[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/secret_of_nimh_poster_9791.jpg]]

->''"My child, we can no longer live as rats. We ''know'' too much."''
-->--'''Nicodemus'''

'''This page is about the animated film ''The Secret of NIMH''. If you are looking for the article about the book or its literary sequels, see ''Literature/MrsFrisbyAndTheRatsOfNIMH''.'''

''The Secret of NIMH'' is Creator/DonBluth's first feature-length film. It is based ''[[AdaptationDistillation very]]'' [[AdaptationDistillation loosely]] on Robert C. O'Brien's Newbery Medal Award-winning novel ''Literature/MrsFrisbyAndTheRatsOfNIMH''.

Mrs. [[WritingAroundTrademarks Brisby]] (voiced by Creator/ElizabethHartman) is a widowed mouse and mother of four living near a farm. With spring fast approaching and the frost melting from the ground, her family has to move in order to avoid the farmer's plow -- but one of the children, Timothy, has come down with pneumonia and can't be moved for a few weeks. Taking the advice of an [[OurDragonsAreDifferent all-knowing owl]], Mrs. Brisby seeks the aid of the Rats of NIMH, a group of escaped lab rats that were rendered super-intelligent via experimental drugs. After meeting with the rats' leader, Nicodemus, Mrs. Brisby finds out that her late husband Jonathan had been a good friend of the rats -- and died while helping the rats carry out a plan to leave the human world behind. Nicodemus agrees to help Mrs. Brisby move her home, but some of the other rats have plans of their own...

''The Secret of NIMH'' was Don Bluth's first feature film after leaving Disney; it was even produced a decade after Disney itself had turned down adapting the original story. Bluth used traditional tools and methods as a way of fighting back against the movement towards lower production costs (and lower quality animation). Produced by United Artists, which had just recently folded into MGM, the film was commercially a moderate box office success, costing $7 million and earning $14 million. This modest revenue was, in part, due to competition with ''Film/ETTheExtraTerrestrial''. ''NIMH'' eventually managed to seduce the director of ''E.T.'', Creator/StevenSpielberg, into teaming up with Bluth. Together, they made two rather high-grossing animated films: ''WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail'' and ''WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime''.

Years after the original film, MGM released a DirectToVideo sequel called ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH2TimmyToTheRescue''. The film was, predictably, [[TheWoobie produced without Bluth's involvement]].

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!!''The Secret of NIMH'' contains examples of the following tropes:

* ActionMom: Mrs. Brisby is an interesting example of this trope, as she is ''only'' doing what she does to protect her children ("Timothy... remember Timothy!") It is certainly not because she enjoys adventure or action. In fact, the film clearly shows that [[CowardlyLion she's scared out of her mind by the tasks she must do, but she is still courageous enough to pull through]], especially when the action really gets going.
* ActualPacifist: Sullivan, Jenner's ally on the council of the rats. Jenner hatches a plan to murder Nicodemus and make it look like an accident with Sullivan's help, but Sullivan wants to back out at every step of the way and abhors the idea of killing. Eventually he [[DeathEqualsRedemption redeems himself while dying]] by [[spoiler:throwing a dagger [[InTheBack into Jenner's back]]]].
-->'''Jenner:''' No taste for blood, eh? They've taken the animal out of you.
* AdaptationExplanationExtrication: The sequence in the book where the rats are taught how to read is overlooked in the film, making it look like the injections alone gave them the ability.
* AdaptationPersonalityChange:
** Jeremy is a comic relief character in the film and his traits are more PlayedForLaughs, unlike in the book where he was more of a 'naïve' character. He also becomes a {{Cloudcuckoolander}} and a ButtMonkey. A few years after the film's release, the original author's daughter Jane Leslie Conly wrote two sequels which incorporated Jeremy's more absent-minded personality.
** In the film, Jenner is an ObviouslyEvil villain, while his book counterpart was an average character.
** Mr. Ages is portrayed as a GrumpyOldMan with a HiddenHeartOfGold rather than a more kindly character.
** In the book, Nicodemus was just an average middle-aged rat with an eyepatch (who happened to be the leader). In the movie he's an ancient mystical seer.
* AdaptationalVillainy: In the book the film is based on, Jenner is a much less villainous CommanderContrarian, and doesn't [[spoiler: kill Nicodemus]] like his film incarnation does. In fact, one could argue that they made Jenner evil simply for the sake of having a villain.
** The NIMH institute themselves. In the book they were portrayed as people simply doing their jobs, and even treating the animals kindly. In the film they were turned into stereotypical evil scientists who experimented on animals for reasons never given and are seen treating animals badly.
** Though not a villain, per se, Brutus in the book simply gives Mrs. Brisby a hard time before letting her into the rosebush, unlike here where he apparently finds it easier to chase her away by scaring the hell out of her.
-->'''Mrs. Brisby: (nervously)''' "But what about the rat at the entrance? I can't go back there... I can't."
-->'''Mr. Ages: (mumbling dismissively)''' "Oh that's just Brutus, nevermind him. Now, come on."
* AdultFear: It's scary enough for the single mother Mrs. Brisby having to deal with her critically ill son, but during the climax when her children are stuck in their cement block house and it's sinking into the mud the fear is amped up ten-fold.
* AgeLift: Nicodemus was middle-aged in the book. In the film he is very old-looking, considering the injections given to the rats slowed their aging.
* AirVentPassageway: Seen in the flashback to the labs. {{Justified|Trope}}...they're rats.
** And when the air conditioning's turned on, RealityEnsues and several of the rats still die.
* AllPowerfulBystander: Nicodemus is quite adept at scrying and can see Mrs. Brisby's dilemma and is ready to help her before she even goes to consult the Great Owl. Why he doesn't just save time by sending for her immediately is never addressed. Justin knew Jonathan Brisby and considered it an honour to meet his wife, so he could have invited her to the rosebush. Even Mr. Ages despite his normal grumbling nature would have been up to the task, considering he was all for helping her during the council session. The only plausible explanation is that Nicodemus couldn't risk extending his hand to Mrs. Brisby first while the Thorn Valley plan was still being debated for fear of his political enemy Jenner accusing him of going soft or senile or mad and using it as an opportunity to gain power.
* AmuletOfConcentratedAwesome: The amulet Nicodemus gives Mrs. Brisby.
--> ''"Courage of the heart is very rare; the stone has a power when it's there."''
* AnimalFacialHair
* ArcWords: "Courage of the heart is very rare. The stone has a power when it's there".
* AscendedExtra:
** In the book, Mrs. Frisby is more of an AuthorAvatar and her story is nothing more than an excuse for the reader to hear the story of the rats of NIMH. The movie shifts the focus almost entirely to her and her valiant efforts to save her dying son.
*** To give an idea of how little her story affects the rats, in that version, Timothy ''could'' go outside despite his pneumonia, albeit bundled up.
