Western Animation / Pinky and the Brain

"Gee Brain, what do you wanna do tonight?"
"The same thing we do every night, Pinky — try to take over the world!"

An Animated Series about a superintelligent, genetically-altered lab mouse who enlists his halfwit roommate (read: the other mouse in his cage) into his endless quest to take over the world. Each episode saw The Brain devise an elaborate, improbable scheme for world domination, only be foiled in the end due to some unforeseeable twist of fate, or occasionally his own blundering arrogance. On one or two occasions he actually succeeded in taking over the world, but with some kind of unacceptable side-effect that sent him back to the drawing board. By contrast, many episodes had his schemes barely even getting off the ground, and the story centered around his attempts just to get Step One going.

Originally a recurring skit on Animaniacs, the characters proved hugely popular and were soon given their own show. It tried to be as keenly satirical as was possible within the format of an afternoon children's cartoon. However, this did tend to remove it uncomfortably far, at times, from the notion of world domination — one can imagine the writers scratching their heads and trying to figure out how writing a Broadway musical could possibly help The Brain take over the planet (ultimately, most of the later plots are money-making schemes meant to fund the next scheme). Though it should be noted that due to said mature humor, the WB actually gave the show a primetime slot for a time during their Sunday Night runs.

Alas, due to Executive Meddling, the show was eventually turned into Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain — curiously premiering when several episodes of the original still had yet to air and thus briefly airing concurrently. See that page for more information.

Pinky and The Brain provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Art: Brain's plan is to become a famous artist (which he intends to do by predicting the next artistic fad: Donutism), this fails but Pinky attempts to drink the contents of Brain's brush jar (a milk carton) and promptly spits it out onto a canvas. Cue this trope.
  • Acme Products: Most notably the Acme Bagel Warmer and Gene Splicer, with which Pinky and The Brain were created. They live in the Acme Labs, too.
  • Acting Unnatural: In the Christmas Episode, the duo hide themselves in Santa's reindeer team, wearing antlers on their heads. The Brain tells Pinky to just act natural. Cue Pinky moving erratically, singing, laughing, and making his usual Verbal Tics.
    The Brain: Pinky! Not that natural!
  • Aesop Amnesia: A lot of Brain's plans might have succeeded if he could learn to ignore Pinky's stupidity instead of getting angry about it.
  • All Just a Dream: In "Pinky and the Brainmaker" and "You'll Never Eat Food Pellets in This Town Again".
  • All-Knowing Singing Narrator: Pinky attempts this in "Brainy Jack" but Brain tells him to stop.
  • Amish: The Rhennish, complete with Barn Raising.
  • Amusing Injuries: "Be quiet, Pinky, or I shall have to hurt you." It was usually The Brain who got hurt. "This is a pain that's going to linger."
  • Animal Wrongs Group: In one episode, a group of them "liberate" the duo and return them to their "natural habitat": the jungle. By throwing them out of a plane, because mice can fly.
  • Animation Bump: The Christmas Episode, which was animated by TMS Entertainment.
  • Anti-Hero: Brain is constantly trying to take over the world — hardly heroic — but he is good-natured (when not hurting Pinky) and truly believes that the world would be a better, happier place if he was in charge; this is justified by portraying real world's leaders as either egotistic, incompetent or plain crazy (or all at once). Also compare to his archrival Snowball, a sadistic villain whom Brain believed would destroy the world if he ruled it.
  • Anti-Villain: Brain, if you interpret him as a Villain Protagonist, though he really blurs the line between this and Anti-Hero. After all, the rest of the world is portrayed as so messed up and idiotic, him taking it over might actually lead to some form of utopia.
  • Applied Mathematics: The Brain once tries to mathematically deduce the reason his plans usually fail. He ends up with a portrait of Pinky. Pinky later corrects a few points on the graph, and it ends up as a portrait of Brain.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Applied liberally with tongue lodged firmly in cheek.
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: Trope Namer. After years of playing it straight, it was 'capped' by being played with in the episode 'Brain Food':
    Brain: Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?
    Pinky: Whoof, oh, I'd have to say the odds of that are terribly slim Brain.
    Brain: True.
    Pinky: I mean, really, when have I ever been pondering what you've been pondering?
    Brain: To my knowledge, never.
    Pinky: Exactly. So, what are the chances that this time, I'm pondering what you're pondering?
    Brain: Next to nil.
    Pinky: Well, that's exactly what I'm thinking, too.
    Brain: Therefore, you are pondering what I'm pondering.
    Pinky: Poit, I guess I am!
    • There was also a gag one time where Pinky accurately guessed "try to Take Over the World," but mistakenly changed to Bingo when Brain affirms it by saying bingo.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In "The Pink Candidate", the Brain is charged with "sedition, abuse of power, and shoplifting".
  • Artistic License – Physics: Obviously this comes up a lot because the show is a cartoon, but one episode is especially notable because it's unclear whether this trope is in effect, Cartoon Physics, or Brain's Insane Troll Logic. Brain needs to reduce the weight of the Earth, so his plan is to convince everyone on Earth to put helium in their shoes. This fails on at least two levels: Firstly, things float when they displace air or water equal to their mass, meaning that the weight applied to the ground would be balanced out by increased air pressure. Secondly, even if helium DID magically make things lighter without an equal and opposite reaction, then whatever container the helium was currently being held in would become heavier as the people became lighter.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Hilariously, Pinky seems to be considered this in-universe. For example:
  • Baseball Episode: "Pinky at the Bat"
  • Bilingual Bonus: Pinky and The Brain's cage in "Tokyo Grows" has a water bottle that is a) full of yellow liquid, and b) marked Sake. (Explains a lot, don't it?)
