Tasmanian Devil (Looney Tunes)
|Looney Tunes character|
|First appearance||Devil May Hare (1954)|
|Created by||Robert McKimson|
|Voiced by||Mel Blanc (1954–1989)|
Jeff Bergman (1990–1994, 1997, 2004, 2014)
Noel Blanc (1990)
Maurice LaMarche (1990)
Greg Burson (1991–1997)
Jim Cummings (1991–present)
Dee Bradley Baker (1996)
Joe Alaskey (2000, 2004, 2011)
Ian James Corlett (2001–2006)
Brendan Fraser (2003)
Neil Fanning (2004)
Eric Bauza (2018)
Fred Tatasciore (2020–present)
|Family||Hugh Tasmanian Devil (father)|
Jean Tasmanian Devil (mother)
Molly Tasmanian Devil (sister)
Jake Tasmanian Devil (brother)
Drew Tasmanian Devil (uncle)
Tasmanian She-Devil (wife)
Slam Tasmanian (descendent)
The Tasmanian Devil (also spelt Tazmanian Devil), commonly referred to as Taz, is an animated cartoon character featured in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. Though the character appeared in only five shorts before Warner Bros Cartoons shut down in 1964, marketing and television appearances later propelled the character to new popularity in the 1990s.
Taz is generally portrayed as a ferocious, albeit dim-witted, carnivore with a notoriously short temper and little patience. He got his name in the short Ducking the Devil. Though he can be very devious, he is also sweet at times. His enormous appetite seems to know no bounds, as he will eat anything in his path. He is best known for his speech consisting mostly of grunts, growls, and rasps (in his earlier appearances, he does speak English with primitive grammar) as well as his ability to spin like a vortex and bite through nearly anything. Taz does have one weakness: he can be calmed by almost any music. While in this calm state, he can be easily dealt with. The only music known not to pacify Taz is the bagpipes, which he finds insufferable.
Robert McKimson based the character on the real life Tasmanian devil, or more specifically its carnivorous nature, voracious appetite, and surly disposition. Owen and Pemberton suggest that the character of the Tasmanian Devil was inspired by Errol Flynn.:153 The model sheet was created by Ted Bonnicksen, who would later work for Fritz the Cat.
In his first appearance in McKimson's Devil May Hare (first released on June 19, 1954), Taz stalks Bugs Bunny, but due to his dimwittedness and inability to frame complete sentences, he serves as little more than a nuisance. Bugs eventually gets rid of him in the most logical way possible: matching him up with an equally insatiable female Tasmanian Devil. The character's speech, a deep, gravelly voice peppered with growls, screeches, and raspberries, is provided by Mel Blanc. Only occasionally would Taz actually speak, usually to utter some incongruous punchline, (e.g. "What for you bury me in the cold, cold ground?") and yet the character is capable of writing and reading. A running gag is that when Bugs Bunny hears of the approach of "Taz," looks him up in an encyclopedia and starts reading off a list of animals that "Taz" eats, Bugs finds "rabbits" not listed until "Taz" enters and either points out that "rabbits" are listed or writes rabbits on the list.
After the film short debuted at theaters, producer Edward Selzer, head of the Warner Bros. animation studio, ordered McKimson to shelve the character, feeling that he was too violent for children, and that parents would dislike him.:157 After a time with no new Taz shorts, studio head Jack L. Warner asked what had happened to the character. Warner saved Taz's career when he told Selzer that he had received "boxes and boxes" of letters from people who liked the character and wanted to see more of him.
McKimson would go on to direct four more Taz cartoons, beginning with Bedevilled Rabbit (released on April 13, 1957). McKimson would also pair the Devil with Daffy Duck in Ducking the Devil (August 17, 1957) before pitting him once again against Bugs in Bill of Hare (June 9, 1962) and Dr. Devil and Mr. Hare (March 28, 1964). His last two appearances done by the classic Warner Brothers directors, writers, and voice actors were in Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales appearing in The Fright Before Christmas segment and at the very end eating the sleigh full of presents.
