"It's time for AnimaniacsProduced by Steven Spielberg, Animaniacs was a revival of an old show concept: a collection of cartoon shorts in a half-hour kids' show. Rather than recycling or remaking old theatrical shorts, Animaniacs relied on original stories featuring original characters (though it did indulge in a bit of self-referential cliché-riding at times). This approach was unique in the 1990s, since goofball/slapstick-type shows (think Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies) were being systematically driven out by Moral Guardians who thought that slapstick was too violent for children's TV (something that was frequently a target of the show's humor).Unlike other Saturday Morning Cartoons, Animaniacs didn't air on Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network (at least not initially; syndication reruns have appeared on both channels). It originally aired on Fox Kids (on the Fox television network), and later Kids' WB!, both of which were programming blocks on broadcast network stations, making Animaniacs a godsend to kids without cable. On January 7, 2013, the show began airing on The Hub. The entire series is now available on DVD, and is currently available on Netflix.Shorts were generally self-contained, though they frequently crossed over with each other without much warning. Each had a cast and premise of their own:
And we're zany to the max
So just sit back and relax
You'll laugh 'til you collapse
And we're zany to the max
So just sit back and relax
You'll laugh 'til you collapse
- The Warner Brothers (and the Warner Sister): Yakko (Rob Paulsen), Wakko (Jess Harnell), and sister Dot (Tress MacNeille) were cartoon characters that resembled anthropomorphic dogs or cats (at least within the show they were occasionally referred to as "puppy children", "kiddies", or "kidsies"). Their Backstory indicates that they were created in the 1930s by the Warner Studios animators, then leapt off the page and ran amok through the studio. The Warners' cartoons ("which made absolutely no sense") were put in the studio vault, never to be released. As for the Warners themselves ("who made even less sense"), they were locked in the studio's water tower and the studio publicly disavowed any knowledge of their existence. The Warners eventually escape 65 years later, and Hilarity Ensues. Studio psychiatrist Dr. Otto Scratchnsniff (Rob Paulsen), his exceptionally-hot female assistant (Tress MacNeille), dimwitted studio security guard Ralph (Frank Welker), and blustering studio president Thaddeus Plotz (Frank Welker again) suffer more from the trio's antics than anyone else. Some of the shorts involving the Warners were their "classic" cartoons, which played with different animation styles and tropes based on the cartoons of the time they were said to be from. When not following classic formulas, the Warners engaged in parodies of pop-culture or inserted themselves into history (wherein they would simultaneously both annoy and inspire famous figures like Abraham Lincoln and Ludwig van Beethoven). Not content with breaking the fourth wall in their own shorts, they would occasionally come dashing through the other characters' shorts, usually with Ralph in hot pursuit.
- Pinky and the Brain: A pair of lab mice named Pinky (Rob Paulsen) and the Brain (Maurice LaMarche) live in a laboratory. The highly intelligent Brain is constantly thinking up plans to Take Over the World overnight, but his schemes always end in spectacular failure usually due to the interference of the dimwitted Pinky or his own hubris. Nevertheless, he resolves to come up with a new idea for the next night. The shorts became popular enough to warrant their own Spin-Off show.
- Rita and Runt: Two stray animals — a cat (Bernadette Peters) who sings showtunes (with changed lyrics) and a dopey (Rain Man-inspired) dog voiced by Frank Welker — try to find a home throughout time and space. These shorts had a tendency to be a bit more melancholy than the others.
- Slappy Squirrel: A washed-up old cartoon star from "the good old days" (voiced by production writer Sherri Stoner) works through modern-day problems with old-school cartoon techniques (that is to say, violence — preferably of the extreme and/or explosive kind). Her personality is based on being old and cranky (with the occasional menopause joke), and (in typical "senior citizen" fashion) she thinks all the modern cartoon stars are no-good punks. Most of her shorts center around her Medium Awareness, and she is often accompanied by her nephew Skippy (voiced by producer Tom Ruegger's son Nathan), who helps to balance out her cynical attitude with his bright-eyed child-like optimism. Her opposite number is the equally elderly Walter Wolf.
- Minerva Mink: An oversexualized mink (Julie Brown) who used her feminine wiles to get what she wanted. She only starred in two shorts since she was considered inappropriate by the censors, but she showed up in others and Wakko's Wish as a background character and got a few dedicated comics in the Animaniacs comic book series.
- Goodfeathers: A direct parody of Goodfellas and other gangster films. Three New Yorker pigeons named Squit, Bobby, and Pesto (Maurice LaMarche, John Mariano, and Chick Vennera) try to run the streets under the watchful eye of the Godpigeon; the trio lives on a statue of Martin Scorsese.
- Buttons and Mindy: A toddler, voiced by Nancy Cartwright of The Simpsons fame, roams around unsupervised; she is completely oblivious to the dangers around her and asks questions of everyone she meets. The family dog, Buttons (Frank Welker), runs himself ragged trying to return Mindy to her parents, and invariably ends up being scolded by them for some minor mishap once she is safe.
- Chicken Boo: A giant rooster whose lame attempts to pass as a human incomprehensibly succeed, one person's protests notwithstanding. A minor accident (losing a baseball cap, for instance) inexplicably reveals Boo's true nature to everyone around him, wherein he is shunned and kicked out, but he always brushes himself off and walks away to find the next big opportunity.
- Katie Kaboom: A girl (Laura Mooney) who literally develops into a monster and then explodes with rage (causing massive damage to the house and landscape) over minor, stereotypical teenage problems, such as her boyfriend being late to pick her up. She was based on the teenage daughter of one of the writers.
- The Hip Hippos: An exceedingly heavy hippopotamus couple, Flavio and Marita (Frank Welker and Tress MacNeille, respectively), whose nouveau-riche lifestyle and utter reliance on luxury leaves them helpless in situations where money won't make a difference. They also have a tendency to get into dangerous situations, even though their heavy frames generally protect them from any actual harm. Occasionally shadowed by a naturalist named Gena Embryo (whose name is a parody of/reference to San Diego Zoo zoologist Joan Embery) who tries (unsuccessfully) to return them to the jungle or protect them from harm (which usually ends up befalling her instead).
Animaniacs contains examples of:
- Absurdly Long Limousine: At Slappy Squirrel's "Lifetime Achievement" award ceremony, Slappy and Skippy arrive in one.Slappy: Oh. The bowling-in-a-limo gag? (turns to the camera) We're stretchin' for the comedy here, folks.
- Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Slappy only wears a hat (and also a scarf in Wakko's Wish).
- Adult Fear: An extra long Slappy episode starts out innocently enough, with Slappy driven crazy from daytime talk shows, causing her to spout gibberish catch phrases and repeatedly toast her hat. Things quickly turn dark when Slappy is taken to the doctor who says she's having "an episode", and encourages Skippy to send her to a nursing home. Trying to care for his aunt himself makes Skippy fall asleep in class, and Slappy nearly burns their house down. The episode shows surprisingly realistic repercussions of what amounts to a child's primary caregiver coming down with dementia... Skippy tries in vain to trigger his Aunt's memories when he visits her, and is eventually taken into foster care when its discovered he's living on his own, but without giving him the opportunity to tell Slappy what's happened. Eventually its the irregularity of Skippy not being around that snaps Slappy back to reality, and her slapstick escape from the nursing home keeps this from being one of the most sobering children's cartoons of the 90's.
- Affectionate Parody: Quite a few shorts were done in the style of the cutesy, musical cartoons of the 1930s.
- All Men Are Perverts: Hello, Nurse! gets attention from almost all the male characters; Minerva's cartoons are built entirely around the premise.
- All Women Are Lustful: Given the right male character, however, Minerva and Dot weren't much better.
- All Psychology Is Freudian: Dr. Scratchnsniff.
- Alter Kocker: Walter Wolf.
- Ambiguously Bi: In Raging Bird, Squit admits to thinking Prettyboy Robin is cute, and also attempts to kiss Pesto in celebration of Bobby's victory.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Yakko, who is obviously modeled on Groucho Marx, especially the voice and the eyebrows. (And, of course, Yakov is the Yiddish version of Jacob, which was the real first name of studio co-founder Jack Warner) Interestingly, Yakko's sister Dot came off as only very vaguely Jewish (she was reportedly inspired by the Jewish actress Fanny Brice), while little brother Wakko had no identifiably Jewish traits at all (his voice actor based the middle Warner's voice on a younger version of Ringo Starr). (However, the cartoon "Little Drummer Warners" reveals that the kids celebrate Christmas.)
- Animated Actors: The Warners are an unusual example of actors playing actors. In other words, they are actors who live on the Warner Studio Lot and perform skits, in-universe. But even this premise about them living in the tower, tormenting Dr. Scratchansniff, etc. is scripted, as the theme song makes clear. On top of that, they know they are cartoons.
- The theme song also, however, mentions that "the writers flipped/we have no script/why bother to rehearse?", so whether or not anything is scripted at all within the confines of the show itself is debatable. It is still all an act, though.
- Animated Anthology: An extremely good example.
- Anvil on Head: It even has a theme song.
- Appeal to Obscurity: Combined with Who's on First? in "Piano Rag":Yakko: Very Pete Townshend-esque.Dot: Who?Wakko: Exactly.
- Art Shift: The entire episode "Back in Style" is full of this: The Warners keep being inserted into various Saturday morning cartoons throughout the '60s-80s, so we get visual parodies of Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo, Underdog, and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, none of which are drawn or animated in the usual Animaniacs style.
- Artistic License – Geography: At the end of "Puttin on the Blitz", set in Poland, as the train to Paris departs from Warsaw, there are some tall mountains (presumably Tatras) in the background. The thing is, the real Tatras (and any Polish mountains, for that matter) are impossible to be seen from Warsaw, no matter how one tries.
- Also, the country's outline in the beginning is the modern one, not the correct, Interwar's one.
- Artistic License – Religion: In the episode "Home on De-Nile", Rita runs the risk of being sacrificed in Ancient Egypt. Cats were sacrificed TO in Ancient Egypt. Killing a cat incurred the death penalty.
- Aside Glance: Yakko and Slappy are prone to giving aside glances (when they don't just start snarking to the audience directly.)
- Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: The army from the cover of A Few Good Men wind up doing this against the T-Rex from the cover of Jurassic Park during "Video Revue".
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Quite a few characters, but Pinky gets special points.Pinky: (distracted by a parody of Jeopardy!) What is "Narf"? What is "Poit"?
Brain: What is "inordinately short attention span", Alex?
- Awesome, but Impractical: Subverted by "Wakko's Gizmo," which seems pretty pointless at first but turns out to be successful in helping Wakko order a pizza. Then double-subverted when it's revealed that ordering the pizza was just another step in the process, and that the real objective of Wakko's machine is to cause an action figure to sit on a whoopee cushion, making a farting noise and causing Wakko to laugh hysterically.
- Badly Battered Babysitter: Buttons the dog, almost to Butt Monkey status.
- Balloonacy: This is shown happening to Buttons and Mindy in "The Monkey Song": first as a Funny Background Event before returning as a Brick Joke.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Minerva Mink and Howard Stern parody Howie Tern. The Warners themselves can cross between this and Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal.
- Baseball Episode: The episode "Mighty Wakko at the Bat"
- Based on a True Story: Buddy's backstory in the "The Warner 65th Anniversary Special" is actually based on a real thing and a real character. Buddy's first shorts were considered so dull and bland that Warner Bros refused to accept his first two cartoons, which got the original director fired. They had to bring Friz Freleng in to re-edit and condense them into a single short.
