The first “official” Bugs Bunny cartoon was released by Warner Bros. on July 27, 1940— “A Wild Hare,” featuring Elmer Fudd’s hopeless pursuit of Bugs. Bugs’ first line in this cartoon? “Eh, What’s up Doc?” The classic theatrical shorts were produced through 1964.
In TV terms, Warner Bros. released its Looney Tunes cartoon shorts to the new medium in 1955 and they were shown on local stations in evening slots. From 1960-62, The Bugs Bunny Show aired on ABC in prime time (where it found itself opposite CBS’ Marshal Dillon and NBC’s Laramie!). Departing for Saturday mornings under such titles as The Bugs Bunny—Road Runner Show, the Saturday morning version became, according to Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh’s The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, the longest continuously running Saturday morning children’s program in the history of network television.
Animator Chuck Jones directed many of the classic Bugs Bunny theatrical shorts, including— “Rabbit of Seville,” and “What’s Opera, Doc?” He was interviewed by the Archive of American Television on June 17, 1998.
“What’s up, Doc?’ is now known as a funny line. It wasn’t funny. It’s only funny because of the situation. You put it in human terms: you walk up to the front room, the door is partly open, there’s some guy shooting into your living room. So what do you do? You run if you have any sense. The least you do is call the cops. But what if what you do, you come up and tap him on the shoulder and look over and say, ‘What’s up, Doc?” You’re interested in what he’s doing. It’s ridiculous. That’s not what you say at a time like that. So, that’s why it’s funny I think. In other words, it’s asking a perfectly legitimate question, in a perfectly illogical situation.”
— Chuck Jones