The best known Elmer Fudd cartoons include Chuck Jones' masterpiece What's Opera, Doc? (one of the few times Fudd bested Bugs, though he felt bad about it), the Rossini parody Rabbit of Seville, and the "Hunting Trilogy" of "Rabbit Season/Duck Season" shorts (Rabbit Fire, Rabbit Seasoning, and Duck! Rabbit, Duck!) with Fudd, Bugs Bunny, and Daffy Duck. An earlier character named Egghead set some of Elmer's characteristics before the character's most famous trademarks were set.
Tex Avery introduced a new character in his cartoon short Egghead Rides Again, released July 17, 1937. Egghead initially was depicted as having a bulbous nose, funny/eccentric clothing, a voice like Joe Penner (provided either by radio mimic Danny Webb or actor Cliff Nazarro) and an egg-shaped head. Many cartoon historians believe that Egghead evolved into Elmer over a period of a couple of years. However, animation historian Michael Barrier asserts, "The Egghead-Elmer story is actually a little messy, my sense being that most of the people involved, whether they were making the films or publicizing them, not only had trouble telling the characters apart but had no idea why they should bother trying." Egghead made his second appearance in 1937's Little Red Walking Hood and then in 1938 teamed with Warner Bros.' newest cartoon star Daffy Duck in Daffy Duck and Egghead. Egghead continued to make appearances in the Warner cartoons in 1938, such as in The Isle of Pingo Pongo and A-Lad-In Bagdad. In A Feud There Was (1938), Egghead made his entrance riding a motor scooter with the words "Elmer Fudd, Peacemaker" displayed on the side, the first onscreen use of that name. Egghead shifts from having a Moe Howard haircut to being bald, and wears a brown derby, a baggy suit, and a high-collared shirt. Egghead returned decades later in the compilation film Daffy Duck's Quackbusters. More recently, he also made a cameo appearance at the end of Looney Tunes: Back in Action and was also given in his own story, which starred him alongside Pete Puma, in the Looney Tunes comic book.
One animation history suggests that the Egghead character was based on Ripley's Believe It or Not! cartoonist and entertainer Robert Ripley, while the name Elmer Fudd might have been a reference to the then-popular hunter Elmer Keith.
Egghead has the distinction of being the first recurring character created for Leon Schlesinger's Merrie Melodies series (to be followed by such characters as Sniffles, Inki, and even Bugs Bunny), which had previously contained only one-shot characters, although during the Harman-Ising era, Foxy, Goopy Geer, and Piggy each appeared in a few Merrie Melodies.
One of Egghead's final appearances is A Day at the Zoo, which ends with Egghead being swallowed by a lion he had been taunting. Whether intentional or coincidental, this was the end for the Egghead character.