‘Animaniacs’: The Real-Life Inspiration for ‘Pinky and the Brain’

Children of the ’90s have enjoyed reminiscing since Hulu began airing new episodes of Warner Brother’s Animaniacs. The series’ revival includes fan favorites Yakko, Wakko, and Dot as they continue the slapstick comedy they were known for in the ’90s.  Not to be left out, the diabolical duo Pinky and the Brain are still trying to take over the world nearly 30 years later.

Pinky and the Brain began as a small segment on Animaniacs

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Pinky and the Brain starred in a recurring segment on the original Animaniacs. As People reports, it aired from 1993 to 1998The two genetically modified mice had big plans to take over the world.

With the Brain as the mastermind and his willing sidekick Pinky, their segments included their numerous failed plans for world domination. The two white lab mice are kept at Acme labs. This is where most of the segments originate, and Brain uses his crooked tail to unlock his cage.

The majority of these episodes involve Brain’s master plan for world domination and Pinky’s bumbling assistance. All of their antics typically lead to the plan’s ultimate failure. While not the title characters in the Animaniacs, their recurring bit quickly became a favorite of fans. This prompted producers to utilize the characters more frequently. 

World domination never gets old

The spunky mice were so popular that in 1995, the pair earned their own spinoff, aptly titled Pinky and the Brain. Even with their new-found fame, the pair still appeared from time to time in Animaniacs episodes.

Their spinoff show focused solely on their plans for world domination. It was led by the Brain’s inexplicable, impossible ideas and Pinky’s steadfast, if not super helpful, support. Buzzfeed notes that there was even a second, less popular spinoff created starring the two rodents. Called Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain, it didn’t run for very long. 

Tiny Toons writers inspired Pinky and the Brain

A ‘Pinky and the Brain’ mural in Ireland

Real-life writers on the Tiny Toons staff, Tom Minton and Eddie Fitzgerald originally inspired the mice. According to The Ringer, someone added a pair of ears and noses to one of Minton and Fitzgerald’s existing illustration; suddenly the two already looked like mice. Thus, Pinky and the Brain were born. In fact, the characters gain much of their personality from the two writers and friends.

The Ringer continues to explain that Tom Minton was the inspiration for the Brain. He “spoke very low, very quietly. He’s very funny, but you’d have to lean in close.” Much like their mouse counterparts, Fitzgerald and Minton were good friends. Fitzgerald is the model for Pinky since he was the more outgoing and vocal one.

The pair could be heard laughing and joking from adjoining offices so much that coworkers would wonder what they were up to, especially because Minton was so soft-spoken. Colleagues concluded, “It’s like they’re planning to take over the world.” So began the Brain’s quest for power with his faithful, hapless sidekick. 

Fans can still enjoy the Brain’s master plots

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The reboot of Animaniacs is currently available for streaming on Hulu. Original voice actors Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche contribute their expert vocal talents to the show, giving fans exactly what they’d hoped for. Even now, decades later the characters are inspiring laughs in their Hulu reboot. Variety reports that the first episode of the Hulu original, also produced by Steven Spielberg, premiered on November 20 on the streaming platform. Its debut occurring a full 22 years after its final episode.