Little Toot is the main protagonist of Disney's 1948 short film of the same name, a segment to the 1948 film Melody Time. He was originally created by children's author Hardie Gramatky, whose "Little Toot" book series remains popular to this day. His short was told in song by The Andrews Sisters. He goes from a troublemaker to hero in the story.
Little Toot is described as a playful but mischievous tugboat. Throughout the short, he is shown to be playful like making figure eights, not acting maturely like his father Big Toot. Since then, Big Toot scolds him to act like what a real tugboat does, causing him to reform. When an ocean liner is in danger, Little Toot changes his behavior and acts like Big Toot.
Little Toot is a mischievous little tugboat who lives in New York Harbor. While his father, Big Toot, works hard towing ships throughout the port and out to sea, Little Toot prefers to play about, but carelessly annoys the big ocean liners with his giant figure eights and smokeballs.
After nearly getting into trouble with the Harbor Patrol, Little Toot resolves to be more responsible like Big Toot. He tries to help him tug an ocean liner by pushing on its rudder but is unaware that this causes it to spin out of control, and it crashes into the city.
Because of this, he is escorted in chains outside the harbor limits by the Harbor Patrol as a punishment for his actions. He tearfully watches the other boats shun him as a criminal and Big Toot demoted to pulling garbage barges in disgrace.
12 miles outside the harbor, Little Toot is left alone. As the sky darkens, the sea grows rougher, and that's when he is taunted by menacing bell buoys and ignored by a lighthouse. A sudden storm breaks out around him, and to his surprise, he discovers an ocean liner in distress on the rocks. Thinking quickly, he puffs a smoky S.O.S. signal back to the harbor. With Big Toot in the lead, the other tugboats race to the rescue, but cannot make headway against the rough seas.
Little Toot meanwhile makes it to the stuck liner, which tosses him a tow line. At first, he can't pull the ship out, but he is struck by a lightning bolt, giving him enough strength to pull the liner free. Trying to rush for safety, he is engulfed by one final wave as the storm ends, submerging him.
All seems lost for the little tugboat, but Little Toot miraculously emerges on the surface coughing water from his smokestack. To much celebration, he then tows the liner into port all by himself, with Big Toot proudly watching. The lightning bolt hit also slightly injured him; his last scene shows him with a bandage on his stern.