"The same thing we do every night, Pinky — try to take over the world!"
An Animated Series about a super-intelligent, genetically-altered lab mouse who enlists his halfwit roommate (read: the other mouse in his cage) into his endless quest to Take Over the World. Each episode saw The Brain devise an elaborate, improbable scheme for world domination, only be foiled in the end due to some unforeseeable twist of fate, Pinky's bumbling or occasionally his own blundering arrogance. On one or two occasions he actually succeeded in taking over the world, but with some kind of unacceptable side-effect that sent him back to the drawing board. By contrast, many episodes had his schemes barely even getting off the ground, and the story centered around his attempts just to get the first step going.
Originally a recurring skit on Animaniacs, the characters proved hugely popular and were soon given their own show. It tried to be as keenly satirical as was possible within the format of an afternoon children's cartoon. However, this did tend to remove it uncomfortably far, at times, from the notion of world domination — one can imagine the writers scratching their heads and trying to figure out how writing a Broadway musical could possibly help The Brain take over the planet (ultimately, most of the later plots are money-making schemes meant to fund the next scheme). Though it should be noted that due to said mature humor, the WB actually gave the show a primetime slot for a time during their Sunday Night runs.
Alas, due to Executive Meddling from Steven Spielberg, the show was eventually turned into Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain — curiously premiering when several episodes of the original still had yet to air and thus briefly airing concurrently. See that page for more information.
Pinky and The Brain provides examples of:
- A comic book story features High Bar Kindergarten School's ad with the phone number 555-ACME.
- In "The Helpinki Formula", The Brain tries to sell a shrinking formula on TV. The ad gives the phone number 555-1234.
- In "But That's Not All, Folks!", The Brain's ad gives the phone number 555-0179.
- Accidental Art: Brain's plan is to become a famous artist (which he intends to do by predicting the next artistic fad: Donutism), this fails but Pinky attempts to drink the contents of Brain's brush jar (a milk carton) and promptly spits it out onto a canvas. Cue this trope.
- Acme Products: Most notably the Acme Bagel Warmer and Gene Splicer, with which Pinky and The Brain were created. They live in the Acme Labs, too.
- Acting Unnatural: In the Christmas Episode, the duo hide themselves in Santa's reindeer team, wearing antlers on their heads. The Brain tells Pinky to just act natural. Cue Pinky moving erratically, singing, laughing, and making his usual Verbal Tics.The Brain: Pinky! Not that natural!
- Aesop Amnesia: A lot of Brain's plans might have succeeded if he could learn to ignore Pinky's stupidity instead of getting angry about it.
- After the End: The setting of the comic book story "Mad Mouse: Lab Warrior".
- All Just a Dream: "Pinky and the Brainmaker" and "You'll Never Eat Food Pellets in This Town Again" both end with the revelation that Brain only dreamed the events of the episodes.
- All-Knowing Singing Narrator: Pinky attempts this in "Brainy Jack" but Brain tells him to stop.
- Ambiguous Syntax: The Expository Theme Tune declares that "one is a genius, the other's insane". While at first glance one might assume that Brain is the genius and Pinky is insane, this is never actually stated. (Although the imagery of that line is accompanied by the Brain wearing a graduation cap and writing a formula on the blackboard, and Pinky jumping around while wearing a straitjacket.)
- Amusing Injuries: "Be quiet, Pinky, or I shall have to hurt you." It was usually The Brain who got hurt. "This is a pain that's going to linger."
- Anachronism Stew: The comic book story "Little Big Brain" is set in The Wild West, but the Indian lodge contains pinball machines, a bowling alley, a dart board, a pool table, a bar and a barbecue grill.
- And I'm the Queen of Sheba: In one Animaniacs comic story, a security guard responds to Brain telling him that he and Pinky are lab mice trying to take over the world with "Yeah, and I'm Bugs Bunny".
- Animal Testing: Pinky and the Brain are themselves a product of testing and research, and act with levels of freedom ranging from 'escaping every night' to 'practically running the labs'. Animal Testing here is more of the back story; it can become a rare plot device, an artifact of the backstory, or what they're doing in the story itself. They also end up encountering an Animal Wrongs Group and vainly try to tell them that they're genuine lab mice—as in not able to survive in the wilderness. Notably, at least one of the animals to have had their intelligence increased (a cat) expresses bitterness at having her old life taken away. Pinky, the Brain and Snowball, however, seem fine with it.
- Animal Wrongs Group: In "Welcome to the Jungle", a group of them "liberate" the duo and return them to their "natural habitat", the jungle, by throwing them out of a plane, because mice can fly.
- Animation Bump:
- Anti-Hero: Brain is constantly trying to Take Over the World — hardly heroic — but he is good-natured (when not hurting Pinky) and truly believes that the world would be a better, happier place if he was in charge; this is justified by portraying real world's leaders as either egotistic, incompetent or plain crazy (or all at once). Also compare to his archrival Snowball, a sadistic villain whom Brain believed would destroy the world if he ruled it.
- Anti-Villain: Brain, if you interpret him as a Villain Protagonist, though he really blurs the line between this and Anti-Hero. After all, the rest of the world is portrayed as so messed up and idiotic, him taking it over might actually lead to some form of utopia.
- Applied Mathematics: The Brain once tries to mathematically deduce the reason his plans usually fail. He ends up with a portrait of Pinky. Pinky later corrects a few points on the graph, and it ends up as a portrait of Brain.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Applied liberally with tongue lodged firmly in cheek.
- Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: Trope Namer.
- After years of playing it straight, it was "capped" by being played with in the episode "Brain Food":Brain: Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?
Pinky: Whoof, oh, I'd have to say the odds of that are terribly slim Brain.
Pinky: I mean, really, when have I ever been pondering what you've been pondering?
Brain: To my knowledge, never.
Pinky: Exactly. So, what are the chances that this time, I'm pondering what you're pondering?
Brain: Next to nil.
Pinky: Well, that's exactly what I'm thinking, too.
Brain: Therefore, you are pondering what I'm pondering.
Pinky: Poit, I guess I am!
- There was also a gag one time where Pinky accurately guessed "try to Take Over the World," but mistakenly changed to Bingo when Brain affirms it by saying bingo.
- After years of playing it straight, it was "capped" by being played with in the episode "Brain Food":
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In "The Pink Candidate", the Brain is charged with "sedition, abuse of power, and shoplifting".
- Artistic License Physics: Obviously this comes up a lot because the show is a cartoon, but one episode is especially notable because it's unclear whether this trope is in effect, Cartoon Physics, or Brain's Insane Troll Logic. Brain needs to reduce the weight of the Earth, so his plan is to convince everyone on Earth to put helium in their shoes. This fails on at least two levels: Firstly, things float when they displace air or water equal to their mass, meaning that the weight applied to the ground would be balanced out by increased air pressure. Secondly, even if helium DID magically make things lighter without an equal and opposite reaction, then whatever container the helium was currently being held in would become heavier as the people became lighter.
- Art Shift: Both stories in Issue 18 of the comic book are drawn in a manga-esque style.
- Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: Used in "Welcome to the Jungle".Snowball: Nice try, Brain, but I don't need your— [falls down a waterfall] Help!
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Hilariously, Pinky seems to be considered this in-universe. For example:
- In "A Little Off the Top" (a spoof of the story of Samson), Pinky dresses up as Delilah to, er, distract Samson.
- In "My Feldmans, My Friends", Pinky and the Brain have to pose as a married couple to fool their next-door neighbor. Cue said neighbor falling in love with "Mrs. Feldman"
- In the comic story "The 7th Wife of Henry VIII", Pinky is chased by several unwanted suitors throughout the story while posing as Brain's handmaid.
- Baby's First Words: In "Brinky", the Brain tries to get Roman Numeral One to speak and is confused at why he is not speaking in Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness due to being a clone of him (not realising that Pinky interfered with the cloning process). He tries to teach Roman to say "neurofibromatosis", but Roman says "Narf!" instead.
- Bad Future: Played with in Issue 3 of the comic - while things don't seem too bad under Brain's rule, the humans are not happy, to the point where they send a Verminator robot back in time to kill Brain.
- Bankruptcy Barrel: In the episode "Calvin Brain", one of the models at the fashion show Pinky and Brain go to in order to showcase Brain's mind-controlling perfume Subjugation is shown to be wearing nothing but a barrel.
- Baseball Episode: "Pinky at the Bat" has Brain try to manage a baseball team as the cover for his latest world domination scheme.
- Behemoth Battle: In the episode "Tokyo Grows", Brain attempts to take over Tokyo by disguising Pinky as the giant monster Gollyzilla, turning him into a giant with a reversed Shrink Ray, and then turning himself giant too and saving the city by fighting Pinky. Hilarity Ensues when the real Gollyzilla shows up and Brain fights him instead of Pinky.
- Big Guy, Little Guy: Brain is the little to Pinky's big, being much shorter than him, although he has a larger head.
- Bilingual Bonus: Pinky and The Brain's cage in "Tokyo Grows" has a water bottle that is a) full of yellow liquid, and b) marked Sake. (Explains a lot, don't it?)
- Biting-the-Hand Humor:
- "You'll Never Eat Food Pellets Again!" See trivia.
- "A Meticulous Analysis of History" has a quick aside joke by Pinky after Brain mentions attempting to win over the media through TV when he says "The TV viewers you'll delight // Unless the network puts your show on Sunday night!" while showing an analog timer on the screen. This is a self-Take That! at the tried and failed attempt at capturing an adult audience through a Sunday night time slot during the show's first season, directly referencing the show that ended up causing the attempt to backfire.
- The entire episode "Pinky and The Brain... and Larry" was one big take that against the Kids WB network execs, who kept demanding that the show add a third character to the show, despite Pinky and The Brain being pretty explicitly a comedy duo who would gain nothing from a third character. To illustrate this, they made an episode where a third mouse named Larry appears, and the other two act as if he has always been there (he's even added to the theme song). Most of the episode's humor comes from the fact that Larry seems incredibly out of place and unnecessary to the plot, and that he keeps trying to insert himself into gags and situations where he adds nothing. Either the execs didn't get the joke, or they did and decided to take revenge on the writers, because a year later a third character (Elmyra) was forced on the show, leading to a unintentional version of the awkwardness seen in the Larry episode, and then cancellation.
