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Headscratchers / Animaniacs

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     Where's the Fourth Wall? 
  • The constant fourth-wall breaking in Animaniacs is one of the most refreshing aspects of the show. However, they break the fourth wall on so many different levels that I don't understand what's supposed to really be going on. A good example is in the episode "This Pun for Hire", when Freakazoid! "accidentally" bursts into the office where they're shooting the episode, and Dot tells him where to find his own office, then saying to the viewer, "This is a zany episode!" But why would she have said that if that had been unscripted, like it was supposed to seem? How much of the show is meant to be scripted, and how much is "real"? Do we ever meet the "real" Warners, or is it all just an act?
    • The 4th wall gags are subject to the Rule of Funny, and don't need to line up with a coherent story.
    • Alternatively, the scenes that take place in the "real world" could be somewhat like a reality show, where the basic plot of each "episode" is scripted but a lot of the dialogue and slapstick is ad-libbed.
    • I think she just meant "Wow, what a zany episode this is turning out to be!" or "You know, that was unscripted. It was zany to us, too."
    • The show doesn't have a script (In-universe, at least.) It says so in the theme song.
     Did Wakko Really Make a Wish? 
  • Related to the above question, what are we to make of Wakko's Wish? It would probably be best to assume it's meant to be a play/movie all the characters are in, rather than "real". But then why are we supposed to care when it's revealed who the Warner's parents are? Whereas if the world of Wakko's Wish is supposed to be "real", then how did they get there?
     What's Yakko and Milton's Beef? 
  • What the hell did happen between Yakko and Milton Berle?
    • Just a Throwaway Gag, but basically the two have had some kind of rivalry going on for years.
      • Saint Paulsen says in his podcast that Yakko hated Berle's breath. Whether you accept this (because who knows Yakko better than Rob Paulsen?) or not (because it isn't canon) is up to the reader.
     Four-Eared Dot? 
  • Why does Dot appear to have two sets of ears?
    • Rule of Cute, and the ones on the side are just tufts of fur.
      • And despite of this when she wants silence puts his fingers in the tufts on the sides of her head, while her real ears remain perfectly unobstructed.
      • She doesn't have two sets of ears. The actual ear canal is in that fluff, and she just has the floppy cartilage part of her ears pulled back. Wakko, whose head is roughly the same shape as Dot's (unlike Yakko's whose head is narrower), has his ears closer to the side of his head than the top, starting about where Dot's tufts are on her head.
     Poor Choice of Last Image 
  • Why is the last image in the last episode (the Animaniacs suite; a compilation of clips from previous episodes) the Warners getting caught in a net with looks of terror on their faces?? Was this intentional, or just a very poor choice of editing?
    • The video was kind of a Clip Show, so that's actually from a previous episode.
      • Yes, I get that, but that still doesn't answer the question.
      • I would assume it's to signal the end of the segment. They're locked back in the tower for now.
     What Happened to the Mink? 
  • What happened to Minerva Mink?! I loved her skits! They were funny, and Minerva got her Laser-Guided Karma at the end! How come they kept the Hip Hippos, but got rid of her ? I know half of it was from the innuendo, but I re-watched her two episodes, and nothing caught my eye as "risque", and yet they keep Hello, Nurse!. Such a Double Standard.
    • One-joke character. Same as the Hippos and the pigeons, yes, but a one-joke character nonetheless. There's only so many funny ways you can show people freaking out to her presence.
    • Another thing...maybe they thought she was too much of a bitch. Granted, she did get a karmic slap in the face, but her character was one that KNEW how hot she was, and used it to her advantage. Hello Nurse didn't go that far. She was simply a hot nurse; didn't manipulate people (not on a regular basis anyway) or lead them on. Or, maybe it's as simple as the character was not popular enough to warrant her own segment like Slappy or Rita & Runt.
