The Goofy Gophers were created by Warners animator Robert Clampett for the 1947 short film "The Goofy Gophers". Norm McCabe had previously used a pair of gophers in his 1942 short Gopher Goofy, but they bear little resemblance to Clampett's characters. Clampett left the studio before the short went to production, so Arthur Davis took over as director. The cartoon features the gophers' repeated incursions into a vegetable garden guarded by a dog whom they relentlessly, though politely, torment. Voice actor Mel Blanc plays Mac and Stan Freberg Tosh. Both speak with high-pitched British accents like those used in upper-class stereotypes around at the time. After classic cartoons, Joe Alaskey plays Mac.
Some sources claim Clampett intended the Goofy Gophers to be a spoof of Disney's chipmunk characters, Chip 'n Dale, with whom they are sometimes confused. Others, however, point out that this seems unlikely given the two pairs of characters are so different in characterization. The only real similarities are the fact that the characters are rodents, are paired up, and have puns for names.
The gophers' mannerisms and speech were patterned after Frederick Burr Opper's comics characters Alphonse and Gaston, which in the early 1900s engendered a "good honest laugh". The crux of each four-frame strip was the ridiculousness of the characters' over-politeness preventing their ability to get on with the task at hand.
The pair's dialogue is peppered with such over politeness as "Indubitably!", "You first, my dear," and "But, no, no, no. It must be you who goes first!" The two often also tend to use unnecessarily long words, for example, in Lumber Jerks, instead of "We gotta get our tree back", they say "We must take vital steps to reclaim our property." Clampett later stated that the gophers' effeminate mannerisms were derived from character actors Franklin Pangborn and Edward Everett Horton.
Davis would direct one other Goofy Gophers short, 1948's "Two Gophers from Texas". This time, the dog from the first film pursues the gophers with a gopher cookbook in hand.
Robert McKimson was the next Warners director to utilize the characters. He pitted them against Clampett and Arthur's dog once again in the 1949 film "A Ham in a Role" wherein the dog's efforts to become a Shakespearean actor are foiled by the rambunctious rodents.
The Gophers lay dormant for two years until Friz Freleng made a series of four shorts beginning with 1951's "A Bone for a Bone", another dog-versus-gophers short. This was followed by "I Gopher You" in 1954, featuring the Gophers in their first cartoon without the dog, attempting to retrieve their vegetables from a food processing plant; "Pests for Guests" in 1955, which has the gophers counter-antagonize the helpless Elmer Fudd when he buys a chest of drawers that they found appropriate for nut storage; and "Lumber Jerks" later that year, where the Gophers visit a saw mill in an attempt to retrieve their stolen tree home.
After Freleng finished with the characters, they would star in two more cartoons, once again directed by McKimson. These two cartoons, "Gopher Broke" in 1958 and "Tease for Two" in 1965, pit the Gophers against the Barnyard Dawg and Daffy Duck, respectively. Both gophers were voiced by Mel Blanc in the latter short instead of one by Blanc and the other by Freberg.
The Goofy Gophers were largely forgotten by Warner Bros. in the years since the animation studio's closing in 1967. However, in recent years, they have made a few cameos in various Warners projects. They are seen briefly in the 1996 movie Space Jam, and are also briefly spotted peeking out of the brick wall that leads to Toontown in the final scene of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. They feature prominently in episodes of the animated series The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries ("I Gopher You") and Duck Dodgers ("K-9 Kaddy"). In the latter they are reinvented as green-furred, six-limbed Martian gophers.