Pinky and The Brain (characters)
- This article is about the fictional cartoon characters from the TV show. For the TV series of the same name, see Pinky & The Brain (TV series).
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Pinky and The Brain are characters from the television series Animaniacs. Later, they starred in their own spin-off animated television series called Pinky and the Brain and even later in Pinky, Elmyra, & The Brain. These latter series were produced by Steven Spielberg and Warner Bros. Animation, and aired from 1995 to 2001 on The W.B. Television Network, running for 65 episodes.
The Brain (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) bears a resemblance to Orson Welles, particularly in his vocal characteristics. Series creator Tom Ruegger originally based Brain on a caricature of WB animation staffer Tom Minton, a very dry wit of the screenwriter crew. The Orson Welles connection comes from Maurice LaMarche, who is a big fan of the actor/director. Maurice once described Brain's voice as being, "65% Orson Welles, 35% Vincent Price."
In “You'll Never Eat Food Pellets In This Town Again”, Brain has a wife named Sheila who apparently plays Billie. However, this episode was non-canonical and was meant to joke on the WB's petty executives.
Brain is highly intelligent and develops Rube Goldberg-like plans for global domination. His tail is bent like a staircase (which he often uses to pick the lock of the cage), and his head is large and wide, supposedly housing his abnormally large brain. He is sarcastic and ill-tempered and appears to be coldly unemotional and speaks in a deadpan manner. Nevertheless, Brain
has a very subtle sense of humor and a soft heart. He has even fallen in love once, with Billie (voiced by Tress MacNeille), a rather dippy girl mouse with a Queens accent (perhaps based on the Citizen Kane character Susan Alexander, in another Welles connection). Intellectually, Brain sees his inevitable rise to power as beneficial to the world rather than merely being greedy for power. The personality of Brain would lead one to believe that he is more suited to be an antagonist rather than a protagonist, but the series tends to present him as a quixotic fellow striving for greatness against the odds, evoking sympathy from the audience and causing viewers to like him, despite his seemingly evil plans for world domination. Such a thing is typical of an anti-hero, which many consider Brain to be. The absurdity of a normally insignificant creature hungering for world dominance adds to the comical effect, and one senses a Napoleon complex within him, despite the gravitas of his Wellesian diction - highlighted when other characters inadvertently become as smart as or smarter than him. Unfortunately for the Brain, his schemes are inevitably doomed to failure by reason of one or more of a few common mishaps: Pinky doing something idiotic to ruin the plan, Brain gravely under/overestimating the masses' intelligence, or, simply, bad luck.
Similarity to Orson Welles
Brain's similarity to Orson Welles was made explicit in the episode Yes, Always, which was based upon an outtake from one of Orson's Television commercials, colloquially known as "Frozen Peas," in which he ranted about the poor quality of the script. This cartoon was described by screenwriter Peter Hastings as "a $250,000 in-joke:" Maurice used excerpts from it as sound check material, and Peter took it to its logical decision. Strengthening the Orson Welles connection was an episode in which Brain took on the mind-clouding powers of a radio character called "The Fog:" a parody of The Shadow, a popular radio character for which Orson once provided the voice. Other episodes alluding to Orson Welles include an episode entitled "The Third Mouse" (a parody of The Third Man), in which Orson? appeared, and an episode in which Brain, inspired by Orson's infamous War Of The Worlds radio broadcast and the hysteria it provoked, stages an alien invasion on television, believing that this will cause humanity to turn itself over to his rule.
Why does he always fail to take over the world?
All of Brain's attempts to take over the world fail. There is more than one reason for this. Sometimes, he realizes a flaw in his plan that he should have realized earlier, such as in “Opportunity Knox”, where he forgot that gold is extremely heavy. Other times, Pinky screws things up, such as in “Brain Meets Brawn”, when he apologized to Brain after making a mistake. On other occasions, it's neither one of them, but something else that causes him to fail.
Pinky (voiced by Rob Paulsen) is another genetically modified mouse who shares the same cage with The Brain at
ACME Labs but is substantially less bright. He speaks with a heavy Cockney accent (though English people familiar with genuine Cockney accents may well dispute this). He frequently says nonsensical interjections such as "narf", "zort","poit", and "troz" (the last of which Pinky started saying after noticing it was "'zort' in the mirror"). He also used "fjord" and "gnurf" on unique occasions. Rob Paulsen won an Emmy Award For Outstanding Performance In An Animated Program for this role in 1999. Series creator Ruegger based Pinky on former Tiny Toon Adventures screenwriter/director Eddie Fitzgerald (who has also worked on Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures and Ren & Stimpy) who is said to have constantly said "Narf" around the Tiny Toons production office.
Although Pinky is an albino lab mouse like The Brain is, he has a straighter tail, a severe overbite, and is taller than the Brain. Happy, lovable, cute, insane, dim-witted, sweet, friendly, these personality traits is what makes Pinky, Pinky. Pinky is described to be more open-minded than the Brain, and much more up-beat. He doesn't let troubles ruin his day, mostly because he's too scatter-brained to notice them. Pinky also works with Brain despite the fact that Brain insults him constantly and often beats him over the head. However, Pinky actually seems to enjoy this, laughing after every hit. Pinky is just happy spending time with his best friend, The Brain.
Pinky's name was given to him by Brain, thinking that Brain was calling him when in fact Brain was referring to his own pinky digit, when insulting some scientists while talking to himself.
The Real "Genius?"
Pinky has a number of unusual special skills and abilities, something like "magic" but caused by his genetic engineering. Most notably, he occasionally levitates, but also has been known to come up with incredible insights on the scale that one would expect from Brain, contrasting with his otherwise stupid appearance. The viewer might consider that Brain should be frustrated by the success that could have been possible if he'd listened to or asked Pinky about the situation and/or plan, but Brain rarely shows anything more than a confused or sarcastic face and sometimes a comment, and usually near the end of the episode. The show's theme song informs us that "One is a genius, the other insane." Pinky's unpredictable and startling insight versus Brain's rather more plodding and stubborn approach to "taking over the world," has led more than one fan to suggest that Pinky is, in fact, the real genius rather than Brain. In at least one instance, Pinky had much of an episode centering around himself wherein he took on some of Brain's motivation for taking over the world. This episode has Pinky becoming extremely successful at ruling at least a town, but of course the whole thing is put through the wringer of Pinky's 'clockwork orange' view of things, hence Pinky's choice of naming the town: "I think I'll call it 'Shiny Pants', because everyone in there will want to wear shiny pants..." and goes on to describe his ultimate goal and the path to get there. Seeing Pinky's unexpected success, Brain is understood to wonder questions similar to many that have been asked for centuries: "why do people with such capacity for power seem to waste it on crazy things that work out somehow, but shouldn't?" In another episode, Pinky and the Brain use a time machine to go back to prehistory and give mice rather than humans the evolutionary edge. Quite by accident, Pinky ends up giving mice the needed technology; once they return to the present, Brain is horrified to discover that the newly-dominant mouse race is composed of individuals similar to Pinky rather than himself. Brain often asks Pinky about famous people when needed, for example when a basketball player was receiving attention, Brain asks why, which concludes in him using basketball to attempt to take over the world. It is unexplained how Pinky knows about famous people, probably from T.V. (which we know they have as they have a remote control).