Western Animation: Mighty Mouse
"Now I know why they call television a medium. Because nothing on it is rare or well done."A Super Hero anthropomorphic mouse saves the day, the world and his girlfriend, Pearl Pureheart. Originally one of the Terrytoons (yes, from the same fine company as Heckle and Jeckle) from The Golden Age of Animation.Remade by Filmation for television in the 1970's in a show starring Mighty Mouse and fellow Terrytoon characters Heckle and Jeckle in a show called The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle. This version lasted until the early 1980's and even spawned the movie Mighty Mouse and the Great Space Chase in 1982 (which was originally shown on the TV series in sixteen serialized chapters).The series was remade again in the late 1980's for CBS' Saturday morning cartoon block by famed animator Ralph Bakshi. His Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures was a highly innovative, insane series that pioneered the anarchic pop-culture obsessed, young adult-attracting style of television cartoons which flourished in the 1990's. Many of those who worked, created or had major impact on those later shows originally found writing and animation jobs for Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures including Bakshi's long time friend and protogé John Kricfalusi, Bruce Timm, Jim Reardon and Tom Minton. Sadly, if remembered at all, it's usually for the controversy surrounding a scene in which Mighty Mouse sniffed some crushed flowers that looked a heck of a lot like cocaine. The creators contend to this day that it was unintentional, but considering how every episode seemed ever more dedicated to Getting Crap Past the Radar, there really isn't a whole lot of plausible deniability.
—Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, from "Don't Touch That Dial"
Theatrical Cartoon Filmography
- The Mouse of Tomorrow
- Frankenstein's Cat
- He Dood It Again
- Pandora's Box
- Super Mouse Rides Again (AKA Mighty Mouse Rides Again)
- Down With Cats
- The Lion and the Mouse
- The Wreck of the Hesperus: First short where he is named Mighty Mouse.
- The Champion of Justice
- Mighty Mouse Meets Jekyll and Hyde Cat
- Eliza on the Ice
- Wolf! Wolf!
- The Green Line
- Mighty Mouse and the Two Barbers
- Sultan's Birthday
- Mighty Mouse at the Circus
- Mighty Mouse and the Pirates
- Port of Missing Mice
- Raiding the Raiders
- The Kilkenny Cats
- The Silver Streak
- Mighty Mouse and the Wolf
- Gypsy Life
- Mighty Mouse Meets Bad Bill Bunion
- Mighty Mouse in Krakatoa
- Svengali's Cat
- The Wicked Wolf
- My Old Kentucky Home
- Throwing the Bull
- The Johnstown Flood
- The Trojan Horse
- Winning the West
- The Electronic Mouse Trap
- The Jail Break
- The Crackpot King
- Mighty Mouse and the Hep Cat
- Crying Wolf
- The Dead End Cats
- Aladdin's Lamp
- The Sky is Falling
- Mighty Mouse Meets Deadeye Dick
- A Date for Dinner
- The First Snow
- A Fight to the Finish
- Swiss Cheese Family Robinson
- Lazy Little Beaver
- Mighty Mouse and the Magician
- The Feudin' Hillbillies
- The Witch's Cat
- Love's Labor Won
- Triple Trouble
- The Mysterious Stranger
- Magic Slipper
- Racket Buster
- A Cold Romance
- The Catnip Gang
- The Perils of Pearl Pureheart
- Stop, Look and Listen
- Law and Order
- Beauty on the Beach
- Mother Goose's Birthday Party
- Comic Book Land: A Gandy Goose cartoon, but Mighty appears in the end.
- Sunny Italy
- Goons from the Moon
- Injun Trouble
- A Swiss Miss
- The Cat's Tale
- Prehistoric Perils
- Hansel and Gretel
- Happy Holland
- A Soapy Opera
- Hero for a Day
- Hot Rods
- When Mousehood Was In Flower
- Spare the Rod
- The Helpless Hippo
- Reformed Wolf
- Outer Space Visitor
- The Mysterious Package
- Cat Alarm
Tropes demonstrated include:
- Animal Superheroes
- Animated Anthology: Mighty Mouse Playhouse is the Trope Maker.
- Arch-Enemy: Oil Can Harry
- Big Damn Heroes: In every cartoon, Mighty only appears around midway through, quickly reacting to a local or far off crisis that only he can resolve. His own catchphrase even calls himself this!
