The Wild Thornberrys
The Wild Thornberrys is an American children's animated television series created by Arlene Klasky, Gábor Csupó, Steve Pepoon, David Silverman, and Stephen Sustarsic for Nickelodeon. The series portrays an American family of wildlife documentary filmmakers known as the Thornberrys, which consist of the British nature documentary television host Nigel, his wife and camera operator Marianne, their 16-year-old daughter Debbie, their younger daughter Eliza, their adopted son Donnie, and a chimpanzee named Darwin. The series focuses in particular on Eliza, who has an ability to communicate with animals. The Thornberry family travels to every continent and wildlife environment in the ComVee, a recreational vehicle equipped with safety mechanisms to handle any terrain or body of water, to document their journeys in detail, with typical episodes involving Eliza befriending an animal and subsequently finding herself in peril.
|The Wild Thornberrys|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||91 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||23 minutes|
|Original release||September 1, 1998 –|
June 11, 2004
The series premiered on September 1, 1998, on Nickelodeon as the eleventh Nicktoon and the third produced by Klasky Csupo after Rugrats and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. It ran for 5 seasons containing 91 episodes in total, with the series finale airing on June 11, 2004.
The series' fourth season premiere, "The Origin of Donnie", is a television special focusing on Donnie Thornberry's life before he was adopted by the family. A feature film, The Wild Thornberrys Movie, detailing the origin of Eliza gaining her ability to speak to animals, released on December 20, 2002. Rugrats Go Wild, a crossover feature film with Nickelodeon's Rugrats, released in theaters on June 13, 2003. Spin-off media include DVD releases and three video games.
The series focuses around a nomadic family of documentary filmmakers known as the Thornberrys, famous for their televised wildlife studies. It primarily centers on the family's younger daughter Eliza, and her secret gift of being able to communicate with animals, which was bestowed upon her after having rescued a shaman masquerading as a trapped warthog.
The gift enabled her to talk to the Thornberrys' pet chimpanzee Darwin. Together, the pair frequently venture through the wilderness, befriending many species of wild animals along the way or realizing moral truths and lessons through either their experiences or a particular animal species's lifestyle, or simply assisting the creatures, by which they become acquainted, in their difficulties.
|First aired||Last aired|
|Pilot||September 1, 1998|
|1||20||September 1, 1998||April 1, 1999|
|2||37||August 16, 1999||March 27, 2000|
|3||20||September 12, 2000||May 14, 2001|
|4||6||August 18, 2001||June 1, 2002|
|5||8||February 3, 2003||June 11, 2004|
|Films||December 20, 2002||June 13, 2003|
- Eliza (voiced by Lacey Chabert) is an 11-year-old girl and the youngest daughter of the Thornberrys. She has braided red hair, glasses, braces, and freckles. She is able to communicate with animals, especially her chimpanzee sidekick Darwin. She must keep this gift secret or she will lose her powers.
- Nigel (voiced by Tim Curry) is Eliza, Debbie, and Donnie's father and Marianne's husband. Sir Nigel Archibald Thornberry KBE is the son of Radcliffe (also voiced by Curry) and Cordelia Thornberry (Lynn Redgrave), an aristocratic British couple. Born in the U.K. and having attended Harrow School near London, he travels around the world with his own family making wildlife documentaries. He is eccentric, enthusiastic, and cheerful even in the face of danger, and is also known for his exaggerated facial features and love of kippers which he offers frequently.
- Marianne (voiced by Jodi Carlisle) is Eliza, Debbie, and Donnie's mother and Nigel's wife. She is the daughter of Frank (Ed Asner) and Sophie Hunter (Betty White). She mentions that she attended the University of California, Berkeley.
- Donnie (voiced by Flea) is a feral boy adopted by the Thornberrys, who (as revealed in the 4-part TV film, "The Wild Thornberrys: The Origin of Donnie") was raised by an Orangutan in Sumatra after his parents, who were old friends of the Thornberrys, were killed by poachers. Donnie's age is 4, turning 5 in "The Origin of Donnie".