- Battle Discretion Shot: Slappy spends the entire episode "Bully for Skippy" circumventing Congress' new anti-animated violence bill by building a giant machine that maims a bully plaguing Skippy and a U.S. Senator off-screen, so as not to show any actual violence.
- Belly Dancer: Shown rather briefly in "Plane Pals".
- Berserk Button:
- Say the word "cat" around Runt, and he'll suddenly be alert and exclaiming, "CAT?? WHERE'S THE CAT??" Despite the fact that his partner Rita is a cat to begin with. This usually leads to Dogs Are Dumb.
- "A cat? Oh no, Rita is a dog, she's definitely a dog."
- "Definitely, definitely a dog!"
- Never give Wakko an "F." Or is it 'never write on Wakko's hat'?
- Pesto's easily irritated by the entire universe, but particularly by Squit.
- Never call Dot 'Dottie'. Call her Dottie and you die.
- But Yakko got away with this in "The Three Muska-Warners".
- As well as the Bob Hope expy in the 65th Anniversary Special. Justified because Dot was asleep and didn't hear him.
- Katie Ka-Boom's berserk button is... well... anything her parents do, say, imply... or fail to do, say or imply.
- Say the word "cat" around Runt, and he'll suddenly be alert and exclaiming, "CAT?? WHERE'S THE CAT??" Despite the fact that his partner Rita is a cat to begin with. This usually leads to Dogs Are Dumb.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Played straight with the Warner sibs, but also played with: the sibs really can't bring themselves to harass genuinely nice people, even if they're naturally annoying - the sibs will endure the annoyingness while hoping the person will go away on their own. So, the sibs actually beware the nice (annoying) ones!
- Big Ballof Violence: A classic Looney Tunes gag adopted into Animaniacs. Pesto uses this every time his Berserk Button is pushed.
- Big Brother Instinct: When Wakko dies after eating too many Swedish meatballs, you better believe Yakko literally goes to Hell and back to rescue him. (Dot, too, of course, but she's Wakko's little sister.)
- Big Eater: Guess who "packs away the snacks"? Wakko.
- Bilingual Bonus: "Taming of the Screwy" has one in Japanese:Yakko: Tokyo wa totemo omoshiroi tokoro desu ne? <Tokyo is an extremely interesting place, isn't it.>
Investor: Zehi irasshite kudasai. <Please go there.>
Yakko: Mada iki basho ga areba ne. <If there's still a place to go, eh?>
- Of course, this can refer to the overpopulation in Japan, or... well... you know...
- For Spanish/French, there's a few lines in the song Macadamia Nut...Example:
Hola que pasa you grande sack o' grainia <Hello, what's up, you big sack o' grainia?>
Qui a coupé le fromage, we abstainia <Who cut the cheese? We abstainia.>
Lava tus manos, por favor, Macadamia. <Wash your hands, please, Macadamia.>
- There was also one episode with a Buttons and Mindy short, as well as the theme song for that episode, done entirely in French.
- Birthday Episode: Wakko's birthday in "Clown And Out".
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: Quite frequent during the earlier episodes on FOX.Miles Standish: Begone, pests, and give me the bird!
Yakko: We'd love to, really, but the FOX censors won't allow it.Yakko: It's that time again.
Dot: To make the Fox censors cry?
- Another instance, blink and you'll miss it, but during "Phranken-Runt", we get a shot of Phrankenstein's brain-in-a-jar shelf. The jar which contained by far the smallest is labeled "TV Network Executive Brain."
- The most audacious example is in the opening credits, where they announce they have Pay-or-Play Contracts, a contract where they don't even need to work to get paid!
- Boot Camp Episode: One of the Warner Siblings has them discovering boot camp (Dot thinks it has to do with fashionable footwear), which they mistake for summer camp. Hilarity Ensues. (No, this time in the usual ironic sense).
- Bottle Episode: "Ups and Downs", featuring Wakko and Dr. Scratchnsniff stuck in an elevator for the majority of the short.
- Reruns of "Moon over Minerva" edited Minerva's low-cut outfits to show less cleavage.
- "Broadcast Nuisance" had a lot of content that didn't make it to the final airing; for instance, Dan Anchorman's name was originally Slam Fondlesome. Also, there was another minute worth of the Warners tormenting him, as well as several other altered lines (like calling him a "big fat dope"). Most of the latter edits were done to make the Warners seem less hostile. However, the edited version only airs in America, and the original uncut version still airs overseas.
- Happened with one of the songs on the first soundtrack album. In the animated version, the song "Be Careful What You Eat," about the complex chemicals that go into most prepackaged foods, the song used Black Comedy at the end to hint at what could happen if you eat too much processed food. The soundtrack version threw out that last verse for something much more ordinary and Anvilicious.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Taken Up to Eleven in a cartoon in which Yakko, Wakko, and Dot are accosted at the mall by two elderly women with Midwestern accents who are stopping random passersby to ask them poll questions. ("Wouldja like ta take a surr-vay?!" they keep asking.) The first question is "Do you like beans?" The second question is "Do you like George Wendt?" [the actor who played Norm Peterson on Cheers] And then after that come a seemingly infinite number of questions that all combine the themes of beans and George Wendt in various ways. ("Would you like to see George Wendt eating beans in a movie?" "How many George Wendt bean-eating movies would you like to see?" "Do you like to eat beans with George Wendt?", etc.) The poll-takers continue annoying the Warners - and various other characters - throughout the cartoon, and are still rattling off questions as the cartoon ends.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: "Good Idea, Bad Idea".
- Breaking the Fourth Wall. Well, more like Pulverizing The Fourth Wall.
- Especially in the Warner shorts, in which one might say there are two missing/broken fourth walls, with one that fits the premise of the show (that they are children who live on the WB Studio and perform skits) and one that goes even beyond that (such as Dot's profanity-laden rant in Cutie and the Beast, or the cold ending, in which they plan to go out and get cappuccinos, in the same episode). Your mind will explode if you try to make too much sense of it.
- Bubble Pipe: Yakko once "puffs" on a soap-bubble pipe while parodying highbrow intellectuals in the scene "Disasterpiece Theater."
- He also blows on a bubble pipe in "Go Fish" and "The Panama Canal."
- Bullying a Dragon: Doctor Scratchandsniff learnt the hard way to NOT scream "IT'S ALL FAKE" at Professional Wrestlers... as in "pulled onto the stage and literally bent into a human pretzel" hard way.
- Burning with Anger: Katie Kaboom.
- Butt Monkey: Scratchansniff, Rita (to a more sympathetic extent), the Brain, Pinky, Runt, Buttons (again to a more sympathetic extent), The Mime, Mr. Skullhead, Chicken Boo, the Goodfeathers, Charlton Woodchuck, Walter Wolf, Sid the Squid, Beanie the Bison, just about any non-main character... in other words, pretty much everybody (even the Warner Sibs), not surprising given that this is a WB cartoon.
- There's also a good deal of Iron Butt Monkey, since these characters are, for all intents and purposes, immortal (although we learn in "Meatballs or Consequences" that the Warners do have souls).
- The most common formula for the Warner shorts involved them finding and latching onto 'a Special Friend,' which pretty much meant that some Jerk Ass was in for six minutes of hilarious torment.
- Butt Sticker: Twice:
- "The Boids" with the director, Alfred Hitchcock, sitting on the Goodfeathers. Then they're shown stuck to his butt.
- "Pitter Patter of Little Feet" During the night when the Brain tries to escape, he falls on the floor. And when the hippos go to look for him, Flavio slips and the Brain is found on his butt.
- Call Back:Dr. Scratchansniff: As you know, when nature calls, you have to pick up the phone and say "Hello, I got your message. I've got a package for you."
Wakko: "I've got a package for you"? Excuse me?
Dr. Scratchansniff: Oh, look who's talking, Mr. Potty Emergency.
Dot: Oh thank you, Mr United States-Canada-Mexico-Panama.
- "Yakko's World" ends with Yakko mentioning Sudan; when Yakko sang every word in the English language, he ended with Zaire.
- When Dot can't say her full name in "Cutie and The Beast", Yakko says it, prompting another reference to "Yakko's World".
- Calling Me a Logarithm
- The Cameo: Taz showed up twice at the end of "Draculee, Draculaa" and a more major role in "Cutie and The Beast".
- Private Snafu gets his head shaved in "Boot Camping".
- Also: Fifi LaFume from Tiny Toon Adventures appears as a perfume store owner in "Survey Ladies".
- Buster and Babs appear in "Noah's Lark". They're also seen in "The Big Wrap Party" song during the line "The Entire Crew came from Acme Loo for big wrap party tonight"
- Elmer Fudd makes an appearance in "Turkey Jerky".
- Elmyra also makes an appearance in "Lookit the Fuzzy Heads".
- Baby Plucky appears in "Guardin' the Garden", "Survey Ladies" & "Les Boutons et le Ballon", repeating the elevator gag from the Tiny Toon episode "Going Up". In a possible Take That, Buttons quickly ties Plucky up.
- The Dover Boys are the smart-alack chorus in "Frontier Slappy".
- Used quite often In-Universe where shorts dedicated to one set of characters would find another set of the cast (typically the Warners) running through) - often ending in BLAMs. For example, from the Slappy/Skippy short, "Bumbie's Mom":[Slappy and Skippy are on a plane, Skippy sniffling from seeing Bumbie's mom killed. Hello Nurse comes by in a stewardess outfit]Hello Nurse: Would you like anything?Slappy: Perhaps a sedative?Hello Nurse: Huh, I don't get it.Slappy: [shooing her off] Go away.[Hello Nurse pushes the cart off screen. Suddenly a piece of luggage falls down from the overhead rack, popping open to reveal the Warners...]Yakko and Wakko: Helloooooo Nurse![They chase off after her. Dot starts, and then moves into a pirouette while the "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy" plays until she is also off screen.]Slappy: That was pointless.
- Bugs, Daffy, Tweety, Porky, Yosemite Sam & Foghorn Leghorn show up in "The Warners 65th Anniversary Special".
- Sylvester, Tweety and the Tiny Tunes appeared in "The Big Wrap Party".
- Cannot Tell a Joke: One time, okay see, one time there was a character in Animaniacs who was a small boy who told stories that had happened to his friend Randy Beaman and the stories were always told in a near-monotone and in one long run-on sentence and at the end he'd recite the punchline in the same way and you wouldn't be sure if he'd reached it or not. Okay, bye.
- Captain Ersatz/Expy: The Warners are based heavily on The Marx Brothers, with bits and pieces from other characters: Dot shows roots from Gilda Radner, and Wakko shows influences from Ringo Starr.
- Slappy's jerkass behavior in her old cartoons (which she gleefully indulges any time she meets her old nemeses) gives her an uncanny resemblance to Screwy Squirrel. She also appears to have Barbra Streisland's interpretation of Fanny Brice in her ancestry.
- The Brain bears some pretty clear similarities to Orson Welles, most notably the voice, which actor Maurice LaMarche describes as "65% Orson Welles, 35% Vincent Price".
- Cardboard Pal: The Warner Brothers (and Dot) create nodding dummies of themselves to allow them to sneak off a boring chat show that they are hosting.
- Cardboard Prison: The WB Water Tower for the Warners.
- Cartoon Creature: Yakko, Wakko, and Dot.
- Cartoony Tail: The Brain has a tail like a real mouse, except it is kinked in a way that it looks like stair steps.
- Truth in Television to an extent; in labs where many mice are handled on a frequent basis, kinks occasionally occur due to careless handling.
