November 19, 1959 (1959-11-19) – June 27, 1964 (1964-06-27)
The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends (commonly referred to as simply Rocky and Bullwinkle) is an American animated television series that originally aired from November 19, 1959, to June 27, 1964, on the ABC and NBC television networks.
The current blanket title was imposed for home video releases more than 40 years after the series originally aired and was never used when the show was televised; television airings of the show were broadcast under the titles of Rocky and His Friends from 1959 to 1961 (and again in Canada in 1963), The Bullwinkle Show from 1961 to 1964, and The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (or The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle) in syndication.
Rocky and Bullwinkle is known for quality writing and wry humor. Mixing puns, cultural and topical satire, and self-referential humor, it appealed to adults as well as children. It was also one of the first cartoons whose animation was outsourced; storyboards were shipped to Gamma Productions, a Mexican studio also employed by Total Television. The art has a choppy, unpolished look and the animation is extremely limited even by television animation standards at the time, yet the series has long been held in high esteem by those who have seen it; some critics described the series as a well-written radio program with pictures.
In 2013, Rocky and His Friends and The Bullwinkle Show were ranked the sixth-greatest television cartoon of all time by TV Guide.
The idea for the series came from Jay Ward and Alex Anderson, who previously collaborated on Crusader Rabbit, based upon the original property The Frostbite Falls Revue. This original show never got beyond the proposal stage. It featured a group of forest animals running a television station. The group included Rocket J. Squirrel (Rocky), Oski Bear, Canadian Moose (Bullwinkle), Sylvester Fox, Blackstone Crow, and Floral Fauna. The show in this form was created by Alex Anderson. (The bear and fox characters would later be retooled for Ward's next series, Hoppity Hooper.) Bullwinkle's name came from the name of a car dealership in Berkeley, California, called Bullwinkel Motors. Anderson changed the order of the last two letters of the name and gave the name to his moose.
Ward wanted to produce the show in Los Angeles; however, Anderson lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and did not want to relocate. As a result, Ward hired Bill Scott as head writer and co-producer at Jay Ward Productions, and he wrote the Rocky and Bullwinkle features. Ward was joined by writers Chris Hayward and Allan Burns; they eventually became known for creating The Munsters with Allan going to co-create The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In a 1982 interview, Scott said, "I got a call from Jay asking if I'd be interested in writing another series, an adventure script with a moose and a squirrel. I said, 'Sure.' I didn't know if I could write an adventure with a moose and a squirrel, but I never turned down a job."
The series began with the pilot Rocky the Flying Squirrel. Production began in February 1958 with the hiring of voice actorsJune Foray, Paul Frees, Bill Scott, and William Conrad. Eight months later, General Mills signed a deal to sponsor the cartoon program, under the condition that the show be run in a late-afternoon time slot, when it could be targeted toward children. Subsequently, Ward hired the rest of the production staff, including writers and designers. However, no animators were hired. Ad executives at Dancer, Fitzgerald and Sample, the advertising agency for General Mills, set up an animation studio in Mexico called Gamma Productions S.A. de C.V., originally known as Val-Mar Animation. This outsourcing of the animation for the series was considered financially attractive by primary sponsor General Mills, but caused endless production problems. In a 1982 interview by animation historian Jim Korkis, Bill Scott described some of the problems that arose during production of the series:
We found out very quickly that we could not depend on Mexican studios to produce anything of quality. They were turning out the work very quickly and there were all kinds of mistakes and flaws and boo-boos...They would never check...Mustaches popped on and off Boris, Bullwinkle's antlers would change, colors would change, costumes would disappear...By the time we finally saw it, it was on the air.
The show was titled Rocky and His Friends while airing on ABC...
...and was later re-titled The Bullwinkle Show after its move to NBC
The show was broadcast for the first time on November 19, 1959, on the ABC television network, under the title Rocky and His Friends, twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, following American Bandstand at 4:30 p.m. ET, where it was the highest-rated daytime network program. The show moved to the NBC network starting September 24, 1961, broadcast in color, and first appeared on Sundays at 7:00 p.m., just before Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. Bullwinkle's ratings suffered as a result of airing opposite perennial favorite Lassie. A potential move to CBS caused NBC to reschedule the show to late Sunday afternoons (5:30 p.m.) and early Saturday afternoons in its final season. NBC canceled the show in the summer of 1964. It was shopped to ABC, but they were not interested. However, reruns of episodes were aired on ABC's Sunday morning schedule at 11:00 a.m. until 1973, at which time the series went into syndication. An abbreviated 15-minute version of the series ran in syndication in the 1960s under the title The Rocky Show. This version was sometimes shown in conjunction with The King and Odie, a 15-minute version of Total Television's King Leonardo and His Short Subjects. The King and Odie was similar to Rocky and Bullwinkle in that it was sponsored by General Mills and animated by Gamma Productions. NBC later aired Bullwinkle Show reruns at 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday afternoons during the 1981-1982 television season.
