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"My child, we can no longer live as rats. We know too much."

This page is about the animated film The Secret of NIMH. If you are looking for the article about the book or its literary sequels, see Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

The Secret of NIMH is Don Bluth's first feature-length film, released in 1982. It is based very loosely on Robert C. O'Brien's Newbery Medal Award-winning novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

Mrs. Brisby (voiced by Elizabeth Hartman) is a widowed mouse and mother of four living near a farm. With spring fast approaching and the frost melting from the ground, her family has to move in order to avoid the farmer's plow — but one of the children, Timothy, has come down with pneumonia and can't be moved for a few weeks. On the advice of an ancient but perceptive owl, she solicits the aid of the rats who live in a nearby rosebush, whom she soon learns are escaped lab rats from NIMH with human level-intelligence. Her late husband Jonathan Brisby had been a good friend of the rats, so the rat leader Nicodemus is willing to help his widow, but none of them expect interference from Nicodemus' rival Jenner, who wants the rats to take a path of his own...

The Secret of NIMH was Don Bluth's first feature film after leaving Disney; it was even produced a decade after Disney itself had turned down adapting the original story. Bluth used traditional tools and methods as a way of fighting back against the movement towards lower production costs (and lower quality animation). Released by United Artists, which had just recently folded into MGM, the film was commercially a moderate box office success, costing $7 million and earning $14 million. This modest revenue was, in part, due to competition with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. NIMH eventually managed to seduce the director of E.T., Steven Spielberg, into teaming up with Bluth. Together, they made two rather high-grossing animated films of the decade: An American Tail and The Land Before Time, both distributed by Universal Pictures.

Years after the original film, MGM released a Direct to Video sequel called The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue. The film was, predictably, produced without Bluth's involvement.

"Courage of the tropes is very rare."

  • Action Mom: Mrs. Brisby is an interesting example of this trope, as she is only doing what she does to protect her children ("Timothy... remember Timothy!") It is certainly not because she enjoys adventure or action. In fact, the film clearly shows that she's scared out of her mind by the tasks she must do, but she is still courageous enough to pull through, especially when the action really gets going.
  • Actual Pacifist: Sullivan, Jenner's ally on the council of the rats. Jenner hatches a plan to murder Nicodemus and make it look like an accident with Sullivan's help, but Sullivan wants to back out at every step of the way and abhors the idea of killing. Eventually he redeems himself while dying by throwing a dagger into Jenner's back.
    Jenner: [to Sullivan] No taste for blood, eh? They've taken the animal out of you.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: The sequence in the book where the rats are taught how to read is overlooked in the film, making it look like the injections alone gave them the ability.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The Frisby family becomes the Brisby family, due to fears of legal trouble with the makers of the Frisbee toy. This change actually occurred mid-production, necessitating the re-recording of several lines of dialogue and even some audio editing.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • Jeremy is a comic relief character in the film and his traits are more Played for Laughs, unlike in the book where he was more of a 'naïve' character. He also becomes a Cloudcuckoolander and a Butt-Monkey. A few years after the film's release, the original author's daughter Jane Leslie Conly wrote two sequels which incorporated Jeremy's more absent-minded personality.
    • In the film, Jenner is an Obviously Evil villain, while his book counterpart was an average character.
    • Mr. Ages is portrayed as a Grumpy Old Man with a Hidden Heart of Gold rather than a more kindly character.
    • In the book, Nicodemus was just an average middle-aged rat with an eyepatch (who happened to be the leader). In the movie he's an ancient mystical seer.
  • Adaptation Title Change: The Secret of NIMH was based on a novel called Mrs Frisby and The Rats of NIMH.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the book the film is based on, Jenner is a much less villainous Commander Contrarian, and doesn't kill Nicodemus like his film incarnation does. In fact, one can argue that they made Jenner evil simply for the sake of having a villain.
    • The NIMH institute themselves. In the book they were portrayed as people simply doing their jobs, and even treating the animals kindly. In the film they were turned into stereotypical evil scientists who experimented on animals for reasons never given and are seen treating animals badly.
    • Though not a villain, per se, Brutus in the book simply gives Mrs. Brisby a hard time before letting her into the rosebush, unlike here where he apparently finds it easier to chase her away by scaring the hell out of her.
      Mrs. Brisby (nervously): But what about the rat at the entrance? I can't go back there... I can't.
      Mr. Ages (mumbling dismissively): Oh, that's just Brutus. Follow me.
  • Adapted Out: The book went into detail about what the rats did between escaping NIMH and building their colony under the rosebush. This is entirely omitted from the film.
  • Age Lift: Nicodemus appears very old, considering the injections given to the rats slowed their aging. In the book, he was presumably about the same age as them.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Seen in the flashback to the labs. Of course... they're rats and mice. The realistic consequences happens repeatedly; when the air conditioning is turned on, all the mice are killed except Jonathan and Mr. Ages. When they reach the roof, they are stopped dead by the mesh grating; Jonathan became the hero of the rats due to being the only one small enough to squeeze through and open it from the outside.
  • All-Powerful Bystander: Nicodemus is quite adept at scrying and can see Mrs. Brisby's dilemma and is ready to help her before she even goes to consult the Great Owl. Why he doesn't just save time by sending for her immediately is never addressed in the film, but Don Bluth explained in an interview that he's trying to help her grow.
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: The amulet Nicodemus gives Mrs. Brisby.
    Nicodemus: Courage of the heart is very rare; the stone has a power when it's there.
  • Anachronism Stew: Downplayed but still present. The rats use swords and have a vaguely medieval manner of dress, but also have electricity and some advanced technology. See also Schizo Tech.
  • Animal Facial Hair: Nicodemus has a Wizard Beard.
  • Animals Not to Scale: Dragon is a little too big for even a good-sized housecat, being closer in size to an almost medium-sized dog.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • In the book, Mrs. Frisby is more of an Author Avatar and her story is nothing more than an excuse for the reader to hear the story of the rats of NIMH. The movie shifts the focus almost entirely to her and her valiant efforts to save her dying son. note 
    • Jeremy, though a lot of his relevance to the main story diminishes after his role portrayed in the book.
    • Jenner is promoted to a plot antagonist while in the book he only appears in the backstory.
