Rat Appearances in Movies and on TV
(If you have any movies or TV shows to add, let me know.)
Live Action Movies (for horror movies see below)
Cheaper by the Dozen 2
This 2005 Steve Martin movie is great for rat lovers. The Baker family takes a vacation in a cabin by a lake, and living in the walls of the cabin is a (supposedly) wild agouti rat who comes out and steals things like shoes and keys. The best scene is near the beginning of the movie. It’s so much fun to watch the rat bound around the room carrying off their belongings.
Home Alone 3
1997. The boy has a rat named
Doris, who participates in quite a bit of the movie. He rides around in an old camera case
the boy wears around his neck. There is one really nice scene of
1988. Beany, the character Hippy’s pet female albino rat, appears as very much a part of the cast trapped underneath the ocean. There is that controversial scene where one of the three(?) white rats who play Beany is actually submerged in liquid oxygen, but that is about all the unfair treatment Beany gets. She’s heroically rescued by her owner during a disaster scene and even comforts Ed Harris’s character, Bud, before he goes on his deep dive. (Review by Raina Gaffney) (Rat Lady’s note: Beany isn’t too happy to be zipped into a resealable plastic bag at one point, but Hippy does it to prevent her from being drowned when the undersea station is flooded. Good thing her toenails weren’t too sharp. Although you don’t see Beany in all the scenes with Hippy, she is sitting on his shoulder at the end of the movie.)
X-men Origins: Wolverine
Toward the beginning, after the army tries to execute Wolverine and his brother and they don’t die, in the scene where they are in prison, his brother has an agouti rat sitting on his shoulder, and then holds it in his hand.
Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie Beyond the Blackboard
In this 2011 made-for-TV movie, a teacher hired to teach grades first through sixth at a school set up at a homeless shelter is overwhelmed by the rundown condition of the “classroom” and the belligerent students. About 15 minutes into the movie, a slender black rat (I think it was a female) comes up out of a hole in the floor of the room. The children start screaming and backing away from the rat, and the rat runs toward the windows. The quick-thinking teacher uses the metal in-basket from her desk to corral the rat and scoot her out the door. The kids say they are impressed because the teacher didn’t even scream.
The Nanny Express
which aired on the Hallmark channel
Because of Winn-Dixie
2005. There is a scene in a church when Winn Dixie (the dog) was there with his owner, a little girl named Opal, where her dad the preacher is giving a sermon. A rat (a girl) starts running through the crowd and people are “freaking out” of course. The dog eventually catches the rat as she’s trying to get through a hole in a wall. Then the preacher gets the rat and is shown holding her by the tail. Of course I was fearing the worst for the rat, but the next thing it shows is Opal and her dad releasing the rat outside. It’s so good to see something positive like that in the movie where a rat doesn’t get such a bad rap. If you have never seen this movie you might want to check it out. (Review by Sue Gerber. Sue also said, “I also found this info posted on the internet: ‘When Winn-Dixie chases a rat in church, the pursuit is really a compilation of several shots edited together. The trainer used a clicker to cue the rat to run in various directions throughout the room. This same technique was used to film the dog, but instead of a clicker, trainers used a favored toy. In one shot, Winn-Dixie grabs a mechanical rat – not the real one – with his mouth. However, for the close-up of the rodent dropping to the floor, a trainer held a real animal about eight inches in the air and gently let it go. Actor Jeff Daniels learned to hold the rat by the tail safely. For the rat’s eventual escape, producers built a false wall with a hole and trainers lured the rat through it with a clicker and food reward.’ The rat was an agouti. The info said more than one rat was used and it’s obvious as one of the rats has a narrow white crooked streak on her shoulder.)
The Taking of Pelham 123
This 2009 remake of a 1974
movie involves the hijack of a subway train in
My Bloody Valentine 3D
Jumbolaya, a rat who lived with RATS members Lindsay and Joe Pulman, made a cameo appearance in this 2009 horror movie! He sat on a box of Valentine candy in an abandoned house, adding atmosphere as actor Jenson Ackles, playing the character Tom Hanniger, discovered a Valentine card, and casually shooed away the supposedly wild rat. The whole story of the filming appeared in issue 12 of the Rat-a-tat Chat, the newsletter of the Rat Assistance & Teaching Society (RATS).
2009. This comedy by Harold
Ramis stars Jack Black and Michael Cera as misfit cavemen who end up
participating in several Old Testament Bible stories (they meet both Adam and
Eve and Abraham, go figure) and has something to offend everyone. They end up
in prison in
2008. James McAvoy
plays Wesley Gibson, who discovers his dad, who left when he was a baby, was a
professional assassin, and is recruited and trained by the same organization.
Toward the end of the movie, he learns that he has been betrayed by the
organization, and his plan to destroy them involves luring hundreds of wild
rats from the dump into a garbage truck with peanut butter, and then putting a
harness holding a tiny bomb on each rat. He mixes some liquid into the peanut
butter, which I can only assume is an anesthetic, as how else would wild rats
let you strap a harness on them? He then backs the truck into their
headquarters and releases the rats. All but one of the rats shown appear to be
This 2007 movie stars Amy
Adams as princess Giselle who is sent to
2000. Staring Richard Dreyfuss and Burt Reynolds, this is a rather silly gangster comedy in which 4 old “wise guys” kidnap a woman, whose daughter wants her killed off. (One of them falls in love with Momma & later marries her!) To make it look like they killed the daughter, they place a plastic skeleton in her bed & fire the building. This is accomplished by tying a long gas-soaked wick to the tail of a rat. Let go through an outside airbrick opening, the rat races all the way along in the sub-basement igniting everything as it runs! It escapes finally to the outside. While the end credits list the animal provider firm and two trainers, there IS the usual disclaimer from the AHA that any scenes where an animal appears to be at risk were all simulated! Of course the building belongs to a drug lord who goes after our “heroes!” Poor rats, they still get misused, don’t they. Actually the rat’s acting is about the best thing in this movie! I don’t know how they did it. (Review by John Matthews)
1990. Dana Carvey stars as Eddie, a con man who ends up pretending to be a house sitter and falling in love with the house owners’s sister. He and his friend Lou (Todd Graf) end up running a con on a gangster they owe money to by using a rat to gain entry to the Building Commissioner office. Lou dresses as an exterminator carrying a large briefcase which he sets on the secretary’s desk. A beautiful male agouti rat comes out of a little door in the end of the briefcase onto the desk and scares the secretary, and everyone vacates the office to allow the “exterminator” to work. This is a little over an hour into the movie in the TV version with commercials.
1996. Starring Sylvestor Stallone and Viggo Mortenson. New Yorkers trapped in the Holland Tunnel by a chemical explosion must escape before the tunnel fills with water. They retreat to a small room that the original workers who dug the tunnel used as a sleeping area and chapel, but it’s a dead end. Suddenly, hundreds of rats come swimming into the room, freaking most of the people out. However, Stallone’s character notices the rats are disappearing behind the crucifix, and discovers another tunnel, which gives them a way out. It’s very symbolic that the crucifix turns out to be their salvation. Early in the movie, the rats are foreshadowed when one of the women finds a rat in a drawer of her dresser. The supposedly wild rat isn’t at all afraid of her, of course. This is a well done movie, with great special effects and lots of suspense.
1990. Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing spy Doug Quaid, goes to a warehouse where he is instructed to remove a tracking device from his head. He sweeps some junk off a table to set his laptop on, but he doesn’t sweep off a “wild” rat (who seems awfully tame) who is also on the table. At first there is only one rat on the table, but then there are more. After removing the tracking device by pulling it from his nose, he pushes it inside half a candy bar and hands the candy to one of the rats who runs off with it. When the bad guys arrive they shoot at the tracking device as the rat supposedly runs back and forth across the room. Finally a rat sitting on the table is supposedly blown away, splashing (way too much) blood and guts onto the screen of the laptop. Although it’s silly that the rats are so unafraid of a human, I like that the Quaid character doesn’t object to the rats at all. Of course he does exploit them.
Indiana Jones movies
In The Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), a rat appears in a short scene when the ark is in the crate on board the ship. The rat appears to be affected by the power of the ark as he turns his head sideways. They must have used a rat with a head tilt.
In The Last Crusade (1989), Indiana and a Nazi woman must wade through
hoards of rats in the flooded catacombs of
1979. Although mice appear in
this movie, not rats, it deserves mention. The new principle of
2007. This is one of the best rat movies ever made, and if you haven’t seen it yet, shame on you! You must go rent or buy it today! Debbie “The Rat Lady” was a consultant on the movie, and her name appears in the credits, at the end under Special Thanks, center column, third name down.
2000. This Claymation romp from Aardman Animation (the Wallace and Gromit movies) is about a group of chickens who try to escape before they are turned into pot pies. A pair of friendly rats, Nick and Fetcher, aid in the plan.
Two movies have been made from this E.B. White children’s classic. The 1973 version was done in classic animation, while the 2006 version combined live action with computer generated animation. Templeton the rat stars prominently in both versions. He not only helps Charlotte the spider come up with the words to describe Wilbur the pig, but he also accompanies Wilbur and Charlotte to the county fair, where Wilbur is entered in a contest. The 1973 film features Templeton singing a wonderful song about fair food, while in the 2006 film we are treated to a tour of Templeton’s amazing burrow.
The Muppets Movies
Rizzo the Rat appears in most, if not all, of the Muppet movies, including The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992), and Muppets From Space (1999, which also includes other rats). His name is a play on Ratso Rizzo, the Dustin Hoffman character in Midnight Cowboy. If only Rizzo didn’t have that unfortunate black nose.
The Secret of NIMH
1982. Based on Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, an award-winning children’s book by Robert C. O’Brien, the story involves a group of intelligent rats who build a community after escaping from experimenters at the National Institute for Mental Health. Jane Leslie Conly, O'Brien’s daughter, wrote two sequel novels about the rats of NIMH.
Notable Cameo Roles
Lady and the Tramp
1955. An evil, dirty sewer rat sneaks into the baby’s room and Tramp’s rescue effort is misunderstood and lands him in the pound. Ugh.
Live Action TV Shows
Once Upon A Hamster
Produced 1995 to 1998
in the UK, this live action show featured real animals with human voices dubbed
in. They really did an amazing job and this show is very fun! The main character is Hammy the Hamster,
and his best friend is Martha the Mouse, who is played by a rat. Other
characters were a guinea pig, rabbit, frog, turtle, owl and Hammy’s
hamster nephews. The original 13 episodes of the show were shot in black &
white in the UK in 1960 and aired as Tales of the Riverbank. Then 39 more episodes were shot in black
& white. A color version called Hammy Hamster's Adventures On the
Riverbank started in 1972 with 26 episodes. A further 65 episodes aired
from 1995 to 1998. In the United States, it was called Once Upon A
Hamster and was broadcast in a late-night slot. The rat character was originally called Roderick
the Water Rat, because he had a little motorboat, but he was still played by a
domestic rat. In
Mysteries at the Museum
On season 11, episode 51 of
this show that runs on the Travel Channel, one segment featured rats. It was
about a plan cooked up in
Good Luck Charlie
Season 4, Episode 7, Rat-a-Teddy, the Disney Channel.
Teddy hosts a sleepover with Vonnie and Kelsey
at PJ’s apartment in an attempt to forget about her anniversary with
Spencer, while PJ and Emmett take care of their neighbor’s pet
rats while he is away. Meanwhile, after Vern quits his extermination
job at Bob’s Bugs Be Gone, Bob hesitantly agrees to give an
inexperienced young man, named Beau, a chance to fill the position.
While in their neighbor’s apartment, PJ and Emmett attempt to race the
two rodents, named Peanut Butter and Jelly, accidentally setting them free.
Jelly is caught (winning the race for Emmett), but Peanut Butter escapes, and
eventually comes upon the sleeping Teddy and company. Back at the apartment,
Bob and his relentless new protégé, Beau, arrive to capture the
rat, as Teddy and her friends retreat into the bathroom. In order to avoid
killing the pet, Beau easily lures Peanut Butter by setting a spoonful of the
rat’s namesake on the floor. (Review by Christian Pimentel) Peanut
Butter is agouti and Jelly is a black
Episode 410 of this USA Network
show, the finale of the fourth season, which aired
Episode 1/12 of this Fox TV
show, called “The Inheritance,” which aired
Drop Dead Diva
The season 4, episode 4 of
this Lifetime show titled “Winning Ugly,” which aired
The episode called
“Danse Macabre” that aired
Mythbusters, in a special episode, “Shop ‘Til You Drop,” which aired April 6, 2005, a pet rat is riding on Adam’s shoulder.
That’s So Raven, episode “Leave it to Diva,” viewed January 11, 2006.
The rat appears for about 5 minutes toward the end of the half hour show. Raven was attending a tea party of older women in the living room when her brother’s rat runs by “carrying” a glove. (It looked like the glove was attached to a harness the rat was wearing.) When Raven sees the rat, she works to distract the women. In the meantime, her brother is upstairs in his bedroom with 2 friends and a fishing pole, trying to get the rat back through a heating vent by baiting the line with cheese. Supposedly, the rat takes the bait and is pulled up in the air. (In reality the rat is wearing a red body suit attached to the fishing line.) The rat struggles a little as she is pulled up, but doesn’t seem to be too upset about being dangled in mid-air. When the rat is half-way up, one of the women comes face to face with the rat and screams, causing all the women to panic. Finally the rat is pulled through the vent and the kids cuddle and kiss her.
My Name is Earl,
season 1, episode 11, Barn Burner,
The episode begins in a bar, where Randy is trying to pick up an agouti rat who is sitting on all the stuffed toys in a claw machine. He manages to pick up the rat with the claw, and I wonder how they got the rat to sit there so calmly! Supposedly, when the rat comes out the chute, it bites Randy, but you don’t actually see the rat then.
episode 3, A Horse is a Horse.
When the boy Henry finds out about the paper, he lets a white rat loose in the bar’s kitchen as a distraction so he can steal the paper. When we see the rat running around with people trying to catch him, it’s a rat, but when they finally catch him, it’s actually a mouse.
Season 1, episode 4, The
A television series made back in the mid-eighties set during the Vietnam War. There is a scene in a first season episode where a rat invades the platoon’s sandbag bunker. The men freak out, pull out their guns and shoot up the bunker, one of the men laughing afterward, “Take that you commie rat!” But then the rat reappears, unharmed, much to their embarrassment. It’s a very funny scene. (Review by Raina Gaffney)
Animated TV Shows
A Japanese anime about a family cursed by the Chinese Zodiac to turn into these animals whenever a member of the opposite sex hugs them or they fall under too much stress. One of the characters, Yuki Sohma, is cursed to sometimes turn into a talking white rat, which provides for several very amusing scenes. (Review by Raina Gaffney)
An oddball uses wild rats to get revenge on his tormentors. The original 1971 horror flick garnered a cult following and was remade in 2003 with Crispin Glover in the lead. The 2003 version features a giant African pouched rat as the misunderstood rat, Ben.
Of Unknown Origin
1983. In a duel of wits, a banking
executive, played by Peter Weller, becomes obsessed with killing a huge rat,
Deadly Eyes (The Rats)
1983. In this gory movie, mutant intelligent rats hunt humans in a post-nuclear bomb wasteland.
The Food of the Gods
1976. Very loosely based on an H.G. Wells novel, this horror picture is about a group of hunters on a remote Canadian island who are attacked by a series of menacing, gigantic creatures, culminating in rats. Veterans Ida Lupino and Ralph Meeker appear, and this isn’t their finest hour. There’s more rat fun to be had in Food of the Gods II, with a different director and cast.
Rats contribute to the creepy atmosphere of this 1922 German horror classic, where they are associated with the vampire played by Max Schreck. Even the vampire’s appearance is scarily ratlike. Rats also appear in the 1979 Werner Herzog remake. (In another vampire movie, Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, the vampire turns a group of men into rats.)
Angels & Demons
In this 2009 movie, Tom Hanks
as Robert Langdon follows clues to try to save the lives of four kidnapped
Cardinals who might be in the running to be Pope. He and the police find the
first Cardinal too late: he is dead and we see three rats, one of them which
looks like a
TV movie The Andromeda Strain
About 1 hour 45 minutes into this 2008 movie, they show a supposedly wild rat running over to a snake who has died of the disease in the desert. A close-up then shows the rat supposedly eating the snake. I was puzzled that the rat, who was a light cocoa-brown and looked like a fancy rat, had what looked like mutilated ears. Sometimes in lab rats they punch holes at the edges of their ears to mark them, but the ear looked like it had been punched all the way around. It was very strange! In the next scene the rat is supposedly snatched by an eagle and then dropped with a bloody splat in the middle of some soldiers, who immediately catch the disease and die. So much for the rat’s big scene.
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