- Catchphrase: There were several.
- Yakko and Wakko had "Hello, Nurse!" and its variants.
- Yakko had "Goodnight, everybody!"
- Yakko also had "Of course you know, this means Warners.", though his siblings joined in on at least one occasion.
- Dot had variations on "I can't help it if I'm cute," as well as "Wanna see my pet?"
- Wakko had "Faboo!"
- Slappy had "You remind me of..." (See below.)
- Skippy had "Spew!!" as an Unusual Euphemism.
- Mindy had "OK-I-love-you-bye-bye."
- The Brain had the running gags that started with "Are you pondering what I'm pondering?" as well as a Cassandra Truth: "We are two lab mice engaged in the early stages of a plot to conquer the world." Also: "Stop that, or I shall have to hurt you."
- Pinky's catch phrases were largely of the Verbal Tic variety, most notably "Narf!"
- Pesto's usual one was the running gag (and homage to Goodfellas) that started with "What are you saying?"
- Cats Are Superior: Rita and Runt, a cats-rule-dogs-drool Odd Friendship.
- Checkers With Death: Chess is unknown to the Warners. They prefer checkers.
- The Chew Toy: Squit. Even Bobby usually laughs at Pesto's abuse towards him.
- Christmas Carolers: One of the "Good Idea, Bad Idea":Good Idea: Singing Christmas carols to your neighbors.
Bad Idea: Singing Christmas carols to your neighbors...on the Fourth of July. (said carolers are blown up with dynamite)
- Christmas Episode: There were three.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Somewhat. The Rita and Runt segments were discontinued because they were so expensive to do, between having to hire songwriters to write new songs for Rita each week, not to mention the cost of having someone like Bernadette Peters voice Rita.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Wakko, on more than one occasion.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Dot drops an intentionally unintelligible one (complete with bleeps) during the Beauty and the Beast parody, after screwing up her Overly Long Name gag one too many times.Yakko: That's my cute little sister who said that! (blows a kiss) Goodnight everybody!
- Comical Overreacting: The Katie Kaboom and Minerva Mink shorts both relied on comical overreaction.
- Comically Serious: Principally the Brain and the Narrator of "Good Idea, Bad Idea," although any character playing the 'straight man' would generally qualify as well.
- Comically Missing the Point: A common gag. Wakko and Pinky were particularly prone to it.Wakko (aboard a plane): Hey Mister! What's this for?Passenger: It's a vomit bag.Wakko (opening it): Darn! I got gypped! There's none in here!
- Compliment Backfire: The Goodfeathers Running Gag is that Pesto always takes Squit's compliments as insults and proceeds to beat him up afterwards.
- Continuity Nod: In the Continuity Snarl entry below, it mentions a cartoon where old vaudeville actors reminisce about the Warners. One of them mentions that 'once they pantsed 'Jimmy Cagney' something had to be done. James Cagney expy aside, later on in the 65th Anniversary episode, Foghorn Leghorn notes that the Warners seemed to favor bothering Jimmy, and it turns out they did in fact pants him.
- Continuity Porn: "Big Wrap Party Tonight".
- Continuity Snarl: The original explanation that the kids have been locked in a water tower for 63 years is contradicted in a later episode showing various older Hollywood stars reminiscing about spending nights on the town with them - and these photos are in black and white, meaning those nighttime adventures almost surely took place before 1993. Did the Warners actually escape many times, but the studio succeed in covering up their existence until the '90s? If so, how was that accomplished? Did they massively bribe all the people in those nightclubs?
- The 65th Anniversary Special gives it a retcon—the tower had to be cleaned/repaired every few years or so, letting the Warners out for a single day for the work (they just didn't stay in the studio—Plotz says he has no clue where they went and we're later shown them at a disco club, the Berlin Wall, and so on).
- Conveyor Belt-O-Doom: The accidental version happens to Mindy and Buttons in "Up the Crazy River". As always, Buttons comes off the worst for it.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: In one episode, Satan threatens to torture the captive Warner siblings by forcing them to listen to "whiny protest songs from The Sixties." They scream in terror.
- Cool Old Lady: Slappy Squirrel.
- Couch Gag: The second to last line of the opening song is interchangeable with several other lines, all of which rhyme with "Animani—".
- Except when it was re-run on Nickelodeon, where the line rotation got changed to "Nickel-any!" for every episode.
- On The Hub, it's "Here's the show's namey" for most episodes.
- Some episodes have the Warners leaving or entering the tower in different ways, after the title or before the end credits, respectively.
- There are actually two during the closing credits - one where someone (usually the Warners) would give a last joke after the credits, and a gag credit mixed in with the real ones.
- Pause every time the screen changes during the credits in episode 65. There's at least one gag on just about every screen.
- Except when it was re-run on Nickelodeon, where the line rotation got changed to "Nickel-any!" for every episode.
- Corpsing: In Episode 41's "Good Idea/Bad Idea" segment, Tom Bodett noticeably laughs when reading the line "Bad idea: Whistling while you eat."
- Courtroom Episode: "La La Law".
- Cowboy Episode: "The Good, the Boo and the Ugly"
- Crossover: Within itself, and with Tiny Toon Adventures, Freakazoid! and Pinky and the Brain when they ran concurrently.
- Curse Cut Short: In the song "I'm Cute":Yakko and Wakko: She's becoming a pain in the-
Dot: -but I'm also real nice...
- Cut the Juice: Dot tries this in "Our Final Space Cartoon, We Promise", but it doesn't work.
- Cuteness Proximity: Dot has used this to her advantage on more than one occasion.
- Damned by a Fool's Praise: Slappy tells Skippy that all that junk food has rotted his brain, and adds "No wonder you like that Bonkers show."
- A Day in the Limelight: "The Warner 65th Anniversary Special" features the comeback of one of the original Looney Tunes stars, "Buddy"—as a villain, no less! And voiced by Jim Cummings!
- Deadpan Snarker: All the Warner siblings, The Brain, Slappy Squirrel, Rita, Bobby...
- Department of Redundancy Department: In the sketch "Mobster Mash", the Warners pretend to be waiters and harass the Godfather Don Pepperoni. Part of this is saying the things on the menu two different ways. "What'll it be? Calamari or the squid? Pasta or the noodles? Red sauce or marinara? Zucchini or squash? Ham or prosciutto? Drink or beverage?"
- Depending on the Artist: The show had a passel of different animation studios working on it, often leading to examples of this trope.
- Detective Drama: "This Pun for Hire" and "Hercule Yakko".
- Disgusting Public Toilet: The cartoon "Potty Emergency" has Wakko desperate for a place to relieve himself. Trying a gas station, the owner says he hasn't cleaned the restroom in a year. Despite his desperation, Wakko still finds that too gross to use.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In "I Got Yer Can", Slappy drives Candie the chipmunk insane via psychological warfare because Candie wouldn't let Slappy put her soda can in Candie's trash can.
Good Idea: Singing Christmas carols to your neighbors. *shot of carolers singing in front of a house in the snow*Bad Idea: Singing Christmas carols to your neighbors...on the Fourth of July. *residents of said house use dynamite to blow up the carolers*
- In a Christmas edition of the "Good Idea, Bad Idea" segments:
- The Ditz: Runt, and the Studio Guard Ralph are the recurring examples. They even had the same voice.
- Dogs Are Dumb: Runt. He even thinks Rita is a dog herself.
- Occasionally subverted in that Runt will sometimes see the danger before Rita, such as when Cleopatra was going to drop her into a bonfire as a ritual sacrifice.
- Don't Look Down: Invoked in The Big Candy Store when Flaxseed climbs an impossibly high shelf.Dot: Don't look down! You might fall and hit your head and die and your brains would leak out aaaaaall over!
Yakko: Whoa! Just don't look down!
- Also in Wakko's Wish.
Wakko: Do you get vertigo?
Wakko: Me neither.
Yakko: Yeah, I've seen that movie three times, and I still don't get it.
- Downer Ending: "The Ballad of Magellan", which is to be expected, considering the real Magellan did not survive the journey.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: One appears in "Boot Camping".
- Drive-In Theater: The setting for "Drive Insane".
- Due to the Dead: Played for Laughs and Hypocritical Humor in a Slappy Squirrel skit where Walter Wolf fakes his death. Skippy's watching Slappy's old cartoons and laughing at Walter's Amusing Injuries, but when he hears the news he does an about-face and verbally attacks Slappy for tormenting him in those toons.
- Ears as Hair: Dot.
- Easy Evangelism: Spoofed in "A Very, Very, Very, Very Special Show."
- Edible Ammunition: Shows up now and then.
- Educational Song: Lots, including songs for all the U.S. presidents up to Bill Clinton (who was president at the time), the 50 states and their capitals, and of course, the famous Nations of the World song. See also the Edutainment Show entry below.
- Edutainment Show: Despite Yakko's claim that the Wheel of Morality was the only thing that "adds boring educational content to what would otherwise be an entertaining program!" Animaniacs regularly took a moment to teach its audience. They have been used as teaching material, and there is even testimony of them aiding history students as far as college-level.
- How many normal kids' cartoons would bother to do a surprisingly accurate and funny translation from Late 16th Century English to Modern English of the Yorick speech from Hamlet when they could easily make a nonsensical version?
- They had songs relating from everything to the solar system to every President of the United States at the time of production (ending with Hillary - uh, I mean Bill Clinton).
- Parodied outrageously in "A Very, Very, Very, Very Special Show", where virtually every line is Yakko, Wakko, or Dot giving a soapbox on various issues (the dangers of second-hand smoke, walking instead of driving, not littering, not treating women as sex objects, not being violent, practicing a healthy diet and exercise). They were shamelessly shilling to win the lucrative "Humanitarian Animation" award but lost anyway, at which point they immediately did all the things they rallied against.
- United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru.... It's a shame that "Yakko's World" missed a few.
- It's worth noting that the map in "Yakko's World" had the Soviet Union on it, simply referred to by Yakko as "Russia," even though the Soviet Union had officially disbanded in 1991.
- Eldritch Abomination: Dot's "pet".
- Elvis Lives: A favorite Running Gag.
Yakko: Good night, Elvis.
- One of the stingers saw the Warner Trio saying goodnight to one another, offscreen. It ended with:
Elvis: Thank you very much, but I don't want anyone to know I'm here.
- And from The Wheel of Morality: "Elvis lives on in our hearts, in his music, and in a trailer park outside Milwaukee."
- And he turns up in "Space Probed", hanging out with Amelia Earhart and Bigfoot.
- He is also one of the things pulled from Wakko's gagbag in "Potty Emergency".
- Enlightenment Superpowers: Wally Llama, a Dalai Lama Expy, attempts to get away from the Warners by meditating, transporting himself up among the clouds with the mantra "Llama, llama, llama..." Unfortunately for him, the Warners reached Enlightenment too.
- Episode Title Card
- Equippable Ally: Wakko.
- Everyone Hates Fruitcakes: Fruitcakes being given to Mr. Plotz is a running gag in the episode "A Christmas Plotz," which he rejects because he hates fruitcake (and has an whole office full of fruitcakes that were given to him). It gets to the point where he thinks that Dot, who is disguised as a gift box when she enters as the Ghost of Christmas Present, is probably another fruitcake, which she is insulted by ("fruitcake" being a term for an insane person). At the end of the story, after he has reformed, instead of sending a turkey to Ralph's house, Plotz tells the Warners to buy the biggest fruitcake they can find and send it to Ralph's house. They bring a gigantic fruitcake the size of Ralph's trailer house using a helicopter and drop it, where it lands on top of Plotz. Listening to Plotz's screams underneath the fruitcake, Wakko replies that "We'll have you out of there by Easter." The trope is possibly subverted given that the Warners don't seem to mind the task of eating the giant fruitcake (although Wakko is an Extreme Omnivore so saying he doesn't mind fruitcake isn't saying much).
