Looney Toons Painted Tunnel On A Wall Gag
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Looney Toons Painted Tunnel On A Wall Gag refers to an oft-referenced visual joke from the animated series Looney Toons. In "Road Runner" shorts, Wile E. Coyote would frequently attempt to catch Road Runner by painting a tunnel onto the side of a mountain so that the illusion would make Road Runner crash. However, Road Runner would somehow run through the painted tunnel, with Wile E. Coyote then attempting to run through the tunnel himself and crash. The gag became a common reference on Twitter during the 2010s and early 2020s, usually to mock people prone to exaggerating damaging stories or telling lies about other groups of people.
The first instance of the "painted tunnel" gag appeared in the Looney Toons short "Fast and Furry-ous," released September 17th, 1949. This was also the first short to feature Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. In one of Wile E. Coyote's plans to catch Road Runner, he paints an elaborate road leading to a mountainside, where he paints a tunnel. Road Runner is able to somehow run through the tunnel, but Wile E. Coyote fails to do the same (shown below). The gag became widely referenced in cartoons over the following 70 years, as other cartoons put their own spin on it.
The gag's prevalence in animation led to it being referenced online, usually in jokes where people point out others or their own foreseeable errors. One early reference is an October 20th, 2013, tweet by Twitter user @TylerSchmall that gained 29 retweets and 55 likes in roughly nine years (shown below).
Over the following nine years, the gag became a common way to mock others' ignorance on Twitter. In particular, it saw usage as a way to punch rightward in political jokes. For example, on April 8th, 2016, Twitter user @leyawn used the gag in the persona of a political centrist complaining about Bernie Bros, gaining over 130 retweets and 730 likes in six years (shown below, left). On October 30th, 2018, Twitter user @hurtdeeronline made a similar joke in the persona of a Republican complaining about the "tolerant left," gaining eight retweets and 39 likes in four years (shown below, right).
The gag has seen similar usage in the early 2020s. For example, on July 5th, 2021, Twitter user @rollerska8er referenced it as a way to mock TERFs and other anti-trans activists, gaining over 50 retweets and 300 likes in one year (shown below, left). On September 23rd, 2021, user @Julian_Epp referenced the gag as a way to mock Elon Musk fanatics, gaining over 70 retweets and 800 likes in roughly a year (shown below, right).
 Wikipedia – Fast and Furry-ous
 TV Tropes – Painted Tunnel Real Train
 Twitter – @TylerSchmall
 Twitter – @hurtdeeronline
 Twitter – @rollerska8er
 Twitter – @Julian_Epp
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