- “In the next 55 minutes, this duckumentary explores the fall of Hollywood's brightest star who went from top dog to dead duck!”
- ―The narrator at the end of the title sequence
As Donald's fame grows, so does his ego. After being informed that Mickey Mouse would replace him as host of a variety show, Donald snaps. On the night of the show, Donald made a surprise appearance and attacked the studio audience with a machine gun in a crazed rage. This incident sends Donald's career and life into a downward spiral.
After Donald is fired from Walt Disney Studios, reporters interview Donald's family and former colleagues in an effort to determine the cause of the studio incident. Despite the interviewees' unanimous comments on Donald's fiery temper and massive ego, Donald himself dismisses these comments and believes himself to be a victim of unfortunate circumstances and an ungrateful public. Abandoned by his family and friends, Donald begins to slip into obscurity.
Faced with poverty, Donald attempts to find a job to support himself. With his monstrous temper continuing to hound him, however, Donald is fired from one job after another. Slowly realizing that he might actually have a personal problem but not quite willing to admit his own faults, Donald goes to the Research Institute of Duck Behavior for advice. After being told that relaxing could set his mind at ease, Donald tries a variety of methods for relaxation, including a visit to a carnival, a vacation in the countryside, and several hobbies, but to no avail.
Finally, Donald seeks psychiatric help from Ludwig Von Drake. Through Von Drake's session, Donald reveals that he has been deeply troubled by the seemingly minor setbacks in his life, such as his nephews' mischief, Pete's selfishness, and Mickey's grandeur. Because of these everyday negative events, Donald believes that everyone who offended him in some way are all involved in a mass conspiracy to ruin him. Von Drake then uses an insult machine as part of Donald's therapy, and he is seemingly cured. Donald thanks Von Drake and is ready to pay up, however, when he sees the bill he relapses upon thinking it is too expensive. Meanwhile, he has run out of all employment possibilities, and is forced to take the sole remaining job opening, pretending to be a duck decoy. which as the narrator remarks, should be "a job no duck would be fool enough to take". Donald, finally accepting that he has hit rock bottom, rents a squalid home and prepares for his new job. He takes a bus to his new residence, immediately going to bed right after he gets off the bus.
While asleep, Donald has a series of bizarre dreams where he sees himself at his absolute worst - an evil, selfish monster with a frightening temper. After this terrible revelation, he finally accepts responsibility for his own faults and vows to reform. Donald makes amends with his family and friends and is re-hired by Walt Disney Studios. Best of all, he reunites with Daisy, glad to see the "new him". Never again, he vows, would he lose his temper, which is about as believable, the narrator remarks, as believing that "a duck can talk – not all that clearly, mind you, but that's the way it is."
- Tony Anselmo - Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Huey, Dewey, and Louie
- Les Perkins - Mickey Mouse
- Albert Ash - Ludwig Von Drake
- Will Ryan - Pete and Goofy
- Harry Shearer - J. Audubon Woodlore, Additional Voices
- Stan Freberg - Narrator, Additional Voices
Featured cartoon clips
- "I Want a New Duck" by "Weird Al" Yankovic
- "You're No Good" by Linda Ronstadt
- "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton
- "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolf
- This is the first time Tony Anselmo voiced Huey, Dewey, and Louie. He would voice them again in Mickey Mouse Works and House of Mouse.
- The title card for this special parodies the movie poster for Down and Out in Beverly Hills, with Donald and Daisy substituting for Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler, respectively.