Taz appeared in "The Looney Tunes Show" episode "Devil Dog" voiced again by Jim Cummings. In the show, he is portrayed walking on four legs like a real Tasmanian devil and his eyes are bloodshot red (later turned yellow when Bugs uses a taming trick that Speedy Gonzales taught him). Initially, Bugs believed Taz to be a dog and kept him as a house pet much to his roommate Daffy Duck's discomfort. Eventually, Bugs learned the truth and tried to return him to his home in Tasmania, only to find out that Taz would rather live with him, naming him "Poochie". Taz subsequently appears in the following episodes "The Foghorn Leghorn Story", "Newspaper Thief", and "Bugs and Daffy Get A Job". Taz later played a major part in "Ridiculous Journey" where he, Sylvester (whom Taz tried to eat) and Tweety were accidentally sent to Alaska by Yosemite Sam. The three of them work to get home while encountering other characters and avoiding tracker Blacque Jacque Shellacque. Eventually, they make it home when it turned out that Blacque was hired by Yosemite Sam to retrieve the three on behalf of Bugs and Granny.
Taz originally appeared in the series Wabbit as Theodore Tasmanian, an accountant at Chesterfield Consultants who tries to repress his vicious side. Unlike most versions of the character, he spoke more coherently. He was also married and had a child. Taz eventually returned to his original characterization and way of speaking when the series was retooled as New Looney Tunes.
An alternate version of Taz appeared in the 2017 DC Comics/Looney Tunes crossover comics, where he was designed more for the DC Universe and faced off against Wonder Woman in the Wonder Woman/Tasmanian Devil Special. In the story, Taz is a Guardian of the Labyrinth on Themyscira and fought Diana when she was a teenager during her trials to become an Amazon warrior. Before Taz could attack her, Diana plays the harp and puts it to sleep before snipping off some of his fur as proof of her victory. She returns to Taz years later as Wonder Woman after Circe uses the Talisman of Eurytale to turn Hippolyta and the other Amazons into stone. As the Talisman can only be stopped by the Minotaur's Amulet, she requests Taz's help as Taz's connection to the other Guardians would lead them down the right path. During the journey, Taz reveals that he wasn't mad at Diana for tricking him, but was rather upset that she took the music away. The two defeat the Minotaur and Circe and the Amazons reward him with a large feast in return. In the issue's backup story (done more in the style of the classic Looney Tunes shorts), Diana sings to Taz the tale of the Trojan War with her and the Looney Tunes characters roleplaying the major players, but Taz in his dream alters the events to work out more in his favour.
Taz first appears in the Looney Tunes Cartoons special Bugs Bunny's 24-Carrot Holiday Special in where he is a caroler. Taz appears as a gladiator in the episode Taziator. While he is more like most depictions, he actually speaks more comprehensible English. He is voiced by Fred Tatasciore in lieu of Jim Cummings.
- Mel Blanc (All Looney Tunes media from 1954–1989, Bugs Bunny's Birthday Ball (1990); archive audio, KFC Looney Tunes Mugs commercial (1995); archive footage)
- Jeff Bergman (1990-1994, 1997, 2004, 2014, Tiny Toon Adventures, Taz-Mania (Sega Genesis version), Taz in Escape from Mars, Chasers Anonymous, Boomerang bumper, Looney Tunes Dash)
- Noel Blanc (1990, Tiny Toon Adventures)
- Maurice LaMarche (1990, Tiny Toon Adventures)
- Greg Burson (1991-1997, Looney Tunes River Ride, Tiny Toon Adventures, Taz-Mania (Super NES version), The Toonite Show Starring Bugs Bunny, Six Flags AstroWorld live shows, Bugs Bunny: Rabbit Rampage, Looney Tunes B-Ball, Warner Bros. Kids Club)
- Jim Cummings (1991-present, Taz-Mania, Have Yourself a Looney Tunes Christmas, Animaniacs, The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, Superior Duck, Bugs Bunny's Silly Seals, Looney Tunes: What's Up Rock?, Tweety's High-Flying Adventure, Histeria!, Looney Tunes: Reality Check, Looney Tunes: Stranger Than Fiction, Duck Dodgers, Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas, The Looney Tunes Show, Looney Tunes Dash, New Looney Tunes, Space Jam: A New Legacy, various commercials and video games)
