Controversial Johnny Depp Joke Sparks Backlash Against Animaniacs Revival

Johnny Depp

Hulu’s Animaniacs revival landed on November 20th, and it couldn’t have gone down better online, with fans praising the reboot of the classic 90s animated show for its spot on mix of kid-friendly slapstick and witty pop culture and political jokes for the older viewers. Unfortunately, however, as folks have made their way through the 13 episodes that debuted last Friday, the show has generated controversy due to one particular visual gag.

At one point, a poster for a fake movie starring Johnny Depp called Johnny II: Telling Lies is shown. It’s hard not to see this as a reference to Depp’s ongoing legal feud with ex-wife Amber Heard, in which he’s repeatedly hit back at her claims that he domestically abused her, with the Pirates of the Caribbean actor providing his own evidence suggesting that she actually abused him. Of course, the former A-lister has a lot of passionate supporters on social media and they didn’t take too kindly to the show’s implication that he’s a liar, as you can see below.


To be fair to Animaniacs, a fourth-wall breaking joke elsewhere in the season makes clear that it was actually animated back in 2018. This has led some to defend the gag, claiming that it’s likely a reference to the ‘Johnny Johnny Yes Papa’ meme that was popular at the time.

For those unfamiliar, that was spawned from a nursery rhyme about a boy who lies to his grandpa, hence the Telling Lies subtitle. Even if this is the case, though, others feel that they should’ve edited it out given more recent developments in Depp’s personal life.

What this Animaniacs gag unfortunately does is further the idea that Warner Bros. has it in for the actor amongst his fans. Earlier this month, he was fired from the Fantastic Beasts movies as Grindelwald, following a UK libel case going against him, something that effectively legally labelled him “a wife beater.” Meanwhile, WB has stood by Amber Heard, who’s confirmed she’s returning as Mera in Aquaman 2. 

It’s also a shame that this single joke has spoiled what’s otherwise a hugely fun show for some folks. If you’re not included among them, though, you can catch the first season of the new Animaniacs on Hulu now.