Compared to ruling the entire world, it isn’t much. But after first starring in a recurring one-act segment on the classic Animaniacs, the two genetically enhanced mice known as Pinky and the Brain earned a promotion and got their own series in 1995. Here are 13 things you might not have known about Pinky and the Brain, which premiered over 20 years ago.
1. PINKY AND THE BRAIN WERE INSPIRED BY TWO ANIMANIACS PRODUCERS.
Animator and Tiny Toon Adventures writer Eddie Fitzgerald was prone to saying “egad,” “narf,” and “poit” a lot (although it’s usually noted that his “narf” sounded more like “nerf”). The Brain resembled a caricature of Animaniacs writer/producer Tom Minton.
2. PINKY WAS A TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLE.
Rob Paulsen (Pinky) was the voice of Raphael during the original animated run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Yakko on Animaniacs. Before playing the Brain, Maurice LaMarche was Chief Quimby on Inspector Gadget, Henry Mitchell and George Wilson on Dennis the Menace, and Destro on G.I. Joe.
3. PAULSEN AND LAMARCHE FIRST MET ON ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES.
LaMarche played Zoltan and Tomato Guy on the short-lived cartoon based on the cult movie (which he had never seen). Paulsen voiced Mummato and Tomato Worm.
4. PINKY HAD A BRITISH ACCENT BECAUSE OF MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS.
Paulsen was a big Monty Python fan and correctly figured that Pinky and the Brain's producers—including executive producer Steven Spielberg—might like “that English thing” for the character.
5. THE BRAIN IS 70 PERCENT ORSON WELLES.
LaMarche told The A.V. Club that his voice for "The Brain is 70 percent Welles, 20 percent Vincent Price, and I don’t know, there’s another 10 percent of something else in there ... Some people think it’s Peter Lorre."
6. THE ANIMANIACS SEGMENT "YES, ALWAYS" WAS BASED ON WELLES’ INFAMOUS FROZEN PEAS COMMERCIAL.
Sometime in the 1980s, LaMarche was first given a tape of the recording of Welles arguing with a recording engineer as a reward for missing a fun New Year's Eve party in order to finish a long day of voice work. The actor listened to it constantly, gradually memorizing it and reciting Welles’ rants as part of his vocal warm-ups.
7. FAMILY GUY'S LOIS GRIFFIN WAS A STAFF WRITER.
Alex Borstein was still working in advertising when she began writing for Pinky and the Brain. It was while she was writing for the show that she also managed to audition with MADtv and become a part of the sketch show’s original cast.
8. THE SHOW HAD SOME MAJOR GUEST STARS.
Eric Idle, Dick Clark, Ed McMahon, Mark Hamill, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Garry Marshall, Steve Allen, and Michael McKean all lent their voices to the series.
9. EACH EPISODE WAS SCORED TO A 30-PIECE ORCHESTRA.
As was the case with all 1990s Warner Bros. cartoons. The theme song’s lyrics were written by show creator Tom Ruegger, and the music was written by Richard Stone, considered the modern-day successor of Carl Stalling, who composed the scores for Warner's shorts for more than 20 years. In 2001, at the age of 47, Stone passed away from pancreatic cancer.
10. IT ORIGINALLY AIRED OPPOSITE 60 MINUTES AND SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL.
In its primetime debut on the fledgling WB Network on September 10, 1995, Pinky’s ratings (1.3) were more than nine times smaller than that of 60 Minutes’s (11.8).
11. "BRAIN" IS ACTUALLY AN ACRONYM.
It was revealed in the episode “Project B.R.A.I.N.” that the two mice are a result of a gene-splicing program called B.R.A.I.N., or “Biological Recombinant Algorithmic Intelligence Nexus.”
12. IT WAS (UNSUCCESSFULLY) RE-TOOLED AS
PINKY, ELMYRA & THE BRAIN
In 1998, the WB's new network executives wanted the show to become more of an ensemble program, like The Simpsons. Tentatively titled Steven Spielberg Presents the Further Adventures of Pinky & The Brain, the two mice were adopted by Elmyra Duff from Tiny Toon Adventures. It lasted for just 13 episodes.
13. IT WON AN AWARD FOR ITS ANTI-SMOKING MESSAGE.
For the episode “Inherit the Wheeze,” Brain suffers the side effects of smoking after acting as a lab rat for a tobacco company. The Entertainment Industries Council presented the show with a PRISM Award for its accurate depiction of the dangers of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use.