Top to bottom: Donnie, Debbie, Eliza, Darwin, Nigel, Marianne.


Original medium: Television animation
Produced by: Klasky-Csupo
First Appeared: 1998
Creators: Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo
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The first words in each episode of The Wild Thornberrys (spoken in the voice of Eliza Thornberry, the main character) have to do with the Thornberrys being an average family. But Eliza goes on to describe how they include both an ape and a boy who acts like one, and spend their days traveling the wilder portions of the world in an RV full of video equipment. She concludes that maybe they're not so average after all, then goes on to disclose her secret super power, unknown even …

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… to other family members, to the viewer. Following an encounter with a witch doctor, she can, like Doctor Doolittle, converse with animals.

In fact, the family's pet chimpanzee, Darwin (no relation), became her best friend and constant companion. He was the first non-human she talked with. She had less success communicating with her foster brother, Donnie, a feral child (he lived with orangutans until the age of 5) whom they picked up in their travels. She communicated reasonably well with her older sister, Debbie, tho Debbie, a would-be typical teenager, would have been a lot happier in more urban surroundings.

Mom and Dad (Marianne and Nigel Thornberry, respectively) are naturalists who produce a TV show, broadcast worldwide, about their work. Nigel hosts and Marianne runs the camera. The kids tag along because otherwise the family would have to live apart. This is fine with Donnie, Darwin and especially Eliza, but Debbie isn't too happy about it.

Nigel's voice was provided by character actor Tim Curry (Dr. Sevarius in Gargoyles, Professor Calamitous in Jimmy Neutron). Marianne was Jodi Carlisle (whose credits are mostly in face acting, but who did do scattered voices in Chalkzone, Bonkers and elsewhere). Debbie was Danielle Harris (also a face actress, but with fewer voice credits). Donnie was Flea (Michael Peter Balzary performing under that name, who played himself in Duckman and The Simpsons). Darwin's cultured tones were done by Tom Kane (Lord Monkey Fist in Kim Possible, several villains in Marvel Comics animation). Eliza was Lacey Chabert (Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man, Meg in Family Guy).

The show was created by Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo, and produced by their Klasky-Csupo studio (Aaahh! Real Monsters, Stressed Eric). It was broadcast on Nickelodeon (Fairly OddParents, Doug), starting September 1, 1998. It ran four seasons, a total of 91 episodes. Reruns were aired on CBS from 2002 through '04.

In addition to the half-hour episodes, three feature-length productions have included Thornberrys. The Origin of Donnie (2001) was a prequel to the series, telling how Donnie, whose parents had been killed by poachers, lived in the wild until the family found him. It was aired in America as a mini-series, which later became four regular episodes; and overseas as a TV movie. The Wild Thornberrys Movie was released to theatres December 20, 2002.

The third was a crossover with Klasky-Csupo's first big success. In Rugrats Go Wild, released June 13, 2003, the two popular franchises met when a tropical vacation went awry and the various families had to rescue one another.

The Wild Thornberrys isn't currently seen on TV regularly, tho Nickelodeon reruns episodes on occasion. The two theatrical releases are available in home video, as are several volumes of regular episodes. Also, books and other Thornberry merchandise are still around.


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Text ©2008-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Nickelodeon.