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The Wild Thornberrys
Genre Adventure
Created by Arlene Klasky
Gábor Csupó
Steve Pepoon
David Silverman
Stephen Sustarsic
Developed by Mark Palmer
Jeff Astrof
Mike Sikowitz
Directed by Peter Avanzino
Anthony Bell
Becky Bristow
Sylvia Keulen
Cathy Malkasian
Jeff McGrath
Carol Millican
Steve Ressel
Mark Risley
Voices of Lacey Chabert
Tom Kane
Danielle Harris
Jodi Carlisle
Tim Curry
Composer(s) Drew Neumann
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 91 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Arlene Klasky
Gábor Csupó
Producer(s) Christine Ferriter
Maureen Iser
Krist-Ann Pehrson
Sheila M. Anthony
Running time 23 minutes
Production company(s) Klasky Csupo
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Distributor MTV Networks
Original network Nickelodeon
Picture format 480i (4:3 SDTV)
Original release September 1, 1998 (1998-09-01) – June 11, 2004 (2004-06-11)

The Wild Thornberrys is an American animated television series that originally aired on Nickelodeon from 1998 to 2004.

The series portrays a family of wildlife documentary filmmakers known as the Thornberrys; in particular the younger daughter Eliza, and her ability to communicate with animals.

As well as television episodes, the franchise included two television films and two theatrical films.


This is me, Eliza Thornberry, part of your average family. I've got a dad, a mom, and a sister. There is Donnie, we found him. And Darwin, he found us. Oh, yeah, about our house. It moves, because we travel all over the world. You see, my dad hosts this nature show, and my mom shoots it. Okay, so we're not that average. And between you and me, something amazing happened... and now I can talk to animals. It's really cool, but totally secret. And you know what? Life's never been the same.

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.


Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
Pilot September 1, 1998 (1998-09-01)
1 20 September 1, 1998 (1998-09-01) April 1, 1999 (1999-04-01)
2 37 August 16, 1999 (1999-08-16) March 27, 2000 (2000-03-27)
3 20 September 12, 2000 (2000-09-12) May 14, 2001 (2001-05-14)
4 6 August 18, 2001 (2001-08-18) June 1, 2002 (2002-06-01)
The Wild Thornberrys Movie December 20, 2002 (2002-12-20)
Rugrats Go Wild June 13, 2003 (2003-06-13)
5 8 February 3, 2003 (2003-02-03) June 11, 2004 (2004-06-11)


Tv hi wildthornberrys
The Wild Thornberrys, left to right, Nigel (bottom left), Marianne (with camera), Eliza (with glasses), Darwin (the chimpanzee), Donnie (with brown hair), and Debbie (sitting down, bored)

Main Characters

  • Eliza (voiced by Lacey Chabert) is an 12-year-old girl and the youngest daughter of the Thornberrys. She has red hair in braids, glasses, braces, and freckles. She has four visible teeth connected by two braces. 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 United Kingdom 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 2001 four-part TV movie, "The Wild Thornberrys: The Origin of Donnie") was raised by gorillas in DR Congo after his parents, who were old friends of the Thornberrys, were killed by poachers. Donnie is 4, turning 5 in "The Origin of Donnie".
  • Debbie (voiced by Danielle Harris) is Eliza's 16-year-old older 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 grunge clothing and has a peekaboo 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.

Recurring Characters

  • Neil Biederman (voiced by Michael Jeter & replaced by Jerry Sroka), a poacher & 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 Llama first seen in Nigel Knows Best.
  • Bim (voiced by Greg Ellis), a Koala whose 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).

Guest Stars

  • 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 apppeared 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.

Home media

Nickelodeon released all five seasons on DVD in Region 1 via 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, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the rights to the series 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. Seasons 4 and 5 were released in a box set on September 10, 2013 as a Shout Select title.

On December 1, 2015, Shout! Factory released The Wild Thornberrys: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1.

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
Region 1
Region 4
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 show aired in reruns on "Nick on CBS" for 2 years from September 14, 2002, to March 6, 2004. The show aired on Nicktoonsters in the United Kingdom.

Video Games

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. Another video game titled The Wild Thornberrys Chimp Chase was released only for the Game Boy Advance on October 1, 2001.


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 prequel was released as a television film, and explores 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.


Year Nominated 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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