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"My child, we can no longer live as rats. We know too much."
This page is about the animated film The Secret of NIMH. If you are looking for the article about the book or its literary sequels, see Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.
Mrs. Brisby is a widowed mouse and mother of four living near a farm. With spring fast approaching and the frost melting from the ground, her family has to move in order to avoid the farmer's plow—but one of the children, Timothy, has come down with pneumonia and can't be moved for a few weeks. Taking the advice of an all-knowing owl, Mrs. Brisby seeks the aid of the Rats of NIMH, a group of escaped lab rats that were rendered super-intelligent via experimental drugs. After meeting with the rats' leader, Nicodemus, Mrs. Brisby finds out that her late husband Jonathan had been a good friend of the rats—and died while helping the rats carry out a plan to leave the human world behind. Nicodemus agrees to help Mrs. Brisby move her home, but some of the other rats have plans of their own...
The Secret Of NIMH was Don Bluth's first feature film after leaving Disney; it was even produced a decade after Disney itself had turned down adapting the original story. Bluth used traditional tools and methods as a way of fighting back against the movement towards lower production costs (and lower quality animation). While the film did poorly at the box office—thanks in part to its competition -- it has come to be regarded as a masterpiece of animation in the years since its release, with many animation enthusiasts and film critics regarding it as Bluth's best work. The film was released on DVD twice—once as a single-disc set with no special features, and once as a two-disc "Family Fun Edition" that included a feature-length commentary from Bluth himself—and 2011 saw a Blu-Ray release for the film.
Years after the original film, a Direct to Video sequel called Secret of NIMH II: Timmy to the Rescue was released. The film was (predictably) produced without Bluth's involvement. The less that is said about it, the better.
The movie series has examples of the following tropes
- Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: The Owl.
- Action Mom: Ms. Brisby is an interesting example, as she's doing what she does to save her children, not because she has a love of adventure or thrill—in fact, she gets the crap scared out of her by most of the things she encounters throughout the film. But her bravery is what pulls her—and the audience—through.
- Adaptational Villainy: In the book the film is based on, Jenner is a much less villainous Commander Contrarian, and doesn't kill Nicodemus like his film incarnation does.
- Affably Evil: Jenner is possessed of a singular charm and charisma that makes it easy to see how he manipulates others around him.
- Faux Affably Evil: Almost all of his charm and courtesy towards others is solely to meet his ends, and when things start to turn against him, there is no one, man, woman or child, he won't sacrifice in cold blood to keep his plan in motion.
- Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: The amulet Nicodemus gives Ms. Brisby.
- Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny: Jeremy the Crow can't resist "sparklies."
- Barefoot Cartoon Animals: Most of the rats, with Nicodemus as The One Who Wears Shoes.
- Beard of Evil: Jenner has one.
- Butt Monkey: Jeremy, a lonely compassionate crow that just wants to help out and find love; unfortunately, he is also a hapless klutz, tending to cause more problems than he solves. He's constantly reprimanded by Mrs. Brisby until she eventually gets rid of him by having him see to trivial minor duties, both of which he fails miserably with too. Perhaps a crueler example than a lot of Bluth's other examples, since Jeremy does not have involvement in the final climax and thus doesn't get to redeem himself (though he does get his "Mrs. Right" at the end of it all).
- He and Cecil retain this role in the sequel, albeit toned down somewhat; this is likely due to the zanier setup (Jeremy at least seems to have warmer relations with the characters, especially Timmy).
- Mrs. Brisby acts somewhat as one in more comical moments, though probably leans more towards woobie territory.
- Cats Are Mean: Hell, the cat in question is named Dragon. Invoked again in the sequel with Muriel and Troy, the two alley cat minions (albeit in a more pitiful sense). It is refreshing change in that this cat who acts just like a cat is considered bad, but doesn't get an undeserved comeuppance.
- What is very interesting about this is that, in the scene where Mrs. Fitzgibbon is hanging out the laundry and Dragon is sleeping near the back step (a scene which takes more of an omniscient camera view than the first-person view of the mice), he doesn't come across nearly so horrifying. Part of this may be due to him being drugged at the time, but it also comes across as him seeming a normal cat here but a monster in all his other scenes because that is how a cat would look and sound to a mouse. (See Translation Convention.)
- Inverted in the sequel. Muriel and Troy are actually brainwashed by Martin to do his evil bidding, and are suggested to be the only villains that don't escape the fire and thus possibly meet their demise.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Jeremy isn't the most stable of characters sometimes. Martin under the influence of NIMH's experimentation in the sequel may count as a villainous example.
- Conspicuously Light Patch: While the characters' fairly straightforward animation is understandable in contrast to the sumptuously painted backgrounds, when something in the background needs animating, it can be rather jarring. The mud sloshing around the Brisby's house as they're trying to move it is particularly obvious.
- Cowardly Lion: Mrs. Brisby, despite the heroics and limits she goes to save her family, has a visibly meek and fearful disposition. This is a movie that never forgets that its heroine is a mouse.
- Doubling as a Cowardly Sidekick, Jeremy, even if most of his acts of bravery are usually thwarted and go unappreciated due to being equally bumbling and dim-witted. That said, the guy directly attacks Dragon to protect Mrs. Brisby and even retrieves Timmy's medicine from the scuffle (keeping in mind that everyone is terrified of Dragon). In the sequel he also endures his fears of NIMH to save Timmy (if somewhat at the eleventh hour).
- Deadpan Snarker: Only a short period in the company of Jeremy can turn even sweet Mrs. Brisby into an irritable snark. Even on the rare occasions Jeremy isn't causing trouble for her, she is unusually condescending and dismissive towards him.
- Jenny plays this trope hard on occasion in Timmy To The Rescue.
- Justin also does this in one moment of the first movie.
Jenner: (He's been talking about how Nicodemus's plan to move the rats shouldn't be done) We were just talking about you.
- Demoted to Extra: Mrs. Brisby in the sequel.
- Didn't Think This Through: Jenner's plan is clever in theory: destroy the Brisby House and kill Nicodemus so that the rats are stuck on the farm and he can become their ruler. The flaw in the plan is that he won't be able to rule them for very long because soon the rosebush will be destroyed and they'll all die. Not such a Magnificent Bastard after all?
- Disneyfication: Averted somewhat. While the movie has some traditional changes from the original book (eg. more whimsical and slapstick-esque characterization and dialogue), some aspects are actually darker compared to its original material. The death count of pivotal characters is higher in the movie, for example. The sequel plays this straight, complete with musical numbers and numerous comic relief extras.
- Disney Villain Death: Averted, though the villain still falls. Jenner dies in full view, as well as his (former) henchman Sullivan. Sullivan throws a dagger into Jenner's back before dying of a sword wound. They ain't comin' back.
- Arguably Muriel and Troy in Timmy To The Rescue falling down an elevator shaft. The tone of this is comical, though the fact they aren't seen escaping as NIMH as it is set ablaze leaves suggestion whether they survived.
- Evil Sorcerer: While his powers are all based around technology, Martin of The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy To The Rescue certainly seems to enjoy the trappings of this trope. Complete with robe and staff.
- Four Lines, All Waiting: There are at least four ongoing plots tied together in the original film—Ms. Brisby trying to save her children from the farmer's plow, the Rats of NIMH trying to leave for Thorn Valley, Jenner trying to sabotage their moving plans by murdering Nicodemus, and Jeremy the Crow trying to find a love interest.
- Furry Confusion: The Rats angst over this quite a bit. Though, looking at the farm animals, all of them show intelligence and act somewhat like humans—to a point. Only the insects play fully realistic parts.
- Fun with Acronyms: NIMH - National Institute of Mental Health.
- Another use of NIMH is NIckel-Metal Hydride, which is a common type of rechargeable battery.
- NIMH is a real organization.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck: In the sequel with Aunt Shrew ("Oh, to heck with him...").
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: The Brisby family. Most of the rats as well.
- Humans Are Bastards: Aside from the NIMH scientists, mostly averted through lack of presence.
- The rats don't seem to hold any real grudge against humans in general, preferring to simply avoid them. When Nicodemus reveals the rats' story and the nature of the Plan, he makes it clear that stealing food or electricity from the humans is wrong.
- Jerkass Facade: Brutus, the huge intimidating guard to the rat's hideout, is revealed as such in the original novel. The original film at first only vaguely hints to this ("Oh, that's just Brutus..."), but he does try to help pull up the Brisby home; you hardly see him, and wouldn't know it was him if Justin hadn't called out his name, but he's there.
Justin: I'll get a line around the stones, now...Brutus, quick! Get some rope; tie off those block lines!
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: "Aunt" Shrew. She is first introduced as a pish-posh busybody who walks around with an incredible air of self-importance, but she soon demonstrates great bravery by warning all the animals about the plow and rescuing Mrs. Brisby from the tractor.
- Mr Ages is for the most part a cranky, unsociable hermit though he nevertheless assists Mrs. Brisby with every plea she makes to assist her family plus is revealed to have been quite the badass himself, being the one previously tasked with drugging the cat before he injured his leg, as well as playing a part in the rats' escape alongside Jonathan Brisby.
- Cecil the Caterpillar; despite being a con-man and a bit on the cowardly side, he goes out of his way to help out the protagnists with little motive. He is introduced saving Timmy and Jenny from an eagle.
- See also Brutus under Jerkass Facade, above.
- Kindhearted Simpleton: Jeremy means well, but his denseness usually does more harm than good.
- The Klutz: Again, Jeremy.
- Mama Bear: Despite her own fears, Mrs. Brisby will do anything to protect her children.
- Manipulative Bastard: Jenner.
- Mind Control Eyes: Jeremy after glancing at Mrs. Brisby's "sparkly" in the original. Evil!Martin also shows an occasional gaze of these in the sequel, for relevant reasons.
- Never a Self-Made Woman: Mrs. Brisby would not have gotten any help for her situation if she wasn't "Mrs. Jonathan Brisby".
- No Name Given: Mrs. Brisby is never referred to as anything other than Mrs. Brisby. The closest they get to giving her a first name is calling her Mrs. Johnathon Brisby, but that's referring to her husband.
- Nonhumans Lack Attributes
- The Power of Love. "You can unlock any door, if you only have the key." According to the Theme Song Flying Dreams, "Love is the key."
Nikodemus: Courage of the heart is very rare. The Stone has a power when it's there.
- Ravens and Crows: Jeremy, a rare dumbass corvid.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Sullivan, despite threats from Jenner, ultimately refuses to play part in murdering Nicodemus in the original movie.
- Jeremy and Cecil also refuse to join Timmy and Jenny in entering NIMH in the sequel (though both change their mind later on).
- Shoo Out the Clowns: In both movies, the comical Jeremy more or less dissappears halfway through until the main climax is over. Cecil the Caterpillar is taken out briefly in the sequel as well, though does get some involvement in the final action (see above).
- The Sociopath: Jenner.
- What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: A rare example of both mice and rats being good.
- Action Mom: Mrs. Brisby is an interesting example of this trope, as she is only doing what she does to protect her children ("Timothy... remember Timothy!") It is certainly not because she enjoys adventure or action. In fact, the film clearly shows that she's scared out of her mind by the tasks she must do, but she is still courageous enough to pull through, expecially when the action really gets going.
- Actor Allusion: Jenner's death is similar to Tony Montana's: hitten in the back and then falled face down into a pool. Paul Shenar, who voices Jenner, played Alejandro Sosa in the same movie.