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Played with. In formal circumstances, Dot introduces herself as "Princess Angelina Contessa Luisa Francesca Banana-Fanna-Fo-Fesca III."
- Expository Theme Tune: Both the main Animaniacs theme and the introductory tunes for the Rita & Runt and Pinky & the Brain shorts qualify.
- Fairest of Them All: Snow White was no better than her Wicked Stepmother. She had the dwarfs abduct Dot for being the cutest of the all. In the end, after Snow is defeated, Dot had the Magic Mirror covered so it'd be no longer able to have anyone Driven by Envy.
- The Fake Cutie: Dot takes pride in being "the cute one", but she's hardly the innocent type.
- Female Feline, Male Mutt: Rita and Runt.
- Fire and Brimstone Hell: "Hot, Bothered, and Bedeviled".
- Flower in Her Hair: Dot.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Most of Dot's "Pets" when she does the "Wanna See My Pet?"
- Food Songs Are Funny: "Be Careful What You Eat"
- Four-Fingered Hands: The entire cast.
- Though hands have been seen to turn five-fingered on a close-up, or sometimes a character will grow a pinky while counting.
- There's also a really weird instance where a judge points as the Warners and asks, "What is the meaning of this?" Yakko replies, "That's a finger. You have five of them on each hand." In that instant, the judge has five fingers, but is seen to revert to being four fingered afterward.
- Averted with King Salazar, who is always shown with five-fingered hands.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: In "Garage Sale of the Century", a large crowd of people charge Papa Bear's lawn to get their refunds. Among (and on top of) them are Babs and Buster Bunny, Dizzy Devil, and Batman.
- Funny Background Event: In other character sketches you can see Yakko, Wakko and Dot being chased by Ralph as a brief (*ahem*) Running Gag.
- Also, in The background of the song "The Ballad of Magellan" when they reach Argentina, there's a sign that says: "Coming soon: Evita".
- In the Quake Song when Buttons is saving Mindy from a collapsing wall; Wakko and Dot can be seen behiind it with crowbars and hammers.
- Fun with Foreign Languages: One episode was French-themed, including a rendition of the opening theme in French and a subtitled "Buttons & Mindy" segment. While the "Rita & Runt" segment was in English, it was their parody of Les Misérables, which of course took place in The French Revolution.
- Game Show Appearance:
"Go ahead, Brian." "That's Brain."
- Downplayed in "Wakko's America". Their teacher organizes a Jeopardy!-style quiz in-class, where he sings the 50 U.S. states and their capitals. He loses because he doesn't sing it in the form of a question.
- In another episode, the Warners ended up on a quiz show, and were constantly guessing "Isaac Newton" for the answers...except for the questions actually about Isaac Newton.
- They once hosted a game show that parodied You Bet Your Life in one short skit.
- The Jeopardy!-style show Gyp-Parody! also figured in the Brain's very first attempt in-series to take over the world.
- Gasshole: Wakko, especially in the Great Wakkoroti shorts, where he basically plays the role of a concert vocalist using nothing but belches.
- A single installment had Wakko nearly lose his voice and "perform" by squeezing together his hands to make fart noises. Except for the last note.
- Genre Throwback: To the slapstick and goofball comic stylings of Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies, minus the fourth wall.
- Which is really saying something, considering how often those classic shorts broke the fourth wall themselves.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Notoriously! Animaniacs provides not one, but TWO page quotes for this trope. Examples have their own page. Examples should probably stay over there. M'WAH! G'night, everybody!
- Gigantic Gulp: Wakko drinks from a huge cup of soda labelled Abyss Boy at the movie theater, then promptly has a Potty Emergency.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Wally Llama snaps when he realises that he doesn't know why hot dogs and hot dog buns are sold in different quantities. Of course, he'd just spent seven minutes in the company of the Warners with their deliberately annoying meter running at 100%, which could not have helped.
- Grand Finale: Wakko's Wish.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: A spoof of the "Macarena" (Macadamia Nuts) contained the phrases "Donde Kielbasa Nintendo," "qui a coupe le fromage," and "Lava tus manos por favor."
- Groupie Brigade
- Hair Decorations: Dot's flower.
- Hair Trigger Sound Effect: One episode has the Warner siblings facing a terrifying troll, whose very mention is always accompanied by an organ sting.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Pesto, for obvious reasons. Katie Kaboom, too.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Most of the furry characters.
- Hammerspace: Wakko uses his most often.
- Hammerspace Hideaway: Dot had a special box in which she keeps a gigantic monster. The Warner brothers themselves can pop out of incredibly small places as well.
- Handbag of Hurt: From the intro: "Goodfeathers flock together, Slappy whacks 'em with her purse."
- An issue of the comic has Minerva Mink do this to a man too excited.
- Heart Beats out of Chest: Yakko and Wakko got through this when they see Hello Nurse for the first time. In "Moon Over Minerva," the titular Mink goes through an interesting variant; Each beat causes her head to expand, until it detaches from her body, nearly floating away before she pulls it back down.
- Hello, Nurse!: Hello Nurse, the source of the Trope Namer (it is her actual name), and Minerva Mink cause this reaction to men. However Yakko and Wakko generally have this reaction with every beautiful woman.
- Minerva Mink is also a prime example of the variant in which the one guy who has the same effect on her that she has on men is completely uninterested.
- Here We Go Again: "Bumbie's Mom" ends with a sendup of Old Yeller.Slappy: (Aside Glance) Fade out already, we got the joke!
- The ending of "Sound of Warners".
- Heroic BSOD: Wally Llama in his self-titled short, after insisting he knows the answer to EVERY question, goes nuts when he doesn't know the Warners' question of why hot dogs come in packages of eight and their buns come in ten.
- Herr Doktor: Dr. Scratchansniff.
- Hiccup Hijinks: The main plot of two shorts, one revolving around Squit, the other around Wakko.
- Hide And No Seek: Yakko and Dot hide on Wakko's birthday. He meant to seek them out, but got distracted by the Jerry Lewis-like clown who came to visit the water tower.
- Hidden Backup Prince: Yakko.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Mindy is smack-dab in the middle of growing up under some extremely neglectful conditions, though being a toddler, she's blissfully unaware of it so far. Buttons is the one who takes most of the physical and verbal abuse, though.
- Historical In-Joke: The Warners often interact with figures like Ludwig van Beethoven and Albert Einstein and become the inspiration for some of their famous works. (E=MC^2 is ACME backwards with Wakko's skewed penmanship of the letter A.)
- Hollywood California: The water tower and the surrounding area are a nod to Burbank.
- House Amnesia: Happens to Einstein during a heated argument with the Warners in "Cookies for Einstein".
- Humanlike Hand Anatomy: Any animal character in Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain except Runt and Buttons (two "non-anthro" dogs), Pharfignewton (a "non-anthro" horse) and Minerva Mink (Petting Zoo Person mink with somewhat human-like feet). The Goodfeathers, Godpigeon, Girlfeathers, and Chicken Boo have Feather Fingers instead.
- Humiliation Conga: Downplayed:(to Ralph) We're so sad we have no time together
Just to drop an anvil on your head
And stuff your pockets full of dynamite...
Then tie you to a rhino's head!
- This was the Warners' general shtick, probably best seen in The Monkey Song.
- Hurricane of Puns: Mostly, in the Warners and the Slappy segments, but taken Up to Eleven in "This Pun for Hire".
- Hyperspace Arsenal: By all of the Warners quite often, but it's pointed out specifically in "I Am the Very Model of a Cartoon Individual":Yakko: From this bag here, why, I can pull most anything imaginable,
like office desks and lava lights and Bert who is a cannibal.
- Hypocritical Humor: Yakko and Wakko's "Hello, Nurse!!" is often followed with a disparaging "Boys - go fig." from Dot. And then comes a muscular man...
Yakko: (aside) The stuff they're getting away with on kids' shows these days...
- I Am Not Shazam: The three main characters are actually called "the Warner Brothers (and the Warner Sister"), not "Animaniacs." A first-time viewer might be a little confused because the opening theme song has them repeatedly shouting "We're Animaniacs!" However, this is really just a descriptive term (kind of like a bunch of people shouting "We're human beings!") and applies to all the show's characters, not just the Warners.
- There's an arguable in-universe one in "The Panama Canal" (sung to the tune of "The Erie Canal.") Yakko is a ship captain crossing from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and he mentions that his ship is named "Hal" (to rhyme with "Canal," of course). After the ship makes it safely through the canal, the sailors shout "Thank you, Hal!" - and Yakko takes the credit, implying that "Hal" is his name. So either Yakko believes that he and his ship are somehow psychically connected, or he is playing a character named Hal in-universe and named the ship after himself.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Minerva Mink.
- Improvised Parachute: In "Operation: Lollipop", Buttons uses a mailbag as a parachute.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The show is sometimes called "Steven Spielberg Presents Animaniacs".
- Incessant Chorus: The national anthem of Anvilania, which is such a boring dirge that it is used as a weapon later on.
- Informed Ability: Played with (for laughs) by Chicken Boo, who has a different one every time he appears. He's a karate champ! He's a master strategist! He's a great ballet dancer! He's the sexiest man in Hollywood! (He did turn out to be a two-fisted dealer of frontier justice, though.)
- Ink-Suit Actor: Pip Pumphandle, based directly off his voice actor Ben Stein.
- Insignificant Little Blue Planet: Yakko's Universe, which seems to be a Homage to the Universe Song from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.
- Insistent Terminology: Whenever someone addresses the Warner brothers, Dot (or someone) will pipe in, "And the Warner sister."
- Also, "Call me 'Dottie', and you die."
- Interspecies Romance:
- The Warner Brothers and Sister, from an ambiguous species, keep getting lustful for other species, especially humans.
- In the Minerva Mink segments, animals from many different species and anthropomorphic levels get the hots for her, and in the comics even humans, while Minerva gets the hots for hunky males no matter the species.
- In the short West Side Pigeons, Squit (pidgeon) falls in love with Carloota (sparrow).
- In the short Wings Take Heart, there's a romance between a male moth and a female butterfly.
- In the short Katie Ka-Boo, Katie (human girl) gets a new boyfriend, but it's Chicken Boo disguised.
- Is This Thing Still On?: An episode from 1996 ends with the Warners badmouthing the people in the end credits, not realizing until the very end that we've just heard them saying all that.
- Especially amusing in that some of the people they badmouth are their own voice actors.
- It's What I Do: Stinkbomb D. Bassett (one of Slappy's enemies) explains why dogs chase squirrels:Stinkbomb: It's our sworn duty to chase 'em, catch 'em and shake 'em like rag dolls!Grandson: Why?Stinkbomb: I dunno. It's what we do.
- "I Want" Song: Every time Rita sings a song, it's about how much she wants a home or thinks she's found one.
- "Jeopardy!" Intelligence Test: The first Pinky and the Brain short had Brain go on the quiz show "Gyp-Parody!" in order to raise enough money for a device to Take Over the World. He gets every single question right, but bombs the final question and loses everything. Of course, the answer to the final question was Ralph Kramden, which Brain would have known if he had listened to Pinky earlier in the episode.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- Slappy hates to admit this, but she does care for her nephew Skippy.