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor:
    • The episode "You'll Never Eat Food Pellets in This Town Again", which features the title lab mice as the stars of a hit TV show being heavily meddled with by network executives, who think heavily altering the show's premise will increase ratings. (See Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain.)
    • "A Meticulous Analysis of History" has a quick aside joke by Pinky after Brain mentions attempting to win over the media through TV when he says "The TV viewers you'll delight // Unless the network puts your show on Sunday night!" while showing an analog timer on the screen. This is a self-Take That at the tried and failed attempt at capturing an adult audience through a Sunday night time slot during the show's first season, directly referencing the show that ended up causing the attempt to backfire.
    • The entire episode "Pinky and The Brain... and Larry" was one big take that against the Kids WB network execs, who kept demanding that the show add a third character to the show, despite Pinky and The Brain being pretty explicitly a comedy duo who would gain nothing from a third character. To illustrate this, they made an episode where a third mouse named Larry appears, and the other two act as if he has always been there (he's even added to the theme song.) Most of the episode's humor comes from the fact that Larry seems incredibly out of place and unnecessary to the plot, and that he keeps trying to insert himself into gags and situations where he adds nothing.
      • Either the execs didn't get the joke, or they did and decided to take revenge on the writers, because a year later a third character (Elmyra) was forced on the show, leading to a unintentional version of the awkwardness seen in the Larry episode, and then cancellation.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Snowball vs. Brain.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In "It's Only a Paper World":
    Happy Bob the Painter: And with the happy little brush, maybe paint a happy little cloud in the happy little sky. Maybe a happy little bluebird on a happy little branch and a happy little meteor, like the meteor that's about to decimate our happy little Earth.
  • Brick Joke
    • In "Das Mouse" Pinky says that they'll reach the hull of the Titanic before Brain can say "POIT!", Brain replies drily that they'll reach Mars before he says "poit". Much, much later in the episode Brain is found, after a depth charge attack, bobbing up and down in the water upside down by his oversized head. Pinky asks him if he's all right and he yells, "POOOIIIIIT!!".
    • In "But That's Not All Folks", the President of the United States tries to order "a Good Old Boy Pizza with extra pork rinds", but the telephone circuits are overloading because everyone in the world was calling in to order the Brain's "Miracle Product". In the end, after the usual "They're dinky, they're Pinky and the Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain", the President can be heard asking, "Where's my pizza?"
    • In "TV or Not TV", Pinky mentions "I know how you can get on the cover of Peeple: marry Prince Charles!". So when Brain decides to appear in said magazine, he calls Buckingham Palace to hypnotize Lady Di and warrant a cover.
  • Breaking the Bonds: The Brain manages this in the episode "Welcome to the Jungle".
  • British Royal Guard: Pinky and The Brain had to tip one over (cow tipping) to get into a club. The guard falls like a tree.
  • Cartoony Tail: The Brain has a tail like a real mouse, except it is kinked in a way that it looks like stair steps.
  • Cassandra Truth: A rare example where this usually works in the protagonist's favor. The Brain is quite open about being a lab mouse out for global domination, but as people tend to think he's joking, speaking in metaphors or just being delusional, they usually just shake their heads and let him carry on with whatever he was doing.
  • Catch Phrase: "Same thing we do every night", "Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering??", "YES!", "Narf!/Poit!/Zort!/Troz!", others.
  • Centrifugal Farce: Pinky and the Brain were put into a one in the episode "Where No Mouse Has Gone Before".
  • Chained to a Railway: Parodied in "Cinebrainia."
  • Christmas Episode: Theirs won an Emmy.
  • Clip Show: "Schpiel-borg 2000" starts off as this.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Pinky. In particular, he has a tendency to bring up celebrities at random:
    Pinky: What's the plan, Brain?
    Brain: Uh...guess.
    Pinky: All right. Um, are we going to... Take Debbie Allen hostage, depriving all of humanity of enjoyable choreographed production numbers?
    Brain: Hmm. Nope. Guess again.
    Pinky: Are we going to... Oh. Create a riot by forcing people to listen to the touchy-feely Mandy Patinkin?
    Brain: No. Guess again.
    Pinky: Hmm. I got it. Use the talents of Paul Anka and Carrot Top to stage the comeback of the lovable TV genius Jamie "Klinger" Farr.
    Brain: Come now, Pinky, let's remain within the realm of possibility.
  • Companion Cube
    • Pinky's 'sister' is an empty wooden thread-spool.
    • Also from "Your Never Eat Food Pellets in This Town Again", there's Pinky's wife Margret. Every time someone brings her up, Brain points out that Margret is Pinky's sock puppet, to which the response is a flat, "Yes?"
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Averted. Once per Episode, Pinky will point out a glaring flaw in Brain's plan. While most of the time, Brain has already thought of and accounted for it, there are other times when Brain will simply dismiss it as this trope; in the latter case, it's usually an accurate prediction of the reason for Brain's downfall.
  • Continuity Nod: Every now and then somebody will recognize Brain and mention a scheme from a previous episode. In "The Pink Candidate", a Congressional investigation unearths Brain's plans for world domination, and every one is the plot from a previous episode; similarly, the episode "Brain Drained" began with a reference to the first episode after spinning off from Animaniacs.
  • Couch Gag: Each episode's end credits includes a long word and its definition, so that you can speak with Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness just like Brain!
  • Creative Sterility: Seems to be a pet worry of Brain's, that his genius can't go anywhere without a good plan or idea. But, as he's goal-oriented, he'll put his ego and pride aside to ride off of one of Pinky's ideas (and at one point actively solicits them, pretending that he already has one and having Pinky guess what it is).
  • Crossovers: With Animaniacs and Freakazoid!.
  • Crying Indian: When Pinky and Brain try to pass themselves off as an endangered species, a propaganda ad is shown with Brain looking over the city of Pittsburgh and shedding a tear.