- Black-and-Gray Morality: Snowball vs. Brain. While it's clear that taking over the world isn't exactly a benevolent action, it's made clear that Brain at least has good intentions in his plans for world domination and that Snowball is worse than Brain.
- Bland-Name Product: In the Christmas Special comic, Santa mentions Narisko and the Feebler Elves, both stand-ins for Nabesco and the Keebler Elves.
- In Issue 3, Pinky finds a Butt-Master (referencing the Thigh Master) while looking for the blueprints for the Verminator.
- In Issue 8, Brain breaks into Microstomp Headquarters.
- In Issue 23, Pinky buys some Brine Monkeys, a reference to Sea Monkeys.
- Bob Ross Rib: Bob Ross is seen on the TV adding a meteor to a painting. This meteor would be important later.
- Borrowing the Beatles: In "All You Need is Narf", Pinky's Simple-Minded Wisdom has him confused for a guru when he and Brain are in India to collect sandalwood. They become especially popular with The Feebles, a Beatles Expy that Pinky happens to be a fan of. When they begin to get in the way of the plan by booking a 6-month sit-in, Brain meets the tone-deaf singer Yoko Nono and pairs her with Jim Lemon, the John Lennon stand-in, leading to the band's break-up.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In "It's Only a Paper World":Happy Bob the Painter: And with the happy little brush, maybe paint a happy little cloud in the happy little sky. Maybe a happy little bluebird on a happy little branch and a happy little meteor, like the meteor that's about to decimate our happy little Earth.
- Breaking the Bonds: The Brain manages this in the episode "Welcome to the Jungle".
- Breakout Character: While Animaniacs was always intended to be a series of shorts with many different characters, the incredible popularity of the Pinky and the Brain shorts led to them appearing in significantly more episodes than the other skits. They were also the only ones to spin-off into their own show.
- Brick Joke:
- In "Das Mouse" Pinky says that they'll reach the hull of the Titanic before Brain can say "POIT!", Brain replies drily that they'll reach Mars before he says "poit". Much, much later in the episode Brain is found, after a depth charge attack, bobbing up and down in the water upside down by his oversized head. Pinky asks him if he's all right and he yells, "POOOIIIIIT!!".
- In "But That's Not All Folks", the President of the United States tries to order "a Good Old Boy Pizza with extra pork rinds", but the telephone circuits are overloading because everyone in the world was calling in to order the Brain's "Miracle Product". In the end, after the usual "They're dinky, they're Pinky and the Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain", the President can be heard asking, "Where's my pizza?"
- In "TV or Not TV", Pinky mentions "I know how you can get on the cover of Peeple: marry Prince Charles!". So when Brain decides to appear in said magazine, he calls Buckingham Palace to hypnotize Lady Di and warrant a cover.
- British Royal Guard: Pinky and The Brain had to tip one over (cow tipping) to get into a club. The guard falls like a tree.
- Burger Fool: In the comic story "World Domination to go", Pinky and Brain get jobs at burger joint Da Burger in order to get their hands on the grease they need for Brain's newest plot.
- The Cameo:
- Dot appears in "The Third Mouse" and "Pinkasso". All three of the Warners appear as giant statues in "Plain Brain from Outer Space".
- Hello Nurse appears on a magazine cover in "Brain of the Future".
- Bugs Bunny and Babs and Buster Bunny are pulled out of a hat by Mephistopheles in the comic story "Faust Things Faust", and Chicken Boo makes a brief appearance being chased by hunters in "Clan of the Cave Mice".
- The Goodfeathers makes a brief appearance in Issue 14, with Pesto taking offence at Brain's comments.
- Wakko makes a brief appearance in "Fantastic Voyage to the Bottom of the President's Brain" to give a Rimshot to Brain's Incredibly Lame Pun.
- Slappy Squirrel briefly appears in "Stunted Publicity" to comment on Pinky and Brain's attention-getting stunt.
- Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: Brain insults Pinky frequently and takes every opportunity possible to bop him with whatever solid object is convenient, but should Pinky wind up missing or genuinely hurt, Brain truly feels bad for his companion. In the Halloween episode, Pinky gives himself up to a malicious supernatural entity so that Brain can take over the world, and Brain gives it all up in order to get Pinky back.
- Cartoony Tail: The Brain has a tail like a real mouse, except it is kinked in a way that it looks like stair steps.
- Cassandra Truth: A rare example where this usually works in the protagonist's favor. The Brain is quite open about being a lab mouse out for global domination, but as people tend to think he's joking, speaking in metaphors or just being delusional, they usually just shake their heads and let him carry on with whatever he was doing.
- Catchphrase: "Same thing we do every night", "Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?", "YES!", "Narf!/Poit!/Zort!/Troz!", others.
- Cats Are Mean: In the Faust retelling, Mephistopheles is portrayed as a large red cat.
- Centrifugal Farce: Pinky and the Brain were put into one in the episode "Where No Mouse Has Gone Before".
- Chained to a Railway: Parodied in "Cinebrainia", where Brain's first attempt at filmmaking had Pinky play a villain tying a doll to railroad tracks.
- Chew-Out Fake-Out: Happens in the episode "Das Mouse" when Jack Maguire appears to reprimand a man for cheering the destruction of Pinky and the Brain's submarine.Jack Maguire: I never take pleasure in the demise of another man.... [smiles] Usually!
- Christmas Episode: "A Pinky and the Brain Christmas", where Brain tried to take over the world by tricking Santa into manufacturing his Noodle Noggin dolls (which were actually hypnotic devices in disguise) and distributing them to every home in the world.
- Clip Show: "Schpiel-borg 2000" starts off as this, with clips of every time Pinky and Brain saying their catchphrases.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Pinky. In particular, he has a tendency to bring up celebrities at random:Pinky: What's the plan, Brain?
Brain: Uh... guess.
Pinky: All right. Um, are we going to... Take Debbie Allen hostage, depriving all of humanity of enjoyable choreographed production numbers?
Brain: Hmm. Nope. Guess again.
Pinky: Are we going to... Oh. Create a riot by forcing people to listen to the touchy-feely Mandy Patinkin?
Brain: No. Guess again.
Pinky: Hmm. I got it. Use the talents of Paul Anka and Carrot Top to stage the comeback of the lovable TV genius Jamie "Klinger" Farr.
Brain: Come now, Pinky, let's remain within the realm of possibility.
- Cockroaches Will Rule the Earth: "Brain of the Future" has them travel in time to the far future when anthropomorphic cockroaches rule the world under a cockroach queen.
- Companion Cube:
- Pinky's "sister" from "The Family That Poits Together Narfs Together" is an empty wooden thread-spool.
- Also from "Your Never Eat Food Pellets in This Town Again", there's Pinky's wife Margret. Every time someone brings her up, Brain points out that Margret is Pinky's sock puppet, to which the response is a flat, "Yes?"
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Averted. Once per Episode, Pinky will point out a glaring flaw in Brain's plan. While most of the time, Brain has already thought of and accounted for it, there are other times when Brain will simply dismiss it as this trope; in the latter case, it's usually an accurate prediction of the reason for Brain's downfall.
- Continuity Nod: Every now and then somebody will recognize Brain and mention a scheme from a previous episode. In "The Pink Candidate", a Congressional investigation unearths Brain's plans for world domination, and every one is the plot from a previous episode; similarly, the episode "Brain Drained" began with a reference to the first episode after spinning off from Animaniacs.
- In the comic book story "Faust Things Faust", King Henry the Eighth appears as a member of the Jury of the Damned and says "I nearly married a naked mouse!", referencing the earlier story "The 7th Wife of Henry the 8th".
- In Issue 19, the prizes offered by "Uncle Brain" for selling cards are references to previous comic stories. In order, they are:
- An Indian outfit (referencing "Little Big Brain").
- A monster truck (referencing "The Mean, Green Monster Brain Machine" from the 16th issue of the Animaniacs comic).
- A 16th century lute (referencing "The 7th Wife of Henry the Eighth").
- A motion picture camera (referencing the comic book story "Plan Brain From Outer Space").
- A Faustian chemistry set (referencing "Faust Things Faust").
- A real dinosaur bone (referencing "Clan of the Cave Mice").
- A bottle of spaghetti sauce (referencing "I, Brainus").
- A pro-type junior harpoon (referencing "Moby Dinky").
- An all-purpose electro magnetic subatomic ethereal particle collector (referencing "Hex Breaker").
- And a giant ball of tin foil (referencing "Hades Ladies").
- Contrived Coincidence: In the comic book story "Brinky 1/2", Pinky and Brain accidentally fall into a cursed pool which merges them into one martial artist, with hot liquids turning them into Pinky and cold ones turning them into Brain. As luck would have it, they happen to participate in a martial arts competition in a dojo staffed by the world's clumsiest vendors
- Couch Gag: Each episode's end credits includes a long word and its definition, so that you can speak with Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness just like Brain!
- Creative Sterility: Seems to be a pet worry of Brain's, that his genius can't go anywhere without a good plan or idea. But, as he's goal-oriented, he'll put his ego and pride aside to ride off of one of Pinky's ideas (and at one point actively solicits them, pretending that he already has one and having Pinky guess what it is).
- Crossover: With Animaniacs and Freakazoid!.
- Crying Indian: When Pinky and Brain try to pass themselves off as an endangered species, a propaganda ad is shown with Brain looking over the city of Pittsburgh and shedding a tear.
- Curse Cut Short:
Pinky: But where will we go and what will we do?
- An ending that parodied Gone with the Wind in "The Megalomaniacal Adventures of Brainie the Poo":
Brain: Frankly my dear Pinky, I don't give a—
Dinky, they're Pinky—
Brain: Yes! I made it to Hades! Wait a minute, why am I celebrating if I'm in He— [trap door opens]— EEEEEEEEEL!
