Follow TV Tropes


Headscratchers / The Great Mouse Detective

Go To

  • Okay, so, why is a guy apparently capable of building a life-size mechanical figure in the space of one day (albeit under pressure) working as a toymaker? Surely he could be doing something a lot more profitable with that degree of technical skill, especially in Victorian times.
    • Cost. Fidget had to steal many, many things from human toy shops to supply Flaversham with what he needed, and possibly the things he needs to create these machines are very expensive. It wouldn't matter to Ratigan, but to a single father needing to continually provide for his daughter while still being there for her, hunting down parts and/or constantly working on life-sized robots may not be the best use of time and money.
    • Advertisement:
    • It also could be that making toys is what he wants to do in life. Sure, building robots might be profitable, but does it compare with the look on little kids' faces when they get that new toy?
    • That or the fact that there is a very small market for life-size dolls. Besides taking over England, what other use would one have with it? Toys on the other hand is something people buy a lot.
      • I beg to disagree.
      • Aaaand now I'm trying to erase from my brain an image of Ratigan having Flaversham build a sexbot-copy of Basil. Thanks.
      • Why necessarily Basil? Padraic could force Hiram to build him a fembot, like Miss Kitty or Olivia.
    • We have a trope for this: Reed Richards Is Useless. That, and honestly, while he can make a clockwork army that can make the mouse-England unstoppable, he'd probably much rather use his creations to bring joy to children, rather than conquer the world. If you have children... you'd know. (Or if you just watched Steamboy.)
  • At the end of the movie, Mr Flaversham and Olivia say they must hurry up because they gotta catch that urgent train home and there is a big goodbye scene and stuff. Except that… Flaversham lives in London, right ? And Olivia and Dawson were able to walk from the Flaversham's to Basil's ? Right ? So… ?
    • They might be living in another part of London, and the fastest way to get there was by train.
      • They might also have decided to leave. After all that's happened to them it's kind of hard to blame them for wanting to get away.
    • A) Olivia and Dawson didn't walk to Basil's from her house but from an old boot she'd taken shelter in after leaving her house alone an unspecified amount of time earlier. B) Yes, the Flavershams live in London, and humans might not need a train to travel between different parts of the city, but these are mice traveling in a human-sized city, so...
  • "Oh Ratigan, oh Ratigan/ You're tops and that's that..." The previous chorus had ended the stanza with "...the world's greatest criminal mind!", which since it is the title of the song, implies that the next chorus will be a variation on it. What were they planning on singing, that rhymes with "that" and fits "the world's greatest..."? Am I the only one who suspects it's a deliberate setup for a Last-Second Word Swap?
    • Maybe it was something about his hat. He really was pretty heavy-handed about dressing fancy.
    • Or something about Felicia, his cat. Very unusual for a, have a pet cat at his beck and call, so he's probably quite triumphant about that and likely brags about it.
      • The line may have been intended to be: "Oh Ratigan, oh Ratigan… The only one who befriended a cat"
  • Why didn't Ratigan change his name? Does he WANT to be incorrectly classified?!
    • Perhaps he's proud of the long history(?) of his family the Ratigans and wants to keep their name?
      • Or maybe his mother was a mouse, as the professor insists on being called one.
      • Rats are predators of mice and cannot interbreed. Perhaps Ratigan wanted the best of both worlds; bigger, stronger and smarter than any mouse, and cleaner and more civilized than any rat. In the end though, it's clear which one he is... Or maybe he just likes how the name sounds.
      • A predator has a kid with its prey, even though they aren't supposed to interbreed. Why does it sound so familiar?
    • Also, which name sounds more intimidating; RAT-igan, or MOUSE-igan?
  • Ratigan has very big feet as evidenced by the Big Ben sequence. So, how'd he ever get them into those small shoes he wore throughout the film?
    • He uses the same shoes that Lacieniga wears.
    • He's actually wearing his shoes on his toes.
  • Why does Toby detest Dawson so much? He either growls at him or ignores him completely, and it's never explained why. Is he jealous that Basil has a new friend or something?
    • I'd assume it's to give him some sort of Butt Monkey role. Olivia's too nice, and Basil is already acquainted with him, so that leaves Dawson.
    • It's a Stealth Pun. Remember earlier, when it was pointed out that Dawson sewed the tear on his jacket with catgut?
      • ... Oooooh, I get it!!
  • Was Ratigan ever actually a professor? Did he just take on the title when he became a criminal mastermind in order to mimic Moriarty (in much the same way that Basil's deerstalker, chemistry experiments, and violin playing are supposed to be an imitation of Holmes)? Is this a shout-out to all of the films of the 1930s-1940s, where Moriarty was still called "Professor" despite not being a mathematician and being universally recognized as a criminal mastermind (and therefore not needing his academic career to serve as a cover from the police)?
    • Like Moriarty, Ratigan may have originally just been a professor. Unlike Moriarty, Ratigan got caught but apparantly not arrested. Just a fan theory, but it could explain the whole 'professor' thing.
    • This fanfic goes into elegant detail about Ratigan's history and how Basil met him.
    • He may just be a professor of mathematics; the scene where he sets an elaborate trap to kill Basil and Dawson by mousetrap/crushing/shooting shows an advanced understanding of physics and geometry!
  • Basil is clearly a master of disguise when he wants to be, as seen with the Chinese mouse costume he donned when he was first introduced - the eyes were a bit dead-looking and weird, but otherwise it looked perfectly realistic, enough to fool Dawson and Olivia into thinking that's what he looked like until he removed the head and deflated the body. With that in mind....why on earth, when going into a seedy pub that he knows his arch-nemesis's lackey is there, who KNOWS PERFECTLY WELL WHAT HE LOOKS LIKE, does he think a stick on mustache that doesn't even cover anything, and a change of clothes, is a sufficient disguise? He could have gone all-out and disguised himself as a one-legged brawny pirate mouse or...well, ANYTHING other than just slapping on a mustache and smoky jacket! Dawson's disguise I can understand because Fidget and Ratigan don't really know him and probably wouldn't have recognized him from the brief glimpse Fidget had of him before the pub, but Basil...he and Ratigan know each other, and Fidget obviously knows him well enough to recognize him and evidently know where he lives at least. How could someone so smart not foresee being so easily recognized with such a thin disguise? Besides that, Basil is mentioned as being a 'Famous Detective' in the paper Dawson reads when he meets Olivia, so his picture has probably been in the papers enough times that most of the criminals in the pub would have at least some idea of what he looks like and could possibly recognize him.
    • England was in danger of having its queen eaten by a cat, and then having a robot duplicate of her make Ratigan "her" heir/consort/whatever. Basil probably didn't feel like he had a lot of time to put on a passable disguise. Besides, no one else but Ratigan and his goons knew it was really him.
  • Ok so, like, I get the age difference and everything but am I the only one who is like...really, really weirded out by the fact that Basil and Olivia are effectively set up like love interests? Like, when I saw this as a kid, not understanding what the implications of such a thing would be, I just assumed they'd kiss or something at the end and was surprised when they didn't cause they come dangerously close to the whole Meet Cute nine yards. I mean, wow. Does anyone else think she was meant as an older character at some point originally and aged down by Executive Meddling to create a Kid-Appeal Character or is it just me?
    • If you give David Koenig's book Mouse Under Glass a read, Koenig confirms that there was originally supposed to be a female character serving as a love interest for Basil. In fact, you have to wonder if the lady mouse that appears at the end of the movie, isn't some sort of Development Gag. As for the implication that Basil and Olivia are set up to be love interests in the final film? Err.... I don't see it.
    • While a Precocious Crush isn't completely impossible, they really seem to have more of an Intergenerational Friendship. That is to say, Basil seems more like an honorary uncle of sorts, and Olivia even calls him "Uncle Basil" at one point.
    • As an adult, I eventually came across the information that, yes, they originally had an adult love interest character come to basil for help instead of a little girl, but I can honestly say that, as a kid, I never saw anything remotely "romantic" or something between Basil and Olivia. (Nothing would have looked more out-of-place for a Sherlock Holmes-style hero anyway — the fair sex is not his department.)
  • Is the singer's name actually Miss Kitty? As detailed in I Am Not Shazam, it seems less like "Miss Kitty Mouse" is her name and more like it's simply a description of her, i.e., she's the mouse who appears to be patterned after Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke, therefore she's "the Miss Kitty Mouse." This troper doesn't think she has a canonical name.
  • A bit of a Plot Hole: Fidget somehow finds Olivia at Basil's apartment, yet it's evident that Ratigan did not instruct him to go there. The arch-villain was surprised when Fidget told him he ran into Basil at the toy shop, and obviously didn't realize that Basil was already working on this particular case. So why was Fidget spying on Olivia at Basil's apartment if Ratigan didn't tell him to do so?
    • Well part of his "Get the Following" list was to kidnap Olivia. Maybe Fidget thought to grab her first. Though after spotting her, he suddenly realized just where she was and booked it. Better to disappear and get the rest of the equipment before trying again. Unfortunately he left a trail.
    • At least one book adaptation tried to "fix" this plot hole by stating that Fidget was there merely to spy on Basil, and didn't count on Olivia being there. Still, you'd think Fidget would know that being in the vicinity of his boss' arch nemesis, where he could easily be spotted and caught, is a stupid idea.
      • "Being in the vicinity of his boss' arch nemesis, where he could easily be spotted and caught, is a stupid idea" -> Well, you know… Fidget IS stupid…
  • Assuming that every Human has a rodent Doppelgänger, does this mean that eventually Mouse-England would have Rodent World War I?
    • Yes. It is also possible that there are doppelgangers from other species, so this will mean, for example, a Bat-vrilo Princip assassinating a Mouseduke Franz-Mousedinand in Bat-snia.
  • Why toss Fidget off the dirigible? The point of kidnapping Olivia was for her to be a hostage so that Ratigan could make good his escape. Clearly that didn't work, since Basil makes his jury-rigged balloon. Now Olivia is a liability for Ratigan, since she's why Basil is following him. Hey, Ratigan, you know what would distract Basil and prevent him from following you? Toss her off the side and let him follow her instead of you.
    • The Villain Ball.
    • Fidget was getting worn out and Basil was rapidly gaining on them. Fidget had just suggested they "lighten the load," inadvertently calling Ratigan fat. Ratigan proceeded to "lighten the load" by throwing Fidget overboard.
    • Hostages are useful; lackeys incapable of doing their one job are not; and Ratigan has already displayed a penchant for offing minions who anger him even if that's not necessarily the most sensible thing to do.
  • Ratigan wants to levy taxes on the poor, elderly, injured, and children. Is Ratigan not aware that only Parliament can approve taxes, not him or the Queen? Even if Ratigan did get away with killing the queen without anyone suspecting it, his whole plan to take over wouldn't have worked anyways, and any bad changes he proposed would have to go through Parlriament first. The movie very much asserts that the Mouse World is a counterpart to the Human World, so it can be safely assumed that Parliament does exist and any constitutional laws that were established (such as the Petition of Right) would also be in effect.
    • Item One on his list of reforms was presumably "The monarch now has absolute power. The Parliament is permanently dissolved." What he was doing was as much a coup as it was a takeover.
    • It's possible Ratigan already has a majority (if not the entirety) of Parliament in his pocket, or he'd make plans to ensure that he did once he runs into the inevitable opposition.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: