title or description of the specific cartoon this occurs in.
There have literally been hundreds of secondary characters on American Dad! For a complete list, click here. For instance, there are CIA, Bit, and Celebrity characters listed, and the celebrity ones range from Angelina Jolie to Elijah Woods and Carmen Electra. I won’t even try to list them all, because there are too many of them to do so here, but they are fun to read about.
The winner of this category has to be American Dad! because there are so many more secondary characters in it than there are in The Roadrunner Show. Also, the secondary characters of American Dad! are great, and help contribute a lot of humor to the series.
Category 3 – Over-All Concept
Both of the cartoons, like all of those that I’ve compared in these head-to-head match-ups, have very strong concepts. The Roadrunner Show is about the efforts of the elusive Roadrunner to escape the attempts of Wile E. Coyote to catch him. Despite Wile E.’s best efforts, his being (in his words) a “Super genius,” his inventions, and the technology he purchase from the Acme corporation like traps, dynamite, etc., he always fails, and generally gets hurt by his schemes or ends up falling off a cliff.
American Dad! is about an ultra-Conservative, gun-toting, right-wing American Dad and his family. There’s his beautiful wife, Francine, who is also very right-wing, but who was very different in her younger life. There’s their teenage nerdy son, Steve, who loves computer games but is also getting interested in young ladies, and there’s Hayley, who is left-wing and smokes pot. Also, Roger, a gray-skinned alien whose sexuality is questionable, lives in their house, and Klaus Heisler, a goldfish, rounds out the cast. According to the wiki site,
Klaus was once an East German Olympic ski-jumper until his brainwaves were switched with that of a goldfish in the 1986 Winter Olympics by the CIA to prevent him from winning the gold medal. It is unknown about the final fate of his original body, although it is presumed it might have expired (Klaus’ original human body may have gone underwater and the goldfish brain was unaware that a human body needs air.) However, as for Klaus himself, he took up residency with the Smith family, where the CIA ordered Stan to have Klaus pose as their pet, a fact Klaus has still apparently not come to terms with.
It’s difficult to come up with a “favorite” episode or moment of either cartoon, because there are so many excellent ones to choose from. However, I will pick one from each series, and tell a little bit about them and why I like them.
I’ll choose from The Roadrunner Show an episode from June 6, 1964 titled “War and Pieces.” Wile E. Coyote (Caninus Nervous Rex) pursues Road Runner (Burn-Em Uppus Asphaltus) and hurls a hand grenade which rebounds off a saguaro cactus. Later attempts to catch the roadrunner by the coyote include a bow, a hydraulic press activated by an electric eye, invisible paint, and a disguised shotgun. Finally, he rides a rocket, which goes the wrong way and sends him to the home of the Chinese Road Runner.
The American Dad! episode I’ll choose is “For Whom the Sleigh Bell Tolls” from December 12, 2010. Stan gives Steve a gun for Christmas, even though Francine warns him that Steve is too young. As usual, Stan ignores her, and when Steve accidentally shoots Santa, he sends the North Pole into a tizzy and jeopardizes Christmas. It’s a pretty hilarious episode, though there are moments in it (and many episodes of American Dad!) that are really not suitable for younger kids.
This section is often the one that tips the balance, and the winner of it often goes on to be the Over-All Winner. There are often several aspects of a cartoon that fall into this category, like which has the best theme song, which has had the most toys, clothing, and other merchandise like cereal associated with it, which–if either–has had characters that were balloons in the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade, which character has the most-known laugh, etc. Will this category help The Roadrunner Show pull victory from the jaws of defeat?
They both have excellent and memorable theme songs. I would probably say that The Roadrunner Show’s theme song is somewhat more memorable, though, and I still know most of it by heart. Though both have had a lot of merchandise made featuring their characters, I’d say that again, The Roadrunner Show has more merchandise that’s been made and sold over the years featuring its characters, because it’s been around longer, and it is targeted more to kids.
I don’t think any characters from either series have appeared as a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. However, the opening sequence of American Dad! is pretty cool, and it’s different in each episode. The newspaper headline is different, or Roger’s disguise is always different when he pops his head up as a stowaway in Stan’s car as he heads to work. The disguises Roger wears are another intangible, and add a lot of humor to the show IMO.
Over-All Thoughts/Over-All Winner
While both shows are fantastic, and I love them both, there can be only one winner. But, though I believe that since American Dad! has won the most categories and is the Over-All Winner, it’s not suitable for younger kids to watch, and is meant for older teens and adults, like many of the better and funnier New School cartoons. So, probably The Roadrunner Show would be considered to be the favorite of these two among kids to younger teens, and it will always be one of my favorite Old School cartoons. It would likely be the Over-All Winner among younger viewers. What are your thoughts? Please let me know in the Comment form below!