The Secret of Nimh characters
Mrs. Brisby is a widowed field mouse who lives on the Fitzgibbons' farm. We never do learn her first name (though she certainly has one). Unlike her husband, Jonathan, she is not a member of the group of mice who were being experimented on at NIMH. She is, in fact, a wild field mouse, and so does not enjoy the benefits granted to the mice and the rats of NIMH via the injections they were subjected to (including the prolonged life span; the various benefits have also likely been passed on to her four children, Martin, Teresa, Timothy, and Cynthia). However, she's not a mouse to be underestimated. Mrs. Brisby demonstrates a remarkable capacity for learning, and even has learned (thanks to her late husband) how to read some things. She's also a doting mother, who cares very deeply for her children. She also has a meek and shy personality, though in a pinch she can muster up a startling amount of courage for the benefit of those whom she cares about...even at the risk of her own life.
Quote: "How is it that everyone kn-kn-knows Jonathan?"
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", Mrs. Frisby is essentially the very same character we see in the movie. Beyond a name change, there are no differences to speak of. She is described in the book in this manner: "although she was a widow (her husband had died only the preceding summer), Mrs. Frisby was able, through luck and hard work, to keep her family--there were four children--happy and well fed."
In the animated sequel: In the sequel, we don't see or hear that much of Mrs. Brisby. It's been a few years, and she's definitely showing signs of rapid aging. The fur around her face and on her head is graying, and she's wearing bifocal glasses. We see her send her son Timothy off to Thorn Valley for instruction and also grooming to step into his father's footsteps. But after that, we do not see her again until the closing scenes of the movie, and her role is relegated to simply basking in the celebration of her son's successes. The heroic mother mouse, protagonist of the first movie, is now just a senior citizen relegated to the fringes of the NIMH legacy.
Voice actor : Elizabeth Hartman, Debi Mae West (sequel)
Justin may be the Captain of the Guard for the rats of NIMH, but don't let the title fool you; he's not just a soldier. He's a rat of impeccable character...kind, noble and friendly. And yet he's also a skilled leader who has proven himself time and again to Nicodemus and the other rats, and is held in high regard as a result. And, when necessary, he's pretty handy with a sword! When Nicodemus meets an untimely end at the hands of Jenner's schemes, it is Justin who rises to the leadership of the rats of NIMH.
Quote: "We tend to take ourselves a little too seriously."
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", Justin is pretty much the same character we see in the movie (mostly). He is described, when Mrs. Frisby first meets him as "...alert, dark gray in color, and extraordinarily handsome, though not so huge as Brutus." Justin is never officially given the title he has in the movie; though, in the book, Nicodemus does admit to Mrs. Frisby that "...indeed, you might call Justin the captain of the guard--if we had any such titles, but we don't." Justin is definitely, on the other hand, an influential and important member of the rats of NIMH. In the book, it is both he and Jenner who initially figure out the means of freeing the rats and finding an escape route out of the NIMH laboratory. In fact, it is Justin who first begins looking for it, which is what brings him to Nicodemus' attention in the first place. In the book, as much as in the movies, he is a noble and honorable character.
In the animated sequel: There really aren't any changes to this character worth mentioning in the animated sequel. Not only is he pretty much the same, indeed he hardly seems to have aged at all. But while he has definitely maintained the leadership of the Thorn Valley colony, it's also evident that he shares many leadership roles, in the sequel, with Mr. Ages, who has apparently decided to move into the colony from his previous home on the Fitzgibbons farm.
Voice actor : Peter Strauss, William H. Macy (sequel)
Nicodemus is probably the only refugee from NIMH older than Mr. Ages. And while Mr. Ages developed a talent for medicine and chemistry, it would seem that Nicodemus managed to tap some unforeseen latent magic in the world, and has become a wizard. He regards both the late Jonathan Brisby and (surprisingly for a rat) the Great Owl as dear friends and, to honor his friendship with Jonathan, he would gladly move Heaven and Earth to help Mrs. Brisby. He is the leader of the rats of NIMH, though in the movie we often see him sequestering himself within his own chambers, keeping a log of his experiences, and pondering a great deal upon his friend Jonathan (and the rest of the Brisby family) and upon the Thorn Valley Plan. However, not all of the rats are satisfied with his rule, and Jenner in particular might be looking to usurp Nicodemus' authority and undermine the Thorn Valley Plan. At any expense.
Quote: "We can no longer live as rats--we know too much."