    • Best guess: the PR people at WB Animation were in a non-stop battle against the Moral Guardians about all the getting-crap-past-the-radar that did get to stay on the show, and Minerva was considered expendable if it meant they didn't have to edit Slappy or the Warner siblings. There may also have been worries that Misaimed Fandom would give Animaniacs the wrong kind of reputation.
     Nickname That's Completely Separate From Real Name? 
     White Gloves or White Hands? 
  • Since Yakko, Wakko, Dot, and Rita all have white feet, I can't tell whether their hands are actually white or are wearing White Gloves over their hands sometimes, especially when they are drawn crudely.
    • I personally think the Warner's hands, which are usually covered by White Gloves are white, just like Rita's gloveless hands are white.
    • Also, are the Warner's hands white like Rita's hands or the color of the rest of their arm?
      • In "Chalkboard Bungle" and "Space Probed," Wakko's hands were drawn white, but in "White Gloves," Wakko's hands were drawn black like his arms.
      • In the movie "Wakko's Wish," Yakko's hands are drawn black like his arms.
      • In one picture of Rita, she is shown with hands the color of the rest of her arm. It can make people think she was wearing White Gloves all along, just like what the Warner Sibs wear most of the time.
      • Some fanart pictures of Yakko, Wakko, and Dot show them with white hands and some fanart pictures of them show them with hands the color of the rest of their arms.
      • Tom Ruegger replied in his blog, Cartoonatics, "Without gloves, I think their hands/paws would/should have white fur on them. In any case, they should wear their gloves so that these issues do not plague mankind."
     Buttons Can't Talk, but he Can Sing? 
  • Buttons can't talk, yet his mouth moves in the opening like he's singing. What gives?
    • He can talk, he's just too shy to do so unless in an ensemble.
      • Really?
    • Chicken-Boo sings too. Maybe the animators thought it would have looked weird if they were there with the rest of the cast but were just doing the same motions and not singing.
    • Buttons stars in cartoons as a non-speaking role. If he were ever given one, he'd be able to talk.
    • The simple answer is that in the Buttons and Mindy shorts, and in the Chicken Boo shorts, is that they're playing an ordinary dog and an ordinary, uh, giant chicken, just like Hello, Nurse! plays up the Dumb Blonde stereotype, but we're shown that she's actually a genius. I don't think we've ever seen Buttons and Chicken Boo outside their shorts (and Wakko's Wish) like we do other characters.
    • I wonder, is it possible Buttons is just lip-syncing?
     Why Did Rita and Runt Get Dropped? 
  • Why were the Rita and Runt segments dropped in the latter half of the show? Seriously, I've heard so much conflicting speculation about this, but no official, definite explanation. Some reckon that it was because Bernadette Peters couldn't (or wouldn't) commit to the show, but I've also heard that she really enjoyed voicing Rita (having once owned a cat just like her) and was upset when the R&R cartoons stopped. Others say that Executive Meddling was involved, the R&R shorts being considered too dark in tone (nearly all of their potential homes tended to contain some kind of hidden peril) and just not wacky enough compared to the rest of the show. Me personally, I think it's a bit unfair that Buttons and Mindy were able to keep on recycling the same basic scenario over and over, while the Rita and Runt cartoons which, like all the Animaniacs segments, played to formula, but had a lot more heart and depth, were shafted. Although the show did make a Brother Chuck gag at their expense (they showed up as "Missing" on a milk carton in one sequence), the fact that they remained in the opening credits and eventually reappeared in the DTV movie "Wakko's Wish" suggest that the show's staff had no desire to completely eliminate them from the viewers' conscious memories.
    • This troper seems to remember reading somewhere that Rita's VA was the most highly paid on the show, and believes that they were chopped as a cost cutting measure.
      • Of course she was the highest paid on the show! She's Bernadette Peters! Although I've also heard it was just too hard to schedule her, what with her doing 98 concerts a week and 47 Broadway shows and a few movies here and there.
