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Animaniacs (TV Series 1993–1998) Poster

(1993–1998)

Trivia

Whenever someone says something that could be interpreted as being a dirty joke, Yakko blows a kiss to the audience, and says, "Goodnight, everybody."
The Goodfeathers, a satire of the Warner Brothers film Goodfellas (1990) were made to reflect the personalities of the film's main stars. Bobby the blue pigeon is meant to be Robert De Niro, Pesto the purple pigeon is meant to be Joe Pesci, and Squit the gray pigeon is meant to be Ray Liotta. in addition, The God Pigeon is meant to be Marlo Brando from The Godfather (1972).
Executive Producer Steven Spielberg came up with the idea to have an original musical score in every episode.
During the theme song the characters proudly anounce that "We have pay or play contracts". This is a Hollywood term meaning the performer is paid whether or not he plays - this was a big deal in the days of contract studio players.
Jess Harnell modeled Wakko's voice after Ringo Starr of The Beatles. He originally modeled the Liverpudlian accent after John Lennon, but he decided to go with Ringo instead because Wakko was shorter than the others.
The shape of Dot's head mimics the shape of the Warner Bros. shield logo.
After all of the characters were created, they were shown to Executive Producer Steven Spielberg for final approval. Buttons and Mindy were chosen by his daughter.
The Pinky and the Brain sketch titled, "Yes, Always", was taken virtually word for word from a recording of Orson Welles doing a commercial and berating the director and his suggestions for Welles' delivery. In this recording, Welles uses some rather bad language, which was changed for the sketch.
After a few seasons the line "Bill Clinton plays the sax" was removed from the opening credits. It was briefly replaced with the line "We have wisecracks by the stacks", but it soon gave way to "We pay tons of income tax".
The water tower where the Warners live and many other features of the Warner lot are rather accurate representations of the Warner Studios lot in Burbank California. (Although, the real water tower is all gold, not red on top.)
Writer/producer Sherri Stoner created Slappy the Squirrel after her friend and fellow writer John P. McCann made fun of her career playing troubled teenagers. McCann said she'll be playing troubled teens into her fifties. So she went the other direction, and created an older person acting like a teenager.
The music for the series was provided by a 35 piece orchestra and scored by a team of six composers.
Steven Spielberg said that the humour of social commentary and irreverence of the Warners were inspired by The Marx Brothers and the Looney Tunes cartoons.
The Wheel of Morality segments were created to fill time when an episode was running short.
Patrick Stewart was considered for the role of The Brain.
The Goodfeathers theme song is a parody of 'That's Amore' by Dean Martin.
Deanna Oliver came up with an idea for a gecko character that eventually became the GEICO Gecko.
The show, during its initial run, was more popular with teenagers and adults, than children. This became a problem as The WB always placed it inside of their "Kids WB" programming block, which eventually caused the series to be canceled, as sponsors of the block felt uneasy about footing the bill for an audience they couldn't sell products to.
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In the opening of the Pinky and The Brain segments, Brain writes "THX=1138" on the blackboard. This is a reference to THX 1138 (1971), written and directed by George Lucas. Lucas is a near life-long best friend of Steven Spielberg, Executive Producer for Animaniacs.
Maurice LaMarche based the voice of The Brain on Orson Welles. LaMarche also later played Welles by dubbing over Vincent D'Onofrio's voice for Ed Wood (1994).
DC Comics published an Animaniacs comic book. From 1995-2000, the comic ran for 59 issues plus two specials.
The Animaniacs theme is in part a satire of "This Is It", the theme song from The Bugs Bunny Show (1960). For example, Bugs and company sing "No more nursing, rehearsing a part. We know every part by heart." The Animaniacs sing, "The writer's flipped. We have no script. Why bother to rehearse?"
When Tom Ruegger created Buster Bunny for Tiny Toon Adventures (1990) he wanted to create a catch phrase (to parallel Bugs' "What's up, Doc?"). All he could think of was the old vaudeville standby "Hello, nurse!" but that made no sense for the character. Now the phrase is used by Yakko and Wakko when greeting Dr. Scratchansniff's attractive assistant or any desirable woman.
Pinky and the Brain are caricatures of Tiny Toon Adventures (1990) storyboard artist/writer Eddie Fitzgerald and writer/staffer/storyboard artist Tom Minton, respectively.
Jess Harnell normally provided the voice for Wakko. However, for the Great Wakkorotti belching segments, the voice is provided by Maurice LaMarche.
Nathan Ruegger's voice began to change while voicing Skippy Squirrel. Rather than recast the part, the studio began altering his voice recordings to make them sound higher.
Many different last lines were used for the show's theme song. The most frequent was "Here's the show's name-y", but others include "Shirley MacLaine-y", "Citizen Kane (1941)-y", "Tarzan and Jane-y", "Pinky and the Brain (1995)-ey", "Come back Shane (1953)-y," "Where's Lon Chaney?" and "Dana Delany." (When shown on Nicktoons TV, however, the line is always "Nickilaney").
The character of Minerva Mink was scaled back because the network censors deemed her too sexually suggestive for the show's intended audience.
The Warner siblings are based in a roundabout way on senior producer Tom Ruegger's three real-life children. Originally, they were going to be ducks named Yakki, Smakki and Wakki, but this idea was canned (it was thought to be too similar to DuckTales (1987)), and the three were changed into platypi, then into Bosko-like inkblots. Along the way, they gained a female friend; finally, Yakki became Yakko, Smakki and Wakki were combined into Wakko, and the female friend was named Dot and made their sister.
Whenever Nathan Ruegger (Skippy) had to laugh as part of the script but couldn't laugh convincingly enough, his dad Tom Ruegger would come into the studio to tickle him.
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Slappy Squirrel was originally an older version of Screwy Squirrel, but the creators couldn't get the rights. Sherri Stoner liked the idea of an aged cartoon character because an aged cartoon star would know the secrets of other cartoons and "have the dirt on [them]"
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The CEO, Thaddeus Plotz's last name is Yiddish for "explode."
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Rob Paulsen modeled Pinky's voice after Frank Spencer, the protagonist from the BBC sitcom Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em (1973).
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The series was made with a higher production value than standard television animation; the show had a higher cel count than most TV cartoons. The characters often move fluidly, and do not regularly stand still and speak, as in other television cartoons.
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Rita and Runt were phased out of the series because Bernadette Peters was getting too expensive to hire.
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According to Steven Bernstein and Julie Bernstein, not only was the music written in the same style as that of Looney Tunes composer Carl W. Stalling, but that the music used the same studio and piano that Stalling used.
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Sherri Stoner invented Dot's full name (Princess Angelina Contessa Louisa Francesca Banana Fanna Bo Besca III) using the song "The Name Game" by Shirley Ellis and also patterned it after Pippi Longstocking's full name: Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter Longstocking.
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Throughout the series, Dot Warner's voice gets slightly deeper each episode, and is also evident in the movie Animaniacs: Wakko's Wish (1999). This was Tress MacNeille's idea, as she thought it would be a good idea to have the Warners age, and have Dot go through puberty.
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Before the end credits of the final episode, a special message is displayed saying "A special THANK YOU to all those who have contributed to the success of Animaniacs".
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A running gag throughout the entire run of the series was characters trying to figure out what species the Warners are. The usual answer given was, "We're the Warners!"
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Dot was modeled on, among others, Gilda Radner.
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The writers phased The Hip Hippos out of the series when they proved to be unpopular with viewers.
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Kathryn Page, who is credited with all sorts of crazy things (see the Crazy Credits section), is really one of the assistants of the show's senior producer, Tom Ruegger.
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Runt was modeled on Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man (1988).
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One unused idea for the series was a soap opera parody about amoebas called As the Petri Dish Turns.
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Mr. Director was a caricature of Jerry Lewis.
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Yakko appeared as an inflatable balloon display on top of the water tower in Burbank in real life, this was in promotion of the show before it was released. However, when Bob Daley, who ran the studio at the time, saw the balloon, he thought that for some reason, Mickey Mouse was sitting on top of the tower and he requested it to be removed. It was removed but not before Paul Rugg took a photo of the balloon.
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During the song "Hello Nurse", Wakko reveals that he is only 7 years old.
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One of the regulars (Ralph the Guard) was a recurring character in the later episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures (1990); also, several other characters have made cameo appearances, and the theme song from it shows up occasionally as well. See also Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain (1998).
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Because the Warners were portrayed as cartoon stars from the early 1930s, Tom Ruegger and other artists for Animaniacs made the images of the Warners similar to cartoon characters of the early 1930s.
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In later episodes, a variation on the theme's last line features Yakko making a yawning sound.
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Sherri Stoner commented that when she gave an impression of what the voice would be to Steven Spielberg, he said she should play Slappy.
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Charlie Adler auditioned to do voicework on this show (and his rejection is why he quit Tiny Toon Adventures (1990)).
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Nicholas Hollander based Katie Kaboom on his teenage daughter.
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Yakko was modeled in Groucho Marx.
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The music played during the title card of Slappy Squirrel's segments is an excerpt from Antonín Dvorák's "Humoresque".
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Yakko almost resembles British comedian, actor, writer and singer Paul Whitehouse of Harry Enfield and Chums (1994) and The Fast Show (1994) fame.
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Wakko's quieter nature, gaggy bag and "gookies" are derived from Harpo Marx.
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The staff retired the Minerva Mink shorts after only two episodes because the sexual undertones were too blatant.
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At one point, the introduction of a fourth Warner, named Lakko, was considered. He would have been the straight man of the team, modeled after Zeppo Marx. The Animaniacs film for which he was developed, "Wandering Warners We," never made it past the development stage.
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In a "Animaniacs" tribute by Doug Walker (The Nostalgia Critic), Walker, who had done a video listing 11 of the "naughtiest" moments in the show, was curious as to how the writers were able to get so many "naughty" jokes past the censors (such as the famed fingerprints" joke). The consensus from writers Tom Ruegger, Sheri Stoner, Paul Rugg and John P. McCann was essentially "We have no idea."
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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