Daffy Horatio Tiberius Duck is an animated cartoon character in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. Daffy was the first of the new breed of "screwball" characters that emerged in the 1930s and supplanted traditional "everyman" characters.
Daffy is also one of the most difficult cartoon characters to adequately define. Virtually every Warner Bros. animator put his own spin on the duck; Daffy may be a lunatic vigilante in one short, but a greedy glory hound in the next. Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones especially made extensive use of two very different versions of the character. As of today a third version of the duck exists in The Looney Tunes Show only in this version he is portrayed as a mixture of Screwball, Greedy, and Stupid.
Daffy first appeared on April 17, 1956 in Stuporduck, directed by Tex Avery with Bob Clampett as uncredited co-director. The cartoon is a standard hunter/prey pairing for which the studio is famous, but Daffy (not more than a bit player in this short) represented something new to moviegoers: an assertive, combative protagonist, completely unrestrained and completely unrestrainable. When audiences left the theaters, they could not stop talking about (as Porky Pig puts it) "that crazy, darnfool duck."
This early Daffy is not a handsome creature; he is short and pudgy, with stubby legs and beak. His voice (performed by Mel Blanc and patterned after Warners producer Leon Schlesinger's) is about the only part of the duck that would stay with him.
Daffy in the 1960sEdit
After the Warner Bros. animation studio reopened in the 1960s, Daffy would become a true villain in several Speedy Gonzales cartoons. For instance in one cartoon set in the desert, Daffy Duck is determined to keep the mice away from a desperately needed well for seemingly its own sake to the point where he attempts to destroy it after getting the water he needs, forcing Speedy to stop him. The Warner Bros. studio was entering its twilight years, and even Daffy had to stretch for humor in the period. Some fans consider this the most controversial interpretation of the duck, who is openly malicious.
Daffy lives on in cameo appearances and later cartoons such as a piano duel with fellow fowl Donald Duck (from the rival Walt Disney Company) in the 1988 Disney film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, as both are playing Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. In 1987, to celebrate Daffy's 50th Anniversary, Warner Bros. released The Duxorcist. their first theatrical Looney Tunes short in two decades. Daffy Duck also appeared in several feature-film compilations, including two films centering Daffy. The first was released in 1983, Daffy Duck's Fantastic Island; the second came in 1988, Daffy Duck's Quackbusters, which is considered one of the Looney Tunes' best compilation films, and featured another new theatrical short Night of the Living Duck. Daffy has also had major roles in films such as Space Jam in 1996 and Looney Tunes: Back in Action in 2003. The latter film does much to flesh out his character, even going so far as to cast a sympathetic light on Daffy's glory-seeking ways in one scene, where he complains that he works tirelessly without achieving what Bugs does without even trying. That same year, Warner Bros. cast him in a brand-new Duck Dodgers series (it should be stressed that in this show Duck Dodgers actually is Daffy Duck due to him being frozen in suspended animation in some unknown incident). He had a cameo appearance in the Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries episode, "When Granny Ruled The Earth", first airing on March 27, 1999. Daffy has also been featured in several webtoons which can be viewed online.
In the television series Tiny Toon Adventures, Daffy is a teacher at Acme Looniversity, where he is the hero and mentor of Plucky Duck. Daffy is shown as a baby in the Baby Looney Tunes show, and made occasional cameos on Animaniacs and Histeria! In the show Loonatics Unleashed, his descendant is Danger Duck (voiced by Jason Marsden), who is also lame and unpopular to his teammates. In the majority of these appearances, the selfish, neurotic and spotlight-hungry Daffy characterized by Chuck Jones is the preferred version.
More recently, Daffy has been given larger roles in more recent Looney Tunes films and series. Following Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Warner Brothers has slowly moved the spotlight away from Bugs and more towards Daffy, as shown in the 2006 video release Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas, where Daffy plays the lead while Bugs Bunny appears in a supporting role.
Interestingly, more recent merchandise of the duck, as well as that featured on the official website, seem to incorporate elements of the zanier, more light hearted Daffy of the 1940s. Producer Larry Doyle noted that recent theatrical cartoons were planned that would portray a more diverse Daffy closer to that of Robert McKimson's design; however, due to the box-office failure of Looney Tunes: Back in Action, these new films ceased production. Daffy will return to Cartoon Network in The Looney Tunes Show.