Wile E. Coyote (Hungrii flea-baggius) assumes the "on your mark" stance used in track and field events. As soon as he goes into "get set" mode, he hears the familiar beeping sound and gets shocked into a backward move, suspended in mid-air atop a ravine. The Road Runner (Tid-bitius velocitus) issues the gunshot that causes the Coyote to drop. As the dust cloud accumulates, the shot moves closer to the gorge, upon which we are shown the credits.
At the bottom of the ravine, the Coyote is shown with his arms folded, walking off. A hand leaps upward in the "idea bulb" stance.
1.) The coyote sticks out a foot in the attempt to trip the road runner, but a blaring truck horn indicates his foot was flattened.
2.) The Coyote then tries to use a bow and arrow to try and spear the Road Runner. This is unsuccessful; instead of launching the arrow, the bow hits the Coyote, who falls off the edge of the cliff. The wood then grabs onto a ledge, therefore slinging the Coyote back up. Now it's the string that's on the ledge, while the wood is on Wile E.'s head. Wile E grabs the cliff from which he fell; at that very moment the string breaks a piece off the ledge, which shoots back up towards the Coyote. He is squashed, and a piece of the cliff he was hanging onto breaks off and falls with the Coyote and the other rock. The Coyote awakens and finds that the cliff segment is over him. He pushes the rock away and almost loses his balance, but gets back on the rock. He pants with relief, but then he lands on one end of a rock see-saw. The other rock lands on the other side, catapulting the Coyote back to the cliff, where he ricochets off it and ends up catapulting the other rock onto himself.
3.) Then, the Coyote plans to drop the Road Runner in a manhole. When he hears the "beep-beep" of his opponent, he pulls the rope supporting the manhole cover. Just before falling into the manhole, the Road Runner picks up the manhole and takes it away. Furious, the Coyote chases after the Road Runner, but then the manhole cover falls on his head. He continues the chase, which ends when the Road Runner puts the manhole on a suspension bridge, which results in the Coyote falling in a hole in the bridge.
4.) Wile E. Coyote now uses a rocket powered flying suit - composed of a winged structure and helmet attached to a rocket, but instead of launching the Coyote, the rocket explodes, sending a charred Wile E. falling.
5.) Wile E. obtains a box of ACME Iron Bird Seed for use as bait. This time, he's wearing roller skates. Wile E. sets up the bait with a "FREE LUNCH!" sign, skates over behind a rock, and straps on a big magnet. When Road Runner eats the seeds, the magnet that Wile E. had strapped on suddenly gets attracted to the bird. As the magnet follows potential prey, so does Wile E. as the skates provide transportation. Road Runner leads Wile E. up a hillside and onto railroad tracks. Just as Road Runner approaches a bridge, he suddenly runs off as Wile E. runs into the path of a train. The Coyote tries to run off, but the magnet remains facing the train. He is then run over by the train, as the magnet remains upright.
6.) After that failure, and as dusk approaches, Wile E. sets up a spring-loaded block of pavement. He hears the beeps of his prey and quickly winds the crank and pushes the lever. But the clever Road Runner stops short of the pavement, which springs up a bit too hard and squashes the Coyote.
7.) As the day comes to a close, Wile E. erects a pair of machine guns connected by a trip rope. However, when the Roadrunner passes through the trip rope, he cuts it in two without setting off the guns. Annoyed that it went wrong, Wile. E comes out and attempts to reattach the rope to try again. However, upon pulling on the rope ends, he realized what he just did and ends up getting reduced in size when the guns blast him in the midsection. Out he comes, holding up his midsection.
Finally, later that night, the coyote buys 30 miles of railroad tracks and a rocket sled, but instead of going straight ahead, the rocket sled shoots up into the sky, past many stars and satellites until it explodes in outer space, where it forms into a Sagittarius-like constellation of Wile E. Coyote.
- The beginning of the cartoon, when shown on CBS and ABC, cuts the part where Wile E. Coyote falls after the Roadrunner fires off the starter pistol because that's when the opening credits appear (original opening credits of the Looney Tunes cartoons were cut for time reasons on ABC and CBS and replaced with a simple card with the title of the cartoon being shown before the cartoon). It should be noted that the CBS version edited the scene rather sloppily, because the scene abruptly changed to the next before Wile E. hit the ground, though the viewer could hear him hit the ground as he was walking away, whereas ABC faded out before Wile E. Coyote hit the ground and got rid of the impact sound.
- Along with the beginning credits gag, ABC's version also cuts the gag near the end of the short where Wile E. sets up a machine gun trap and the Roadrunner breaks through the rope that trips the guns (which don't cause the guns to go off) and Wile E. pulls on the broken ropes and ends up getting shot in the midsection and cut down to size and an early gag where Wile E. Coyote is strapped into an elaborate rocket disguise that only succeeds in blowing him up and making him fall off the cliff.
- The final gag of this cartoon, the rocket sled, was used as the final gag for the finale of The Bugs Bunny Road-Runner Movie. Even the Sagittarius-like constellation of Wile E. Coyote was reused for the last bit of animation for the movie where there is another constellation of Road Runner.
- This cartoon received an Academy Award nomination as Best Animated Short for 1961.
- This was the only Oscar-nominated Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoon.
- This was the only Road Runner cartoon with a nighttime scene (the railroad tracks).
- Most airings of this cartoon on various Cartoon Network and Boomerang feeds (including in Europe) air the cartoon as a PAL master from The Looney Tunes Video Show Vol. 16 VHS, though some CN/Boomerang feeds air the 1997 dubbed version. CN/Boomerang USA used to air this unrestored PAL master at first, but current airings on both CN/Boomerang USA as of 2011 use a new restored transfer from 2001 (which was never released on any home media, including DVD and Blu-ray) which had low-pitched audio from using the soundtrack of the 1997 dubbed version.
- The 2014 restored version of the cartoon on the Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 3 Blu-ray/DVD release has the low-pitched audio problem from the 2001 restored version fixed, though the restored picture is darker than the 2001 restored version.
Best of Backgrounds
TV Title Cards
- "Beep Prepared" at the SFX Resource