Bugs Bunny, Private Eye

Created by Warner Bros.

“Bugs Bunny, private eyeball – thugs thwarted, arsonists arrested, bandits booked, forgers found, counterfeiters caught and chiselers chiseled.”
Bugs answers the phone in “Bugs and Thugs”

Created in the late 30s by a slew of producers, writers and directors at Warner Bros., BUGS BUNNY has always seemed  like a natural as a private eye.

With his accent straight outta Brooklyn, more tricks up his sleeve than Sam Spade and spouting more snappy patter and asides than Philip Marlowe on a bad day, it’s a wonder he hasn’t been cast as a shamus more often.

But he has been.

He took a walk on the noir side in “Racketeer Rabbit,”  a 1946 short which pits the wisecracking hare against gangsters Rocky and Hugo (who bear a spot-on resemblance to Edward G. Robinson and Peter Lorre, respectively). The thug’s hideout is a big sprawling farmhouse out in the sticks, but when they return there from pulling a heist, they discover that Bugs has pulled a Goldilocks on them, having made himself at home. Complicating matters, a rival gang is in hot pursuit. Shootouts and sight gags abound, and Bugs impersonates both cops and criminals (he does a mean Bugsy Siegel, and channels George Raft in Scarface). Eventually, Bugs gains the upper hand, and the crooks are left crying for mercy, with Rocky fleeing the house, begging the cops to not left “with that crazy rabbit.” What the rascally rabbit isn’t, however, is a private eye.

That would happen in the 1954 remake, “Bugs and Thugs,” in which Bugs is leaving a big city bank (after retrieving a carrot from his safety deposit box), when he uncharacteristically mistakes the getaway car of a bank robbers Rocky and Mugsy for a cab, and is promptly taken prisoner–at gunpoint. And thus the shenanigans begin, as Bugs engages in a variety of schemes to escape the dastardly duo and bring them to justice.

Big surprise? He does, and decides he has a knack for this stuff, and so it ends with a scene of Bugs setting himself up as a private eye, answering the phone. He even has  a certificate on the wall showing that he’s a proud member of “Detective Guild Local 839.” Coincidentally, the cartoonists at WB belonged to a Cartoonists Union… Local 839.

A sequel would have been something to see, but it was not to be. At least in animation.

Bugs next appeared, however, as private eye in an early videogame, Bugs Bunny, Private Eye, designed for the Commodore 64 platform. We’re talking seriously old school here—the 1992 game came on an audio cassette.

Or at least that was the plan. The company that developed it, Hi-Tec, musta not taken that left-hand turn in Albuquerque and went belly-up before the game could be released. It was ready to go, too—there are tons of screenshots and even packaging online and, at least for awhile, you could even download a copy of the not-quite-finished game.

The game had gumshoe Bugs making his way through four different levels, collecting carrots and other items (ie: clues) before proceeding to the next level, in order to crack the case and win the game.

That Oscar-winning wabbit also appeared as a private eye in numerous comic book stories over the years, as well as (allegedly) in Bugs Bunny, Private Eye: A Looney Tunes Story, a short-lived DC comic book series in 2017. Among his cases? Tracking down a missing carrot cake, finding evidence to clear Elmer Fudd of a crime he’s been falsely accused of, and finding out who’s threatening Foghorn Leghorn.

I know, I know. Further investigation is pending…


    (1946, Warner Bros.)
    8 minutes
    Release date: September 14, 1946
    Written by Michael Maltese and Hubie Karp
    Directed by Friz Freleng
    With Mel Blanc as BUGS BUNNY
    Also featuring Dick Nelson
    No P.I. here, but from small things, baby…
  • “BUGS & THUGS”
    (1954, Warner Bros.)
    7 minutes
    Release date: March 13, 1954
    Story by Warren Foster
    Directed by Friz Freleng
    Musical director: Milt Franklyn
    Layouts by Hawley Platt
    With Mel Blanc as BUGS BUNNY
    A remake of Racketeer Rabbit (1946), generally considered superior. Also the first Warner Bros short to feature Milt Franklyn as a musical director.


    (1957, Whitman)
    Not sure how much private eye stuff is involved here, but keep your Crayolas ready.


    (1992, Hi-Tech)
    Platform: Commodore 64
    Unreleased (although unofficial versions of it were available online)


  • “Private Detectives” (August 1942, Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics #10)
    Featuring Bugs and Porky Pig.
  • “Private Detectives” (October 1942, Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics #12)
    Featuring Bugs and Porky Pig.
  • “Bugs Bunny, Private Eye” (October 1950, Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies #120)
  • “Private Ear” (August 1955, Looney Tunes #166)
  • “The Private-Nose” (October-November 1960, Bugs Bunny #75)
  • “Private Eye-Yi-Yi” (November 1973, Bugs Bunny #153)
  • “Hocus Pocus Private Eye” (July 1980, Bugs Bunny #220)


    (2017, DC Comics)

    • “Case of the Missing Carrot Cake” (#1, 2017)
    • “Tinanapped” (#2)
    • “Mystery Manor” (#3)
    • “Elmer Framed” (#4)
    • “Play Threats” (#5)
    • “Hack of the Century” (#6)
    • “Sheep and Wolves” (#7)
    • “The Stalker” (#8)
    • “Bloody Sundae” (#9)
    • “How I Love Science” (#10)


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


One thought on “Bugs Bunny, Private Eye

  1. Kevin,
    Thank you for sharing this with us, on a scale of one to five carrots I give it a 5,
    Bugs would approve.

    Anyone who disagrees is an “ultra maroon”.

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