** Jeremy, though a lot of his relevance to the main story diminishes after his role portrayed in the book.
** [[spoiler: Jenner]] also is promoted to the movie's BigBad while in the book he's only mentioned in the backstory.
** Sullivan. In the novel, he is only mentioned once and has one line.
** Auntie Shrew becomes a babysitter for the Brisby children in the film. She is merely referred to as "the shrew" in the novel.
* AttentionDeficitOohShiny: Jeremy the Crow can't resist "sparklies." Drifts into StalkerWithACrush[=/=]ICantBelieveItsNotHeroin territory when Jeremy says with a touch of darkness, "You know, I've always wanted a sparkly ''of my very own''" while leering / menacing over Mrs. Brisby.
* AvoidTheDreadedGRating: Don Bluth and company attempted to get ''NIMH'' a PG rating to have it appeal to a larger audience (the film ''definitely'' isn't very kid-friendly): there was a superfluous (though understandable given the circumstances) "Damn!" spoken by Justin, several on-screen deaths, visible blood, and a fair amount of nightmare-fueling scenes. For reasons beyond all understanding, the MPAA [[AnimationAgeGhetto still gave them a G]]. One would almost have to assume they didn't bother to watch it.
* ArtisticLicenseBiology:
** The injections administered to the rats in the [=NIMH=] flashbacks are much, much too large for a one-pound rodent to receive without dying of heart failure. The proper veterinary dosage for such tiny animals' injections has a volume of a fraction of a mL. However, this may just be the rats' imagination, seeing as the lab also looks quite unsanitary.
** The Great Owl is heard flapping his wings when he leaves his tree. Being nocturnal hunters, owls' wings have evolved to be silent as their feathers greatly reduce the noise caused by turbulence.
* [[AttentionDeficitOohShiny Attention Deficit - OOH, SPARKLY!]]: Jeremy. Justified in that he ''is'' a crow.
-->'''Jeremy:''' ''You'' found a ''sparkly''!
* AwardBaitSong: "Flying Dreams", the theme of the film, is an emotional song about how "love is the key."
* AwesomeButImpractical: The ink Nicodemus uses to write in his journal in the opening scene. It sheds golden sparkly fairy dust all over the place, and the text he writes doesn't become visible until after a two-second delay.
* BadassNormal: Though the rats are no less frightened of Dragon than are the mice, rats are too large to get into the house to drug him, leaving the mice to do it. Jonathan dies in one attempt (in his defense, he also did it countless nights for ''four years'' before finally being caught), and Mr. Ages breaks a leg in a subsequent one. Both are genetically modified, but Mrs. Brisby is the one who succeeds with just a scratch.
* BadlyBatteredBabysitter: Poor Jeremy...
* BarefootCartoonAnimal: Most of the rats, with Nicodemus as TheOneWhoWearsShoes.
* BeardOfEvil: Jenner has one.
* BewareTheNiceOnes: Jeremy's buffoonery becomes so aggravating that even Mrs. Brisby is getting blatantly pissed off with him as the film continues. In a less temperamental case, she proves downright resilient in her goals to protect her family despite her meekness.
* BigBadEnsemble: Jenner, the farmer, and the NIMH institute as a whole.
* BiggerBad: The NIMH institute. Though they play a large role in how the rats of NIMH came to be, they are largely divorced from the events of the movie prior.
* BlatantLies:
--> '''Jenner:''' It would be an honour to assist Jonathan's widow in any way. We are but your humble servants.
* ButtMonkey: Jeremy, a lonely compassionate crow who just wants to help out and find love. Unfortunately, he is also a hapless klutz, tending to cause more problems than he solves. He's constantly reprimanded by [[BewareTheNiceOnes Mrs. Brisby]] until she eventually gets rid of him by having him see to [[YouGetMeCoffee trivial minor duties]], both of which he fails miserably with, too. He does at least get his "Miss Right" at the end of it, though.
** Mrs. Brisby acts somewhat as one in more comical moments, though probably leans more towards woobie territory.
* ButNowIMustGo: In the first movie, Justin & the rats leave Mrs. Brisby for Thorn Valley.
* ByTheLightsOfTheirEyes:
** Nicodemus, full stop. His eyes ''always'' glow. It's never explained why.
** The Great Owl's eyes are exactly the same. Glowing eyes seem to be associated with great age and wisdom and some kind of unexplained power. Another reason why The Great Owl is certifiably RuleOfCool incarnate. He's even voiced by Creator/JohnCarradine!
** ''Possibly'' justified, as [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tapetum_lucidum owls (and, indeed, most nocturnal vertebrates, rats included) do have light-reflectant eyes.]] Why it's only obvious with these two probably falls under RuleOfCool.
* CapeSwish: Jenner has mastered this move (which one feels he picked up from [[Disney/SleepingBeauty Maleficent]]).
* CarnivoreConfusion:
** Lampshaded: "Owls eat mice!" "Uh...only after dark." There are bones strewn about the Owl's lair. Owls compact all waste into a pellet-like solid, bones and all (though these are probably from disintegrated pellets; the Owl isn't too concerned with tidying his lair). The Owl seems to be completely nonplussed by this mouse but he'll gladly eat a passing bug.
** A more standard example is the fact that Mrs. Brisby is friends with a shrew. Shrews eat mice.
** As do crows.
** As do ''rats'', under normal circumstances.
** Every non-relative she has a conversation with in the entire film would've tried to eat her in RealLife, except Mr. Ages. ''He'' might've eaten her kids if he was hungry enough.
* CatScare: A rabbit is used instead. The ''cat'' is the monster. After all, [[FridgeBrilliance the protagonists are a mouse and a bird...]]
* CatchPhrase: "Scuse me, pardon me" seems to be Jeremy's favorite words.
* CatsAreMean: The cat in question is ''named'' [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Dragon]]. It is a refreshing change in that this cat, who acts just like a cat, is considered bad but doesn't get an undeserved comeuppance.
** What is very interesting about this is that, in the scene where Mrs. Fitzgibbon is hanging out the laundry and Dragon is sleeping near the back step (a scene which takes more of an omniscient camera view than the first-person view of the mice), he doesn't come across nearly so horrifying. Part of this may be due to him being drugged at the time, but it also comes across as him seeming a normal cat here but a monster in all his other scenes [[FridgeBrilliance because that is how a cat would look and sound to a mouse]]. (See TranslationConvention.)
* CharacterDevelopment: With the help of the Great Owl and Nicodemus, Mrs. Brisby is encouraged to find her own courage and inner strength instead of falling back on others for help, and then use it with [[spoiler: the amulet to save her kids.]]
* ChekhovsGun: The amulet, [[spoiler:which grants Mrs. Brisby major telekinetic powers, enough to move a block many times her weight several feet.]]
* ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve: The power of the Amulet seems to run on this. The inscription on the back of it even cryptically alludes to this;
-->''You can unlock any door if you only have the key.''
* CleverCrows: This trope is inverted, with Jeremy being a rare dumbass corvid.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Jeremy isn't the most stable of characters sometimes. [[spoiler: Martin under the influence of NIMH's experimentation in the sequel may count as a villainous example.]]