- Keith Scott (1992-2013, Looney Tunes Musical Revue, Spectacular Light and Sound Show Illuminanza, KFC commercial, Looney Tunes: We Got the Beat!, Looney Tunes: What's Up Rock?!, Looney Tunes LIVE! Classroom Capers, The Looney Tunes Radio Show, Looney Tunes Christmas Carols)
- Dee Bradley Baker (1996, Space Jam)
- Joe Alaskey (2000, 2004, 2011, A Looney Tunes Kwazy Christmas, Looney Tunes webtoons, Looney Tunes ClickN READ Phonics)
- Ian James Corlett (2001-2006, Baby Looney Tunes, Baby Looney Tunes' Eggs-traordinary Adventure)
- Brendan Fraser (2003, Looney Tunes: Back in Action)
- Neil Fanning (2004, Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed)
- Eric Bauza (2018, Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem)
- Fred Tatasciore (2020-present, Looney Tunes Cartoons)
In popular culture
The character's first video game outing was in a title from the later days of the Atari 2600, in a 1983 release entitled "Taz". The 1990s saw a return of the character to video games in Taz-Mania and its semi-sequel Taz in Escape from Mars. Both titles appeared on the Mega Drive/Genesis, Master System & Game Gear systems. There were other Taz-Mania games released on the Nintendo SNES and Game Boy systems. He also costarred in the PlayStation/PC game Bugs Bunny & Taz: Time Busters, and in 2002's Taz: Wanted on PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox and PC. He also appeared in the video games The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2, The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout, Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal, Looney Tunes: Space Race, Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 3, Bugs Bunny in Crazy Castle 4, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Galactic Taz Ball. He was even the inspiration for a video game character himself, namely Crash Bandicoot.
In the late 1990s to early 2000s, when Chevrolet used the Looney Tunes as part of their NASCAR campaign, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo racing teams were referenced as Team Monte Carlo, with the Tasmanian Devil as the mascot.
Taz was a chocolate bar by Cadbury in the UK during the 90's, and was later renamed Fredo Caramel.
From 2005 to 2010, a custom-bodied Taz monster truck competed in the Monster Jam circuit, driven by Adam Anderson. Adam drove the truck to the Monster Jam World Finals Freestyle championship in 2008. It was retired in 2010, with a Scooby-Doo-themed truck being its replacement debuting in 2013.
In June 2017, the character appeared in the Wonder Woman / Tasmanian Devil Special #1, written by Tony Bedard with art by Barry Kitson. This version is reimagined as a Guardian of the Labyrinth on Themyscira whom Wonder Woman defeated when she was a teenager, but later teams up with her to save the Amazons from Circe.
This section needs to be updated.(June 2015)
In 1997, a newspaper report noted that Warner Bros had "trademarked the character and registered the name Tasmanian Devil", and that this trademark "was policed", including an eight-year legal battle to allow a Tasmanian company to call its fishing lure the "Tasmanian Devil". Debate followed,[where?] and a delegation from the Tasmanian state government met with Warner Bros.:161–164 Ray Groom, the Tourism Minister, later announced that a "verbal agreement" had been reached. An annual fee would be paid to Warner Bros in return for the Government of Tasmania being able to use the image of Taz for "marketing purposes". This agreement later lapsed.:167–169
In 1997, the Tasmanian government and Warner Bros. disputed the government's right to use the character as a tourism promotion, which was offered only if a fee was paid. The government refused to pay a fee to Warner Bros.
In 2006, after much lobbying from the Tasmanian government, Warner Bros decided to assist the fight against extinction of the Tasmanian Devil due to devil facial tumour disease (DFTD). Tasmanian Environment Minister Judy Jackson, prior to the agreement, had heavily criticised Warner Bros., stating that the company had made millions of dollars from the character, but did not put up any money when other companies had.
The deal with Warner Bros allowed the Tasmanian government to manufacture and sell up to 5,000 special edition Taz plush toys, with all profit going towards funding scientific research into DFTD. The deal also aimed to increase public attention towards the threatening disease.
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