Coyote Rules

Do you know these guys?

Jason Kottke brought forth the rules that governed the making of all Road Runner cartoons.

  1. The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going “meep, meep.”
  2. No outside force can harm the Coyote — only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products. Trains and trucks were the exception from time to time.
  3. The Coyote could stop anytime — if he were not a fanatic.
  4. No dialogue ever, except “meep, meep” and yowling in pain.
  5. The Road Runner must stay on the road — for no other reason than that he’s a roadrunner.
  6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters — the southwest American desert.
  7. All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.
  8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy.
  9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.
  10. The audience’s sympathy must remain with the Coyote.
  11. The Coyote is not allowed to catch or eat the Road Runner.

These rules are making perfect sense to you, as you think over all the Road Runner cartoons you've ever seen and realize that they do all conform. At least, most of them do. And you can sorta think of why any violations were there. Makes it all look very well-thought-out.

It almost doesn't matter that there were no such rules, not explicit ones, anyway. an interview years after the series was made, principal writer of the original 16 episodes Michael Maltese stated he had never heard of these or any "rules" and dismissed them as "post production observation".


Post production observation, indeed! As if the universe of Wile E. Coyote were a natural phenomenon and its governing principles could be inferred by careful observation. I agree with Kottke - this makes it better.

This article was updated on May 9, 2023

David F