You think you know the Warners?

Think again! The backstory of the creation of "Stephen Speilberg Presents, Animaniacs!" As well as some good news for later this year ;)
April 06, 2006
You think you know the Warners?

Unless you’re a die hard Animaniacs fan with no life (who submits articles) you don’t know the half of it! The early story of the Animal-maniacs all starts with the Ruegger family.

i.e. this weird guy! ..And his kids!

Senior Producer and head writer Tom Ruegger had based the early prototypes of the Warner’s personas off of his three sons, Nate, Luke and Cody. (all three of whom have lended their voices to some of their daddy’s cartoons--Nathan is most notable as playing Skippy Squirrel)

Looks like Nate got to meet Speilberg in the flesh, I wonder how sibling rivalry went down in this house!

Yakky was of course the talkative older one, Smakky was based off his middle son who was going through a phase of slapping people in the face, and Wakky was based off his littlest son.. I guess he was just weird or something.

(The girl pictured, looking much like Dot, was just another character-- not a relative, who was likely to have a crush on one of the Warners)

If you think that picture looks weird, before that they were ducks! That’s right ducks. But seing as how there was already Darkwing Duck, Ducktales, Plucky Duck from Tiny Toon Adventures, not to mention Daffy Duck, and eventually Mighty Ducks, and Quack Pack-- Tom decided "Ducks have been done to death". The transformation from Duck into the undefined species that we know simply know as “cute”, began with a blob of red ink for a nose at the end of their duckbills.

Ever wonder why the Warners were supposedly created years ago and locked up for their insanity? Ever wonder about the old-style cartoon look of the Warners? Sometimes I hear people compare them to Micky Mouse ~shutters~
Their description and appearance is an homage to Bosko, the very first cartoon character of Warner Brothers, whose cartoons were never appreciated.They look quite a bit like him and his girlfriend Honey in the Tiny Toon Adventures episode “Fields of Honey”. The execs didn’t want to make them look EXACTLY like Bosko and Honey because they were portrayed so badly, so they were changed to anthropomorphic doglike characters. This episode really serves as the bridge between Tiny Toons and Animaniacs.

Somewhere along the way Wakky and Smakky were fused into one character and named Wakko. The girl “friend” became their sister Dot. And Yakky became Yakko, and dawned his triumphant pants of brown.

Since a cartoon character smaking people in the face likely wouldn’t bode well with the censors, Wakko was given a large mallet, and the temperment of the Wakky character.(Why would they be fine with him flattening people rather than slapping them? I may never know.) It stands to reason that Wakko’s popularity may be due to the fact that being made up of two characters, he has more defining characteristics and traits than his siblings.
No one really knows what trait’s the original Dot had before becoming a Warner. So we can’t say wether or not she has any of Cody Ruegger’s traits, or if they’re all in Wakko. In ‘95 Tom said, "Initially, Cody was upset that he got turned into a girl, but now he loves Dot." And who doesn’t? She’s a great character, (My favorite is still Yakko however ;3). Maybe little Cody was at least happy with his voice roll in Histeria as Loud Kiddington.

It’s not surprising to me that the Warners' gags often came straight from the Ruegger household, its hard not to relate to their childish- yet witty responses to the people around them.
"I don't want to hear another peep out of you!"
"Peep! Peep! Peep!"
What kid hasn’t done that?

The characters were originally going to be cousins. Then one fateful day in preproduction, Tom looked out his office window in Sherman Oaks from his Animation studio on the 11th floor, and saw the WB water tower in Burbank.

That’s when the idea came to him, “Call them Warner Brothers, and have them live inside that tower!” Whatever Mr. Ruegger was on, we’d all love to have some. (I wonder if the creators of Super Mario Brothers looked out their window one day and saw a plumber pull a crocodile out of a sewer?)

After the Warners were finalized as characters, there were still a few quirks to be tweaked. I think Yakko was accurately described in the “Animaniacs Bible” as--

“Sly wise guy in the Groucho/Bugs Bunny mold. He’s the thinker, the planer, the schemer, and the trio’s recreation director. Each day he’s full of boyish enthusiasm, and he’s the master of verbal warfare. Yakko is a cheerful character with a devilish twinkle in his eye. The world is his play land, and he takes great pleasure in finding a deserving target for the Warner brother’s patented style of mayhem and destruction.”

"Take me away, but be gentle, I'm fragile"

"Is it those cute little Olsen twins?"

However other characteristics that were more refined, or simply dealt away with were some of his obnoxious routines. For instance he was supposed to say things like “I got it! I got it! I got it!” and “You know what? you know what? you know what?” Frankly Im glad this was phased out of his quirks.
The A!Bible also goes on to say that he leaves the fighting to his siblings and just sits back and admires their handy work. I suppose this is somewhat true when it comes to the scale in which Wakko uses physical force compared to Yakko. But not by much. Yakko is also described as having the ability to cause his siblings to stop in their tracks by snapping his fingers. I have noticed that they stop anytime he says things like “TIME OUT!” and are more than ready to start again when he says “TIME IN!”.

I find that many characteristics about Wakko described in the A!Bible were done away with, or at the least, toned down a bit. He doesn’t seem to be nearly as destructive as they describe, at least not any more so than watching the original Loony Tunes. You be the judge of this early description--
“He has the blissed-out factial expressions and mirthful demeanor of Harpo Marx. He is the cartoon equivalent of an atom bomb. He is the most destructive character in the history of chartoondom. Whatever he pushes or pulls results in a chain reaction of unintentional chaos. His siblings are well aware of Wakko’s innate talent, and they employ him in this role to full effect.
Wakko is Gogo plus Daffy plus Harpo. No puns, just nonstop literal translations.He has been smacked on the head with a mallet too many times. He finds most things amusing. He is the king of props. He carries a wacky sack out of which he can pull any object we can think of. He will nod “yes” and say “no.” He walks backwards as easy as forwards and means everything he says except what he means. He loves you to pieces. He will change the environment at the drop of a suggestion. He is the looniest, but they are all loony. He is apt to kiss anyone at anytime for any reason. And if someone were to hurt his feelings… he would be VERY hurt.”

"Naughty Puppet!"

"I NEVER get to get it!"

It also goes on to say his temper rarely gets unleashed, but he goes all out when he’s angry, that he does various animal routines for no apparent reason, he eats anything, and when yelled at for his destructive antics he cries--making the villan feel guilty and console him. It also says he can pull off his tail and ears to be used as props in any situation.

Yes, yes it’s Dot’s turn, lets see what the A!Bible initially had in store for Dot shall we?--
“She can do anything the boys can do and still look cute (and she knows it). Dot can hold her own in any situation. If anything, her femininity is a weapon she uses to hold saps hostage. Dot has a higher tolerance for jerks than her brothers, and she tends to give them the benefit of the doubt: “Let’s just calm down and talk this through.” BUT when the adversary says something like: “That’s a good little girl,” she goes off: “Someone gimme a mallet, quick” and she pounds the schmoe with reckless abandon.
Dot is everything that all animated female characters have never been. She is ascerbic, witty, and violent and (above it all) cute. (She can’t help it she just is!)”

It also says that Dot would shout “Sexual Harrassment!” anytime someone would point out she’s a girl (and get him immediately be arrested), when being introduced as a Warner brother. Although she obviously never does that in the show, she does have some lines like “If you touch me or even get near me, I’ll have you arrested, do you hear me?” The early Dot description also says she can form her hair bow into any shape needed, much like Wakko’s ears and tail I presume.

I know I used this pic in the Rob Paulsen post, but it seems fitting to their personas. Yakko has that know-all-tell-all expression. Dot is practically posing, confidantly. And Wakko is blissed-out as ever.

You know of all those other great A! characters, including the characters who got their own series-- Pinky and the Brain.

Egad! Pinky is adorable!

Mindy & Buttons-- Steven Spielberg had model sheets of potential franchises scattered around at home as he was deciding what to approve and what to disapprove, when his young son pointed at Mindy and said, "She's cool." So Mindy & Buttons were in. I’m not sure this story is true, but I believe the sorce (my sources are at the bottom of the page)

Well here are a few that you don’t know, and some who were changed before production.

Goodfeathers-- The names at this stage were Frankie, Joey Z and Gary. When Bobby, Pesto and Squit came in, and from where I don’t know.

The Hip Hippos Were an early addition to the group, their names were John and Martha. The idea to have them as rich foreigners hadn't formed yet, somewhere they went from their American yuppy names to Flavio and Marita.

Bossy Beaver & Doyle. This franchise never made it and there aren’t even any descriptions of the characters. I wonder what that’s all about?

Minerva Mink Was first was called Marilyn Mink -- Probably she was more of a Marilyn Monroe parody. Newt was planned as a regular adversary for her in the beginning, though he didn’t really show up until later. This might explain why he was in the opening credits even though he’s in so few skits.

The Fleas There’s no description given about this one either. The source I’ve found for all this information suspects it might have been a continuation of the Tiny Toon’s flea skits.

Clyde & Egghead Jr. -- Clyde is a mystery, But its suspected Egghead Jr. is the same as the one seen in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons and again in Tiny Toons.

Mr. Skullhead was meant to be a regular! I used to hope he’d have more skits other than the one of Skullhead boney hands and his appearances in Good Idea Bad Idea.

La Tidga NO CLUE! What language is that? Anyone?

Some ideas that were abandoned even before December 1991’s revision of the writers' bible--.

As The Petri Dish Turns a soap-opera parody, following the lives of microscopic organisms, and the complications that cell division might have on a relationship. I for one would have been immensely amused.

Nipsy & Russell two raccoons. Likley they were based on comedian, Nipsy Russell. They were probably abandoned over the fear of repercussion for naming a pair of raccoons after a black comedian. … They could have changed them to Possums or something you know?

And now you know the behind the story, story of how the Warners started. Make sure you A! Fans buy the season one DVDs of Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain available July 25th!!

Reaper asked me to do an Animaniacs Article, so if you don’t like it blame him! (just kidding it’d totally be my fault)

Most of my information was learned from here. Just so you know I didn’t make it up ;3

Larissa Norman’s copy of the Animaniacs Bible

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