If you never saw the show Animaniacs while growing up, then you definitely weren’t a 90s kid. Animaniacs was a game changer for many cartoons at the time, and I’d say the show revolutionized TV animation. It took cartoons and made them enjoyable for both kids and adults. With Animaniacs, there was something for everyone to enjoy.
My brothers and I would actually quote Animaniacs all the time. We loved the witty banter between the Warner siblings. As I got older, I began to appreciate the animation of the show, as well as the crazy style and humor. Oh, and the parodies and celebrity references; those were really fun to recognize. There was also an insane amount of music, whether it was original or parodies. Basically, compared to a lot of previous cartoons, Animaniacs decided to treat kids like adults and have fun with it.
I think for many of us, Animaniacs defined a lot of our childhood. It’s likely where we got our weird sense of humor, our love of playing with words and puns, and our very sarcastic nature. This was a show that liked to push its limits, and we enjoyed every minute of it.
That being said, how much do you know about Animaniacs? Since it has 99 episodes, there are quite a few interesting tidbits and facts about this show that many people likely don’t know. From production to airing, each episode was wild ride for the staff. So here are 25 interesting facts about Animaniacs that you probably didn’t know. Think we missed a few? Be sure to let us know!
25 The Warner... Ducks?
You can’t have Animaniacs without the Warner Siblings: Yakko, Wakko, and Dot. These guys were a great source of hilarity, and the way they played off everyone and each other was just fantastic. Their different personalities worked well together and they always had some zany shenanigans going on, frustrating pretty much anybody who had to interact with them.
But did you know that the original designs for these cartoon siblings were going to be different? They were originally going to be ducks and were called Yakki, Smakki, and Wakki. So why change them to what they are now (especially since we’re not quite sure what they are)? Apparently, the creators decided that there were too many ducks in the animation world as it was, so they decided to go for something a little different.
24 Should We Be Afraid Of These Episodes?
Now, there were a lot of jokes that managed to get past the censors, and I’m frankly surprised how much the network actually let them get away with. Animaniacs definitely pushed the boundaries on what was appropriate for children’s programming. But apparently, there are a couple of fully recorded episodes that never ended up airing.
In these recordings, the voice actors were pretty much having a heyday, and it shows. These recordings are full of swearing and all kinds of jokes you probably wouldn’t want your kids hearing. I think, basically, the actors just needed a break and did a couple sessions where they could say whatever they wanted. I have to say that I personally would love to check out these episodes. They would be pretty entertaining.
23 Animaniacs Is Coming Back!
Did you know that as of 2017, a reboot of Animaniacs is in pre-production? That’s right, we are getting a reboot of this zany and wonderful cartoon! Animaniacs fans can rejoice! Although when asked, the original creator of Animaniacs had a couple of things to say.
Tom Ruegger has said that he doesn’t think Animaniacs would work as well as a modern cartoon. The reason behind this is actually due to the audience. Most modern cartoons today have their own niche and tend to cater more specifically to a type of audience. Since Animaniacs had a very broad audience, Tom’s not sure if it would do as well. But then again, it’s got the nostalgia feel going for it, so it may do well. We can only hope!
22 This Show Gave Us Animaniacs
Did you know that Animaniacs technically wasn’t an original work? Well, it was an original work, but the idea for it didn’t just come out of thin air. The show was actually a spin-off of another popular cartoon series going on called Tiny Toons Adventures.
After Tiny Toons did so well, Spielberg said that they needed to do another cartoon similar to it. The inspiration for the Warner siblings came from Plucky Duck, and the show was originally going to be just about him. But the creators decided to go in a different direction, and that’s how we got Yakko, Wakko, and Dot. It’s amazing how one show can actually come from another. Animaniacs itself has inspired other spin-offs such as Pinky and the Brain.
21 Now I Want To See Rita On Broadway
You can’t deny that Rita, the wise-cracking cat, had a very beautiful voice. All of her shorts had her belting out some gorgeous songs, whether they were originals or parodies of famous songs. I still remember their parody of Les Miserables, and it was fantastic!
But there is a reason why Rita’s voice is so good, and that’s because she was voiced by Bernadette Peters, a talented Broadway actress. The creators were actually going to have Ricky Lee Jones voice Rita. But when she backed out a week before recording was supposed to start, they contacted Peters, sending her a formal letter and everything. She responded to the invitation with a resounding yes. So, Rita’s voice could’ve sounded rather different.
