Yakko, Wakko, and Dot
Yakko, Wakko, and Dot Animaniacs character
Animaniacs logo, featuring Yakko, Wakko and Dot plus Pinky and the Brain
Created by Tom Ruegger Information Species unknown
Yakko, Wakko and Dot Warner, also known as "The Warner Brothers (and the Warner Sister)" or "The Warner Siblings", or just simply "The Warners", are the three titular cartoon characters featured on the animated series Animaniacs. The trio of red-nosed Warner siblings were considered to be the stars of the ensemble of characters on the show. They all appear in the Animaniacs logo, and the show usually begins and ends with gags performed by them. The characters are of indeterminate species, being purposely drawn in the style of early black and white cartoons. As with other Animaniacs characters, the Warner siblings were part of a loosely-defined cast of players and often made appearances in other characters' segments, often as a literal running gag, as well as hosting occasional appearances by other characters in their segments.
Originally, the Warners were intended to be ducks, but Tom Ruegger had come to the conclusion that "everybody had ducks" (see Disney's DuckTales and Darkwing Duck, not to mention Plucky Duck from Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toon Adventures and Count Duckula), so the Warners became a type of "generic animal creature". Although they looked somewhat like dogs & cats with floppy ears, a snout, and tails, the Warners' specific species was never explicitly declared. Ruegger had said that the Warners were cartoon characters (also known as Toons), and that their species was "Cartoonus characterus".
The image of the Warners is an homage to cartoon characters of the early 1930s. Characters consisting of simple black drawings with white faces were very common in cartoons of the 1920s and 1930s, including Bosko and Honey, Felix the Cat, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Bimbo, Flip the Frog, Foxy and the early version of Mickey Mouse, Pete, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy.
It is never explained what happened to the Warners' parents, though in the movie Wakko's Wish, set in a medieval version of the show, the children learn that their parents were the king and queen of Warnerstock. Also, in the short of 'Draculee, Draculaa', Yakko says that, since he and his siblings were drawn, their parents must be pencils.
A running gag throughout the Animaniacs series is the question of what animals, if any, the Warners are meant to be modeled after. The series' other characters are cartoon representations of various animals such as mice, birds, monkeys, and squirrels, but the Warners are intentionally ambiguous. Various characters in the series question the Warners about this and refer to them as a variety of different animals, frequently "puppy children" owing to their ears and tails or sometimes Toons because of their 1930s appearance. When asked what they are, most often they state, "We're the Warner Brothers! And the Warner Sister." The Warners themselves often use this ambiguity as a source of humor; in one episode an entire musical number is devoted to guessing their species to which they declare "what we are dear Doctor—is cute!"
In the opening to the some episodes of the series, a faux newsreel, Newsreel of the Stars, is played with an abridged history of the Yakko, Wakko, and Dot Warner; in 1929, they were created by the Termite Terrace Animation Department and starred in several cartoons until their zaniness caused a falling out with the studio.
In the "65th anniversary" episode, which aired in 1994, their history is elaborated as a retrospect with interviews of witnesses to their rise and fall. The Warners were created after animation director Weed Memlo wanted some new characters to make the cartoons of the Looney Tunes character Buddy more interesting. Animator Lon Borax stayed up all night trying to come up with new characters until, in a fit of madness and exhaustion, he created them. The Warners starred alongside Buddy in a new cartoon, which Melmo showed to Thaddeus Plotz, the head of the Warner Bros Animation Department. Plotz thought the cartoon was unusual and weird but compelling and greenlighted more. The Warners' slapstick soon began to overshadow Buddy, who was eventually fired. Plotz then gave the Warners their very own series of cartoons (which was Plotz's "second biggest mistake of his life"). The Warners' cartoons were all thoroughly bizarre, including an eight-hour cartoon in which they tried to pull fly paper off their backsides. But the Warners became huge stars despite it, mixing with Hollywood stars and starlets of the time. Dot was said to be close friends with Fanny Brice, while Yakko had a famous feud with Milton Berle.
The Warners drove the studio crazy with their antics, however. For example, Wakko kept eating up the scenery and backgrounds. Thaddeus Plotz wanted to cancel the Warners, but they still had one more cartoon on their contract. Wakko got to direct the last cartoon that involved Wakko playing Yankee Doodle with his armpits (which was Plotz's "biggest mistake of my life"). Plotz was furious about that cartoon. The moment he saw it, he unilaterally canceled their contract, angering the Warners' agent Irving "Swifty" Laboo (actually Chicken Boo in costume).