  • Curse Cut Short: An ending that parodied Gone with the Wind:
    Pinky: But where will we go and what will we do?
    Brain: Frankly my dear Pinky, I don't give a—
    Dinky, they're Pinky—
  • Cutaway Gag: The Christmas Episode features these in the form of the Brain as a mall Santa and himself and Pinky marketing themselves as popular toys. Pinky also mentions them travelling back in time to Bethlehem before the Brain moves the episode along.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Spoofed in the episode "Cinebrainia".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Brain
  • Deal with the Devil: In the Halloween episode.
  • Deranged Animation: The show becomes completely derailed for one episode in which a spaceman wants to eat people's brains. His sidekick spends the entire episode with a giant bite taken out of his skull, and every background is a masterpiece of surrealism. It's just one episode of deranged, drugged-out insanity that makes no sense. According to one of the writers, that episode was originally supposed to be a Poorly Disguised Pilot for a show starring the brain-eating villain; but it turned out so poorly that it was drastically re-written, re-cut and re-recorded at the last minute, resulting in a lot of weirdness.
  • Dinky Drivers: in "Opportunity Knox", Brain controls the steering wheel of a van with pulleys while Pinky operates the pedals. (In later episodes, he wires the pedals into the pulleys, or uses a scaled-down driver's seat.)
  • Disguised in Drag: Pinky does this frequently, the Brain less so. An example of this is "Whatever Happened to Baby Brain?", where the Brain disguises himself as a cute little girl, and Pinky acts as "her" mother.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: The musical number in "Just Say Narf".
  • Disney School of Acting and Mime
  • Distaff Counterpart: Billie looks like a female version of Pinky, is just as ditzy — and Brain has a crush on her. Make of that what you will. Though her Jerkass Woobie-ness and squawky voice are closer to Susan Alexander-Kane.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "Brinky", The Brain attempts to clone himself, which almost works until Pinky's DNA (from a clipped toenail) accidentally gets combined with Brain's, thus essentially making them parents of the resulting clone (and Pinky calling himself the clone's "mommy"). Most of the dialogue during the cloning process is scripted like an actual birth: for example, when the door on the cloning machine won't close (which is the reason Pinky's DNA is even in there), The Brain tells Pinky to help him "push", complete with Pinky doing Lamaze breathing.
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: "Brain Storm" is about Brain's attempt to harness a tornado for his latest scheme to take over the world. This trope is mostly in effect, although they are occasionally battered by a piece of flying debris (cow, pig, tractor...) because of Rule of Funny.
  • Down on the Farm: "Brain Acres"
  • Dreadful Musician: Yoko Ono Expy Yoyo Nono in "All You Need Is Narf".
  • Drunk on Milk
    Brain: I see someone had too much Shasta on the plane.
    Pinky: Um... Brain... d-don't you think maybe you've had enough to drink?
    Brain: Nag, nag, nag, just leave me be!
  • Dumb Is Good: Pinky, though his morality sticks even when he's not 'dumb' due to events.
  • Earpiece Conversation: In "The Pink Candidate" and "Pinky's Turn".
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the Animaniacs segments, especially earlier on, Brain's megalomania is more apparent and he's barely tolerating of Pinky compared to later, even using him for labor. Pinky is less capable (a minion in the traditional sense) and far more likely to goof off, playing into the 'insane' part of the theme song. There's some Vocal Evolution as well.
  • Educational Song: Probably the most extreme example in a children's show.
  • Egopolis: Brain tries it a few times. He gets his own island country in a bid for US foreign aid, naming it Brainania. When he does end up in control of the Earth — by making a duplicate out of papier-mache and convincing everyone else to go there with free t-shirts — he renames the original Earth "Brainus", presumably following the pattern of either Venus or Uranus. The new planet, on the other hand, was Chia Earth.
  • Episode Title Card
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Although the Brain isn't evil, he definitely has standards as to what he will and will not consider when it comes to taking over the world. For example, he could have achieved world conquest through selling cigarettes to children, but the idea completely repulsed him.
  • Evil Albino: Brain. Well, maybe "evil" is a bit exaggerated.
  • Evil Brit: Snowball
  • Evil Versus Evil: The battles between Snowball and the Brain could be interpreted this way.
  • Evolutionary Levels: In "Leave It to Beavers".
  • Expospeak Gag: Often with Brain. A notable example from when Brain becomes a ski instructor:
    Brain: Today, I will instruct you in the mastery of inertia re-establishment utilizing weight distribution through metatarsal manipulation.
    Student: You mean stopping?
    Brain: Yes. But when I say it, it sounds groovy.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: In the episode "Brinky", Pinky's genetic material accidentally gets introduced into Brain's cloning experiment, essentially resulting in their having a child together.
    Pinky: I'm a mommy, I'm a mommy!
    Brain: Pinky, that's absurd! You are nothing of the kind. Its chromosomal makeup just happens to include both of our genetic building blo— AAAAAAH!! ...Oh my Lord, you are its mommy.
  • Expository Theme Tune: "They're Pinky and The Brain! Yes, Pinky and The Brain! One is a genius, the other's insane! To prove their mouse-y worth, they'll overthrow the earth! They're dinky, they're Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain!"
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Essential, since Status Quo Is God, given Brain's radical schemes. They do pull it off every so often, but a twist always has them starting over again.
  • Fantastic Racism: Brain shows shades of this towards Pinky and Pharfignewton.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: In "Brainwashed".
  • Fat and Skinny: Brain and Pinky, respectively.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hades
  • "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: The episode where Pinky gets smart.
  • Follow That Car: In "Brain Noir", Brain flags down a cab to follow Snowball. The cab stops directly on top of him. Pinky then tells the cabbie to "Follow that car!" and the cab takes off without either of them.
