Title - Duck Amuck
Director - Chuck Jones
Released - 1953
Interesting Fact -- Voted #2 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field in 1994
Reason for Placement --
I can actually remember getting excited when this cartoon came on. Everyone's favorite little black duck starts out the toon as a swashbuckling action hero... only to soon run out of background. And so we begin a battle for the ages, as Daffy dukes it out with the "unnamed" animator to get the cartoon underway (and just to give you an idea of how big a nerd I am, I can actually remember geeking out when they revealed who the animator was).
This cartoon was actually started as a kind of experiment by Jones; he wanted to see that if you really changed a popular cartoon character around, would you still recognize him? If you took away his voice, or made him look like THAT (see above photo), would you still know it was Daffy Duck? Plus, this was one of the first cartoons to have the main character break the 4th wall, directly addressing that he knows he's in a cartoon and he knows there's an audience. Daffy is in rare form as he tries to get the toon under control, only to be thwarted constantly by the animator. We all love watching Daffy lose his temper and go nuts at his foe, and the short makes it even better by not letting us see the antagonist: it's just Daffy on his own, pulling out his own feathers and losing every shred of dignity he has.
Even now as an adult, I still find myself reciting the dialogue along with Daffy; it's like listening to your favorite song on the radio, you don't even realize you're doing it.
This toon has been parodied to death by nearly everyone: my personal favorites include the Nostalgia Critic's homage during his "Old vs. New: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory vs. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" video, and the final episode of Clerks: The Animated Series. It's also worth mentioning that this short had a sequel made only two years later: Rabbit Rampage, which featured Bugs Bunny in the same situation, forced to participate in a cartoon where he knows the animator is going to make his work a living hell. This is an absolutely hilarious short, and yes, I really wanted to find room for it on the countdown, but decided that I could only give one spot to this story, and I had to give it to Duck Amuck.