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", there is no character which is so very different from how it appears in the first movie than Nicodemus. Unlike the wise old wizard seen in the movie, in the book Nicodemus is a younger, more virile leader of the rats, and definitely not a wizard (nor is there any magic in the book whatsoever). He is described as having a scarred face, but that he "spoke graciously, with an air of quiet dignity, and Mrs. Frisby noticed two more things about him. First, the scar on his face ran across his left eye, and over this eye he wore a black patch, fastened by a cord around his head. Second, he carried a satchel--rather like a handbag--by a strap over his shoulders." Nicodemus is still a very wise and noble character, and also shows great cleverness and intelligence, and a high sense of morality. Though, at times (especially in the sequel book "Racso And The Rats of NIMH", written by O'Brien's daughter, Jane Leslie Conly), he also could be stern and very discerning. He is the prime proponent of the Thorn Valley Plan, freely expressing his distaste at the rats having to live by stealing from the Fitzgibbons or any other humans, but noting that the rats of NIMH cannot live either like ordinary rats, or in the manner of humans. That they must set their own destiny and disdain the luxuries they set up for themselves in the colony under the rose bush.
He also, in the books, has a great fondness and concern for his good friend, Jenner. Unlike in the movie, Nicodemus and Jenner were always friends...even before their capture by NIMH. And after Jenner and his six friends depart the rose bush colony, after the decision to move to Thorn Valley is certain, Nicodemus assumes a constant concern for his old comrade...always eager for news of his fate, and hoping for the best. Additionally, while he and the other rats (and the mice) who were experimented on at NIMH didn't totally enjoy the experience, Nicodemus is much kinder and more forgiving of the scientists than he is in the movie. He even notes that the assistants of Dr. Schultz, the lead scientist and researcher at NIMH, treated the rats with a fair amount of gentleness and even sympathy (particularly a young woman named Julie), and that the rats, overall, were treated "well enough". For fans of the movie, of course, these facts will seem quite out of sorts.
In the animated sequel: Because of the events at the climax of the first movie--where Nicodemus is killed when the Brisby home falls on and crushes him (a disaster set in motion by Jenner)--Nicodemus does not appear in the sequel, except in a sequence of flashbacks during the prologue (where the narrator not only misquotes him, but refers to him as a "prophet", which a couple of other characters do during the movie. And which he is not.)
Voice actor : Derek Jacobi
Brutus is a hulking rat who serves as a guard at the entrance to the rats of NIMH colony, established within (and under) the rose bush on the Fitzgibbons farm. He's the strong, silent type in the first movie, never uttering a word, but presenting a very intimidating and ominous presence before the entrance to the colony. He carries a large, elaborately-bladed halberd which somehow manages to shed an electric charge when it strikes anything solid. And while he's a formidable presence, effectively frightening Mrs. Brisby nearly out of her wits, he clearly doesn't mean her any real harm, but is satisfied in just trying to scare her away.
Quote (from the sequel): "Yo! What in the name of Nicodemus?!"
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", Brutus is a more active character than in the movie. And he's rather more talkative. While he holds no weapon on guard in the book, he is described briefly as Mrs. Frisby stumbles upon him: "beside the entranceway, looking at her with dark, unblinking eyes, stood the biggest rat she had ever seen." Brutus doesn't frighten her or chase her off, but he does bluntly and rudely order her to go, under threat of being carried out.
We learn, however, that he's got a heroic side to him. Near the end, when the rats are leaving for Thorn Valley, ten of them (including Brutus and Justin) stay behind to try and mislead the NIMH scientists, and make them believe that they are just ordinary rats. When the scientists flood the colony (which has been disassembled and made to look like a normal rat nest) with cyanide gas, the rats flee and get away. Brutus, the last to leave, stumbles out of an escape hole and collapses, apparently overcome by the gas.
In the animated sequel: When we next see Brutus, in the movie sequel, he has gone through a significant redesign by the artists and animators, and also has a voice actor (and an active role in the movie). Brutus is still a big, strong and heroic rat, and now he appears to serve the rats of NIMH in relatively the same fashion as Justin did in the first movie. And while he's not the brighest bulb in the box, he's got a good heart and is absolutely fearless. He takes good care of young Timothy Brisby during the adventures they have together. Below we see Brutus and young Timothy Brisby in the midst of an adventure.
Voice actor : Kevin Michael Richardson (sequel)
Martin Brisby is a brash and bold young mouse, the oldest son of Jonathan Brisby and Mrs. Brisby. Since his father's death, Martin has worked hard to assume the "man of the house" (mouse of the house?) role for the family. But his impulsiveness and youthful bravado keep getting in the way. Still, he's got a good heart, and cares very deeply for his mother and his siblings...though he's not too terribly fond of, or patient with, Auntie Shrew!