- Bragging Theme Tune
- Brooklyn Rage: Oil Can Harry:"Coises! Foiled again!"
- The Cameo: Mighty Mouse himself has a cameo in the Gandy Goose cartoon "Comic Book Land."
- Cats Are Mean
- The Cape
- Captain Ersatz: Mighty Mouse, especially in his Super Mouse years, is an obvious parody of Superman. Amusingly, the reason for his name chance was not because of legal threats from DC, but because one of Paul Terry's own employees left and made his own comic series named Super Mouse, and Terry wasn't interested in potential legal issues.
- The mouse donning the superhero suit in 1943's The Lion And The Mouse only bore the resemblance of Super Mouse of him in flight. Otherwise, this mouse had stubby legs, a paunch, and was pathetically inebriated.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Oil Can Harry
- Catch Phrase: "Heeeere I come to save the day!"
- Chronic Hero Syndrome
- Clip Show: The Filmation episode "Around The World In 80 Ways," which is ostensibly about Oil Can Harry trying to get into his own testimonial, has guest stars Heckle and Jeckle showing clips of some of Harry's failures.
- Comic Book Adaptation: Timely Comics (which would later become Marvel), St. John's (using Terry artists), Dell, Gold Key and Marvel would all publish Mighty Mouse comics. Marvel's 10-issue series was derived loosely from the Bakshi show.
- Dastardly Whiplash: Oil Can Harry
"Hey, didn't he used to be a cat?"
- Lampshaded by Scrappy in the Ralph Bakshi episode Scrappy's Playhouse, where, among the many classic cartoon clips that are shown, there's a black and white one of a traditional human version of the trope.
- That was the original Oil Can Harry, who appeared in the only two Fannie Zilch cartoons from the studio.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Mighty Mouse was originally called Super Mouse and had a fairly different appearance, with a different costume and noodle like limbs. In "Frankenstein's Cat", he also had a brief speaking line with a different voice which paints him as uncharacteristically aggressive, wheras in his other cartoons, he only spoke when he was singing!
- Flying Brick
- From Beyond the Fourth Wall: The cartoon "Goons From The Moon" has alien cats abducting all the mice in Terrytown. The radio reporter (a mouse caricature of Walter Winchell) comments "there's only one mouse who can save this situation!" Cut to an animator's table where the animator's hand draws Mighty Mouse in flight atop a missile. (The artist stops drawing briefly, causing Mighty Mouse to chime in "Hurry up! I've got a job to do!")
- The cartoon "The Cat's Tale" has a mouse-traumatized cat telling the hero's origin and his subsequent battle against a giant cat. The cowardly cat then tells us how he'd show Mighty Mouse a thing or two, only for the animator to draw Mighty Mouse floating right behind him. The cat runs off in fright.
- Genre Shift: The Bakshi revival shifted the series from a straight Funny Animal / Superhero series to a Satire of those cartoons, among other topics contemporary to the 80's.
- The High Queen: Pearl is queen of the interstellar federation in the space opera movie.
- I Just Want to Be Special: The cartoon "Hero For A Day" has a doofus mouse trying to impress his girlfriend, who swoons over Mighty Mouse, by donning a costume suit of the hero. Some cats bully him and the mouse is knocked out cold. Just before the cats can pounce, Mighty Mouse himself shows up, beats the cats up and lets the little wannabe take credit for it.
- Large Ham: Mighty Mouse, himself. "Here I come to save the day!"
- Magic Skirt: Pearl has this at the opening of "Sunny Italy," which shows her dangling upside down by one foot◊ from the Leaning Tower of Pisa (at the whim of Oil Can Harry), and her microscopically short skirt flips over halfway, keeping her undies covered.
- Melodrama: The shorts with Oil Can Harry and the opera singing are an Affectionate Parody of old school melodramas (a theatrical form which these days is only remembered because of its many parodies)
- Mix-and-Match Critter: The Cat-Bats from "Gypsy Life".
- Multiple-Choice Past: Many shorts involved some sort of origin story, which varied widely. There was never any perceived need for a single established one until the 1980's TV series, where he was given a derivative version of Superman's origin.
- Official Couple: Mighty Mouse and Pearl. In many of the comics, Mighty Mouse has a dark-haired girlfriend named Mitzi.
- Opera: Many of the original Terrytoons shorts had all their dialogue sung, opera-style.
