Hey there, BunnyGang!
Rabbits have held the collective attention of humans for centuries. As adorable, floppy-eared sweethearts, with frequent mischievous bents toward pulling heists in the vegetable garden, it’s no wonder that some of the best characters in pop culture have been rabbits. Below are some of our absolute favorites.
See how many you recognize from their pictures below, then read on for some fun facts, origin stories, and moral judgements about each of them.
Some of these bunnies may be more familiar to you than others, but it's pretty much guaranteed that you spent your formative years with at least a few of them. From beloved characters in media, to spokesmen for household products, to ancient symbols in folklore, rabbits have been on our minds for quite some time.
Take a look at our list below to learn about or reacquaint yourself with these iconic rabbits from pop culture.
Are you ready? Do you have your answers locked?
Alright, pencils down. Eyes on your own paper. Let's see how you did.
The first one should be a freebie:
1. Bugs Bunny from Looney Tunes
The king of cartoons, the original cartoon prankster, with a confidence far above his weight-class, Bugs Bunny represents hope for the underdog.
Bugs first officially bounced onto the scene in the 1940 Warner Bro’s short, “A Wild Hare.” Appearing opposite the willfully malevolent, though effectually innocuous hunter that would become his longtime sparring partner, Elmer Fudd. However, sleuths and cartoon aficionados can spot an early iteration of Bugs in the 1938 short, “Porky’s Hare Hunt."
It doesn't really seem fair to call Elmer and Bugs "nemeses," because by our count, the easily befuddled 50 year old baby in a hunting hat never once triumphed over his "prey."
From Bugs Bunny's debut as a back talking, tables-turning, calm-under-pressure rascal, the irreverent rabbit with the Flatbush Brooklyn accent, instantly cemented his spot in the zeitgeist with his unusual, but iconic type of cool.
"What's up, Doc?"
2. Lola Bunny from "Space Jam"
As quite clearly the most talented (animated) member of the Tune Squad basketball team in Space Jam (1996), Lola Bunny played a pivotal role in the world-defending showdown against the “Monstars.” Providing athletic inspiration, a gentle dose of feminism, and some early questions about puberty for many pre-teens in the 90s, Lola Bunny definitely earned her seat in the Famous Rabbits Hall of Fame.
3. Trix Rabbit from Trix cereal
One of the most bullied and unfairly denigrated of all commercial cereal mascots, in league with that poor Lucky Charms leprechaun, Trix rabbit just wanted a bowl of his own cereal. Just once. Was that too much to ask for? Apparently. He was more than willing to pay full price for a box of the serial that he was the sole ambassador for. His name is even on the box. Was it possibly a family company? Who knows. It's also unclear whether Trix Rabbit is being excluded based on his age or his species, but neither is okay! "Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids!"
Created for the General Mills cereal in 1959, Trix Rabbit has been unjustly put down since Day 1. Another famous rabbit on this list actually briefly appeared on Trix cereal boxes before Trix Rabbit's creation. Keep reading to find out who!
4. Roger Rabbit from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”
Originally created by author Gary K. Wolf for the 1981 novel, “Who Censored Roger Rabbit,” Roger is known for his titular role in Disney’s 1988 slapstick-noir feature film, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”
Possibly a creative forefather to Jar Jar Binx from Star Wars (though infinitely more endearing), Roger Rabbit is a hapless and wacky, though good-hearted thorn in his partner’s side. Despite some irksome personality traits, Roger quickly earns his partner’s sympathy, as well as ours, through his earnest vulnerability and the obvious injustice of his predicament. Seemingly an allegory for disparity in the legal system's treatment of whites and blacks in early Hollywood, Roger demonstrates a profound resilience in the face of unjust persecution.
5. Jessica Rabbit from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”
Written to resemble a stereotype upon first encounter, the film’s femme-fatale character, and wife to Roger Rabbit, contains within her more complexity than many of her live-action counterparts from film noir classics. Elusive and impossible to read, Jessica plays a perfectly nuanced and mysterious role.
Arguably the least rabbit-like rabbit on this list, she’s still an icon, still relevant, and still affects the daydreams of many grown men and women to this day.
6. Babs & Buster Bunny from “Tiny Toon Adventures”
Were they siblings? Cousins? Married? According to Babs, none of the above! “No relation,” clarifies Babs, suspiciously often. Just two rabbit kits, who are professional co-hosts, with the same last name, and who share an undeniable chemistry and rapport. In all fairness, “Bunny” does seem to be a relatively common last name in their community.
Our favorite thing about Buster and Babs? They are entirely co-dependent. Can you even picture them apart? Who would provide the setups or punchlines to each one's jokes? Even if the relationship between Buster and Babs is strictly professional, the fact that these kindred spirits found their counterparts in one another is something worth celebrating.
7. The White Rabbit from “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland”
This poor bunny. Anxiety disorder is real, and this little guy is horribly afflicted. It's hard to say if his panicky, people-pleasing nature comes from within, or is a direct result of the PTSD he's developed in service to his monstrous Duchess, although, upon second thought, no. It's not that hard to tell. The Duchess wrote the book on abusive relationships. Mood swings, physical and emotional violence, giving, then withholding affection, etc. We just hope this little rabbit in a waistcoat gets the help he needs.
White Rabbit was created by Lewis Carroll for his 1865 book, and as far as we can tell, White Rabbit hasn't had a day off ever since.
8. Bunnicula from the “Bunnicula” children’s book series by James and Deborah Howe
Bunnicula is an (almost certainly) innocent rabbit, who faces persecution by a mean cat, because he resembles a little furry vampire. This is a delightful book series, but the whole crux of Chester the cat’s witch hunt is that Bunnicula sucks the juice out of vegetables…instead of eating them normally? We never find out for sure if Bunnicula is, in fact, a vampire bunny, but barring any mutilated human or animal corpses, we’re pretty inclined to say "Live and let live" for this one.
9. Peter Rabbit/Peter Cottontail ("The Tale of Peter Rabbit," "The Adventures of Peter Cottontail") (children’s story series by Beatrix Potter, added to by Thornton Burgess)
Peter Rabbit was another early entry in our tradition of heroic rabbit rascals. He started as a letter from Beatrix Potter, in an attempt to make a sick, orphaned five year-old feel better. Later, conservationist Thornton Burgess added to the series, introducing a story where Peter briefly assumes the pseudonym, Peter Cottontail (hoping to give himself some added gravitas). Peter liked vegetables. Mr. & Mrs. McGregor had a vegetable garden. We can all sympathize with the frustration of having some little creature stealing the food you're growing, but the wanton bloodlust of Mr. & Mrs. McGregor, as well as the implied patricide, clearly put them on the wrong side of history.
Peter Rabbit was frequently impulsive, a definite thrill-seeker, and always in danger of following in his late father's footsteps. But he was also stealing food for his hungry sisters, which I think tells us all we need to know about this infamous rabbit "bad boy."
Peter Rabbit is the oldest licensed character, having been made as the first patented stuffed animal in 1903.
10. Energizer Bunny from Energizer Battery Commercials
Can’t stop, won’t stop! The Energizer Bunny rolled onto the scene in a series of TV commercials debuting in 1988, and has since appeared in more than 115 commercials. Initially satirizing He just keeps going and going, and going…
11. Rabbit from "Winnie the Pooh"
Crotchety, self-important, and anal-retentive, Rabbit is arguably the least cooperative of Pooh Bear’s friends (excusing Eeyore for his obvious clinical depression). You know what though? When push comes to shove, Rabbit always shows up for his friends. Say what you will about this curmudgeonly bunny’s many narcissistic personality traits, and they’ll be valid, but he’s still a loyal friend.
12. Thumper from “Bambi”|
Thumper is Bambi’s earnest and fun-loving best friend who, bless his heart, tries his best to help his friend Bambi, despite a complete lack of skill or savoir faire. What Thumper lacks in wisdom, he makes up for in tenacity and loyalty.
13. The Velveteen Rabbit from The Velveteen Rabbit book by Margery Williams Bianco
Read this book. Cry all day. Read it again.
This book is magical, timeless, and universally relatable. It makes you want to go into your parents' dusty attic and hug all of your childhood toys.
The Velveteen Rabbit was always a real one to us.
14. Br'er Rabbit (African Folklore)
We recently awarded Bugs Bunny with the title of The Original Cartoon Prankster. Well guess who taught him everything he knows?
We don't know how old he is, because his stories are the stuff of legends. A prankster character from West African storytellers, Br'er Rabbit is at least some centuries old, because the stories of him travelled to the Americas in the minds of kidnapped Africans during the slave trade. As his storytellers' lives and struggles changed, Br'er Rabbit's did as well. Always a symbol for the resilience of the oppressed, Br'er Rabbit is a prankster at heart, who sometimes triumphed over his oppressors, and sometimes tragically did not. His indomitable spirit is directly responsible for Bugs Bunny, the Disneyland ride Splash Mountain (Based on Disney's "Song of the South"), and countless other prankster heroes. Br'er Rabbit will forever now be tied to the struggles and injustices of black slavery in America.
15. Miffy from the picture books series by Dick Bruna
Miffy was created in 1955 by her author making up bedtime stories for his infant son. Miffy then starred in over 30 more books, selling 100 million copies, 4 international TV series, a feature film, and many believed inspired Hello Kitty's creation in 1974. Miffy is a mogul. She's occupied space in most children's minds for nearly the last 70 years. Miffy is a boss bunny.
16. Easter Bunny from the Pagan fertility goddess ‘Eostre’
What does Jesus have to do with the Easter Bunny? The origins of the Easter Bunny, and what Jesus has to do with a giant, dessert-hiding rabbit, are fascinating. Drumroll please. The Easter Bunny is… the spirit animal of a pagan fertility goddess! How’s that for a left turn? Jesus was more of an afterthought.
As Christianity spread west in the early centuries A.D., proselytizers had a tendency of replacing whatever local pagan holidays they encountered with Christian alternatives. Halloween (Samhain), Christmas (Yule Winter Solstice), and Easter (Ostara - the West Germanic celebration of the Spring Equinox) all became celebratory milestones in the story of Jesus’ life, or the spread of Christianity. The remnants of each holiday’s former iterations are tough to trace, but undeniable. That’s why we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus - by playing lawn games and eating sweets from a magical rabbit.
This also makes the Easter Bunny likely to be the oldest rabbit on our list, with the only possible contender being Br'er Rabbit.
Before we wrap this up, here are some famous Hares who deserve honorable mentions:
- March Hare from “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
The March Hare entered the vernacular by being, purportedly, even less mentally stable than the Mad Hatter. Wowza.
- Little & Big Nutbrown Hare from “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney & Anita Jeram
1-upsmanship has never been as heartwarming as when these two hares do it. Big Nutbrown, it should be mentioned, is one of the most positive depictions of a father figure in all of literature.
- The Hare from “The Tortoise and the Hare,” one of Aesop’s Fables
The tragic story (depending on your perspective) of an incredible athlete, who's arrogance or narcolepsy (depending on who's telling it) costs him all of his woodland-creature running endorsements.
How many of the famous rabbits on our list did you know?