QUOTE: "I'm not afraid of the dark...I'm not afraid of the farmer...I'm not even scared of Dragon! I'm not even afraid of...of...of the Great Owl!"
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", Martin is rather different than he is in the movies. He's described as "the biggest, a strong, quick mouse, dark-haired and handsome like his poor father." Martin does not display any of the brash and impulsive nature he has in the first movie, nor the emotionally-conflicted nature he has in the sequel.
In the animated sequel: A few years along and, as the action in the movie opens, Martin is a bit older (approximately the equivalent of 12 human years), and a bit more sensible. However, he's also frustrated and emotionally-conflicted, as he has been told that, even as the oldest son of Jonathan Brisby, he's not going to be the one to go to Thorn Valley to be a hero-in-training and fulfill a prophecy, but that it will be his younger brother Timothy. Martin is rather bitter about this and, while he loves and looks after his brother, he's nursing a grudge. He also goes through a bit of a change in the sequel--his eyes go from brown to green, and his fur from light brown to light gray. He changes substantially into an evil character during the movie (for which there is a separate entry in the character list), but at the end the rats of NIMH, and Mr. Ages, manage to restore him to his old self, though now a bit older (approximately 19 human years).
Voice actor : Wil Wheaton, Phillip Van Dyke (sequel), Phillip Glasser (sequel)
The Great Owl is widely considered, by the animals of the forest (and the region around the Fitzgibbons farm) to be the wisest of all birds, and possibly the oldest. But only the very brave or very foolish ever venture to his home to seek his counsel. And yet it is clear that, somehow, he has made some substantial and (given his dining preferences) unusual alliances...because he certainly knows and respects Jonathan Brisby and the rats of NIMH. Despite his forbidding air and even more forbidding appetite, however, he is not altogether hostile. Which is a good thing, since his wisdom and advice may be the only thing standing between Mrs. Brisby and the loss of her son.
Quote: "Go to the rats. In the rose bush. Go there! Ask for Nicodemus."
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", it is not the shrew who encourages Mrs. Frisby to go and see the owl, but Jeremy the young crow. And he is never described, in the book, as "the Great Owl". Jeremy tells Mrs. Frisby that "over that way" (nodding in the direction of the deep woods and faraway mountains beyond the Fitzgibbon farm) "about a mile from here there grows a very large beech tree, the biggest tree in the whole forest. Near the top of the tree there is a hollow in the trunk. In the hollow lives an owl who is the oldest animal in the woods--some say in the world. When we don't know what to do, we ask him. Sometimes he answers our questions, sometimes he doesn't. It depends on how he feels. Or as my father used to say--what kind of humor he's in."
The owl is very old. And, after providing Mrs. Frisby advice, as he is preparing to leave for his nightly hunt, he laments about the condition of his old beech tree, and that it may fall soon. And that, if it does fall and he is still alive, he will fall with it.
In the animated sequel: The Great Owl does not himself make an appearance in the animated sequel. He is only mentioned several times. First in the prologue, where the narrator misquotes him, and then at various moments in the movie itself.
Voice actor : John Carradine
Jenner is the very epitome of the worst things suggested by the word "rat." Ambitious, proud, and greedy, he is willing to take any chance to get what he wants. He is violently opposed to the rats' plan to move to Thorn Valley, claiming that it will only lead to the rats' demise; that the better option is to continue stealing from the Fitzgibbons family--even if it means declaring open war on they and the rest of the human race. Whether he actually believes this or is simply trying to oust Nicodemus is hard to say, but he won't let anyone stand in his way and live. He manages to coerce a fellow NIMH rat, Sullivan, into assisting him with his plan to eliminate Nicodemus when it becomes clear that the Thorn Valley Plan will come to fruition. But his reluctant and nervous accomplice has a change of heart in the moment of truth, and Jenner makes him pay dearly for it.
Quote: "The Thorn Valley Plan is the aspiration of idiots and dreamers! We..." (laughing) "...we were just talking about you."
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", Jenner is a MUCH different character than he is in the movie. He is not a scheming, amoral sociopath. Jenner's simply more of a misguided idealist, who suffers from a touch of greed and a desire for material luxury. When Nicodemus outlines the divide between he and Jenner over the Thorn Valley Plan, to Mrs. Frisby, he describes it this way: "that was the beginning of an argument that never had a satisfactory ending. Jenner would not yield to my point of view, nor I to his. It wasn't that he was lazy and didn't want to work. He was just more cynical than the rest of us; stealing did not bother him. And he was a pessimist. He never believed that we could really make it on our own."
