The word "Gossamer" is derived from the Middle English gossomer, from "gos" meaning goose & "somer" meaning summer, which translates to something light, delicate, or insubstantial. The name is meant to be ironic, since the character is large, menacing, and destructive.
Animator Chuck Jones introduced the monster character in the 1946 film Hair-Raising Hare. In it, Bugs Bunny is lured to the lair of a mad scientist as food for Gossamer. The monster (unnamed here) serves as the scientist's henchman. Part of this plot was repeated in the 1952 Jones short Water, Water Every Hare, in which the character was referred to as "Rudolph". The monster would remain dormant for decades until Jones used the character once more in Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24½th Century in 1980. This is the first cartoon where the character is called "Gossamer", and is so named by Marvin the Martian. Jones gave the monster this name "because he's the opposite looking of gossamer. He's a big, hairy thing."
Gossamer has also appeared in a cameo role in a number of recent Warner Bros productions. He appeared in 1990s episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures, including a prominent role in a Frankenstein parody segment in the Tiny Toons Night Ghoulery special. He appears briefly in the 1996 movie Space Jam (in a car before the big game), and he has also been featured in a number of episodes of The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries. He was used as an enemy in Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 4 and his silhouette appears on the cover of the game. He is a boss character in the Looney Tunes video games Taz: Escape from Mars, Sheep, Dog, 'n' Wolf and Taz: Wanted. Gossamer also makes a cameo in the Pinky and the Brain episode Star Warners. Gossamer appeared in the Aaahh!!! Real Monsters episode "Monsters are Real" where a he was shown on The Gromble's monitor as one of the best monsters to scare people and animals.
In recent years, Warner Bros marketers seem to have seized upon the character. Gossamer's image is available on all sorts of Warner's merchandise, from T-shirts to ball caps to plush toys. This sort of marketing helped propel The Tasmanian Devil to new-found stardom, and it is seemingly helping Gossamer's popularity to some extent. In 2001, Gossamer returned in the Sheep Raider video game. He (or a descendant) also appears in the Loonatics Unleashed series as a wrestling rival for Slam Tasmanian named Gorlop, who hails from "the planet Gossamer". A younger Gossamer appeared in an episode of Baby Looney Tunes as a helper in Pepe Le Pew's garden. He also appears in 2006's Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas as a Security Guard who has to work overtime without pay for greedy Daffy Duck.
A clip in the deleted-scenes featurette on the Looney Tunes: Back in Action DVD features Gossamer being harassed by Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman), suggesting that Gossamer was planned to make an appearance in the film, but it was deleted. However, a full look at this scene is not shown in the full deleted scenes clips on the DVD-ROM.