Title card from the syndicated run under the title The Adventures of Bullwinkle and Rocky
On cable, the series had extended runs on Nickelodeon (1992–1996), Cartoon Network (1996–2003) and Boomerang (mid 2000s). Since the late 2000s, The Program Exchange has typically only licensed the series for short-term runs; nationally, the series has seen limited airings on WGN America (2009), VH1 Classic (2012), and Boomerang (2013).
The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show remained in syndicatedreruns and was still available for local television stations through The Program Exchange as late as 2016; WBBZ-TV, for instance, aired the show in a strip to counterprogram10 PM newscasts in the Buffalo, New York, market during the summer 2013 season. The underlying rights are now owned by WildBrain, who acquired the licensing, production, and distribution rights to Ward's library in 2022. These rights were previously held by Universal Pictures, which acquired the library of predecessor companies DreamWorks Animation and Classic Media in 2016 (coinciding with The Program Exchange's shutdown), and who in turn with copyright holder Ward Productions formed the joint venture Bullwinkle Studios, which managed the Rocky and Bullwinkle properties. Despite the move, Universal still owns the rights to the co-productions Ward produced with DreamWorks
Sponsor General Mills retained all United States television rights to the series. Two packages, each containing different episodes, are available. The syndicated version of The Bullwinkle Show contains 98 half-hour shows (#801–898). The first 78 comprise the Rocky and Bullwinkle story lines from the first two seasons of the original series (these segments originally aired under the Rocky and His Friends title). Other elements in the half-hour shows (Fractured Fairy Tales, Peabody's Improbable History, Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties, Aesop and Son, and short cartoons including Bullwinkle's Corner and Mr. Know-It-All) sometimes appear out of the original broadcast sequence. The final 20 syndicated Bullwinkle Show episodes feature later Rocky and Bullwinkle story lines (from "Bumbling Bros. Circus" through the end of the series, minus "Moosylvania") along with Fractured Fairy Tales, Bullwinkle's Corner, and Mr. Know-It-All segments repeated from earlier in the syndicated episode cycle. Originally, many syndicated shows included segments of Total Television's The World of Commander McBragg, but these cartoons were replaced with other segments when the shows were remastered in the early 1990s. A package, promoted under the Rocky and His Friends name but utilizing The Rocky Show titles, features story lines not included in the syndicated Bullwinkle Show series.
The most recently syndicated Rocky and His Friends package retains the 15-minute format, consisting of 156 individual episodes, but like The Bullwinkle Show, the content differs from the versions syndicated in the 1960s. The various supporting segments, including Fractured Fairy Tales (91), Peabody's Improbable History (91), and Aesop and Son (39) segments are syndicated as part of Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales, and 38 of the 39 Dudley Do-Right cartoons are syndicated as part of Dudley Do Right (sic) and Friends. Syndicated versions of the shows distributed outside of the United States and Canada combine the various segments under the package title Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends; it is this version of the show that is represented on official DVD releases through DreamWorks Classics and the official online version sold at websites such as Amazon Video.
From left to right: Rocky, Bullwinkle, and Captain Peter "Wrongway" Peachfuzz
The lead characters and heroes of the series were Rocket "Rocky" J. Squirrel, a flying squirrel (who anchored the perspective of the show's younger audience), and his best friend Bullwinkle J. Moose, a dimwitted but good-natured moose (who carried a bulk of the adult humor with his spontaneous puns). Both characters lived in the fictional town of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, which was purportedly based on the real city of International Falls, Minnesota. The scheming villains in most episodes were the fiendish spies Boris Badenov (a pun on Boris Godunov) and Natasha Fatale (a pun on femme fatale), forever attempting to "catch Moose and Squirrel". Other characters included Fearless Leader, the dictator of the fictitious nation of Pottsylvania and Boris and Natasha's superior; Gidney & Cloyd, little green men from the Moon who were armed with scrooch guns; Captain Peter "Wrongway" Peachfuzz, the captain of the S.S. Andalusia; various U.S. government bureaucrats and politicians (such as Senator Fussmussen, a recurring character who opposed admitting Alaska and Hawaii to the Union on the grounds of his own xenophobia); and the inevitable onlookers, Edgar and Chauncy.