- Air Vent Passageway: Seen in the flashback to the labs. Justified Trope; ...they're rats.
- Arc Words: "Courage of the heart is very rare / The stone has a power when its there".
- Ascended Extra: Jeremy, though a lot of his relevance to the main story diminishes after his role portrayed in the book.
- Jenner also is promoted to the movie's Big Bad; in the book, he's only mentioned in the backstory.
- Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Don Bluth and company attempted to get NIMH a PG rating to have it appeal to a larger audience (the film definitely isn't very kid-friendly): there was a superfluous (though understandable given the circumstances) "Damn!" spoken by Justin, several on-screen deaths, visible blood, and a fair amount of nightmare-fueling scenes. For reasons beyond all understanding, the MPAA still gave them a G. One would almost have to assume they literally didn't bother to watch it.
- Badass Normal: Though the rats are no less frightened of Dragon than are the mice, rats are too large to get into the house to drug him, leaving the mice to do it. Jonathan dies in one attempt, and Mr. Ages breaks a leg in a subsequent one. Both are genetically modified, but Mrs. Brisby is the one who succeeds with literally just a scratch.
- Badly-Battered Babysitter: Poor Jeremy...
- Cape Swish: Jenner has mastered this move (which one feels he picked up from Maleficent).
- Carnivore Confusion:
- Lampshaded: "Owls eat mice!" "Uh...only after dark." There are bones strewn about the Owl's lair. Owls compact all waste into a pellet-like solid, bones and all (though these are probably from disintegrated pellets; the Owl isn't too concerned with tidying his lair). Not to mention the Owl seems to be completely nonplussed by this mouse but he'll gladly eat a passing bug.
- A more standard example is the fact that Mrs. Brisby is friends with a shrew. Shrews eat mice.
- As do crows.
- As do rats, under normal circumstances.
- Basically, every non-relative she has a conversation with in the entire film would've tried to eat her in Real Life, except Mr. Ages. And even he might've eaten her kids if he was hungry enough.
- Cat Scare: A rabbit is used instead. The cat is the monster. After all the protagonists are a mouse and a bird...
- Chekhov's Gun: The amulet, which grants Mrs. Brisby major telekinetic powers, enough to move a block many times her weight several feet.
- Cobweb Jungle: The Great Owl's lair. The Great Owl himself, come to mention it. Hey, it looks awesome!
- Covers Always Lie / Contemptible Cover: The suggested solution for your long-awaited two-disc widescreen edition DVD is to print the Badass poster art seen above and paste it over the official art.
- It gets worse. The movie is now being sold along with the sequel, and guess who's hogging the cover? Timmy Brisby, from the sequel.
- Crystal Ball: Essentially, Nicodemus' whirling bronze portal-thing, which allows him to scry on others from a great distance.
- Dark Is Not Evil: The Great Owl, who is neutral. Also, Nicodemus; not only is he scary and ugly (the "ugly" being mostly because of how disturbingly anthropomorphic he is), but also actually quite dark in himself (largely thanks to the fact that the colours in the movie are quite dull and brown, as was the style in fantastic films of the time).
- Designated Monkey: Jeremy for aforementioned reasons. Even regarding how much trouble his clumsiness and quirkiness causes, he's too innocent a guy not to feel sorry for him, especially since most of the time he is being punished by the protaganists he's trying to help (such as Mrs Brisby's kids he was so convinced would adore him).
- Deus Ex Machina / Chekhov's Gun: The ending. It can count as either. Chekhov's Gun in that the stone was mentioned to have a power early, but Deus Ex Machina in that the power wasn't fully explained.
- In other words, it's a type 2 or 3 Deus Ex Machina.
- Doing in the Scientist: Amazingly enough, considering what NIMH is.
- Every Girl Is Cuter With Hair Decs: Teresa Brisby and the large bow she sports on her head.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Jenner has a very impressive speaking voice.
- Giant Spider: In the Great Owl's lair, before it's crushed to a to pulp.
- Giant Waist Ribbon: Cynthia
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Another reason why The Great Owl is certifiably Rule of Cool incarnate. He's even voiced by John Carradine!
- Nicodemus's eyes glow, too - it's never explained why.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Both played straight and averted. While Nicodemus' death occurs off-camera, we see the owl causally devour a still-living insect, Mrs. Brisby's cut (hey, it's a G-rated movie, any blood is gore), two characters stabbed, and some rather graphic depictions of animal experimentation, even if only for a few seconds.
- Heel Face Turn: See Redemption Equals Death below.
- Humans Are Cthulhu: Debatable, but humanity does seem pretty Cthulhuish in several respects here. In particular, the Rats of NIMH are understandably terrified of what humans would do if they found a society of transgenic sentients living in a rosebush in some farmer's front lawn...
- Identical Stranger: Despite being different species and knowing each other, Nicodemus and the Great Owl have the same glowing eyes, same big eyebrows and same-length moustaches. See picture above.
- Ill Girl: Timmy
- The Jimmy Hart Version: Some sections of "Flying Dreams" have some notes taken from "A Friendly Face", a song from The Small One, another Don Bluth production.
- Last Breath Bullet: Knife, actually. It's how Jenner meets his end.
- Leave Him to Me: Jenner pulls this, as he wants to crush Nicodemus under a hoisting crane. Oddly, this is done as a murder plot and not (as it usually is) during a heated battle.
- Ludd Was Right: The Rats of NIMH angst over their dependence on electricity, as they must steal it from the farm. The whole plan to move to Thorn Valley hinges on their becoming entirely self-sufficient. Mind you, it's not that they don't like technology or advancement; stealing electricity from the humans just is dangerously conspicuous activity for hyperintelligent rodents on the run. That and they're starting to gain some human-like morality and deeper emotion, such as the feeling of ennui as they realize that a life living entirely off the back of another was robbing them of self-worth.
- Magitek: The rats' technology is basically just magic.
- Mama Bear: Not as violent as standard examples, but any mouse (especially a semi-anthropomorphic one) who'll enter the dark spooky lair of one of her natural predators, in order to save her children, deserves a mention.
- Meaningful Name: Farmer Fitzgibbon, as in "son of an ape". Not helped by the fact that the prefix "fitz" was, in medieval times, widely used for the surnames of acknowledged illegitimate children - thus making it into "bastard son of an ape". Which is far more insulting, when you think about it.
- Mr. Exposition: Nicodemus, but he actually does it well.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "Oh, that's just Brutus." Also Dragon. Only a bastard son of an ape would give their pet that name.
- Never Live It Down: Justin suggesting to Mrs. Brisby that she remove her cape. The action also highlights Mrs. Brisby as a Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal.
- Never Say "Die": Averted, consistently, in that even the youngest characters confront death head on and discuss the possibility openly.
- No Control Group: Averted; in the flashback, when Nicodemus escapes from his cage, the row below his are clearly marked "CONTROL GROUP" (though this was hard to make out in the VHS version). The book more clearly mentions them. In the film, they're using wild-caught specimens, which rather negates the control group in Real Life with lab animals that you can buy from breeders. (Yes, there are purebred lines of lab rats and mice.)
- Explained a bit better in the book, as domestic lab rats are reared in plain cages and thus don't get the mental stimulation that wild ones do. Using wild-caught rats for both the experimental and control groups gave the researchers' subjects an intellectual head start, even before being injected with brain enhancers.
- Obviously Evil: Jenner wears an Ominous Opera Cape, with Big Ol' Eyebrows that he's constantly arching, and has a long goatee. He may as well walk around wearing a sign around his neck saying "Evil Megalomaniac."
- Older Than They Look: Nicodemus mentions to Mrs. Brisby that the genetic manipulation slowed their aging process, and that Johnathan would have continued to live on and still look young while she grew old.
