Traunt Officer Donald is a 1941 cartoon starring Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. The cartoon was nominated for Best Short Subject, but lost to the Mickey Mouse short film Lend a Paw.
Carl Barks, one of the writers for the short, would later reuse the basic concept of the short for a comic story, except the comic was set in the wintertime rather than summertime.
Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck are enjoying a nice, leisurely swim in the lake. But they are being watched behind the SCHOOL sign, by Truant Officer Donald Duck. He has a duty to uphold: to make sure all kids are in school. He captures Dewey and Louie, but Huey swims away. Donald throws out a fishing line and eventually lands him.
He drives them to the schoolhouse in his truant officer van. While he endlessly goes on about the importance of a good education, the boys pull out their rather large pocket knives, managing to cut themselves out of the van and make a run for it. Donald notices the back of his van is gone and he chases the boys to their clubhouse.
Donald tries to get in, but gets shot out of a cannon. He jacks up the clubhouse to load onto his van, but the boys manage to reverse the jack so it comes back down on top of Donald. He tunnels out and decides to smoke the boys out. Meanwhile, inside the clubhouse, the boys are cooking three chickens over the fire when suddenly they notice smoke pouring in, so they decide to beat Donald at his own game. They put the chickens in the bed and escape through the roof. Donald peeks inside to see if his ploy had worked, but when Donald sees the three cooked chickens in the bed, he thinks the boys were cooked alive, making him feel horrible. Then, Huey disguises himself as an angel and the other two lower him into the clubhouse ("Hello," the duck says meekly, "how art thou?"), and he manages to kick Donald in the rear. The second kick causes him to fall down and his disguise falls off. This causes Donald to finally capture his nephews and take them to school.
However, when they reach the schoolhouse door, Donald gets a surprise when he reads the notice tacked to it, saying that school is closed for the summer holidays, and realizes he made a mistake in thinking his nephews were playing hooky when they really weren’t. His nephews then turn and give Donald an angry glare, and Donald literally shrinks from embarrassment over his mistake.
- Disneyland, episode #4.7: "Duck for Hire"
- The New Mickey Mouse Club, October 4, 1977
- Good Morning, Mickey, episode #43
- Mickey's Mouse Tracks, episode #51
- Donald's Quack Attack, episode #8
- The Ink and Paint Club, episode #1.51: "Triple Trouble"
- Walt Disney Cartoon Classics: Disney's Best of 1931-1948 (VHS/laserdisc)
- Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald (DVD)
- The cartoon and comic, both written by Carl Barks, have a substantially different ending: in the comic, Donald spends many days trying to send the triplets to school, and when he finally manages to do it, it's a Saturday and school is closed, but Donald pulls out a key for the school and punishes them for their previous tricks and skipped days by making them repeatedly write "crime doesn't pay" on the blackboard.