Yosemite Sam is an American animated cartoon character in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons produced by Warner Bros. Animation. The name is somewhat alliterative and is inspired by Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite sam is commonly depicted as an extremely grouchy gunslinging prospector, outlaw, pirate or cowboy with a hair-trigger temper and an intense hatred of rabbits, particularly Bugs Bunny. Along with Elmer Fudd, he is the de facto archenemy of Bugs Bunny.
Animator Friz Freleng introduced the character in the 1945 cartoon Hare Trigger. With his fiery, irascible temper, short stature (in two early gags in Hare Trigger, a train he is attempting to rob passes right over top of him and he has to use a set of portable stairs to get on his horse; in Bugs Bunny Rides Again, he rides a miniature horse), and fiery red hair, Sam was in some ways an alter-ego of Freleng. The animator often denied any intentional resemblance. However, in the Looney Tunes Golden Collection, surviving members of his production crew assert, and the late director's daughter acknowledges, that Sam definitely was inspired by Freleng.
Other characters with Sam-like features appear in several Looney Tunes shorts. Bunny battles with an old, pistol-toting gambler called Colonel Shuffle, one whose role could have easily been portrayed by Sam. (The Colonel reappears in "Dog Gone South", this time pitted against Charlie Dog, and accompanied by a bulldog named Belvedere, who resembles Hector the Bulldog).
Freleng created Yosemite Sam to be a more worthy adversary for Bugs Bunny. Until then, Bugs' major foe had been Elmer Fudd, a man so mild-mannered and dim-witted that Freleng thought Bugs actually came off as a bully by duping him. Sam, on the other hand, was extremely violent and belligerent, not at all a pushover like Fudd. Freleng compacted into a tiny body and 11-gallon hat the largest voice and the largest ego "north, south, east, aaaaand west of the Pecos".
While Sam's basic character is that of a cowboy, he wears a black mask (or actually, just a wide black outline on the outer sides of his eyes) to show that he's an outlaw. This is so associated with his persona that he wears the mask even when dressed as a duke, a riff, a pirate, or a Viking.
Sam is significantly tougher and more aggressive than Elmer Fudd when challenging Bugs Bunny. He is also quicker to learn from his mistakes, and never falls for the same ploy twice. But despite Sam's bluster, he doesn't prove much brighter than Elmer in his encounters with Bugs. His noise contrasts to the calmly cocky rabbit. Sam's own cockiness gets the best of him; Bugs can see he is incapable of turning down a challenge. Every time Bugs dares Sam to "step across that line", he can't help but do so, even if he steps off into empty space or down a mine shaft. In its a Wild and Woolly Hare Sam and Bugs play "Chicken" in two locomotives going toward one another-Sam doesn't crash into Bugs but still ends up losing. In the classic Knighty Knight Bugs Sam is a black knight with a fire breathing dragon who ends up going to the moon.
A running gag in Yosemite Sam cartoons is that Sam's animals (camel, elephant, dragon) or airplanes never stop when he wants them to; Sam then loses his temper and bonks the offending animal/machine. A short intermission clip from the Bugs Bunny Roadrunner show has Bugs about to sing on his banjo-which wakes up Sam who is trying to sleep; Sam loses his temper and smashes the banjo-but not Bugs.
Yosemite Sam made appearances in several television specials in the 1970s and 1980s, and in three of the Looney Tunes feature-film compilations. Sam also appeared in The Warners 65th Anniversary Special and two episodes of 1995's The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries.
Sam makes a cameo appearance in Disney/Amblin's Who Framed Roger Rabbit, complete with his "britches" on fire. He also appears in the movie Space Jam as a player for the TOON SQUAD. In a memorable scene, he and Elmer Fudd shoot off the teeth of one of the Monstars while clad in Pulp Fiction or Men in Black-esque attire. In an earlier scene, when the Nerdlucks hold all the toons hostage, Sam sneaks up on the Nerdlucks, pointing his pistols at them, and orders them to release all the toons, only to have the Nerdlucks fire a laser pistol back at him, which leaves Sam naked and beardless as the phasers burned off his mustache.
Sam also plays the role of alien occasional guest villain K'chutha Sa'am (a parody of the Klingons, and right in line with Sam's aggressive personality) on the Duck Dodgers animated series. He also appears in the video games Loons: The Fight for Fame, Taz: Wanted, Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle, Bugs Bunny: Rabbit Rampage, Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time, Bugs Bunny and Taz: Time Busters, Sheep, Dog, 'n' Wolf, Looney Tunes B-Ball, Daffy Duck in Hollywood and Loony Tunes: Back In Action the video game.
In Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal, Yosemite Sam makes an appearance riding a railway cart on the Wild West level.Yosemite Sam appears in multiples episodes of The Looney Tunes Show,