    • It was probably due to a number of reasons. The most commonly cited reason (and probably most likely) is indeed Bernadette Peters being too expensive to keep on the show. It's also been said that it was hard to come up with new songs for each segment - this is probably the least likely, when you consider just how many unique songs pop up in the series as a whole. Running in the middle of the believability road is the darker tone of the segments: Rita and Runt never got a home for long, so many of the segments could be seen as having Downer Endings (though very mild ones, considering the people they ran into were all villains).
     Respect your Elders...Including the Warner Siblings? 
  • If the Warner Brothers were animated in the 30s, does that mean they're actually as old as Slappy, just drawn/animated younger?
    • Presumably it's because the Warners have been locked up in the Water Tower for the past 60 years, while Slappy has been out and starring in Cartoons for all this time.
      • I'd say Rule of Funny. They're toons, and they go with what gets a laugh. Slappy is old because she made it her comedy shtick; the Warners remain young because it's fundamental to their characters (and comedy stylings) that they remain "children."
      • Maybe being in the Water Tower for 60 years made 'em beautiful preserved!
      • I think that they are younger than Slappy because they are Not Allowed to Grow Up.
      • Another theory, which only works if you take Tiny Toon Adventures as a part of this show's universe: in one episode of that show, it's revealed that laughter keeps a toon young; when a toon's audience disappears, they gradually get older and older. It's also shown that a single strong showing of laughter can completely rejuvenate a long-aged toon. So it's possible that the Warners did age, but their brief stints of freedom (and the shared memories of those stints being told to others) would generate enough laughter to keep them youthful. Slappy, meanwhile, has deliberately retired, and her old cartoons aren't shown anymore, so she's aging at a natural rate; however, her "working" on Animaniacs is creating a new audience that provides enough laughter to keep her spry, but not so much that she ages down.
     Are the Warners Cats? 
  • I think the Warners are cats just like Rita, even though their ears look almost nothing like cat ears or how cat ears are usually drawn in cartoons.
    • Unlike Rita, they are supposed to be an ambiguous species that follows the Rule of Funny, but I like to think of them either as housecats (like Rita) or as members of an ambiguous looking species of cat.
      • The Warners could be the latter cat species if that species actually existed in real life, because they have higher foreheads and longer dewclaws (or "thumbs") than actual cat species.
    • A lot of people think that they look equally canine and feline, but that's primarily because their ears look like a floppy, over-stylized version of semi-prick dog ears.
      • And what about all those Warner design based Animaniacs fan characters with convincingly cat-like ears.
      • To be fair, they have paws, faces, and tails like those of cats.
    • Some people like to draw the Warners on all four legs.
      • When drawn on all fours, they are usually depicted with mannerisms somewhere in between that of a dog and that of a cat - sometimes being more like a cat, sometimes being more like a dog, sometimes being equally like both.
      • Some people like to call the four-legged "Warner" design that has a white furred face and hindpaws, but with forepaws left the same fur color as the rest of the body "puppycats."
    • Perhaps they're some sort of weird hybrid of several different species?
    • They stated in one episode "We're not cats".
      • And in another episode they were referred to as "puppy children" and exclaimed, "We're not puppies!"
     The Warners are Chaotic Neutral? 
     Dissing the Doctor...Why? 
  • If the Warners are only supposed to torture jerks, why are they always torturing Scratchensniff? What did he do wrong?
    • They're children they just want attention and have fun, like kids are to their parents and babysitters.
    • He's trying to "cure" their chaotic tendencies and stop them having fun.
    • I always figured that they didn't mean to torture Scratchy; they're just so poorly-socialized that they don't realize he's not having as much fun as they are.
    • From "The Taming of the Screwy":
      Doctor Scratchandsniff: Why did you give me such a hard time!?
      The Warners: Because we looooooooove you.
     How Were the Warners Captured if They can Teleport? 
  • The Warner brothers (and their Warner sister Dot)are essentially Omnipotent beings capable of bending reality to their whim (so is Slappy and she shows it off more), constantly being able to teleport, procure items from nowhere and even freeze time itself. How on earth were they ever captured to begin with? and why have they remained up in the water tower all this time?