    • Sullivan. In the novel, he had an important but tiny role - he appears in one scene with one line of dialogue (to suggest stealing power from the farm), and that's it.
    • Auntie Shrew becomes a babysitter for the Brisby children in the film. She is merely referred to as "the shrew" in the novel.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Jeremy the Crow can't resist "sparklies." Drifts into I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin! territory when Jeremy says with a touch of darkness, "You know, I've always wanted a sparkly of my very own" while leering / menacing over Mrs. Brisby. It makes sense considering the common and now discredited myth that corvids are attracted to shiny objects.
    Jeremy: You found a sparkly!
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Don Bluth and company attempted to get the film a PG rating to have it appeal to a larger audience (the film definitely isn't very kid-friendly): there was a superfluous (though understandable given the circumstances) "Damn!" spoken by Justin, several on-screen deaths, visible blood, and a fair amount of nightmare-fueling scenes. For reasons beyond all understanding, the MPAA still gave them a G. One would almost have to assume they didn't bother to watch it.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • The injections administered to the rats in the NIMH flashbacks are much, much too large for a one-pound rodent to receive without dying of heart failure. The proper veterinary dosage for such tiny animals' injections has a volume of a fraction of a mL. However, this may just be the rats' imagination, seeing as the lab also looks quite unsanitary.
    • The Great Owl is heard flapping his wings when he leaves his tree. Being nocturnal hunters, owls' wings are silent as their feathers greatly reduce the noise caused by turbulence.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Flying Dreams", the theme of the film, is an emotional song about how "love is the key."
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The ink Nicodemus uses to write in his journal in the opening scene. It sheds golden sparkly fairy dust all over the place, and the text he writes doesn't become visible until after a two-second delay, seeming to burn itself into the paper.
  • Badass Adorable: Mrs. Brisby. A humble and meek little mouse girl with adorable blue eyes, her sheer cuteness makes it even more awesome when she's able to overcome her fears and face impossible odds for the sake of her children.
  • Badass Normal: Though the rats are no less frightened of Dragon than are the mice, rats are too large to get into the house to drug him, leaving the mice to do it. Jonathan dies in one attempt (in his defense, he also did it countless nights for four years before finally being caught), and Mr. Ages breaks a leg in a subsequent one. Both are genetically modified, but Mrs. Brisby is the one who succeeds with just a scratch.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Poor Jeremy...
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Most of the rats, with Nicodemus as The One Who Wears Shoes.
  • Beard of Evil: Jenner has one.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Jeremy's buffoonery becomes so aggravating that even Mrs. Brisby is getting blatantly pissed off with him as the film continues. In a less temperamental case, she proves downright resilient in her goals to protect her family despite her meekness.
  • Blatant Lies: At one point, Jenner says "It would be an honor to assist Jonathan's widow in any way. We are but your humble servants." Not only is he already scheming to replace Nicodemus as leader of the NIMH rats, but he eventually tries to kill Mrs. Brisby when she gets in his way.
  • Butt-Monkey: Jeremy, a lonely compassionate crow who just wants to help out and find love. Unfortunately, he is also a hapless klutz, tending to cause more problems than he solves. He's constantly reprimanded by Mrs. Brisby until she eventually gets rid of him by having him see to trivial minor duties, both of which he fails miserably with, too. He does at least get his "Miss Right" at the end of it, though.
  • But Now I Must Go: In the first movie, Justin & the rats leave Mrs. Brisby for Thorn Valley.
  • Cape Swish: Jenner has mastered this move (which one feels he picked up from Maleficent).
  • Carnivore Confusion:
    • Lampshaded: "Owls eat mice!" "Uh...only after dark." There are bones strewn about the Owl's lair. Owls compact the indigestible parts of their meals (feathers, fur, and bones) into a pellet-like solid. The bones in the Owl's lair were probably from disintegrated pellets and meant to show just how ancient he is; at his age, he's not too concerned with keeping his lair tidy. The Owl seems to be completely nonplussed by this mouse (for reasons discussed below) but he'll gladly eat a passing bug.
  • Cat Scare: A rabbit is used instead. The cat is the monster. After all, the protagonists are a mouse and a bird.
  • Catchphrase: "Scuse me, pardon me" seems to be Jeremy's favorite words.
  • Cats Are Mean: The cat in question is named Dragon. It is a refreshing change in that this cat, who acts just like a cat, is considered bad but doesn't get an undeserved comeuppance. What is very interesting about this is that, in the scene where Mrs. Fitzgibbon is hanging out the laundry and Dragon is sleeping near the back step (a scene which takes more of an omniscient camera view than the first-person view of the mice), he doesn't come across nearly so horrifying. Part of this may be due to him being drugged at the time, but it also comes across as him seeming a normal cat here but a monster in all his other scenes because that is how a cat would look and sound to a mouse. (See Translation Convention.)
  • Central Theme:
    • Progression and whats the best way in order to continue to grow.
    • Science vs. Technology vs Nature vs. The Uncertainty.
  • Character Development: With the help of the Great Owl and Nicodemus, Mrs. Brisby is encouraged to find her own courage and inner strength instead of falling back on others for help, and then use it with the amulet to save her kids.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The amulet, which grants Mrs. Brisby major telekinetic powers, enough to move a block many times her weight several feet.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The power of the Amulet seems to run on this. The inscription on the back of it even cryptically alludes to this:
    "You can unlock any door if you only have the key."
  • Clever Crows: This trope is inverted, with Jeremy being a rare dumbass corvid.
  • Cobweb Jungle: The Great Owl's lair. The Great Owl himself, come to mention it. Hey, it looks awesome!
  • Cool Old Lady: Auntie Shrew is a bossy old Drama Queen, but when necessary she is an absolute badass, shutting down a tractor single-handedly.
  • Cold Open: The film starts with Nicodemus recording in his book about the death of Jonathan Brisby, and putting away a red medallion while talking to Jon in spirit. Obviously, this proves to be important later.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: The Rats of NIMH have this problem going for them. With their newfound comprehension and intelligence gained from NIMH's experiments on them, they believe they have to own up to a newfound responsibility of using it as a result, hence why they try to move on from stealing from humans and on to Thorn Valley in order to become self sufficient.
  • Conspicuously Light Patch: While the characters' fairly straightforward animation is understandable in contrast to the sumptuously painted backgrounds, when something in the background needs animating, it can be rather jarring. The mud sloshing around the Brisby's house as they're trying to move it is particularly obvious.
  • Cowardly Lion:
    • Mrs. Brisby, though willing to do anything to save her family, never loses her meek and fearful disposition. The plot tells us she has "courage of the heart."
    • Doubling as a Cowardly Sidekick, Jeremy, even if most of his acts of bravery are usually in vain due to being equally bumbling and dim-witted. That said, the guy directly attacks Dragon to protect Mrs. Brisby and retrieves Timmy's medicine from the scuffle (everyone is terrified of Dragon).
  • Crash-Into Hello/Meet Cute: At the end, Jeremy meets the true love he’s been searching for the whole movie when she collides into him at full speed.
  • Creepy Good:
    • The Great Owl is terrifying, but also helpful.
    • Similarly, Brutus' initial appearance when Mrs. Brisby meets him is scary, but when she runs into Mr. Ages, he just dismissively clarifies Brutus is just a regular guard that Brisby had the misfortune of meeting when he was on-duty and without Ages to speak on her behalf.
    • Nicodemus establishes himself as this in the film's opening scene: he appears to be using magic to write in his journal, his hands are shivelled and warty, he has claws that are both sharp and long, and his eyes are glowing yellow. But his every movement and every word out of his mouth is gentle, and thoughout the film he makes it clear he wants to help Mrs. Brisby save her home and family.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Jeremy spends most of the film irritating the other protagonists with his clumsy behaviour. However, he is a graceful flyer and counts as the only character to outright attack Dragon to save Mrs Brisby.
  • Crystal Ball: Essentially, Nicodemus' whirling bronze portal-thing, which allows him to scry on others from a great distance.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Great Owl, who is neutral. Also Nicodemus, because not only is he scary and ugly , but also actually quite dark in himself (largely thanks to the fact that the colours in the movie are quite dull and brown, as was the style in fantastic films of the time).
  • Death by Adaptation: Near the end of the film, Nicodemus is killed by Jenner. This does not happen the novel, as Jenner had already left the rats and Nicodemus goes to Thorn Valley in the end.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Sullivan, who after being slashed across the chest by Jenner, uses his last breath to throw a knife in Jenner's back as he prepares to kill Justin.
  • Death Is a Sad Thing: Though Timmy doesn't actually die, even the youngest characters confront death head on and discuss the possibility openly. Bluth films are actually famous for handling the subject of death very well, in a frank and realistic manner, especially for family films.
  • Deus ex Machina: The ending. The stone was mentioned to have a power early, but Deus ex Machina in that the power wasn't fully explained. In other words, it's a type 2 or 3 Deus ex Machina. In the interview "Remembering NIMH", Don outright acknowledges that the miracle the amulet brings has religious connotations.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Jenner's upgrade in role from a minor character in the book to the film's villain basically serves this purpose. He's introduced out of nowhere rather late in the film (around 42 minutes in), and gets less than six minutes of screentime—his characterization is solely defined by him trying to stage a coup to usurp power by any means necessary, and all he contributes in the plot is providing yet another source of conflict for Mrs. Brisby and the other rats. In his book "The Art of Storyboard", Don Bluth even said Jenner's role was solely to provide another obstacle for Mrs. Brisby.
  • Disguised in Drag: Played With. Jeremy, while helping Mrs. Brisby reach the rosebush to find the rats, decides it'd be a great idea to disguise himself by sneaking around inside a pair of ladies' bloomers.
  • Disneyfication: Played with. While the movie has some traditional changes from the original book (eg. more whimsical and slapstick-esque characterization and dialogue), some aspects are actually darker compared to its original material. The death count of pivotal characters is higher in the movie, for example. Mrs. Brisby goes through much more hardship than in the book, but this allows more emphasis on the power of courage and love. The theme was absent in the original book in favour of a greater focus on the rats' responsibility to stop stealing (which was itself mentioned in the film, although it was more about the moral issues of stealing rather than the practical ones).
  • Drama Queen: Auntie Shrew is a stereotypical gossipy dramatic put-upon old woman, yet is an epic badass when called upon.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Dragon, the farm cat is truly monstrous and feared by all the woodland animals save for the rats who know how to pacify him.
    • The Great Owl is this towards the woodland animals, for obvious reasons.
    • The rats of NIMH who live in the rosebush are this to some of the woodland creatures, especially Auntie Shrew. The same Auntie Shrew who single-handedly faces down a tractor and wins, later tells Mrs. Brisby to show courage in asking an owl for help, and captures and ties up a crow, visibly panics at the sound of the rats arriving.
  • Enigmatic Institute: NIMH (Which is a real scientific organization) is portrayed in a mysterious, but mostly negative light here because the movie focuses on the rats and mice that NIMH experimented on. Not much is shown of the scientists, but they injected the rodents with a serum that caused them to gain human levels of intelligence. The rodents escaped NIMH because they were horribly mistreated. Some agents from NIMH later try to track down the rats, prompting them to leave the farm where they had been living to find a new home.
  • Evil Gloating: After murdering Nicodemus, Jenner cannot resist spilling the beans about it as soon as Justin figures it out and accuses him.
  • Eyelash Fluttering: Mrs. Brisby combines fluttering eyelashes with a Flirty Voice Ploy to send Jeremy away by suggesting he watch her children instead of assisting her in her search for the entrance to the rosebush.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Jenner slashing Sullivan across his chest with his sword is startling even to adults.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: There's the owl causally devour a still-living insect, Mrs. Brisby's cut (hey, it's a G-rated movie, any blood is gore), two characters stabbed, and some rather graphic depictions of animal experimentation, even if only for a few seconds.
  • Father's Quest: Mother's Quest in this case: the film has mother mouse Brisby facing the destruction of her home once the farmer starts his plowing tractor. (The animals call this Moving Day.) Brisby can get herself and three of her children away safely, but her youngest, Timmy, lies sick abed and cannot be moved. This mother goes to extraordinary lengths to keep poor Timmy alive and intact, including consulting the Great Owl (owls eat mice), petitioning help from intelligent rats (rats tend regard mice as "lower creatures"), and using a Magitek amulet that leaves her drained to exhaustion.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Jenner is possessed of a singular charm and charisma that makes it easy to see how he manipulates others around him. However, almost all of his charm and courtesy towards others is solely to meet his ends, and when things start to turn against him he devolves into a feral creature, and there is no one he won't kill in cold blood to keep his plan in motion.
