‘Animaniacs’: The Voice Actor for Mindy Also Played an Iconic ‘Simpsons’ Character

Hulu has rebooted the beloved 1990s animated series Animaniacs to the delight of nostalgia cravers and lovers of maximum zaniness. However, the new TV show does not bring back the entire cast of the original show. 

The new series only includes the Warners, Yakko Wakko and Dot, plus the scheming mice, Pinky and the Brain, who try (and fail) to take over the world every night. The 1990s series included a host of other characters, one of whom was voiced by none other than Bart Simpson, AKA Nancy Cartwright.

Who were Buttons and Mindy?

Actress Nancy Cartwright
Actress Nancy Cartwright | Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

The Animaniacs characters who do not appear on the new show include Slappy Squirrel, Goodfeathers, Rita and Runt, and Buttons and Mindy. Mindy, voiced by Cartwright,  was a toddler and Buttons was her guard dog. In every episode, Mindy’s mother would go off to run errands and charge Buttons with Mindy’s care.

Mindy would escape from whatever restraint she had on and go wandering into peril, with Buttons desperately chasing after her. Buttons would keep Mindy from getting hurt, but the dog would suffer in the process, never being recognized for his strenuous efforts. 

Mindy didn’t say a lot in the episodes; her main routine was to repeatedly ask adults “why?” After several rounds of this, she would scamper off, saying “OK, I love you, bye bye!” Like most segments of Animaniacs, the cartoons were modeled after Looney Tunes silliness, with Buttons chasing Mindy around a construction site or through the streets of Paris as she runs after a red balloon and asks people “why” in French.

According to the Fandom site for Animaniacs, Buttons and Mindy were almost cut from the show, but one of producer Steven Spielberg’s daughters saw a sketch of them and loved it, so they stayed, starring in a total of 15 episodes. When the segment premiered in 1993, as Buzzfeed points out, it featured a voice already familiar to millions of people: Nancy Cartwright, who by that point had been voicing Bart Simpson for only about five years. 

What characters has Nancy Cartwright voiced?

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Cartwright is primarily known for giving voice to the eldest of the Simpsons kids, which she has now been doing for more than 30 years. According to her official website, In addition to Bart and Mindy, she has also done voice work for Rugrats (Chuckie), Kim Possible (Rufus the Naked Mole Rat),  Richie Rich (Gloria); and The Replacements (Todd), among many others.

However, her work has not totally been confined to a microphone. Her first feature film appearance was in 1983’s Twilight Zone The Movie, where she played the “sister” of a boy who can make his own wishes come true, but his powers frighten those around him, and she speaks out against him. 

Fittingly, her character meets her end at the hands of an animated cartoon.  It was a few years later that the Simpsons came along, first as segments on The Tracey Ullman Show, and then as their own series in 1989.

Cartwright told NPR, that she was auditioning for Lisa. “I read the monologue, it was just a little monologue, and it was fine, but next to her was Bart,” Cartwright says. “Didn’t even know there was a boy. And when I read that he was a 10-year-old, school-hating underachiever but proud of it … That just hit me right in my heart.”

How does the new ‘Animaniacs’ compare with the old?

While the reboot of Animaniacs was highly anticipated, given that the characters had been absent from TV for 22 years. However, the reception of the show has not matched the anticipation for a number of people. It holds an overall 78 percent positive score on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus stating, “Charming and chaotic, if slightly too caustic, Animaniacs is a delightful revitalization of a beloved series that’s fun enough to make up for any early fumbles.”

However, some critics have missed the presence of the show’s original producers and writers, who, Steven Spielberg aside, were not involved in the reboot. The creator of the original show, Tom Ruegger, told Rolling Stone he particularly objected to the new show leaving so many characters, including Buttons and Mindy, behind. 

“I think they feel they can do whatever the heck they want with it. If we, the creators of the show, had passed away, I could completely understand what they did. But we’re not. We’re all alive, thriving, active, and I really don’t get it that they wouldn’t want the people that know the show better than anyone to be involved. It’s odd,” he said.