In Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times Of An Animated Cartoonist, it is claimed that Chuck Jones and the artists behind the Road Runner and Wile E. cartoons adhered to some simple but strict rules:
- Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going "beep, beep."
- 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.
- The Coyote could stop anytime—IF he were not a fanatic. (Repeat: "A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim." —George Santayana).
- No dialogue ever, except "beep, beep" and yowling in pain.
- Road Runner must stay on the road—for no other reason than that he's a roadrunner.
- All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters—the southwest American desert.
- All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.
- Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote's greatest enemy.
- The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.
- The audience's sympathy must remain with the Coyote.
- The Coyote is not allowed to catch the Road Runner.
Performance conventions | Pantomime
The form has a number of conventions, some of which have changed or weakened a little over the years, and by no means all of which are obligatory. Some of these conventions were once common to other genres of popular theatre such as melodrama.
- The leading male juvenile character (the principal boy) - is traditionally played by a young woman, usually in tight-fitting male garments (such as breeches) that make her female charms evident.
- An older woman (the pantomime dame - often the hero's mother) is usually played by a man in drag.
- Risqué double entendre, often wringing innuendo out of perfectly innocent phrases. This is, in theory, over the heads of the children in the audience.
- Audience participation, including calls of "He's behind you!" (or "Look behind you!"), and "Oh, yes it is!" and "Oh, no it isn't!" The audience is always encouraged to boo the villain and "awwwww" the poor victims, such as the rejected dame, who usually fancies the prince.
- Music may be original but is more likely to combine well-known tunes with re-written lyrics. At least one "audience participation" song is traditional: one half of the audience may be challenged to sing 'their' chorus louder than the other half.
- The animal, played by an actor in 'animal skin' or animal costume. It is often a pantomime horse or cow, played by two actors in a single costume, one as the head and front legs, the other as the body and back legs.
- The good fairy enters from stage right (from the audience's point of view this is on the left) and the villain enters from stage left (right from the point of view of the audience). This convention goes back to the medieval mystery plays, where the right side of the stage symbolised Heaven and the left side symbolised Hell.
- Sometimes the story villain will squirt members of the audience with water guns or pretend to throw a bucket of 'water' at the audience that is actually full of streamers.
- A slapstick comedy routine may be performed, often a decorating or baking scene, with humour based on throwing messy substances. Until the 20th century, British pantomimes often concluded with a harlequinade, a free-standing entertainment of slapstick. Nowadays the slapstick is more or less incorporated into the main body of the show.
- In the 19th century, until the 1880s, pantomimes typically included a transformation scene in which a Fairy Queen magically transformed the pantomime characters into the characters of the harlequinade, who then performed the harlequinade.
- The Chorus, who can be considered extras on-stage, and often appear in multiple scenes (but as different characters) and who perform a variety of songs and dances throughout the show. Due to their multiple roles they may have as much stage-time as the lead characters themselves.