The title is a pun on the Leo Tolstoy novel War and Peace.
Wile E. Coyote (Caninus nervous rex) pursues Road Runner (Burn-em uppus asphaltus) and hurls a hand grenade which rebounds off a saguaro. After being blasted in the explosion, the coyote diffuses his tail and then walks away to plan more attempts:
- Road Runner is now on another side of a ledge and Wile E. attempts to fling himself to the other side via bow and arrow. However, the tension of the rope causes the coyote's bottom fur to come off, revealing his boxers. Still clinching on the bow, it starts to break and the coyote expects the worst. However, he lands on a ledge directly below it. In relief, he sighs and walks off to the side, only for the ledge to also break and fall down the canyon.
- Wile E. installs a hydraulic press activated by an electric eye. When Road Runner comes up, the bird pauses behind the electric eye. Growing impatient, Wile E. immediately pursues the bird, causing Road Runner to step forward, activating the press and squashing Wile E. flat.
- Wile E. utilizes ACME Invisible Paint. He paints himself invisible and waits on the side. Upon hearing beeps, Wile E. goes out only to find it is a truck and not Road Runner. After being rammed, the dazed coyote falls off a ledge and into a stream. Lodged at the bottom, a fish spots Wile E. only for him to pull up a sign reading "Get lost", shooing the fish away.
- Using a disguised shotgun for a peep show "Secrets of a Harem", Wile E. attempts to show Road Runner said "show" to blast him. However, the shotgun does not activate as Road Runner is spinning the crank. Wile E. pushes Road Runner and cranks in the opposite direction, immediately blasting himself.
- Road Runner is now above a ledge. To climb up there, Wile E. uses a grappling hook. However, he doesn't grip on the ledge, but rather a cloud. The cloud begins to puncture, causing lightning to strike down on the coyote.
- Attempting to reach the ledge again, the coyote rides a rocket, which goes the wrong way and sends him to China. He spots a Chinese Road Runner, and tries to catch it instead. However, the Chinese Road Runner subdues him with a gong, sending him back to the desert and crashing back from the ledge.
Afterwards, the Chinese Road Runner peeps out of the hole and beeps faux Chinese characters. The Chinese letters then form out "The End".
- On CBS, the sequence where Wile E. Coyote disguises a double-barrel shotgun as a peep show called "Secrets of a Harem" and ends up getting shot was cut entirely.
- The ABC version of this cartoon not only cut the shotgun-as-peep show scene, as on CBS, but also partially edited the scene in the beginning where the hand grenade Wile E. Coyote threw comes back to him and explodes, cutting off after the grenade explodes, removing the scene of a burnt Wile E. extinguishing his tail and walking away. Surprisingly, the end in which Wile E. Coyote ends up in China with a Chinese Road Runner was not cut on ABC, despite a similar scene being edited when ABC showed the Sylvester and Tweety cartoon "Tweety and the Beanstalk".
- Both the FOX and syndicated airings of The Merrie Melodies Show partially edited the "Secrets of a Harem" sequence. However, rather than cut the scene completely, the part where Wile E. Coyote gets shot is replaced with a frozen scene of the Road Runner looking down from a cliff.
- This short seldom appears on American television because of the Chinese Road Runner ending gag. However, this short aired on Cartoon Network uncut, still airs on Boomerang uncut, and appeared on MeTV uncut, uncensored and restored in March of 2021.
- This was Chuck Jones' last Road Runner cartoon, and the last Chuck Jones-directed Warner Bros. cartoon to be released in the classic era. It wouldn't be until 1979 that Jones would direct another Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoon: "Freeze Frame" which was originally in the TV special Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales.
- This short was also the last Road Runner cartoon of the classic era to use character taxonomy.
- Road Runner going in slow motion after his faux scientific name appears is a throwback to the duo's debut cartoon, "Fast and Furry-ous" (1949).
- MeTV aired a previously unreleased restored print of the cartoon on Saturday Morning Cartoons.
- Not counting "Awful Orphan"'s re-restored print, this cartoon is the first one to have its restored print shown on the Saturday Morning Cartoons block, as the first few unreleased restored prints from MeTV were shown on the Toon In with Me block.
Best of Backgrounds
- "War and Pieces" at the SFX Resource