Why cartoons work

Cartoons work because the characters know exactly what they want. On top of that, the antagonist can’t get it. The drama works because of that tension.

Remember Wile E. Coyote? What’s his problem? He wants to catch Road Runner but keeps falling off cliffs, getting smashed by trains, and blowing up. It’s the simplest plot in the world, but it works over and over again.

Ol’ Coyote never gets what he wants. That’s not the point. As viewers, we know he’s not going to catch the Road Runner, so the tension is actually about how Coyote will fail. That’s what we’re looking for. That’s what’s comical. That’s what’s entertaining.

The pursuit and failure, not the accomplishment.