  • Filler: Most of Jeremy's scenes contribute nothing to the main plotlines or subplots, and just serve as comic relief. The only points where his actions are really plot relevant include saving Mrs. Brisby (and the medicine she got for Timmy) from Dragon, and flying her to the Great Owl.
  • Flirty Voice Ploy: When Mrs. Brisby is trying to sneak into the rose bush, Jeremy is drawing attention to her. When he says that if something bad were to happen to her, her children would be left alone, she gets an idea.
    Mrs. Brisby: Jeremy! Someone strong should be watching my children. In case that tractor starts up again.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: There are at least six ongoing plots tied together in the original film:
    • The main focus of the film is Mrs. Brisby trying to save her children from the farmer's plow—her son Timothy is bedridden and ill, and she can't risk taking him out of their house without making his illness worse. On top of that, she's coping with the death of her husband at the hands of Dragon, the farmer's cat. Both of these get her wrapped up in several other incidents along the way, including...
    • The rats of NIMH trying to come to terms with their newfound intelligence and responsibilities and planning to leave for Thorn Valley instead of pilfering off human resources in secret. Mrs. Brisby's husband was one of them and helped them escape NIMH (and sacrificed his life trying to drug Dragon for the other rats), so the Great Owl sends Mrs. Brisby to them for their aid in saving her children. Curiously, while their newfound intelligence provides an interesting backstory, it actually doesn't have that much relevance to the film's main plot other than providing another source of conflict, and other than going through with the plan to move, it doesn't really get resolved.
    • Nicodemus coming to terms with both the rats' situation (and the internal conflicts going on between them) and Jonathan Brisby's death, eventually aiding Mrs. Brisby by giving her the Stone amulet per Jonathan's request. Nicodemus also has peculiar abilities that seem supernatural, and the film never elaborates on how he acquired these abilities, or where the Stone came from.
    • This in turn gets Mrs. Brisby wrapped in another source of conflict. Jenner tries to sabotage the rats' moving plans by murdering Nicodemus in a staged accident while they're moving Mrs. Brisby's house, so in turn he can usurp leadership of the rats of NIMH. And then once he sees Mrs. Brisby has the stone Nicodemus gives her, he changes his motive on a whim and tries to kill her to get it.
    • The farmer interacting with people from NIMH who are searching for the rats and plan to destroy them Surprisingly, the sequel directly followed up on this plot thread.
    • Jeremy the crow trying to find a love interest and dealing with Brisby's kids and Auntie Shrew later on. This one gets the least attention out of the plots and has the least bearing on the film, as Jeremy just serves as comic relief.
  • Furry Confusion: The rats angst over this quite a bit. Though, looking at the farm animals, all of them show intelligence and act somewhat like humans — to a point. Only the insects play fully realistic parts.
  • Gasp!: Brisby does this when she sees bones from the Great Owl's previous kills falling after she slips on some.
  • Giant Spider: A spider appears in the Great Owl's lair. Being massive, from Mrs. Brisby's perspective, it's a real threat to her before being crushed to a pulp by the owl.
  • Glowing Eyes: Nicodemus, full stop. His eyes always glow. The Great Owl's eyes are exactly the same. It's never explained why, though glowing eyes seem to be associated with great age and wisdom and some kind of unexplained power. Owls and rats (and, indeed, most nocturnal vertebrates) also have light-reflectant eyes. Why it's only obvious with these two probably falls under Rule of Cool.
  • Glowing Flora: Mrs. Brisby manages to find a gorgeous inner sanctum inside the rosebush. The approach way is lit by the blooms of flowers bedded alongside the path. These blooms go dim and close tightly as Brisby comes near, darkening the area ominously.
  • Good is Not Nice: Mr. Ages and Auntie Shrew are both rude and haughty at the best of times, but are also amongst the most courageous characters next to Mrs. Brisby herself.
  • Gratuitous Laboratory Flasks: Mr. Ages' laboratory features a ton of (human-sized) chemistry apparatus filled with bubbling concoctions which he's seen using once, to prepare a medicinal powder for the feverish Timothy.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The NIMH institute. Though they play a large role in how the rats of NIMH came to be, they are largely divorced from the events of the movie proper.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: In the movie, how the uplifted mice and rats manage to make their way out of the labyrinthine building their lab is in. The book describes their escape in detail while the movie limits it to a couple of brief scenes (albeit one that's pure, distilled Nightmare Fuel).
  • Grumpy Old Man: Mr. Ages is an abrasive misanthrope, but his heart is very much in the right place. Auntie Shrew who is a grumpy old woman herself, even refers to him as "that old flim-flam."
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: The Brisby family. Most of the rats as well.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sullivan.
  • Hero of Another Story: Jonathan Brisby, who helped the Rats escape the NIHM facility. His legacy is what convinces the Rats to aid Mrs. Brisby in her time of need.
  • Heroic Fantasy: The movie is the book's plot redone as a Swords and Sorcery epic, and goes a long way to explain some of the odd depictions and Carnivore Confusion:
    • Mrs. Brisby as a peasant girl, beset by forces beyond her understanding. She looks to those much more powerful than her to save her family from an onrushing (un)natural disaster.
    • Her husband (and Posthumous Character) Jonathan Brisby, who is killed executing his duty without ever telling his wife about his hidden past. His death kicks off the plot proper...
    • Dragon as a troll/griffon/other man-eating fantasy monster, not too bright but cunning, the primary local hazard, and one that the rats must deal with every time they need to venture outside their Hidden Elf Kingdom...
    • Mr. Ages as the grumpy local apothecary (and Gadgeteer Genius) with a hidden past and friends in very high places...
    • Auntie Shrew as the Town Crier, busybody and gossip (and very useful - not to mention courageous - when danger comes calling).
    • Jeremy as the helpful but bumbling village idiot and Cloud Cuckoolandernote 
    • The rats as a powerful Hidden Elf Kingdom, complete with court intrigue, which the poor peasant girl quickly finds herself a pawn of...
    • Jenner as the ambitious nobleman, scheming to turn the situation to his advantage to kill Nicodemus and take his throne...
    • Nicodemus as a powerful mage, a literal Sorceror King, and secretly aligned with...
    • ...the Great Owl as the real dragon, an ancient, cave-dwelling "Great Wyrm" that offers Mrs. Brisby salient advice at Nicodemus' behest...
    • .. and so on.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Brutus, the huge intimidating guard to the rat's hideout, is revealed as such in the original novel. The original film, which makes him far more intimidating, at first only vaguely hints to this ("Oh, that's just Brutus..."), but he does try to help pull up the Brisby home. You hardly see him, and wouldn't know it was him if Justin hadn't called out his name, but he's there.
    Justin: I'll get a line around the stones, now... Brutus, quick! Get some rope; tie off those block lines!
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Humanity does seem pretty Cthulhuish in several respects here. In particular, the rats of NIMH are understandably terrified of what humans would do if they found a society of transgenic sentients living in a rosebush in some farmer's front lawn. Makes more sense in the context of Heroic Fantasy, above.
  • Hysterical Woman: Mrs. Brisby is very neurotic and timid, but given the circumstances she goes through, it's understandable she'd be scared out of her wits. When she tries to warn the rats that NIMH is on their way to kill them, Jenner even accuses her of being hysterical.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: The inscription on the back of the amulet: "You can unlock any door, if you only have the key."
  • Identical Stranger: Despite being different species and knowing each other, Nicodemus and the Great Owl have the same glowing eyes, same big eyebrows and same-length moustaches. See picture above. Don Bluth mentioned in two interviews that they're actually the same person who is changing forms.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: The amulet Nicodemus gives Mrs. Brisby. In fact, Nicodemus' magic powers in general. The film never explains where either came from. It's not even addressed if Nicodemus got those abilities as a side effect of the injection (which would raise questions about why the other rats got no such abilities) or if he was intelligent enough to learn them on his own. Years later, Don Bluth handwaved the presence of the amulet in an interview:
    Don Bluth: With regard to the amulet, it is a metaphor for believing in one's self. Remember the quote, "Courage of the heart is very rare, the stone has a power when it's there." It helps symbolize her courage and the power of the stone to help rescue her children...a miracle, if you will. God stuff. Granted, it isn't in the original novel, but we felt that it was much more powerful. Nicodemus says it was Jonathan's, but really just to get her to accept it. We didn't really think it was necessary to explain it further. Seems like we would eat up too much screen time to tell the history of the amulet, when the story was about an innocent widow mouse, who, thru her journey would find out that she has the courage to rescue her own family. Regarding magic, we really believe that animation calls for some magic, to give it a special "fantastic" quality. The stone or amulet is just a method of letting the audience know that Mrs. Brisby has found "Courage of the Heart". Magic? Maybe. Spiritual? Yes.
  • Insult Backfire: Well, as insulting as Mrs. Brisby can get, anyway.
    Jeremy (doing stunts in the air with Mrs. Brisby on his back): Nice evening, huh? See? I told you you'd like flying.
    Mrs. Brisby (holding on to Jeremy's string "collar" for dear life and clearly terrified): I don't know how I let you talk me into this!
    Jeremy: Ah, don't thank me, Ms. Briz.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • "Auntie" Shrew. She is first introduced as a pish-posh busybody who walks around with an incredible air of self-importance, but she soon demonstrates great bravery by warning all the animals about the plow and rescuing Mrs. Brisby from the tractor.
    • Mr. Ages is for the most part a cranky, unsociable hermit though he nevertheless assists Mrs. Brisby with every plea she makes to assist her family, plus is revealed to have been quite the badass himself, being the one previously tasked with drugging the cat before he injured his leg, as well as playing a part in the rats' escape alongside Jonathan Brisby.
    • See also Brutus under Hidden Heart of Gold, above.
  • Kindhearted Simpleton: Jeremy means well, but his denseness usually does more harm than good.
    Mrs. Brisby: If you're going to feather a nest, you've got a lot to learn about how to treat a lady.
    Jeremy: Right. When you're right, you're right, and you're right. None of the girls I meet wanna get serious.
    Mrs. Brisby: I doubt they'd survive.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The film is all around rather dark, introspective, and has a very thick thread of plotlines centered around the Rats of NIMH and their backstory. When Mrs. Brisby meets Justin and he takes them to meet the others in the council room (who are in the middle of a heated political debate), he acknowledges to her that "We tend to take ourselves a little too seriously."
  • Large Ham:
    • Mrs. Shrew seemed to think she was in a perpetual Shakespearean play, Trrrilling Rrrs and all.
    • Jenner as well: "...and the WEIGHT of it will CRUSH his BONES!"
  • Last Breath Bullet: Knife, actually. It's how Jenner meets his end.
  • Last-Name Basis: Mrs. Brisby is never referred to as anything other than Mrs. Brisby. The closest they get to giving her a first name is calling her Mrs. Jonathan Brisby, but that's referring to her husband.note 
  • Leave Him to Me!: Jenner pulls this, as he wants to crush Nicodemus under a hoisting crane. Oddly, this is done as a murder plot and not (as it usually is) during a heated battle. He also says this word-for-word when Sullivan asks him what to do about Justin.
  • LEGO Genetics: An odd injection is enough to completely alter the rats' DNA and make them intelligent enough to do things like reading and building advanced scientific equipment, in addition to giving them abnormally long life spans. In real life, an injection that huge would be more likely give them heart failure than make them smarter.
  • Longevity Treatment: Nicodemus mentions to Mrs. Brisby that the genetic manipulation slowed their aging process, and that Jonathan would have continued to live on and still look young while she grew old.
  • Ludd Was Right: The Rats of NIMH angst over their dependence on electricity, as they must steal it from the farm. The whole plan to move to Thorn Valley hinges on their becoming entirely self-sufficient. It's not that they don't like technology or advancement; stealing electricity from the humans just is dangerously conspicuous activity for hyperintelligent rodents on the run. That and they're starting to gain some human-like morality and deeper emotion, such as the feeling of ennui as they realize that a life living entirely off the back of another was robbing them of self-worth.
  • Magical Accessory: Mrs. Brisby wears The Stone as a pendant.
  • Magitek: The rats' technology is human artifacts, mixed with Nicodemus' technomagery.