When first shown on NBC, the cartoons were introduced by a Bullwinkle puppet, voiced by Bill Scott, who would often lampoon celebrities, current events, and especially Walt Disney, whose program Wonderful World of Color was next on the schedule. Compared with the dim-witted and lovable moose that most fans of the series would grow up with, in this short-lived version Bullwinkle was portrayed as a sarcastic smart-aleck. On one occasion, "Bullwinkle" encouraged children to pull the tuning knobs off their television sets. ("It's loads of fun, and that way, you'll be sure to be with us next week!") The network received complaints from parents of an estimated 20,000 child viewers who actually did so. Bullwinkle told the children the following week to put the knobs back on with glue "and make it stick!" The puppet sequence was dropped altogether. Scott later re-used the puppet for a segment called "Dear Bullwinkle," where letters written for the show were read and answered humorously. Four episodes of "Dear Bullwinkle" are on the Season 1 DVD.
Each episode is composed of two Rocky and Bullwinklecliffhanger shorts that stylistically emulated early radio and film serials. The plots of these shorts would combine into story arcs spanning numerous episodes. The first and longest story arc was Jet Fuel Formula consisting of 40 shorts (20 episodes). Stories ranged from seeking the missing ingredient for a rocket fuel formula, to tracking the monstrous whale Maybe Dick, to an attempt to prevent mechanical metal-munching moon mice from devouring the nation's television antennas. Rocky and Bullwinkle frequently encounter the two Pottsylvanian nogoodniks, Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale.
At the end of most episodes, the narrator, William Conrad, would announce two humorous titles for the next episode that typically were puns of each other (and usually related more to the current predicament than to the plot of the next episode). For example, during an adventure taking place in a mountain range, the narrator would state, "Be with us next time for 'Avalanche Is Better Than None,' or 'Snow's Your Old Man.'" Such a 'This' or 'That' title announcement was borrowed from The Adventures of Sam Spade radio shows produced in 1946–1950. The narrator frequently spoke with the characters, thus breaking the fourth wall.
Episodes were introduced with one of four opening sequences:
Rocky flies about snow-covered mountains. Below him, hiking on a snowy trail, Bullwinkle is distracted by a billboard featuring his name, and walks off a ledge. He becomes a large snowball as he rolls downhill. Rocky flies to him and pushes against the snowball, slowing it to a halt at the edge of another cliff. Bullwinkle pops out of the snowball to catch the teetering squirrel at the cliff edge.
In a circus, Rocky is preparing to jump from a high diving board into a tub of water tended by Bullwinkle. However, when Rocky jumps, he ends up flying around the circus tent, while Bullwinkle chases after him carrying the tub. As Rocky lands safely, Bullwinkle tumbles into the tub. This was the same intro used for the Buena Vista VHS series in the early 1990s.
Rocky is flying acrobatically about a city landscape. Bullwinkle is high atop a flagpole painting, and is knocked from his perch as the squirrel flies by. Rocky attempts to catch the plummeting moose with a butterfly net, but the moose falls through. Rocky then flies lower to find his friend suspended from a clothesline, having fallen into a pair of long johns.
Similar to the previous opening, Rocky is again flying about the city. Bullwinkle is suspended from a safety harness posting a sign on a large billboard. He loses his balance as the squirrel zooms past him and tumbles off the platform. The moose lands on a banner pole mounted on the side of a building, and the recoil springs him back into the air. He lands on a store awning, slides down, and drops a few feet to a bench on which Rocky is seated. The impact launches the squirrel off the bench, and Bullwinkle nonchalantly catches him in his left hand to end the sequence.
Episodes ended with a bumper sequence in which a violent lightning storm destroys the landscape, appearing to engulf Rocky and Bullwinkle in the destruction and accompanied by dramatic piano music. The music would become more lighthearted, and the ground would scroll upward while the outlines of the heroes gradually appeared. We then see a smiling sun overlooking a barren field which rapidly fills with sunflowers until Rocky and Bullwinkle finally sprout from the ground.
The Rocky and Bullwinkle shorts serve as "bookends" for popular supporting features, including:
"Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties", a parody of early-20th-century melodrama and silent film serials of the Northern genre. Dudley Do-Right is a Canadian Mountie in constant pursuit of his nemesis, Snidely Whiplash, who sports the standard "villain" attire of black top hat, cape, and large handlebar moustache. This is one of the few Jay Ward cartoons to feature a background music track. As is standard in Ward's cartoons, jokes often have more than one meaning. A standard gag is to introduce characters in an irized close-up with the name of fictional actors displayed in a caption below, a convention seen in some early silent films. The names are usually silly names or subtle puns, e.g., Abraham Wilkes Booth as Dudley Do-Right, Sweetness N. Light as Nell Fenwick, and Claud Hopper as Snidely Whiplash. On one occasion, Whiplash's role is credited to the then-incarcerated bank robber Willie Sutton. Occasionally, even the scenery is introduced in this manner, as when "Dead Man's Gulch" is identified as being portrayed by "Gorgeous Gorge," a reference to professional wrestler Gorgeous George.