- Debbie (voiced by Danielle Harris) is Eliza's older 16-year-old sister. She becomes the only family member to know about Eliza's power but is warned that she will be turned into a baboon if she ever tells anyone. Debbie dresses in 1990s clothing and has a long swept hairstyle.
- Darwin (voiced by Tom Kane) is the Thornberrys' pet chimpanzee. He usually wears a tank top with horizontal blue and white stripes (used to be Debbie's lucky tank top) and blue shorts. He speaks with a distinct, upper-class British accent.
- Neil Biederman (voiced by Michael Jeter & replaced by Jerry Sroka), a poacher and The Thornberrys’ sworn enemy who poaches and kidnaps animals from above it, with his partner Kip O'Donnell (voiced by Keith Szarabajka).
- Tyler Tucker (voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas), Eliza and Debbie's cousin. He is Marianne and Nigel's nephew through Marianne's sister Nancy Tucker nee Hunter. He is a year older than Eliza but acts more immaturely than Eliza does. He doesn't really understand the dangers of living in the wild. He's a big know-it-all but generally has a good head on his shoulders, and he really cares about his cousins Debbie, Eliza, and Donnie. His parents are Dennis (voiced by Martin Mull) and Nancy Tucker (voiced by Mary Kay Place).
- Shane G. (voiced by Christopher Masterson) is a pop superstar who travels with the Thornberry Family for five episodes whilst they are filming in Alaska. The Foundation orders Nigel and Marianne to take him with the family to promote Wildlife preservation among young people and Shane's fans. Both Eliza and Debbie gain a crush on the boy, however Debbie loses interest when Shane shows to have more similarities with Eliza than herself.
- Santusa (voiced by Tia Texada), a supremely annoying llama whom Eliza befriended in the Andes.
- Bim (voiced by Greg Ellis), a Koala who has a British accent and befriended by Eliza, Darwin, & Donnie.
- Shango (voiced by Bradley Pierce), an African Elephant who Eliza first met.
- Phaedra (voiced by Jane Wiedlin), a female African Elephant who appears in the episode, Forget Me Not, and who Eliza and Darwin were riding at the beginning of The Wild Thornberrys Movie.
- Zita (voiced by Andrea Thompson), an African Elephant who was Rebecca’s daughter and the mother of Shango, from the episode, Forget Me Not.
- Mali (voiced by Christina Pickles), an African Elephant who was Zita's aunt and Phadera's daughter, when Eliza helps her.
- Juka (voiced by Marquise Wilson) leader of the Massai legend between his wise Grandfather Makai (voiced by Courtney B. Vance & replaced by Steve Harris)
- Ben (voiced by David Gallagher), a friend of Eliza's that Debbie teases her for having a crush on.
- Franz Fensterkopt (voiced by Bronson Pinchot)
- Dr. Jomo (voiced by Brock Peters), a police officer who is a friend of Nigel Thornberry.
- Sri Mayasandra (voiced by Alan Henry Brown), a scientist who had found Donnie in the TV special.
- Baru (voiced by Cara DeLizia), a young Proboscis monkey who helps Eliza get back to her family, and his father, Baduk (voiced by Dwight Schultz).
- Lugan (voiced by Maureen Quinn), who was in the TV special.
- Boga (voiced by Adam Baldwin), a male African rhinoceros.
- Saiful (voiced by Pamela Adlon), which was in the TV special. and Adlon voiced Tano, a Cheetah Cub who Eliza tries to help find and who she, Darwin and Donnie help try to find his mother in the episode, Cheetahs Never Prosper.
- Shi Shou (voiced by Dionne Quan), a baby panda, and Mei-Mei (voiced by Bai Ling), a mother panda.
- Conal (voiced by Michael Gough), a Hawk, and her wife Brianag (voiced by Laraine Newman).
- Candi Milo as Emily, a female wombat from the episode, Chew if by Sea.
