The Original ‘Animaniacs’ Showrunner Hasn’t Been Asked Back. Can The Revival Succeed Without Him?
Enthusiasm over the news of an Animaniacs revival on Hulu has turned to consternation among fans of the show after it has become evident that none of the show’s original writers and producers have yet been invited to participate in the production of the new episodes.
Nate Ruegger, the son of the show’s original senior producer/showrunner, Tom Ruegger, as well as the voice of Skippy Squirrel on the series, tweeted out a message asking how he could effectively campaign to get his father to work on the new series:
Currently seeking help with how to effectively campaign to staff a TV showrunner on a reboot of a series that this same showrunner created.
— Nate "Skippy Squirrel" Ruegger (@NateRuegger) January 5, 2018
Ruegger, 63, himself hasn’t said anything publicly about not being asked back, but he made his feelings clear when he retweeted this message of support from a fan:
It is absurd that @tomruegger isn't involved in the #Animaniacs reboot. He created something truly special and it won't be the same without him. Or @NateRuegger, because Slappy is essential. Fix this, @hulu. Please.
— Adam Cole (@APCole90) January 5, 2018
Ruegger, who most recently served as executive producer on Disney’s The 7D, had apparently been kept in the dark about the new episodes of Animaniacs.
Speaking to the Animaniacs-related podcast Animanicast last October, Ruegger said that he had not been able to find out news about the reboot. “Many of us who worked on Animaniacs in the past have tried to find out more and we have not found out a lot,” he told the podcast. “It looks like there are some discussions, but whether they are…coming to fruition, nobody seems to know. My hope is that Warner Bros. and Amblin basically do the right thing and get as many of the original creators, artists, writers and musicians involved.”
Following the announcement of the new episodes, Paul Rugg, a key writer and actor on the original Animaniacs, told a fan on Twitter that he was not working on the new episodes and it was “unknown” whether he would be asked to participate in the revival:
Unknown at this time.
— Paul Rugg (@pkrugg) January 6, 2018
It is still not out of the question that Ruegger and Rugg could become involved in the new episodes. When Hulu announced the series a few days, they did not indicate who would be the showrunner or which talent would be involved besides Steven Spielberg, who will reprise his position as executive producer. Since then, the show’s original voice actors (at least those of them who have Twitter accounts) have all confirmed that they will return. Those actors are Jess Harnell (Wakko), Maurice LaMarche (The Brain), and Rob Paulsen (Yakko, Pinky).
The return of the original actors may provide some solace for Animaniacs fans, serving as a clue that the new version won’t be as extreme a reboot as Cartoon Network’s new Powerpuff Girls cartoons, which recast the voices of the iconic title characters.
Hulu, for its part, has not indicated whether the show will be a reboot or a revival, referring to the new Animaniacs episodes only as a “brand-new version,” albeit one that would bring “more sketches, catchphrases, songs and laughs,” and allow “parents who grew up with the cartoon now have new episodes to share with their own families.”
Still, hardcore fans of the original show have been vocal on Twitter about the lack of involvement from the original writers, and have vowed to resist the new episodes if Ruegger isn’t involved. Here’s what some of them are saying on Twitter:
If Tom Ruegger – creator, writer, and executive producer of the original #Animaniacs – isn't asked to be part of the reboot, we boycott.
Yes, many people made it a success, but it wouldn't exist without Mr. Ruegger. There's no show w/o him.@WarnerBrosEnt @hulu
— Ryan Malik ☃ (@theaterfilms1) January 7, 2018
Are they seriously trying to reboot #Animaniacs without @tomruegger and the original team?? If that's the case, then I'm out @hulu
— cody 🤡 (@AssortedPopcorn) January 7, 2018
I'm excited for the the #Animaniacs reboot, but we need the creator @tomruegger to be back and the cast, they are Mr. Ruegger's characters and my inspiration in becoming an animator. As well as @yakkopinky @JessHarnell as my inspiration of becoming a voice actress!!❤💕
— Arianna (@AriaCartoonist) January 7, 2018
An #Animaniacs reboot without @tomruegger is not an Animaniacs I would watch. Come on @hulu and @WarnerBrosEnt, bring back the original creative team, including @pkrugg, Sherri Stoner, and so many more who made us laugh and helped make Animaniacs the HUGE ratings success it was.
— Just Some Guy (@valjeanlafitte) January 7, 2018
No Sherri Stoner + No Tom Ruegger = Danger, WIll Robinson!
Bad enough that they're most likely not going to be able to rekindle the musical magic with Richard Stone having been gone from the Mortal Plane for nearly 17 years now…
— Kevin D. Grüssing (@KevDGrussing) January 6, 2018
Ruegger agrees with his fans. As he told the Animanicast a couple months ago, a show without the original writers and artists wouldn’t work out:
“I wouldn’t want to make the show without the brilliant writers and artists that came up with it. I think the fans will love a reboot if it really captures the essence and fun and anarchy and zaniness of the original. I truly believe that can be achieved with getting the band back together but I don’t think you can just find someone off the street and say, ‘Make more Animaniacs’ and expect it to work out. I would love to make new Animaniacs, but it would have to be under conditions that are guaranteed not to fail.”