10 Lessons Kids Can Learn From Wile E Coyote

In the Looney Tunes universe, few villains are as instantly recognized or viewed with as much sympathy as Wile E. Coyote. Whether this sympathy is a result of his hapless antics or the fact that he never comes out on top, it’s an undeniable part of his influence as a cultural icon. Here are ten of the lessons that kids can learn from vintage Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote shorts.

  1. Antagonists Need Love, Too – Very few antagonists or villains receive the sort of support that Wile E. Coyote has known over the years. Watching (and cheering for) this persistent canine is a great way for kids to start the long process of understanding ambiguity and the more complicated aspects of human nature.
  2. Commercialism Can Lead to Painful Situations – Almost all of Wile E. Coyote’s injuries are sustained through his use of faulty equipment sold by the ACME company; in many situations, he might have even been victorious had he been more confident in his own abilities and less dependent upon a commercialized product.
  3. Humiliation Can Hurt More Than Physical Injury – When the smoke clears, the Coyote’s expression after yet another mishap is almost always one of embarrassed dejection, rather than physical pain. Seeing this firsthand can help kids understand the damage that humiliation can do.
  4. Gravity is Immutable – When he isn’t being done in by a poorly-designed ACME product, Wile E. Coyote is a victim of one of life’s most absolute rules: what goes up must come down. Using his delayed-fall schtick, educators can explain elementary physics, inertia and gravity to youngsters.
  5. It’s Possible to Be Your Own Worst Enemy – Whether the Coyote’s injuries are the result of bad products or user error is still up for debate: either way, he is still his own worst enemy. Continuing to use ACME’s horrible products or an absolute failure to use them safely are both things that Wile E. Coyote does to himself.
  6. Obsession is Bad For You – The single-minded focus with which Wile E. Coyote regards the Road Runner is a perfect example of the danger that compulsive and obsessive behavior can present. These rather complex concepts are more easily understood when put into these simple, brightly-colored slapstick terms.
  7. The Thrill is in the Chase – Only once in Warner Brothers’ history did Wile E. Coyote ever prove victorious; even then, his triumph was dubious. Still, upon receiving his heart’s fondest desire, the Coyote broke the fourth wall with a sign stating, “Okay wise guys, you always wanted me to catch him. Now what do I do?” proving that he was only ever consumed with the chase itself.
  8. Parody is a Sign of Popularity – From Warner Brothers’ own Ralph Wolf to myriad other references in pop culture, the iconic character of Wile E. Coyote is parodied far and wide. Kids can apply this to their own lives with the realization that the Coyote is parodied because he is popular, not because he is hated.
  9. Actions Speak Louder Than Words – The largely-silent Coyote was only known to speak in shorts with Bugs Bunny; these spots showcased the refined British accent that became part of Coyote canon. However, this popular tenet is easily explained in terms of Wile E. Coyote, whose intentions were abundantly clear without ever speaking a word.
  10. The Definition of Insanity – A popular quote states that the “definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.” Few things showcase this sentiment in action with as much clarity as the tale of Road Runner and the Coyote; despite never managing to get his hands on the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote never stopped tweaking his methods and searching the world for a way to do just that.

Of course, it will up to parents to teach their children that falling off large cliffs and running into mountainsides will do more damage than what appears to be simply a temporary hindrance to cartoon characters.