* CobwebJungle: The Great Owl's lair. The Great Owl ''himself'', come to mention it. Hey, it [[RuleOfCool looks awesome]]!
* CoolOldLady: Auntie Shrew is a bossy old DramaQueen, but when necessary she is an absolute badass, shutting down a tractor single-handedly.
* ColdOpen: The film starts with Nicodemus recording in his book about the death of Jonathan Brisby, and putting away a red medallion while talking to Jon in spirit. Obviously, this proves to be important later.
* ContemplateOurNavels: The Rats of NIMH have this problem going for them. With their newfound comprehension and intelligence gained from NIMH's experiments on them, they believe they have to own up to a newfound responsibility of using it as a result, hence why they try to move on from stealing from humans and on to Thorn Valley in order to become self sufficient.
* CoversAlwaysLie[=/=]ContemptibleCover: The suggested solution for your long-awaited two-disc widescreen edition DVD is to print the badass poster art seen above and paste it over the official art.
** It gets worse. The movie is now being sold along with the sequel, and guess who's hogging the cover? Timmy Brisby, from the sequel.
* ConspicuouslyLightPatch: While the characters' fairly straightforward animation is understandable in contrast to the sumptuously painted backgrounds, when something in the background needs animating, it can be rather jarring. The mud sloshing around the Brisby's house as they're trying to move it is particularly obvious.
* CowardlyLion: Mrs. Brisby, despite the heroics and limits she goes to in order to save her family, never loses her meek and fearful disposition. This is a movie that never forgets that its heroine is a mouse.
** Doubling as a CowardlySidekick, Jeremy, even if most of his acts of bravery are [[UnwantedAssistance usually in vain]] due to being equally [[TheKlutz bumbling and dim-witted]]. That said, the guy ''directly attacks Dragon'' to protect Mrs. Brisby and [[SugarWiki/HeartwarmingMoments retrieves Timmy's medicine from the scuffle]] (''everyone'' is terrified of Dragon).
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: Jeremy spends most of the film irritating the other protagonists with his clumsy behaviour. However, he is a graceful flyer and counts as the only character to outright attack Dragon to save Mrs Brisby.
* CrystalBall: Essentially, Nicodemus' [[BuffySpeak whirling bronze portal-thing]], which allows him to scry on others from a great distance.
* DarkIsNotEvil: The Great Owl, who is neutral. Also Nicodemus, because not only is he scary and ugly (the "ugly" being mostly because of how [[UncannyValley disturbingly anthropomorphic he is]]), but also actually quite dark in himself (largely thanks to the fact that the colours in the movie are [[RealIsBrown quite dull and brown]], as was the style in fantastic films of the time).
* DeadpanSnarker: Only a short period in the company of Jeremy can turn even sweet Mrs. Brisby into an irritable snark. Even on the rare occasions Jeremy isn't causing trouble for her, she is [[ComedicSociopathy unusually condescending and dismissive]] towards him.
** Justin also does this in one moment of the first movie.
-->'''Jenner''': ''(He's been talking about how Nicodemus's plan to move is the idea of idiots and dreamers)'' We were just talking about you.
-->'''Justin''': Well that's refreshing Jenner, usually you're screaming about us.
* DeathByAdaptation: [[spoiler:Near the end of the film, Nicodemus is killed by Jenner. This does not happen the novel, as Jenner had already left the rats and Nicodemus goes to Thorn Valley in the end.]]
* DeathEqualsRedemption: Sullivan, who after being [[spoiler:slashed across the throat by Jenner, uses his last breath to throw a knife in Jenner's back as he prepares to kill Justin]].
* DeusExMachina / ChekhovsGun: The ending. It can count as either. ChekhovsGun in that the stone ''was'' mentioned to have a power early, but DeusExMachina in that the power wasn't fully explained. In other words, it's a type 2 or 3 DeusExMachina. In the interview [[http://www.adammcdaniel.com/Don_Bluth_Interview3.htm "Remembering NIMH"]], Don outright acknowledges that the miracle the amulet brings has religious connotations.
* DiabolusExMachina: Jenner's upgrade in role from a minor character in the book to the film's villain basically serves this purpose. He's introduced out of nowhere rather late in the film (around 42 minutes in), and gets less than six minutes of screentime--his characterization is solely defined by him trying to stage a coup to usurp power by any means necessary, and all he contributes in the plot is providing yet another source of conflict for Mrs. Brisby and the other rats. In his book "The Art of Storyboard", Don Bluth even said Jenner's role was solely to provide another obstacle for Mrs. Brisby.
* DidntThinkThisThrough: Jenner's plan is clever in theory: [[spoiler: destroy the Brisby House and kill Nicodemus]] so that the rats are stuck on the farm and he can become their ruler. The flaw in the plan is that he won't be able to rule them for very long because soon the rosebush will be destroyed and they'll all die. Not such a MagnificentBastard after all?
** It's not so much he didn't think of that problem, as much as he is so stubborn (and somewhat unhinged) in his efforts that he [[CassandraTruth refused to believe it]] when warned.
*** It's also implied that their success at thwarting the humans in the past have made him cocky to the point of being almost suicidally reckless -- during the argument at the council before Justin interrupts, you can clearly hear one of the council members speaking of the danger of being found out by the humans, with Jenner's response essentially being "they can't kill us if we strike first."
* DisguisedInDrag: PlayedWith. Jeremy, while helping Mrs. Brisby reach the rosebush to find the rats, decides [[{{Cloudcuckoolander}} it'd be a great idea]] to disguise himself by sneaking around inside a pair of ladies' bloomers.
* {{Disneyfication}}: Averted somewhat. While the movie has some traditional changes from the original book (eg. more whimsical and slapstick-esque characterization and dialogue), some aspects are actually darker compared to its original material. The death count of pivotal characters is higher in the movie, for example.
** In a way, this trope is {{double subverted}}. While Mrs. Brisby goes through much more hardship than in the book, this allows more emphasis on the power of courage and love. The theme was absent in the original book in favour of a greater focus on the rats' responsibility to stop stealing (which was itself mentioned in the film, although it was more about the moral issues of stealing rather than the practical ones).
* DisneyVillainDeath: Averted, though the villain still falls. [[spoiler:Jenner dies in full view, as well as his (former) henchman Sullivan. Sullivan throws a dagger into Jenner's back before dying of a sword wound.]] They ain't comin' back.
* DramaQueen: Auntie Shrew is a stereotypical gossipy dramatic put-upon old woman, yet is an epic badass when called upon.
* TheDreaded:
** Dragon, the farm cat is truly monstrous and feared by all the woodland animals save for the rats who know how to pacify him.
** The Great Owl is this towards the woodland animals, for obvious reasons.
** The rats of NIMH who live in the rosebush are this to some of the woodland creatures, especially Auntie Shrew. The same Auntie Shrew who single-handedly faces down a tractor and ''wins'', later tells Mrs. Brisby to show courage in asking an owl for help, and captures and ties up a crow, [[OhCrap visibly panics]] at the sound of the rats arriving.
