We love cartoon rodents. Mickey Mouse has captivated our imagination since he appeared in the animation Plane Crazy in the roaring twenties. Such is our desire for all-things Mickey that fans can buy his beaming face on everything from flashing plastic ears and baby rompers to dog t-shirts and golf balls.
The philosophy of the mouse cartoon character is simple. Cartoon rodents are cute and mischievous who can’t pose a real threat to mankind. It’s also fun to see them get their own back on the predator’s who are pursuing them. Antagonists often fall into the stupid, sadistic cat category but it’s always the mouse who triumphs over evil.
Check out our list of rodents that have stood the test of time and still keep us laughing today.
1. Mickey Mouse
The first mouse to grace our screens was Mickey Mouse who first featured in the black and white movies Plane Crazy and Steamboat Willie in 1928. His white gloves were added later because the black of his hands weren’t clearly visible against his body. Originally called Mortimer mouse, Mickey is a global phenomenon and his face is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. His character has been shaped into everything from a bunker on a golf course to birthday cakes. Mickey is currently the main character in the Disney Channel’s Playhouse Disney series “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”.
2. Jerry from Tom and Jerry
Tom and Jerry was created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the 40s and was shown before a film, as a kind of warm-up act.
The hilariously, slapstick cartoon is a classic and follows the mad capers of a stupid housecat and a smart mouse. They are best friends, some of the time. Violent chase scenes often involving frying pans indicate that the cartoon was aimed at adults rather than children. The cartoon is very much of an era and although still aired, probably wouldn’t be commissioned in todays politically correct era.
3. Speedy Gonzales
One victim of political correctness is Speedy Gonzales. The fastest mouse in all Mexico was featured from 1955 onwards by Warner Brothers in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. Speedy usually wears an oversized yellow sombrero, white shirt and trousers and a red kerchief, similar to that of a reveller in the San Fermin festival. Sometimes his cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez, the “slowest Mouse in all Mexico” also features in the cartoon. Slowpoke regularly gets into all sorts of trouble that often requires Speedy to save him.
In 1999, the Cartoon Network ceased to air Speedy Gonzales. In an interview to Fox News on March 28, 2002, Cartoon Network spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg commented, “It hasn’t been on the air for years because of its ethnic stereotypes.” This is widely believed to refer to Speedy’s fellow mice, which are all shown as being very slow and lazy, and sometimes even appear intoxicated. This is particularly true of Speedy’s cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez, who is exceptionally slow and lazy. Slowpoke is also known to carry a gun. Perhaps not the best message to send children.
4. Remi the Rat from Ratatouille
Remi is a rat in Paris who dreams of being a world class chef, like his hero Gastineau. Unlike his family and friends he abhors scavenging in rubbish for food and has a taste for fine dining and expensive cheese which he steals straight off the tables in fancy restaurants (Someone call Ehrlich). The humans can’t hear the rats talk which makes the characters more realistic.
5. Mighty Mouse
Originally created as a parody of Superman, he first appeared in 1942 in a theatrical animated short titled The Mouse of Tomorrow. The original name of the character was Super Mouse, but it was soon changed to Mighty
Mouse when Paul Terry learned that another character with the same name was being published in comic books.
Mighty Mouse originally had a blue costume with a red cape, like Superman, but over time this outfit changed to a yellow costume with a red cape, his most popular colors. As with other imitations of Superman, Mighty Mouse’s super powers include flight, super strength, and invulnerability. His powers include X-ray vision and telekinesis.
The initial formula of each story consisted of an extended setup of a crisis which needs extraordinary help to resolve, after which Mighty Mouse appears to save the day.
Mighty Mouse would dole out a considerable amount of punishment, usually to cats, who would give up their evil plan and run away. His favorite move was to suddenly fly up to just under a much larger opponent’s chin and throw a blinding flurry of punches that leaves the enemy reeling.
6. Rizzo the Rat
Rizzo the Rat is a Muppet, performed by Steve Whitmire. Rizzo first appeared in episode 418 of The Muppet Show, as one of a group of rats following Christopher Reeve around backstage. Rizzo is a streetwise rat with a New Jersey accent who hates heights.
He can be seen mugging and reacting to practically every line of dialogue. He remained a scene-stealing background figure through the final season, occasionally performing with Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem.
7. Danger Mouse
Danger Mouse is a British animated television series which features the eponymous Danger Mouse, an English mouse who works as a superhero/secret agent and lives in a red post box. The show is a loose parody of British spy fiction, particularly James Bond and the Danger Man series starring Patrick McGoohan. His assistant Penfold is a timid, bespectacled hamster. Flying Officer Buggles Pigeon is a secret agent who came to the aid of Danger Mouse and Penfold in the episode, “Chicken Run,” and appeared in several episodes afterward. The show ran from 1981 to 1992. Villains include Duckula who in one episode tries to mind-control human Members of Parliament.
8. Pinky and the Brain
Pinky and the Brain was a spinoff of Animanics. The show ran from 1995 to 2001 on Kids’ WB. Kids’ WB! Presented by Steven Spielberg, Pinky and Brain are genetically enhanced laboratory mice who reside in a cage in the Acme Labs research facility. Brain is self-centered and scheming; Pinky is good-natured but feebleminded. In each episode, Brain devises a new plan to take over the world, which ultimately ends in failure, usually due to Pinky’s idiocy or the impossibility of Brain’s plan. In common with many other Animaniacs shorts, many episodes are in some way a parody of something else, usually a film or novel.
9. Minnie Mouse
Minnie was created in 1928 in the fashion of a flapper girl in an attempt to tap in youth culture of the time. One of her distinctive features was her knickers which are often visible under her short dress and her oversized shoes. Along with Mickey, she was redesigned in the 1940s. Her hat which featured a daisy was replaced with a large bow, and bows were added to her shoes as well.
Minnie first appeared in Plane Crazy when she was invited to join Mickey in the first flight of his aircraft. She accepts the invitation but not his request for a kiss in mid-flight. Mickey eventually forces Minnie into a kiss. She gets the huff and parachutes out of the plane.
Megavolt was the villain in Walt Disney’s Darkwing Duck which ran in the 1990’s. Megavolt gained the power to control electricity after a bully sabotaged one of his
science experiments. Megavolt is quite psychotic and uses his control over electricity as his main weapon. His costume consists of his original jumpsuit, gloves, boots and safety goggles from the power company as well as a giant battery worn on his back to keep his power flowing on the go and a headpiece that resembles a big plug. Megavolt was the most popular villain on the show and therefore the most recurring. Megavolt often referred to Darkwing as either “Darkwing Dork” or “Dorkwing”. He shorts out when hit with water, a weakness that Darkwing often uses when defeating him.