The Wild Thornberrys

TV review by
Betsy Wallace, Common Sense Media
The Wild Thornberrys TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Globe-trotters explore strange new worlds.

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 16 reviews

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We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Main characters are white--they actively seek and embrace different cultures...and species. Some sibling put-downs. Very clever humor, especially from the guest animal characters and the witty chimp Darwin. Eliza is a smart female character who shows a strong love for science and animals.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Eliza and her family demonstrate curiosity and empathy. 

Violence & Scariness

The characters sometimes get entangled with the forces of nature and the ferocity of animals.

Sexy Stuff

Episodes have involved mating but not sex per se.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, although the appreciation for animals The Wild Thornberrys promotes is admirable, they may need to remind young fans that animals encountered in the wild should be approached with caution. Also, Eliza's sister Debbie is often snotty and superficial to the point of giving teenagers a bad name.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMichelle-the-Mom March 26, 2011

Older sister ruins it.

My 3 1/2 year old watched this for about five minutes before it was banned from our household. The older sister is awful. Young kids will not see the loving r... Continue reading
Adult Written byJon Lovitz May 26, 2009

I hate this show!

I can't stand this show. The characters are ugly and annoying. Unfortunatley, my youngest daughter was obsessed with this cartoon when she was 8-11.
Teen, 16 years old Written byibarncat November 27, 2011

You overrated it, but yes, it is a 90s classic. I kept this title because CSM's is too short to parody.

I don't understand how you gave this 5 stars but you only give As Told By Ginger and Rocko's Modern Life 4 stars when those two shows have stronger po... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old June 28, 2020

One of the best Nicktoons

I've heard some people mention that Debbie (Eliza's older sister) ruins the show for them, and while she is bratty, she has good moments, and overall,... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE WILD THORNBERRYS is about a filmmaking family that dashes to a new corner of the globe in each episode -- to Finland, Australia, India, or the Everglades. The Thornberry kids don't attend regular school, they're on vacation all the time, they live in a camper, and the protagonist has a secret power no one knows about. Eliza Thornberry (voiced by Lacey Chabert), not only can speak to animals, but she also meets click-talking Kung people, Maasai, and Aborigines and interacts with everything from aye-ayes, to wombats, to humpback whales. 

Is it any good?

The premise of the series is tailored to a child's imagination and teaches kids to appreciate animals, to be curious about different ways of living and the vastness of the world. The Thornberrys live a fantasy life, for sure, but the series explores the real customs of many different cultures and the real behavior and habitats of countless kinds of animals.

The Wild Thornberrys also delves into family relationships. OK, so a wild boy found in the jungle and a chimp happen to live with this family, but Eliza and teenager Debbie (Danielle Harris) still struggle to overcome sibling rivalry, learn responsibility, and form independent identities. The show presents a nuclear family living an alternative lifestyle; as a result, even episodes with traditional growing-up themes come across as fresh and new compared to many home and school-centered family shows. Also worth noting is the married relationship here, which is surprisingly rich and multidimensional compared to most marriages seen on television. The Thornberry parents (Tim Curry and Jodi Carlisle), true partners and great role models, include their family in the realization of their own dreams and in the pursuit of travel, creativity, and adventure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the bickering between the sisters in The Wild Thornberrys . Is it realistic, or do you just find it grating? Young and old viewers may also discuss what a loving sibling relationship should look like.

  • What are the challenges of living in the wilderness? Is it safe to interact with animals the way Eliza does?

  • How do the characters in The Wild Thornberrys demonstrate curiosity and empathy? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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