* EarnYourHappyEnding: After the TraumaCongaLine Mrs. Brisby goes through...
* ElaborateUndergroundBase: The rats' colony below the rose bush.
* EvilGloating: After [[spoiler: murdering Nicodemus]], Jenner cannot resist spilling the beans about it as soon as Justin figures it out and accuses him.
* EvilSoundsDeep: Jenner has a ''very'' impressive speaking voice.
* EyepatchOfPower: Dragon is blind in one eye and it doesn't make him any less effective as a menace.
* FamilyUnfriendlyDeath: [[spoiler: Jenner slashing Sullivan across his ''throat'' with his ''sword'' is startling even to ''adults''.]]
* FauxAffablyEvil: Jenner is possessed of a singular charm and charisma that makes it easy to see how he manipulates others around him. However, almost all of his charm and courtesy towards others is solely to meet his ends, and when things start to turn against him [[VillainousBreakdown he devolves into a feral creature]], and there is no one he won't kill in cold blood to keep his plan in motion.
* {{Filler}}: Most of Jeremy's scenes contribute nothing to the main plotlines or subplots, and just serve as comic relief. The only points where his actions are really plot relevant include saving Mrs. Brisby (and the medicine she got for Timmy) from Dragon, and flying her to the Great Owl.
* FlatCharacter: Timothy in the first film, as he has exactly one line of dialogue, and is little more than a bed-ridden plot device that gives Mrs. Brisby a reason to go on her adventure.
* FourLinesAllWaiting: There are at least ''six'' ongoing plots tied together in the original film:
** The main focus of the film is Mrs. Brisby trying to save her children from the farmer's plow--her son Timothy is bedridden and ill, and she can't risk taking him out of their house without making his illness worse. On top of that, she's coping with the death of her husband at the hands of Dragon, the farmer's cat. Both of these get her wrapped up in several other incidents along the way, including...
** The rats of NIMH trying to come to terms with their newfound intelligence and responsibilities and planning to leave for Thorn Valley instead of pilfering off human resources in secret. Mrs. Brisby's husband was one of them and helped them escape NIMH (and sacrificed his life trying to drug Dragon for the other rats), so the Great Owl sends Mrs. Brisby to them for their aid in saving her children. Curiously, while their newfound intelligence provides an interesting backstory, it actually doesn't have that much relevance to the film's main plot other than providing another source of conflict, and [[spoiler: other than going through with the plan to move]], it doesn't really get resolved.
** Nicodemus coming to terms with both the rats' situation (and the internal conflicts going on between them) and Jonathan Brisby's death, eventually aiding Mrs. Brisby by giving her the Stone amulet per Jonathan's request. Nicodemus also has peculiar abilities that seem supernatural, and the film never elaborates on how he acquired these abilities, or where the Stone came from.
** This in turn gets Mrs. Brisby wrapped in ''[[FromBadToWorse another]]'' [[FromBadToWorse source of conflict]]. Jenner tries to sabotage the rats' moving plans by [[spoiler: murdering Nicodemus in a staged accident while they're moving Mrs. Brisby's house]], so in turn he can usurp leadership of the rats of NIMH. And ''then'' [[spoiler: once he sees Mrs. Brisby has the stone Nicodemus gives her, he changes his motive on a whim and tries to kill her to get it.]]
** [[spoiler: The farmer interacting with people from NIMH who are searching for the rats and plan to destroy them]] Surprisingly, the sequel directly followed up on this plot thread.
** [[TheLastOfTheseIsNotLikeTheOthers Jeremy the Crow trying to find a love interest]] and dealing with Brisby's kids and Auntie Shrew later on. This one gets the least attention out of the plots and has the least bearing on the film, as Jeremy just serves as comic relief.
* FunWithAcronyms: NIMH - '''N'''ational '''I'''nstitute of '''M'''ental '''H'''ealth, [[TruthInTelevision which is a real organization.]]
* FurryConfusion: The Rats angst over this quite a bit. Though, looking at the farm animals, all of them show intelligence and act somewhat like humans -- to a point. Only the insects play fully realistic parts.
** Jenner devolves into an animalistic rat during his fight with Justin for a brief moment.
* {{GASP}}: Brisby does this when she sees bones from the Great Owl's previous kills falling after she slips on some.
* GiantSpider: In the Great Owl's lair, before it's crushed to a pulp.
* GiantWaistRibbon: Cynthia wears one.
* GlowingEyesOfDoom: Subverted. Although two characters look evil and have glowing eyes, they do no harm to anyone. It also strongly hints at the connection between the Great Owl and [[spoiler:Nicodemus]].
* GoodIsNotNice: Mr. Ages and Auntie Shrew are both rude and haughty at the best of times, but are also amongst the most courageous characters next to Mrs. Brisby herself.
* GoryDiscretionShot: Both played straight and averted. While [[spoiler: Nicodemus's death]] occurs off-camera, we see the owl causally devour a still-living insect, Mrs. Brisby's cut (hey, it's a G-rated movie, any blood is gore), two characters stabbed, and some rather graphic depictions of animal experimentation, even if only for a few seconds.
** Technically, we do see [[spoiler: Nicodemus]] get hit pretty hard with a pulley and knocked off the rock, which may have [[spoiler: killed him]] before the block did.
* GracefulInTheirElement: Jeremy in the air, naturally.
* TheGreatestStoryNeverTold: In the movie, how the uplifted mice and rats manage to make their way out of the labyrinthine building their lab is in. The book describes their escape in detail while the movie limits it to a couple of brief scenes (albeit one that's pure, distilled NightmareFuel).
* GrumpyOldMan: Mr. Ages is an abrasive misanthrope, but [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold his heart is very much in the right place]]. Auntie Shrew who is a [[GrumpyOldMan grumpy old woman]] herself, even refers to him as ''"that old flim-flam"''.
* HairDecorations: Teresa Brisby and the large bow she sports on her head.
* HalfDressedCartoonAnimal: The Brisby family. Most of the rats as well.
* HannibalLecture:
-->'''Jenner:''' Yes! I killed him. He wanted to destroy everything! I've learned this much: take what you can...when you can!
** ShutUpHannibal:
-->'''Justin:''' Then you've learned ''nothing''!
* HeelFaceTurn: See DeathEqualsRedemption above.
* HeroOfAnotherStory: Jonathan Brisby.
* HeroicFantasy: The movie is the book's plot redone as a Swords and Sorcery epic, and goes a long way to explain some of the odd depictions and CarnivoreConfusion:
** Mrs. Brisby as a peasant girl, beset by forces beyond her understanding.
** Mr. Ages as the grumpy local apothecary (and GadgeteerGenius).
** Auntie Shrew as the Town Crier and gossip (and very useful when danger comes calling).
** Jeremy as the helpful but bumbling village idiot (Any crow flock would certainly consider ''him'' an idiot!).
** The rats as a powerful [[HiddenElfVillage Hidden Elf Kingdom]], complete with court intrigue.
** Dragon as a troll/griffon/other fantasy monster, not too bright but cunning, the primary local hazard.
** Jenner as the ambitious nobleman, scheming to turn the situation to his advantage to kill Nicodemus and take his throne...