     The Parents get Too Many Bonuses 
  • I won't say that a little Parental Bonus is a bad thing, but good lord, Animaniacs seemed to run on it. Seriously, if you want to make a show for adults, then do it. Don't make a show "for kids" and then leave the parents to try to explain why "finger Prince" is supposed to be funny.
    • At the time, the idea of a cartoon for adults was still completely new, with people predicting the Simpsons wouldn't last three seasons. Plus, the show had enough humor for kids to run on that. The kids will think of "finger prince" as two nouns, not an action.
    • At least in the case of "Finger Prince" you're ignoring some of the context. At the time the Warners are searching for clues and Yakko tells Dot to look for PRINTS. She then produced Prince having misheard him. He then corrects her and tells her "FINGER PRINTS". It's funny to the kids because she misheard him and thought it had to do with the Artist Formerly Known as. There are plenty of other times when the show made other references but most of them were less inappropriate than over the heads of the audience. I know at twelve Charlie Sheen, Ben Vereen just happened to rhyme with lima bean which was the only part I needed to understand.
      • The Simpsons was in its fourth season when Animaniacs premiered. It's pretty safe to say people had warmed up to the idea of animation for adults by then.
      • Not only that, but many cartoons in the 40's onward (MGM, Merrie Melodies, etc) contained jokes that kids wouldn't really get (like hating Mothers-in-law, why Catstello couldn't give Babbott "the boid", or cracks at the expense of the Axis powers). Even earlier, cartoons weren't even aimed at kids. I once saw clip of Porky Pig saying the phrase "son of a bitch".
      • The "son of a bitch" clip was made by the animators as an in-house gag never meant to be shown to the public. They would never have put anything like that in a real Looney Tunes short. (It is true, though, that before The Hays Code, some cartoons did have things that they wouldn't be able to get away with once the Code was in place, Ub Iwerks's Flip the Frog being a notable example.)
      • And the original Warner characters had been doing it 50 years earlier, too.
      • But those were intended for adults; they were originally created as a way to draw people into movie theaters. It was only later that kids became a bigger audience for cartoons than adults, and we all know what happened then...
    • Nothing wrong with having a Periphery Demographic, is there? Besides, that's one of the major appeals of the show: that you can come back to it as a grown-up and find a whole slew of new things to laugh at. This also effectively made it a show that the family could watch and enjoy together. Besides, parents don't have to explain the more "mature" jokes. Sometimes saying, "You'll get it when you're older," or, "It's a grown-up's joke," is acceptable.
      • Yeah, and it's not like it was a new thing either - Rocky and Bullwinkle did the same thing with pop culture and literary references that no kid would have gotten. Besides, Animaniacs also ran on wacky humor, so I figure most kids would just giggle because "finger prince" sounds funny.
      • As an actual kid who was watching through its first run (10 years old at the time), I can confirm that my friends and I got the slapstick, crazy antics and the songs. It didn't matter to us that we couldn't understand most of the references (fruenlaven). Actually, I still don't really understand many of the references to actors/directors/characters of the time. However, it was pretty exciting to me when my father sat me down in front of The Pirates of Penzance and I recognized the Modern Major General song. It was fun for the parents to get jokes their kids didn't, and gave them an opportunity to expose their kids to things they might not have. And, heck, Sesame Street had been doing that to kids for years. A lot of their guest puppets were based on things only adults got. As a kid, you either don't notice, or don't care.
     Did They Really Change Their Minds? 
  • In "Critical Condition", after Hisskill and Eggbert (spoof of Siskel and Ebert) give Slappy Squirrel's cartoons a bad review, Slappy and Skippy decide to get even with them by making them go through a lot of hell. In the end, Hisskill and Eggbert have apparently changed their minds about Slappy and say that her cartoons are actually quite good. Now this leaves me to wonder: are Hisskill and Eggbert's new opinions on Slappy completely real, or is it just out of fear of having to go through more hell? It begs an explanation.
    • Apparently they were watching the preceding cartoon (but didn't have stunt doubles)? Maybe? So it's possible that they only found her funny because they were in one of her cartoons.
     Opinions on References 
  • Between this show, Tiny Toon Adventures, and Freakazoid!, there are a lot of references to pop culture, celebrities in particular. However, I also noticed that most to all of the jokes are affectionate to the famous people involved and are playful in nature. What I'm wondering is the people who write these shows—do they have any thoughts on South Park and its mocking of pop culture and celebrities, which is far more malicious and are more like personal attacks? (For instance, an episode has Kanye West portrayed as a narcissist who becomes violent when offered help or suspecting anyone through wild accusations. The Steven Spielberg group of shows would never do something like that.) I know Trey Parker takes every opportunity to let people know that he hates actors unless they give him a reason to like them. Don't get me wrong; I love South Park. But the way the Steven Spielberg batch of shows and South Park handles jokes on celebrities and some pop culture movements is like night and day.
    • What's the headscratcher?
     To Be or Not to Be Based on a Celebrity? 
  • Was the red-haired woman in "Yabba Dabba Boo" a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Deanna Oliver? Only going by a YouTube comment on this one. The actual episode is on YouTube - can't remember where.
     Why Did the Pigeons Cross the Road? 
  • I can't believe no one's asked this yet. In "Goodfeathers: The Beginning", why were they trying to cross the road to get a bagel? When THEY CAN FLY?! And what about that time when they were about to get run over by a car, again THEY CAN FLY!!!
    • A reference to the Chicken joke?
    • Maybe they forgot?
     How the Devil Did They Get Both of Those Past the Radar? 
     What's the Pigeon Doing on the Roof? 
  • Here's a question. What on earth was the point of the Goodfeathers segment "Pigeon on the Roof"? The entire segment just did not make any sense at all.
    • Quite probably, that was the point. A lot of Animaniacs cartoons ended up not making sense; that was part of the appeal of the show.
    • Actually "Pigeon on the Roof" was a contract episode caught in the network transition. Animaniacs had some unfinished scripts after Episode 60 and Fox threw a couple of them together. That explains the episode quality for numbers 61 through 64.
    • Its also, obviously, a long parody (probably loosely, never saw the play myself) of 'Fiddler on the Roof'.
     Why Do They Go Back to the Tower? 
  • If Warner Brothers have been 60 years jailed inside the water tower and hate to be captured back after escaping then why do they keep going back?
    • Let's start off with the obvious. Even though they spent 60 years locked in that tower, they still consider it their home. Second, even if they love their home, they don't want to be sent home against their will.
    • Think of it like a young child being sent to their room because they were playing Tag in the house (and possibly broke something). The kid might love going to their room on their own, and loves sleeping in it, but hates being ordered to go there.
     Why is Ralph Chasing Them? 
  • Konami's SNES game has the Warner Brothers/Sister helping Plotz to get back a stolen movie script. If they're working for the CEO this time, then why is Ralph still chasing them?
    • Nobody bothered to tell him?
  • Why does Wakko have a British accent when the other two don't?
    • Because why not? Possibly it was also meant to clash with the fact that he's the least serious and the messiest, yet he is, in fact, the one with the Liverpudlian accent (voiced to sound like Ringo Starr because Wakko is the shortest of the Warners). Irony, in other words, coupled with Rule of Funny. Jess Harnell actually decided to do the voice when auditioning (it was either Ringo or John Lennon; Wakko was going to be auditioned by Harnell to be British either way), so there was probably a bit of Throw It In! there, too.
     How Does a Monster-Morphing Maiden have Mates? 
  • Ok... HOW THE HELL DOES KATIE KABOOM HAVE A SOCIAL LIFE IF SHE BECOMES A LITERAL MONSTER AT THE DROP OF A HAT!!!! One possible nightmarish answer could be... what if OTHER Teenage girls besides Katie are like this... pleasant dreams everyone!