- Mr. Plotz appears to hate the Warners, but he does harbor some respect for them. He'll even enlist their help on occasion when the pressures of running a major studio become too much for him.
- Much of the humor from the "Pinky and the Brain" shorts derives from Brain's constant verbal and even physical abuse of Pinky, but he also takes a paternal stance toward his lesser partner. (And Pinky admires Brain in return, once referring to him as "very honest and hard-working.")
- Jesus Was Way Cool: One short in a Christmas Episode features a medley of Christmas carols, with the Warners playing the shepherds in the nativity story. In something of a meta-example, it's one of only two shorts that they don't treat as an excuse for irreverent havoc.
- Jury and Witness Tampering: A Slappy the Squirrel short has Slappy accused of cartoon violence against Walter Wolf. Slappy's defense consists of describing how she basically blasted Walter to smithereens, leading the jury to find her...not guilty, at which point it's revealed that Slappy rigged explosives under the jury's seats.
- Just Desserts: Befalls a Jerkass magician duo in "Magic Time".
- Kangaroo Court: In one episode, Slappy is put on trial for "assault with intent to squash" on her nemesis Walter Wolf. Given that the judge and jury are all wolves, Skippy is understandably afraid that Slappy is gonna get railroaded. Slappy tells Skippy not to worry, as she's got "a dynamite case". That is to say, she's wired the jury box with explosives, and gets off without a hitch.
- Karmic Protection: The Warners were only truly malevolent to the bad guys, which justifies a lot of the mayhem they cause. Even people who were annoyed by them but otherwise good characters would ultimately get the Warners' help in the end. One episode even lampshaded it and discussed it, when a kid watching at home wondered why the Warners weren't doing more to the antagonist.
- One episode had them frustrated because a character they wanted to get rid of (a Sound of Music style Julie Andrews Expy) did nothing to invite retribution. In the end, they sicced Slappy Squirrel on her. Problem solved.
- Still, a lot of what the Warners do could be needlessly cruel to the point of making them unsympathetic, such as stripping Otto in the "Schnitzelbank" song or leaving the woodchuck in the toilet in "Kid in the Lid"... until you remember that everyone's an actor; hardly any of what takes place is "real".
- One cartoon was cut because they were too malicious.
- Karmic Trickster: From a proud Warner Brothers tradition. Both the Warners and Slappy Squirrel enjoy taking the air out of Jerkasses
- Kevlard: The Hip Hippos are very fat and also very durable, which comes in handy given their less than stellar common sense.
- Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy: Yakko explains in song why he is now the king of Anvilania:Yakko: I'm the cousin to the sister / Of son's niece's brother / Of the uncle's daughter's father / Of the nephew's sister's mother / And my grandpa's only cousin / Was the King's daughter's sibling, / But they're all gone,Crowd: So that is whyYakko: I am now your king!
- Know Your Vines: In "Sound of the Warners" After using the bathroom in a bush, Dr. Scratchansniff gets an awful itch, because he was in a poison oak bush.
- Lampshaded Double Entendre: "Goodnight everybody!"
- Lampshaded the Obscure Reference: In a short where the Warner Bros (and the Warner sister) met Rasputin. They did a pun between "Anastasia" and "anesthesia", and Dot said "Obscure Joke. Ask your parents".
- Last-Second Word Swap: During the song, "A Quake, A Quake" Yakko makes this clever pun.Yakko: Whose fault? Whose fault? The San Andreas Fault! 'Cause Mr. Richter can't predict 'er kicking our asphalt!
- Late to the Punchline: Most people who saw the show as kids. See the Getting Crap Past the Radar entry. Then find video of this show. Embrace the revelations.
- Leitmotif: Just about every character had one. Nicely shown off in the last short: The Animaniacs Suite.
- Certain actions warranted their own theme music too. For example, a character eating was usually accompanied by "Shortnin' Bread" and a character cleaning something would be accompanied by "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush". This is an obvious callback to Carl Stalling's work.
- Hello Nurse's leitmotif (a sultry drumbeat) is an interesting case, where hers was started by Wakko in the first short ("Dezanitizsed") just to screw with the audience in true Warner fashion, but has since stuck with the character ever since.
- Limited Animation: Parodied in "Back in Style".
- List Song: "Yakko's World", among others.
- Literal-Minded/Suckiness Is Painful: In "Video Revue", "bombs" (bad movies) were treated as weapons grade ordinance and would explode after falling off the shelves. Yes, names were named.
- Little Guy, Big Buddy: Rita and Runt; also arguably Pinky and the Brain and Buttons and Mindy.
- Local Reference: When Rita and Runt go to Poland in "Puttin on the Blitz", Rita sings that it doesn't look like Burbank, more like Van Nuys. (Both are cities in the Los Angeles Area. You can guess which one has higher property values).
- Location Song: "Yakko's World" is a List Song listing every country in the world.
- Lustful Melt: Happens to Minerva in both her cartoons, and to Dot and some aliens in "Space Probed".
- Mad Hatter: All three main characters, in the tradition of Looney Tunes and similar cartoons. "We're not monkeys, we're just cuckoo! Don't know what to say the Warners won't do!"
- Madwoman in the Attic: Yakko, Wakko and Dot were locked in a water tower for decades for being too zany.
- The Mafia: The Goodfeathers are an Affectionate Parody of Goodfellas and mob films in general.
- And, naturally, are The Family for the Whole Family.
- Make a Wish
- Malaproper: A source for so much of the humor.
- Mars Needs Women: All three of the Warner siblings. Although they seem to see themselves as more or less human-ish.
- Mary Sue: Parodied (in-universe) in the musical number "Hello Nurse".
- Meaningful Name: Dr. Scratchansniff's German last name is Freudlos, a double pun; it literally means "joyless", but it's also a reference to yet another psychiatrist...
- Yakko and Wakko. Wakko, a play on "wacko", as in someone who is a little whacky (strange or crazy), and Yakko, a play on "yakking away" or talking incessantly. Yakko almost never shuts up.
- Medium Awareness: Mostly Slappy and the Warners.
- Slappy beats the Warners here:
- Mickey Mousing: Animaniacs actually had orchestral accompaniment - very, very rare for a televised cartoon series - and took full advantage of that.
- Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: "The Brain's Apprentice" and a couple of the Retraux Warners shorts.
- Misplaced Wildlife: In the "Tiger Prince" cold open, there are tigers substituting for lions in Africa... because they're parodying The Lion King.
- Monster Clown: A birthday-party clown is viewed this way in-universe in "Clown and Out" (by two characters who are afraid of clowns), but he's actually a very nice guy.
- Mood Whiplash: There was one serious Slappy cartoon in which Slappy was put away in an asylum and Skippy was taken away by social services.
- To say that this episode was just an example of this trope is an understatement. The mood jumped up and down OVER AND OVER again, to the point of being a highly compressed intra-episode version of Cerebus Roller Coaster. It leads in with a comedic stretch where Slappy is driven mad by watching too many daytime talk shows (Jerry Springer etc.), which she can't stand. Then her madness is played for laughs for a while. Then Skippy takes her to the doctor, and even amidst there being a few gags in the scene, suddenly it starts portraying realistic consequences of her going insane. Then it just keeps REPEATEDLY ALTERNATING between playing it for laughs and portraying the very tragic realistic consequences of a kid's aunt losing her mental faculties. Then she suddenly gets better and escapes the asylum for a happy ending. Then as a Continuity Gag in later episodes she references that now she actually LIKES those talk shows.
- Most Rita and Runt segments are emotional, semi-serious stories with only a few jokes or gags.
- Mook–Face Turn: Several shorts involved Dot escaping from confinement by convincing the prison guard on duty with her cuteness.
- Moral Guardians: One Slappy short involved an obnoxious senator imposing standards on cartoons to make them "safe and educational" for children. That same episode had Skippy repeatedly beaten up by a bully after following ineffectual advice from his guidance counselor. When Slappy and Skippy finally do use violence (cartoon violence) on the bully and it works, the senator and the counselor are both livid. Slappy's response to both their complaints is to use the machine the senator had sent to her, which carries out all cartoon violence off screen. Naturally, they both concede to Slappy's methods when they emerge as charred, beaten wrecks.
- Mr. Exposition: Lampshaded by Slappy."Doug the Dog!? But he hates you, Aunt Slappy! He's been trying to eat you for years!!
"Thank you, Mr. Exposition."
- Multiple Demographic Appeal: Was specifically designed for this. Kids will laugh at the potty jokes and the slapstick, but there's still plenty of Parental Bonus in the form of Getting Crap Past the Radar and No Celebrities Were Harmed to keep the adults entertained.
- Musical Episode: Rita and Runt have at least one song per short. There are also numerous episodes that parody Broadway without those two characters that still act as musical episodes.
- Combining the two, one extended Rita and Runt segment is basically a parody of Les Misérables.
- Episode 82 consists entirely of episodes based around music: "Wakko's 2-Note Song," "Panama Canal," "Hello, Nurse!," "The Ballad of Magellan," "The Return of the Great Wakkorotti," and "The Big Wrap Party Tonight." It even includes the extended theme song.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: Dot is one of the few inversions in western animation that willingly introduces herself as this trope on a regular basis.
- Mythology Gag: Or more of a coincidence that was taken advantage of. Many animated shows only run for 65 episodes, a number deemed large enough for syndication. Animaniacs was originally to be no different, and it turned out that the fictional backstory of the Warner siblings had already established their debut as being around 1929, 65 years prior to the finale's broadcast. The episode thus played up the number, revolving entirely around a "65th Anniversary Special" tribute to the Warners.
- Naive Animal Lover: A sketch ("The Hip Hippos") involved a Jane Goodall Expy maintaining vigilance over a pair of City Slicker, Nigh Invulnerable (because of their obesity) Idle Rich hippos. The Running Gag was her seeing them in (what she believed to be) danger and try to save them, only for the hippos to come out of the stunt all right and her hurt in some comedic fashion (with them not even noticing she was there).
- The Napoleon: Mr. Plotz, the WB CEO.
- Never Say "Die": Averted. As with the massive Getting Crap Past the Radar, the show got away with saying the d-word several times:
Yakko: Hey mister, are you about to drag our brother off to a bleak nether realm of despair, where the future is nothing but an endless sea of anguish and horrible misery?Death: Ja..?
- In one of Dot's catchphrases: "Call me Dottie, and you die".
- In "Meatballs or Consequences", Wakko dies, and his siblings spend the whole time pestering Death. On top of that, the moral of the episode is not to fear death, but rather a life wasted. Yakko has a very pretty speech about it at the end (though if you don't think he lampshades the Glurge, you don't know him very well).
Dot and Yakko: WE WANNA GO TOOOOO!
- In some of the more serious Rita and Runt episodes.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Baloney the dinosaur just laughs off anvils much to the horror of the Warners.
- He can actually be harmed though, through the most mundane method you can imagine. Literally. If you imagine him in pain and suffering that's what happens. But the Warners don't properly catch on.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: ...at least not by name.
- Several notable public figures of the period were hilariously parodied in the show with such gems as Codger Eggbert and Lean Hisskill, as well as the Iraqi dictator Sodarn Hinsane.
- No Fourth Wall: Was central to its humor, and is some of the best Post Modernism ever put in kids' comedy TV.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Buttons goes to enormous lengths, risking his own hide to keep Mindy from harm. Every episode ends with Buttons getting in trouble over some (Generally minor) misbehavior he performed in the course of his duties.