With no more cartoons to make the Warners were free to run around the studio lot as they pleased, causing even more chaos for the company. Eventually they were captured by studio security and locked away in the Warner Bros. Studios water tower in Burbank, California. The Warners' cartoons "which made absolutely no sense," were supposedly so insane and nonsensical that the studio executives also locked the films away in vaults, never to have them released. Later into the series run, a fictional celebrity and acquaintance of the Warners had revealed that the Warners were actually quite popular in the thirties, until, as he had said: "...they (the Warners) pantsed Jimmy Cagney," at which point, "something had to be done," so the Warners, who made even less sense than their cartoons, were locked away, also never to be released. The Warners were held in the water tower until, as said in the show, "this very day," meaning September 13, 1993, when the series premiered. Although the Warners supposedly hadn't escaped until "this very day," Yakko, Wakko and Dot were able to escape frequently and at will. Later episodes showed that they often escaped during various points in history, being let out for a day every few years while the water tower was being fumigated, and were occasionally loaned out to other animation studios, particularly during the 60s.
When the Warners most recently escaped, they again began to cause chaos in the Warner Bros. Studio. In response to the Warners escape, Studio Executive Thaddeus Plotz asked the studio psychiatrist, Dr. Otto Scratchansniff, to "de-zanitize" the Warners, or make the Warners less zany, to stop the chaos in the studio. Plotz had also ordered the studio guard, Ralph, to capture the Warners whenever they escaped. Although the Warner siblings escape from the water tower as often as they can, they treat the water tower as their home, and always return to it when they are done wreaking mayhem.
In the 33rd issue of the Animaniacs comic book, there was a "long lost" fourth Warner named Sakko (who was obviously modeled after Rip Taylor); he has not been mentioned outside this comic, and his existence is considered non-canonical by fans.
Alternative royal lineage
While it has never been clearly official, certain hints have suggested that the Warners may also come from a royal family. For example Dot occasionally delivers her full name as "Princess Angelina Contesa Louisa Fancesca Banana-Fanna Bo Besca the Third" and Yakko was King of Anvilania in the episode King Yakko. In this episode the oldest sibling stated that because he is the last remaining family member in the royal blood line it makes him the last rightful king. Finally in the movie Wakko's Wish, it was revealed that the Warners were the children of the late King and Queen of Warnerstock. They were then given the throne and were last seen wearing royal clothing.
The comedy that the trio performed can be described as an updated version of that of The Marx Brothers and early Bugs Bunny cartoons; each segment would usually involve them at odds with an authority-figure antagonist, defeating any attempts at control with a non-stop barrage of slapstick comedy and wit. However, one notable difference is that while Bugs usually acted as such in self-defense, it is characteristic for the Warners to wreak havoc for their own personal amusement. Their initial behavior is generally good-natured, sometimes affectionate, and often merely annoying. However, anyone who yells at them, tries to hurt them, or generally acts like a jerk will be labeled their "Special Friend," whereupon the Warners exercise even less restraint in the mayhem they inflict upon that person.
The Warners were not completely without reason, however: in an episode titled "The Sound of Warners," they wouldn't fight back against a Julie Andrews-esque nanny because she wasn't provoking them, only being excessively mothering and annoyingly saccharine—hence, establishing a sort of moral core for the Warners. Wanting her gone but seeing their hands were tied, they opted for help from Slappy Squirrel, a Screwy Squirrel-type character who freely inflicted severe injury on her adversaries, claimed in the episode by Yakko that she is, "Someone [Slappy] who has raised senseless violence to a fine art." This character trait was further emphasized in the full-length episode, "Taming of the Screwy." In this episode, after being asked (and begged and pleaded) by Dr. Scratchansniff to keep their lunacy under control for one evening during an important studio banquet, the three siblings did so and were very well behaved...until they were promptly asked to leave the banquet hall before they caused any trouble. Feeling snubbed and insulted, the Warners then snuck back into the banquet hall and began causing mischief in their own fashion. In later episodes, Dr. Scratchansniff occasionally takes on a protective if weary role towards them. They, in turn, also think of him as a father figure and act as they do because they love him.
Each of the trio has a different personality and role in the group, including purpose in a skit and separate obsessions with different celebrities, etc. Yakko is the "smart one" and the leader. Dot is the self proclaimed "cute one". Wakko is the "other" one or, "due to Middle Kid Syndrome" as Yakko puts it, the most insane one. They all like to kiss people, usually to annoy them. Overall, they are friendly, energetic and lovable. Together they have been known to sing songs, including the names (and a few facts) of all the presidents in order at that time period.