As the divide between Jenner and the advocates of the Plan grows, Jenner decides to leave the rats, with six other companions who are of like mind. Unlike in the movie, he does not remain until the rats move the Frisby home, and does not manipulate anyone into helping him kill Nicodemus. He leaves...taking his like-minded companions with him. In fact, in the book, it's clearly stated that not only is Jenner a close friend of Nicodemus' (since before they were captured and sent to NIMH), but that it was Jenner and Justin who were the first ones responsible for helping figure out how to free the rats from NIMH. In the book, while Jonathan Frisby is still very important, it's more that he simply released the latch which held the final obstacle in place (along with Mr. Ages' help). Throughout the NIMH story (all of it), Nicodemus expresses concern about Jenner and his welfare, and what became of him. All in all, Jenner is not the same character from book to screen.
In the animated sequel: Jenner does not appear in the sequel, as he is killed in the first movie.
Voice actor : Paul Shenar
If ever a mouse demonstrated courage and strength of character, it was Jonathan Brisby. One of the escapees from NIMH, he is regarded as a hero by the rats, not only for the part he played in helping them escape, but also many untold exploits thereafter...until the day when his luck ran out, and he was killed by the Fitzgibbons' cat, Dragon. Given the changes he, Mr. Ages and the rats went through during the experiments at NIMH, he chose not to tell his wife or children about this, for fear that she would not understand how he (as well, most likely, as their children, Martin, Teresa, Timothy, and Cynthia) remained young while she grew old.
Jonathan Brisby is only seen in the film during a magical sequence and a tale, provided by Nicodemus to Mrs. Brisby. Though many of the characters talk about him a great deal, usually with reverence and love.
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", Jonathan Frisby is essentially the same character. There are almost no changes...though we learn more about him in a longer series of tales which the character Nicodemus tells to Mrs. Frisby, including that Jonathan is essentially the leader of eight mice (which is three less than the number given in the movie). Jonathan attracts the attention of the rats as they are working out their escape from NIMH, and offers to help if the rats will allow the mice to accompany them. When one of the rats protests about freeing the mice, claiming that they'll only slow the rats down, Jonathan replies "no, we will not. Only open our cages when you go, and we will make our own way. We won't even stay with you, if you prefer."
In the animated sequel: Jonathan Brisby does not appear in the animated sequel, but for a replay of the magical sequence seen in the first movie, and that he is a constant weight hanging over his son Timothy's head (and even his son Martin's) as they are growing up, and Timothy is trained at Thorn Valley and groomed to eventually live up to his father's legacy and be a hero. Of course, there is a big impressive statue of Jonathan in the center square of the Thorn Valley colony, which only rams that point home that much more for poor Timothy every day he spends in Thorn Valley.
Voice actor : None (no spoken parts)
Probably the most menacing presence in the movie, Dragon is the Fitzgibbons' cat – if “cat” is a strong enough word to describe him. To his family, he's a somewhat lazy mouser. To the rats of NIMH and the animals living in the field of the Fitzgibbons farm, he is a ravenous terror and a nigh-unstoppable force of nature. Whenever the rats venture beyond their secret colony on their various endeavors, they must first slip a sleeping drug concocted by Mr. Ages into Dragon's food dish – an act which cost the life of Jonathan Brisby (and perhaps others). As for the mice and any other creatures unfortunate enough to catch his eye, there's only one option: run.
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", Dragon is described, at least physically, somewhat differently than he appears in the movie, though his menacing personality is pretty much the same: "The cat: He was called Dragon. Farmer Fitzgibbon's wife had given him the name as a joke when he was a small kitten pretending to be fierce. But when he grew up, the name turned out to be an apt one. He was enormous, with a huge, broad head and a large mouth full of curving fangs, needle sharp. He had seven claws on each foot and a thick, furry tail, which lashed angrily from side to side. In color he was orange and white, with glaring yellow eyes, and when he leaped to kill, he gave a high, strangled scream that froze his victims where they stood."
In the animated sequel: Dragon does not make an appearance in the sequel.
Voice actor : Frank Welker
Jeremy is a young crow with the social (not to mention physical) grace and style of a three-legged mule. He epitomizes the archetype of a character who means well, but can't seem to get his act together. Between collecting string, pursuing sparklies, and looking for Ms. Right, he's always ready to help the Brisby family out of a jam - as soon as he can get untangled from his string collection, that is.
