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Characters / The Wild Thornberrys

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A list of characters from The Wild Thornberrys.


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    Elizabeth "Eliza" Thornberry 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/eliza_thornberry.png
Voiced by: Lacey Chabert

Eliza is the younger daughter of the Thornberry family. She is intelligent, true-hearted, fearless, and good-natured, but she can also be very stubborn. Eliza has the power to communicate with wildlife and she often employs this skill when embarking on explorations through the wilderness, traveling around the world with her parents, or encountering different wild creatures.


  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Debbie sees Eliza this way.
  • Blind Without Them: Eliza's vision is pretty bad without her glasses, as shown many times.
  • Daddy's Girl: Eliza idolizes her father and inherited his love of nature.
  • Determinator: Nothing can stop Eliza from protecting/saving an animal in danger, and she'll also go to great lengths to protect her family and human friends.
  • Ditzy Genius: She may be intelligent, but she often doesn't make the best decisions.
  • Friend to All Living Things: A trait inherited from her father.
  • Girlish Pigtails: She has pigtails for the first four seasons.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the movie, Eliza gives up her powers to save her sister but regains them after saving a herd of elephants without them.
  • Idiot Hero: Several episodes have plots that could have been avoided if Eliza hadn't decided to wander off and explore unfamiliar, dangerous territory.
  • Meaningful Name: Her name may be a Shout-Out to My Fair Lady’s Eliza Doolittle. Her gift to talk to animals also makes her a "Doctor Dolittle" figure.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In "Eliza-Cology", she nearly destroyed an island's entire ecosystem by giving a group of finches some sewing needles to pick larva out of trees.
  • Redheads Are Uncool: Eliza has a few traits of this.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Due to a magic spell from a shaman that allows her to communicate with animals.
  • Youthful Freckles: She has freckles and is younger than her sister Debbie.
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    Darwin 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/darwin_4.png
Voiced by: Tom Kane, Rubén Leon (Second voice, Latin America)

Darwin is a chimpanzee who travels with the family and is a loyal companion to Eliza. He tries to be the voice of reason to Eliza, however she rarely takes his advice. Cautious by nature, he is almost always hesitant to follow her plans; in response, she accuses him of cowardice, once calling him a "crybaby in a tank-top" for his hesitancy. He was found by Eliza, and was the first animal she ever talked to.


  • Ambiguously Gay: In the sense that he's very effeminate; apart from being briefly flattered when the nubile mate of a chimp leader shows an interest in him, he never shows an attraction to anything save junk food and not getting into trouble.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Was given clothes by Eliza not long after they met, Darwin still doesn’t wear shoes though.
  • Big Eater: He's very, very fond of eating human food.
  • British Stuffiness: Speaks this way despite not being from Britain.
  • Butt-Monkey: Or rather Butt Chimp. He quite often suffers humiliation and misfortunes.
  • Cowardly Lion: He always cowers when in a dangerous situation or facing a predator, but if Eliza is ever in danger, he is always ready to protect her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Makes sarcastic remarks to whatever animal he or Eliza are talking to.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Actually a chimpanzee, but he's still on Eliza's side.
  • Meaningful Name: His name is a possible Shout-Out to Charles Darwin. In the show, Eliza names him after her cousin Lenny Darwin (who she says kind of looks like a monkey).
  • Non-Human Sidekick: He's a chimpanzee and Eliza's closest friend.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Frequently. He does it twice in the opening credits alone.
  • The Unpronounceable: His real name, which consists of a series of chimp noises. It's technically pronounceable — just a mouthful.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Loves eating a cheese puff-like snack called Cheese Crunchies (later called Cheese Munchies for unknown reasons).
  • Undying Loyalty: Will stay by Eliza's side no matter what. Best exemplified in the movie, where he hitches a ride to London with Eliza and later sticks by her even after she's rendered unable to talk to him (and this is without mentioning the fact that the last thing she said to him in his language was basically screaming at him to shut up).

    Deborah "Debbie" Thornberry 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/debbie_thornberry.jpg
Voiced by: Danielle Harris

Debbie is the eldest child of the Thornberrys, depicted as a typical teenage girl. Captivated with fashion and music, Debbie is portrayed as considerably more self-absorbed than her sister Eliza and tends to whine and complain, particularly over her family's nomadic way of life and her desire to lead an average life. She is often annoyed that Eliza embraces the family's lifestyle, and Eliza is mutually annoyed by Debbie's apathy. However, Debbie cares for her sister deep down.


  • Aloof Big Sister: She doesn't normally socialize with Eliza.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Her shirt doesn't cover her bellybutton.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Even though Eliza annoys the crap out of her, you can bet that the minute her sister's in danger, Debbie will always jump in to save her. She even extends this to Donnie.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: She constantly whines whenever things don't go her way.
  • Butt-Monkey: Donnie often ruins her things.
  • City Mouse: She has difficulty adjusting to her family traveling the world while far from civilization.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sometimes makes sarcastic remarks about her father's idealistic fondness of nature.
  • Hidden Depths: Quite a few episodes (plus the movie) have shown that though Debbie isn't interested in animal life, she's surprisingly good at mingling with the various human cultures she encounters. Also, despite her mild disinterest in the subjects, like the rest of her family, she does have a healthy amount of knowledge on animals and the importance of ecological conservation.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Often complains that she would rather have a family that didn’t travel around the world or spend time with wild animals.
  • It's All About Me: She often only cares about her own needs and interests.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: In spite of her selfishness, she isn't really a bad person. Not only is she occasionally shown to actually care about Eliza and Donnie, but "The Trouble With Darwin" has her having to watch after some orphaned chimpanzee infants because of a misunderstanding and she decides to continue looking after the baby chimps even after the misunderstanding is cleared up.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Her hair covers one of her eyes.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Her hair is longer than that of her sister or her mother.
  • Secret Keeper: She learns about Eliza's ability to talk to animals in the first theatrical film when Eliza is forced to reveal her secret to the film's villains to save her life. After the shaman restores Eliza's power, Debbie is made to keep it a secret under the threat of being turned into a baboon.
  • Taught by Experience: Debbie may not share the same intense love of animals as her family but their knowledge and traveling has left her very knowledgeable about the animal kingdom. She also knows a lot about subjects that relate to them and the places where they live, too.
  • Valley Girl: She talks like a valley girl.

