Barney Bear is a series of MGM cartoons that ran through 1939 to 1954, initially created and directed by Rudy Ising of the Harman and Ising duo, but direction duties were later given to animators George Gordon, Michael Lah and Preston Blair, and finally Dick Lundy.
The cartoons are centered around the eponymous bear, a grumpy, lazy being who is usually just trying to do his own thing, like going fishing or taking a nap, only to have the world get the better of him and cause him trouble, even if he did nothing to bring such a fate on himself. Essentially, he was MGM's answer to Donald Duck.
While the earliest cartoons were fairly sluggish in pacing and focused more on lush production values than any genuine comedy, things picked up after Rudy Ising stopped directing and let others take over, streamlining the designs and pushing the series to become more influenced by Tex Avery's fast paced style of comedy.
While the cartoons were fairly good on their own terms, they were generally overlooked in favor of the Tom and Jerry and Tex Avery cartoons, which is probably why the series didn't have much output, only lasting 26 cartoons over a 14 year period.
On a side note, he recieved many comic books over the years, some of which were even made by comic legend Carl Barks. In 2011, Craig Yoe Books released a compilation of all of Barks' Barney Bear stories.
Barney would also make a comeback via appearances in Filmation's The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show in 1980. His most recent appearance was a "blink and you'll miss it" moment as one of Moriarity's mooks in "Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes".
- Rudolph Ising shorts:
- The Bear That Couldn't Sleep (1939)
- The Fishing Bear (1940)
- The Prospecting Bear (1941)
- The Rookie Bear (1941)
- The Flying Bear (1941)
- The Bear and the Beavers (1942)
- Wild Honey (1942)
- Barney Bear's Victory Garden (1942)
- Bah Wilderness (1943)
- The Uninvited Pest (1943)
- George Gordon shorts:
- Bear Raid Warden (1944)
- Barney Bear's Polar Pest (1944)
- The Unwelcome Guest (1945)
- Preston Blair/Micheal Lah shorts:
- The Bear and the Bean (1948)
- The Bear and the Hare (1948)
- Goggle Fishing Bear (1949)
- Dick Lundy shorts:
- The Little Wise Quacker (1952)
- Busybody Bear (1952)
- Barney's Hungry Cousin (1953)
- Cobs and Robbers (1953)
- Heir Bear (1953)
- Wee-Willie Wildcat (1953)
- Half-Pint Palomino (1953)
- The Impossible Possum (1954)
- Sleepy-Time Squirrel (1954)
- Bird-Brain Bird Dog (1954)
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.
- All Just a Dream: The ending of The Rookie Bear.
- Animation Bump: The earliest cartoons had some of the most lavish non-Disney animation available at the time.
- Art Evolution: Barney went through a big redesign after the first several cartoons.
- Ascended Extra: Barney's donkey from "The Prospecting Bear" and "Half-Pint Palomino" would become a recurring friend of his in the comics.
- Big Eater: Barney's cousin from "Barney's Hungry Cousin".
- Bratty Half-Pint: In "Wee-Willie Wildcat".
- The Cat Came Back: Barney's cousin does this in "Barney's Hungry Cousin".
- The Chew Toy: Barney himself, of course.
- Cut a Slice, Take the Rest: At the end of "Heir Bear", the taxman comes to take "Uncle Sam's share" from the treasure Barney had just uncovered. He takes a coin... for Barney to keep while he collects the rest.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Jellystone Park appears for the first time in "Barney's Hungry Cousin". Incidentally, Micheal Lah would go on to work on that show.
- Everything's Worse with Bears: Averted with Barney himself save for his very bad luck, played fairly straight with his cousin.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Almost all of the names of the shorts state the whole plot.
- Horrible Camping Trip: In "Bah Wilderness".
- Huge Rider, Tiny Mount: Barney's poor tiny donkey in "The Prospecting Bear", that despite being the size of a small dog has to support the weight of Barney and all his mining gear.
- Iron Butt Monkey: Barney, natch.
- Jerkass: Barney's cousin.
- Karma Houdini: Barney's hungry cousin, from the short of the same name, who for no given reason, gets Barney jailed in the end, via posting signs saying not to feed the bears and pointing to the police that Barney tried to feed him, even though the guy spent the whole short trying to steal food from Barney, and Barney offered him the sandwich in defeat. He dosen't even give Barney the pleasure of having his lollipop!
- Kids Are Cruel: In "Wee-Willie Wildcat".
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Rudy Ising based Barney's grumpy yet pleasant disposition on himself, and derived many of his mannerisms from screen actor Wallace Beery.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: In "Barney's Hungry Cousin", his cousin steps out of a falling phone booth just as it smashes into the ground, and is not hurt at all--completely defying all laws of inertia in the process.
- Popcorn on the Cob: "Cobs and Robbers" ends with two pesky crows turning Barney's corn field into a mountain of popcorn.
- Shout-Out: "The Unwelcome Guest" features a nod to "Red Hot Riding Hood", via a book Barney is reading.
- In "Wee Willie Wildcat", there is a nod to "Señor Droopy", in which a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey is ruined by a real donkey that kicks a blindfolded Barney into a billboard for a ballet. The result is a gag that similarly occurs to the bull at one point in "Senor Droopy": a dazed Barney slides off the billboard, taking the image of the ballerina off with him and stumbling around to ballet music playing in the background before finally falling over.
- Super Not-Drowning Skills: The ending of "Bah Wilderness", where the whole forest is flooded, with a disgruntled Barney laying underwater.
- Wartime Cartoon: "Bear Raid Warden", "The Flying Bear", "The Rookie" and "Barney Bear's Victory Garden".