- In "A Pinky and the Brain Halloween," shortly after he tells the clerk in front of the infernal entrance that he's a recently deceased Rush Limbaugh:
- Cutaway Gag: The Christmas Episode features these in the form of the Brain as a mall Santa and himself and Pinky marketing themselves as popular toys. Pinky also mentions them traveling back in time to Bethlehem before the Brain moves the episode along.
- Dastardly Whiplash: Spoofed in the episode "Cinebrainia".
- Dead Artists Are Better: The episode "Pinkasso" is about Pinky becoming a star artist for his Jackson Pollack-like paintings, then pretending he died. Then, rich people will pay much more money for his art, as part of Brain's money making scheme.
- Deadpan Snarker: Brain isn't above making snide remarks about Pinky's stupidity, often not caring if his statements fly over Pinky's head.
- Deal with the Devil:
- In "A Pinky and the Brain Halloween", a man named Mr. Itch, who is later revealed to be the devil himself, offers Brain to finally achieve his goal to rule the world in exchange for his soul. When Brain refuses, Pinky offers his soul instead.
- In one story from the comics, Brain tells Pinky a version of Faust where Brain/Faust sells his soul to Mephistopheles in exchange for the ultimate knowledge.
- Demonic Possession: In the comic story "Hex Breaker", Pinky is possessed by a demon Brain captured to use in one of his plans. The demon possesses Brain at the end of the story.
- Deranged Animation: The show becomes completely derailed for one episode in which a spaceman wants to eat people's brains. His sidekick spends the entire episode with a giant bite taken out of his skull, and every background is a masterpiece of surrealism. It's just one episode of deranged, drugged-out insanity that makes no sense. According to one of the writers, that episode was originally supposed to be a Poorly Disguised Pilot for a show starring the brain-eating villain; but it turned out so poorly that it was drastically re-written, re-cut and re-recorded at the last minute, resulting in a lot of weirdness.
- Dinky Drivers: in "Opportunity Knox", Brain controls the steering wheel of a van with pulleys while Pinky operates the pedals. (In later episodes, he wires the pedals into the pulleys, or uses a scaled-down driver's seat.)
- Disguised in Drag: Pinky does this frequently, the Brain less so. An example of this is "Whatever Happened to Baby Brain?", where the Brain disguises himself as a cute little girl, and Pinky acts as "her" mother.
- Disney Acid Sequence: The musical number in "Just Say Narf" features warped and improbable imagery.
- Distaff Counterpart: Billie looks like a female version of Pinky, is just as ditzy — and Brain has a crush on her. Make of that what you will. Though her personality and squawky voice are closer to Susan Alexander-Kane.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "Brinky", The Brain attempts to clone himself, which almost works until Pinky's DNA (from a clipped toenail) accidentally gets combined with Brain's, thus essentially making them parents of the resulting clone (and Pinky calling himself the clone's "mommy"). Most of the dialogue during the cloning process is scripted like an actual birth: for example, when the door on the cloning machine won't close (which is the reason Pinky's DNA is even in there), The Brain tells Pinky to help him "push", complete with Pinky doing Lamaze breathing.
- In Issue 16 of the comic, Brain's attempt to get Pinky to come back to him after an argument is portrayed as if he were trying to win back a lover, complete with flowers, chocolates and poetry.
- Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: "Brain Storm" is about Brain's attempt to harness a tornado for his latest scheme to take over the world. This trope is mostly in effect, although they are occasionally battered by a piece of flying debris (cow, pig, tractor...) because of Rule of Funny.
- Down on the Farm: "Brain Acres" has Pinky, the Brain, and a mutant carrot named Maurice move to a farm to grow Brain's genetically enhanced vegetables.
- Dreadful Musician: Yoko Ono Expy Yoyo Nono in "All You Need Is Narf".
- Drunk on Milk:
- Alluded to (in a non-Drowning My Sorrows way) in "Brain's Song":Brain: I see someone had too much Shasta on the plane.
- And "This Old Mouse" has Brain drowning his sorrows in... water from the cage water bottle.Pinky: Um... Brain... d-don't you think maybe you've had enough to drink?
Brain: Nag, nag, nag, just leave me be!
- Alluded to (in a non-Drowning My Sorrows way) in "Brain's Song":
- Dumbass Has a Point: Sometimes, Pinky will actually ask a logical question about the possible flaws in Brain's schemes (like the time in "Of Mouse and Man" when he points out that the plan is technically illegal). Usually, it's something Brain has already thought of and planned for, but in the Don Quixote episode, Pinky asks "Why would Sophia Loren do a musical?", and Brain calls it "a worthy conundrum".
- Dumb Is Good: Pinky, though his morality sticks even when he's not "dumb" due to events.
- Early Installment Weirdness: In the Animaniacs segments, especially earlier on, Brain's megalomania is more apparent and he's barely tolerating of Pinky compared to later, even using him for labor. Pinky is less capable (a minion in the traditional sense) and far more likely to goof off, playing into the "insane" part of the theme song. There's some Vocal Evolution as well.
- Earpiece Conversation: In "The Pink Candidate" and "Pinky's Turn", Brain uses communications technology and orders Pinky to repeat what he says when Pinky lucks his way into a position of power.
- Educational Song: Probably the most extreme example in a children's show.
- Egopolis: Brain tries it a few times. He gets his own island country in a bid for US foreign aid, naming it Brainania. When he does end up in control of the Earth — by making a duplicate out of papier-mâché and convincing everyone else to go there with free t-shirts — he renames the original Earth "Brainus", presumably following the pattern of either Venus or Uranus. The new planet, on the other hand, was Chia Earth.
- Elseworld: Various episodes would arbitrarily plunk the eponymous duo down in different historical eras, including the twenties, thirties, fifties, sixties, seventies, Napoleonic, medieval and biblical ages, among others. As the show tended towards Negative Continuity, no explanation was ever needed or given.
- E = MC Hammer:
- The intro to the series has a scene where Brain is writing his "theory of everything" on a chalkboard, which is basically a bunch of pseudo-mathematical mumbo-jumbo, including "THX=1138".
- Spoofed in another episode which has Brain reveal that his latest plan to take over the world was hinged on an equation he had just uncovered. Pinky asks him if it is something complicated like E=mc2, and Brain replies that it is in fact even simpler, just E.
- Enemy Mine: In the comic book story "Pinky Mon Amour", Snowball and Brain are forced to team up in order to sabotage the growing relationship between Pinky and Snowball's sister Cupcake.
- Episode Title Card: Sometimes used, but more often the episode's title would just appear over the beginning of the actual episode.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Although the Brain isn't evil, he definitely has standards as to what he will and will not consider when it comes to taking over the world. For example, he could have achieved world conquest through selling cigarettes to children, but the idea completely repulsed him.
- Every Episode Ending: The episodes ended with this exchange, or a slight variation on it:Brain: "We must return to the lab and prepare for tomorrow night."
Pinky: "Why, Brain? What are we going to do tomorrow night?"
Brain: "The same thing we do every night, Pinky: try to Take Over the World!"
- Evil Brit: Snowball speaks with a British accent. It helps that his voice actor was the late Roddy McDowall.
- Evil vs. Evil: The battles between Snowball and the Brain could be interpreted this way, since either way you slice it, plotting to take over the world doesn't necessarily make you a good guy.
- Evolutionary Levels: In "Leave It to Beavers".
- Exact Words: Brain uses this to get himself out of a jam in the comic story "The Mouse Who Would Be King". Prior to performing his first "miracle", he claims that he will turn the Nile blood-red - when the Pharaoh accuses him of lying, as the water hasn't turned to blood, he quickly points out that he said blood-red (as in the colour of blood), adding that if he had turned it into real blood, there'd be a huge crocodile problem.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:
Pinky: I'm a mommy, I'm a mommy!
- In the episode "Brinky", Pinky's genetic material accidentally gets introduced into Brain's cloning experiment, essentially resulting in their having a child together.
Brain: Pinky, that's absurd! You are nothing of the kind. Its chromosomal makeup just happens to include both of our genetic building blo— AAAAAAH!! ...Oh my Lord, you are its mommy.
- From the first part of the "Brainwashed" trilogy, the duo are in an elevator, when balloon animals (filled with ether) suddenly drop down and begin to inflate.Brain: That's odd... They're expanding. Must be filled with some sort of... Gas! Pinky, it's a trap!
- In "Leggo My Ego", Brain's plot involves hypnotizing Sigmund Freud by using mirrored glasses, and Pinky brings along a pair of googly-eye glasses. When he tries to cheer someone up in the waiting room using his googly-eye glasses, they have this exchange.Franz Josef: But all I see is my own dreary, sad little sad face.
Pinky: Poit! These aren't my googly-eye glasses! These are mirrored gla—(gasp)
- Expospeak Gag: Often with Brain. A notable example from when Brain becomes a ski instructor:Brain: Today, I will instruct you in the mastery of inertia re-establishment utilizing weight distribution through metatarsal manipulation.
Student: You mean stopping?
Brain: Yes. But when I say it, it sounds groovy.
- Expository Theme Tune: "They're Pinky and The Brain! Yes, Pinky and The Brain! One is a genius, the other's insane! To prove their mouse-y worth, they'll overthrow the earth! They're dinky, they're Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain!"
- Failure Is the Only Option: Essential, since Status Quo Is God, given Brain's radical schemes. However, there have been a couple of episodes where they do take over the world, but a twist always has them starting over again.
- Fantastic Racism: Brain shows shades of this towards Pinky and Pharfignewton, the only reasoning he gives for their relationship not working out being that they are two different species.
- "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: Done in the three-part episode "Brainwashed". The first part has them travel inside Tom Bodett's body while he's recording dialogue for a Good Idea, Bad Idea segment to try and gain control of his voice, while the third and final part had them end up inside Bobby Bob while intending to get inside one of the members of Swedish music group Baab and having to use him to thwart Precious' plan.
- In the comic book story "Fantastic Voyage to the Bottom of the President's Brain", Pinky and Brain try to shoot themselves into President Lyndon Johnson's brain as part of their latest plot, but accidentally shoot themselves into his dog instead.
- Fat and Skinny: Brain and Pinky, respectively.