20 These Guys Have A Real-Life Inspiration
It’s not that surprising how much inspiration for cartoons come from real life. In the case of Animaniacs, a lot of the stories and shorts were inspired by things that had actually happened to the writers. But did you know that the Warner siblings had their own real-life inspirations?
The show’s creator, Tom Ruegger, based the Warner siblings on his own kids. You know, this actually does make a lot of sense, since many of the Warner siblings’ antics are pretty childish. They’ve mastered the art of being simultaneously hilarious and annoying that only kids can really do. Plus, the way they interact with each other is definitely a sibling dynamic. I wonder if Ruegger’s kids know they helped inspired a fantastic cartoon series?
19 Brain Was Going To Sound Very Different
The Pinky and the Brain shorts got so popular that they became their own spin-off series, and there’s a good reason for it. It has a great combination of witty and absurd humor as it pits a genius mouse against a rather dim-witted, insane mouse. Brain’s attempts to take over the world are hilarious and get even funnier as he’s constantly thwarted by Pinky, unwittingly.
But did you know, that Brain almost had a different voice actor? Originally the producers wanted Patrick Stewart to be the voice for our brilliant little megalomaniac. We don’t know why that didn’t happen (maybe it was a clash of schedules), but Maurice LaMarche was chosen instead to voice Brain. To be honest, while I do think Stewart would’ve done a great job, I loved LaMarche’s performance. It’s hard to imagine Brain’s voice as anyone else’s.
18 A Borrowed Catchphrase
The catchphrase that we likely remember the most from Animaniacs was “Helloooo Nurse!” and its many variations. Yakko and Wakko would often say this whenever they saw Dr. Scratchansniff’s attractive nurse or any other attractive female. It was actually pretty funny and made for a very quotable line. But did you know that this catchphrase wasn’t originally written for the Warner Brothers?
The catchphrase was created initially for Buster Bunny to use whenever he saw Babs Bunny in Tiny Toons. But they could never get it to work coming out of Buster’s mouth. It always just sounded so weird. So, the writers scrapped the catchphrase and it was later used for Animaniacs. Looks like the show’s creators were often reusing and recycling content. Hey, whatever works for you guys.
17 This Lovely Lady Didn't Get Much Screen Time
Who doesn’t remember Minerva Mink, the scandalously sultry character that made every male character drop their jaws and howl at the sky? She was basically like Hello Nurse but on steroids. She was likely many boys first crush, and the shorts she was in often capitalized on her sensuality. Say what you will, Minerva was definitely a memorable character in Animaniacs.
But Minerva actually has the least number of solo shorts out of all the characters on Animaniacs (she only has two). And the reason behind that was she looked too good. Her character was deemed too suggestive for the show’s audience, so she was scaled back. The character was even redesigned so that she had less cleavage. Didn’t think you could get censored for looking too attractive.
16 This Guy Was Also A Big Part Of Your Childhood
While Steven Spielberg produced Animaniacs, it was Tom Ruegger who helped create and direct the show. He came up with the idea of the Warner siblings and he was instrumental in how the show came to be. But what you might not know is that this isn’t his first time working on cartoons. He’s also done work on a few other shows that were likely part of your childhood.
Before Animaniacs, Tom Ruegger worked on He-Man, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, and even Batman: The Animated Series. That’s right, the man who helped create one of the zaniest cartoon series in the 90s also worked on one of the more serious cartoons as well. It just goes to show how versatile he was and how he could make a show work for its intended audience.
15 You've Got To Face The Music
Another memorable aspect of Animaniacs was the music. Whether they were parodying popular songs and musicals or coming up with their own original works, this show was steeped in music and having a lot of fun with it. The score itself was done incredibly well, fitting the tone of the show in that old-style cartoon. We have Steven Spielberg, the producer, to thank for the music.
Spielberg insisted that each episode feature at least one original orchestral score. That meant that they had a full-on orchestra playing and recording music for these episodes in the studio. That’s pretty intense for a cartoon series. But in the end, it paid off, since the music for this show really is memorable and fantastic. It’s won quite a few awards too!
14 These Two Have Pretty Epic Names!
Fans may remember that Dot’s name is actually short for a much longer name: Princess Angelina Contessa Louisa Francesca Banana Fanna Bo Besca the Third. Yikes, how did that name come about? Well, it actually took inspiration from another plucky female character.
Producer/writer Sherri Stone came up with Dot’s full name and said that she was inspired by Pippi Longstocking. This girl also had a very long name, which was Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter Longstocking. I think it was both a tribute to the character and poking fun at characters who have these ridiculously long names. My question is how on earth did they get Dot out of that name? It doesn’t really make any sense, but then again, neither does the show half the time, so it’s fine.
13 These Cuties Almost Didn't Make The Cut
Mindy and Buttons were a great segment of Animaniacs with the adorable baby Mindy getting into incredibly dangerous situations and her loyal dog Buttons protecting her from danger, often to his own detriment. It was both cute and really funny, making great use of slapstick humor. But what you may not know is that these two almost didn’t make into the show.
It's actually thanks to Steven Spielberg’s kids that the two got put into the show. Spielberg was thinking about cutting Mindy and Buttons, but when his kids saw drawings of them, they loved them. Apparently, that made Spielberg change his mind about taking the characters out. So, the whole reason our favorite girl and dog duo are even on the show is due to kids of the producer. Good job, guys!
12 We're Just Killing Time Here
Remember the Wheel of Morality, where the Warner siblings try to decide what the moral of this episode was? It was a great way to include more witty humor and have fun with some popular quotes and morals. Plus, we got more entertaining banter between the Warner siblings. But what was the purpose of the Wheel of Morality segment? Apparently, it was just to fill time.
Not all of the shorts for the episodes always took up the right amount of time. Sometimes they had a few minutes leftover of time, which wasn’t enough for another short. That’s where the Wheel of Morality comes in. The repetitive nature of this segment meant that they could reuse animation cheaply, so it was an easy way to fill up the extra time and still be entertaining.
11 Don't Blink, You Might Miss This Reference
There are quite a few references in Animaniacs. Between all the celebrity cameos and the parodies, nothing was safe. In fact, it got to the point that it was considered a compliment and a badge of honor if Animaniacs made a parody of you. But the show also snuck in some subtler references (well, subtle for Animaniacs anyway).
One of these was a reference to Mystery Science Theater 3000, the popular TV show that made fun of terrible Sci-Fi movies. In the episode, “Potty Emergency,” the Warner siblings are at a movie theater watching a Sci-Fi movie. If you look closely, you can see the characters for Mystery Science Theater 3000, MST3K, show up in the movie. It just goes to show the detail that went into this show.
10 Some Jokes Were Off The Table
It’s no secret that Animaniacs is full of joke that would likely sail over kids heads, but make an adult laugh. Despite the work of the network censors, a lot of adult humor snuck its way into the show (I still don’t know how they got that “fingerprints” joke past the censors). What also made it funny was after a particularly irreverent joke happened, Yakko would often say, “Good night, everybody!” as if expecting to get taken off the air.
But despite the leniency the writers had, there was one joke that Spielberg himself outlawed: fat jokes. Apparently, Spielberg saw that positive body image was very important, and to joke about that would be inappropriate. I can see why that might have been a big deal; there’s still such a focus on body image.
9 This Song Came From An Unlikely Source
Remember the famous song, “Yakko’s World” where Yakko sang all the countries in the world? It was catchy and educational. And Rob Paulsen, Yakko’s voice actor, still has the song memorized and will sometimes sing it at conventions. The song has become one of the most popular songs in Animaniacs. But where did it come from?
Apparently, the guy who wrote the song wasn’t even working on Animaniacs at the time. Randy Rogel was working on Batman: The Animated Series when he wrote the song. The story goes that he was helping out his son with his geography homework when he realized he could make a song out of the countries. So, he wrote it up. He then gave it over to the writers of Animaniacs, since he figured they could use it. They eventually brought him on as a staff writer too!
8 Wakko Would Totally Be A Rock Star
The part of Wakko was actually Jess Harnell’s first big step into voice acting (he’d done a few smaller roles but nothing like Wakko). You wouldn’t have thought it with how he nailed the part (apparently, he did receive tips and help from the more experienced voice actors). But another thing you may not have known is that Jess Harnell is also the lead vocalist in a rock band called Rock Sugar, and they’re pretty good!
I’ve actually met Harnell in person and I have to say that he’s one of the most genuinely nice and likable people that I’ve ever met. He adores his fans and he’s always thanking them for their support. The fact that he has the look and vibe of a 70s rock star is also pretty amazing. This guy is a man of many talents.
7 These Guys Voiced Your Childhood (Really Though)
The actors behind the three Warner Siblings, Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, Tress MacNeille, definitely had a blast with their roles. But did you know that these actors have voiced many other cartoons? They’ve become quite the voice acting legends.