** Nicodemus as a powerful mage, a literal SorcerorKing, and secretly aligned with...
** ...the Great Owl as the ''real'' dragon, an ancient, cave-dwelling "Great Wyrm" that offers Mrs. Brisby salient advice at Nicodemus' behest...
** .. and so on.
* HumansAreBastards: Aside from the NIMH scientists, mostly averted through lack of presence.
** The rats don't seem to hold any real grudge against humans in general, preferring to simply avoid them. When Nicodemus reveals the rats' story and the nature of the Plan, he makes it clear that stealing food or electricity from the humans is wrong.
** The one human who directly encounters Mrs. Brisby actually goes out of his way to ''save'' her from the cat, and puts her safely into a cage with food and water. Not so bad, considering how mice found loose in people's houses are usually dealt with. His mother even suggests that he let Mrs. Brisby back outside when she could have just as easily told him to let Dragon have her.
*** In a later scene, Mrs. Brisby overhears Farmer Fitzgibbon telling NIMH to bulldoze the rosebush because he wants the rats exterminated, but this is [[JustifiedTrope justified]] on his part-- NIMH never specified on what they were using the rats for in their experiments. For all Fitzgibbon knew, they could have been infected with some horrible disease before escaping.
* HumansAreCthulhu: Debatable, but humanity does seem pretty Cthulhuish in several respects here. In particular, the rats of NIMH are understandably terrified of what humans would do if they found a society of transgenic sentients living in a rosebush in some farmer's front lawn. Makes more sense in the context of HeroicFantasy, above.
* HystericalWoman: Mrs. Brisby is very neurotic and timid, but given the circumstances she goes through, it's understandable she'd be scared out of her wits. When she tries to warn the rats that NIMH is on their way to kill them, Jenner even accuses her of being hysterical.
* JerkassFacade: Brutus, the huge intimidating guard to the rat's hideout, is revealed as such in the original novel. The original film, which makes him far more intimidating, at first only vaguely hints to this ("Oh, that's just ''Brutus''..."), but he does try to help pull up the Brisby home. You hardly see him, and wouldn't know it was him if Justin hadn't called out his name, but he's there.
--> '''Justin:''' I'll get a line around the stones, now...''Brutus, quick!'' Get some rope; tie off those block lines!
* IdenticalStranger: Despite being different species and knowing each other, Nicodemus and the Great Owl have the same glowing eyes, same big eyebrows and same-length moustaches. See picture above.
** WordOfGod: [[http://www.adammcdaniel.com/DonBluth/Don_Bluth_Interview3.htm Don Bluth mentioned]] that they were meant to be mirror images of one another, both "godlike" in their own realms and thus styled very similarly, which would explain the close alliance they had.
* IllBoy: Timmy.
* InsultBackfire: Well, as insulting as Mrs. Brisby can get, anyway.
--> '''Jeremy''': (''doing stunts in the air with Mrs. Brisby on his back'') Nice evening, huh? See? I told you you'd like flying.
--> '''Mrs. Brisby''' (''holding on to Jeremy's string "collar" for dear life and clearly terrified'') I don't know how I let you talk me into this!
--> '''Jeremy''': Ah, don't thank me, Ms. Briz.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold:
** "Auntie" Shrew. She is first introduced as a pish-posh busybody who walks around [[DramaQueen with an incredible air of self-importance]], but [[spoiler:she soon demonstrates great bravery by warning all the animals about the plow and rescuing Mrs. Brisby from the tractor.]]
** Mr. Ages is for the most part a cranky, unsociable hermit though he nevertheless assists Mrs. Brisby with every plea she makes to assist her family, plus is revealed to have been quite the badass himself, being the one [[spoiler:previously tasked with ''drugging the cat'' before he injured his leg, as well as playing a part in the rats' escape alongside Jonathan Brisby]].
** See also Brutus under JerkassFacade, above.
* KindheartedSimpleton: Jeremy means well, but his denseness usually does more harm than good.
* TheKlutz: Again, Jeremy.
* LampshadeHanging: The film is all around rather dark, introspective and has a very thick thread of plotlines centered around the Rats of NIMH and their backstory. When Mrs. Brisby meets Justin and he takes them to meet the others in the council room (who are in the middle of a heated political debate), he acknowledges to her that "We tend to take ourselves a little too seriously."
* LargeHam:
** Mrs. Shrew seemed to think she was in a perpetual [[Creator/WilliamShakespeare Shakespearean]] play, TrrrillingRrrs and all.
** Jenner as well: "...and the WEIGHT of it will CRUSH his BONES!"
* LastBreathBullet: Knife, actually. It's how [[spoiler:Jenner meets his end]].
* LeaveHimToMe: Jenner pulls this, as he wants to [[spoiler:crush Nicodemus under a hoisting crane]]. Oddly, this is done as a murder plot and not (as it usually is) during a heated battle. He also says this word-for-word when Sullivan asks him what to do about Justin.
* LegoGenetics: An odd injection is enough to completely alter the rats' DNA and make them intelligent enough to do things like reading and building advanced scientific equipment, in addition to giving them abnormally long life spans. In real life, an injection that huge would be more likely give them heart failure than make them smarter.
* LuddWasRight: The Rats of NIMH angst over their dependence on electricity, as they must steal it from the farm. The whole plan to move to Thorn Valley hinges on their becoming entirely self-sufficient. It's not that they don't ''like'' technology or advancement; stealing electricity from the humans just is dangerously conspicuous activity for hyperintelligent rodents on the run. That and they're starting to gain some human-like morality and deeper emotion, such as the feeling of ennui as they realize that a life living entirely off the back of another was robbing them of self-worth.
* MagicalAccessory: Mrs. Brisby wears The Stone as a pendant.
* {{Magitek}}: The rats' technology is human artifacts, mixed with Nicodemus' technomagery.
* MamaBear: Not as violent as standard examples, but any mouse (especially a semi-anthropomorphic one) who'll enter the dark spooky lair of one of her natural predators, in order to save her children, deserves a mention.
* ManipulativeBastard: Jenner.
* MeaningfulName: Farmer ''Fitzgibbon'', as in "son of an ape". Not helped by the fact that the prefix "fitz" was, in medieval times, widely used for the surnames of acknowledged illegitimate children - thus making it into "bastard son of an ape". Which is far more insulting, when you think about it.
* MindControlEyes: Jeremy after glancing at Mrs. Brisby's "sparkly" in the original.
* MinionWithAnFInEvil: Sullivan doesn't really do anything to further Jenner's plots. [[spoiler: He can't bear the thought of killing Nicodemus and refuses to swing his sword at the crucial moment, leaving Jenner to do the dirty deed. He even tries to stop Jenner from going over the edge and gets his throat cut for his troubles. He lives just long enough to redeem himself by stabbing Jenner InTheBack before he kills Justin.]]