- Fearsome Critters of American Folklore: In "Where the Deer and the Mousealopes Play", Brain and Pinky put on fake antlers and pretend that they are the last "mousealopes" in a scheme to take over Pittsburgh.
- Fire and Brimstone Hell: Hell as seen in the Halloween special is no different from its usual depiction. Fire everywhere and all that.
- First-Person Perspective: In the episode "The Pinky P.O.V.", which naturally takes place entirely through Pinky's eyes. It even explains a few of his oddities, like exactly how Pinky comes up with his answer to Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering? (short answer: a very random Imagine Spot) and why Pinky fails to remember what he and Brain do every night (when Brain says "Try to Take Over the World," Pinky only hears a very dramatic "Blah Blah Blah").
- Flat-Earth Atheist: In the Christmas Episode, Brain presents an interesting case. He flat-out tells Pinky that writing a letter to Santa Claus is "silly" and "stupid" and says that he keeps his Christmas spirit "right next to my Bigfoot photos." This despite the fact that he knows for a fact that Santa exists, because his whole plan to Take Over the World depends on infiltrating the North Pole and tricking Santa into building and distributing his Mind-Control Device toys. Though he may actually be referring to the notion rather than the logic; he simply finds writing Santa a letter incredibly pointless due to the impracticality rather than futility. To be fair, it's not likely that Pinky and the Brain are on Santa's "Good" list.
- "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: In the episode "That Smarts", Brain makes Pinky more intelligent after calculating that Pinky's stupidity is the reason his plans for world domination always fail. Pinky deliberately makes himself a nitwit again because he's upset at Brain resenting him for now being smarter than he is, but Brain unfortunately made himself stupid to restore the balance and was unaware of Pinky having the same idea.
- Follow That Car: In "Brain Noir", Brain flags down a cab to follow Snowball. The cab stops directly on top of him. Pinky then tells the cabbie to "Follow that car!" and the cab takes off without either of them.
- For Want of a Nail: "TV or Not TV" has Brain unwillingly causing the failure of his plan. First, he makes the TV executive laugh so hard he falls off his chair. He's cured through hypnosis, where the word "repugnant" both stops and triggers the pain. Unfortunately, that word is Brain's Insult Comic Catchphrase, with a taping of his show causing enough pain to make the executive fall off the window. Once Brain visits, he is kicked out...making the hypnotic dentures fall off and be caught by two failed comedians.
- Fountain of Youth: Brain's scheme of the week in Issue 52 of the Animaniacs comic. He and Pinky suffer this when Pinky accidentally causes the age-regressing potion to spill on them.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- "I forced you to use the still frame on your VCR."
- The opening has two hidden messages that zoom by: "Don't tell Brain I hid this secret message. Ha ha Narf!" and "I knew about your silly secret message, Pinky."
- Friendly Tickle Torture: In "Big In Japan", Pinky is seen playing with a "Tickle-Me Herbert" doll, a parody of the Tickle-Me-Elmo doll. Later in the episode, he uses this tactic to defeat a sumo wrestler.
- Fridge Logic: Invoked by Pinky in his responses to the Brain's Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?.Pinky: I think so, Brain, but if Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why does he keep doing it?
- Frivolous Lawsuit:
- In one episode, Brain tries to get money for a plan by getting a job and fake an accident to sue his employer for.
- In Issue #43 of the Animaniacs comics, the Brain gets money by suing a tobacco company in spite of the fact he and Pinky don't smoke. Brain claims "the law has nothing to do with the facts".
- Funny Foreigner: Mr. Sultana Sultana is very eccentric and speaks with an accent.
- Funny X-Ray: In the opening sequence, the two title characters walk by an X-ray machine. Brain has gears inside his head, while Pinky has a peanut.
- Fun with Acronyms: The experiment that brought Pinky and the Brain their intelligence was called "Project B.R.A.I.N.", which stands for "Biological Recombinant Algorithmic Intelligence Nexus". When the two scientists fail to impress the committee (Pinky could only say "NARF!" in their presence, and the Brain had been trapped in a sensory deprivation tank for so long he temporarily became primal), the boss cancels the funds for the project and moves the scientists to "Project P.H.L.E.E.M."Unnamed scientist: What's that?
Boss: We don't know yet, we just have the initials.
Toby: Oh... I thought that was how that worked.
- Also, in "Das Mouse", Pinky's innocent "Narf!" gets interpreted as "Nuclear Attack Readiness Formation" by a paranoid military, incidentally ruining another perfect plan.
- Furry Female Mane: Mousey Galore is a straight example, but Billie subverts this by having a large, stylish cowlick of fur.
- Gagging on Your Words: At one point, Brain finds the need to ask Pinky how he (Brain) can be more like him (Pinky), and notes that "...the words are hot in my throat..."
- Genius Loci: The closest Brain ever gets to conquering the world is when he and Pinky give the Earth itself the power of speech and befriend it. Thanks to their newfound ability to manipulate the Earth, Pinky and the Brain easily cow the nations of the world into submission. It's pretty hard to resist an Evil Overlord with the power to drag your entire country into the sea. Unfortunately for the Brain, he manages to make it angry at him, and... suffice to say, his plan falls apart after that. Though according to the ending, he may have better luck with the moon.
- Genius Serum: In one episode, Brain at one point makes a calculation that shows it's always through Pinky's idiocy that his schemes fail, so he uses an intelligence-enhancing device to make Pinky smarter. Pinky uses this newfound intellect to point out that it's Brain's nonsensical plans that are doomed to fail in the first place.
- Gesundheit: Pinky's response to Auf Wiedershen.
- Get It Over With: Episode "Snowball", Brain's utterly defeated. His intended last words: "Well, go on; end it now!" as he faces down a pack of alley cats.
- Giant Food: "Brain Acres" had Brain breed giant vegetables.
- Giant Mecha: The Brain at one point built a mechanical suit, quite strong and durable. It became a semi-recurring prop once the series started. And then his arch-rival got in on the act. Giant Mecha battling for the fate of the world! Because they are mice, the "Giant Mecha" are equivalent in size to a six-foot tall human.
- Glurge: Invoked and parodied in "Brain's Song", where Brain's plot is to make a film so heartbreaking that the population of Earth will be too busy crying to rebel against him. It's about a football player named Brain Piccadilly who finds himself unable to play the game anymore, and by the end of the film, it's just a shot of Piccadilly lying in bed as Pinky narrates on loop on what a sad story it is.
- Go Mad from the Isolation: Happened in a much briefer way than usual to Brain. After getting trapped in a sensory deprivation chamber not long after being made intelligent, the isolation made him feral just long enough that the scientists responsible for his intelligence believed their efforts has only produced a mouse that could say "Narf!"
- Gone Horribly Right: One of Brain's plans involves using a time machine to advance mice beyond humans by beating them to some major scientific development. He eventually succeeds... but the cave-mice whom he taught were a bunch of annoying Pinky-clones, and the inhabitants of the resultant Mouse World are all annoying duplicates of Pinky. Brain then goes to Set Right What Once Went Wrong; when Pinky points out that Brain could easily rule the world they're leaving behind, Brain simply responds, "But who would want to?"
- Grand Finale: "Star Warners", a Whole Plot Reference to the original Star Wars trilogy. Featuring guest appearances by most of the Animaniacs characters, as well as a cameo by Freakazoid, Mo-Ron/Bo-Ron and Fanboy. As a trivia note, this episode also aired the same day as the final episode of Animaniacs.
- Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Whenever Pinky and the Brain end up falling, they're guaranteed to experience a lot of pain.
- Halloween Episode: Pinky sells his soul to The Devil to make Brain ruler of the world. Brain later goes to hell to get Pinky - not to get him back, though. Just so he can tell him where the food pellets are.
- Hitchhiker's Leg: In "Brain Storm", The Brain attempts to hitch a lift while wearing a Verkimer Suit by hitching the metal on its leg in a parody of Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night. Unsurprisingly, it fails.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Brain says this almost word-for-word in "Brain Noir when he get affected by a model of his hat shrinking machine.Brain: The irony of it all, hoisted by my own Fedora-Matic!
- Hypocritical Humor:Brain: Here I am, working hard to take over the world so that all mankind will worship the glory of me, and you're just thinking about yourself.
- I Am Not Weasel: Pinky and the Brain are mice, not rats. Also, in the Star Wars episode when Brain assumes the role of R2-D2, everyone keeps calling him things other than a robot, like a refrigerator or a talking garbage can.
- I Am One of Those, Too: In "My Feldmans, My Friends", the Brain attempts to persuade his neighbor that "Mr The Brain" was his high school nickname by inserting his picture into a high school yearbook. The high school he picks happens to be the one his neighbor attended, so Brain is left trying to convince his neighbor that they were, in fact, classmates.
- I Am Spartacus: In "The Pink Candidate", President Pinky had volunteered to come before Congress to testify during the impeachment of his chief of staff, the Brain. Rather than leave his friend to a horrible fate (and over Brain's objection), Pinky breaks down and admits that he was the world conquest mastermind, not Brain. Including wailing 'I'm Spartacus!'. (One Congressman is heard after asking 'Who's Spartacus?'.)
- Ignored Epiphany: In "Leggo My Ego", Sigmund Freud determines through hypnotism that Brain's desire to rule the world was actually created in him subversively and accidentally by the scientists at his lab. What Brain really wanted was to go back to his family, who lived in a can with a picture of the world on it. But his mind was warped by the experimentation to the point that all he could remember was his desire for the image. Brain considers the possibility, but ultimately dismisses Freud as a quack and goes on as planned.
- I Lied: From the conclusion of "Brainwashed".Pinky: Snowball wait, you said you promised to change your evil ways.
Snowball: And you believed me?
- I'm Alive: In "Snowball", a suicidal Brain attempts to end all by leaving himself to be eaten by alley cats, but they reject him. He then has this reaction, complete with a triumphant laugh.
- Imposter Forgot One Detail: When Brain decides to take over the world by impersonating Abraham Lincoln in "Ambulatory Abe", he's not worried that people will notice that he doesn't sound like the real Lincoln because Lincoln died before voice recording devices were invented and Brain doesn't believe there's any living person old enough to have heard Lincoln talk. The oldest living American proves him wrong about the last part.
- Innocently Insensitive: Pinky has a tendency to accidentally point out how absurd Brain's plans are and how they have basically no chance of success. Probably the most straightforward example would be during the song A Meticulous Analysis of History:Brain: That concludes my little rhyme, I hope this lesson wasn't just a waste of time!
Pinky: Well Brain, I've learned that one thing's true, every one of them has failed and so have you! *Song ends abruptly*
Brain: *Visibly taken aback* Thank you for that vote of confidence.
- Insane Troll Logic: Many of Brain's plans are based on a very convoluted sequence of steps to achieve world domination. For example, to rule the world, he will build a second earth made out of papier-mâché, bring it to life with a special invention, and then lure the humans off the original Earth using free T-shirts. All which generally work until the Fatal Flaw in the plan is realized, such as a giant asteroid that destroyed the original Earth in the above example.
- Insufferable Genius: You need to ask? Surprisingly, Brain's pretty tolerable. Snowball on the other hand...
- Insult to Rocks: After saying Pinky had the approximate I.Q. of an empty soap dish. Brain says "I take it back. I don't want to insult the soap dish."
- Interspecies Romance:
That's ridiculous, Pinky. Who'd want to marry someone with ears like that? Princess Diana, on the other hand, I admit I've always found attractive.
- Pinky and Pharfignewton (a horse), Romy (cloned mouse) and Pat (human) and Pinky and Winne (sea lion).
- Discussed when Pinky mentions the way to get to the cover of Peeple is "marrying Prince Charles". (see also Brick Joke above)
- Intoxication Ensues: In "Brainy Jack", Brain gets bitten by a rattlesnake and alternates between thinking he's Bob Hope and Henry Kissinger.
- Iron Butt-Monkey: Pinky and Brain regularly get smashed, beaten, exploded, run over, and so forth, as Brain's schemes fail. Of course, Pinky doesn't really mind when Brain bops him on the head, so perhaps he's okay with it. Brain, however, gets the worst of it. Naturally, they're still standing (if bruised) at the end of every episode, ready to do "the same thing we do every night".
- I Shall Taunt You
- Is This Thing Still On?: In "Calvin Brain", Brain's latest plan for world domination is undone when a behind-the-scenes documentary crew films him unleashing a diatribe on the shallowness of the fashion industry and the brainlessness of those who follow its dictates. His last words on the video are even "is that thing on?"
- It Makes Sense in Context: In the episode from Pinky's POV, we see the train of thought that leads to one of his "pondering" non-sequiturs. So when he asked about fitting the Hippo into a thong, he actually was picturing that in his head.
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Some of Brain's inventions. His plans for taking over the world are a bit of a variation on this trope, using nonsense sociology instead of nonsense science.
- It's a Wonderful Plot: In the comic story "It's a Wonderful Narf", Brain yells at Pinky for donating the money he needed for his newest scheme to charity, causing Pinky to run away crying and attempt to throw himself off a bridge. Realizing just how badly he's screwed up, Brain takes it upon himself to pose as a guardian angel and show Pinky what life would be like if he didn't exist - riff raff run amok (because Pinky wasn't around to have everyone sign a petition to keep them out), Acme Labs is run down because Pinky never donated money to handle its upkeep, and Brain is lonely and depressed, with his plans never even getting off the drawing board without Pinky.
- It's Been Done: The episode "Brain Drained" opens with Brain realizing that his plans are beginning to repeat themselves in some form.
- It Will Never Catch On:
- There is one episode set at the time television was being recently invented. Brain doesn't believe it would ever replace the radios.
- Also, in a Star Wars parody, during one of those "Are you pondering what I'm pondering?" moments, Pinky ponders about a series about two lab mice trying to take over the world and wonders who'd watch that.
- In another episode, desperate for a new plan, the mice ask Hollywood writers for ideas, claiming that they're making a TV show about two lab mice trying to take over the world. Naturally, some of the writers think it's a bad idea for a show and suggest using the characters for a Totally Radical Superhero series or an overly-saccharine kiddie show.
- In an episode set during the silent film era, Brain, after an attempt to take over the world using movies, stand in front of the projector and laments "There's no way a mouse will ever have an impact on the silver screen". A man clearly meant to be Walt Disney sees Brain's silhouette on screen and sketches it down.
- In a Godzilla parody, Brain doesn't believe the miniaturization of electronics in the lab where he and Pinky are residing will catch on, claiming that big things are the wave of the future.
- I Want Grandkids: In "The Visit", one of the things Brain's mother complains about after he makes his parents capable of human speech is a lack of grandchildren.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Brain fits this to a T. It has been proven on numerous occasions that behind the megalomaniac outer layer lies a complete softy who cares deeply about the ones he loves, especially Pinky. The Christmas Special has to be the best example of his sweeter side. See also the Anti-Hero entry above — sure, his megalomaniac tendencies may incline him to step on a few million toes here and there, but ultimately what he really wants is to make everyone happy, in his own roundabout way.
- Just Eat Gilligan: Often, Brain's schemes fail because Pinky's incompetence screws things up. Brain might succeed at taking over the world if he didn't keep Pinky around. However, it's occasionally hinted that Brain can't function without someone to balance him out or act as a sounding board (in "That Smarts", he discovers that one of them must be an idiot for the plans to have any chance to succeed). Plus, he'd be lonely without Pinky, since Pinky is basically the only friend he's got.
- Kavorka Man:
- Killer Rabbit: Snowball may be a hamster, but he's a genuine threat to Brain's plans.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: Brain often demonstrates that he does not, though a few episodes open on him deciding that a particular plan is unviable with just their mousey worth.
- Laughably Evil: To a large extent Brain himself, even though he's the Comically Serious. To quote him, "I am not devoid of humor."
- Left the Background Music On: Multiple examples.
- Lesser of Two Evils: The Brain is the lesser compared to Snowball. Described by Pinky as a "genetically enhanced evil hamster dedicated to... well, evil," Snowball also wanted to Take Over the World, but his plans for it once he did so were much worse than Brain's.
- Let's Have Another Baby: Played for Laughs in "Brinky".
- Like an Old Married Couple: Plenty examples, notably the episode "Of Mouse and Man".
- List Song: "Brain Stem" which points out all the parts of the brain to the tune of "Camptown Races".
Brain: Hit the floodlights!
- When Pinky and the Brain are in a submarine, this happens.
Pinky: (off camera) Ow!
Brain: Turn on the floodlights.
- Soon afterward, Pinky tries to ask the Brain about what to do with a pancake recipe where a key ingredient, the hypnotic sapo of a rare frog species, has a bitter taste. The Brain dismissively tells him, "Cut it out." Pinky misunderstandingly proceeds to eliminate the fluid from the recipe, singlehandedly ruining their Mass Hypnosis plan.
- Logic Bomb: In a spoof of The Prisoner, the computer malfunctions while trying to figure out the meaning of "Narf".
- Look Behind You: In the Christmas Episode, Pinky and the Brain (disguised as elves) are under suspicion by the head elf, who asks them to come with him. Pinky distracts him by exclaiming, "Look! A decoy!"
- Loophole Abuse: In the comics, Brain's version of Faust makes a Deal with the Devil to obtain the ultimate knowledge and isn't worried because there's no contract without a loophole out of it. When Mephistopheles shows up to collect, Faust couldn't find a loophole and says that means Mephistepheles failed to give him the ultimate knowledge the deal requires him to. Mephistopheles lets Faust keep his soul but rewinds time back to when the deal was made so the accomplishments made with help from the deal never happened and erases everything about the deal from Faust's memory.
- Love Dodecahedron: Even if you leave out certain fanon, it's a mess. Brain and Billie had a fling, then she dumped him and started dating Snowball, then she dumped him and started chasing Pinky, who's happy with Pharfignewton (who loves him back) and seems alarmed by Billie's advances. Meanwhile, Brain still hasn't gotten over Billie...
- Mass Hypnosis: Brain tries to do this several times, including on the Christmas episode (many times a Hypno Trinket is related). He seems to prefer this sort of thing to more socially disruptive methods.
- May the Farce Be with You: The final episode of the show was a Star Wars parody featuring the cast of Animaniacs, the show that it spun off from.
- Medium Awareness: Occasionally, but particularly during the "Brainie the Poo" episode.Pinklett: Um, when does this scene start to animate, Brainie?Brainie: It already has, Pinklett.
- Memetic Mutation: In-universe example from "Brain's Song": "I am the o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-overlord."
- Metaphorgotten: Shows up in "Brain Drained":Brain: Uncle Wiggley has gone to the carrot patch once too often, and now the cupboard is bare. Drat! I can't even construct a decent metaphor!
- Microwave Misuse: One of the Brain's schemes involves invoking this, claiming a malfunctioning microwave has turned him into a mouse as part of a Frivolous Lawsuit, on the logic that "no-one knows how microwaves really work". Unfortunately for the Brain, the lawyer he's up against does know how microwaves work.
- The Millstone: Pinky, and sometimes Brain himself. Often enough, the plan doesn't need their help (and this aspect of their dynamic drops out by the series).
- Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: In the comic book story "Pinky Mon Amour", Pinky and Cupcake resist all attempts by Brain and Snowball to break them up, but end their relationship because they both like different types of peanut butter.
- Missing Steps Plan: Quite a few of Brain's plans simply consisted of creating some major disturbance that led to social chaos, on the assumption that he could then convince the humans to follow him...somehow...
- Mistaken for Special Guest: In "The Third Mouse", Pinky is mistaken for an international expert on plumbing and has to answer questions on Vienna's plumbing system.
- Mix-and-Match Man: Romy looks like a cross between Brain and Pinky, being a clone of them.
- Mobile Maze: In one episode, the scientists experimenting on the mice put them into a virtual reality maze with rotating corridors.
- Mobile-Suit Human:
- Mouse World: In "When Mice Ruled the Earth", as a result of the duo's time travel mission. Unfortunately, the mouse populace look and act like Pinky.
- Mr. Exposition: The Brain, sometimes because Pinky needs excessive hand-holding, but other times so that he's aware of what's going on.
- Multiple-Choice Past: The series has had four different flashbacks to the duo's childhood and when they were first genetically altered. They all contradict each other.
- Musical Episode: "Mouse of La Mancha" is, as the title suggests, a Whole Plot Reference to Man of La Mancha, with appropriately altered versions of the title song and "To Dream the Impossible Dream".
- My Brain Is Big: The Brain and Snowball are both highly intelligent and have large heads.
- My Card: "A Pinky and the Brain Halloween" has "Mister Itch: Proprietor of Wayward Souls"
- My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: In Issue #43 of the Animaniacs comics, the Brain gets money by suing a tobacco company. When Pinky points out they don't smoke, Brain points out that the great part of being an American is that "the law has nothing to do with the facts".
- My Friends... and Zoidberg:
- A Running Gag in "Pinky and The Brain... and Larry".
- Also used in the third part of "Brainwashed", where Brain, Pinky, and Snowball search for the island of Dr. Mordough. Brain describes Mordough as the one who made them highly intelligent, and quickly adds "Oh, and you, Pinky."
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: In one episode, Brain tries to take over the world with an army of sea lions since he learned their language. Pinky tries speaking it too, but his phrases translate to, "Fetch me a big clown hat," a ghost story, "There's a school of overweight fish swimming near by" and "I'm a big billy goat so you'd better beat it sister."
- Name and Name: The show's title also happens to be the names of the two central characters.
- The Name Is Bond, James Bond: In "From Russia with Lab Mice", Brain introduces himself with, "The name's Brain, The Brain."
- Never Recycle Your Schemes: The Brain runs into this problem in "Brain Drained". Besides his ego, he's been prosecuted for some of his plans in the past (by Congress at least), there's at least that.
- Never Say "Die": In "Ambulatory Abe"Brain: Abe Lincoln was perhaps the most respected president of all time. Once we arrange his comeback, the mere sight of him will compel the populace to follow his lead.
Pinky: But, Brain, Abe Lincoln, um... Didn't he, uh... Isn't he... You know.
- Never Say That Again: From the episode which prominently featured The Honeymooners:Pinky: Bang! Zoom!
Brain: Stop saying that, Pinky, or I shall have to hurt you.
- No Antagonist: Only on rare occasions do the duo face any characters who directly and knowingly threaten their goal. When they don't foil their own plans, a piece doesn't fall in place the right way, or a minor problem turns out to be a major one - the list goes on.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed:
- The Brain's voice and many of his mannerisms were inspired by Orson Welles. One of his aliases is "Harold Foster Brain", a Citizen Kane Shout-Out. Also, in the episode "What Ever Happened to Baby Brain", which is set in the past, The Brain (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) and Orson Welles (voiced by Jim Cummings) meet; they have exactly the same voice, and happen to simultaneously declare "Things will be different when I take over the world!" before introducing themselves to each other: "Welles, Orson". "Brain, The."
The similarity is further played with in "Yes, Always", which recreates, almost word for word, the infamous Frozen Peas audio clip with the Brain in the role of Orson Welles.
- Averted at one point, during a Winnie-the-Pooh spoof with Christopher Walken as Christopher Robin.
- Bill Grates, the World's Richest Nerd.
- Jellyhead, a shot at Shaq.
- An unnamed Dolly Parton, to whom puberty has been inordinately kind..
- An unnamed Raymond Burr, who shows up in cutaways in a Godzilla Parody Episode to comment, "Yes, I see." He eventually gets enlarged on accident and fights Gollyzilla himself.
- In "Brain of the Future", the Queen of the Cockroaches and her aide are parodies of Zsa Zsa Gabor and Ed Sullivan respectively.
- In the comic story "Weekly World Inquiring Brain", Brain tries to get photographs from Brad Pitts, Pranson and Jordan Michaels.
- In the comic book story "Scampoo", Brain gives new hairstyles to Supreme Peon and Expies of The Spice Girls and Mr. Spock.
- In "I, Brainius", the slave who tries (and fails) to start a rebellion is named "Kirkus Cleft-Chinnius".
- Melmouse, the Australian mouse from "Mad Mouse: Lab Warrior" is a mouse version of Mel Gibson.
- In "Brainberry R.F.D.", the sheriff and his deputy are named Randy Griffin and Bernie Knothead.
- Gilbert Gottfried appears as the Good Witch in "The Terrific Takeover of Oz".
- The Brain's voice and many of his mannerisms were inspired by Orson Welles. One of his aliases is "Harold Foster Brain", a Citizen Kane Shout-Out. Also, in the episode "What Ever Happened to Baby Brain", which is set in the past, The Brain (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) and Orson Welles (voiced by Jim Cummings) meet; they have exactly the same voice, and happen to simultaneously declare "Things will be different when I take over the world!" before introducing themselves to each other: "Welles, Orson". "Brain, The."
- No Fourth Wall: The infamous "I have made you use the freezeframe button on your VCR" subliminal.
- Noir Episode:
- "Brain Noir" — The year is 1946. Everyone in Los Angeles is wearing hats. They will find them shrunken by the Fedor-A-Matic and CHAOS WILL FOLLOW.
- The episode "The Third Mouse".
- No Need for Names: In "Project B.R.A.I.N.", the Brain initially has this attitude when Pinky responds to the word "pinky" as if it was his name, on the grounds that they don't have the requisite cerebral capacity to name themselves. When the Brain realizes he can speak thanks to Acme Labs' experiment, however, he dubs himself "the Brain".
- Non-Mammal Mammaries: The Cockroach Queen from the episode "Brain of the Future" has breasts.
- Non Sequitur, *Thud*: Brain gets a lot of these.Brain: Yes Fredo, but why are you wearing that llama?
Brain: All my thoughts are in Dutch.
Pinky: I see an angel coming for us out of the sky.
Brain: I see clams! Giant, shirtless clams!
Brain: Yes Darlene, now go make Momma a sandwich.
- Noodle Incident:
Pinky: What happened?
- Many of Pinky's answers to Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering? fall into this category. Sometimes the Noodle Incident involves Noodle Implements.
- When a high school principal offers Brain a job as a teacher, he tells them that the last teacher disappeared under "strange circumstances".
Principal: It's hard to explain if you don't understand the meat-packing industry, but man— (laughs) it was funny.
Brain: I have discovered that there is one thing all my plans have in common.
Pinky: You mean Maury Povich?
Brain: Besides him.
- In Issue #46 of the Animaniacs comics, Pinky mentions that Brain won a million dollars in a lawsuit Brain doesn't recall because, as Pinky explains, "that piano hit you[Brain] on the head awfully hard".
- No Party Like a Donner Party: Conversed by the Brain in the Christmas Episode when Pinky tells him that the reindeers are inviting elves to join them for a party at Donner's house.
- Not Really a Birth Scene: In the episode "Brinky", The Brain attempts to clone himself, which almost works until Pinky's DNA (from a clipped toenail) accidentally gets combined with Brain's, thus essentially making them parents of the resulting clone (and Pinky calling himself the clone's "mommy"). Most of the dialogue during the cloning process is scripted like an actual birth: for example, when the door on the cloning machine won't close (which is the reason Pinky's DNA is even in there), the Brain tells Pinky to help him "push", complete with Pinky doing Lamaze breathing.
- Notzilla: Gollyzilla from the episode "Tokyo Grows".
- Odd Couple: The title sequence says it best. "One is a genius, the other's insane." Nevertheless, despite Brain being easily annoyed by Pinky, they do get along quite well.
- Ode to Food: The "Cheese Roll Call" song is by Pinky about different types of cheese, complete with anthropomorphic cheeses singing their own praises.
- Once per Episode: The plot for world domination, Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?, and others, often lampshaded.
- Opening Shout-Out: The episode "Where No Mouse Has Gone Before" ends similarly like the opening, except there's no Animation Bump.
- Origins Episode: "Project B.R.A.I.N" is the first time we are given an in-depth look on how Pinky and the Brain got their genes spliced and became intellectually superior to your average rodent.
- Orphean Rescue: In the Halloween episode, Pinky sells his soul to the devil and the Brain has to go to Hades and challenge the devil to a gymnastics competition to get him back.
- Or Was It a Dream?: In "You'll Never Eat Food Pellets in This Town Again", Brain freaks out to see that Pinky actually does have a sock puppet wife named Margaret and that Dick Clark really does live next door to them.
- Overly Long Name:
- "Big Johnny Brain Jones Peachpit Bill Boone Crockett".
- And his sidekick, "Little Pinky Flea Pie Waffle Shoe Clamhead Chris."
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Just about every disguise Brain ever used. Sometimes it seems less like the other characters believe the disguise and more like they feel like since Brain is making the effort to be incognito (Sarcastic Confession notwithstanding), they're totally cool with his world domination plot. Sometimes other people are afraid to question the disguise in case he is telling the truth.
- Parental Bonus: Tons of it, from political humor to innuendo to satires of celebrities. Brain's voice is deliberately styled after Orson Welles.
- Parody Magic Spell: From the Animaniacs episode "Spell-Bound". "Charlie Sheen, Ben Vereen, Shrink to the size of a lima bean!"
- People Fall Off Chairs: Once Brain's Sarcastic Confession is considered a hilarious pitch by a TV executive, he continues laughing until he falls off his chair (as For Want of a Nail shows, it gets worse).
- People Jars: 20 Minutes into the Future has Bill and Hillary Clinton still as acting as heads of the US as heads in a jar.
- Perfume Commercial: Brain's commercial for "Subjugation". Pinky's shenanigans ruins the effect.
- Pet the Dog: Brain gets a few, usually showing that underneath it all he cares for Pinky and values him as a friend.
- Plank Gag: Larry does it to the Brain in "Pinky and the Brain... and Larry".
- Platonic Declaration of Love: Played with via Last-Second Word Swap. In one episode, Brain accidentally knocks Pinky off the table. Upon finding out that he's all right, Brain laments that it's his fault: "This obsession with taking over the world is causing me to hurt the ones I...tolerate."
- Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: The episode "Snowball" has Pinky become convinced that Brain doesn't like him for the sake of the plot.
- Poorly Disguised Pilot: The episode "Plan Brain from Outer Space" actually began as a spin-off of the Animaniacs episode "Potty Emergency", featuring the same alien from the "Brain Eaters From Outer Space" movie the Warners watched in the film that served as the plot device that helped Wakko find a place to relieve himself after a long search called Zalgar The Brain Eater. In each episode, the alien Zalgar would have gone after a different brain, and in the pilot, he went after The Brain's brain. In addition, most dialogue had to be redone in ADR to remove all references to Zalgar The Brain Eater, as well as some other dialogue, including a joke that referenced Ernest Borgnine.
- Potty Emergency: In Issue 52 of the Animaniacs comic book, Pinky has several after regressing to childhood.
- Punny Name: Comic book story "Future Stock" features a bank manager named Phil T. Rich.
- Pygmalion Snap Back: Brain making Pinky smarter.
- Reality Ensues: Brain's plan to steal all the gold from Fort Knox failed because a pair of mice just aren't strong enough to lift a heavy gold ingot. It was one of the few episodes when neither Pinky nor Brain did anything especially self-defeating.
- Red Herring: In Issue 16, it's initially believed that future!Pinky sent the V100 back in time to kill Brain. It turns out that the one who sent the V100 back in time was SNOWBALL, and Pinky actually sent the Verminator back in time to protect Brain.
- Repeat After Me:
- When Pinky ran for President, Brain typed stuff for him to read from special glasses during a debate. Unfortunately, the "F" button got stuck, prompting Pinky to make the sound. One of his opponents repeated it. Also, the glasses got other signs which Pinky repeated and another adversary tried to emulate.
- The trope was the ruin of another plan from another episode where Pinky gained notoriety.
- Reset Button: Occasionally pressed when the scheme works too well.
- Retool: Pinky, Elmyra & The Brain changed it so that Pinky and Brain were Elmyra Duff's pets.
- Reunion Show: Parodied with "The Pinky and The Brain Reunion Special", where Brain tried to use a fake reunion show to lure everyone into a mass hypnosis.
- Rhyming Episode: "Hickory Dickory Bonk," lampshaded by Pinky.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: In "Of Mouse and Man", Brain uses his Mobile-Suit Human to get a job at a company, simulate an accident and sue his employer for turning him into a mouse. The judge rules in favor of the company and orders Brain to be arrested for fraud and perjury but these decisions are based on the belief that Brain is not a mouse. The judge also has Brain arrested for public nudity but that doesn't count as being "right" because mice aren't required to wear clothes in public.
- Rude Hero, Nice Sidekick: The Brain is an Insufferable Genius who is mean and condescending to everyone, while Pinky is a Minion with an F in Evil who still likes and admires Brain, no matter how much abuse he gets from him.
- Rule of Three: Used in "Brinky", when Brain's initial attempts at educating his clone yield no results.Pinky: Well perhaps if you started with something less taxing to [Romy's] little brain, Brain... Brain.
- Running Gag:
- Pinky thinking that he and Brain are training to be seals (as opposed to Navy Seals) in the comic story "G. I. Brain".
- Whenever Pinky and The Brain encounter a person who wants to know who they are, The Brain tries giving them their covers, usually an alias and whatever made-up reason they have for being there. When that doesn't work, The Brain tells them the truth - that they are two lab mice plotting world domination - and that's usually what works, often because they think they're just joking.
- Sarcastic Confession: "I am actually a genetically altered lab mouse plotting world domination." Also a Running Gag, as pretty much everyone thinks he's joking when he says it (the others think he's being flippant), and Brain himself likely does it for that reason.
- Scrabble Babble: While ruling over an abandoned earth, they play scrabble in the white-house.Brain: For the last time Pinky, there is no such word as chramecirum.
Pinky: Well, there is now Brain, because we own the world.
(after deciding to play against himself)
Brain: (adds an s) There. Chramecirums. Now that's a word. And a triple word score to boot.
Brain: It is obvious that there are no original writers in Hollywood, Pinky.
- Present in "Brain Drained":
Pinky: Look, Brain. Warner Bros. Studios. Maybe we can find some writers there. Poit!
Brain: Nah. We can't afford them, Pinky. We don't have enough bananas.
- And in "Star Warners":Brain-2-Me-2: Are you pondering what I'm pondering, 3-Pinky-O?
3-Pinky-O: Um, I think so, Brain-2, but a show about two talking lab mice? Heh, it'll never get on the air.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Brain and Snowball default to this.
- Shoo Out the New Guy: Parodied with Larry. He inexplicably appears among the main cast and Pinky and Brain at first regard him as if he was always with them until eventually realizing that his existence is completely unnecessary.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Occasionally happens to Brain's plans — the episode in which he creates a replica (or as he calls it "Chia") of Earth with nothing but paper mâché and has all people go there only to eventually become bored out of his mind being leader of an abandoned Earth and find out the hard way that he accidentally saved mankind from the apocalyptic meteor that was a few days away from causing an Earth-Shattering Kaboom (and he never noticed the extensive news and scuttle-butt that talked about it in the background throughout the whole episode) is a pretty good example.
- Numerous, including to THX 1138 in the opening credits and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. This Tumblr (derived from an old list) is a helpful source.
- In "Ambulatory Abe", Pinky knows Washington, D.C. as "the home of Freakazoid!".
- There is even a Village where everyone is referred to by hats instead of their names.
- In "The Pinky Perspective", Brain's band is a riff on... Toad the Wet Sprocket.
- In one story from the Animaniacs comics, Pinky replies to Brain's "are you pondering what I'm pondering" by asking "would the villains really have gotten away with it, if it weren't for those pesky kids and their dog?".
- Shrunken Organ: In the Title Sequence, Pinky and the Brain walk behind an X-ray machine. Brain's skull has meshing gears, while Pinky's has a peanut. In the "...and Larry" version of the opening, Larry joins them during this part, and he is shown to have bones in his hair.
- Smart Jerk and Nice Moron: Brain, a calculating and short-fused Villain Protagonist and his dopey but incredibly loyal Minion with an F in Evil Pinky. Such is Pinky's kind devotion to Brain that he led the latter to suffer a tearful Jerkass Realization midway through one attempt at world domination.
- Snap Back: The episode "That Smarts", where Brain makes Pinky intelligent so that his idiocy can stop ruining his plans to take over the world, eventually has both Brain and Pinky realize that both of them being intelligent has upset the balance. However, because each of them uses the machine to make themselves idiots without telling the other about their intentions, the episode ends with Pinky and Brain both too stupid to use the machine to make either of them smart again. In spite of this, things are back to normal by the next episode.
- So Bad, It's Good: An in-universe example. In "Battle of the Planet", their attempt to rule the world via pirate satellite broadcasting is so terrible, it is labeled a comedy smash by their local newspaper.
- Song Parody: There have been tons of songs sung by both Pinky and Brain with the lyrics changed so it involves world domination.
- Sophisticated as Hell: Brain becomes a successful Insult Comic because audiences find hilarious his complaints through complicated words (particularly "repugnant").
- "Sorcerer's Apprentice" Plot: The premise of the Animaniacs short "The Brain's Apprentice", where Brain tries to create an army of robots to force the President to surrender the country to him, prematurely gives up on his plan until Pinky notices that the machine isn't even plugged in, and ends up so overwhelmed by the constantly multiplying robots that he shuts them off right when his plan was about to succeed.
- Spanner in the Works: Occasionally, Pinky will inadvertently foil Brain's schemes through his own incompetence. (Far less often than the setup would lead you to expect, and it pretty much stops happening by the time of the series.)
- Special Effects Failure: Invoked. The duo attempt a War of the Worlds hoax with a special effects budget of $0. (See So Bad, It's Good.)
- Spell My Name with a "The": Though he's perfectly content to just be called "Brain", the "The" is technically part of his name.
- Spoof Aesop: Given in "Brainwashed".Pinky: I suppose the moral of this whole story is: if you give a mean big-headed kitty love, they won't try to dumb down the world with an evil dance.
- Springtime for Hitler: Many examples. Notably, the episode "Pinky's Turn", in which Pinky comes up with an utterly random scheme to take over the world, and an episode where Brain decides to take the night off and ironically comes close to ruling the world without realizing it.
- Stable Time Loop: The plot of the episode "Brain of the Future", where Pinky and Brain are visited by their future selves, who loan them their time machine and tell them that they can find a world domination kit in the distant future while neglecting to tell them that the world is ruled by a cockroach queen in the future. When the present Pinky and Brain time-travel to the future, they momentarily go to a future time that's too early and inadvertently cause a nuclear war that results in the cockroaches evolving and overrunning the world in the future they were supposed to go to. Once they finally arrive in the future they were supposed to go to, Pinky and Brain end up wearing the uniforms their future selves were wearing and proceed to go back in time to ensure the cycle isn't broken.
- Stealth Pun: In the episode "Briany Jack", Brain is saved by a group of hippies, who he refers to as "The original cast of Godspell." He eventually decides that he will become their leader as part of the evening's plot, and proclaims their mission statement as the following:Brain: Through love and peace, and worship of me, the world can be a better place!
- Strange Minds Think Alike: In "Das Mouse":CIA Director: The boys want that thing terminated.
Jonesy: The boys? You mean the Pentagon?
CIA Director: No, my two boys— Josh and Aaron.
Jack Maguire: Ha ha! So, the boys finally saw it my way.
Jonesy: You mean the Pentagon?
Jack Maguire: No. Josh and Aaron.
- Suck E. Cheese's: A birthday party at "Chunky Cheesey" in "Pinky's Plan".
- Surrounded by Idiots: Brain thinks this is the case. Not only is Pinky too dumb to be a completely efficient assistant, but it's also shown on several occasions that he doesn't have a high opinion on the intelligence of the human race in general.
- Suspect Is Hatless: Pinky's description of Snowball in the latter's debut episode was spectacularly vague... until he brought up his tattoo.
- Take My Hand: Brain offers his hand to Snowball when the latter falls into a river. Snowball refuses, claiming he doesn't need assistance from Brain.
- Take Over the World: What they do every night. Or try to.
- Take That!:
Gavin: Vanilla Ice, ladies and gentlemen. Wasn't he something... once?
- "I think so, Don Cerebro, but why would Sophia Loren do a musical?" The Brain even admits Pinky's point.
- The episode "Broadway Malady" is absolutely stuffed with these, directed toward Albert Floyd Webster.
- "All You Need is Narf" included a take that at Yoko Ono's singing.
- From "The Pinky and the Brain Reunion Show", from Gavin McCloud himself no less:
Brain: Who would blow up Acme Labs?
- In "Brain's Song", Brain suggests going to a place that never shuts down, where your wallet matters, and where actors and actresses slave all day. He's talking about Hollywood, but Pinky thinks they're going to Denny's.
- Easy listening music gets it twice: one episode has the box of a Kenny G album making someone fall asleep and a poster of "Yawni", and another has Brain's plan being to hijack radio stations so they only play Kenny G, Yanni, "and the soulful spasms of John Tesh."
- In "T.H.E.Y.", Brain shudders after mentioning that T.H.E.Y. gave Brooke Shields her own sitcom.
- There are some in the three-part episode "Brainwashed".
- One of the symptoms of people being made stupid by the Schmëerskåhøvên dance is that they think Pauly Shore is funny.
- This exchange after Acme Labs gets blown up in part two.
Pinky: Maybe it was that clown from the White House.
Brain: Newt Gingrich?
- In all of his appearances, Bill Clinton is portrayed as a clueless, bumbling Manchild who relies his wife to handle the diplomacy.
- In "Your Friend, Global Domination", when the Brain laments that his educational film is ruined, Pinky comments, "It's still better than Congo, or Anaconda."
- In Issue #45 of the Animaniacs comics, Pinky asks if the most annoying sound known to mankind is "Fran Dresher's(sic) voice" and Brain deems it a "good guess".
- Talking Animal: The mice, explicitly due to genetic splicing. All other animals in the show don't talk (in any human language, anyway).
- Tall Tale: The theme of "A Legendary Tail", where the Brain used a computer to combine elements of other tall tales and make one starring himself. He hoped to use this as a way to gain acclaim as a Folk Hero under the name of "Big Johnny Brain Jones Peachpit Bill Boone Crockett". However, the resulting tall tale ended with other folk heroes suing the Brain's character for plagiarizing parts of their names.
- Tar and Feathers: Happens to Pinky and Brain in "Robin Brain".
- Telegraph Gag STOP: In their parody of The Third Man:PINKY START PACKING STOP COME TO VIENNA STOP GO TO 123B RUEGGERSTRASSE STOP
- Terminator Twosome: The Verminator and V100 in Issue 16 of the comic book.
- Terrible Interviewees Montage: The bulk of the episode "Brain Drained" has Pinky and the Brain listen to different people's pitches for a television show about them, which is actually a front for getting new ideas for world domination schemes. Notable pitches include a Totally Radical pastiche of your garden variety superhero cartoon of the 90's called Brain Dude and Pinkosaur and a saccharinely sweet show aimed at really young audiences called Pinky-Winky and Brainy-Wainy.
- That Russian Squat Dance: Pinky does a hilarious version of this whenever he hears a bell in the cartoon "Pavlov's Mice".
- That's No Moon!: Brain exclaims this in the comic book story "Braintech", when he and Pinky are approaching Snowball's spaceship.
- Theme Naming: Pinky and Brain are both named after body parts.
- Theme Tune Cameo: At the end of "Mice Don't Dance", after their usual "What're we gonna do tomorrow night?" exchange, Pinky plays the ending theme on his comb, but the Brain interrupts before the last note, asking for the comb and breaking it apart.
- Time Travel: "When Mice Ruled the Earth" had Brain try to use time travel to make the prehistoric ancestors of mice beat humanity in the race of evolution. Unfortunately, he ends up in a world inhabited by Pinky-like mice.
- To Hell and Back: Pinky goes to Hell, or Hades as it is called, in the Halloween episode because he gave up his own soul in exchange for Brain finally ruling the world. Brain rescues Pinky after realizing that he misses him (though he denies it and claims to only want him back because he forgot where the food pellets were kept).
- Too Kinky to Torture: Pinky in the Halloween episode. Mr. Itch tries everything, but Pinky just loves it.Mr. Itch: Isn't there any kind of torture you don't like?
Pinky: (smoldering) *sniff* The only real torture... is being away from my best friend, Brain.
- Totally Radical: An interviewee's proposal on the Pinky and The Brain show in "Brain Drained" is that instead of taking over the world, the duo becomes "BrainDude and Pinkasaur" after accidentally meddling with a secret government experiment.
- Tongue Twister: The main driving force behind "You Said a Mouseful", which is full of tongue twisters so severe, even Dr. Seuss himself couldn't say them if he tried!
- Tropaholics Anonymous: Megalomaniacs Anonymous from the episode of the same name is a support group for people who have obsessively attempted world domination.
- Undercover as Lovers: In "My Feldmans, My Friends", Pinky and Brain pretend to be a married couple.
- Unhand Them, Villain!: Brain to Snowball in the episode "Brain Noir".
- Uplifted Animal: The two were ordinary lab mice before having their genes spliced. Other characters, such as Snowball, also qualify. Aside from a few movie pastiches and Animaniacs crossovers, no talking animals are seen that were not the products of science.
- Use Your Head: In Issue 3 of the comic, this is Pinky's method of opening walnuts.
- Vehicle Vanish: The Brain does it in "The Third Mouse", which was a parody of The Third Man.
- Verbal Tic: Narf! Zort! Egad! Yes!
- Very Special Episode: The entire episode, "Inherit the Wheeze" is an anti-smoking episode in which Brain gets addicted to cigarettes and almost convinces children to smoke with Stealth Cigarette Commercials run by some cartoonishly evil executives in order to take over the world. It's no wonder that some networks never aired it.
- Vice President Who?: In "Bah, Wilderness", Brain plans to take over the world by becoming an arts and crafts counselor at Camp Davey, where children of world leaders meet. He abandons the plan when the only children left are children of vice-presidents.
- Victory Is Boring: On the rare occasions where Brain actually succeeds in taking over the world, he ends up restoring the status quo due to not being satisfied.
- Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: While neither one is very threatening physically (what with being lab mice and all), the Brain, with his serious demeanor and great intellect, is far more of a threat than the spastic, dimwitted Pinky, who isn't even aware that he's a villain.
- Villain Protagonist: Brain can be interpreted this way, since his goal after all is to take over the world.
- "The Villain Sucks" Song: The theme song counts as this since it's sung about Pinky and the Brain rather than by them and brings up the fact that they repeatedly plan to take over the world.
- Vocal Evolution: Pinky's speech impediment is more pronounced in the earliest segments, and sounds a notch lower at times. As well, Brain sounds more like Orson Welles (a little slower and lower) and doesn't have his panicked 'n(y)aaaaAAAAAHHH!!' cry until later.
- Voodoo Doll: Brain creates and markets these in the form of a Beanie Babies Expy as part of his plan to take over the world in Issue 57 of the Animaniacs comic book.
- We Can Rebuild Him: From the episode "Snowball": "We were a mouse and a hamster, barely alive. Except they could make us better... faster... smarter..." "Naaaaarf..."
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Brain may want to Take Over the World, but it's only because he believes the world would be a better place with him in charge.
- Wham Line: "This year Santa, I ask for nothing, but I wish to talk to you about my dear friend, The Brain..."
- What Does This Button Do?: In episodes where it is Pinky's stupidity that ruins everything, it's often due to pressing a button he was told to leave alone.
- What's a Henway?: A variation occurs in "It's Only a Paper World", after they've successfully drove the population of the planet onto Chia Earth:Brain: We shall no longer call this planet Earth, Pinky.
Pinky: When was it called "Earth Pinky"?
- What the Heck Is an Aglet?: In a clip of a Nova documentary on shoelaces in "The Pinky and the Brain Reunion Special".
- Whole Plot Reference:
- "The Third Mouse" = The Third Man.
- "Yes, Always" = The infamous "Frozen Peas" Orson Welles recording session.
- One episode is pretty much Man of La Mancha.
- One other short is called "Where Rodents Dare", involving the duo trying to infiltrate an insurmountable mountain chalet to brainwash the world leaders that are meeting within... So yeah, it's a twelve minute homage to Where Eagles Dare.
- And of course, "The Megalomaniacal Adventures of Brainie the Poo."
- The story in Issue 47 of the Animaniacs comic is a parody of the plot of Evita.
- The story in Issue 49 parodies Beowulf.
- Issue 3 of their own comic parodies The Terminator, with Issue 16 parodying Terminator 2.
- X-Ray Sparks: In "Project B.R.A.I.N.", Pinky attempts to disconnect the electrodes attached to the Brain's head from a computer, only to hit the power button with his foot and shock the Brian, illuminating his skeleton.
- Yank the Dog's Chain:
- Brain comes this close to taking over the world in "The Brain's Apprentice", but he foils his own plan by deactivating the robots forcing the President to sign the documents that would have enabled him to be the leader.
- "Bubba Bo Bob Brain" had Brain almost succeed in becoming the ruler of the world using hypnotic country music, but throws it all away due to yelling at Pinky and his audience mistakenly obeying his orders to "forget the whole thing".
- Yoko Oh No: Pinky and the Brain accidentally cause this in "All You Need Is Narf" by setting up a member of the Feebles with a parody of Yoko Ono.
- You Can't Thwart Stage One: Frequently averted. Many episodes of the show have the Brain coming up with a wacky plan to take over the world, but then needing to raise money to fund his wacky plan. Those episodes usually end with the attempt to raise the money being what fails.
- Brain: Come, Pinky. We must return to the lab and prepare for tomorrow night.
Pinky: Why, Brain? What are we going to do tomorrow night?
Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky — try to take over the world!
They're dinky, they're Pinky and the Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain.