Michigan J. Frog is a minor character who has appeared on occasion in the Looney Tunes film-shorts, having debuted in "One Froggy Evening" in 1955, and has the most prominence as the mascot of The WB Network and its programming block Kids' WB. Ed Sullivan influenced the character, as told by Chuck Jones.
He is a frog with quite a talent for singing and/or dancing.
In "One Froggy Evening", a member of a wrecking crew finds a frog sealed in a box that he discovers during the demolition of an old building. To the man's amazement, the frog is capable of dancing vaudeville-style and singing classic songs of the 1890s in a baritone voice. Seeing the monetary potential for such a character, he tries to exploit the frog, but in every attempt to do so, it is incapable of performing for an audience. Eventually, the construction worker grows so frustrated with this that he reburies the frog in a building that is under construction; it is dug up by another would-be moneymaker years later in 2056.
Initially created without a name, Lones named him "Enrico" in the bridging sequences of The Bugs Bunny Show in the 1960s. He must have forgotten, because the character was later given the name "Michigan J. Frog" when "One Froggy Evening" was announced in the 1970s to be on the following week's episode of The Bugs Bunny Show. The name comes from "The Michigan Rag", a song written for the cartoon that the frog sings at one point. The middle initial was later added as a suggestion made to Charles Jones in an interview.
Despite having only appeared in only one classic-era cartoon, Michigan became a popular figure in today's world. His first new appearance was in the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Psychic Fun-Omenon Day". Here, he is a seemingly dead frog whom Hamton J. Pig is assigned to dissect. To Hamton's surprise, Michigan is very much alive, but just like in the frog's original appearance, the pig's classmates do not believe him when he tells them his frog was singing.
Michigan's next appearance, which came in the very next episode, "The Wide World of Elmyra", also marked his only appearance as a villain. He torments Tyrone Turtle as he tries to cross a busy freeway while trying to escape Elmyra Duff. In the end, Elmyra ends up capturing Michigan in the place of the turtle.
In 1995, Michigan went on to his most prominent role of the 1990s, in which he served as the mascot for The WB Television Network. That same year, he also starred in a newly-made sequel entitled "Another Froggy Evening". Here, Michigan is discovered by various people in history, all of them resembling the construction worker from his first film, and all of whom fail to exploit him for money. By the end of the cartoon, the last person to find him (a desert island castaway) decides instead to eat him, but Michigan is then beamed up onto Marvin the Martian's spaceship, where he agrees to sing for Marvin (according to Marvin, Michigan's croaking sounds are actually him speaking in Martian language).
Michigan also made background cameos in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Space Jam, and Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and most recently, he appeared as a talent show emcee in the Duck Dodgers episode "Talent Show a Go-Go". Besides this, he has made frequent cameos in the Looney Tunes comic books, one of his most notable being the Superman & Bugs Bunny mini-series, where he performs only for Green Arrow, who is naturally unable to convince anyone else that he has a singing frog.
On July 22, 2005, Michigan's "death" was announced by WB Network Chairman Garth Ancier, at a fall season preview, with the terse statement "The frog is dead and buried." The head of programming for the WB Network, David Janollari, announced services will be held for Mr. Frog, but failed to give details. Janollari stated that "[Michigan] was a symbol that perpetuated the young teen feel of the network, [but] that's not the image we [now] want to put out to our audience." Various humorous obituaries for the mascot were published with details on Michigan's life and death. His dates were given as December 31, 1955 - July 22, 2005. Despite this decision by Ancier, Michigan J. Frog still appeared in some WB affiliate logos and in TV spots until the network shut down in September 2006.
The classic shorts:
- "One Froggy Evening" (first appearance) (1955)
- "Another Froggy Evening" (1995)
- "From Hare to Eternity" (cameo appearance) (1997)
- S1E86 "Night of the Living Buttons" (cameo appearance) (1996)
The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries episodes:
Duck Dodgers episodes:
- S1E04 "Talent Show a Go-Go" (2004)
- S1E21 "Misjudgment Day" (2016)
- "Happy Birthday Bugs Bunny!" (2020)
- "Y'know, Shakespeare said, 'To be or not to be.' I say, 'Dubba dubba WB!'"
- "Y'know when they asked me to to join the WB, I said 'Sure. What's the WB?'"
- "Y'know when the FCC told us to rate ourselves, I said 'Sure.' How about a 40 share?"
- "I'd like to extend a warm Warner welcome to the Tiny Toons. They're going to make this a great fall here at Kids' WB!"
- "And now another Men in Black fact: Cream filling will paralyze a Sandershwart. And you thought junk food was bad for you!"
- "Hello ma baby, tune into Muscle, it ain't about liftin' weights."
- "While you're watching this show, and howlin' at the jokes, remember it's been brought to you by those Saturn folks."
- "Okay everybody, it's time for a song from the little network with a big sign."
- "This has been a production of..."
- "While you're sittin', loungin' and enjoying the show, all the people at McDonald's have got a question that they like to know. Have you had your break today?"
- "Red Dog Beer is bold, yet smooth. Nice a bit to sponsor this show for you."
- "Everybody wants the W, everybody likes the W, come on baby, watch the WB!"
- "There's more comedy for the family Wednesday night. Stick around, you drama fans, Savannah's on tonight."
- "Now our sponsor has some words that they'd like you to hear, they say they really would prefer that you wear Nike gear."
- "Now our sponsor greets you folks without bettin' monies tight. They'll tell ya, eat stuff made by Post 'cause they make breakfast right."
- "Try this, know you want to. It's the fabulous taste of that Mountain Dew!"
- "Hey folks, keep your friends close. When you call direct 1-800-COLLECT!"
- "Know all the jokes give you folks a thrill? This big show is brought to you by Benadryl!"
- "When you start the new day before you had your toast, wake your body up this way: shower it with Coast."
- "Marriage starts with "M", and ends with divorce."
- "While you're watching this show, plan a trip to go to Warners' Murder in the First, they sponsor this new show."
- "Hope you like this new show, but first we have to mention the new film called Highlander: The Final Dimension."
- Bill Roberts - One Froggy Evening, Looney Tunes: Back in Action (archive recordings), Looney Tunes: Back in Action: The Video Game (archive recordings)
- John Hillner - Tiny Toon Adventures
- Jeff McCarthy - Another Froggy Evening, Animaniacs, The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, From Hare to Eternity, The WB and Kids' WB! bumpers
- Jeff Bergman - New Looney Tunes
- Jeff Bennett - Ani-Mayhem