Dot's voice gets slightly deeper as the series progresses, a change reflected in Wakko's Wish. This was Tress MacNeille's idea - as she thought it would be a good idea to have the Warners age and have Dot go through puberty.
The Hub adored this show more than Kids' WB!, Nickelodeon, and FOX ever did. They aired promos for it during every program on the channel including Animaniacs itself, and had constant marathons of the show whenever a holiday was near (Christmas, Martin Luther King Day, Super Bowl Sunday, and even President's Day). Not only that, the show at one point aired for three hours on weekdays. They even got Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell and Tress MacNeille to record new spots, in character as Yakko, Wakko and Dot respectively, for the show's reruns. Due to this, it gained a new generation of child fans, and parents who watched the channel say that their kids loved it even more than My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Unfortunately, after the channel became Discovery Family, the series was one of the few that was completely removed from the channel, though its predecessor Tiny Toon Adventures stuck around for the next couple of months.
GO!, an Australian family network similar to The Hub, aired this show twice in the morning, noon, and night when they had the rights. It even axed Ben 10, Tom and Jerry Tales, and the Tamagotchi anime's English dub just so they could show more Animaniacs.
Banned in China: When Boomerang UK aired the show, episode 26 was rarely run because of the people running that feed finding the "Potty Emergency" segment indecent, a fate which also befell similar episodes of shows on Turner-owned channels in the UK that still continues to this day. This was averted during the original run of the show on CITV.
The Cast Showoff: Maurice LaMarche is able to perform throat singing in the Tuvan style, but only for short durations. Since this sounded like belching, he was the one to provide all of Wakko's belches for the show. He was even asked to "belch" in key, so that they could be sampled into a keyboard patch for musical numbers (think of the pitched-up and down keyboard samples at the start of Ferris Bueller's Day Off.)
Celebrity Voice Actor: While most of the celebrities were impersonated by the cast, there were a few high-profile actors on the show.
Most notably, Bernadette Peters spoke and sung for Rita. Unfortunately, because of her high demand, this would result in her lack of appearances in the remaining three seasons.
Tom Bodett, aka the "Motel 6" guy, narrated the "Good Idea/Bad Idea" and "Mime Time" cartoons, as well as Wakko's Wish.
The iconic comedy team of Burns and Schreiber voiced Slappy's foes Sid the Squid and Beanie the Bison, respectively.
Ernie Anderson (of Ghoulardi fame), the announcer for the promos of ABC at the time, narrated the biblically-themed episodes "Guardin' the Garden" and "Noah's Lark", where he parodied his promos for Series/America's Funniest Home Videos in the former, and The Love Boat in the latter (complete with the elongated "looooooooooooove").
Ed Asner voiced the Papa Bear-esque Vern in "Garage Sale of the Century".
The late Phil Hartman played the villainous anchorman in "Broadcast Nuisance" (originally named Slam Fondlesome as a parody of Sam Donaldson, but later redubbed as the generic "Dan Anchorman").
Kenneth Mars played the noted composer and pianist ("Mmwah! Goodnight, everybody!") Beethoven in "Roll Over, Beethoven".
Harry Shearer voiced the irritated game show host Ned Flat in "Fair Game".
Ben Stein played the droning Francis "Pip" Pumphandle in "Chairman of the Bored".
Dick Button, an ice-skating analyst, provided his own voice in the wraparounds where Yakko sings all the words in the English language.
Cross-Dressing Voices: While the series mostly subverts this with young male characters, being voiced by either adult males or actual boys, most dubs play this straight. But one of the more interesting cases is that unlike most versions, Wakko in the Latin American dub is voiced by actress Giset Blanco.
Cut Song: Randy Rogel wrote a song for the show entitled "The Geologic Clock," in which Yakko sings about the history of the Earth, that ultimately went unused.
The Danza: Colin, the kid who talks about Randy Beaman, was voiced by Colin Wells.
Defictionalization: The puppets the Warner siblings use in "Lookit the Fuzzy Heads" were made into actual toys around the time the show was still airing.
Development Gag: Slappy's brief curvaceous design in the "Got Milk" parody resembles the early concept art of Minerva Mink.
Edited for Syndication: When Animaniacs aired on Nicktoons Network and Nickelodeon, the opening theme was so plastered with references to the channel (through use of redubbing and digital editing) that fans rejoiced when the DVDs of the original episodes were released.
One major edit that the Nickelodeon edit was to use one of the variable line clips, with "Nickelaney" dubbed in, for every episode.
Averted with Cartoon Network and The Hub, as both channels air the episodes exactly as they used to air on FOX and the WB and on the DVD sets.
Good luck finding a copy of the original version of "Broadcast Nuisance". Word is that Spielberg thought the Warners were way too violent and mean toward the anchorman character. Some bits that were cut included:
Yakko pieing the anchorman in the face.
A bit in which the Warners act as makeup artists and make the anchorman look like a clown.
A brief cameo by Slappy during the scene in which the Warners change the channel.
In addition, the anchorman's name was initially Slam Fondlesome (as a parody of Sam Donaldson), but parents apparently caught on, so his name was redubbed as the generic "Dan Anchorman" character.
Aside from the name change, the "William F. Yakkley" sequence (where Yakko does an impersonation of lecturer William F. Buckley Jr.) was also redubbed, since the bit originally occurred after the anchorman was given a bit of breaking news that "Slam Fondlesome is a big fat dope". So instead of discussing whether or not the anchorman is a "big fat dope" or a "big fat stinky dope", instead, they discuss the stinginess of the anchor, since he wouldn't tip them.
In the original version of the Randy Beaman sketch where Colin talks about the time Randy Beaman ate Pop Rocks and drank a soda, Colin was covering his crotch and crossing his legs, clearly having a Potty Emergency. This was changed so that he was simply standing and talking, like most of the other Randy Beaman segments.
Enforced Method Acting: Whenever Nathan Ruegger (Skippy) had to laugh as part of the script but couldn't laugh convincingly enough, his dad would come into the studio to tickle him.
Fake Brit: Wakko and Pinky both have British accents provided by American voice actors, but other than their accents, there's really nothing to indicate that they are British.
Missing Episode: Episode #55 has a chase scene bumper that's missing from the DVDs as well as reruns on The Hub. It is, however, on digital releases.
Milestone Celebration: Spoofed by the "65th Anniversary Spectacular!" Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize 1) airing in the mid-90s, it roughly corresponds to when the Back Story claims the Warners were created; 2) it is a 65th - the 65th episode; and 3) it's an actual milestone, as the first season finale.
For the show's 20th anniversary, following a 6-year gap, the fourth and final DVD set was finally released containing the remaining episodes.
The exact production order isn't clear, but the first season — which accounts for the majority of the series' run — was clearly aired out of order because some characters' introductory episodes, like Minerva Mink and Katie Ka-Boom, clearly aren't their actual first appearances. The DVD releases retained this error, leading to "Meet Minerva" not showing up until the third volume out of four.
"Taming of the Screwy" feels like a pilot episode, since it's all about establishing the Warners' personalities, and its style is much closer to Tiny Toon Adventures than Animaniacs, which you'd expect from a first attempt to write a script for a new series. But it aired as the fifth episode (the end of the first week).
Tom Ruegger's three sons each play at least one role.
Nathan Ruegger voiced Skippy Squirrel and Baby Plucky (reprising his role from Tiny Toons)
Luke Ruegger voiced The Flame, Bumpo Basset, and the Brave Little Trailer
Cody Ruegger voiced Baby Blue Bird in "The Wild Blue Yonder", "My Mother the Bird", and "Twelve Days of Christmas" The latter was merely Tom Ruegger's way of having his son sing his mangled version of the Christmas carol, by replacing all the gifts with turtledoves.
In addition, Ruegger's ex-wife, Adrienne Alexander, provided the Marlene Dietrich-esque voice of Dr. Phrankenstein in "Franken-Runt".
Colin Wells, the son of Deanna Oliver, voiced Colin, aka the "Randy Beaman Kid"
Recycled Script: The episode "Wakko at the Bat" is basically a rehashing of the Tiny Toon Adventures short "Buster at the Bat" in that it's a retelling of the poem Casey at the Bat that ends with a happy ending after a fake-out of following the original poem's Downer Ending. Ironically, the same episode featured a parody of Disney's Pocahontas called Jokahontas, which featured a musical number accusing Disney of recycling the same old stories in every movie they made that featured a female protagonist.
Role Reprise: In the German dub, the entire main German cast of Friends reprised their role for the episode Acquaintances. Furthermore, Oliver Feld reprised his role as Jerry Seinfeld.
Jamie Kellner (whom you may know as the guy who claimed watching television while skipping ads with a DVR is tantamount to stealing, as well as the guy responsible for cancelling all programming from WCW, leading to the company's bankruptcy in 2001) apparently ignored the very high ratings from older audiences while the show was on WB and found the low ratings from kids to be an excuse to cancel the show, though it shouldn't be a surprise as a lot of cartoons created by Warner Brothers at the time were canceled for similar reasons, like Freakazoid! and Road Rovers.
Series creator Tom Ruegger later confirmed that Animaniacs and several other Warner Bros. cartoons saw their cancellations in the 90s due to their higher production costs in comparison to then ratings sensation Pokémon, which was licensed to Kids WB on a discount.
The show got even worse treatment on Nickelodeon. The show was heavily edited, with the theme song being shortened (and the Couch Gag changed to simply having Dot say "Nickel-aney" in every episode), random scenes removed for time (one example was the "Can you do the funny thing?" gag in "Cutie and the Beast") and references to other networks (like the "Coming soon to Kids' WB" line in "Pinky and the Ralph") excised. And if that wasn't bad enough, the show only lasted three months in its' afternoon timeslot before being moved to 6 in the morning to make room for reruns of CatDog.
Shrug of God: There are conflicting explanations on where Skippy's parents are. "One Flew Over The Cuckoo Clock" implies that they are dead - as he's sent to a foster home when Slappy can't look after him. Slappy however appears in The Nostalgia Critic to say that she is just babysitting while his parents are away on a long trip.
So My Kids Can Watch: A variation. When the final drafts of the characters were being approved by Steven Spielberg, Mindy and Buttons were chosen by his daughter.
Unintentional Period Piece: Less so than other '90s shows, but the 1994 episode "Baloney & Kids" includes two separate references to the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding altercation from earlier that year note Though Kerrigan's stint on Dancing with the Stars and the film I, Tonya have given it renewed relevance. Moreso for the Kids' WB episodes, due to it being much heavier on the 90's pop culture references then the earlier episodes. Jokes referencing movies, TV shows, and songs at the time such as Speed, Fargo,Friends, and the Macarena didn't exactly aged well. The episode parodying American Gladiators was particularly bad about this, due to airing only a few months before the actual show was cancelled. The Beauty and the Beast parody was another noteworthy example, airing five years after the movie had come out.
The concept for the show was originally going to star a family/group of green ducks, since the baby version of Plucky Duck from Tiny Toon Adventures went over so well, but wouldn't be related to Plucky and would have nothing to do with the rest of that cast. The team eventually decided that ducks "have been done" and retooled the premise to star 1930s-style cartoon characters.
Plucky at one point was actually going to be the host of the whole show, with one draft of the show being called Plucky Duck Theater.
In the phase where the Animaniacs were going to be ducks, they consisted of three brothers - Yakky (the chatty character), Smakky (an ill-tempered character with a predilection for violence), and Wakky (the odd and energetic character). As the design evolved away from ducks, a sister (who was not named in concept art) was added to the ensemble. Yakky shared Yakko's body design, but was dressed only in a blue bow-tie, Smakky had Wacko's body and clothes (albeit with a green shirt instead of a blue one), but a sported a scowl and perpetually had his arms crossed, Wakky was a small, Dot-sized character who wore blue shorts, and Dot's design at this point included a pink blouse and a pink bow in her hair. Yakky would eventually become Yakko, with the only major change being swapping out the bow tie for a pair of brown slacks. Wakko was born from merging Wakky's personality and Smakky's character design, while Smakky was ultimately dropped as a character. Dot more or less went unchanged aside from abandoning her blouse and swapping out the bow for a flower.
According to a lost pilot that aired on Nightline on ABC back in 1991, There were still 4 siblings but with the final names Yakko, Wakko, and Dot but Smakky's name was changed to Dash at this point before being removed.
One very early idea was to have the cat and dog duo Rita and Runt act as hosts of the show, in a similar vein to The Abbot and Costello Show, with the two coming out on a stage and introducing each segment until they were scrapped as emcees and it was decided to have the Warners act as "hosts" of the program.
Pip was originally supposed to be a dog.
Minerva Mink was planned to be a blatant Marilyn MonroeExpy, and her first name was originally Marilyn. She was also originally going to be completely naked, but creators realised that was far too sexual for a children's cartoon.
Another early idea for Minerva was that she would be a Distaff Counterpart to Bugs Bunny's wit and cunning and humor.
There were some ideas for sketches that were never used.
A sketch idea about a gecko was not used but the concept later became The Iconic (Geico Gecko).
Another idea was entitled Nipsey and Russell and would've been about two rhyming raccoons that were to be based on comedian Nipsey Russell
Bossy Beaver and Doyle was another idea about construction worker beavers with the main beaver being based off of Tiny Toons artist Ken Boyer.This segment was scrapped for a few reasons one was it seemed too similar to Pinky and the Brain with the smart guy/dumb guy dynamic and that when pitching Tom Ruegger said that the main characters motivation is "to build the best damn damn" it got scrapped for that reason alone.
One crazy idea for a segment was as Tom Ruegger put it "dogs who had fleas who had dogs".
Equally crazy was a never-used character known as La Tidga, as seen here. Not even Tom Ruegger can recall exactly what the concept of her proposed segment was even supposed to be.
There were two separate ideas created by writer Deana Oliver that were combined into one. One of the ideas was called The Bungee's it was about a family that would travel using bungee cords. The other idea was called Oblivia, it would've been about a very dazed little girl, Deana then combined both of these ideas and used as a catalyst for the Mindy & Buttons segments.
Klepto Kangaroo was an idea about a kleptomaniac kangaroo in the outback who would try to stop himself from stealing from his friend Dingo Dog's many establishments, at the end of each cartoon Klepto would rob Dingo blind.
One unused idea for the series was a Soap Opera parody about amoebas called As the Petri Dish Turns.
There was an idea to use the Flea Family from the Tiny Toon Adventures episodes "Starting From Scratch" and "Flea For Your Life in there own cartoons"
Clyde & Egghead Jr. would've featured Egghead Jr from the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons going on adventures with the robot character Clyde from the Tiny Toons episode "C.L.I.D.E. and Prejudice"
One idea which became Katie Kaboom was called Tyler the Tiny Terror which would've been about a kid who threw earth shattering tantrums.
Slappy Squirrel was originally an older version of Screwy Squirrel, but the creators couldn't get the rights. Sherri Stoner liked the idea of an aged cartoon character because an aged cartoon star would know the secrets of other cartoons and "have the dirt on [them]". Sherri was also not originally going to be the voice of Slappy; it was only when she did an impression of what she felt the voice should sound like that Steven Spielberg suggested she do it.
"Yakko's Universe" was initially written with a verse describing the planets in the solar system and ending with the lyric, "It's a small world after all." This was changed not only because a song about the planets was already being conceived for the show, but they knew the Disney reference would not fly.
Creators toyed with creating a fourth Warner called Lakko - to play the Only Sane Man in the spirit of Zeppo Marx. The film for which he was developed - Wandering Warners We - never made it past the planning stages.
Zalgar from "Potty Emergency" was going to get a spin-off called Zalgar The Brain Eater, but it wound up being rejected. The pilot episode would later be folded into the Pinky and the Brain episode "Plan Brain From Outer Space".