  • Mama Bear: Not as violent as standard examples, but any mouse (especially a semi-anthropomorphic one) who'll enter the dark spooky lair of one of her natural predators, in order to save her children, deserves a mention.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Jenner.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Everyone present when the Brisby home starts sinking in the mud.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Nicodemus tells Mrs. Brisby that if Jonathan hadn't been killed by Dragon, he probably would've outlived her by quite some time.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Farmer Fitzgibbon, as in "son of an ape". Not helped by the fact that the prefix "fitz" was, in medieval times, widely used for the surnames of acknowledged illegitimate children - thus making it into "bastard son of an ape," which is far more insulting, when you think about it.
    • Justin means "just or righteous."
    • Jenner means "cunning or contriver."
    • Jeremy means "the lord loosens or god will uplift."
    • Nicodemus means "victory of the people."
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Jeremy after glancing at Mrs. Brisby's "sparkly" in the original. It's far more then just your average sparkly, and he picks up on it, though of course, neither understand the time.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Sullivan doesn't really do anything to further Jenner's plots. He can't bear the thought of killing Nicodemus and refuses to swing his sword at the crucial moment, leaving Jenner to do the dirty deed. He even tries to stop Jenner from going over the edge and gets his chest cut for his troubles. He lives just long enough to redeem himself by stabbing Jenner In the Back before he kills Justin.
  • Motive Decay: Jenner spends most of his screentime planning to usurp leadership of the Rats of NIMH by murdering Nicodemus in a staged accident. Shortly after, he tries to kill Mrs. Brisby when she brings news that NIMH is coming, but once he sees the Amulet that Nicodemus gave her, Jenner, for no clear reason, abruptly forgets everything else and changes his goal to killing Mrs. Brisby for it.note 
  • Motive Rant: Jenner has a very memorable one when confronted with his murder of Nicodemus by Justin:
    Jenner: Yes, I killed him! He wanted to destroy everything! I've learned this much: take what you can, when you can!
  • Mouse World: Several, designed by the rats and mice of NIMH.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • "Oh, that's just Brutus."
    • Also, Dragon. Only a bastard son of an ape would give their pet that name.
    • The Great Owl tops them all, as befitting a Great Wyrm character. Nobody with sense messes with him save Nicodemus, who is equal in power and allied with him. Mrs. Brisby is forced to seek his advice, at extreme peril to her life. Extremely fortunately for her, Nicodemus, watching from afar, warned him she was coming, and his attitude changes completely when she reveals who she is.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Mrs. Brisby would not have gotten any help for her situation if she wasn't "Mrs. Jonathan Brisby".
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Auntie Shrew won't listen to the youngest Brisby child when she tries to tell her that her brother is sick.
    Auntie Shrew: Cynthia dearest, don't paw me.
  • Obviously Evil: Jenner wears an Ominous Opera Cape, with Big Ol' Eyebrows that he's constantly arching, and has a long goatee. He may as well walk around wearing a sign around his neck saying "Evil Megalomaniac."
  • "Oh, Crap!" Smile: Jeremy flashes one of these (with teeth, no less!) after he sneezes in Dragon's face. Dragon is not amused.
  • Ominous Opera Cape: Jenner, and he uses it for an impressive Cape Swish.
  • Playing with Syringes: The scenes set within NIMH; twenty rats and eleven mice were given injections that enhanced their intelligence to human levels(if not superhuman QED Nicodemus' techno-sorcery devices) and extended their lifespans. They promptly broke out and built their own Hidden Elf Village.
  • Plot Hole:
    • The film never really makes a distinction about how much more intelligent the rats are than other animals, aside from the obvious results of scientific progress and the self consciousness of humanlike responsibility shifted onto them. The other animals are clearly capable of communication, rational thought and thinking skills like decision making and deductive reasoning. Did the injection simply give the rats a bigger idea of comprehension than the other animals?
    • Why is it that Mrs. Shrew recommends Mrs. Brisby see the Great Owl when Mr. Ages makes it clear that no one else has seen the Great Owl and lived to tell about it? How would she have known If he was wise, or if it was even sensible to ask for his help if he had that kind of reputation?
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Jeremy. And given how dark this film is, his comic relief is very much needed..
  • Posthumous Character: Jonathan Brisby.
  • The Power of Love: "You can unlock any door, if you only have the key." According to Paul Williams' Theme Song Flying Dreams, "Love is the key."
    Nicodemus: Courage of the heart is very rare. The stone has a power when it's there.
  • Power-Strain Blackout: Mrs. Brisby, immediately following the film's climax, wherein she uses The Stone for the first and only time to move her home. She collapses as its power subsides, then passes out.
  • Quit Your Whining: Auntie Shrew uses this as a way to get Mrs. Brisby to pull herself together after her near-fatal incident with the plow:
    Mrs. Brisby (tearfully): He'll come back tomorrow! I wish Jonathan were here!
    Auntie Shrew (irritated): Well, he's not. (Viciously, as Mrs. Brisby continues to sob.) Stop it.
  • Quicksand Sucks: A house made from a cinder block is disposed of like this after being dropped by crane onto Nicodemus. As a murder weapon. The residents are also still inside.
  • Race Against the Clock:
    • The threat of Fitzgibbon's plow destroying Mrs. Brisby's home and killing Timmy inside is the driving conflict of the movie, which makes her seek out the aid of the Rats of NIMH in order to move her house to safety in time.
    • In his book "The Art of Storyboard", Don claims the scene where Mrs. Brisby and Nicodemus are in the boat under the crumbling watermill is meant to subtly add to this element, even though it's a scene of exposition related to the second plotline of the Rats leaving the Rose Bush for Thorn Valley.
    • And then a third element of this is added in the climax. The scientists of NIMH get word that their rats are in the thorn bush, and are on their way to exterminate them. Mrs. Brisby overhears Fitzgibbon talking them to them about it over the phone, and she rushes off to warn the Rats to get out as soon as possible.