"Peabody's Improbable History" features a genius talking dog named Mister Peabody who has a pet human boy named Sherman. Peabody and Sherman use Peabody's "WABAC machine" (pronounced "way-back", spelled WAYBAC in season 1, episode 4 ("Wyatt Earp"), and partially a play on words of the names of early computers such as UNIVAC and ENIAC) to go back in time to discover the real story behind historical events, and in many cases, intervene with uncooperative historical figures to ensure that events transpire as history has recorded. The term "Wayback Machine" is used to this day in Internet applications such as Wikipedia and the Internet Archive to refer to the ability to see or revert to older content. These segments are famous for including a pun at the end. For example, when going back to the time of Pancho Villa, they show Pancho a photo of a woman and he promptly feels the urge to take a nap. When Sherman asks why this is so, Peabody says that the woman's name is Esther, and whenever you "see Esther" (siesta), you fall asleep. Mr. Peabody is named after a dog belonging to Scott's son John. Sherman is named after UPA director Sherman Glas.
"Fractured Fairy Tales" presented familiar fairy tales and children's stories, but with altered, modernized storylines for humorous, satirical effect. This segment was narrated by Edward Everett Horton; June Foray, Bill Scott, and Paul Frees, and an uncreditedDaws Butler often supplied the voices. A typical example was their spin on "Sleeping Beauty." In this version, the prince (a caricature of Walt Disney) doesn't wake up Sleeping Beauty; instead, he builds a theme-park around her ("Sleeping Beautyland"), and gets headlines in Variety magazine ("Doze Doll Duz Wiz Biz").
"Aesop and Son" is similar to "Fractured Fairy Tales", complete with the same theme music, except it deals with fables instead of fairy tales. The typical structure consists of Aesop attempting to teach a lesson to his son using a fable. After hearing the story, the son subverts the fable's moral with a pun. This structure was also suggested by the feature's opening titles, which showed Aesop painstakingly carving his name in marble using a mallet and chisel and then his son, with a jackhammer and raising a cloud of dust, appending "And Son." Aesop was voiced (uncredited) by actor Charles Ruggles and the son, Junior, was voiced by Daws Butler.
"Mr. Know-It-All" again features Bullwinkle posing as an authority on any topic. Disaster inevitably ensues. Boris Badenov plays a variety of roles as Bullwinkle's antagonist in most of the segments.
"The Bullwinkle and Rocky Fan Club", a series of abortive attempts by Rocky and Bullwinkle to conduct club business. The fan club consists only of Rocky, Bullwinkle, Boris, Natasha, and Captain Peter "Wrongway" Peachfuzz. These shorts portray the characters as somewhat out of character, with even more fourth-wall breaks than in the story arcs.
"The World of Commander McBragg", short features on revisionist history as the title character would have imagined it; this was actually prepared for Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales (and later shown on The Underdog Show). Although the shorts were animated by the same animation company, Gamma Productions, they were produced for Total Television, rather than Ward Productions. These segments were packaged with pre-1990 syndicated versions of The Bullwinkle Show and appear in syndicated episodes of The Underdog Show, Dudley Do Right and Friends, and Uncle Waldo's Cartoon Show. Since 1990, this feature has been divorced from the Bullwinkleverse, and it has never been included in Bullwinkle home videos.
The following table summarizes which characters were voiced by which actor, as documented in the Frostbite Falls Field Guide and June Foray interview in the Complete Series boxed set, as well as Rocky and Bullwinkle-related sub-articles here on Wikipedia.
In 1962, as a publicity stunt, Ward leased a small island on a lake between Minnesota and Canada, which he named after "Moosylvania", a small island shown in the later Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. In a campaign to make the island into the 51st state, he and Scott drove a van across the country to about 50–60 cities collecting petition signatures. Arriving in Washington, D.C., they pulled up to the White House gate to see President Kennedy, and were brusquely turned away. They then learned that the evening that they had arrived during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Also in 1962, British Invasion band Herman's Hermits got its name because bandmates thought lead singer Peter Noone looked like Sherman of "Mr. Peabody" fame, and the name "Herman" was close enough to "Sherman" for them.
