18 Fictional Bunnies That Haunt the Dreams of Nerds

Friday, April 18, 2014 at 6:00 am

6. The Trojan Rabbit

One of the great movies comedies of all time, 1975's Monty Python and the Holy Grail features not one but two deadly rabbits. First is the huge wheeled animal with which King Arthur and his knights try to infiltrate the castle of the verbally abusive French.

Alas, they neglect an essential element of the stratagem, and the rude French catapult their gift back at them, prompting cries of "Run away! Run away!" One of their number isn't quick enough, however.

5. The Rabbit of Caerbannog

Later in that same Arthurian travesty, Arthur and his Knights fail to heed the warnings of Tim the Enchanter, and the sweet-looking little white bunny guarding the mouth of the cave inflicts gory mayhem.

This Rabbit proves no match, however, for the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

4. General Woundwort

Another badass British bunny, the tyrannical General is the villain of the 1972 Richard Adams novel Watership Down. That gripping yarn followed the adventures of a band of tough-as-nails displaced rabbits searching for a place to call their own in the Hampshire hills; Woundwort tries to foil their attempts to supply a new warren with females from his.

There was an animated feature version in 1978. It pales beside the book, but on its own merits, it is a decent, hard-edged piece of work. (Probably not for younger kids, however.) Harry Andrews provided Woundwort's voice in the film; in a 1999 animated TV series John Hurt, who had voiced the hero of the '78 film, had roughened up in the larynx to the point that he was asked to provide the General's voice.

3. The Were-Rabbit

One more UK rabbit menace: 2005's Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the first feature-length adventure of Nick Park's inventor Wallace and his stoically competent dog Grommit, won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. It's a mystery about the identity of the long-eared monster.

Unlike Watership Down, this one's a great choice for little kids.

2. Frank the Bunny

The title character (Jake Gyllenhaal) of the complex and fascinating 2001 psychodrama Donnie Darko is afflicted by visions of a tall, fanged rabbit, staring blankly at him. Gradually, we come to understand, more or less, what it all means. But along the way, Frank becomes one of the creepiest movie monsters so far in the 21st century.

Indeed, Frank might just keep you from looking over your shoulder in a movie theater.

1. Bugs, Right?

Can there really be any doubt as to the top spot on this list? It's true, of course, that Bugs is by far the greatest of all pop-culture rabbits, and for my money the greatest of all cartoon characters, too, but I'm still not sure that's saying quite enough. The subtly androgynous alpha male of the Warner Brothers cartoon repertory company is one of the iconic fictional characters America has produced, a 20th-Century Brer Rabbit who transcends race, region and even gender. He's the hip, unflappable embodiment of American native wit and resourcefulness.

He's also preposterously magnetic. When I say that Bugs is a rabbit who might haunt the dreams of nerds, in this case I don't necessarily via nightmares. Nerds from R. Crumb to Wayne's World's Garth suggest that they have found him attractive.

Previously by M.V. Moorhead:

Ten Movie and TV Characters Insultingly Named After Real-Life People

Ten Bizarrely Great Manifestations of Brother Theodore

The Ten Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi-Horror Novels You've Probably Never Read

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