Michigan J. Frog is a minor character who has appeared on occasion in the Looney Tunes film-shorts, having debuted in "One Froggy Evening" in 1955, and has the most prominence as the mascot of The WB Network and its programming block Kids' WB. He is a frog with quite a talent for singing and/or dancing. Ed Sullivan influenced the character, as told by Chuck Jones.
In "One Froggy Evening", a member of a wrecking crew finds Michigan sealed in a box that he discovers during the demolition of an old building. To the person's amazement, the frog he finds in said box is capable of dancing vaudeville-style and singing classic songs of the 1890s in a baritone voice. Michigan's new owner, seeing the monetary potential for such a character, tries to exploit him, but in every attempt to do so, it is discovered that Michigan is incapable of performing for any audience other than the person who found him. Eventually, the construction worker grows so frustrated with this that he reburies Michigan in a building that is under construction; the cartoon ends on Michigan being dug up by another would-be moneymaker years later in 2056.
Initially created without a name, the character was later given the name "Michigan J. Frog" when "One Froggy Evening" was announced to be on the following week's episode of The Bugs Bunny Show. The name comes from "The Michigan Rag", a song written for the cartoon that the frog sings at one point. The middle initial was later added as a suggestion made to Charles Jones in an interview.
Despite having only appeared in only one classic-era cartoon, Michigan became a popular figure in today's world. His first new appearance was in the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Psychic Fun-Omenon Day". Here, he is a seemingly dead frog whom Hamton J. Pig is assigned to dissect. To Hamton's surprise, Michigan is very much alive, but just like in the frog's original appearance, the pig's classmates do not believe him when he tells them his frog was singing.
Michigan's next appearance, which came in the very next episode, "The Wide World of Elmyra", also marked his only appearance as a villain. He torments Tyrone Turtle as he tries to cross a busy freeway while trying to escape Elmyra Duff. In the end, Elmyra ends up capturing Michigan.
In 1995, Michigan went on to his most prominent role of the 1990s, in which he served as the mascot for The WB Television Network. That same year, he also starred in a newly-made sequel entitled "Another Froggy Evening". Here, Michigan is discovered by various people in history, all of them resembling the construction worker from his first film, and all of whom fail to exploit him for money. By the end of the cartoon, the last person to find him (a desert island castaway) decides instead to eat him, but Michigan is then beamed up onto Marvin the Martian's spaceship, where he agrees to sing for Marvin (according to Marvin, Michigan's croaking sounds are actually him speaking in Martian language).
Michigan also made background cameos in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Space Jam, and Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and most recently, he appeared as a talent show emcee in the Duck Dodgers episode "Talent Show A-Go-Go". Besides this, he has made frequent cameos in the Looney Tunes comic books, one of his most notable being the Superman & Bugs Bunny mini-series, where he performs only for Green Arrow, who is naturally unable to convince anyone else that he has a singing frog.
On July 22nd, 2005, Michigan's "death" was announced by WB Network Chairman Garth Ancier, at a fall season preview, with the terse statement "The frog is dead and buried." The head of programming for the WB Network, David Janollari, announced services will be held for Mr. Frog, but failed to give details. Janollari stated that "[Michigan] was a symbol that perpetuated the young teen feel of the network, [but] that's not the image we [now] want to put out to our audience." Various humorous obituaries for the mascot were published with details on Michigan's life and death. His dates were given as December 31, 1955 - July 22, 2005. Despite this decision by Ancier, Michigan J. Frog still appeared in some WB affiliate logos and in TV spots until the network shut down in September 2006.
- "One Froggy Evening" (first appearance) (1955)
- Tiny Toon Adventures
- "Another Froggy Evening" (1995)
- S1E86 "Night of the Living Buttons" (cameo appearance) (1996)
- Space Jam (appears as auditor) (1996)
- The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries
- Looney Tunes: Back in Action (background cameo) (2003)
- Duck Dodgers
- S1E04 "Talent Show A-Go-Go" (2004)
- S1E21 "Misjudgment Day" (2004)
- "Y'know, Shakespeare said, 'To be or not to be.' I say, 'Dubba dubba WB!'"
- "Y'know when they asked me to to join the WB, I say 'Sure.' What's the WB?"
- "Y'know when the FCC told us to rate ourselves, I said 'Sure.' How about a 40 share?"
- "I'd like to extend a warm Warner welcome to the Tiny Toons. They're going to make this a great fall here at Kids' WB!"
- "And now another Men In Black fact: Cream filling will paralyze a Sandershwart. And you thought junk food was bad for you!"
- "Hello ma baby, tune into Muscle: it ain't about liftin' weights."
- "While you're watching this show, and howlin' at the jokes, remember it's been brought to you by those Saturn folks."
- "Okay everybody, it's time for a song from the little network with a big sign."
- "This has been a production of..."
- "While you sit down and watch your show, the people at McDonald's have got this little question to know. Have you had your break today?"
- "Red Dog Beer is bold, yet smooth. Nice a bit to sponsor this show for you."
- "Everybody wants the W, everybody likes the W, come on baby, watch the WB!"
- "There's more comedy for the family Wednesday night. Stick around, you drama fans, Savannah's on tonight."
- Bill Roberts - "One Froggy Evening"
- Jeff McCarthy - "Another Froggy Evening"
- John Hillner - Tiny Toon Adventures
- Joe Alaskey - The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries