Animaniacs Johnny Depp Controversy Explained


The Animaniacs cause major social media outrage with a controversial joke aimed at Johnny Depp that in turn inspires a move to boycott Warner Bros.

The first episode of the Animaniacs revival on Hulu contains a scene depicting Johnny Depp that has caused some controversy and led some to call for a boycott of the show’s studio, Warner Bros. The original Animaniacs aired across five seasons from 1993 to 1998 on Fox Kids and then Kids’ WB and the first season of the revival is now on Hulu. While both the original and revival are marketed as children’s cartoons, Animaniacs is known for including a lot of humor specifically targeted toward adults.

Animaniacs episodes are usually comprised of comedy sketches and musical numbers. The songs are often fast-paced, with joke after joke and barely enough time to register each one. One such rapid-fire musical number from the Animaniacs revival has drawn fire for a joke made at Depp’s expense. In a song called “Reboot It,” the main characters Yakko, Wakko, and Dot mock the plethora of reboots in recent years to poke fun at themselves for hopping on the bandwagon. The song references shows like Gilmore Girls, X-Files, and That’s So Raven, which have all been revived or rebooted in some form.

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Related: Every Major Movie Role Johnny Depp Turned Down

The controversial joke in question is a poster of cartoon Johnny Depp with the text that includes Depp’s full name and a fictional movie title: “Johnny 2: Telling Lies.” Many of Depp’s fans, upset by the joke, took to social media to defend Depp and call for a boycott of Warner Bros. The studio had also recently asked Depp to resign from Fantastic Beasts 3, sparking a petition from fans to reinstate the actor. Depp’s supporters believe the joke was inappropriate, saying that Depp is a survivor of domestic abuse and has been unfairly hounded by the media over abuse allegations he has made against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, as well as the abuse allegations that she made against him.

The couple’s high-profile divorce has been generating news headlines for several years now. Most recently, Depp lost a libel case against the British news publication, The Sun [via CNN]. In 2018, The Sun published an article with a headline (which has now been altered) referring to Depp as a ‘wife beater’ and Depp’s resulting libel case was dismissed by the judge on November 2, 2020, and, less than three weeks later, the Animaniacs revival debuted on Hulu. Supporters of Depp – who have so far generated two huge petitions dedicated to the actor – were not happy with the show taking shots at the actor who was already taking hits in his career and public life, losing major roles in both Fantastic Beasts 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean, though his exit from the latter had been rumored for a while now. Petitions reinstate Depp in both franchises have garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures and many of those signees are now calling for a boycott of Warner Bros. because of Animaniacs.

Others have argued that the Animaniacs episode was simply outdated. There is another song in the first episode of the Animaniacs revival called, “Catch Up Song,” in which the characters specifically reference the fact that the show was being animated in 2018. In short, it could genuinely be a case of an unfortunate coincidence. The animation could have been done after the Sun article was first published (at which point, the court of public opinion was generally against Depp), so it’s possible that the show intended to reference the initial Sun article and not the subsequent lawsuit that Depp filed and lost. That said, the brief scene could be removed from Animaniacs if Warner Bros. wanted to do so prior to release, and Depp’s supporters believe that they should have, though it’s unlikely that the show, which is known for its edgy and sometimes provocatively offensive humor, will do so.

Next: Why WB Firing Amber Heard Would Be Different To Johnny Depp’s Exit

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Updated: November 22, 2020 — 9:17 pm

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