Quote: "Excuse me, pardon me..."
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", Jeremy differs slightly from the character we see in the movie. While he is still a young crow fascinated, even obsessed, with the collection of things (especially shiny things), he's not a bumbling goofball. This aspect of the character was added as the character was developed for the movie, and primarily with the input of his voice actor, comedian Dom DeLuise. The actor brought a great deal to the character, and helped define him in a way that has cemented his popularity with NIMH fans. In the book, while Jeremy is still a helpful and well-meaning--if naïve--young fellow, who definitely is out to impress a young lady friend (one he already has met...so he's not quite the hopeless romantic that he is in the movie), colorful string is not his particular obsession. The first time we meet him, he's discovered by Mrs. Frisby with his foot caught in a piece of silvery Christmas tinsel which had attracted his attention...which also leads to the encounter with Dragon.
In the animated sequel: After a few years, it's clear that Jeremy has become a little older, just a tad wiser and, unfortunately, a bit more boring. We see no evidence that his encounter with Miss Right, at the end of the first movie, has produced any lasting benefits (or offspring). And, later in the sequel, he actually takes up with a crooked con-man of a caterpillar in an attempt to bilk the animals of the forest out of their belongings, and to bring "sparklies" as tribute to him so the two of them could make it rich. That is, until an older Timothy Brisby, and his girlfriend Jenny McBride, happen along and have a hand in unraveling the on-going scheme, which sets Jeremy back on the right path.
Voice actor : Dom DeLuise
One of only two mice to successfully escape from the NIMH laboratory, Mr. Ages developed a talent for chemistry, medical sciences and biology, and has used these skills, and his great knowledge, as a physician for the wild animals living on and near the Fitzgibbons farm. Known for his crusty, acerbic and superstitious nature, he prefers to keep to himself and be left alone, living on the fringes of the Fitzgibbons farm in an old (and not entirely deactivated) hay baler. He makes frequent visits, however, to the rose bush and the colony established by the rats of NIMH, and serves there as a senior and influential member of the community. Despite his personality quirks (and his often harsh opinions of others), he is very fond of the Brisby family, and is completely dedicated to the rats of NIMH.
Quote: "Madam, that is an emergency!"
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", Mr. Ages is not quite the acerbic old fusspot he is in the movie (though he is older than the other mice, and many of the rats). He is not described in much detail in the book: "His fur was a soft gray-white, and so glossy he seemed almost to glow. Mrs. Frisby had heard that Mr. Ages was not truly a white mouse; that is, he had not been born with white fur, but had turned white from old age. Whether this was so or not she did not know. Certainly he seemed very old, and very wise; yet he walked nimbly enough."
In the book, Mr. Ages' living quarters (and his private laboratory) are also quite different than in the movie. Mr. Ages is said to live in the corner of the brick foundation of an old, burnt-down farmhouse. As described in the book, Mr. Ages’ house was “a hole in the brick wall where one end of heavy floor beam had once rested. It was about two feet below the top of the wall, and one reached it by climbing down a sort of rough stairway of broken brick ends…”, with a door “…made of a piece of shingle”, with a “…narrow ledge of brick in front of [the] door”. The house, “…somewhat larger than a shoebox but about the same shape, resembled the house of a hermit. It was bare of furniture except for a bit of bedding in one corner, a stool made of a piece of brick, and another piece of brick worn smooth from use as a pestle on which he ground out medicines. Along one entire wall, arranged neatly in small piles, stood the raw materials he had collected: roots, seeds, dried leaves, pods, strips of bark and shriveled mushrooms.”
In the animated sequel: In the sequel, Mr. Ages plays an active role in the Thorn Valley community, almost as a co-leader with Justin. He's even seen in their council chamber in the primary seat of authority. We also see him cataloging local flora and fauna, as well as tutoring and advising young Timothy Brisby. It seems that, in the sequel, Mr. Ages has picked up and left his home in the old hay baler and moved permanently into the Thorn Valley community, along with all of his laboratory equipment. Apart from that, and the fact that he appears to have lost a lot of his endearing personality quirks (at least in how he is presented in this sequel), there are no changes to the character whatsoever.