* MotiveDecay: Jenner spends most of his screentime planning to usurp leadership of the Rats of NIMH by [[spoiler: murdering Nicodemus in a staged accident.]] Shortly after, he tries to kill Mrs. Brisby when she brings news that NIMH is coming, but once he sees the Amulet that Nicodemus gave her, Jenner, for no clear reason, abruptly forgets everything else and changes his goal to killing Mrs. Brisby for it.[[note]]While Nicodemus foreshadowed that he feared Jenner would get the Amulet, it isn't made clear if Jenner even knew if it existed or if it had magical power in the first place.[[/note]]
* MouseWorld: Several, designed by the rats and mice of NIMH.
* MrExposition: Nicodemus, but he actually does it well. Mr. Ages and Justin too.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: "Oh, that's just Brutus." Also Dragon. [[RunningGag Only a bastard son of an ape]] would give their pet ''that'' name.
** The Great Owl tops them all, as befitting a Great Wyrm character. Nobody with sense messes with him save [[spoiler:Nicodemus, who is equal in power and allied with him]]. Mrs. Brisby is forced to seek his advice, at extreme peril to her life. [[spoiler:Extremely fortunately for her, Nicodemus, watching from afar, warned him she was coming, and his attitude changes completely when she reveals who she is.]]
* NeverASelfMadeWoman: Mrs. Brisby would not have gotten any help for her situation if she wasn't "Mrs. Jonathan Brisby".
* NeverSayDie: Averted, consistently, in that even the youngest characters confront death head on and discuss the possibility openly. Bluth films are actually famous for handling the subject of death very well, in a frank and realistic manner, especially for family films.
* NiceHat: Invoked by Jeremy ("Oh, what a lovely hat!") to Auntie Shrew when trying to sweet talk her.
* NoControlGroup: Averted. In the flashback, when Nicodemus escapes from his cage, the row below his are clearly marked "CONTROL GROUP" (though this was hard to make out in the [=VHS=] version). The book more clearly mentions them. In the film, they're using wild-caught specimens, which rather negates the control group in RealLife with lab animals that you can buy from breeders. (Yes, there are purebred lines of lab rats and mice.)
** Explained a bit better in the book, as domestic lab rats are reared in plain cages and thus don't get the mental stimulation that wild ones do. Using wild-caught rats for both the experimental and control groups gave the researchers' subjects an intellectual head start, even before being injected with brain enhancers.
* NotNowKiddo: Auntie Shrew won't listen to the youngest Brisby child when she tries to tell her that her brother is sick.
-->"Cynthia dearest, don't paw me."
* ObviouslyEvil: Jenner wears an OminousOperaCape, with BigOlEyebrows that he's constantly arching, and has a [[BeardOfEvil long goatee]]. He may as well walk around wearing a sign around his neck saying "Evil Megalomaniac."
* OffModel: During Nicodemus' "We Know Too Much" speech to Mrs. Brisby, at one part his eyebrows inexplicably disconnect from his head for a few frames! The same occurs with Jenner when he tells Sullivan, "Accidents could happen."
** The establishing shot of the Brisby home has the smoke coming out ''slightly'' to the right of the chimney.
* OhCrapSmile: Jeremy flashes one of these (with teeth, no less!) after he sneezes in Dragon's face.
* OlderThanTheyLook: Nicodemus mentions to Mrs. Brisby that the genetic manipulation slowed their aging process, and that Jonathan would have continued to live on and still look young while she grew old.
* OminousOperaCape: Jenner, and he uses it for an impressive CapeSwish.
* OnlyOneName[=/=]LastNameBasis: Mrs. Brisby is never referred to as anything other than Mrs. Brisby. The closest they get to giving her a first name is calling her Mrs. Jonathan Brisby, but that's referring to her husband.
** Per WordOfGod her first name is Elizabeth in posthumous honor of Elizabeth Hartman, her late voice actress.
* PapaWolf: Jeremy ''tries'' to act as one, but ultimately his clumsiness intervenes -- as well as inadvertently falling under the wrath of a MamaBear in the process. That said he does act out a pretty valid showing of this for Mrs. Brisby, and to a lesser extent, Timmy.
* PlayingWithSyringes: The scenes set within NIMH.
* PlotHole: There are several plotholes in the film, some of them being [[AdaptationInducedPlotHole a result of changes from the book]].
** The most notable is the source of the Amulet Nicodemus gives Mrs. Brisby. In fact, Nicodemus' magic powers in general. The film never explains where either came from. It's not even addressed if Nicodemus got those abilities as a side effect of the injection (which would raise questions about why the other rats got no such abilities) or if he was intelligent enough to learn them on his own. Years later, Don Bluth handwaved the presence of the amulet [[http://www.adammcdaniel.com/DonBluth/Don_Bluth_Interview3.htm in an interview]]:
-->"With regard to the amulet, it is a metaphor for believing in one's self. Remember the quote, "Courage of the heart is very rare, the stone has a power when it's there." It helps symbolize her courage and the power of the stone to help rescue her children...a miracle, if you will. God stuff. Granted, it isn't in the original novel, but we felt that it was much more powerful. Nicodemus says it was Jonathan's, but really just to get her to accept it. We didn't really think it was necessary to explain it further. Seems like we would eat up too much screen time to tell the history of the amulet, when the story was about an innocent widow mouse, who, thru her journey would find out that she has the courage to rescue her own family. Regarding magic, we really believe that animation calls for some magic, to give it a special "fantastic" quality. The stone or amulet is just a method of letting the audience know that Mrs. Brisby has found 'Courage of the Heart'. Magic? Maybe. Spiritual? Yes."
** The film never really makes a distinction about how much more intelligent the rats are than other animals, aside from the obvious results of scientific progress and the self consciousness of humanlike responsibility shifted onto them. The other animals are clearly capable of communication, rational thought and thinking skills like decision making and deductive reasoning. Did the injection simply give the rats a bigger idea of comprehension than the other animals?
** If the Rats wanted to leave no trace behind of their lair, how were they going to take care of hiding something as massive as the council room?
** Why is it that Mrs. Shrew recommends Mrs. Brisby see the Great Owl when Mr. Ages makes it clear that no one else has seen the Great Owl and lived to tell about it? How would she have known If he was wise, or if it was even sensible to ask for his help if he had that kind of reputation?
** And why does Mr. Ages have a makeshift lab built inside a giant piece of farm equipment? Since he doesn't like visitors anyway, wouldn't It have been safer to keep the lab within the boundaries of the rats' lair, instead of putting himself in a situation that could call to attention his above average knowledge of science and medicine to outsiders?[[note]]also note that in the book, he lived in a much more sensible hideout--an old, long abandoned building.[[/note]]
* PluckyComicRelief: Jeremy. And given how ''dark'' this film is, his comic relief is ''very'' much needed..
* PlummetPerspective: Used a few times.
* PosthumousCharacter: Jonathan Brisby.
* PowerGlows: Nicodemus is the king of Glowy Thingies of Power.
* ThePowerOfLove: "You can unlock any door, if you only have the key." According to Music/PaulWilliams' ThemeSong ''Flying Dreams'', "Love is the key."
-->'''Nicodemus:''' Courage of the heart is very rare. The Stone has a power when it's there.
* PowerStrainBlackout: Mrs. Brisby, immediately following the film's climax, wherein she uses The Stone for the first and only time to move her home. She collapses as its power subsides, then passes out.
* PrecisionFStrike: "Damn..."
* PsychicPowers: Nicodemus has Telekinesis, and Mrs. Brisby pulls some tricks at the end.
* QuitYourWhining: Auntie Shrew uses this as a way to get Mrs. Brisby to pull herself together after her near-fatal incident with the plow:
--> '''Mrs. Brisby''' (''tearfully''): He'll come back tomorrow! I wish Jonathan were here!
--> '''Auntie Shrew''' (''irritated''): Well, he's ''not''. (''viciously, as Mrs. Brisby continues to sob'') ''Stop it.''
* QuicksandSucks: [[spoiler:A house made from a cinder block is disposed of like this after being dropped by crane onto Nicodemus. As a murder weapon. The residents are also still inside.]]
* RaceAgainstTheClock:
** The threat of Fitzgibbon's plow destroying Mrs. Brisby's home and killing Timmy inside is the driving conflict of the movie, which makes her seek out the aid of the Rats of NIMH in order to move her house to safety in time.
** In his book "The Art of Storyboard", Don claims the scene where Mrs. Brisby and Nicodemus are in the boat under the crumbling watermill is meant to subtly add to this element, even though it's a scene of exposition related to the second plotline of the Rats leaving the Rose Bush for Thorn Valley.
** And then a third element of this is added in the climax. The scientists of NIMH get word that their rats are in the thorn bush, and are on their way to exterminate them. Mrs. Brisby overhears Fitzgibbon talking them to them about it over the phone, and she rushes off to warn the Rats to get out as soon as possible.
* RandomEventsPlot / KudzuPlot: Don intentionally structured and paced the film like a novel more than a standard animated movie, believing it allowed more subtext to be incorporated into the film. The plot starts off fairly straightforward (Mrs. Brisby is coping with the loss of her husband and has to save her sick kid from harm) with some backstory foreshadowed a couple times and having a very minor subplot of Jeremy the Crow trying to find a love interest. Half an hour into the film, when Mrs. Brisby enters the rose bush and finds the Rats of NIMH, the film veers way off the main plot and into a grand total of ''[[FourLinesAllWaiting four]]'' [[FourLinesAllWaiting other plots, largely consisting of subplots and backstory]]: the Rats coming to terms with their newfound intelligence and responsibilities, Nicodemus helping Mrs. Brisby out of obligation and coping with the rats situation, Jenner trying to stage a coup to upsurp power, and NIMH trying to seek out and destroy the rats. This half is practically its own self contained story, and has little relevance to the main conflict other than [[FromBadToWorse the additional problems they unwittingly bring in]]--the only thing that directly ties them into it is that Mrs. Brisby was related to one of their own kind, Jonathan, and gets their help [[NeverASelfMadeWoman solely because of that]]). Throw in some unexplained loose ends (just where did Nicodemus get that amulet or those magic powers?) and the plot can ultimately feel rather disjointed. Much of this was a result of changes from the book, namely playing up Mrs. Brisby's role in the story (the Rats were the central characters of the novel, with Mrs. Brisby being [[AudienceSurrogate a vehicle for the audience]]), adding magical fantasy elements (Nicodemus had none of his supernatural powers in the book), and upgrading a minor character (Jenner) into the villain (the book had no real antagonist).
* RealIsBrown: The film relies on this grungy aesthetic to fit its generally serious tone.
* RedFilterOfDoom:
** During Brisby's encounter with Brutus.
** Also much of the fight between Justin and Jenner is filmed/animated in reddish hues.
* RedStringOfFate: This may or may not be an intentional usage. When Mrs. Brisby first meets Jeremy, he is tangled in red string, which he is retrieving to build a "love nest" for his future "Mrs. Right".
* TheRenaissanceAgeOfAnimation: One of the (if not ''the'') real instigators of it. Animated films hadn't been made as seriously as this for quite a while when it came out, and it would still be a few good years before ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'' was made.
* SceneryPorn: A lot of it, especially in the rat colony.
* SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale: ''Hugely'' averted in this film. Just look at the size of the plow and Dragon to the rest of the rats and mice of NIMH.
** Played straighter however in that Dragon is a little ''too'' big for even a good-sized housecat, being closer in size to an almost medium-sized dog.
* SchizoTech: Crosses over with {{Hammerspace}} when Justin and Jenner pull out their '''swords'''. Considering that the rats adapt human technology based on their functioning understanding of it (well, at least in the novel), one might wonder where they managed to come up with the idea that full-on medieval swords in tiny miniature version would be a good idea. Especially considering the kinds of heat needed to shape metal when they live in a flammable environment (it's a rose bush). In any case, for some this might lean into FridgeLogic country, and for others it leans in the opposite direction, however you can't deny that the combination of electricity, elevators, lighting... and magic and swords is a little schizoid.
** Possibly the swords are justified, as the rats did need some means of defense against predators such as snakes or weasels. While they probably had the know-how to build firearms, those would be too noisy for creatures that live in hiding.
** It also goes right along with the idea of the whole thing being a HeroicFantasy. ''Of course'' our medieval warriors would have swords, the rest of their technology being {{Magitek}}.
** It is worth noting that Brutus' weapon seems to be capable of delivering an electrical discharge when it strikes. It's conceivable that the rats found a way to store some of the stolen electricity in their weapons, and then release it into a target. It would even make sense, as a weasel or other predator might not be warned off by a sword cut that didn't strike a vital area, but if said sword also delivered a jolt into the wound at the time, it could kill or at least dissuade predatory species.
* ScrewThisImOuttaHere: Sullivan, despite threats from Jenner, ultimately refuses to play part in [[spoiler: murdering Nicodemus]] in the original movie.
* ShipTease: Justin and Mrs. Brisby flirt a bit over the course of the movie, but both have more important things on their minds.
* ShooOutTheClowns: Jeremy more or less disappears halfway through until the main climax is over.
* ShoutOut: Mrs. Brisby [[spoiler: raising her house with the medallion at the end]], at least how its visually presented, is very likely a homage to Yoda using the Force to raise Luke's X-Wing in ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack''.
* ShownTheirWork: If you look carefully during the owl scene, you can see that the owl has zygodactyl talons (two toes in front and two in back) like real owls do.
* TheSociopath: Jenner.
* SpaceWhaleAesop: If you can find courage and the initiative to take things into your own hands, you can [[spoiler: harness the power of a magic amulet to raise your house into the air.]]
* SparedByTheAdaptation: [[spoiler:Justin, who becomes the leader of the rats after Nicodemus' death. Justin supposedly died in the novel by getting poisoned by NIMH. [[UnexplainedRecovery He gets better]] in the book's sequel.]]