In the sci-fi movie Back to the Future, Marty McFly is accidentally sent back in time to November 5, 1955, ending up on the Twin Pines Ranch, owned by "Old Man Peabody," who angrily shoots at the DeLorean, mistaking it as a spaceship, taken from his son Sherman, when Marty, who was also mistaken as an alien, accidentally killed a pine sapling. Director Robert Zemeckis named the landowner after Mr. Peabody, the time-traveling dog: the subtle joke being that Mr. Peabody apparently did not take kindly to competing time-travelers.
There were a few attempts to revive Rocky & Bullwinkle throughout the 1970s. A revival in 1981 parodied the Super Bowl. A script was written, storyboards were produced, the network gave it a green light, but the project was canceled because of objections from the NFL (actual team owners were parodied and Boris was fixing the game).
Another revival attempt took place at Disney in the mid-1980s, back when the company was distributing the show on VHS. Developed by Tad Stone and Michael Peraza Jr., the revival was named The Secret Adventures of Bullwinkle and would have been a modern take on the old Bullwinkle show, with the return of characters like Mr. Peabody and Sherman and Dudley Do-Right and would have featured new segments like "Fractured Scary Tales", a parody of horror films, and a new "Mr. Know It All" skit that, among other things, had Bullwinkle programming a VCR. Before the two presented their pitch, they discovered Disney did not have the rights to the series or characters, only to the video distribution of the old Bullwinkle show, and the concept was abandoned.
The program debuted on home video with two compilation CED Videodiscs released by RCA during the format's rise in the early 1980s, featuring complete, uncut story arcs and accompanying alternating segments and bumpers. Volume 1 contained the complete story for Wossamotta U, while volume 2 contained Goof Gas Attack and The Three Mooseketeers.
Buena Vista Home Video released the show on VHS, Betamax and LaserDisc in the early 1990s, under the title The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. These are presented differently from when broadcast. Two "Rocky and Bullwinkle" chapters were sometimes edited together into one (removing the "titles" for the next chapters as well as part of the recap at the beginning of the next), usually showing the storyline in four or five chapters per video. For example, the 12-episode Wossamotta U adventure is reduced to seven episodes, and runs about seven minutes shorter. The "Bullwinkle Show" closing was used on these.
The first eight videos were released under the "Classic Stuff" banner, with covers and titles being parodies of famous paintings or painters. Four more videos were released under the "Funny Stuff" banner but, unlike the first eight, these were not numbered, the video titles matched the title of the featured "Rocky and Bullwinkle" storyline, and the covers represented scenes from shows (such as Bullwinkle pulling a rhino out of a hat as the cover for "Painting Theft" (the change in the banner might have been due to a video magazine publishing a letter criticizing the editing)). "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle Season 1" is available in Cracker Barrel for VHS.
Volume # (LD #)
"The Treasure of Monte Zoom"
Fractured Fairy Tales: Riding Hoods Anonymous, Bullwinkle's Corner: How to Be Happy (Though Miserable), Peabody's Improbable History: Robinson Crusoe, Dudley Do-Right: The Disloyal Canadians, Mr. Know-It-All: How to Get into the Movies Without Buying a Ticket
"Birth of Bullwinkle"
"The Ruby Yacht"
Peabody's Improbable History: Robin Hood, Bullwinkle's Corner: Little Miss Muffet, Fractured Fairy Tales: Sleeping Beauty, Mr. Know-it-All: How to Catch a Bee and Make Your Honey Happy, Dudley Do-Right: Flicker Rock
"Vincent van Moose"
"Goof Gas Attack"
Fractured Fairy Tales: Rapunzel, Dudley Do-Right: Finding Gold, Mr. Know-It-All: How to be an Archeologist – and Dig Ancient History, Aesop and Son: The Dog and His Shadow
Dudley Do-Right: Saw Mill, Fractured Fairy Tales: The Frog Prince, Aesop and Son: He Who Laughs Last
Four "Dudley Do-Right" segments, instead of a "Rocky and Bullwinkle" storyline ("Marigolds", "Trading Places", "Lure of the Footlights", and "Whiplash Captured")
Aesop and Son: The Hound and the Wolf, Fractured Fairy Tales: The Frog Prince, Bullwinkle's Corner: Simple Simon, Mr. Know-it-All: How to Do Stunts in the Movies without Having the Usher Throw You Out, Peabody's Improbable History: The Royal Mountie Police
Aesop and Son: The Mice in Council, Mr. Know-it-All: How to Direct a Temperamental Movie Star, Bullwinkle's Corner: Tom Tom the Piper's Son, Peabody's Improbable History: Whistler's Mother, Dudley Do-Right: Railroad Tracks, Fractured Fairy Tales: Little Red Riding Hood
Bullwinkle's Fan Club, Peabody's Improbable History: William Shakespeare, Fractured Fairy Tales: Rumpelstiltskin, Dudley Do-Right: Dudley's Brother
Dudley Do-Right: Recruiting Campaign, Bullwinkle's Corner: Mary Had a Little Lamb, Peabody's Improbable History: Lawrence of Arabia, Fractured Fairy Tales: The Red-Haired Duke, Mr. Know-It-All: How to Sell Vacuum Cleaners, Aesop and Son: Two Heads are Better than One
Peabody's Improbable History: Mati Hatti, Fractured Fairy Tales: The Enchanted Prince, Bullwinkle's Corner: Hickory Dickory Dock, Dudley Do-Right: Coming-Out Party, Mr. Know-It-All: The Old West
Peabody's Improbable History: William Tell, Bullwinkle's Corner: Wee Willie Winkie, Dudley Do-Right: Mortgagin' the Mountie Post, Mr. Know-It-All: How to Escape From Devil's Island, Fractured Fairy Tales: Hansel and Gretel
Peabody's Improbable History: Bonnie Prince Charlie, Mr. Know-It-All: How to Make Friends, Aesop and Son: The King of the Jungle, Bullwinkle's Corner: The Ditzy Daffodils, Dudley Do-Right: Trap Bait, Fractured Fairy Tales: The Golden Goose
Gray market releases
Years after the Buena Vista releases ended, another series of "Rocky and Bullwinkle" VHS tapes were released, both separately and as a boxed set. These videos included Upsidaisium, The Last Angry Moose, Metal-Munching Mice, Much Mud, and Rue Britannia. However, these were released through GoodTimes Video and were not authorized by Ward Productions. The copies used were from 16 mm Bullwinkle Show prints. Some other companies also released unauthorized editions of Rocky and Bullwinkle, including Nostalgia Family Video, which also released all 98 of The Bullwinkle Show package shows via 16 mm Bullwinkle Show prints, and Bridgestone Multimedia, which released eight episodes as Rocky and his Friends using an old broadcast 16 mm print.
The copyright status of these 98 episodes (along with some episodes of Hoppity Hooper) is disputed. As of 2017, the copyright is generally recognized as valid, and attempts to post the gray-market releases on video sites have historically been greeted with DMCAtake down notices.
In 2002, Jay Ward Productions established a partnership with Classic Media called Bullwinkle Studios. From 2003 to 2005, the partnership produced DVDs of the first three seasons of the series, which were renamed (for legal reasons) Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends. Releases then stalled until 2010, when season 4 was released, in part to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the series. The complete series was released on January 4, 2011, marking the debut of season 5 on DVD. A standalone release of season 5 was released on March 29, 2011. The DVDs for the first three seasons were distributed by Sony Wonder, while seasons 4, 5, and Complete Series sets are currently distributed by Vivendi Entertainment. The complete series was re-released on DVD again on March 12, 2019, by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, to celebrate the show's 60th anniversary.
The DVD releases differ somewhat from the originals. The original opening bumpers as seen on the network run were restored, but the title of the show was replaced with the name "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends" (never used during the show's television run) and a modern logo with styling inconsistent with the rest of the animation (pictured) somewhat clumsily inserted into the original bumpers. A William Conrad sound-alike was used to announce the new title, which some viewers found jarring. In addition, a semi-transparent "R&B" logo appears for five seconds at the beginning of each segment in the lower right-hand corner. Some segments were moved from their position in the original episodes. Also, the season 5 shows on DVD recycle supporting features found on the DVDs for the first four seasons. Mathematically, this makes sense, since the total number of supporting features (assuming two used per show) exactly equals the number of shows created during the first four seasons. The first set, most of the second set, and the fifth season set use the second opening and closing used for the Rocky and His Friends broadcast, while the last two story arcs in the second set, as well as the third- and fourth-season sets, use the original opening and closing from the Rocky and His Friends broadcast. Frank Comstock's musical themes are replaced on the sets with Fred Steiner's music produced for The Bullwinkle Show. In addition, the first four season sets include optional Spanish-language audio tracks.
In 2005, Classic Media released a series of "best of" DVD compilations of popular segments of the series: two volumes of The Best of Rocky and Bullwinkle, plus the single-volume The Best of Boris and Natasha, The Best of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, The Best of Fractured Fairy Tales, and The Best of Dudley Do-Right. These compilations contain episodes from the entire run of the show.
On October 30, 2012, Classic Media released a DVD called The Complete Fractured Fairy Tales, which includes all 91 Fractured Fairy Tales segments.
On May 14, 2019, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment released a 2-disc DVD called Mr. Peabody & Sherman: The Complete Collection, which includes all 91 Peabody's Improbable History segments.
During the time the show was available on Hulu (it was offered as a free series before it went to a subscription-only model), the DVD versions of the episodes were used instead of the syndication prints.
Interview with June Foray; Three Cheerios commercials (storyboard and final versions); "Moosecalls: The Best of Bullwinkle Sings" (a parody of television ads for compilation records); a segment from Season Three's "Missouri Mish Mash"
In 1966, the duo appeared between show segments in ads for General Mills' Frosty O's cereal and Kendall "Curad Comic Strips" plastic bandages
In the mid-1960s, the show promoted the "Rocky and Bullwinkle Saving Stamp Club" (at the time, the U.S. Post Office was directly under control of the federal government). Stamp albums of unused stamps could be exchanged for U.S. savings bonds, which paid interest. To date, Rocky and Bullwinkle have not appeared on any U.S. postage stamps.
Rocky and Bullwinkle were in a 1986 television commercial for Hershey's Kisses snack pack (this was Bill Scott's final appearance as Bullwinkle before his death).
In the 1990s Rocky and Bullwinkle appeared in some ads for Taco Bell, wherein they ate real tacos by stopping Boris and Natasha from selling burgers.
In 1995, Boris and Natasha appeared in two Energizer batteries commercials, in which the spies are trying to stop the Energizer Bunny. Rocky and Bullwinkle also appeared in a commercial.
In 1997, The Los Angeles Opera toured a children's production, named Les Moose: The Operatic Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, around various L.A. County Elementary Schools. The story followed Boris and Natasha as they tried to steal the formula for Mooseberry Rocket Fuel from Bullwinkle J. Moose.
A syndicated daily newspaper comic strip titled Bullwinkle began on July 23, 1962, with original stories drawn by Al Kilgore. It was syndicated by the Bell Syndicate and ended in 1965.
Rocky and Bullwinkle stories were published in Four Color.
Rocky and Bullwinkle comic books were published by Dell Comics, Gold Key Comics, Charlton Comics and Star Comics (an imprint of Marvel Comics). All were called Bullwinkle and Rocky. The comics, although for children, did contain numerous references spoofing issues such as celebrity worship or the politics of the 1980s. In one Star Comics issue, Bullwinkle owns a small company, which makes him eligible to compete in a fun run in Washington, D.C., for presidents of small companies. When Bullwinkle says he is there for the race, it is mistaken that he is campaigning for President. The comic also spoofed U.S. President Ronald Reagan, and he personally thanks Bullwinkle for stopping Boris and Natasha by rewarding him with monogrammed jelly beans. Another comic broke the fourth wall when the narrator is outraged at a plot of Boris', to which Boris claims he has control of everyone "by capturing the Marvel Comics building and tying up the editor". When the narrator comments on how this is morally wrong, Boris quiets him by saying, "You will agree or you will not find paycheck in mail this month!" The same issue made reference to the 1988 Olympics, which Boris had engineering in Fort Knox, Kentucky, in an attempt to steal its gold by carving all the bars into gold medals, as well as furnishing false information to every country so Pottsylvania would win all the gold medals (and thus take all true gold) by virtue of default. After Boris is foiled, the narrator comments that the games will go on as planned in real time in Seoul, South Korea.
From 2017 to 2020, American Mythology Productions released comics of Rocky and Bullwinkle and it was written by Todd Livingston.
Boris and Natasha: The Movie (1992), is a live-action feature film starring the two villainous spies. Neither Rocky nor Bullwinkle appears in this film; however, the characters of Toots and Harve are identified as "Moose" and "Squirrel" at one point in the film. The film was originally intended for theatrical release, but was premiered on Showtime.
Golden Records released a phonograph album of songs, Rocky the Flying Squirrel & His Friends (1961), using voice actors from the series. Boris and Natasha, for example, sing: "We will double, single and triple cross our very closest friends!"
A 78 rpm single (Golden 659) was released on yellow vinyl. This had Rocky singing "I Was Born To Be Airborne" on one side, backed with Bullwinkle singing "I'm Rocky's Pal". The single sold in grocery stores. Paul Parnes (who later wrote songs for Sesame Street) is credited as composer. "Some nutty characters get together here for the benefit of the very young. Lots of laughs for the juvenile sense of humor."
The pseudonymously named Boris Badenough released a record called "Hey Rocky!" on Trax Records in 1986. The record featured a house-music beat underneath clips from the series.
In 1999, Mattel released a numbered collector series under its Hot Wheels toy line, the "Car-Toon Friends" series. It contained four cars; the now-retired model "XT-3" for Rocky, "Double Vision" for Bullwinkle, "Saltflat Racer" for Natasha and "Lakestar" for Boris. They are no longer produced with these paint jobs and, as of December 2012, are hard to find.
The Season 9 episode of The Simpsons titled "Simpson Tide", the opening couch gag is a recreation of the Rocky and Bullwinkle animated bumper seen at the end of each Bullwinkle short. The music accompanying it is also adapted from the original music in the bumper.
Rocky and Bullwinkle made a brief cameo in the Comedy Central animated show Drawn Together in the episode "Foxxy vs. the Board of Education" when the hospital's waiting room features cartoon cameos including Rocky getting stuck into Bullwinkle's anus.
In the animated series Arthur, the opening sequence of "Do You Believe in Magic?" parodies Bullwinkle attempting to pull a rabbit out of a magician's hat. Arthur pulls a lion out by mistake and says "Nothing up my sleeve...presto!" However, unlike Bullwinkle, Arthur does manage to pull a rabbit out of a hat: Buster, who claims "And now here's something we hope you really like!", just like Rocky would.
The season 3 Rugrats episode "Sour Pickles" features a flashback to Stu and Drew as babies watching "Blocky and Oxwinkle" with June Foray providing the voices of Blocky and Svetlana.
A season 6 episode of The Powerpuff Girls, called "I See a Funny Cartoon in Your Future", is a homage to Rocky and Bullwinkle, lacking background music, the narrator talking constantly, pointing out the obvious and making puns, Madame Argentina (the antagonist of the episode) being voiced by June Foray and a cliffhanger with two different titles.
Rocky and Bullwinkle made cameos in the background in the South Park trilogy "Imaginationland". Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have mentioned Rocky and Bullwinkle as one of their biggest influences for South Park, primarily for its humor and satire.
In the season 5 episode of SpongeBob SquarePants titled "Stanley S. SquarePants", a squirrel character who resembles Rocky made a cameo on a TV screen while SpongeBob's cousin Stanley changes the channels but accidentally destroys the TV.
Rocky and Bullwinkle has been referenced several times in Family Guy.
In the Season 3 episode "The Thin White Line", Peter mistakes the tanning beds as time machines and accidentally pulls out a lion and Rocky the Flying Squirrel shows up and says, "And now, here's something we hope you'll really like", a frequent segue in the show.
In the Season 7 episode "Stew-Roids", after Stewie's steroids injection wears off and leaves him with large arm-flaps of loose skin, he jumps out the bedroom window and flies like Rocky, landing on a mailbox with Rocky's quote, "And now here's something we hope you'll really like".
In True Lies, Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) convinces Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) that she was going to be a spy and her contact's name would be Boris. He went on to say that her name would be, and she interrupts to say "Natasha?" and is told, "No, Doris". For the rest of the film they are called Boris and Doris... This refers to and spoofs Rocky and Bullwinkle's nemeses, Boris and Natasha.
In the season 2 episode "The Great Muppet Cartoon Show" from the original 1984 Muppet Babies, Gonzo imitates Rocky during the song "We Love Cartoons" and sings "I'll be a flying squirrel".
^Marsh, Jeff; Dan Abrams (1997). "Contributors". The Rocko's Modern Life FAQ. Retrieved November 9, 2011. It was always our intent to create shows that would be entertaining on many levels. Rocky and Bullwinkle are still funny to me now, but on a new level. There were jokes that I didn't get as a child that I now understand the references to. They were able to create shows that were funny to both groups without sacrificing anything. That is a hard job to do and we always strove to emulate that quality
^Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010, 2d ed.
0786486414 Vincent Terrace - 2008 "Bullwinkle also appeared in filler segments called "Mr. Know-It-All" where he displayed his knowledge (his "bird's eye view with a brain .."
^"1962 Timeline: July 23. A Bullwinkle newspaper strip by Al Kilgore, based on the animated series, makes its debut." American Comic Book Chronicles: 1960–64 by John Wells. TwoMorrows Publishing, 2012, p. 77.
Kilgore, Al; Mendelsohn, Jack; Berg, Dave (2015). Rocky and Bullwinkle: Classic Adventures (Paperback). Idea & Design Works, LLC. ISBN9781631404900. Al Kilgore, Dave Berg, Fred Fredericks, Jerry Robinson, Illustrators