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Villain Overview
No taste for blood, huh? They've taken the animal out of you.
~ Jenner taunting his henchman Sullivan for his lack of evil.


Jenner is the main animal antagonist of the 1982 animated adaptation of Mrs. Brisby And The Rats of NIMH, known as The Secret of NIMH. He is a manipulative, power-hungry and heartless rat of NIMH who betrayed his own kind due to his desire to remain in the rose bush, rather than leave to a better life in Thorn Valley, as promised by their leader, the old and wise Nicodemus.

He was voiced by the late Paul Shenar, who also played Alejandro Sosa in the 1983 Scarface film.

Role

Jenner first meets Mrs. Brisby when she comes to the rats to ask for help moving her home. Jenner concocts a plan on the spot to use this as an opportunity to get rid of Nicodemus (the leader of the rats) whom he openly disagrees with. He immediately voices his support to help move the Brisby home under the impression that it would honor the late Jonathan Brisby. Mrs. Brisby was uneasy in Jenner's presence, but thanked him anyway. As Nicodemus and Mrs. Brisby are leaving for their boat ride, Jenner carefully explains his plan to his confidant Sullivan; to sabotage the operation by cutting the ropes that will be used to lift and move the Brisby home in the hopes that it will crush Nicodemus. Sullivan expresses reluctance to taking such a risk and when he asks what to do about Justin, the head of the rat guards, Jenner simply replies "Leave him to me."

During the moving of the Brisby home, Jenner and Sullivan stand ready to cut the ropes. The cement block house comes to hover directly above Nicodemus and Jenner cuts one of the lines. Sullivan decides to take no part in cutting the ropes after having second thoughts about killing Nicodemus. Furious, Jenner rushes forward and cuts the rope himself, dropping the Brisby home and killing Nicodemus.

With Nicodemus dead and the rats fallen into grief, Jenner uses the situation to declare himself as the new leader and persuade the others to return to the rose bush. Brisby arrives during his speech and frantically warns the rats that NIMH will arrive in the morning to destroy the rose bush and any rats living within. Jenner, afraid that his plot to confine the rats would be ruined by the mouse, attempts to discredit her saying she has become hysterical, but the rats believe her and decide they must leave. Enraged by her meddling, he attacks her with the intention of killing her. Sullivan alerts Justin to the attack, causing Justin to throw himself between Jenner and Brisby.

As Brisby recovers from the initial violence, Jenner spots the stone of power given to her by Nicodemus and moves to attack her again, desiring the magical item for himself. Justin tries to stop him, but he is thrown aside and wounded by Jenner. Jenner tackles Brisby as she is running away and violently manhandles her trying to get the stone. Justin comes to her aid and the two rats engage in a sword fight right after Jenner slashes Sullivan across the chest, mortally wounding him. While they are dueling, Justin (having been fully aware of Jenner's growing resentment and animosity toward Nicodemus, coupled with having seen Jenner fly into a homicidal rage, attacking innocent creatures like Brisby) correctly deduces that Jenner must have intentionally killed Nicodemus by causing the accident in the first place.

Jenner does not even attempt to deny this, openly admitting to Justin that he killed Nicodemus, stating "I've learned this much; take what you can, when you can!" and Justin replies "then you've learned nothing.". This means that Jenner is too dangerous to be kept alive, so Justin rises to his feet and stabs Jenner in the stomach. As Justin makes his announcement to the colony that they were going to leave the rose bush and journey to Thorn Valley, Jenner sneaks up behind him atop a large stone and prepares to kill him from behind while Sullivan, who is dying, takes out his dagger. Before Jenner can attack, however, Sullivan delivers the fatal blow to the nefarious rat, throwing his dagger which strikes Jenner in the back, causing him to fall off the rock and into the mud, dead.

Personality

He is consumed by a lust for power. Thus far, the amulet has remained safely hidden. But if he finds it, heaven help us.
~ Nicodemus about Jenner.


Like all of the rats of the Rose Bush, Jenner is highly intelligent and knowledgeable in nature due to the experiments conducted on him by the scientists of NIMH. Despite this, he retains his animalistic nature more than any of his fellow rats; his entire goal of remaining in the Rose Bush and keeping his way of life the same is reminiscent to a territorial dispute between two animals.

His aggressive nature and possible insanity is presumably a side effect of the performance enhancers experimented on him; his murderous solution to every situation including usurping Nicodemus to stay in the Rose Bush and attacking Mrs Brisby when she told the truth that the rats of NIMH would die if they stayed at the Rose Bush imply his already dangerous and violent nature had been heightened pharmaceutically. Aside from his megalomaniacal and treacherous nature, Jenner seems to be a misanthrope due to the experiments conducted on him in NIMH. He was willing to attack the humans before they found the Rose Bush despite being outnumbered and presumably was going to steal Mrs Brisby's magical amulet to use against humanity.

That said, Jenner is sophisticated and charming, so he is able to sell his idea that he is right such as convincing Sullivan to be part of his scheme to kill Nicodemus despite his initial reservations. Though when Mrs Brisby says that NIMH is coming to kill all of the rats, Jenner cannot think of an excuse and blatantly says that she is lying. It is possible that Sullivan disobeying him tested his patience and being so close to his end goal then being snatched from him broke Jenner's mind completely and succumbed to his animalistic nature utterly.

Quotes

The Plan is nothing but folly! A doddering old fool's fantasy! Nicodemus would have us destroy this colony only to lead us to starvation in some wilderness!
~ Jenner's first words in the film.


Fie! We have everything we need right here!
~ Jenner, on the rose bush.


Not if we got them first!
~ Jenner suggesting going to war with the humans.


Hear me! The Thorn Valley Plan is the aspiration of idiots and dreamers!
~ Jenner to the Counsel.


Who is that? You know the rules, there are no visitors allowed here.
~ Jenner, seeing Mrs. Brisby.


She's not one of us. What's the meaning of this?
~ Jenner to Justin, about Mrs. Brisby.


Wait, my friend. I smell an opportunity.
~ Jenner to Sullivan.


Manoeuvers of this nature are dangerous. Accidents could happen...
~ Jenner implying he has a plan.


Mrs. Brisby! A thousand pardons, my dear! Forgive the ill temper of my colleague. It would be an honor to assist Jonathan's widow in any way. We are but your humble servants.
~ Jenner pretending to be kind to Mrs. Brisby.


With Nicodemus out of the way, what's to stop us from taking over? (Sullivan: Jenner, you can't kill Nicodemus!) No taste for blood, huh? They've taken the animal out of you? (Sullivan: What if we're discovered?) Listen. The Brisby house is a large cement block. In the moving, what if it should fall? (Sullivan: An accident?) Of course! Cut the lines, and the weight of it will crush his BONES! (Sullivan, hesitantly: It's risky.) Once rid of Nicodemus, the plan will die. We can stay here as long as we like. (Sullivan: But what about Justin?) Leave him to me....
~ Jenner explaining to his reluctant accomplice Sullivan his evil plan to murder Nicodemus.


Nicodemus is cooperating beautifully......he's standing in just the right spot!
~ Jenner when the rats start moving the Brisby house.


When that block reaches midway, you cut the line.
~ Jenner, giving Sullivan his orders.


Don't get any ideas, my friend. You're in this up to your neck!
~ Jenner threatening Sullivan.


Ready with the knife...Ready....Cut now!
~ Jenner telling Sullivan to cut.


Now! Cut it!
~ Jenner when Sullivan refuses to cut the line.


Friends....we cannot move the Brisby home.
~ Jenner after cutting the line.


The equipment is in shambles.
~ Jenner's reason for not moving the Brisby home.


One day we shall journey to Thorn Valley just as Nicodemus wanted...but not now. Come. Let us return to the rosebush. Where we belong.
~ Jenner attempting to get the rats to go back to the rose bush.


Lies!
~ Jenner accusing Mrs. Brisby of lying.


Don't listen! She's hysterical!
~ Jenner about Mrs. Brisby.


You get out! I've had enough!
~ Jenner attacking Mrs. Brisby.


The Stone... (Justin: Jenner!) Get out of my way! (Jenner slashes Justin's arm with his sword. Justin clutches his wound.) I want that Stone!
~ Jenner upon seeing the stone and trying to grab it.


(Justin: It was you! You did it! You killed Nicodemus! That was no accident!) Yes. I killed him! He wanted to destroy everything!
~ Jenner admitting that he killed Nicodemus when Justin figures it out.


I've learned this much: Take what you can, when you can!
~ Jenner's last words.


Trivia

  • In the graphic novels, Jenner plotted to have revenge on Mrs. Brisby and Justin after Dragon the Cat found him outside the Farm.
  • It is quite possible that the performance enhancers given to the Rats of NIMH caused Jenner to become prone to aggressive behavior and possibly drove him insane as a side-effect. The side-effects could have also disrupted his brain chemistry and cause him to be dominating over others, hence his power-hunger and disregard for others.
    • There is evidence of this theory as Jenner seems to have a murderous solution to every problem as he suggests to the Council that the Rats of NIMH declare war on human beings. He also killed Nicodemus as his solution to stay in the Rose Bush and seems to blatantly insult those he disagrees with.
    • If this is the case, then the drug's side-effect must have a small percentage in statistics as none of the other Rats of NIMH have displayed this treacherous, aggressive, and homicidal behavior.
    • If this is indeed true, then Jenner could possibly be the only Rat of NIMH to be affected by this small percentage.
  • In the novel, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Jenner is a minor character. He isn't seen, except in a flashback narrated by Nicodemus. In the novel he begins as Nicodemus' friend during the rats' escape from NIMH, but starts to grow apart when he opposes Nicodemus' plan to leave the farm and live independently. Jenner prefers to stay on the farm and slowly drive the humans out. Eventually he leads a splinter group of rats away to start their own colony. Later it is heard that a number of rats were found electrocuted in a hardware store, but whether or not this is Jenner's group is uncertain.
  • Jenner is often considered one of the most, if not the most, iconic and popular villains in Don Bluth's filmography. He is probably the most evil as well, along with Sharptooth.
    • As an interesting fact, according to Bluth, Jenner's voice actor, the late Paul Shenar was supposed to voice Borf in the video game Space Ace, but he was unable to voice the character at that moment.
  • Jenner did not make an appearance in the film until the second half, and he only had six minutes of screen time, but his success in killing Nicodemus darkened the tone for the rest of the film.
  • Jenner is Paul Shenar's only voice role.
  • Though Dragon drove the plot of the film, Jenner is the real main antagonist as he is far more dangerous than Dragon and had bigger plans than anyone else.

Navigation

           Don Bluth Villains

Animated Features
NIMH | Jenner | Warren T. Rat | Mott Street Maulers (Digit) | Moe | Sharptooth | Carface Carruthers | Killer | Hellhound | Grand Duke of Owls | Hunch | Frog Bouncers | Grundel Toad | Berkeley Beetle | Mr. Mole | Ms. Fieldmouse | Queen Gnorga | King Llort | Drake | Rasputin | Ludmilla | Drej Queen Susquehana | Drej | Preed | Joseph Korso

Sequels
Cat R. Waul | Cactus Cat Gang (T.R. Chula, One-Eye & Sweet William) | Mr. Grasping | Toplofty & O'Bloat | Scuttlebutt | Madame Mousey | Twitch | Red | Belladonna | Martin Brisby | Dr. Valentine | Muriel & Floyd