Mrs. Brisby
Background information
Feature films The Secret of NIMH
The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue
Television programs
Video games
Park attractions
Portrayed by
Portrayed by
Animators Len Simon
Voice Elizabeth Hartman (original)
Debi Mae West (sequel)
Performance model
Honors and awards
Character information
Full name
Other names Bris
Personality Motherly, caring, determined, kind, timid, sweet, shy, acrophobic
Appearance Brown mouse, blue eyes, red cape, barefoot
Occupation Jonathan's widow, Timmy, Teresa, Martin & Cynthia's mother, Jeremy's friend, Justin's girlfriend
Affiliations Good
Goal To move her house to the lee of the stone away from the plow and to save her son Timothy (succeeded)
Home The Lee of the Stone
Relatives Teresa Brisby, Cynthia Brisby (daugthers), Martin Brisby, Timothy Brisby (sons), Jonathan Brisby (husband/deceased)
Allies Jeremy, The Great Owl, Justin, Mr. Ages, Nicodemus, Auntie Shrew, Sullivan
Minions Jeremy
Enemies Jenner, Sullivan (formerly), Dragon, the Fitzgibbons
Likes Her children, her husband
Dislikes Flying (sometimes), heights, danger, whenever her children are in danger, predators, being accused of lying
Powers and abilities
Weapons The amulet
Fate She is recovering and is sitting with her children as Timmy is recovering from his pneumonia.
Quote "You keep making all that noise, and Dragon's sure to hear you, if he hasn't already."

Mrs. Brisby is the main protagonist and female lead in The Secret of NIMH, and a supporting character in the sequel. She is voiced by the late Elizabeth Hartman, which was proven to be her last role, as after this, she never acted again and her death occurred five years later.


Mrs. Brisby was shy and timid through the beginning despite her sweetness. She used to get scared real easy, especially by Dragon the cat and heights. But when Timothy became ill, she became willing to do anything to save him, even if it meant visiting the Great Owl and the rats of N.I.M.H. (The National Institute of Mental Health). She is also motherly because she has four children to take care of.

Role in filmEdit

Spoiler warning!
This article contains details of the ending and/or a surprise plot element.

She was first seen visiting Mr. Ages to get medicine for Timmy, whom just became ill by pneumonia. Along the way home, she meets Jeremy the crow, who was tangled in the strings. She warns him about Dragon the cat, but Jeremy wasn't taking her seriously until Dragon really shows up. While escaping the cat, Mrs. Brisby lost the medicine and falls into the water with Dragon. She soon climbed into the water mill and cried, but than was thrilled with relief when Jeremy shows up and gives her the medicine. As she started to walk home, Jeremy offered to fly her there, but the response is no, due to her fear of heights.

When she arrived home, she found Auntie Shrew throwing into a fit about the Brisby children and tells Mrs. Brisby to prepare to move her "very very odd family." As she serves Timmy the soup mixed with the medicine, she did the best she could to comfort the children to not worry. In the morning, the farmer started to plow the fields. Mrs. Brisby takes three of her children out of the house and tell them to go with Auntie Shrew while she tried to stop the plow, despite Shrew's protests. While she got onto the plow machine, she was soon frozen with fear, leaving Auntie Shrew to stop the machine herself. When the plow stopped, Mrs. Brisby and Auntie Shrew ran away into the grass, where Mrs. Brisby cried for her late husband, Jonathan. Auntie Shrew adviced her to go see the Great Owl, but Mrs. Brisby hesitated because she knew that owls eat mice. But she went anyway by riding on Jeremy's back despite her severe acrophobia (fear of heights). When the owl asked her why did she come, she tells him of Timmy and the plow. The owl refuses to help until he'd learned her name. Mrs. Brisby was surprised that the owl knows about Jonathan. The owl soon told her to go to see Nicodemus in the rose bush to help move her house to "the lee of the stone." As of that moment, her journey to survival had begun.

Mrs. Brisby went to the rose bush with Jeremy following her in disguise. Mrs. Brisby tells Jeremy to leave, but Jeremy refuses until she flirted him to go and watch over the children. She went inside, but was soon chased away by a rat (Brutus). She was relieved when she found Mr. Ages, who then has a broken leg, and had him take her to see Nicodemus. Along the way, she meets Justin, the captain of the guard, and it was hinted to the viewers that she might be developing a crush on him by the way she hesitated after she mumbled "beautiful" while looking at him and he said "ma'am?" She soon met the rest of the rats, who eventually agreed to help.

Soon after that, she finally meets Nicodemus, who told her all about her husband's heroism and how the rats of NIMH came to be. He gives her a beautiful red amulet that Jonathan had meant to give her and tells her of its powers. As they were leaving the hideout, she volunteer to drugged Dragon the cat tonight. Even though she's scared, she (with her cape off) puts the drug in Dragon's food and ran, but soon was captured by Billy, the farmer's son. Later that night, she overheard the farmer on the phone that NIMH's coming tomorrow. She eventually escaped and ran to warn the rats. She was soon attacked by Jenner, who tries to take the amulet, and watches the battle between Justin and Jenner.

As soon as the battle's over, she went over to comfort her children and learned that the concrete block is sinking down in the mud. The rats and Brisby tried to save it, with the children inside, but the ropes broke. Justin grabs her to save her from drowning, but she have to save her children. Suddenly, the amulet, and soon Mrs. Brisby herself, glows brightly red and rises the block to the lee of the stone. The next morning, she was getting her hands mended by Teresa and gives Jeremy, who just met a lady crow, some advice. When her children asks when they can go to Thorn Valley, she answers, "When you're older."

Role in the Sequel Edit

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. Her fate remains unknown after this.


The Don Bluth Wiki has a collection of images and media related to Mrs. Brisby.


  • Some fans assume Mrs. Brisby's first name is Elizabeth, after her voice actress, Elizabeth Hartman. Until this, she had no on screen first name. She was only revered as Mrs. Jonathan Brisby. So for good measure, she is sometimes referred to as Brisby for short, similar to Eric Cartman.
  • Originally named Mrs. Frisby in the book, her name had to be changed from to Mrs. Brisby to avoid Whammo Toys from suing Don Bluth and United Artists. This was because the name Frisby sounded familiar to the toy of the same name but with a different spelling.
  • A similar character to her appeared in An American Tail at the cossack cat sequence in the beginning (pushing a cart full of luggage and her son, before they hit a cat and the mother mouse grabs her son right before the cat destroys the luggage cart with his own paws).
  • Most of the male characters in Brisby's life have names that start with the letter J: Jonathan, Jeremy, Justin & Jenner.
  • She is made to look like the franchise's main character, but doesn't get any more real screen time until very late in the sequel. The real main character has turned out to be Timmy in the long run. Despite this, Brisby is still the franchise's official main character since most media, including the Don Bluth filmography, keeps her as such, completely ignoring Timmy. In other words, the sequel is explicitly dismissed from canon.
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