D and the wheel
D and the wheel poster

Donald and the Wheel is a Donald Duck short released 21 June 1961.


Two "Spirits of Progress", an adult and his beatnik son, are observing the potential inventor of the wheel caveman Donald. The elder is trying to explain the importance of the wheel to his son. They watch Donald trying to haul his supply sled up a hill and into a cave. Donald is chased out of the cave by a tiger. He gets away, but the tiger tumbles down the hill wrapped around a rock. The spirits tell Donald that this should be the inspiration for his invention of the wheel.

The spirits watch the evolution and widespread use of the wheel, including its use by the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, the horse-drawn vehicles of the Middle Ages, as well as buggies and carriages of the 19th century, culminating with the invention of the steam locomotive and the Industrial Revolution.

They also take time to explain various devices that use wheel-based parts, including gears like a music box, a gramophone and a jukebox. Inside the jukebox, a tiny lady dances on the records contemporary jazz, hoedown and classic ballet with Donald joining her. They enter the 20th century and the rise of factories and the automobile. They finally reach the present day, wrapping up with satellites. They also explain that the world itself is a wheel, and that the Sun, Moon, and planetary orbits act as wheels.

After seeing into the future, Donald appears overwhelmed and bewildered, and decides against inventing the wheel. He claims it is "too much trouble" and does not want to bear the enormous responsibility. The Spirits of Progress accept that Donald may not have been the one that invented the wheel, but note that "somebody did."