  • For Want of a Nail: "TV or Not TV" has Brain unwillingly causing the failure of his plan. First, he makes the TV executive laugh so hard he falls off his chair. He's cured through hypnosis, where the word "repugnant" both stops and triggers the pain. Unfortunately, that word is Brain's Insult Comic Catch Phrase, with a taping of his show causing enough pain to make the executive fall off the window. Once Brain visits, he is kicked out...making the hypnotic dentures fall off and be caught by two failed comedians.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus
    • "I have made you use the freezeframe button on your VCR."
    • The opening has two hidden messages that zoom by: "Don't tell Brain I hid this secret message. Ha ha Narf!" and "I knew about your silly secret message, Pinky."
  • Friendly Tickle Torture: In "Big In Japan", Pinky is seen playing with a "Tickle-Me Herbert" doll, a parody of the Tickle-Me-Elmo doll. Later in the episode, he uses this tactic to defeat a sumo wrestler.
  • Funny Foreigner: Mr. Sultana Sultana
  • Fun with Acronyms: The experiment that brought Pinky and the Brain their intelligence was called "Project B.R.A.I.N.", which stands for "Biological Recombinant Algorithmic Intelligence Nexus". When the two scientists fail to impress the committee (Pinky could only say "NARF!" in their presence, and the Brain had been trapped in a sensory deprivation tank for so long he temporarily became primal), the boss cancels the funds for the project and moves the scientists to "Project P.H.L.E.E.M."
    Unnamed scientist: What's that?
    Boss: We don't know yet, we just have the initials.
    Toby: Oh... I thought that was how that worked.
    • Also, in "Das Mouse", Pinkys innocent "Narf!" gets interpreted as "Nuclear Attack Readiness Formation" by a paranoid military, incidentally ruining another perfect plan.
  • Gagging on Your Words: At one point, Brain finds the need to ask Pinky how he (Brain) can be more like him (Pinky), and notes that "...the words are hot in my throat..."
  • Gesundheit: Pinky's response to Auf Wiedershen.
  • Get It Over With: Episode "Snowball", Brain's utterly defeated. His intended last words: "Well, go on; end it now!" as he faces down a pack of alley cats.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Has its own page.
  • Giant Food: "Brain Acres"
  • Giant Mecha: The Brain at one point built a mechanical suit, quite strong and durable. It became a semi-recurring prop once the series started. And then his arch-rival got in on the act. Giant Mecha battling for the fate of the world! Because they are mice, the "Giant Mecha" are equivalent in size to a six-foot tall human.
  • Gone Horribly Right: One of Brain's plans involves using a time machine to advance mice beyond humans by beating them to some major scientific development. He eventually succeeds... but the cave-mice whom he taught were a bunch of annoying Pinky-clones, and the inhabitants of the resultant Mouse World are all annoying duplicates of Pinky. Brain then goes to Set Right What Once Went Wrong; when Pinky points out that Brain could easily rule the world they're leaving behind, Brain simply responds, "But who would want to?"
  • Grand Finale: "Star Warners", a Whole Plot Reference to the original Star Wars trilogy. Featuring guest appearances by most of the Animaniacs characters, as well as a cameo by Freakazoid, Mo-Ron/Bo-Ron and Fanboy. As a trivia note, this episode also aired the same day as the final episode of Animaniacs.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress
  • Halloween Episode: Pinky sells his soul to The Devil to make Brain ruler of the world. Brain later goes to hell to get Pinky - not to get him back, though. Just so he can tell him where the food pellets are.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    Brain: Here I am, working hard to take over the world so that all mankind will worship the glory of me, and you're just thinking about yourself.
  • I Am One of Those, Too: In "My Feldmans, My Friends", the Brain attempts to persuade his neighbor that "Mr The Brain" was his high school nickname by inserting his picture into a high school yearbook. The high school he picks happens to be the one his neighbor attended, so Brain is left trying to convince his neighbor that they were, in fact, classmates.
  • Ignored Epiphany: In "Leggo My Ego", Sigmund Freud determines through hypnotism that Brain's desire to rule the world was actually created in him subversively and accidentally by the scientists at his lab. What Brain really wanted was to go back to his family, who lived in a can with a picture of the world on it. But his mind was warped by the experimentation to the point that all he could remember was his desire for the image. Brain considers the possibility, but ultimately dismisses Freud as a quack and goes on as planned.
  • I Lied:
    Pinky: Snowball wait, you said you promised to change your evil ways.
    Snowball: And you believed me?
  • I'm Alive: In "Snowball", a suicidal Brain attempts to end all by leaving himself to be eaten by alley cats, but they reject him. He then has this reaction, complete with a triumphant laugh.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: When Brain decides to take over the world by impersonating Abraham Lincoln, he's not worried that people will notice that he doesn't sound like the real Lincoln because Lincoln died before voice recording devices were invented and Brain doesn't believe there's any living person old enough to have heard Lincoln talk. The oldest living American proves him wrong about the last part.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Pinky has a tendency to accidentally point out how absurd Brain's plans are and how they have basically no chance of success. Probably the most straightforward example would be during the song A Meticulous Analysis of History:
    Brain: That concludes my little rhyme, I hope this lesson wasn't just a waste of time!
    Pinky: Well Brain, I've learned that one thing's true, every one of them has failed and so have you! *Song ends abruptly*
    Brain: *Visibly taken aback* Thank you for that vote of confidence.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Many of Brain's plans are based on a very convoluted sequence of steps to achieve world domination. For example, to rule the world, he will build a second earth made out of papier-mache, bring it to life with a special invention, and then lure the humans off the original Earth using free T-shirts. All which generally work until the Fatal Flaw in the plan is realized, such as a giant asteroid that destroyed the original Earth in the above example.
  • Insufferable Genius: You need to ask? Surprisingly, Brain's pretty tolerable. Snowball on the other hand...
