‘Animaniacs’: Jess Harnell Modeled Wakko’s Voice After a Member of The Beatles

In the mid-’90s, Animaniacs became one of the most popular animated TV shows of its time. The show was loved by audiences of all ages.

It features a variety of characters that were able to capture the attention of children while also featuring the same type of variety skits that the old Looney Tunes cartoons had which made adults feel a bit nostalgic.

The show featured a variety of characters, but the main characters were Wakko, Yakko, and Dot Warner, also known as The Warner Siblings.

These three characters were fun and entertaining to watch, but it is what Jess Harnell decided to do with his character that really helped Wakko stand out the most.

The creation of ‘Animaniacs’

Animaniacs was created by Tom Ruegger in 1993 and is produced by Steven Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Entertainment, and Warner Bros Animation. 

According to Mental Floss, after Spielberg finished making Tiny Toons, he asked Ruegger to create another animated series that would be just as popular as his previous creation. 

At first, Ruegger was going to create four duckling brothers. However, because characters like Daffy Duck, Donald Duck, and Daisy Duck were already established and beloved characters, Warner Bros felt like it had enough duck characters in its lineup.

So, Ruegger then came up with the idea to have three dog-like siblings that were funny and zany and also lived inside the Warner Bros water tower. The characters were given the name The Warner Siblings,” but most fans of the show just refer to these characters as “The Animaniacs.”

The show is considered to be a variety show which usually consists of two to three different short segments. There is a wide range of characters on Animaniacs, and each character appears on its own segment, or short. The Warner siblings usually appear at different times throughout the show, and are thought to be “a way to tie everything together.”

Wakko’s voice was inspired by ‘The Beatles’

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The character of Wakko Warner is voiced by Jess Harnell. Harnell is a voiced actor that has voiced a wide range of characters throughout the years including Secret Squirrel on 2 Stupid Dogs, and he has been the announcer on America’s Funniest Home Videos since 1998.

When he first auditioned for the part of Wakko in Animaniacs, Harnell said that he first used a “wacky” and loud voice. However, after receiving a callback, the director asked him if he could do any impressions. At first, he tried to do an Elvis impersonation, but that didn’t go over too well.

The director then asked if he could sound like The Beatles. He ended up doing an impersonation of each member of the group before finally deciding that Wakko’s voice would be better if it sounded like Ringo Star.

Because the character of Wakko is a “little guy,” Harnell decided to raise his voice slightly to better match the character, which resulted in the character sounding like a high-pitched version of Ringo Star. 

‘Animaniacs’ is finally making a comeback

Voice Actor Jess Harnell
Voice Actor Jess Harnell | Mat Hayward/Getty Images

After taking a break for over 20 years, Spielberg has decided to bring Animaniacs back to the small screen. The iconic animated series made its reboot debut on Hulu on November 20, 2020.

Harnell, as well as other original cast members, have returned to voice the beloved characters. In addition to Wakko, Yakko, and Dot’s return, Pinky and The Brain also returned to continue their quest for world domination. So far, the show is scheduled to run on Hulu for at least the next two seasons. And because it is on Hulu, it is currently only available in the United States.

However, according to Her, there is a whole slew of fans that hope it will be available in other parts of the world soon.