Tiny Toon Adventures was an unprecedented collaboration between über-producer Steven Spielberg (with his Amblin Entertainment company) and the intellectual property of classic Warner Bros. animation. It starred younger versions of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies characters—including Buster and Babs Bunny (no relation), Plucky Duck, Hamton J. Pig, and Dizzy Devil—and is one of those kids' shows where it isn't until years later that you realize how many of the funniest jokes initially went over your innocent little head.
To mark the 20th anniversary of the series' conclusion (the final episode, the prime time special Tiny Toons’ Night Ghoulery, aired on May 28, 1995), we've rounded up 15 fun facts you might not know about the beloved cartoon.
1. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A MOVIE.
Cartoons starring younger versions of established family-friendly characters were de rigueur in the mid-to-late 1980s, with shows like Muppet Babies, Tom & Jerry Kids, and The Flintstone Kids. Terry Semel, former Warner Bros. president, had the initial idea of doing something similar with the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies characters and approached Steven Spielberg about it in 1987 to gauge his interest in making a feature film. Spielberg was interested in the project, but wanted the characters to be different, which is why Buster and Babs aren’t related to Bugs Bunny. By late 1988, the project has turned into a TV series.
2. A FULL ORCHESTRA SCORED EACH EPISODE.
Composer Bruce Broughton estimated that Spielberg’s commitment to making the music in Tiny Toon Adventures as close as possible to the original Carl Stalling compositions of the classic WB cartoons cost about $60,000 an episode. One report claimed the production utilized a 30-piece orchestra, while another said it was 35.
3. 1200 ACTORS AUDITIONED WITHIN LESS THAN THREE MONTHS.
Because they were working with a rather rushed production schedule, Tiny Toon producers needed to get all 65 episodes of the series made in 18 months, which meant they were auditioning approximately 100 actors per week. The quick turnaround also required the assistance of six different animation companies, which led to some notable differences in animation from episode to episode.
4. MEL BLANC PASSED AWAY BEFORE HE COULD REPRISE HIS ROLES.
Known as “The Man of 1000 Voices,” Blanc voiced almost every classic Warner Bros. character. So naturally, the producers planned to have him make a few cameo appearances. Unfortunately, Blanc passed away on July 10, 1989. His son, Noel Blanc, ended up voicing Porky Pig and the Taz on Tiny Toon Adventures.
5. VINCENT PRICE AND PHIL HARTMAN DID SOME VOICE WORK.
In one of his last roles, Price played Edgar Allan Poe in “How Sweetie It Is,” which featured a parody of "The Raven" with Sweetie Pie as the titular character. Hartman played Octavius in “Whale’s Tales,” the captain of the Octopi Pirates who help the evil Gotcha Grabmore. Other notable guest stars were Carol Kane, Jonathan Winters, Tim Curry, Henny Youngman, and Dan Castellaneta (taking a break from being Homer Simpson).
6. BUSTER’S ORIGINAL NAME WAS BITSY.
When producer and writer Tom Ruegger first arrived on the scene, Buster's name was Bitsy, which Ruegger said was a name that "made me cringe and I immediately started introducing new names for him ... I have a thick file on all the names we went through on that character." Ruegger's next door neighbor was the inspiration for Elmyra Duff’s first name. Scripts were written and recorded before Plucky and Hamton’s names were finalized.
7. THE PILOT WAS THE 46TH EPISODE WRITTEN.
The show launched with “The Looney Beginning.” It aired as a prime time special on CBS on September 14, 1990, following an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; six million people decided to watch a repeat of Family Matters instead. When the show returned to prime time a few more times for a spring break special and the series finale, it aired on Fox.
8. ONE EPISODE SEGMENT WAS BANNED AFTER A SINGLE AIRING.
As Gogo warned in the introduction, the season two episode “Elephant Issues” consisted of three segments meant to deal with “serious social issues.” The third, “One Beer,” had Buster, Plucky, and Hamton getting drunk on one bottle of beer, then dying in a subsequent car accident. After parents complained that “One Beer” was either too dark for children and/or made too much light of alcoholism, it was pulled from reruns for almost two decades, before popping up on Canada’s Teletoon channel. In 2012, a press release announcing a new season two DVD explained why “Elephant Issues” would not be included in the set, only for Warner Bros. to have a change of heart one week later and add the controversial episode to the DVD lineup.
9. THREE 8TH GRADERS WROTE "BUSTER AND BABS GO HAWAIIAN."
Thirteen-year-olds Renee Carter, Sarah Creef, and Amy Crosby sent a 120-page script to Warner Bros., which an employee accidentally opened and was impressed enough to send along to the show’s staff. They were paid the standard $3,000 to $3,500 each for their efforts.
10. THERE WAS A NO GUNS POLICY.
When it came to portraying violence in Tiny Toon Adventures, there was one general rule: nothing that could be found in a mother’s house could be used to inflict pain on a character. Anvils and dynamite were therefore permissible.
11. ONE OF THE WRITERS WAS THE LIVE ACTION MODEL FOR ARIEL IN THE LITTLE MERMAID.
We all know by now that animator Glen Keane used pictures of Alyssa Milano from Who’s the Boss as the model for Ariel’s face, but Sherri Stoner was brought in by Disney artists to give them an idea of what their creation would look like in motion. Stoner was a credited writer on 30 Tiny Toon episodes.
12. A REN & STIMPY EPISODE WAS AN UNPRODUCED TINY TOON ADVENTURES SEGMENT.
Jim Smith and Bob Camp wrote and storyboarded “Hi, Spirits,” a segment where Gogo and Hamton turn a haunted house into a clubhouse, which goes about as well as you would expect. After the two left the show, it was reworked into “Boo Hoo Hoo,” with Hamton and Plucky getting all mixed up with a ghost instead of Gogo. One year later, Smith and Camp’s reworking of the script into a Ren & Stimpy adventure—now called called “Haunted House”—first aired on Nickelodeon. Coincidentally or not, in the Tiny Toons prime time Spring Break special, a rooster and a squirrel named Rank and Stumpy get run over by a bus.
13. BABS WAS PURPOSELY GIVEN MORE CLEAVAGE IN “THIRTEENSOMETHING.”
Jon McClenahan directed the season three premiere written by Sherri Stoner, and he didn’t want Babs Bunny to be overshadowed by the big female star in the episode, Shannen Doherty. Steven Spielberg said that “Thirteensomething”—which featured a Buster and Babs split-screen phone conversation meant to evoke When Harry Met Sally... and David Letterman screaming out of a window that he isn’t wearing any pants (based on an actual Late Night incident)—was the best Tiny Toons episode produced yet.
14. A SPINOFF CALLED ELMYRA’S FAMILY WAS CONSIDERED.
The episode “Take Elmyra Please” was produced as a potential pilot, but Fox passed on it, and it became a strange, seemingly random installment of Tiny Toons instead. Eventually two official spinoffs did come out of the show: Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain, and The Plucky Duck Show, which was simply one original episode and 12 others consisting of old Tiny Toons segments starring Plucky Duck.
15. ACME ACRES IS IN MISSOURI.
In the segment "Never Too Late to Loon" from “Test Stress,” Shirley Loon tries to get away from a very annoying and desperate Plucky Duck by traveling around the United States. On the animated map of the country documenting her travels, Acme Acres is shown to be in The Show Me State.