Voice actor : Arthur Malet
Timothy ("Timmy") Brisby is the third of Mrs. Brisby's four children. In the movie, he is introduced to us as the cause for Mrs. Brisby's adventures, in that he is seriously ill. When Mrs. Brisby pays a visit to Mr. Ages, seeking medicine and advice on her son's illness, he tells her that Timothy has pneumonia, and that he cannot go outside for three weeks. Unfortunately, the family was getting ready to move out of their winter home, in farmer Fitzgibbons' field, in preparation for his plowing it for planting. She must find a way to either stop the tractor from plowing the field (which could destroy her home and kill her son) or safely move her son and/or her home out of the reach of the tractor.
Timothy is relegated, otherwise, to a very minor role in this movie, other than being the protagonist's primary motivation. We see him occasionally in the early parts of the movie, sick in bed, but we don't actually see him interact with his family until the end, as he begins to show signs of improvement. And indeed, he and the Brisby home are saved, and he does get better, thanks to the ingenuity of the rats of NIMH, Mr. Ages' medicine, Timmy's caring family, and a touch of magic.
Quote (from the sequel): "Tag-along Timmy...that's all I'm ever gonna be! I'm never gonna see any real action!"
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", Timothy's illness carries all the weight it does in the first movie. And he is described in greater detail than any of the other Frisby children: "he was the thinnest of her children and had a dark complexion like his father and brother. He was narrow of face; his eyes were unusually large and bright, and shone with the intensity of his thought when he spoke. He was, Mrs Frisby knew, the smartest and most thoughtful of her children, though she would never have admitted this aloud. Be he was also the frailest, and when colds or flu or virus infections came around he was the first to catch them and the slowest to recover. He was also--perhaps as a result--something of a hypochondriac. But there was no doubt he was really sick this time."
Of course, in the book, Timothy talks much more with his family, and is up and around a bit more, rather than being totally bed-ridden like in the movie.
In the animated sequel: Unlike the very minor role Timothy plays in the first movie, he is the protagonist in the sequel, and really shines in it (considering the otherwise mediocre and sometimes even poor quality of the story, the animation and the acting). We see Timothy at three different stages of his life in this sequel: first, as a young boy mouse about ten human years old (played by Andrew Ducote). He's a shy boy, but playful, and deeply bonded with his older brother Martin, whom he looks up to.
When he is sent (somewhat reluctantly at first) to Thorn Valley to begin tutelage and training (with the idea of stepping into his father's footsteps and also fulfilling a "prophecy" about him), we see his maturation at two points. The first is when he is the equivalent of a thirteen year old boy (played by Alex Strange), and then finally at the equivalent of a seventeen year old teenager (played by Ralph Macchio). Timothy is having a hard time learning how to live up to his father's legacy, and is a little bitter at not only not having his father around to learn from, but also about being treated as a not-so-ready-for-heroism "Johnny-come-lately"...most especially by the leader of the rats, and one of his tutors, Justin. As a thirteen year old, he's begun to take his training very seriously...and the playful young boy mouse seems gone forever. But then, as a teenaged mouse, Timothy begins to demonstrate a bit of maturity and good humor. While he's still frustrated about what duties and responsibilities he's given, he finally gets the chance to save the day (and his brother), gets a spot on his father's statue, and he even gets the girl!
However, his story of his bond with his brother, as well as his maturation and filling of his father's shoes, is handled very well, and the actors who give voice to him do a fantastic job with the character, which is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing movie. Even the attention paid to drawing the character is better than some of the other character artwork in this sequel.
Voice actor : Ian Fried, Andrew Ducote (sequel), Alex Strange (sequel), Ralph Macchio (sequel)
One of the less noted characters in the film, Sullivan comes across as something of a temperamental pushover. On one hand, in the council chamber of the rats of NIMH, he's passionate and fiery in his opinions, and is not afraid to voice them vigorously. However, he also ends up as a somewhat reluctant and nervous accomplice of Jenner, in that rat's plan to eliminate Nicodemus. Jenner fully manipulates Sullivan's weaknesses until, at the last moment, Sullivan has a change of heart, and does the right thing. And Jenner makes him pay dearly for it.
Quote: "We have urgent problems of our own! Let the lower creatures fend for themselves!"
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", Sullivan is still very much a character of minor note. He is only mentioned once, though it is in a much different situation than in the movie. Sullivan is a "great friend" of Arthur, the engineer of the rats' community (a character who doesn't appear in the movie, and isn't mentioned in it) and, "like him, had a particular interest in engines and electricity." However, no mention is ever made of any cooperation with Jenner, nor of being manipulated by Jenner.