Paulsen, who voices Yakko, also voiced Dr. Scratchansniff and Pinky, in the show. He also voiced Raphael from TMNT and has done countless voices for many cartoons (seriously, look him up, he’s done just about everything). MacNeille, the voice of Dot, was the voice of Babs Bunny from Tiny Toons, Principal Skinner’s mother from The Simpsons, and more. Jess Harnell was actually a newcomer to voice acting when he voiced Wakko, but since then he’s done many roles, such as Ironside from Transformers and Cedric from Sophia the First. These guys are all just so talented!
6 The Three Almost Became Four
You can’t really imagine Animaniacs without the three crazy Warner siblings. They always introduced themselves as “Yakko, Wakko, and our sister Dot!” And it seems that three was the magic number for these siblings. But did you know that there was actually going to be a fourth Warner sibling?
The creators toyed around with the idea at the beginning but ultimately decided on just having three siblings. Then the idea was brought about later. In one of the Animaniacs movies that never got made, the writers had an idea to have a fourth sibling named Lakko. He would prove himself to be so useless that the other Warner siblings would essentially fire him. That’s kind of a funny concept, and I wish they had managed to make the movie.
5 Wakko's Connection To The Beatles
Wakko is often the favorite Warner sibling for many fans. He’s endearing, strange, and incredibly funny. His voice is also quite the contrast to his name since he has a pretty mellow tone. But apparently, when it came to his voice, the casting director had a really hard time finding one that fit.
Many of the auditions consisted of actors making their craziest voice since the character was named Wakko. None of these voices worked for Wakko, and they were coming up empty. But when Jess Harnell was brought on, he won the director over with his impressions of the Beatles, and they eventually went with a modified version of his Ringo Starr impression as the voice of Wakko. So, if you think his speech pattern sounds familiar, that’s probably why.
4 We've Got A Lot Of Adult Fans
It’s no secret that Animaniacs attracted not only kids but a lot of adults as well. This was a bit rare for cartoons at the time. Most cartoons were generally just marketed toward kids as an excuse to push toys. But a lot of that changed with cartoons like Animaniacs. In fact, its adult fanbase was a bit larger than you think.
Back in 1995, over one-fifth of the Animaniacs viewers were 25 or older. So, a good portion of the viewers were actually adults who were really enjoying this show. I can only imagine that the adult fanbase has gotten even larger today, as those kids who watched the series grew up and had kids of their own. I can see why adults would like it. It’s got great animation, witty banter, and just enough jokes to make you snicker while your kids look at you in confusion.
3 Give Them All Of The Awards
We know that Animaniacs changed many things for cartoons and really pushed the boundaries for animation and children’s cartoons. As a result, it was a big hit and it got a lot of people interested. But did you know that it also won quite a few awards?
The show won eight Emmys, which is pretty amazing. They won awards for best animation, best music, best theme, and more. I’m personally really glad this show got the recognition it deserved. So much time, love, talent, and effort, was put into this show and the results are pretty amazing. We’ve got a show that has higher quality animation, great humor, and a beautiful and fun musical score. What’s not to like? (Okay, it’s a little crazy, but hey that’s what makes it fun).
2 This Animation Is Good Stuff
Ever wonder why the animation seems to age so well in Animaniacs, especially compared to other ‘90s cartoons? Well, the quality of animation for this show had a much higher production value than the standard TV animation. The show also had a much higher cel count than other TV shows. Basically, those behind the show went above and beyond to make this cartoon very high quality.
It definitely shows. You’ll notice that the animation is very smooth, and the movements of the characters are incredibly fluid. You can also see that the characters don’t just stand still and speak, but move around as well. Animaniacs pretty much raised the bar quite a bit for TV animation. And I say hats off to all the staff since this must not have been an easy job!
1 So, What Are These Guys?
We do love Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, and we adore their crazy antics and witty one-liners. But do we actually know what species these kids are? The short answer is, not really. The long answer is, kind of, but not really.
The creators of the show designed the siblings to look like the cartoon characters from the 1920s, such as Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. This explains their slightly thinner designs with longer ears. The show also didn’t want them to look too much like Mickey Mouse, so they rounded out the features a bit more, giving them a distinct look. As a result, well, they don’t really have a specific species. The closest thing we can think they resemble are dogs, maybe. But does it really matter? We still love them!