- Panty Shot: Seen in 1945's The Port Of Missing Mice and in the same year's Mighty Mouse and the Wolf. Pearl had a couple, albeit she was wearing ankle-length pantaloons.
- A somewhat extended one in 1946's Svengali's Cat; like with Pearl in the earlier episodes, the unnamed female mouse here is wearing ankle-length pantaloons.
- Passed-Over Inheritance: "The Champion of Justice" featured a spendthrift man whose wealthy aunt and uncle left their fortune to the mice who lived at their mansion and he didn't get anything. His reaction to the judge's ruling when he contested the will was a clear example of Sore Loser.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Mighty Mouse in his theatrical appearances.
- Power-Up Food: In Mighty Mouse's first apperance (when he was called Super Mouse) he gained his powers after going into a "Supermarket" and eating various Super-named foods. While he was shown eating super products to do this at least twice (in "The Mouse of Tomorrow" and "Frankenstein's Cat") it seemed to become permanent after that.
- Stealth Pun: Delivered by, of all characters, Pearl Pureheart:Narrator: Pearl will never give up hope. We hear her say...Pearl: I will never give up hope. He's my favorite radio comedian!
- Recycled In Space: The 1970's version and movie.
- Romani: In the short "Gypsy Life".
- Snap Back
- Smug Super
- Space Opera
- Take That: "Don't Touch That Dial" is an eviscerating Satire of the abysmal state of TV cartoons in the 70's and 80's, from Hanna-Barbera, DiC, Filmation, Ruby Spears, and so on.
- Unwilling Suspension: Happened to Pearl in "Love's Labor Won" (hanging from a clothesline by her toes) "The Perils Of Pearl Pureheart" (dangling by one foot), "Sunny Italy" (ditto), "A Swiss Miss" (hanging by her waist), and "Happy Holland" (used as Harry's marionette)
- The Voiceless: Prior to Mighty Mouse Playhouse and everything else after, he was this—that is, unless he was singing.
Super Mouse: What didja do with da boid? (slaps monster in the face) So ya won't talk, eh?
- He did talk after Playhouse. In the three TV-budget shorts from 1959 and 1961, he was voiced by Tom Morrison, who also voiced him in the titles and bumpers for the TV show. The only other time he talked as opposed to sing was in 1942's ''Frankenstein's Cat,' where he interrogates the title monster who has swallowed a helpless bird:
- He spoke normally in the 1970's Filmation series, and (albeit very resonantly) in the 1980's Bakshi series.
- William Telling: Done by Mighty Mouse in "Gypsy Life", apparently for no reason other than to make a nice entrance.
Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures provides examples of:
- Affectionate Parody: Bat-Bat and The League of Super-Rodents are affectionate parodies of DC and Marvel superheroes.
- Mighty Mouse himself was given na origin similar to Superman's.
- Blatant Lies: Why, it was how the show actually came to be. However, that story is best left to the Mighty Mouse quotes page.
- The Cameo: From the Terrytoons studio, by episode:
- "Night On Bald Pate"—Tom Terrific
- "The Ice Goose Cometh"—Gandy Goose, Sourpuss, Hashimoto San, Deputy Dawg
- "Heroes And Zeroes"—The Mighty Heroes
- "Still Oily After All These Years"—Oil Can Harry, Gaston Le Crayon
- "Mighty's Wedlock Whimsy"—Gandy Goose, Sourpuss, James Hound, Deputy Dawg, Muskie, Vincent Van Gopher, Heckle and Jeckle
- "Mighty's Tone Poem"—Oil Can Harry
- Clip Show: Despite lasting 19 episodes, there are several shorts comprised of nothing but clips from old Terrytoons and earlier episodes of the show. This was due to budget reasons (the key animation was done in-house, which is very expensive for a low-budget series such as this)
- Dream Within a Dream: The ending of "Anatomy of a Milquetoast" became one due to Executive Meddling. Originally the episode was going to end on Scrappy turning into a crab, but CBS didn't like the idea of such ending. So they made that part of a dream, recycling the same animation of him waking up from just few seconds before (note that the episode fades out just before he removes the bed cover, revealing his changed body).
- Deranged Animation: Yes, a heaping pile of it.
- Distaff Counterpart: Issue 4 of the Marvel comic (part one of a parody of Crisis on Infinite Earths, of all things) introduces Mighty Mousette. Of course, considering what happened to her human inspiration in the original story, this didn't last long...
