Yakko, Wakko and Dot Warner
, also known as "The Warner Brothers (and the Warner Sister)"
, are three 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.
Series creator Tom Ruegger initially modeled the Warners’ personalities heavily after those of his three sons.
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), so the Warners became a type of "...generic animal creature." Although they looked somewhat like cats, the Warners’ specific species remained a mystery and was made fun of in many episodes. Several characters refer to them as "puppy children". Ruegger had said that the Warners were cartoon characters, 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 and the early version of Mickey Mouse, Pete, Foxy and Minnie Mouse.
In the series, Yakko, Wakko and Dot, Warner Brothers and the Warner Sister respectively, are said to be the stars of some of several early Warner Bros. animated cartoons
, created in the early 1930
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 chairman of Warner Bros. 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 were locked away. The Warners were held in the water tower until, as said in the show, “this very day,” meaning the 1990s, 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 70s.
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.
It should be noted that 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, however, and his existence is considered non-canonical by fans.
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 "puppies" owing to their ears and tails. 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, only to come to the conclusion that they are "cute."
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 was usually defending himself against an aggressor, it is characteristic for the Warners to wreak havoc only because they enjoy it. Although their initial havoc is generally good-natured, sometimes affectionate, and often merely annoying, any person who yells at them, tries to hurt them, or generally acts like a jerk will be labeled their "Special Friend," at which point the Warners exercise even less restraint with their mayhem.
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 attacking 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 restraintless character. 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 (justifiably) sneaked 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.
Each of the trio has a different personality and role in the group, including purpose in a skit and separate obsessions with different celebrities, e.t.c..
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.
Yakko (Rob Paulsen
) is the tallest, oldest and most verbal, and he serves as the ringleader of the three siblings. He has the amazing ability to talk an unsuspecting (yet deserving) person's ear off. He's a big-time smart aleck, and can come up with a comeback to just about anything. Highly reminiscent of Groucho Marx
, he wears tan slacks
with a black
belt in it, filled with baloney
, in which he can store and retrieve a number of improbable objects including a yak
. He and Wakko also have a tendency to pounce on attractive women (or just about anyone who is female), normally with 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. He also has the ability to rap
. Also generally seen as the oldest (though his actual age is indeterminate), much of the show's more adult-leaning gags and one-liners are supplied by Yakko; he will often recognize adult-oriented euphemisms
, blow a kiss to the audience, saying his other
, 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 or less the parent-like sibling. He is also, in his own words, "allergic to anything that has lactose in it," thus making him lactose intolerant
. At various times, when he sees something that is really pathetic or unbelievable, he (or his siblings) will often say "Wow, dumber than advertised!"
Wakko (Jess Harnell
) wears a red cap
, and a sky blue turtleneck
, making him the only one of the siblings who wears a shirt, but he makes up for it by not wearing pants. 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's the middle child, and the most weird and absurd of the bunch. He often pulls objects from his "Gag Bag
" and also uses his "giant mallet" when situations call for it. More often than not, his tongue is sticking out of his mouth. 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. 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. He also had a phobic fear of clowns
(cf. "Clown and Out"). He's a big fan of Don Knotts
and, like his brother Yakko, he will also hit on any girl (though he may simply be imitating Yakko), despite his apparent 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. His cap is his trademark; when the Warners wear costumes, Wakko will usually keep his cap on, which holds Elvis Presley hiding in the caps hammerspace. Occasionally, he'll take it off, which makes him look very similar to his brother, Yakko. 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.
Dot (Tress MacNeille
) wears a pink skirt
and a yellow
flower tie in her ears and is 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 Efraim's Daughter Longstocking"), which is the reason why some fans call her "Princess Dot" for short, as revealed in Wakko's Wish
. This also makes her and her brothers possibly the descendants of a royal bloodline as well. 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, and 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.) She is easily miffed at her brothers' reactions around women; afterwards she often says, "Boys: go fig." 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 (unless she is in her pajamas and/or going to sleep).
"Princess Dot" is based on Laura Claire Schultze an Actress at San Francisco State University