    Donald "Donnie" Thornberry 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/donnie_thornberry.png
Voiced by: Flea

Donnie is a feral boy who was raised by orangutans in Borneo and was taken in by the Thornberry family prior to the series. His real parents were naturalists who loved and protected animals with their hearts. One night, two poachers attacked a pair of orangutans, intending to harm or kill the mother and sell the baby on the black market. Donnie's parents managed to save them, but were killed for interfering.


  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Is this to Debbie. He almost always bothers her and ruins her stuff.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Eats anything from food to bugs.
  • Happily Adopted: Donnie was taken in at some point before the show began, but he wasn't officially adopted until "The Origin of Donnie".
  • Hidden Depths: He's shown, on a few occasions, to be more observant than he appears to be.
  • Raised by Wolves: Donnie was raised by a mother orangutan alongside her own offspring for several years after his parents were killed by poachers.
  • The Unintelligible: He only talks in high-speed gibberish, courtesy of RHCP's Flea. He has been known to occasionally parrot spoken words on occasion.
  • Wild Child: He lived in the wild and still remains feral after being taken in by the Thornberrys.

    Sir Nigel Thornberry 
Voiced by: Tim Curry, Esteban Garcia (Latin America)

Nigel is the child of Radcliffe and Cordelia Thornberry, an aristocratic British couple. Born in Britain himself, he travels around the world with his own family making wildlife documentaries. He is an expert zoologist, as well as naturalist, traveler and survivalist and is quite caring and logical, though Nigel often otherwise appears absentminded or naïve.


  • Action Dad: He hosts a nature show and is prepared to defend himself from even the most deadly of predators.
  • Berserk Button: Poaching and cruelty to animals are big ones.
  • Bumbling Dad: He's often oblivious of his daughters' concerns.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: For all his numerous eccentricities, Nigel has a near encyclopedic knowledge of animals.
  • Catchphrase: Smashing!
  • Fearless Fool: Nigel goes after some seriously dangerous animals, always with an excited grin on his face.
  • Friend to All Children: He gets along rather well with the Rugrats gang in Rugrats Go Wild!.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Well he does host a nature show.
  • Genius Ditz: His expertise is in nature and animals, but he comes off as being a complete moron when compared to other subjects.
  • Gonk: His odd appearance has led to him becoming something of a meme.
  • Happily Married: He and Marianne are happy together. In Rugrats Go Wild!, he even misinterprets his wife suggesting they split up as a request for divorce and incredulously states that he thought they were happy together.
  • Nice Guy: Indeed. He genuinely loves the world around him and also adores his family.
  • Papa Wolf: He is fiercely protective of his daughters, and them being in danger prompts his most serious moments.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: He looks almost identical to his father, they're even both voiced by Tim Curry.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: He has a love of kippers, much to everyone else’s disgust.

    Marianne Hunter Thornberry 
Voiced by: Jodi Carlisle

Marianne is Nigel's wife, daughter of Frank and Sophie Hunter. She operates the film camera and edits their nature show. Marianne is a strong woman, often the voice of reason, and sometimes loses patience with Nigel. She is usually the one to take on disciplinary duties, trying to keep the girls out of trouble and finish their homework.


  • Action Mom: At times, she can be just as adventurous as her husband.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Her choice of wardrobe leaves her midsection exposed.
  • Directionless Driver: Marianne always drives, and she never asks for directions even when her sense of direction isn't exactly the best (though it works out).
  • Education Mama: She tries to make sure her kids get a good education while traveling the world and makes sure they always do their homework. Though she always steps in to help her daughters if they are ever having trouble with their schoolwork. She also puts Debbie in charge of teaching Donnie proper English.
  • Happily Married: It's made clear several times throughout the series that she loves her husband and the feeling is mutual.
  • Hartman Hips: She has very pronounced hips.
  • Mama Bear: One episode had Marianne facing her fear of sharks to rescue Debbie who was trapped in the ocean about to be eaten by several sharks.
  • Women Are Wiser: Is the more sensible one when working with her husband.
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    Kip O'Donnel and Neil Biederman 
Voiced by: Keith Szarabajka (Kip), Michael Jeter (Biederman)

A pair of poachers who antagonized the Thornberrys in the original pilot and some of the show's earlier episodes.


  • Big Bad: The fact that they were featured in the original pilot and are shown to have personal grudges against the Thornberrys suggests that they were originally intended to be the series' main villains. Unfortunately, they stopped appearing after the second season.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: After season two, Kip and Biederman just disappeared from the show.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: Kip has a very raspy voice.
  • First-Name Basis: Kip O'Donnel is frequently addressed as just Kip.
  • Last-Name Basis: Neil Biederman's first name is rarely mentioned.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Biederman bears a more than passing resemblance to Joe Pesci.
  • Number Two for Brains: Biederman tends to do the grunt work for Kip and is a complete moron.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: They are always seen together.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Eliza may be a nuisance to them, but they opt to detain her whenever they have her at their mercy. They may hurt and kill animals, but would rather not get in trouble with the law for hurting and killing humans too.

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