- Ominous Opera Cape: Jenner, and he uses it for an impressive Cape Swish.
- One-Scene Wonder: John Carradine as the Owl. The whole scene on both a technical and emotional level could be considered Bluth's Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- Owl Be Damned: Seriously, the Great Owl.
- Papa Wolf: Jeremy tries to act as one, but ultimately his clumsiness intervenes—as well as inadvertently falling under the wrath of a Mama Bear in the process. That said he does act out a pretty valid showing of this for Mrs. Brisby, and to a lesser extent, Timmy.
- Playing with Syringes: The scenes set within NIMH.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Jeremy, somewhat.
- Plummet Perspective: Used a few times.
- Power Glows: Nicodemus is the king of Glowy Thingies of Power.
- The Power of Love: Mrs. Brisby's greatest gift.
- Power Strain Blackout: Mrs. Brisby, immediately following the film's climax, wherein she uses The Stone for the first and only time to move her home. She collapses as its power subsides, then passes out.
- Precision F-Strike: "Damn..."
- Psychic Powers: Nicodemus has Telekinesis, and Mrs. Brisby pulls some tricks at the end.
- Redemption Equals Death: Sullivan, who, after being slashed in the chest by Jenner, puts a knife in his back as he prepares to kill Justin.
- Red Filter of Doom: During Brisby's encounter with Brutus.
- Also much of the fight between Justin and Jenner is filmed/animated in reddish hues.
- Red String of Fate: This may or may not be an intentional usage; when Mrs. Brisby first meets Jeremy, he is tangled in red string, which he is retrieving to build a "love nest" for his future "Mrs. Right".
- The Renaissance Age of Animation: One of the (if not the) real instigators of it; animated films hadn't been made as seriously as this for quite a while when it came out and it would still be a few good years before Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was made.
- Scenery Porn: A lot of it, especially in the rat colony.
- Schizo-Tech - crosses over with Hammerspace when Justin and Jenner pull out their swords. Considering that the rats adapt human technology based on their functioning understanding of it (well, at least in the novel), one might wonder where the hell they managed to come up with the idea that full-on medieval swords in tiny miniature version would be a good idea. Especially considering the kinds of heat needed to shape metal when they live in a flammable environment (it's a rose bush). In any case, for some this might lean into Fridge Logic country, and for others it leans in the opposite direction, however you can't deny that the combination of electricity, elevators, lighting... and magic and swords is a little schizoid.
- Possibly the swords are justified, as the rats did need some means of defense against predators such as snakes or weasels. While they probably had the know-how to build firearms, those would be too noisy for creatures that live in hiding.
- Ship Tease: Justin and Mrs. Brisby flirt a bit over the course of the movie, but both have more important things on their minds.
- Crush the Giant Spider
- Stealth Insult
Jenner: The Thorn Valley Plan is the aspiration of idiots and dreamers! We... (sees Justin and Mr. Ages and chuckles) We were just talking about you...
- Stop Helping Me!: Mrs. Brisby gets irritated by Jeremy's continued antics, which are more likely to bring the wrath of Dragon down on her head than aid her. Eventually, she tricks him into leaving her alone by claiming that she needs him to look after the children while she is gone.
- The Renaissance Age of Animation
- Translation Convention: In an interesting variation, Dragon's meows are rendered (except in a brief scene centered on the humans) as horrific, dragony roars to reflect that, as far as his prey is concerned, he lives up to his name.
- Possibly justified, as mouse ears are attuned to higher-pitched sounds than humans. A cat's yowls could quite plausibly be at the far low-frequency end of Mrs. Brisby's range of hearing, even though they'd sound high and plaintive to humans.