%%* StabTheScorpion
* StealthInsult
-->'''Jenner:''' The Thorn Valley Plan is the aspiration of ''idiots'' and ''dreamers''! We... ''(sees Justin and Mr. Ages and [[SmugSnake chuckles]])'' We were just talking about you...
** InsultBackfire:
-->'''Justin:''' That's refreshing, Jenner-- usually you're ''screaming'' about us.
* SubText: [[http://www.crescentblues.com/5_1issue/int_don_bluth.shtml In an interview]], Don said he put numerous subtle messages throughout NIMH that you can find with each different viewing.
-->"There are messages in Secret of N.I.M.H. If you see the story line, you'll see there are all these little junctures along the way where you have a little message that is not entirely obvious. The novels do the same thing. If you re-read a novel, you'll find all these things that you didn't see the last time you read it. I know if you read the Bible stories [as an adult], for example, or the fairy tales, what happens is that you go: "I never remembered that. I never got that." It's because your psyche and development have progressed to the point where your understanding has increased. I was drawing Nicodemus from Secret of N.I.M.H. I said, "You know Nicodemus and the owl are actually the same person." Nobody knew that. I said, "They are the same person. We obviously made it so it's like a shape-shifter." Mythologically, that's what it is. The owl is trying to get Mrs. Brisby to stop saying, "Help, help, help," and to look inside herself and find her own strength. That's what he's trying to do. So then he tells her to go the rats. He is there himself in the guise of Nicodemus. He appears to her again and says, "OK, you have to help yourself." But he makes her go on this journey, because it's by going on our daily journey or our life's journey that we learn things that we have to know. And if we don't take the time to go on those journeys, however hard they may be, then you don't pick up all the little treasures you need to be a really whole person. That's what I think."
** In the [[http://www.cataroo.com/DBnimh.html section about NIMH]] in Don Bluth's biography, animator John Pomeroy talks about the film's subtleties, even going as far as pointing out the implication that the Rats of NIMH possibly '''never truly existed'''.
-->"Also there is the fact that only Mrs. Brisby and Ages see the elaborate costumes of the rats and their society. John once stated, "Isn't it plausible that the entire set up of the lavish clothes, the elegant chambers, the amulet's power, etc. were nothing more than an image given to Brisby to assist her in finding the strength she had inside of her. We know the rats had powers... just how great were those powers?"
* TechnicolorScience: Mr. Ages' fairly elaborate little lab, seen early in the film, has some hallmarks of this.
* ThievingMagpie: Jeremy the Crow can't resist "sparklies."
* ThrowTheDogABone: After all the comedic abuse he suffers throughout the film, Jeremy finally gets his "Miss Right", who's conveniently just as clumsy and dippy as he is.
* TranslationConvention: In an interesting variation, Dragon's meows are rendered (except in a brief scene centered on the humans) as horrific, dragony roars to reflect that, as far as his prey is concerned, he lives up to his name.
** Possibly justified, as mouse ears are attuned to higher-pitched sounds than humans. A cat's yowls could quite plausibly be at the far low-frequency end of Mrs. Brisby's range of hearing, even though they'd sound high and plaintive to humans.
** In the scene when Mrs. Brisby is imprisoned in the cage, and Mrs. Fitzgibbon goes to let Dragon in the back door, we hear him make perfectly normal feline meows. Like the scene where she's hanging the laundry, this moment is shown from more of an omniscient viewpoint than Mrs. Brisby's first-person angle, suggesting we're not seeing things from a mouse POV anymore.
* TruckDriversGearChange: "Flying Dreams", the theme of the film, has a very loose, undefined lyrical structure, so it's roughly: Verse in C, bridge up to A#, chorus back down to C, instrumental break in C and then the second iteration of the bridge modulates a full step down to B major before finishing in C.
* TruthInTelevision: The research lab the rats and mice break out of is based off the real-life National Institutes of Health [[https://www.training.nih.gov/assets/Building_10.jpg Building 10]], the largest hospital in the U.S., where all their clinical trials (and many animal labs) are located. The picture shows about a quarter of the building and it's as big as a ''city block'', and ''people'' get lost in there routinely. Try to imagine escaping from a building that size if you are a rat or mouse...
** In actuality, almost everything that appears in the movie from the {{Interspecies Friendship}}s to the rather smart intelligence of animals to the cooperation of two different species has actually been observed and recorded both in captivity and in the wild, though the chances of it being seen and recorded is incredibly rare. In fact, the only thing that is blatantly untrue in this movie is the anthropomorphic shape of the animals.
* TuftOfHeadFur: most of the mice have tufts of fur on their head
* UnwantedAssistance: Mrs. Brisby gets irritated by Jeremy's continued antics, which are more likely to bring the wrath of Dragon down on her head than aid her. Eventually, she tricks him into leaving her alone by claiming that she needs him to look after the children while she is gone.
* VerbalTic: Aunt Shrew's TrrrillingRrrs put [[Anime/PantyAndStockingWithGarterbelt The Demon Sisters]] to shame.
* VillainousBreakdown: Jenner spends most of his time in the film being a FauxAffablyEvil SmugSnake. When it looks like his plans have come to fruition near the end [[spoiler:once Nicodemus is dead]], Mrs. Brisby comes to warn the rats of their impending demise at the hands of NIMH. Jenner is so frustrated that he loses all semblance of civility and attacks her, trying to take the amulet and then engages in a feral swordfight with Justin, freely admitting his part in trying to stop the plan.
* VitriolicBestBuds: Jeremy gains a strong liking and responsibility to help Mrs. Brisby throughout her turmoils. [[TheThingThatWouldNotLeave Mrs. Brisby on the other hand is more along trying desperately to brush the clingy nuisance off her back]] (in a progressively less gentle manner). She does seem to like him when he isn't causing trouble for her, however.
-->'''Jeremy:''': "So....do ya like me?"
-->'''Mrs. Brisby:''': "Of course I like you. Bye now!"
* WalkingDisasterArea: Jeremy, oh so much.
* WhiteAndGreyMorality: In the original book. Averted in the films. The book has no true villain, forcing the filmmakers to turn morally gray characters Jenner and the scientists of NIMH evil.
* WiseOldOwl: The Great Owl.
* WizardBeard: Nicodemus.
* WouldHitAGirl: Near the end, Jenner smacks Mrs. Brisby out of the way when she tries to warn the rats that NIMH is coming.
* WritingAroundTrademarks: Late in production, concerns arose that the name "Frisby" would land them in legal trouble with the makers of the Frisbee toy. Many of the voice actors returned to the studio for additional ADR work in order to replace every instance of the name "Frisby" in the film with "Brisby". Only Elizabeth Hartman and John Carradine--the actors for said character and the Great Owl--could not, so their lines were mechanically edited.
* YouDirtyRat: Averted for the most part. The rats even gain a sense of morality and consider it wrong to steal from humans, the very species who locked them up and experimented on them. However, this trope is played frighteningly straight with Jenner.
----