News

5 Things To Know About the Animaniacs Revival

Brand-new songs, even more politics, and — is that a COVID joke? The talent behind the new Hulu series give us the scoop.

by | November 19, 2020 | Comments

When Animaniacs premiered in 1993, it came in at a new golden age for animation. Gone were the toy-commercials-turned-cartoons of the ’80s, and in came comedy shows with memorable characters and enough chaotic energy to anger absolutely everyone, while also making them laugh hysterically.

From a sax-playing Bill Clinton, to stars of the classic studio era of Hollywood, to Saddam Hussein, to Goodfellas, nothing and no one was above parody for the Warner brothers, and the Warner sister, Dot. For five seasons and 99 episodes, Animaniacs captured the look and feel of the classic Looney Tunes cartoons while updating the references for ’90s audiences, all while influencing them with memorable, catchy tunes like the unforgettable “Yakko’s World.”


Animaniacs on Hulu season 1

(Photo by Amblin Television/Warner Bros. Animation)

It’s been 22 years, and the Warner siblings are back, along with Pinky and the Brain, for brand-new episodes at Hulu. The new episodes pick up exactly where we left off in 1998, giving the show’s creatives two decades worth of pop culture and political references to satirize.

But how did Animaniacs rise to the wackiness of 2020 while remaining the zany-to-the-max show audiences loved 22 years ago? And what can we expect of the new songs? The cast and creators behind Hulu’s Animaniacs revival spoke with Rotten Tomatoes to tease all the totally insane-y things we can expect from the show.



1. Steven Spielberg Remains Very Much Involved

Executive Producer Steven Spielberg, who also produced the original Animaniacs and was involved in every aspect of production, returns for the revival. Wellesley Wild, one of the two new showrunners, told Rotten Tomatoes that the new episodes are very much the brainchild of Spielberg, who gets an appearance in the very first of the new episodes with a Jurassic Park parody.

“Steven really wanted to set the show in the right direction from the start,” Wild explained. “He really had a specific vision for the show in mind, and we tried to realize what he had in his head, to imbue the show with the balance of cartoon violence, satire, and meta-humor from the original episodes.”


2. It’s Just Like You Remember, But With Some Updates

Animaniacs on Hulu season 1

(Photo by Amblin Television/Warner Bros. Animation)

A lot has changed in animation over the past 22 years. Not only in the way shows are made, but also in what they do and say. Animaniacs is no longer the only comedy with meta-humor in a world with Community or Adventure Time. So there’s a lot riding on the new episodes to feel both like the originals, while also doing something that contemporary cartoons aren’t doing, and co-showrunner Gabe Swarr knows this.

“In the olden days they used different animation studios for different episodes,” Swarr said. “So we contacted one of them directly and asked how they went about it and really leaned into the way they animated the characters.”

“Adhering and staying as close as possible to the original and only changing what was necessary to bring it up to date was the number one goal,” Wild added. “We’re obviously pulling from more relevant social commentary and cultural events; for example, Dot flexes her feminist muscles a little more in the revival than she did in the original, and she’s sort of a more assertive character.”


3. It’s Like No Time Has Passed for the Cast

Animaniacs on Hulu season 1

(Photo by Amblin Television/Warner Bros. Animation)

Though Animaniacs has new writers and showrunners, the main cast remains the same, with Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, Tress MacNeille, and Maurice LaMarche returning as Yakko (and Pinky), Wakko, Dot (and Brain), respectively.

Though the show has been off the air for 22 years, the cast has never been as ready to return to being zany.

“It was like putting on a favorite pair of pants,” LaMarche said. “It was great, man. Literally falling back into something we’ve loved all these years and nobody needed any reminders. It was just like getting the band back together.”

Harnell agreed: “The thing is that we’ve been doing the Comic-Con circuit for at least 10 years, and we do script readings where people want to interact with us as Pinky and the Brain, or Wakko the Great Wakkorotti. Those muscles have been kept in shape for a decade at least, just waiting to be brought out into actual animated cells.”


4. Expect New Music Genres and Parodies

Animaniacs on Hulu season 1

(Photo by Amblin Television/Warner Bros. Animation)

One of the most memorable aspects of Animaniacs is its music, particularly its songs. What other show is able to make a song rhyming every word in the dictionary, or every U.S. President until Clinton? So expectations are high for the new songwriter team to stand out at a time where animated shows with musical numbers are not a rarity anymore. Still, there may be a few surprises up the show’s sleeve.

“There are so many new genres that have become popular since the show ended in the late nineties,” Wild said. “So we’re using K-pop, reggaeton, and just about everything in the new episodes.”

Harnell teased the return of Broadway-style numbers.

“Without giving too much away, I can say that we did a really amazing parody of one of my all-time favorite Broadway musicals,” Harnell said.

Animaniacs has always maintained a balance between modern references and obscure, classic-Hollywood references, so to have a song parody the 1959 William Castle horror film The Tingler is a good sign for fans of the original episodes.

“There is an episode in which Dr. Scratchansniff sings a song about the Tickler, who’s like this scary thing like the Tingler,” Paulsen said.


5. One Joke Was Changed Because of the Pandemic

Animaniacs on Hulu season 1

(Photo by Amblin Television/Warner Bros. Animation)

Though Animaniacs prides itself on speaking about current issues, animation takes a long time to be produced. The first of the new episodes even comments on the lag and includes a segment in which the Warner siblings try to predict what happened between 2018 (when the episode was written) and 2020; of course, no one could’ve predicted the events of this extraordinary year, which posed a challenge for the writers.

“When we started in 2018, we went through the calendar of events coming up and wrote in the ones that would feel topical,” Wild explained. “We have a segment all about the Olympics, but now there’s no Olympics due to COVID. As a show that prides itself on social commentary, we have to speak to the cultural realities we’re given. The inelegant social experiment we’re living through now, we couldn’t see coming.”

Wild also teased one small change that was made in light of the pandemic.

“We had to kill a few jokes that weren’t about COVID, but about illness in general. There was one where Dr. Scratchansniff gets really sick, and it looks like he had a virus, and we had to change it to make it more silly. Gabe put like polka dots on him to make it different.”

Animaniacs launches on Friday, November 20 on Hulu


Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

satire Sundance Now Best and Worst Travel Channel Disney Channel GIFs Epix MSNBC new york scene in color trailers SXSW TCA Awards batman godzilla SDCC TCM unscripted saw italian 2015 emmy awards YouTube Red children's TV Dark Horse Comics science fiction venice VH1 24 frames biography Rock cooking Paramount Baby Yoda police drama casting Trailer Schedule indie MTV Arrowverse romantic comedy TV One History Paramount Network Image Comics 2018 marvel cinematic universe ABC Signature green book Funimation spain Kids & Family based on movie twilight reviews Polls and Games BBC America IFC Films 90s Emmys cats Super Bowl Netflix Nickelodeon monster movies Red Carpet CMT Captain marvel Ovation medical drama Photos richard e. Grant comedies discovery a nightmare on elm street remakes Year in Review Television Academy documentaries zero dark thirty Shondaland indiana jones Marvel Studios Cosplay cinemax The Walt Disney Company elevated horror versus Pirates Pop witnail game show Vudu spanish harry potter aapi Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt PlayStation Tomatazos CBS tv talk Reality Competition Esquire cartoon mutant new zealand Ghostbusters crime drama First Look Mary Poppins Returns dark dragons WarnerMedia hist book adaptation Fox News canceled toy story HBO Holiday Video Games cops fresh christmas movies Set visit Box Office Mystery spinoff A24 Avengers Mary poppins Creative Arts Emmys stop motion Chernobyl movie Shudder The Purge news 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Music cancelled TV series comiccon travel streaming movies Comics on TV PBS hispanic Anna Paquin Comic Book dogs RT21 Writers Guild of America aliens documentary target free movies USA Rom-Com what to watch 99% streaming Animation anime french Spike crime basketball new star wars movies TV movies Trivia CNN CBS All Access Podcast TCA Winter 2020 technology suspense Quiz telelvision Endgame mockumentary Britbox Crunchyroll PaleyFest Hallmark Nat Geo Horror Awards 4/20 facebook TBS television Calendar Broadway breaking bad ABC Family The Walking Dead blockbusters Disney streaming service period drama deadpool reboot strong female leads TIFF Amazon El Rey HBO Go jurassic park screen actors guild E3 LGBTQ Sundance TV diversity rt archives spanish language NBC The Academy asian-american DGA popular critics football A&E Western SundanceTV justice league Cannes Extras Syfy fast and furious The CW Discovery Channel space Pop TV Logo Mindy Kaling razzies boxoffice sitcom Warner Bros. Grammys Hallmark Christmas movies sports blaxploitation james bond Marvel cancelled Superheroe cults king kong Elton John Christmas rotten movies we love slashers E! politics Crackle stand-up comedy Spectrum Originals Winter TV Turner Classic Movies Watching Series Superheroes toronto Apple TV Plus australia canceled TV shows ID anthology RT History DC Comics Pixar crossover stoner Masterpiece joker Sony Pictures Premiere Dates directors Election Winners rom-coms Character Guide political drama YouTube Trophy Talk docuseries MCU Amazon Studios social media Academy Awards First Reviews Lifetime Christmas movies Certified Fresh hollywood psychological thriller latino Amazon Prime Video quibi worst movies nature child's play sag awards superman war pirates of the caribbean American Society of Cinematographers TNT Rocky Fall TV Turner Oscars Summer scorecard cars DC Universe 72 Emmy Awards Opinion 21st Century Fox know your critic halloween binge Film Disney+ Disney Plus Walt Disney Pictures Spring TV prank name the review Classic Film die hard See It Skip It 2020 archives independent TV Land docudrama Bravo live action Tumblr X-Men Netflix Christmas movies Starz 007 TCA Lucasfilm HBO Max dceu Paramount Plus game of thrones best TCA 2017 japanese ABC Wes Anderson CW Seed doctor who rotten renewed TV shows adenture BBC One animated Star Trek golden globe awards Valentine's Day natural history miniseries ghosts historical drama international jamie lee curtis GLAAD 1990s Comedy Central Star Wars Alien Fantasy franchise Country theme song FOX 45 IFC movies FX The Arrangement BAFTA nbcuniversal Drama 93rd Oscars Mary Tyler Moore Musicals boxing DC streaming service halloween tv robots Teen kaiju concert WGN ESPN hidden camera lord of the rings ratings superhero Adult Swim Cartoon Network laika heist movie Columbia Pictures chucky Hulu disaster Song of Ice and Fire Apple festivals Comic-Con@Home 2021 worst cancelled TV shows serial killer werewolf Reality Fox Searchlight Black Mirror Amazon Prime universal monsters Ellie Kemper 2017 nfl FX on Hulu OneApp Hear Us Out japan Pacific Islander Marathons TV San Diego Comic-Con 2021 BET black transformers Disney Plus supernatural OWN composers Nominations spider-man VOD ITV adaptation ViacomCBS Tubi FXX National Geographic Tarantino revenge zombies NYCC sequels teaser Martial Arts Biopics video high school kids comic books true crime olympics festival award winner Toys Stephen King Freeform screenings TV renewals films romance Food Network Peacock vampires Marvel Television adventure Disney Heroines video on demand Pride Month Action dramedy Exclusive Video Women's History Month VICE blockbuster Interview Rocketman BET Awards Tokyo Olympics obituary kong Sundance comics YouTube Premium dc 71st Emmy Awards Sci-Fi Comedy Legendary Brie Larson finale BBC President DirecTV Musical comic Film Festival sequel Universal series women Chilling Adventures of Sabrina AMC Family New York Comic Con Television Critics Association singing competition TLC 20th Century Fox classics foreign Infographic Awards Tour cancelled television GoT thriller talk show golden globes Holidays Acorn TV APB scary movies Lifetime NBA Showtime Apple TV+ Sneak Peek Thanksgiving Emmy Nominations criterion psycho TruTV crime thriller Binge Guide all-time Pet Sematary Countdown Mudbound USA Network mission: impossible Black History Month 2019 spy thriller YA zombie 2016 parents The Witch LGBT book Lionsgate south america