Chuck Jones—the director of Wile E. Coyote, “Super-Genius”—and his co-workers at Warner Brothers worked to a set of rules when creating the Road Runner cartoons:

  1. The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going “Beep-Beep!”
  2. No outside force can harm the Coyote—only his own ineptitude or the failure of the Acme products.
  3. The Coyote could stop anytime—if he were not a fanatic. (“A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.” — George Santayana)
  4. No dialogue ever, except “Beep-Beep!”
  5. The Road Runner must stay on the road—otherwise, logically, he would not be called Road Runner.
  6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters—the Southwest American desert.
  7. All materials, tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.
  8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy.
  9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.
  10. The audience’s sympathy must remain with the Coyote.

Yet, within those constraints, Jones et al. somehow captured the existential struggle of the lone technologist and his endless, poignant, soul-searing fall…

…to the bottom of a cartoon canyon.