Yakko (voiced by Rob Paulsen) is the tallest, oldest (though age is never specified), and most verbal, and serves as the ringleader of the three siblings. Yakko has the amazing ability to talk an unsuspecting (yet deserving) person's ear off (thus the first syllable of his name, "Yak"). He's a big-time smart alec, and can come up with a comeback to just about anything. Highly reminiscent of Groucho Marx, he wears tan slacks with a black and yellow belt, in which he can store massive amounts of bologna and retrieve a number of improbable objects including a yak. In the movie these clothes were accompanied by a scarf. He and Wakko have a tendency to pounce on attractive women (or just about anyone who is female), with variations of their catchphrase, "Helloooooo, NURSE!" Yakko can sing the names of every country of the world that existed at the time, as well as every word in the English language (although he's only shown singing words from the letters A, F (briefly), L and Z). He can even say Dot's full name without error as seen in "Cutie and the Beast". In "The Taming of the Screwy", Yakko demonstrates a proficiency in speaking (proper and actual) Japanese (and many other languages properly) as well. His idol is Michelle Pfeiffer. He is considered by many fans to be "the brains of the outfit"; the wittiest and most clever of the three Warner sibs. When he sees someone really acting goofy, he will invariably say "Dumber than advertised!" He also has the ability to rap as well as playing the piano, as seen in the "Great Wakkorotti" segments. Generally seen as the oldest, much of the show's more adult-leaning gags and one-liners are supplied by Yakko; he will often recognize adult-oriented double entendres, blow a kiss to the audience, saying his other catchphrase, "Goodnight, everybody!" Being perceived the oldest, several times Yakko has shown a surprising amount of responsibility dealing with the welfare of his two younger siblings, particularly in the movie, where he was more of the parent-like sibling. He is also, in his own words, "allergic to anything that has lactose in it." It should be noted that in the episode "King Yakko" that he is king of the fictional country of Anvilania. Yakko even has a habit of hesitating before coming up with a sentence, e.g. "Aaaaaaaaaahhhhh, a little help?", along with the habit for wiggling his eyebrows and winking, similar to that of Groucho Marx. He is left handed.
Wakko, (voiced by Jess Harnell) the middle child, wears a sky-blue turtleneck and a red cap turned backwards with holes cut out for his ears. Although he is the only one of the siblings who wears a shirt, he makes up for it by not wearing pants. He's the middle child (ages are not specified in the writers' bible, but in the song "Hello Nurse" he says he's "seven" to rhyme with "heaven"), and the weirdest and most absurd of the bunch, hence his name. He speaks with a Scouse accent that Harnell explicitly modeled after Ringo Starr (initially Harnell created a John Lennon-esque voice for Wakko until he saw that the character was short, so he just raised the pitch), he also has the deepest voice out of the three. He often carries a "Gag Bag," from which he can produce objects as needed, and also uses a large mallet when situations call for it. More often than not, his tongue is sticking out of his mouth (it will hang out at any given moment). He generally supplies the more crude humor, which Yakko will often react to. He is the most physical of the three, and thus tends to lean toward physical humor. Wakko can walk backwards just as well as he can forwards, and is very flexible (there are a few episodes where the others make use of him for ladders and measuring tape). Wakko appears to have a voracious appetite in the show, and will eat almost anything, including gum found under a seat and even rocks for shock value or perhaps simply to see how they taste, which is a result of his self-proclaimed hypoglycemia. He also has a fear of clowns. He's a big fan of Don Knotts and, like his brother Yakko, he will also hit on any girl despite his young age. Like Yakko, he has a catchphrase: "Faboo!" meaning fabulous or great. Often his siblings use variations of "faboo", as in calling a male antagonist "Dadoo" to annoy them. According to the song "Hello Nurse" he is seven years old; this was the only reference ever made to their age, and was not considered canonical by the writers (in literal terms, all the Warners are 82 as of 2011, since they were created in 1929). His cap is his trademark; when the Warners wear costumes, Wakko will usually keep his cap on, which holds Elvis Presley hiding in the cap's hammerspace. Occasionally, he'll take it off, which makes him look very similar to Yakko, as seen in various episodes and the movie "Wakko's Wish", of which he is the main protagonist. He follows in Yakko's footsteps by singing all the fifty US states and their capitals, in "Wakko's America." Wakko is usually the least talkative of the three unless he is the main character, and in some segments, he doesn't say anything at all. He also appears to be the most musical as well, being able to belch pieces of classical music (under the stage name "The Great Wakkorotti"), play both the violin and the piano, and get behind a drum kit to deliver the occasional sting after a punchline. In the episode, "Chalkboard Bungle", Wakko can impersonate Ray Charles pretty well. He is right handed. His voice is similar to Secret Squirrel (another character voiced by Harnell).
Dot (voiced by Tress MacNeille), the youngest of the three, wears a pink skirt, has hair resembling that of Uran from Astro Boy, and a yellow flower tie in her ears. In Wakko's Wish, she gets a beauty mark that she calls a "cutie mark" ("Cindy Crawford, eat your heart out!" she remarked). However, this "cutie mark" only appeared in the movie. Whenever Yakko and Wakko introduce themselves by saying "We're the Warner Brothers!", she always follows with "And the Warner Sister!" Her full name is "Princess Angelina Contessa Louisa Francesca Banana Fanna Bo Besca the Third" (a reference to Pippi Longstocking's long real name, "Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter Longstocking"), which is the reason why some fans call her "Princess Dot" for short, as revealed in Wakko's Wish. (Her last name is Warner but is not added to her full name.) Extremely cute and thoroughly aware of it, she is very confident but a bit vain and selfish at times. She is arguably the cutest one; she even sings a whole song about how cute she is in the episode "I'm Cute." She is also the most overtly aggressive. As she says in the first episode, "Call me Dottie, and you die." However, she's been called Dottie a few times and the source remains unharmed, but this is not always true. In one episode, she throws a bomb at Yakko and Wakko for calling her that. She often makes note of Wakko's ridiculous and disgusting eating habits (even saying he went too far when he ate the moon in one episode), going "DIIIIIISGUSTING!" whenever he eats something unappetizing. She is easily miffed at her brothers' reactions around women; afterwards she often says, "Boys: go fig." She loves her brothers dearly, but their behavior (notably around women) often annoys her.
However, even though she views Yakko and Wakko's behavior around beautiful girls repugnant, she has reacted similarly to attractive men, most notably Mel Gibson (She said she would "marry that man"). Dot also carries around a pet, contained within a tiny box, that is revealed to be a horrifying monster much too large to have fit inside the box. In one episode, one of her pets ends up marrying a Xenomorph. She also seems to have a sense of humor much like her brother Yakko. But, like Wakko and his hat, even when Dot is in a costume she usually has a little flower in her ears or hat (unless she is in her pajamas and/or going to sleep, then she wears curlers). Her voice is like that of Babs Bunny (also voiced by Tress MacNeille), but with a younger, sweeter tone to match with her apparent age as the youngest sibling. Also, as explained in the Animaniacs movie, it has been discovered that Dot was born from a beautiful flower in a garden on the first day of spring, which is possibly the reason why she wears a flower instead of a bow. However, when Yakko tells her this story at bedtime, he makes it sound a lot like a fairy tale, but there is no proof that it is (also the fact that the movie is in a different canon than the show, this point could be null and void).
Besides making cameos in other segments of Animaniacs (usually as a running gag), The Warners have made appearances elsewhere than Animaniacs. The only appearance on Tiny Toon Adventures, was on "Tiny Toons Spring Break Special", being chased by Ralph. This was quite ironic due to since many Tiny Toons characters (mainly Buster and Babs Bunny, and Plucky Duck) made many cameos on Animaniacs. During the opening credits of the Halloween special Fifi La Fume is dressed up as Dot for her Halloween costume.
The Warners were seen twice on Freakazoid!. First in parody of the Animaniacs opening sequence, in which they introduce a fake spin-off of Freakazoid! called, "Freakazoid and Friends", and Wakko later appeared in the episode, "The Freakazoid" by being referenced, by a neighbor saying to Freakazoid, "What are you Wakko?"' then wakko appearing and saying "No, I'm Wakko!", then singing the first few lines of "Wakko's America". They then later start arguing (along with The Brain from Pinky and the Brain) about whose show is Steven Spielberg's favorite show. They then ask him themselves, to which he answers, "Who are you people?".
In Pinky and the Brain (a spin-off of Animaniacs) The Warners were often mentioned but were only seen twice. They first appeared in one episode in which Pinky pilots and crashes into Mt. Rushmore.When the smoke clears replacing the presidents heads, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot's heads can be seen instead. Also in another episode Brain says, "Look at those little dots", Pinky then says "Look one of those dots are waving at us", in which you can see Dot waving at them.
- ^ a b c d Unnamed author (July 1995). "TV Production: What a Character! Part II of a series: The Evolution of Animaniacs". Animation Magazine: pp. 12
- ^ Santella, Andrew (May 1996). Nickelodeon Magazine
- ^ "What Are We? (Song)". Animaniacs. FOX Kids. 1993-09-20. No. 6, season 1.
- ^ a b "Newsreel of the Stars". Animaniacs. FOX Kids. 1993-09-13. No. 1, season 1.
- ^ "Testimonial #3 - Italian Man". Animaniacs. FOX Kids. 1993-10-21. No. 26, season 1.
- ^ "The Warners 65th Anniversary Special". Animaniacs. FOX Kids. 1994-05-23. No. 65, season 1.
- ^ "De-Zanitized". Animaniacs. FOX Kids. 1993-09-13. No. 1, season 1.
- ^ "A Christmas Plotz". Animaniacs. FOX Kids. 1993-12-06. No. 49, season 1.
- ^ "Clown and Out"
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