- No Periods, Period: And that's why the writers created Katie Kaboom to explain to innocent little children why their big sister chucks a psycho for NO JUSTIFIABLE REASON WHATSOEVER once a month. Basically, their explanation was Teens Are Monsters.
- "I'm Not Overreacting!! I'm a Teenager!!".
- Of course, it's not like teens don't have a tendency to overreact regardless of the time of the month (or their gender).
- "I'm Not Overreacting!! I'm a Teenager!!".
- Noir Episode: The episode "This Pun for Hire" with the Warners do a film noir parody, taking every cliché and killing them with many bad puns. Feature Scratchansniff and Ralph as villains and also Hello, Nurse! (and, after, Minerva Mink) as Femme Fatale.
- Non Sequitur Thud: Happens a lot, this being a cartoon.Slappy: *waking up suddenly* I'd like to buy a vowel!
Death: *after falling off a cliff* I'll have the linguine with clams...
- And in another episode:
- Not Allowed to Grow Up/Older Than They Look: The Warners' in-universe backstory states they were drawn in 1930, essentially making them all 80, and yet, none of them are geriatrics. It's particularly odd in that the Skippy and Slappy Squirrel segments make it quite clear that cartoon characters do age.
- Maybe it's because cartoon characters come from their creators' imaginations, so it depends on whether they were imagined as characters that age. The Warners come from the era of monochrome, where cartoon characters were kind of simple/crude, while Slappy seems like she's more from the 40's, as a more realistic character.
- Slappy throws a bit of a grim skew on it though in the short 'Rest in Pieces'. Though she and her old co-stars are clearly getting on in years, she tells Skippy that she knew Walter wasn't dead because 'there is no dying in the world of cartoons'.
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend
- Nuns Are Funny: The infamous candy store episode had the Warners tormenting a stuck-up store proprietor named Flaxseed after he refused to donate candy to a orphanage run by nuns. After driving him nuts, Flaxseed finally gets hold of Wakko and Dot... only for the nun from before to come back with reinforcements. They're about to kick his ass before Flaxseed points out that nuns aren't supposed to resort to violence. So, the nuns proceed to pray, and the Notre Dame college football team shows up to pummel the living crap out of Flaxseed.Head Nun: Our prayers have been answered!
- Obfuscating Stupidity: The Warners can perform and explain Shakespeare; name every country, as well as every American state and capital, and every President, from memory; and generally make frequent references to science, history, literature, politics, and a host of other subjects. They are completely insane, but they are geniuses.
- Odd Name Out: Dot. She's the only Warner sibling whose name doesn't rhyme with the others'.
- Off Model: There were eight, count them, EIGHT animation companies that worked on the show; note all had different drawing and animation styles (and that does not even count the studios that TMS used under contract note However, almost all of them used TMS' style).
- Mostly with segments animated by Freelance Animators New Zealand, take a look.
- StarToons tended to dip into this, as well with the Slappy the Squirrel intro and "Wakko's America", though not to the extreme as Freelance, as well as tending to make the animation even more expressive. Unfortunately, the same can not be said about shorts like "The Big Candy Store" or "Wally Llama".
- AKOM, of course. Though it's the more bland and uninteresting animation and sometimes horrific expressions, as opposed to poor drawings.
- Happened occasionally with TMS's episodes as well, as several of their shorts went though numerous subcontractors.
- For instance, "Taming of the Screwy" was given to Actas and the result wasn't prettynote . "Roll Over Beethoven", "Home on De Nile" and "H.M.S. Yakko" are also guilty of this.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Often employed by the Warners. Performed on the Warners by the survey ladies ("Would you like to take a survey?")
- Oh God, with the Verbing!: Mr Director speaks like this.
- Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date: Dot briefly fantasizes about going on one with Dr. Scratchansniff, and creeps herself out, in "De-Zanitized".
- Old Shame: The Warner trio themselves, in-universe; The company sealed them (and the cartoons which featured them) away in the early 20th century, refusing to release them because they (both the characters and their films) were nonsensical. Even in present time, they're trying to keep them locked up.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with Kiki the Girlfeather and Kiki the gorilla from the Rita and Runt episode, "Kiki's Kitten."
- Only Sane Man: Whoever is the one person that knows Chicken Boo is a giant chicken — except in the Batman parody... in which Batman, voiced of course by Adam West, was the only one who didn't see through the Boo Wonder's Paper-Thin Disguise.
- Opening Narration: Done via a Deliberately Monochrome (with a splash of tomato red on the Warner's noses) newsreel called Newsreel of the Stars, used to explain the Warner's genesis, how they got loose, drove the world insane, humiliated the studio executives, and became sealed chaos in a can.
- Out of Order: The exact production order isn't clear, but the first season — which accounts for the majority of the series' run — was clearly aired out of order because some characters' introductory episodes, like Minerva Mink and Katie Ka-Boom, clearly aren't their actual first appearances. The DVD releases retained this error, leading to "Meet Minerva" not showing up until the third volume out of four.
- Overly Long Name:
- Princess Angelina Contessa Louisa Francesca Banana Fana Bo Besca III - but you can call her Dot. Call her Dotty and you die.
- Professor Otto von Schnitzelbuskrankengescheitmeier from the song "Schnitzelbank." It gets lampshaded during of the verses ("Is dast nicht ein incredibly long name to have to try and say?").
- Overly Long Gag: Who is on Stage?
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Exaggerated with Chicken Boo.
- Parental Bonus: To the point where watching this show as a child and watching it years later as an adult are completely different experiences.
- Parental Neglect: Mindy's parents, which is probably why she never calls them "mom" and "dad" like they want her to (except in Wakko's Wish) and instead calls them "Lady" and "Mr Man", something she might refer to a stranger as.
- Parody: Anything from The Sound of Music to Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers to Barney & Friends to Godzilla (naturally, Barney was far more frightening).
- Parody Magic Spell: From their Shakespeare "translation":Witches: Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Yakko: Loosely translated, "Abracadabra".
Dot: Fillet of a fenny snake, in the cauldron boil and bake.
Yakko: "Let's cook a snake." Start with my agent.
- Patter Song: "I Am The Very Model Of A Cartoon Individual," Parody of Gilbert and Sullivan's "I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major-General. To make the parody more blatant, it was sung to a pirate.
- Phrase Catcher: "Hello, Nurse!" Guess who this is usually said to.
- Pimped-Out Dress: In the episode "King Yakko", Hello Nurse plays the prime minister of the kingdom, and she wears a magenta dress with ermine trim and a blue cloak.
- Pin-Pulling Teeth: In "I Got Yer Can", an Escalating War with Slappy Squirrel causes Candie Chipmunk to do this; terrifying a pair of nuns before blowing herself up.
- Pintsized Powerhouse: The robots in "The Brain's Apprentice". A single one can raise a standard fridge off the ground.
- Platonic Life Partners: Rita and Runt.
- Plot Hole: Provides the page quote from a sketch of Shakespere's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" being translated for kids.Puck (played by Yakko): And this weak and idling theme, no more yielding, but a dream!Dot (the translator): There is a hole in this plot you could drive a truck through.
- Potty Dance: See below.
- Potty Emergency: Trope Namer, for the Season 2 episode where Yakko, Wakko, and Dot are at the movies and Wakko drinks from an insanely large cup of soda and spends the rest of the short desperately looking for a bathroom.
- Pounds Are Animal Prisons: Rita and Runt first met in one of these, and "Les Miseranimals" opens with Runt escaping from one.
- Pro Wrestling Episode: "Fake"
- Previously On: The first episode aired on Kids' WB! opened with a parody of this trope.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "I! AM! SATAN!!! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"
- Raiders of the Lost Parody: An early episode wound up with Yakko directing Mr. Director through a few movie parodies. In one, Mr. Director was "Illinois Smith" and utterly failed with the whip - first he ends up tying himself up with the thing, then when he gets free he cracks it and it gets caught on the set rafters, bringing them down on him.
- "I think it's a not-working whip."
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The "Please Please PLEASE Get a Life Foundation" was written using actual nitpicks from a newsgroup-made reference guide (the Cultural Reference Guide for Animaniacs) verbatim. The show's writers even e-mailed the people who wrote that guide for permission to use their quotes. The show's run coincided with the early days of wide Internet access, and in those days (early to mid 1990's) most online discussions were done in newsgroups.Will Bell: (founder and maintainer of the CRGA) Several months ago I received email from [writer] Peter Hastings asking for copies of the CRGA by email and snail mail, which I provided.
- A group of these fans were subsequently invited to the studios to see the short before its broadcast premiere, as shown in this E! news segment from 1995.
- After the short was screened for the fans, one fan pointed out an error in the short's quoting of one of the nitpicks. From memory. This was met with incredulity by the staffers and no surprise at all by the fans.
- During the brief point in time when it looked unlikely that Bill Clinton would serve a second term, the creators hedged their bets by changing the theme song lyrics from "While Bill Clinton play the sax" to "We pay tons of income tax".
- A group of these fans were subsequently invited to the studios to see the short before its broadcast premiere, as shown in this E! news segment from 1995.
- Recurring Extra: The Hip Hippos.
- Reference Overdosed
- Refuge in Audacity: So much.
Slappy: And I'm Princess Louisa Francesca... y'know what: forget it. I'm done. Have some dynamite down yer pants.
- In "Hot, Bothered and Bedeviled," the Warners take a wrong turn at Kennebunkport and end up in Hell, tormenting Satan. The same episode features Saddam Hussein plunging into a lake of lava and three demonic stand-ins for The Andrews Sisters singing a jazz tune about eternal damnation.
- An in-universe example in the "Baghdad Cafe" portion of the Animaniacs Stew episode, the villain-of-the-week is "Sodarn Insane" - presumably the same guy. The Warners mistake him for the headwaiter, but the part of Dot is being played by Slappy, who sees no reason not to cut directly to Comedic Sociopathy:
- The Resolution Will Not Be Televised: The Direct-to-Video movie Wakko's Wish, an Alternate Universe medieval fantasy with a semi-serious plot that ultimately gave all of the characters in the series resolution despite the fact they were all removed from their traditional settings.
- One could also consider it a Massive Multiplayer Crossover — while the characters were all in the same show, they rarely all interacted in the same place.
- Retraux: The "lost" shorts.
- Rhyming with Itself: At the end of the "Yakko's America" song about 50 states and their capitals:Sacramento, California; Oklahoma and its City;
Charleston, West Virginia; and Nevada, Carson City.
- For the more grievous example see Humiliation Conga.
- Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: The hippos.
- Right Behind Me: In one episode the Warners proceeded to trash talk the people working on the show note as the credits rolled, not realizing that their microphone was still on.
- Slappy subverts this in the very first short featuring her, whipping out a club to hit the eavesdropping Doug the Dog without even looking at him.
- Right Way/Wrong Way Pair: The "Good Idea, Bad Idea" shorts.
- Roommate Com: The Warners appear in in-verse show Acquaintances, which is a parody of Friends (a prime example of Roommate Com).
- Rule of Funny: A given on this show in general, but lampshaded in the Slappy short "I Got Yer Can", when Skippy drops an anvil on Candie Chipmunk apropos of nothing, justifying it to his aunt with a nonchalant "Who cares, anvils are funny."
- Running Gag: Again, too many to count. Notably "Wanna See My Pet?", the Warners being chased by Ralph in the background of other shorts, and Yakko announcing "Good Night Everybody!" if something even remotely suggestive was said.
