18 Fictional Bunnies That Haunt the Dreams of Nerds

Friday, April 18, 2014 at 6:00 am

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When we learn that the Martians are predatory toward humans in War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells offers us a bit of perspective by having his narrator remind us: "how repulsive our carnivorous habits would seem to an intelligent rabbit."

No doubt, but this time of year even the vegans enjoy eating rabbits, of the chocolate and marshmallow variety delivered by the Easter Bunny. Perhaps it's an attempt to steer humankind away from our repulsive carnivorous habits? Although his ancestry is in pagan folklore - a fertility symbol, probably - the E.B. is an unthreatening sort. But it's striking how many of his fictitious cousins from nerdy pop culture are fiercely formidable, even sinister and scary, and how often they even the score with humankind for our lapine cruelties.

A few examples...



18. E. Aster Bunnymund

Maybe the toughest version of the EB per se was the one in the 2012 animated film Rise of the Guardians, a conflation of William Joyce's children's book series. Along with a Santa Claus who sounds like a radio-comedy Russian, a half-woman/half-hummingbird Tooth Fairy, and a rotund and silent Sandman who communicates by shaping his thoughts in sand over his head, the Bunny is one of the Guardians, a sort of Justice League defending children's hopes and dreams.

An Aussie badass voiced by Hugh Jackman, the Bunny wields a boomerang and bears a grudge against aspiring Guardian Jack Frost, for the "Blizzard of '68" on Easter Sunday. His cute little bunny nature sneaks out, however: when he exits via burrow, he tends leave a little flower behind.

17. Bucky O'Hare

"Get the funky fresh rabbit who can take care of it!" So we are advised, in the event that we're having a rough day, in the rousing theme song of this short-lived but fondly-remembered early-'90s cartoon, based in turn on the mid-'80s comic by Larry Hama. Bucky was a space adventurer who led a crew of mammals against the Toad Empire controlled by the sinister computer KOMPLEX.

Bucky, whose fur was green, also manifested himself in the form of Hasbro action figures, a Nintendo video game and an arcade game. There was even talk of a movie adaptation, to be directed by Neal Adams, but it has yet to materialize. Maybe the studios fear that lines like "Let's croak us some toads" will lead to animal cruelty, or even to Amphibian Anti-Defamation League protests.

16. Jaxxon

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Also from the pages of the comics, and also, oddly, green, this gangly, meat-eating, hard-fighting "Lepi" smuggler hails from the planet Coachelle Prime, part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Jaxxon made his debut in issue #8 of Marvel's Star Wars title of the '70s and '80s, in February of 1978, and recurred in several subsequent issues. Though intended as an homage to a certain Warner Brothers star who shall be mentioned later in this list, he's often been regarded as the Jar Jar Binks of Marvel's Star Wars Universe.

The character's signature line is his angry snarl of "I ain't no rodent!" Zoologically, if not grammatically, he's right, and would be even if he were an earthly cottontail. Rabbits are lagomorphs, not rodents.

15. The "Shore Leave" Planet White Rabbit

A Star Wars rabbit deserves a Star Trek rabbit, so how about the one that blows Dr. McCoy's mind at the beginning of the Original Series episode "Shore Leave?" McCoy is just saying the paradisiacal looking planet is like something out of Alice in Wonderland, and seconds later, there's the fretful Victorian bunny, checking his pocket watch and bemoaning his lateness. Alice herself trots up seconds later, politely asking poor Bones if he's seen the creature. The whole planet is rigged to bring to life whatever pops into your head, which sounds like fun until you think about it, and then the possible implications start to seem really horrible.

The rabbit was played, under a costume reportedly borrowed from the Ice Capades, by Star Trek utility actor William Blackburn, a onetime professional ice skater. The character pops up again, briefly, in the Animated Series sequel episode "Once Upon a Planet," where he is voiced by animated series utility actor James Doohan.

14. Jazz Jackrabbit

The headband-wearing hero of this popular 1994 video game, a modern spin on Aesop, tangles with tortoise Devan Shell over the Princess Eva Earlong. Jazz is athletic, lean and...

Green.

Like Jaxxon, like Bucky O'Hare, he's green. Which leads to the fundamental question...what's with the freaking green rabbits? Are they progressive acts of plagiarism, or homage, or was there some turbulence in the great Jungian Unconscious that led to multiple isolated inspirations that warrior rabbits ought to be green?

13. Crusader Rabbit

Bucky O'Hare has nothing on this adventurous bunny. A creation of Jay Ward, Crusader Rabbit, who debuted in syndication in 1948, lays claim to being the first cartoon character specifically created for TV.

Crusader is highly endearing; he also seems prototypical. Students of Ward's work might note a similarity between Crusader and Rocky, and between sidekick Ragland T. Tiger, aka "Rags," and Bullwinkle. Their frequent villainous nemesis Dudley Nightshade perhaps bequeathed some character traits to Dudley Do-Right's enemy Snidely Whiplash.

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