- Note that in the scene when Mrs. Brisby is imprisoned in the cage, and Mrs. Fitzgibbon goes to let Dragon in the back door, we hear him make perfectly normal feline meows. Like the scene where she's hanging the laundry, this moment is shown from more of an omniscient viewpoint than Mrs. Brisby's first-person angle, suggesting we're not seeing things from a mouse POV anymore.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Averted; despite being discussed onscreen, the plan to kill Nicodemus works perfectly. Almost. They wanted to drop the Brisby house on him. Instead they kill him (in a stroke of luck) with the broken crane.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Jeremy gains a strong liking and responsibility to help Mrs. Brisby throughout her turmoils. Mrs. Brisby on the other hand is more along trying desperately to brush the clingy nuisance off her back (in a progressively less gentle manner). She does seem to like him when he isn't causing trouble for her, however.
Jeremy:: "So....do ya like me?"
- White and Gray Morality
- Voice Acting Around Trademarks: Late in production, concerns arose that the name "Frisby" would land them in legal trouble with the makers of the Frisbee toy. Many of the voice actors returned to the studio for additional ADR work in order to replace every instance of the name "Frisby" in the film with "Brisby". Only Elizabeth Hartman—the actress for said character—could not, so her lines were mechanically edited.
- You Dirty Rat: Guess who provides the page image.
- You Fail Biology Forever: Minor quibble, but the injections administered to the rats in the NIMH flashbacks are much, much too large for a one-pound rodent to receive without dying of heart failure. The proper veterinary dosage for such tiny animals' injections has a volume of a fraction of a mL.
The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue has examples of the following tropes
- Action Girl: Jenny, who is arguably more responsible in stopping Evil!Martin 's plans than Timmy. She does get a few odd Distressed Damsel moments however.
- Adaptational Villainy: Martin, although due to brainwashing.
- Adults Are Useless: Pretty much every adult in Thorn Valley appears to have Took a Level In Jerkass inbetween the end of the first movie and the beginning of this one; for starters, they keep telling Timmy not to be so selfish, when they're the ones piling on the pressure and constantly comparing him to his father. Then, when somebody comes to them for help, they say no for no real reason and keep her prisoner.
- They say no because they believe the mission could be a risk to Thorn Valley's location (especially since scientists from NIMH are apparently searching for their lost experimental animals at the beginning of the film). It doesn't quite befit their actions elsewhere in the movie however, since they entrust several other people (including Jeremy of all people) with it's location without basically holding them captive.
- Aesop Amnesia: Timmy, at least three times over.
Timmy: I should have listened!
- Ascended Extra: Though Timmy was a large plot point of the original movie, the character itself had little of a role or spotlight. In the sequel he is in the starring role. This role promotion is identical to that of the book's sequels.
- Anthropomorphic Shift: Especially jarring since they show clips from the original movie at the beginning.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Martin (literally!)
- Changing of the Guard
- Chekhov's Skill: Timmy's ability to use a slingshot.
- Demoted to Extra: Mrs. Brisby appears for only a few minutes of the opening scenes and a split second appearance in the ending.
- In fact nearly every character with the exception of Timmy has a noticably smaller role in the sequel.
- Dreadful Musician: Quite literally; not many of the people who have their own musical numbers in this movie can actually sing.
- Eric Idle and Dom De Luise as usual kind of skirt around this, but their tendency to do so deliberately for laughs (in addition to the overwhelming Narm Charm in Idle's number) more than makes up for it.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Mrs Brisby. The rats worship her husband for helping them but seemed to forgot that she warned them to move to Thorn Valley to escape from NIMH in the first movie. She doesn't even get a statue. For that matter neither does Nicodemos, who they seem to almost worship now.
- Dude, Where's My Reward?: Mrs. Brisby doesn't get a statue, despite being the hero of the first movie.
- Jenny also was arguably equally responsible for saving Thorn Valley than the prophesised Timmy as well.
- Arguable nothing. She escaped NIMH alone, she went on a dangerous journey to Thorn Valley alone, and she was willing to go back and defeat the villains alone. She braved much greater dangers than Timmy, and later is, in fact, directly responsible for stopping the bad guy! There's nothing Timmy did that she didn't do, and with greater risk involved to boot. I'm sure they'll get right on erecting her statue.
- Jenny also was arguably equally responsible for saving Thorn Valley than the prophesised Timmy as well.
- Evil Brit: When Martin becomes evil in the sequel, he inexplicably gains a British accent.
- And later he loses it when he becomes good again, not to mention he reverts back to his young age without explanation!
- Evil Is Hammy: Arguably one of the better parts is Evil Martin's dramatically hammy performance in the later portion of the film performed by Eric Idle, who seems to have loads of fun delivering every last line. He doesn't just chew the scenary as Evil Martin, he gobbles it up whole, shats it back out, and then gobbles it up again, rinse and repeat twice more. ("You'll be happy. Oh, so happy, if you just SAY YYYYYYYYEEEEEEESSSSSSSS!!!!!")
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Pretty much everyone, even the previous exceptions from the previous film (eg. both Mrs Brisby and Aunt Shrew wear large gowns).
- The sequel makes a strange joke about the rats wearing underwear, but the characters are clearly still not wearing pants.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Jenny is voiced by Hynden Walch. They also got Dom De Luise to come back as Jeremy.
- Humanoid Female Animal: Jenny, despite also being a rare female variant of Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Evil!Martin with Jenny, intending on making himself a Brainwashed and Crazy spouse.
- Large Ham:
- Laughably Evil: Evil!Martin is a sadistic maniac who desires to have the whole of Thorn Valley destroyed For the Evulz. On the other hand he is also a Large Ham of the highest order and offers some of the funniest dialogue in the movie. Being voiced by Eric Idle helps as well.
- Lighter and Softer / Denser and Wackier: Following the similar direction of the sequels to The Land Before Time, it converts the universe into a zany musical.
- Loveable Rogue: Jeremy and Cecil, posing as the Great Owl and offering advice to animal civilians in exchange for "sparklies". The scheme was actually pretty successful until Jeremy's mask fell off...
- Off-Model: Most of the film has standard but relatively consistent animation throughout most of the movie, but then the animation gets kind of sloppy when it comes to Evil!Martin, with his facial structure (especially his nose, going from mouse-shaped to a more elongated rat-like shape in some expressions) changing a lot during his scenes.
- Although the film makes the poor decision to include some footage from the first film as an introduction; the reason this is a poor decision is both because the sequel has very little to do with the original, save the names of the characters, but mainly because the first film was animated by Don Bluth's studios. The sequel was not.
- The Other Darrin: Almost everyone. Particularly notable is Mrs. Brisby, whose actress from the first film had committed suicide, lending a rather dark and tasteless air over the whole thing.
- Rage Against the Mentor: Very mild version; Timmy just decides he's had enough of everyone's bullshit and helps Jenny escape via the Thorn Valley equivalent of a hot-air balloon.
- Save the Villain: Well, the villain is Timmy's brother, Martin, so he had a good excuse to save him.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Had Timmy not been sent away to Thorn Valley, a large part of the film would never have happened. In fact, any of the Brisby children could have gone instead of Timmy and the film's plot would have been exactly the same. You can even go so far to say that if Timmy hadn't been prophesised to be a great hero, then Martin wouldn't have run off to prove that he could have been the hero, getting himself kidnapped & becoming Brainwashed and Crazy.
- Sissy Villain: Doctor Valentine in the sequel. Might as well call him "the camp evil scientist that wears eye liner" (seriously).
- Villain Song: "If You Just Say Yes"
- We Can Rule Together: Evil!Martin to Timmy, with the added bonus of some sort of implied lobotomy so Timmy will be just as evil and oh so happy as him.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: "So, Timmy, your dad was practically a living god. We just can't stop praising him and, since some random prophecy said you were going to be the hero of this movie, we WILL make you be just like him. No complaints. Questions?"