- A short-lived one was used in both "This Pun For Hire" and "Anchors A-Warners": A character says "No no no." Yakko in the first instance and Dot in the latter instance asked the character to repeat that. The character again said, "No no no." Then each replied, "I love that!"
- What about the dragon!? The dragon! The dragon! The dragon! The dragon! The dragon!
- Would someone please stop this man from saying "Dragon"?
- Scary Shadow Fakeout: Subverted in one of the Randy Beaman stories:"One time Randy Beaman was alone in his bed, and he was in the dark, and he saw some shadows and thought it was Dracula, but his mom said it was the coat hanging on the rack, and he turned on the light and it really was Dracula."
- The Scottish Trope: In "Sir Yaksalot", Yakko get so annoyed by people saying the word "dragon" that everytime somebody says it, an anvil will be summoned to drop on their heads.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Fairly regular.
- The Warner Brothers attempted to escape "Balony and Friends" multiple times, but for once their efforts were fruitless.
- Slappy had a strong distaste for cameos and would regularly threaten to leave.
- Dot's feeling out of it in "Gimme the Works," so the Warners decide to walk off the set and end the thing early. She's not feeling any better in their second short that episode, "Hercules Unwound," but in that case the cartoon goes on without them.
- Screwy Squirrel: Slappy Squirrel and the Warner Brothers both waver between this trope and being Karmic Tricksters.
- Sealed Chaos in a Can: The Warners were created in The Thirties, but their cartoons were nonsensical, they caused havoc all over the studio and they drove their creator insane, so the bigwigs locked them in the Water Tower until FOR-E-VER. The series starts in The '90s when they finally make their escape, and as the theme song suggests, numerous attempts to lock them back in there are foiled time after time, to the point where most people seem to just leave them to their business, give the tower a wide berth and hope they don't cross their path.
- Second Episode Introduction: "The Monkey Song", the second total short in the series, introduces literally every single secondary and minor supporting character in the series, some pantomiming what they'll be doing for the rest of the series. The third short, "Good Night, Toon", slightly fleshes out some more of their personalities.
- Secret Chaser: One in every Chicken Boo short.
- Seemingly Profound Fool: The basic premise of the Chicken Boo shorts, though there were rare moments where Chicken Boo showed actual competence at his supposed job.
- Self-Deprecation: "The Warners' 65th Anniversary Special". The crux of this episode is Warner Bros. acknowledging just how awful cartoons featuring the character Buddy were.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: In the episode "Taming of the Screwy," Mr. Plotz is holding a banquet for foreign investors, and said investors want to meet all of the workers at the Warner Bros. studio, including Yakko, Wakko, and Dot. Under his orders, Dr. Scratchansniff manages to convince the Warners to keep their lunacy under control so they can attend the banquet... only for Mr. Plotz to force them out of the banquet regardless because he doesn't trust them not to screw things up. Snubbed and insulted, the Warners return to the banquet and ruin it in their usual Karmic Trickster fashion. In a nutshell, if Mr. Plotz had just let them stay since they were behaving, the entire thing would have gone off without a hitch.
- Sexier Alter Ego: Wilford B. Wolf in the Minerva Mink short "Moon Over Minerva". The geeky wolf turns into a hunk under the light of a full moon.
- Sexy Silhouette: Minerva Mink (in a nice Parent Service).
- Sexy Walk: Hello Nurse and Minerva Mink does this a lot.
- Shaggy Dog Story: The premise of the "Randy Beaman story" shorts.
- Shaking the Rump: The Macarena parody "Macadamia Nut" features some Grade-A booty shaking from Dot, Hello Nurse and Minerva Mink.
- Shockingly Expensive Bill: In "Anchors A-Warners", The Warners run up Dr. Scratchansniff's room service bill to $26,590. He screams and starts swimming to China.
- Shout-Out: A whole lot. The show slightly dates itself with a lot of Early 90's and other contemporary-at-the-time references, but is just as willing to go farther back as well.
Frankincense, frankincess, franchncss... shoot! Yadda yadda yadda flambé.
- "The Taming of the Screwy" is pretty much their version of Looney Tunes shorts like "Hollywood Steps Out", with moments like:
- Robert Patrick entering in a policeman's uniform, until Ralph tells him it's a Black Tie affair. At which point he liquid-metal-shifts into a tux.
- Michelle Pfeiffer in her Catwoman costume. Yakko tells her there's something(or rather, some Thing) in her milk saucer. Michael Keaton also appears in full Bat-costume.
- Danny Glover complaining that he's "Too old for this [shit]" at Mel Gibson's antics.
- Spike Lee begging "Please, baby!"(to an actual baby).
- When Yakko "Sings the Entire English Language", he makes a "slight error at the F's."
- See also the CRGA, mentioned above under Real Life Writes the Plot. It's basically a huge repository of these.
- In the episode Potty Emergency, when a character looks out of a window into space, above the window the letters MST3K can be seen.
- "A clown is not a big spider".
- This show provided probably the one and only spoof of The Day the Clown Cried in the short, Hearts of Twilight. Surprising since the movie was never released.
- On the other hand, Steven Spielberg has seen the movie, one of the few people Jerry Lewis has shown it to.
- When Wakko makes a face to freak people out - the one with the swirling eyes and tongue hanging out - it's referred to as a 'Gookie'. The facial expression itself is an homage to Harp of The Marx Brothers: and Harpo revealed in his autobiography that this goofy face was made in mockery of a certain butcher in his New York City neighborhood named... Gookie.
- A blink-and-you'll-miss-it example: In "Sir Yaksalot", a background cart driver looks exactly like a medieval version of Daisuke Jigen. Not too surprising as TMS worked on the episode.
- In one of the "Good Idea, Bad Idea" segments ("Bad idea: having the circus come to you") the theme from Monty Python's Flying Circus plays in the background.
- A Steven Spielberg reference: this Katie Ka-Boom segment features Katie's younger brother making a tower out of mashed potatoes, much like the protagonist of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
- The name of the episode Garage Sale Of The Century, though it doesn't reference the show otherwise.
- "The Taming of the Screwy" is pretty much their version of Looney Tunes shorts like "Hollywood Steps Out", with moments like:
- Sir Verba Lot: In one episode, Yakko, Wakko and Dot are given the titles "Sir Yaks-A-Lot", "Sir Waks-A-Lot" and "Lady Dots-A-Lot".
- Sit On The Camera: in episode "The Boids" with the director, Alfred Hitchcock, sitting on the Goodfeathers. Then they're shown stuck to his butt.
- Sitting Sexy on a Piano: Dot, on occasion.
- Soap Punishment: In "Roll Over, Beethoven", Yakko, Wakko and Dot do this to Beethoven after he describes himself as a 'pianist'.
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: As revealed in the comics, Minerva has an extremely hard time doing ordinary things like grocery shopping and filing taxes, because every male of every species in the area is panting and hooting at her.
- Social Services Does Not Exist: Tear-jerkingly averted in the Slappy cartoon "One Flew Over the Cuckoo Clock".
- Solid Clouds: When the Warners try to convince the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk to try gold eggs and meat:Yakko: Eat them, eat them, on a cloud.Giant: Oh, all right, for crying out loud! [eats it] Mmm! Gold eggs and meat I do not hate.Yakko: But now that cloud won't hold your weight [Giant falls through cloud]
- Something Completely Different: Some of the sketches featured none of the usual cast. One notable example is "The Flame", a mostly-serious cartoon entirely about a candle flame watching Thomas Jefferson write the Declaration of Independence.
- Even the "regular" cast can do this, such as the Rita & Runt segment "Puttin' on the Blitz", set in World War II Poland.
- Space Jews: Yakko, Wakko, and Dot portrayed Native Americans on at least two occasions.
- Spin-Off: Pinky and the Brain (and to an extent, Histeria! - two of that show's characters debuted on this show).
- Spiritual Successor: To Tiny Toon Adventures, which was also produced by Amblin Entertainment. More to the point, just as Tiny Toon Adventures was a reimagining of Looney Tunes, Animaniacs was something of a Deconstruction of Tex Avery's cartoons.
- It was produced about twenty years after another ostensibly-for-kids-actually-for-all-ages, vaudeville-inspired variety show known as The Muppet Show.
- Spoof Aesop: An especially brilliant use, an almost Once an Episode gag using the Wheel of Morality.Wheel of Morality, turn turn turn, tell us the lesson that we should learn!
Yakko: ...If you can't say anything nice, you're probably at the Ice Capades.
Early to rise, Early to bed, makes a man healthy but socially dead!
You can teach an old dog new tricks, but you can't teach Madonna to act.
"Don't chew with your mouth full."
Yakko: Remember, kids, playing with giant bugs isn't cool. If somebody asks you to play with a giant bug, just say no! That's cool.
- The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers parody "Super Strong Warner Siblings" mimicked that show's earnest, And That's Terrible-style post-show morality lessons:
- Squick: In-Universe Example. One of the lessons provided by the Wheel of Morality is "Never ask what hot dogs are made of." and Yakko winces while reading it.
- Stealth Pun: The Wheel of Morality has a "Bankrupt" space...note
- ...and while the cartoons never showed them hitting it, the comic book did.
- "Warner Bros." = "Warner Brothers" + a "dot".
- Sticky Situation: In the Warners' 65th anniversary special, Daffy Duck recalls the Warners' first solo cartoon where they had flypaper stuck on their fannies, which he admitted, was funny for an animated short, but this went on for eight hours!
- The Stinger: After the credits, the door to the water tower swings open, and a character delivers one last joke of some sort.
- Straw Fan: Of the Affectionate Parody version, in the "Please Please Pleese* Get a Life Foundation"
- Strictly Formula: The Buttons and Mindy shorts, oh so very much. The French episode shows that the formula doesn't need to be in English to work, and the caveman episode proves that it doesn't even need an intelligible language.
- Stupidity Is the Only Option: When going to Dracula's Castle.Yakko: We're not that stupid. We just know the plot.
- Subverted Catchphrase: At the end of "Meet John Brain", there's a twist on Brain's usual catchphrase, "The same thing we do every night, Pinky: Try to take over the world":Pinky: Why, Brain? What are we gonna do tomorrow night?
Brain: ...You know.
- Suddenly Voiced: The Mime, Chicken Boo and Buttons (all ordinarily voiceless) can be seen singing along with everyone else in the opening credits when the characters shout "We're Animaney, totally insaney!"
- We also see the mime move his lips in Wakko's Wish, and he actually says something in "Les Boutons et le Ballon". " Le Owwwwww".
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Dr. Scratchansniff's fear aversion therapy includes repeating a few "comforting" phases.
- Take That: If it's in public media, it's a target. Nothing, NOTHING is safe (not even the fans), though Disney and network censors are choice victims.Yakko: It's that time again.Dot: To make fun of the Disney Channel?
Dot: Why don't you go bug the kids in Goof Troop?
- In "Sound of Warners":
Wakko: A happy postal worker.Dot: Edible fruitcake.Yakko: A funny episode of Bonkers.
- In "Deduces Wild," some of the items they're searching for in a scavenger hunt are...
- In 'A Hard Day's Warners', The Warner's escape their screaming fans by putting on some masks from a 'The Mask' booth. They pull some Maskish stunts, and after taking off the mask, Yakko says, "And we did all that without computers!"
- One really obscure take that is aimed at a vintage Disney short, "Playful Pluto", specifically the famous flypaper sequence that it's known for. The skit involved the Warners in one of their early works, "Flies in the Ointment" , where they get flypaper stuck to their butts, and the film ran for eight hours.
