The Animaniacs species has always been public knowledge, but it’s definitely not what fans would have guessed.

Animaniacs It was a classic ’90s cartoon that was born out of Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. Extravagant, quirky and utterly irreverent, the seemingly new age cartoon was in many ways a throwback to the animated classics of the past. That show and its recent reboot on Hulu star in a trio of hilarious creatures named Wacko, Jacko, and Dot, who look a lot like some sort of generic versions of other animated pets.

This dubious nature has plagued and confused viewers for years and was even part of the show’s own mythology. However, in reality, the Animaniacs species has been public knowledge since the show began. Here’s the Warner brothers’ taxonomic designation and how it relates to the jokes in their cartoons.

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The species of the animaniacs

The trio’s rather questionable genetic ancestry stems from their designs. They have high, playful ears that stand up like a rabbit’s, which is an image accentuated by their pointed teeth. They also have big legs like a rabbit’s, which would apparently close the book on what kind of animals they are. This idea is confused, however, with their tails. Instead of the cotton ball tails of rabbits, they have long, furry tails like a cat or dog. However, nothing else about its anatomy is particularly canine or feline. Ironically, they were originally going to be ducks, but series creator Tom Ruegger decided there were already too many cartoon ducks.

Ruegger eventually admitted that his colloquial species name was “toons” or cartoon characters. The official name of their species, however, is “Cartoonus Characterus”. This information had actually always been part of the show’s production bible, and the obviously false Latin word is essentially a “no answer” to the origins of the characters.

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The Warner Brothers … and Sister

Note that a running joke The animaniacs it was to make people question who the characters in the title were. A common response was that it was, in fact, the Warner Brothers, along with a seemingly unknown sister. Another skit had a doctor trying to figure out what exactly they were, which resulted in the trio noticing that what they were, in fact, was cute.

While other characters have become synonymous with companies like Disney, Animaniacs were literally thought of as pets. Their origin story destroying the fourth wall had them created as supporting characters for the 1920s / 1930s cartoons. However, when it came time to give them their own cartoons, such projects were seen as too crazy and unwise for the general public. For this reason, they were locked in the iconic Warner Bros. water tower until they escaped in the 1990s.

This ambiguous but indisputable “cartoon” aesthetic, as well as the question of their animal nature, is accentuated because they resemble lawsuit-proof versions of Mickey Mouse and, to some extent, Oswald the Rabbit. This was later reduced, in anticipation of the show’s launch, an image of one of the Animaniacs was pasted on top of WB’s water tower. The image was removed when it was believed to be a poorly drawn image of Mickey Mouse, prompting Ruegger to change the designs a bit. In the end, the creature designs are classic and unique, even if the result is that no one knows what they are.

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