- Susanna Voltaire, Russi Taylor, Melissa Fahn are Anna, Igna, and Katrina
- William H. Macy as Skoot, a male reindeer who Eliza raced with in On the Right Track.
- Bill Fagerbakke as Dank, a black reindeer who appeared in On the Right Track.
- Tom Kenny as Joey, a baby Kangaroo who Eliza babysits in Pal Joey.
- Cree Summer as Rosie, a "teenage" Asian elephant.
- Georg Stanford Brown as Kito, the leader jaguar from the episode.
- Danny Cooksey as Wanuug, a polar bear who appeared in Polar Opposites.
- David Ogden Stiers as Karroo, an Aye-aye.
- Ron Fassler, Anne Lambton, & Jimmie Wood are Tak a little rat, Sheeba the eye patch wearing cat, & Bone, the three legged dog who helped Eliza find the Bangaboo in The Great Bangaboo.
- Marion Ross as Rebecca, an elephant whom Eliza saved in Forget Me Not. She was originally saved by Nigel from poachers many years ago. At the end of the episode, the elephant dies of natural causes which makes Eliza cry after she passes away and her daughter Zita takes over the herd.
- Robert Morse as Jake, a male tortoise who Eliza helped in Two's Company.
- Phyllis Diller as Samantha, a female tortoise who Eliza helped in Two's Company.
- Kelly McGillis & Peter Onorati are Winema and Pava, the leader Gray Wolves that appeared in the episode, Pack of Thornberrys.
- Chris Demetral as Mato, a Gray Wolf who appeared in the episode, Pack of Thornberrys.
- Bill Brochtrup as Collin, a Common dolphin who Eliza swam with in the episode, Hello, Dolphin!.
- Jane Goodall as Herself, appears in the episode, The Trouble With Darwin.
The Wild Thornberrys was produced by Klasky Csupo for Nickelodeon. It premiered on September 1, 1998, and was the first Nicktoon to exclusively use 22-minute stories (episodes of other Nicktoons usually featured two 10 – 11-minute stories, using 22-minute stories only on occasion).
The series was designed to have a focus on parents, after focus groups run by Klasky and Csupo uncovered that children were talking about the real struggles of the parent-child relationship; this was opposed to Nickelodeon's view of only featuring kids in children's programming.
Nickelodeon released all five seasons on DVD in Region 1 via Amazon.com through its CreateSpace Manufacture-on-demand program in 2010. Season 1 was released on June 24, 2010, and Seasons 2 through 5 were released on December 1, 2010.
|CreateSpace Releases||Release Date||Discs||Episodes|
|Season 1||June 24, 2010||4||20|
|Season 2, Volume 1||December 1, 2010||5||13|
|Season 2, Volume 2||December 1, 2010||5||24|
|Season 3, Volume 1||December 1, 2010||3||N/A|
|Season 3, Volume 2||December 1, 2010||3||N/A|
|Season 3, Volume 3||December 1, 2010||3||N/A|
|Season 4||December 1, 2010||2||6|
|Season 5||December 1, 2010||2||8|
On February 16, 2011, Shout! Factory announced that it had acquired the rights to release the series on home media and would be releasing Season 1 on DVD on May 17, 2011. Season 1 was released on May 17, 2011, followed by Season 2, Part 1 on November 8, 2011. Season 2, Part 2 was released on April 24, 2012. Season 2, Part 3 was released on January 15, 2013, as a Shout Select title. Season 3 was released on June 11, 2013, as a Shout Select title. Season 4 and Season 5 were released in a box set on September 10, 2013, as a Shout Select title.
In Australia, all 5 seasons have been released via Beyond Home Entertainment. A 13-disc set titled The Wild Thornberrys: The Essential Episodes was released on June 3, 2015.
|DVD Name||Episodes||Release Date|
|Season 1||20||May 17, 2011||April 3, 2013|
|Season 2, Part 1
Season 2, Part 2
Season 2, Part 3♦
|November 8, 2011
April 24, 2012
January 15, 2013
|April 3, 2013 (complete)|
|Season 3♦||20||June 11, 2013||December 4, 2013|
|Seasons 4 & 5♦||14||September 10, 2013||April 2, 2014|
|The Essential Episodes||75||N/A||June 3, 2015|
|The Complete Series||91||December 1, 2015||N/A|
♦ – Shout! Factory select title, sold exclusively through Shout's online store. (refers to region 1 releases)
The franchise was extended through three movies (one television film and two theatrical films), which were released toward the end of the series' run:
- The Origin of Donnie (2001): This television film prequel discovers Donnie's life before he was found by the Thornberrys.
- The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002): This theatrical film earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.
- Rugrats Go Wild (2003): This theatrical film was also the final Rugrats film, and a crossover between Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys.
A video game based on the television series titled The Wild Thornberrys: Animal Adventures was released only for PlayStation on November 8, 2000. During this time, another game was released, The Wild Thornberrys: Rambler on PC and Game Boy Color on August 7, 2000, and November 2000 respectively. The Wild Thornberrys Chimp Chase was released only for the Game Boy Advance on October 1, 2001. Characters from the series also appear in the Nickelodeon crossover games Nicktoons Racing, Nickelodeon Party Blast, and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl.
Box office performanceEdit
|Film||Release date||Box office gross||Box office ranking||Budget||Ref.|
|North America||Other territories||Worldwide||All time
North America opening weekend
|The Wild Thornberrys Movie||December 20, 2002||$40,108,697||$20,586,040||$60,694,737||2,867||2,049||$25,000,000|||
|Rugrats Go Wild||June 13, 2003||$39,402,572||$16,002,494||$55,405,066||1,774||2,081||$25,000,000|||
Common Sense Media gave the series a rating of 5 stars, praising it for its ability to encourage young viewers to be empathetic toward animals, to want to find out about other cultures and ways of life, and to understand the vastness and diversity of the world. Knight Ridder called the series "sympathetic". The Native Voice complimented the series on its commitment to fun, adventure, detail, accuracy, and honesty.
|The Wild Thornberrys Movie||80% (88 reviews)||69 (25 reviews)||A|
|Rugrats Go Wild||40% (84 reviews)||38 (27 reviews)||A-|
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|1999||Barbara Wright||Casting Society of America Artios Award for Best Casting for Animated Voiceover||Nominated|
|1999||Sabrina Wiener||Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Voice Over in a Feature or TV - Best Young Actress||Nominated|
|2000||Barbara Wright||Casting Society of America Artios Award for Best Casting for Animated Voiceover - Television||Nominated|
|2000||The Wild Thornberrys episode "You Otter Know"||Environmental Media Award for Children's Animated||Won|
|2000||The Wild Thornberrys episode "Hunting by Numbers"||Genesis Award for Television - Children's Programming - Animated||Won|
|2000||Lacey Chabert||YoungStar Award for Best Young Voice Over Talent||Nominated|
|2001||Joseph Scott, Dean Criswell, and Ron Noble for TV movie "The Origin Of Donnie".||Burbank International Children's Film Festival Award for Best Tele-Feature Animation||Won|
|2001||The Wild Thornberrys||Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Animated Program||Nominated|
|2001||The Wild Thornberrys episode "Happy Campers"||Environmental Media Award for Children's Animated Category||Nominated|
|2001||The Wild Thornberrys for multiple episodes||Genesis Award for Television - Children's Programming - Animated||Won|
|2001||The Wild Thornberrys episode "Forget Me Not"||Genesis Award for Television - Children's Programming - Animated||Won|
|2002||The Wild Thornberrys episode "The Trouble With Darwin"||Environmental Media Award for Children's Animated Category||Won|
|2003||Barbara Wright||Casting Society of America Artios Award for Best Casting for Animated Voice Over, Television||Nominated|
|2004||The Wild Thornberrys||NAMIC Vision Award in Children's Category||Nominated|
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