  • Random Events Plot: Don intentionally structured and paced the film like a novel more than a standard animated movie, believing it allowed more subtext to be incorporated into the film. The plot starts off fairly straightforward (Mrs. Brisby is coping with the loss of her husband and has to save her sick kid from harm) with some backstory foreshadowed a couple times and having a very minor subplot of Jeremy the Crow trying to find a love interest. Half an hour into the film, when Mrs. Brisby enters the rose bush and finds the Rats of NIMH, the film veers way off the main plot and into a grand total of four other plots, largely consisting of subplots and backstory: the Rats coming to terms with their newfound intelligence and responsibilities, Nicodemus helping Mrs. Brisby out of obligation and coping with the rats situation, Jenner trying to stage a coup to upsurp power, and NIMH trying to seek out and destroy the rats. This half is practically its own self contained story, and has little relevance to the main conflict other than the additional problems they unwittingly bring in—the only thing that directly ties them into it is that Mrs. Brisby was related to one of their own kind, Jonathan, and gets their help solely because of that). Throw in some unexplained loose ends (just where did Nicodemus get that amulet or those magic powers?) and the plot can ultimately feel rather disjointed. Much of this was a result of changes from the book, namely playing up Mrs. Brisby's role in the story (the Rats were the central characters of the novel, with Mrs. Brisby being a vehicle for the audience), adding magical fantasy elements (Nicodemus had none of his supernatural powers in the book), and upgrading a minor character (Jenner) into the villain (the book had no real antagonist).
  • Real Is Brown: The film relies on this grungy aesthetic to fit its generally serious tone.
  • Red Filter of Doom:
    • The red filter appears during Brisby's encounter with Brutus, immediately after he stabs his spear into the ground to scare her off.
    • Also much of the fight between Justin and Jenner is filmed/animated in reddish hues.
  • Red String of Fate: This may or may not be an intentional usage. When Mrs. Brisby first meets Jeremy, he is tangled in red string, which he is retrieving to build a "love nest" for his future "Mrs. Right".
  • Resourceful Rodent: The rats of NIMH are able to read as a result of the experiments scientists conducted on them. They also know how to work technology.
  • Scenery Porn: Lots of it, especially in the rat colony.
  • Schizo Tech: Crosses over with Hammerspace when Justin and Jenner pull out their swords. Considering that the rats adapt human technology based on their functioning understanding of it (well, at least in the novel), one might wonder where they managed to come up with the idea that full-on medieval swords in tiny miniature version would be a good idea. Especially considering the kinds of heat needed to shape metal when they live in a flammable environment (it's a rose bush). In any case, for some this might lean into Fridge Logic country, and for others it leans in the opposite direction, however you can't deny that the combination of electricity, elevators, lighting... and magic and swords is a little schizoid.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Sullivan, despite threats from Jenner, ultimately refuses to play part in murdering Nicodemus.
  • Serious Work, Comedic Scene: This is about mother mouse trying to find a way to save her pneumonia-ridden son and the rest of her family before the farmer's plow comes and destroys their home. There are moments of magic, epic sword fights, betrayal, and murder. There's also:
    • Jeremy the Crow, voiced by Dom De Luise, a comic-relief character who fancies himself a lady's man, but is actually just a bumbling mess who manages to get himself captured in his own yarn collection twice in the film, once when he meets Mrs. Brisby and once when he was captured by her children and Auntie Shrew.
    • Justin, one of the titular rats, displays a subtle and clever sense of humor when they walk into the council room to hear Jenner ranting.
    Jenner: The Thorn Valley Plan is the aspiration of idiots and dreamers! We...(notices Justin and Mr. Ages) heh-heh-heh, we were just talking about you.
    Justin: That's refreshing, Jenner. Usually you're screaming about us.
  • Ship Tease: Justin and Mrs. Brisby flirt a bit over the course of the movie, but both have more important things on their minds.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Jeremy more or less disappears halfway through until the main climax is over.
  • Shout-Out: Mrs. Brisby raising her house with the medallion at the end, at least how its visually presented, is very likely a homage to Yoda using the Force to raise Luke's X-Wing in The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Shown Their Work: If you look carefully during the owl scene, you can see that the owl has zygodactyl talons (two toes in front and two in back) like real owls do.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    Jenner: He wanted to destroy everything! I've learned this much: take what you can...when you can!
    Justin: Then you've learned nothing!
  • Siding with the Suffering: Sullivan works with his leader Jenner, but he begins to get second thoughts when Jenner orders him to cut a rope to crush Nicodemus. He refuses to do so and tries to stop Jenner from going too far, only for the enraged Jenner to slice him with a sword in retribution. Later, Jenner is about to slash Justin with his sword, but the dying Sullivan uses the last of his strength to throw his own dagger at Jenner, saving Justin in the process.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: While this movie can certainly get dark, it still leans more towards the idealistic side.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Justin and Jenner do this in one moment of the movie.
    Jenner (has been talking about how Nicodemus's plan to move is the idea of idiots and dreamers): We were just talking about you.
    Justin: That's refreshing, Jenner, usually you're screaming about us.
  • Sneeze Interruption: Jeremy tries to explain that he knew all along that it was a rabbit behind him rather than Dragon the cat as he's allergic to cats, but then he sneezes and Dragon comes.
  • The Sociopath: Jenner.
  • Space Whale Aesop: If you can find courage and the initiative to take things into your own hands, you can harness the power of a magic amulet to raise your house into the air.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Justin, who becomes the leader of the rats after Nicodemus' death. Justin supposedly died in the novel by getting poisoned by NIMH. He gets better in the book's sequel.
  • Stealth Insult
    Jenner: The Thorn Valley Plan is the aspiration of idiots and dreamers! We... [sees Justin and Mr. Ages and chuckles] We were just talking about you...
    Justin: That's refreshing, Jenner – usually you're screaming about us.
  • Sub Text:
    • In an interview, Don said he put numerous subtle messages throughout NIMH that you can find with each different viewing.
      Don Bluth: There are messages in Secret of N.I.M.H. If you see the story line, you'll see there are all these little junctures along the way where you have a little message that is not entirely obvious. The novels do the same thing. If you re-read a novel, you'll find all these things that you didn't see the last time you read it. I know if you read the Bible stories [as an adult], for example, or the fairy tales, what happens is that you go: "I never remembered that. I never got that." It's because your psyche and development have progressed to the point where your understanding has increased. I was drawing Nicodemus from Secret of N.I.M.H. I said, "You know Nicodemus and the owl are actually the same person." Nobody knew that. I said, "They are the same person. We obviously made it so it's like a shape-shifter." Mythologically, that's what it is. The owl is trying to get Mrs. Brisby to stop saying, "Help, help, help," and to look inside herself and find her own strength. That's what he's trying to do. So then he tells her to go the rats. He is there himself in the guise of Nicodemus. He appears to her again and says, "OK, you have to help yourself." But he makes her go on this journey, because it's by going on our daily journey or our life's journey that we learn things that we have to know. And if we don't take the time to go on those journeys, however hard they may be, then you don't pick up all the little treasures you need to be a really whole person. That's what I think.
    • In the section about NIMH in Don Bluth's biography, animator John Pomeroy talks about the film's subtleties, even going as far as pointing out the implication that the Rats of NIMH possibly never truly existed.
      "Also there is the fact that only Mrs. Brisby and Ages see the elaborate costumes of the rats and their society. John once stated, 'Isn't it plausible that the entire set up of the lavish clothes, the elegant chambers, the amulet's power, etc. were nothing more than an image given to Brisby to assist her in finding the strength she had inside of her. We know the rats had powers... just how great were those powers?'"
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Sullivan gets cold feet about cutting the rope to drop the Brisby house on Nicodemus, but since all he does is refuse, Jenner cuts both ropes himself.
  • Symbolic Weapon Discarding: Justin and Jenner fight a duel with swords that leaves Jenner with a punctured lung. Having no stomach for continuing the fight, Justin throws down his sword and begins a speech to his fellow rats to complete the dream of Nicodemus and relocate to Thorn Valley. This shows Justin prefers to lead with reason and passion, rather than with force and guile.
  • Technicolor Science: Mr. Ages' fairly elaborate little lab, seen early in the film, has some hallmarks of this.
  • Thieving Magpie: Jeremy the Crow can't resist "sparklies."
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: After all the comedic abuse he suffers throughout the film, Jeremy finally gets his "Miss Right", who's conveniently just as clumsy and dippy as he is.
  • Translation Convention: In an interesting variation, Dragon's meows are rendered (except in a brief scene centered on the humans) as horrific, dragony roars to reflect that, as far as his prey is concerned, he lives up to his name. In the scene when Mrs. Brisby is imprisoned in the cage, and Mrs. Fitzgibbon goes to let Dragon in the back door, we hear him make perfectly normal feline meows. Like the scene where she's hanging the laundry, this moment is shown from more of an omniscient viewpoint than Mrs. Brisby's first-person angle, suggesting we're not seeing things from a mouse POV anymore.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Flying Dreams", the theme of the film, has a very loose, undefined lyrical structure, so it's roughly: Verse in C, bridge up to A#, chorus back down to C, instrumental break in C — and then the second iteration of the bridge modulates a full step down to B major before finishing in C.
  • Truth in Television:
    • The research lab the rats and mice break out of is based off the real-life National Institutes of Health Building 10, the largest hospital in the U.S., where all their clinical trials (and many animal labs) are located. The picture shows about a quarter of the building and it's as big as a city block, and people get lost in there routinely. Try to imagine escaping from a building that size if you are a rat or mouse...
    • In actuality, almost everything that appears in the movie from the Interspecies Friendships to the rather smart intelligence of animals to the cooperation of two different species has actually been observed and recorded both in captivity and in the wild, though the chances of it being seen and recorded is incredibly rare. In fact, the only thing that is blatantly untrue in this movie is the anthropomorphic shape of the animals.
  • Tsundere: Only a short period in the company of Jeremy can turn even sweet Mrs. Brisby into an irritable snark. Even on the rare occasions Jeremy isn't causing trouble for her, she is unusually condescending and dismissive towards him.
    Jeremy: None of the girls I meet want to get serious.
    Mrs. Brisby: I doubt they'd survive.
  • Tuft of Head Fur: Most of the mice have tufts of fur on their head.
  • Underlighting: Underlighting was used for the glowing eyes on Nicodemus and the Great Owl.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Mrs. Brisby gets irritated by Jeremy's continued antics, which are more likely to bring the wrath of Dragon down on her head than aid her. Eventually, she tricks him into leaving her alone by claiming that she needs him to look after the children while she is gone.
  • Uplifted Animal: The rats and mice were given enhanced intelligence and lifespans by NIMH's experiments, though they still can't speak to humans and it seems that ordinary rodents can communicate just as well. Aside from Mrs. Brisby's difficulty reading.
  • Verbal Tic: Aunt Shrew's Trrrilling Rrrs put The Demon Sisters to shame.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Jenner spends most of his time in the film being a Faux Affably Evil Smug Snake. When it looks like his plans have come to fruition near the end once Nicodemus is dead, Mrs. Brisby comes to warn the rats of their impending demise at the hands of NIMH. Jenner is so frustrated that he loses all semblance of civility and attacks her, trying to take the amulet and then engages in a feral swordfight with Justin, freely admitting his part in trying to stop the plan.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Jeremy gains a strong liking and responsibility to help Mrs. Brisby throughout her turmoils. Mrs. Brisby on the other hand is more along trying desperately to brush the clingy nuisance off her back (in a progressively less gentle manner). She does seem to like him when he isn't causing trouble for her, however.
    Jeremy: So... do ya like me?
    Mrs. Brisby: Of course I like you. Bye now!
  • Won't Do Your Dirty Work: Sullivan. But he only drops out of Jenner's plan at the very last minute, with a much less defiant attitude than most examples.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Near the end, Jenner smacks Mrs. Brisby out of the way when she tries to warn the rats that NIMH is coming.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Late in production, concerns arose that the name "Frisby" would land them in legal trouble with the makers of the Frisbee toy. Many of the voice actors returned to the studio for additional ADR work in order to replace every instance of the name "Frisby" in the film with "Brisby". Only Elizabeth Hartman and John Carradine—the actors for said character and the Great Owl—could not, so their lines were mechanically edited.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Defied — the rats gain a sense of morality and consider it wrong to steal from humans, the very species who locked them up and experimented on them.

Love it seems made flying dreams so hearts, could soar.
Heaven sent these wings were meant to prove, once more.
That love is the key...
Love is the key.


Video Example(s):


"We had become intelligent"

Nicodemus explains to Mrs. Brisby the origin of the Rats of NIMH.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / UpliftedAnimal

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