  • Insult to Rocks: After saying Pinky had the approximate I.Q. of an empty soap dish. Brain says "I take it back. I don't want to insult the soap dish."
  • Interspecies Romance: Pinky and Pharfignewton (a horse), Romy (cloned mouse) and Pat (human) and Pinky and Winne (sea lion).
    • Discussed when Pinky mentions the way to get to the cover of Peeple is "marrying Prince Charles". (see also Brick Joke above)
    That's ridiculous, Pinky. Who'd want to marry someone with ears like that? Princess Diana, on the other hand, I admit I've always found attractive.
  • Intoxication Ensues: In "Brainy Jack", Brain gets bitten by a rattlesnake and alternates between thinking he's Bob Hope and Henry Kissinger.
  • Iron Buttmonkey: Pinky and Brain regularly get smashed, beaten, exploded, run over, and so forth, as Brain's schemes fail. Of course, Pinky doesn't really mind when Brain bops him on the head, so perhaps he's okay with it. Brain, however, gets the worst of it. Naturally, they're still standing (if bruised) at the end of every episode, ready to do "the same thing we do every night".
  • I Shall Taunt You
  • Is This Thing Still On?: In "Calvin Brain", Brain's latest plan for world domination is undone when a behind-the-scenes documentary crew films him unleashing a diatribe on the shallowness of the fashion industry and the brainlessness of those who follow its dictates. His last words on the video are even "is that thing on?"
  • It Makes Sense in Context: In the episode from Pinky's POV, we see the train of thought that leads to one of his "pondering" non-sequiturs. So when he asked about fitting the Hippo into a thong, he actually was picturing that in his head.
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Some of Brain's inventions. His plans for taking over the world are a bit of a variation on this trope, using nonsense sociology instead of nonsense science.
  • It's Been Done: The episode "Brain Drained" opens with Brain realizing that his plans are beginning to repeat themselves in some form.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Brain fits this to a T. It has been proven on numerous occasions that behind the megalomaniac outer layer lies a complete softy who cares deeply about the ones he loves, especially Pinky. The Christmas Special has to be the best example of his sweeter side. See also the Anti-Hero entry above — sure, his megalomaniac tendencies may incline him to step on a few million toes here and there, but ultimately what he really wants is to make everyone happy, in his own roundabout way.
  • Kavorka Man: For such an ugly little jerk, Brain doesn't have much trouble getting girls when he's *cough* disguised as a human. (Rule of Funny is probably at work here.)
    • He gets them even when he's ''not' disguised as a human too!
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Brain often demonstrates that he does not, though a few episodes open on him deciding that a particular plan is unviable with just their mousey worth.
  • Killer Hamster: Snowball
  • Laughably Evil: To a large extent Brain himself, even though he's the Comically Serious. To quote him, "I am not devoid of humor."
  • Left the Background Music On: Multiple examples.
  • Let's Have Another Baby: Played for Laughs in "Brinky".
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Plenty examples, notably the episode "Of Mouse and Man".
  • List Song: "Brain Stem" which points out all the parts of the brain to the tune of "Camptown Races".
  • Literal-Minded: When Pinky and the Brain are in a submarine, this happens.
    Brain: Hit the lights!
    Pinky: (off camera) Ow!
    Brain: Turn on the lights, Pinky.
  • Look Behind You: In the Christmas Episode, Pinky and the Brain (disguised as elves) are under suspicion by the head elf, who asks them to come with him. Pinky distracts him by exclaiming, "Look! A decoy!"
  • Love Dodecahedron: Even if you leave out certain fanon, it's a mess. Brain and Billie had a fling, then she dumped him and started dating Snowball, then she dumped him and started chasing Pinky, who's happy with Pharfignewton (who loves him back) and seems alarmed by Billie's advances. Meanwhile, Brain still hasn't gotten over Billie...
  • Mass Hypnosis: Brain tries to do this several times, including on the Christmas episode (many times a Hypno Trinket is related). He seems to prefer this sort of thing to more socially disruptive methods.
  • May the Farce Be with You: The final episode of the show was a Star Wars parody featuring the cast of Animaniacs, the show that it spun off from.
  • Memetic Mutation: In-universe example from "Brain's Song": "I am the o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-overlord."
  • Metaphorgotten: Shows up in "Brain Drained":
    Brain: Uncle Wiggley has gone to the carrot patch once too often, and now the cupboard is bare. Drat! I can't even construct a decent metaphor!
  • The Millstone: Pinky, and sometimes Brain himself. Often enough, the plan doesn't need their help (and this aspect of their dynamic drops out by the series).
  • Missing Steps Plan: Quite a few of Brain's plans simply consisted of creating some major disturbance that led to social chaos, on the assumption that he could then convince the humans to follow him...somehow...
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: In "The Third Mouse", Pinky is mistaken for an international expert on plumbing and has to answer questions on Vienna's plumbing system.
  • Mix-and-Match Man: Romy
  • Mobile Maze: In one episode, the scientists experimenting on the mice put them into a virtual reality maze with rotating corridors.
  • Mobile-Suit Human: Brains mechanical suit that he often uses. A more advanced mobile suit is the "Schpiel-borg 2000"
    • Amusingly, Brain and Snowball's suits correspond to their approaches to world domination. Brain's is an unarmed utilitarian model controlled through levers, while Snowball's is a Mocap war machine.
  • Mouse World: In "When Mice Ruled the Earth", as a result in the duo's time travel mission. Unfortunately, the mouse populace look and act like Pinky.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: The series has had four different flashbacks to the duo's childhood and when they were first genetically altered. They all contradict each other.
  • Mr. Exposition: The Brain, sometimes because Pinky needs excessive hand-holding, but other times so that he's aware of what's going on.
  • My Brain Is Big: The Brain and Snowball.