In the animated sequel: As is seen in the first movie, Sullivan is killed by Jenner when he refuses to help him kill Nicodemus. Therefore, he does not appear in the sequel.
Voice actor : Aldo Ray
Mr. Fitzgibbons owns and works the farm which hosts a plethora of wild animals during all seasons of the year. His main field, which is alternatively called the "garden" by many of the wild animals, provides a comfortable home for them during the winter months, when the field isn't being plowed, planted, or harvested. When it is, especially at the start of plowing time--which the animals refer to as "moving day"--they all clear out for their summer homes off of the farm property...usually into the fields and the forest beyond. Farmer Fitzgibbons owns a large tractor, with a multi-bladed plow, which churns up the field and the animals' winter homes in the process...everywhere, except for the dirt immediately around the leeward side of a large stone jutting from the ground at the far end of the field, where the Brisby home is located. Unfortunately, it's located on the windward side, vulnerable to the plow. And it will take the help of the rats to move it to the protected side.
Meanwhile, Farmer Fitzgibbons is mildly irked by what appears to be a recent rat infestation in the ground under his wife's rose bush, which he would like to see eliminated!
Quote: "Morning? Suits me fine. No no! No, you can bulldoze that rose bush right out of there. I want those rats exterminated! Now, uh...there's no charge, right?"
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", the family's name is "Fitzgibbon" (without an "s" on the end, as in the movie). We never learn Farmer Fitzgibbon's first name. And there isn't much of a description of him. However, the book presents him as an honest, hardworking farmer and family man, earning his daily keep. He has two sons, Paul (who does not appear in the movie) and Billy. His wife is also present in the book, though she's only ever referred to as "Mrs. Fitzgibbon".
In the animated sequel: Though we do see the Fitzgibbons farm in the sequel, none of the Fitzgibbons family itself are ever seen during it.
Voice actor : Tom Hatten
Mrs. Fitzgibbons (whom her husband, Farmer Fitzgibbons, refers to as "Beth" in one scene in the movie), is a hardworking house wife, seen managing the household chores while Farmer Fitzgibbons attends to the matters of farm work. A dedicated, honest and generally stalwart woman, but still more than a little unnerved by the prospect of rats infesting her beloved rose bush, and assuming, after receiving a telephone call from NIMH, that the rats might have some terrible disease.
Quote: "Dragon! You lazy kitty. Go catch some of those rats out in the barn. I've never seen a cat sleep so much."
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", we don't get much of a description of Mrs. Fitzgibbon (the family name has no "s" on the end of it in the book), but she pretty much comes across as more or less the same as the character in the movie. However, there is more attention devoted to her concerns over losing the rose bush when NIMH comes to investigate the nest, and has Farmer Fitzgibbon actually bulldoze the bush, utterly destroying it (while Billy stands on the porch and cheers).
In the animated sequel: Though we do see the Fitzgibbons farm in the sequel, none of the Fitzgibbons family itself are ever seen during it.
Voice actor : Lucille Bliss
Billy Fitzgibbons is the young son of Farmer Fitzgibbons and Mrs. Fitzgibbons. He's a bit of a mischievous boy, who enjoys catching small animals and keeping them as pets (which he tried on Mrs. Brisby when she was in the Fitzgibbons' kitchen, drugging Dragon's food).
Quote: "Mom, don't let the cat in yet, I've caught a mouse!"
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", Billy Fitzgibbon (the family's name has no "s" on the end in the book) is the younger of two sons of Farmer and Mrs. Fitzgibbon. The older son, Paul, is described this way: "Paul, at fifteen, was a quiet, hardworking boy, rather clumsy in his movements but strong and careful about his chores." He even expresses concern for Mrs. Frisby after Billy catches her in the kitchen. However, we don't ever see Paul in the movie. We do, however, briefly see Billy, "who, at age twelve was noisier and had an annoying habit of skimming rocks across the grass at anything that moved. Mrs. Frisby did not care much for Billy."
In the animated sequel: Though we do see the Fitzgibbons farm in the sequel, none of the Fitzgibbons family itself are ever seen during it.
Voice actor : Joshua Lawrence
Where has she been all of Jeremy's life? Just when the young hopeless romantic of a crow is ready to give up on finding a girl, she literally bowls him over in the closing scene of the movie. A tiny bit clumsy herself, though not as bad as Jeremy is, she demonstrates a similar passion for string, and any romantic consequences (and she's something of a giggler)! We never do learn her name. She's only credited in the movie as the "Miss Right" Jeremy's been looking for. And as the movie ends, we see her and Jeremy flying off together with their string, romance presumably in the offing!
Quote: "Excuse me, pardon me" (*giggle giggle*)...
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", while "Miss Right" is never mentioned (by that title), nor seen, she is mentioned in a conversation between Mrs. Frisby and Jeremy:
Mrs. Frisby: "Why are you interested in shiny things?"
Jeremy: "Well, really, I'm not. At least not very. But I have a friend who likes them, so when I see one I pick it up."
Mrs. Frisby: "I see. That's very thoughtful. And would the friend be female?"
Jeremy: "As a matter of fact, yes. She is. How did you know?"
Mrs. Frisby: "Just a guess."
In the animated sequel: There is no sign whatsoever of Miss Right during the entire sequel...nor any mention of her. Nor any sign that Jeremy ever stayed with her or had any offspring with her.
Voice actor : Edie McClurg
A shrew by nature as well as species, Auntie Shrew is a character of mixed traits. Although she may be a bit of a busybody and has a somewhat over-inflated sense of her own importance, she means well deep down. While she may also be an opinionated, supicious, stubborn and acerbic old fussbudget, she can also be very brave if the situation calls for it.
Frequently called upon by Mrs. Brisby, Auntie Shrew is as dedicated as a nanny as she is as the "town crier" for the animal residents of the Fitzgibbons field. The Brisby children (Martin in particular) do not hold her in quite as high regard as she probably deserves (or expects), although Teresa and Cynthia, at least, show her some respect when she's around.
Quote: "Why me? That I alone should be responsible for the welfare of the entire field is monstrous!"
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", this character is only ever called "the shrew", not "Auntie Shrew" or "Auntie". She's also not quite the acerbic fussbudget that she is in The Secret of NIMH, but she still has very strong opinions, and considers herself responsible for the welfare (and the news) of the field. Described in the book as having "a wit as sharp as her teeth", she uses both to good effect. Near the end of the story, as the rats of NIMH are preparing to move the Frisby family home, the shrew actually holds them at bay, and bites one of the rats on the leg! It takes Mrs. Frisby's timely intervention to convince her that the rats are not there to steal anything from her home or cause any other kind of trouble.
In the animated sequel: It's a few years since the events of the first movie, and all the characters have aged. On some of them, like Auntie Shrew, it shows. She has a much smaller role in the sequel, and has lost much of that crusty fussiness which endeared her to so many fans.
Voice actor : Hermione Baddeley, Doris Roberts (sequel)
Teresa is the oldest of Mrs. Brisby's four children, and the most well-behaved and courteous of the bunch. She takes it upon herself, quite often, to assist her mother in looking after the household and the family and, unlike her more brash younger brother, Martin, prefers to stay out of trouble (though she certainly doesn't mind pointing a tattling finger at him when he causes trouble). She likes to wear a large pink ribbon in her hair, and carries herself in a very demure, lady-like fashion.
Quote: "Mother, did the rats really go to Thorn Valley?"
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", it's firmly established that Teresa is the oldest of the four children (though it is not so in the movie). There really is no description of her in the book beyond that. And she is not really all that different from the movie version of the character.
In the animated sequel: As with her younger sister, Cynthia, Teresa is only seen briefly in the animated sequel - early in the movie, and then again at the end. And like Cynthia, she has no major part to play in the movie other than making some observations. Although she appears to have grown up...being a young teenager in the beginning and, by the end, a young adult. She is seen in the screen shot below, from the sequel, with Cynthia (center) and Martin (at right):
Voice actor : Shannen Doherty, Jamie Cronin (sequel)
Charming and unobtrusive, Cynthia is the youngest of the Brisby children. Apparently the most innocent and naïve of the bunch, she enjoys Auntie Shrew's visits and could be said to be the least trouble-prone of the four Brisby bunch. With a tendency to be overlooked, she is rather fidgety - a trait which Auntie Shrew maintains is much like her mother's.
Quote: "Oh the poor turkey fell down!"
Origins of the character: In Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", Cynthia is a bit more talkative (and better with words) than in the movie. She is described as "a slim, pretty girl-mouse, light haired and, in fact, light-headed as well, and over-fond of dancing."
In the animated sequel: In this movie she, like her older sister Teresa, has even a smaller part to play than she did in the first movie. She's a few years older, and appears to have put on some weight too, as seen in this screen shot of three of the Brisby children (L-R: Teresa, Cynthia and Martin):
Voice actor : Jodi Hicks, Whitney Claire Kaufman (sequel)