    • Maybe she's never turned into a monster in front of her friends.
    • That's true, as shown by one comic story that had Katie somehow controlling herself at school (aside from rapidly becoming a monster to yell at someone), but exploding as soon as she goes back home. And regarding other teenage girls, there was another once, one that added the other overreacting kind of woman: Katie's Bridezilla cousin.
     Not All Teens Are Like Katie 
  • Does Katie Kaboom give teenage girls a bad name?
     When Did They Move House? 
  • When did the Warners stop living in the orphanage and start living in the tower?
    • Are you talking about the movie? That was AU.
     The Chicken Gets No Respect 
  • What's everyone's problem with Chicken Boo? Before he's revealed as a giant chicken, most people like him and he usually does good things, with only the person who can see through is disguise hating him for simply being a chicken. But then when he is revealed to be a giant chicken, everyone turns on him even after all the good stuff he did. I know Fantastic Racism is a thing, but normally people don't want the person they were previously racist to after that person saved their lives or made them millions of dollars!
    • Maybe they don't like the idea that he was actually someone else in disguise, chicken or not?
     Why is he Saying Goodnight to Us? 
  • What's with the phrase "goodnight everybody"? I know it's supposed to be there when a radar moment happens, but sometimes Yakko says it when there's Toilet Humor, which, while a bit gross, isn't dirty. And also sometimes I just don't get it, but maybe that's because my mind is pretty clean in general. And most important of all, what do dirty jokes have to do with going to bed?!
    • It's a fourth wall breaking sign off. I took it as him implying that the censors would shut the episode down over it if they continued the joke, since it was a blatant radar moment. Or it sounded like a blatant radar moment (like the conjugate joke).
    • It's a nod to an old Vaudeville gag, if I remember correctly.
     Use Your Brain, Brain 
  • Two Pinky and the Brain segments had them requiring a ton of money to fund the Brain's world domination scheme (they needed the money either for a machine or component thereof). They end up failing of course to win said money. So how come the Brain just didn't devise some other way of getting the required funding?
    • Sometimes, Brain's world domination plots rely on working in a particular time frame (I remember one had him having to impersonate Cher at a celebrity golf tournament, so he obviously couldn't wait to do that). Brain also has a massive ego, and prides himself on never repeating a scheme: in one episode, he disguises himself and Pinky as network executives who are creating a show about two lab mice who want to take over the world, then asks for potential writers to provide "plots" that he intends to steal for himself. So if a plan doesn't work once in some way, he discards it and moves onto another.
     The Perplexing Pentatonic Scale 
How come when Yakko sings Japan's name in "Yakko's World", the pentatonic scale plays? I thought that tune was associated with China, not Japan.
    Who's it named after? 
  • The Warners' 65th Anniversary Special shows that a young Mr. Plotz was already head of the studio in the early '30s, when the Warners were first created, and "A Christmas Plotz" shows that his father was the studio head before him. In the real world, the real Warner brothers were still in charge of the studio at that time, but in the Animaniacs world, they apparently never existed. So if the studio had its name before the cartoon Warners were created, then who is the studio named after?
    • The brothers could have been the star actors of the studio in their world.
    • Or it could be a nickname shared between Mr. Plotz Sr. and an (unseen?) associate.
    The Warner Bros. Rules, and when they don't apply 
  • So the Warner Bros. specifically say, in the Mary Poppins parody episode, that they can only annoy or harm someone if they annoy or harm them first... But there are multiple episodes where they harm or annoy someone without them doing anything to them in the first place. The very first episode, they drive Dr. Scratchinsniff insane and all he was trying to do was psychoanalyze them on the Company's order. On top of that, there are times when the Warners are harassed and harmed, and then help the person who harassed/harmed them in the first place (like Albert Einstein, Sherlock Holmes and Abraham Lincoln), but there are times where their torment is just torment (again, Dr. Scratchinsniff). So what exactly are the Warner's Rules with their slapstick?

How well does it match the trope?

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