  • My Card: "Mister Itch: Proprietor of Wayward Souls"
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: A Running Gag in "Pinky and The Brain... and Larry".
  • Name and Name
  • Never Recycle Your Schemes: The Brain runs into this problem in "Brain Drained". Besides his ego, he's been prosecuted for some of his plans in the past (by Congress at least), there's at least that.
  • Never Say "Die": In "Ambulatory Abe"
    Brain: Abe Lincoln was perhaps the most respected president of all time. Once we arrange his comeback, the mere sight of him will compel the populace to follow his lead.
    Pinky: But, Brain, Abe Lincoln, um... Didn't he, uh... Isn't he... You know.
  • Never Say That Again: From the episode which prominently featured The Honeymooners:
    Pinky: Bang! Zoom!
    Brain: Stop saying that, Pinky, or I shall have to hurt you.
  • No Antagonist: Only on rare occasions do the duo face any characters who directly and knowingly threaten their goal. When they don't foil their own plans, a piece doesn't fall in place the right way, or a minor problem turns out to be a major one - the list goes on.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed
    • The Brain's voice and many of his mannerisms were inspired by Orson Welles. One of his aliases is "Harold Foster Brain", a Citizen Kane Shout-Out. Also, in the episode "What Ever Happened to Baby Brain", which is set in the past, The Brain and Orson Welles meet; they have exactly the same voice, and happen to simultaneously declare "Things will be different when I take over the world!" before introducing themselves to each other: "Welles, Orson". "Brain, The."

      The similarity is further played with in "Yes, Always", which recreates, almost word for word, the infamous Frozen Peas audio clip with the Brain in the role of Orson Welles.
    • A thinly-veiled Christopher Walken frequently appears, and even Pinky is unnerved by his extremely... odd mannerisms. He also heads a group similarly bent on taking over the world called The Circle, which even has a organ-themed leitmotif: naturally, it's a choir chanting "Lactose lactose lactose lactose laaactooose!"
      • Averted at one point, during a Winnie-the-Pooh spoof with Christopher Walken as Christopher Robin.
    • Bill Grates, the World's Richest Nerd.
    • Jellyhead, a shot at Shaq.
    • An unnamed Dolly Parton, to whom puberty has been inordinately kind..
    • An unnamed Raymond Burr, who shows up in cutaways in a Godzilla Parody Episode to comment, "Yes, I see." He eventually gets enlarged on accident and fights Gollyzilla himself.
  • No Fourth Wall: The infamous "I have made you use the freezeframe button on your VCR" subliminal.
  • Noir Episode
  • No Need for Names: In "Project B.R.A.I.N.", the Brain initially has this attitude when Pinky responds to the word "pinky" as if it was his name, on the grounds that they don't have the requisite cerebral capacity to name themselves. When the Brain realises he can speak thanks to Acme Labs's experiment, however, he dubs himself "the Brain".
  • Non Sequitur Thud: Brain gets a lot of these.
    Brain: Yes Fredo, but why are you wearing that llama?

    Brain: All my thoughts are in Dutch.

    Pinky: I see an angel coming for us out of the sky.
    Brain: I see clams! Giant, shirtless clams!

    Brain: Yes Darlene, now go make Momma a sandwich.
  • Noodle Incident
    • Many of Pinky's answers to Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering? fall into this category. Sometimes the Noodle Incident involves Noodle Implements.
    • When a high school principal offers Brain a job as a teacher, he tells them that the last teacher disappeared under "strange circumstances".
    Pinky: What happened?
    Principal: It's hard to explain if you don't understand the meat-packing industry, but man— (laughs) it was funny.
    • Also:
    Brain: I have discovered that there is one thing all my plans have in common.
    Pinky: You mean Maury Povich?
    Brain: Besides him.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: Conversed by the Brain in the Christmas Episode when Pinky tells him that the reindeers are inviting elves to join them for a party at Donner's house.
  • Not Really a Birth Scene: In the episode "Brinky", The Brain attempts to clone himself, which almost works until Pinky's DNA (from a clipped toenail) accidentally gets combined with Brain's, thus essentially making them parents of the resulting clone (and Pinky calling himself the clone's "mommy"). Most of the dialogue during the cloning process is scripted like an actual birth: for example, when the door on the cloning machine won't close (which is the reason Pinky's DNA is even in there), the Brain tells Pinky to help him "push", complete with Pinky doing Lamaze breathing.
  • Once per Episode: The plot for world domination, Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?, and others, often lampshaded.
  • Opening Shout-Out: The episode "Where No Mouse Has Gone Before" ends similarly like the opening, except there's no Animation Bump.
  • Origins Episode: "Project B.R.A.I.N."
  • Or Was It a Dream?: In "You'll Never Eat Food Pellets in This Town Again"
  • Orphean Rescue: In the Halloween episode, Pinky sells his soul to the devil and the Brain has to go to Hades and challenge the devil to a gymnastics competition to get him back.
  • Overly Long Name
    • "Big Johnny Brain Jones Peachpit Bill Boone Crockett".
    • And his sidekick, "Little Piggy Flea Pie Waffle Shoe Clamhead Chris."
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Just about every disguise Brain ever used. Sometimes it seems less like the other characters believe the disguise and more like they feel like since Brain is making the effort to be incognito (Sarcastic Confession notwithstanding), they're totally cool with his world domination plot. Sometimes other people are afraid to question the disguise in case he is telling the truth.
  • Parental Bonus: Tons of it, from political humor to innuendo to satires of celebrities. Brain's voice is deliberately styled after Orson Welles.
  • Parody Magic Spell: "Charlie Sheen, Ben Vereen, Shrink to the size of a lima bean!"