- Team Dad: Dr. Scratchansniff sometimes takes on this role with the Warners, particularly in the short, "I'm Mad", where he tries to take them on a long road trip only to try and keep Yakko and Dot from arguing and Wakko from complaining the whole trip.
- Teens Are Monsters: Katie Kaboom literally turns into a monster Once per Episode, and spends most of it as one.
- Terrible Trio: Dr. Scratchnsniff and Hello Nurse join Ralph in chasing the Warners in one episode.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Marita of "The Hip Hippos" segments is a perfect example.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: The end of "I'm Cute", where Dot expresses anger over her brothers for ruining her song.
- Throughout the entire song "I'm Mad"
- That's All, Folks!
- Theme Tune Roll Call
- Theme Tune Cameo: In "Take My Sibling, Please", Wakko sings the Tiny Toon Adventures theme before getting tired of it, and instead sings his show's theme on the way over the troll bridge.
- ¡Three Amigos!: Yakko, Wakko and Dot, naturally.
- Throw the Pin: There's a short where the Warners are being put through military training, and their sergeant is instructing them about grenades with the line "Pull the pin and then throw it". Wakko, naturally, throws the pin.
- Too Hot For Tv: In a rare case of self-censorship, the staff retired the Minerva Mink shorts after only two episodes because the sexual undertones were too blatant.
- Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth:
- The Warners themselves, repeatedly.
- Also Baloney (a Barney Captain Ersatz), a Captain Ersatz of Maria from The Sound of Music, and the dangerously affectionate Elmyra from Tiny Toons Adventures have proven too much for the Warners. Notably, the Warners escape Elmyra by enticing her to follow Mindy, due to Mindy's cuteness. Cue Amusing Injuries, and Button's relief.
- Toothy Bird: The Goodfeathers. Chicken Boo often averts this, except in some cases when he shows expressions.
- Trailer Park Tornado Magnet: There was a short called "The Brave Little Trailer", in which the title character battles a tornado that always attacks the trailer park he inhabits.
- Tricked Into Signing: There's an episode where the Warners are taking the place of Plotz's sick secretary. So one of them gives Plotz a few documents to sign, hiding among them a check for 80 billion. He then shouts to his brother and sister "We're rich!" Plotz takes the check away, to which the brother merely says "We're poor!"
- Truth in Television: A lot of skits, especially of the Warner trio, mimic real-life situations that happen to real people (some, even, on situations that happened to the writers themselves). Though they're incredibly exaggerated, there's always that one line where you hear it and think, "Oh, that is so true.""Would ya like to take a survey?"Nanny: You must be Dit.
Dot: That's Dot.
Nanny: Dot. Right. Wikkie!
Nanny: And you must be...
Yakko: (deadpan) This oughta be good.
Nanny: Petey-pie!Dr. Scratchnsniff: Hello, we are stuck in an elevator, and we are late for an appointment with Mr. Plotz.
Voice on Intercom: Ooh, that's bad. Okay, you sit tight and we'll get you out in a minute.
Ten hours later...
Voice on Intercom: You still in there? It was our indication that you got out.
Dr. Scratchnsniff: Really? What gave you that indication?
Voice on Intercom: That's...just the indication we had.
- And of course, the entire premise of "Bumbie's Mom."
- The absurd event that triggers Slappy's antics in "I Got Yer Can" ("Please don't throw your trash in my trash can.") came from that exact thing happening to one of the writers.
- Tummy Cushion:
- "Drive Insane" Wakko and Dot lay on Frau Hassenfeffer; Dot even tells her she's comfy.
- "Hollywoodchuck" Charlton Woodchuck reads a book while lying on a grizzly bear's stomach while shooting a movie.
- Unexplained Accent: Wakko has a Liverpudlian brogue for absolutely no damn reason — at least not one ever explained on the show.
- He was actually based specifically on Ringo Starr. Still, that's not an in-universe explanation.
- Given the nature of the Warners (cartoon characters come to life) that may very well be an in-universe explanation.
- Interestingly, he's the one that sings the states and capitals. He's the only Warner that does not have an American accent.
- He was actually based specifically on Ringo Starr. Still, that's not an in-universe explanation.
- Universal-Adaptor Cast: Cartoons take place anywhere and everywhere. The Warners bugging Einstein, Picasso, or Beethoven? Pinky and the Brain as Pavlov's mice? Slappy vs. Daniel Boone? Mindy and Buttons in Prehistoria? The Goodfeathers as WWI carrier pigeons? Chicken Boo as a Civil War general? Rita and Runt in ancient Egypt? Yes, all those and more!
- Un-Person: The "Newsreel of the Stars" segment explains that a sort of damnatio memoriae was ordered against the Warners after they were imprisoned in the water tower — their films were locked in the vault never to see the light of day, and the studio employees were sworn against ever after publicly acknowledging their existence. It was successful, if only for 63 years.
- Unusual Euphemism: The Goodfeathers often use "coo" as a swear word, such as "coo you" or "coo off".
- Uranus Is Showing
- Vertigo Effect: Occasionally done with Buttons the moment Mindy escapes.
- Very Special Episode: "The Little Drummer Warners" has Yakko, Wakko, and Dot go back in time to first-century Bethlehem to witness the birth of the baby Jesus (religion always a controversial subject for kids' cartoons, for various reasons). You'll notice they are unusually low-keyed and respectful - at least until they start performing "The Little Drummer Boy" and suddenly turn it into a 1940s-style swing number. (Hey, they had to do something wacky.)
- "One Flew Over the Cuckoo Clock" as well, in which Slappy Squirrel suffers a nervous breakdown after watching too much daytime TV and has to be sent to a nursing home. This eventually results in Skippy being taken away by a CPS agent. The whole thing reminds one of an older relative going senile, seeing how it was based on Tom Ruegger's memories of visiting his aunt in a nursing home.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment:
Yakko: Ooh, what else do you have in there?
- Ms. Flameil keeps a red marker in her bra, apparently. Also a rare example of a not particularly attractive woman making use of this trope.
- This is where Minerva Mink keeps the key to her diary.
- Visual Pun: "It's not a joke, it's a visual gag."
- Vocal Evolution: All three Warners went through this. Yakko originally had more of a "tough guy" sound; Wakko originally sounded more like Ringo Starr; and Dot was higher-pitched. Also, Skippy's voice got deeper as Nathan Ruegger aged, to the point that some of the last Skippy/Slappy segments have him pitch-shifted.
- The War Room: Parodied in a episode where the Warners get pulled to Camelot to deal with a dragon that's causing havoc across the kingdom. Yakko calls his siblings to the War Room, then asks King Arthur where the War Room is. When Arthur says they don't have one, Wakko pulls one out of his bag. Inside is a setup that would make any general or Mad Scientist envious, with monitors on every wall showing the rampaging dragon and at the bottom a group of military leaders and scientists around a table debating whether to destroy the dragon or capture it for study. The Warners decide to forget the War Room after that.
- Wasn't That Fun?: Wakko in the episode "Ups and Downs", after the maintenance men raise the elevator he and Dr Scratchansniff are trapped in and drop it really quick:"Wasn't that neat?"
- Weaponized Landmark: The Warners weaponized the Warner Bros. water tower in "Super Strong Warner Siblings."
- We Have Forgotten the Phlebotinum:
Dr: You've got to get us out of here! Do something big and silly from your gaggy bag!
- When Dr. Scratchnsniff and Wakko were stuck in an elevator (in probably the only instance where Wakko was the Straight Man).
Wakko: I didn't bring it!
Dr: (Searching Wakko frantically) "But you ALWAYS has your gaggy bag!! Where iz it?!? GIVE ME YOUR GAGGY BAG!!"
- What Are You in For?: Rita asks Runt this when they first meet in the city pound. Runt's answer is "peeing on the floor".
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The number of times Chicken Boo has been ostracized just for being a chicken, regardless of whether he was any good at his job before being unmasked...
- Reminiscent of the Chicken Boo shorts, Brain running a successful campaign to become president only to be ridiculed when the people find that he is a mouse.
- Wheel o' Feet: Subverted in "Draculee, Dracula" — at one point the Warners rev up with this to start running, but then just walk off instead of darting.
- Whole Plot Reference: Far too many to count. Among those that haven't already been listed, A Christmas Carol and Disney's Beauty and the Beast are some of the most notable examples. They also did an entire parody on Disney movies in general, and Pocahontas in particular.
- Who's on First?: Just with 1960s band names instead of baseball players. i.e. "Who's on stage?" "Yes." "So Yes is on stage?" "No, Yes isn't at this concert."
Yakko: Very Pete Townshend-esque.
- They also get a bit more mileage out of the same gag in "Piano Rag":
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Wakko and Plotz are both so terrified of clowns that the mere presence of one in "Clown and Out" makes them uncharacteristically nervous.
- Wily Walrus: In the episode "Bumbie's Mom", a walrus lady complains when Skippy starts crying in the theater, and she's very rude about it. However, Slappy quickly shuts her up.
- The Witch Hunter: On one "Rita and Runt" segment set in Colonial Salem, Massachussets, a witch hunter is after Rita, claiming she's a witch's familiar.
- Wraparound Background: Seen in the Yogi Bear parody of "Back in Style".
- Wrong Parachute Gag: In a Boot Camp Episode, while plummeting towards the ground with their Drill Sergeant, the Warners tell him that they took the liberty of washing the sheets he stores in his backpack. He pulls the cord and a duck headed flotation device comes out.
- Wunza Plot: "Boo Wonder": One's a human, the other's a chicken. Together, they fight crime!
- Xylophone Gag: Subverted and lampshaded by Slappy here.
- "Old gag. New twist."
- Yank the Dog's Chain: "Yippy kai yai yo, dear ghost of Magellan, the East Indies islands were right over there!"
- Chicken Boo. Just when you think he's about to succeed, his disguise comes undone at the worst possible moment.
- Yet Another Christmas Carol: Starring Mr. Plotz in the Scrooge role, Ralph the Guard as Bob Cratchit with his son Ralph Jr. in the Tiny Tim role, Slappy as Jacob Marley and the Warner siblings as the three ghosts. The main difference from the original A Christmas Carol is that rather than having the Tiny Tim character die, Ralph Jr. vows revenge on Plotz for firing his dad and in the hypothetical future grows up to take over the Warner Bros. studio, with Plotz working as the security guard. Ralph Jr. fires Plotz in a similarly callous manner to the way Plotz fired his dad.
- Yodel Land: "Schnitzelbank".
- You All Meet in a Cell: Rita and Runt first meet in the pound.
- You Are Worth Hell: "Meatballs or Consequences."
- You Have to Believe Me: Every Chicken Boo short has one character who points out the Paper-Thin Disguise and is scorned.
- You Remind Me of X: Pretty much Slappy's Catchphrase.
- You Say Tomato: Mr. Director discusses this trope.Take the word 'animal'. Transpose the letters 'n' and 'm' and you get 'aminal'. That, in a nutshell, is comedy.
- You're Cute When You're Angry: Yakko says this to Dot after he and Wakko piss her off during "I'm Cute". Considering how seriously she takes her cuteness, it works.
- You Sexy Beast: In the Minerva Mink short "Moon Over Minerva". A geeky wolf, named Wilford B. Wolf, would turn into a hunky Fabio-like wolf when exposed to the full moon. Minerva won't give his geeky self the time of day, but she goes crazy for his moonlit self. Needless to say the short is pretty heavy on the Fanservice for both the male and female audiences.
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