- Evil Counterpart: He also gets one of these, Mangy Mouse, in the same story.
- From Beyond the Fourth Wall: The Bakshi episode "Mighty's Wedlock Whimsy" (billed as a cautionary tale), Mighty Mouse is getting married to Pearl Pureheart. But he's getting cold feet just as he's about to take his vow, just stammering "I...I...I...", then it cuts to a pencil drawing of him on an animator's table. The animator cops out and can't go through with it. It ends with the cartoon characters at the wedding all laughing as everything is up in flames.
- Heel-Face Turn: In the possible future of "Bride of Mighty Mouse" the Cow isn't just reformed, he's treated like Family.
- The Honeymooners: Mighty Mouse and the Cow spoof it in the dream sequence of "Mighty's Wedlock Whimsy." It's even animated in black and white.
- Ignored Expert: Mighty Mouse's birth father when Might was given a Superman-like origin.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Loose caricatures of Michael Jackson and William Shatner are seen in "A Star Is Milked." Ralph Bakshi's caricature turns up frequently throughout the series.
- In issue #10 of the Marvel comic, Pat Sajak, Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon, David Letterman, Andrew "Dice" Clay, Jay Leno and Arsenio Hall are caricatured as funny animals.
- Interspecies Romance: Big Murray (human man) and Polly Pineblossom (girl mouse).
- Klaatu Barada Nikto: Bat-Bat fractures the phrase in "Bat With A Golden Tongue".
- Mythology Gag: In Mighty's Wedlock Whimsy, Mighty Mouse is being goaded into proposing marriage to Pearl, when James Hound (an obscure Terrytoons character from the mid 60s) appears as his conscience:Mighty Mouse: Hey! How come my conscience is James Hound? Don't I rate a cute cricket?
The Cow: Bad moooove! Your career's Nora Dunne now!
- In the episode "Witch Tricks," Scrappy sings the Mighty Mouse Playhouse theme.
- In issue #10 of the Marvel comic, Pearl Pureheart boycotts the rest of the issue because of Andrew "Mice" Clay's appearance. This refers to Nora Dunne refusing to appear on Saturday Night Live at the time due to Andrew "Dice" Clay's appearance.
- In the Marvel comic's Crisis on Infinite Earths parody "Mices on Infinite Earths," Mighty himself is saved by Supermouse, the Silent Protagonist proto-version of him from the original "The Mouse of Tomorrow" Terrytoon!
- Off Model: There are many instances when Mighty Mouse is bigger than the size he's supposed to be.
- In "Mighty's Wedlock Whimsy," Pearl and Sourpuss are drawn the same height. As are Mighty Mouse and Gandy Goose.
- Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Hilariously inverted. In Mighty's Wedlock Whimsy, a cautionary tale where Mighty Mouse proposes to Pearl, Deputy Dawg is conducting the wedding and starts it with "You have the right to remain silent...anything you say can be used against you..."
- Stock Footage: The high-quality animation came at a cost. To keep down costs, some episodes are comprised entirely of old footage of 1950s Mighty Mouse cartoons with a new soundtrack. You can pretty much skip these on the DVD, unless you're a big fan of the poor covers of 1960s songs they play in the background.
- Out of Focus: Scrappy in later episodes. In fact, one episode, "Anatomy of a Milquetoast" (his only season 2 appearance) is one giant lampshade of this..
- Take That: "Don't Touch That Dial" is a particularly biting satire of Hanna-Barbera, Anime (with a hint of The Real Ghostbusters), the The Dark Age of Animation and television of the 1980's in general.
Mighty Mouse: I've waited a whole season to do this!
- Season 2 episode "Day of The Mice" has Mighty Mouse knocking a ginormous Pee-wee Herman on his back.
- "Anatomy of a Milquetoast" bites the hand that feeds it: using footage from season 1 with the dialogue altered, most notably from "It's Scrappy's Birthday," the hobo chums of Scrappy's hobo companion appear in their train boxcar. The hobo's new line is "Hey, look...the network boards are here!"
- "The Bride of Mighty Mouse" features a villainous parody of Howard Roark.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Mighty Mouse's eyelashes caused some uncomfortable Viewer Gender Confusion for some young viewers...
- The Renaissance Age of Animation
- Two Shorts
- Verbal Tic: THE ENTIRE, WAY! THAT THE COW TALKS! MIGHT AS WELL BE! CONSIDERED THIS!