  • People Fall Off Chairs: Once Brain's Sarcastic Confession is considered a hilarious pitch by a TV executive, he continues laughing until he falls off his chair (as For Want of a Nail shows, it gets worse).
  • People Jars: 20 Minutes into the Future has Bill and Hillary Clinton still as acting as heads of the US as heads in a jar.
  • Perfume Commercial: Brain's commercial for "Subjugation". Pinky's shenanigans ruins the effect.
  • Pet the Dog: Brain gets a few, usually showing that underneath it all he cares for Pinky and values him as a friend.
  • Plank Gag: Larry does it to the Brain in "Pinky and the Brain... and Larry".
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: The episode "Snowball".
  • Pygmalion Snap Back: Brain making Pinky smarter.
  • Reality Ensues: Brain's plan to steal all the gold from Fort Knox failed because a pair of mice just aren't strong enough to lift a heavy gold ingot. It was one of the few episodes when neither Pinky nor Brain did anything especially self-defeating.
  • Repeat After Me: When Pinky ran for President, Brain typed stuff for him to read from special glasses during a debate. Unfortunately, the "F" button got stuck, prompting Pinky to make the sound. One of his opponents repeated it. Also, the glasses got other signs which Pinky repeated and another adversary tried to emulate.
    • The trope was the ruin of another plan from another episode where Pinky gained notoriety.
  • Reset Button: Occasionally pressed when the scheme works too well.
  • Re Tool: Pinky, Elmyra & The Brain. A disastrous failure.
  • Reunion Show: Parodied with "The Pinky and The Brain Reunion Special"
  • Rhyming Episode: "Hickory Dickory Bonk," lampshaded by Pinky.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: In one episode, Brain uses his Mobile-Suit Human to get a job at a company, simulate an accident and sue his employer for turning him into a mouse. The judge rules in favor of the company and orders Brain to be arrested for fraud and perjury but these decisions are based on the belief that Brain is not a mouse. The judge also has Brain arrested for public nudity but that doesn't count as being "right" because mice aren't required to wear clothes in public.
  • Rude Hero, Nice Sidekick: The Brain is an Insufferable Genius who is mean and condescending to everyone, while Pinky is a Minion with an F in Evil who still likes and admires Brain, no matter how much abuse he gets from him.
  • Rule of Three: Used in "Brinky", when Brain's initial attempts at educating his clone yield no results.
    Pinky: Well perhaps if you started with something less taxing to [Romy's] little brain, Brain... Brain.
  • Sarcastic Confession: "I am actually a genetically altered lab mouse plotting world domination." Also a Running Gag, as pretty much everyone thinks he's joking when he says it (the others think he's being flippant), and Brain himself likely does it for that reason.
  • Scrabble Babble: While ruling over an abandoned earth, they play scrabble in the white-house.
    Brain: For the last time Pinky, there is no such word as chramecirum.
    Pinky: Well, there is now Brain, because we own the world.
    (after deciding to play against himself)
    Brain: (adds an s) There. Chramecirums. Now that's a word. And a triple word score to boot.
  • Self-Deprecation
    • Present in "Brain Drained":
    Brain: It is obvious that there are no original writers in Hollywood, Pinky.
    Pinky: Look, Brain. Warner Bros. Studios. Maybe we can find some writers there. Poit!
    Brain: Nah. We can't afford them, Pinky. We don't have enough bananas.
    • And in "Star Warners":
      Brain-2-Me-2: Are you pondering what I'm pondering, 3-Pinky-O?
      3-Pinky-O: Um, I think so, Brain-2, but a show about two talking lab mice? Heh, it'll never get on the air.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Brain and Snowball default to this.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: Parodied with Larry.
  • Shout-Out
  • Show Some Leg: In "Brain Storm", The Brain attempts to hitch a lift while wearing a Verkimer Suit by hitching the metal on its leg in a parody of Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night. Unsurprisingly, it fails.
  • Shrunken Organ: In the Title Sequence, Pinky and the Brain walk behind an X-ray machine. Brain's skull has meshing gears, while Pinky's has a peanut. In the "...and Larry" version of the opening, Larry joins them during this part, and he is shown to have bones in his hair.
  • So Bad, It's Good: An in-universe example. In "Battle of the Planet", their attempt to rule the world via pirate satellite broadcasting is so terrible, it is labeled a comedy smash by their local newspaper.
  • Song Parody: There have been tons of songs sung by both Pinky and Brain with the lyrics changed so it involves world domination.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Brain becomes a successful Insult Comic because audiences find hilarious his complaints through complicated words (particularly "repugnant").
  • "Sorcerer's Apprentice" Plot
  • Spanner in the Works: Occasionally, Pinky will inadvertently foil Brain's schemes through his own incompetence. (Far less often than the setup would lead you to expect, and it pretty much stops happening by the time of the series.)
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Though he's perfectly content to just be called "Brain", the "The" is technically part of his name.
  • Spoof Aesop:
    Pinky: I suppose the moral of this whole story is: if you give a mean big-headed kitty love, they won't try to dumb down the world with an evil dance.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Many examples. Notably, the episode "Pinky's Turn", in which Pinky comes up with an utterly random scheme to take over the world, and an episode where Brain decides to take the night off and ironically comes close to ruling the world without realizing it.
  • Stealth Pun: In the episode "Briany Jack", Brain is saved by a group of hippies, who he refers to as "The original cast of Godspell." He eventually decides that he will become their leader as part of the evening's plot, and proclaims their mission statement as the following:
    Brain: Through love and peace, and worship of me, the world can be a better place!
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In "Das Mouse":
    CIA Director: The boys want that thing terminated.
    Jonesy: The boys? You mean the Pentagon?
    CIA Director: No, my two boys— Josh and Aaron.
    Jack Maguire: Ha ha! So, the boys finally saw it my way.
    Jonesy: You mean the Pentagon?
    Jack Maguire: No. Josh and Aaron.
  • Subbing for Santa: Brain steals Santa's sleigh in the Christmas episode to distribute his Noodle Noggin toy.
  • Suck E. Cheese's: A birthday party at "Chunky Cheesey".
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Brain thinks this is the case.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: Pinky's description of Snowball was spectacularly vague... until he brought up his tattoo.
  • Take Over the World: What they do every night. Or try to.
  • Take That
    • "I think so, Don Cerebro, but why would Sophia Loren do a musical?" The Brain even admits Pinky's point.
    • The episode "Broadway Malady" is absolutely stuffed with these, directed toward Albert Floyd Webster.
    • "All You Need is Narf" included a take that at Yoko Ono's singing.
    • From the episode where they fake a reunion show to get big ratings, from Gavin McCloud himself no less:
    Gavin: Vanilla Ice, ladies and gentlemen. Wasn't he something... once?
    • Brain suggests going to a place that never shuts down, where your wallet matters, and where actors and actresses slave all day. Pinky thinks they're going to Denny's.
    • Easy listening music gets it twice: one episode has the box of a Kenny G album making someone fall asleep and a poster of "Yawni", and another has Brain's plan being to hijack radio stations so they only play Kenny G, Yanni, "and the soulful spasms of John Tesh."
  • Talking Animal: The mice, explicitly due to genetic splicing. All other animals in the show don't talk (in any human language, anyway).
  • Tall Tale: The theme of "A Legendary Tail", where the Brain used a computer to combine elements of other tall tales and make one starring himself. He hoped to use this as a way to gain acclaim as a Folk Hero under the name of "Big Johnny Brain Jones Peachpit Bill Boone Crockett". However, the resulting tall tale ended with other folk heroes suing the Brain's character for plagiarizing parts of their names.
  • Tar and Feathers: Happens to Pinky and Brain in "Robin Brain".
  • Telegraph Gag STOP: In their parody of The Third Man:
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: The bulk of the episode "Brain Drained".
  • That Russian Squat Dance: Pinky does a hilarious version of this whenever he hears a bell in the cartoon "Pavlov's Mice".
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond: In "From Russia with Lab Mice", Brain introduces himself with, "The name's Brain, The Brain."
  • Time Travel: "When Mice Ruled the Earth".
  • To Hades and Back
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Pinky in the Halloween episode. Mr. Itch tries everything, but Pinky just loves it.
    Mr. Itch: Isn't there any kind of torture you don't like?
    Pinky: (smoldering) *sniff* The only real torture...is being away from my best friend, Brain.
  • Totally Radical: An interviewee's proposal on the Pinky and The Brain show in "Brain Drained" is that instead of taking over the world, the duo becomes "BrainDude and Pinkasaur" after accidentally meddling with a secret government experiment.
    BrainDude and Pinkasaur,
    BrainDude and Pinkasaur,
    They're mice, they fight,
    They're crime-fighting lab mice!
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: Megalomaniacs Anonymous
  • Undercover as Lovers: In "My Feldmans, My Friends".
  • Unhand Them, Villain!: Brain to Snowball in the episode "Brain Noir".
  • Vehicle Vanish: The Brain does it in "The Third Mouse", which was a parody of The Third Man.
  • Verbal Tic: Narf! Zort! Egad! Yes!
  • Very Special Episode: The entire episode, "Inherit the Wheeze" is an anti-smoking episode in which Brain gets addicted to cigarettes and almost convinces children to smoke with Stealth Cigarette Commercials run by some cartoonishly evil executives in order to take over the world. It's no wonder that some networks never aired it.
  • Vice President Who?: In "Bah, Wilderness", Brain plans to take over the world by becoming an arts and crafts counselor at Camp Davey, where children of world leaders meet. He abandons the plan when the only children left are children of vice-presidents.
  • Victory Is Boring: What happens when Brain actually takes over the world.
  • Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: While neither one is very threatening physically (what with being lab mice and all), the Brain, with his serious demeanor and great intellect, is far more of a threat than the spastic, dimwitted Pinky, who isn't even aware that he's a villain.
  • Villain Protagonist: Brain
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: The theme song.
  • Vocal Evolution: Pinky's speech impediment is more pronounced in the earliest segments, and sounds a notch lower at times. As well, Brain sounds more like Orson Welles (a little slower and lower) and doesn't have his panicked 'n(y)aaaaAAAAAHHH!!' cry until later.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: From the episode "Snowball": "We were a mouse and a hamster, barely alive. Except they could make us better... faster... smarter..." "Naaaaarf..."
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Brain
  • Wham Line: "This year Santa, I ask for nothing, but I wish to talk to you about my dear friend, The Brain..."
  • What Does This Button Do?
  • What's a Henway?: A variation occurs in "It's Only a Paper World", after they've successfully drove the population of the planet onto Chia Earth:
    Brain: We shall no longer call this planet Earth, Pinky.
    Pinky: When was it called "Earth Pinky"?
  • What the Heck Is an Aglet?: In a clip of a Nova documentary on shoelaces in "The Pinky and the Brain Reunion Special".
  • Whole Plot Reference
  • X-Ray Sparks: In "Project B.R.A.I.N.", Pinky attempts to disconnect the electrodes attached to the Brain's head from a computer, only to hit the power button with his foot and shock the Brian, illuminating his skeleton.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain
    • Brain comes this close to taking over the world in "The Brain's Apprentice".
    • "Bubba Bo Bob Brain".
  • Yoko Oh No: invoked Pinky and the Brain accidentally cause this in "All You Need Is Narf".

Brain: Come, Pinky. We must return to the lab and prepare for tomorrow night.
Pinky: Why, Brain? What are we going to do tomorrow night?
Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky — try to take over the world!
They're dinky, they're Pinky and the Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain.