It starts with the Warners in a meatball eating contest in Sweden, and an overstuffed Wakko is only one meatball away from winning. He jokingly says "Honest, guys, if I eat one more I'm gonna die". Watching from a distance is the Grim Reaper, who is reading a book titled Robert's Rules of Death and declares Wakko's time is almost up. Wakko does eat that meatball and win, but Death materializes in front of the Warners and slaps a sticker reading "Kaput" on Wakko's hat, putting the animaniac in a coma. The Grim Reaper then declares he will take Wakko away, but due to being his siblings and friends, Yakko and Dot beg him to not do so, to which Death says he can't as Wakko is officially "dead". Yakko and Dot then tearfully declare they want to tag along, but Death says it is against the rules and tells them to stop acting like big babies. Yakko and Dot then say "We are not big babies, these are big babies!" and arrive with giant human babies. The Reaper relents and lets them come along. In the netherworld, which Dot thinks is like Ohio, Death challenges them to a life-or-death game of chess, with Wakko as the prize, which is changed to checkers as Yakko can't play chess (although Dot would prefer to play Uncle Wiggly or Candy Land) and they start to play. The Grim Reaper is skilled at it, so the Warners cheat, and so Death declares them dead, too, which they don't mind as they can have Death as their "dadoo". They then ride the Reaper off a cliff, and he lets them live. Back on Earth, they do a speech on family and living life to the fullest.
The title of this cartoon was originally "Death or Consequences", which most likely explains why the word "Meatballs" on the title card is italicized.
The episode was a reference to the Ingmar Bergman film The Seventh Seal, in which a knight is returning home from the Second Crusade and scenes are interspersed where he is playing the Grim Reaper in a chess match. Likely hints to the references are the chess game (which the Grim Reaper agrees to change to checkers) and the setting being in Sweden, where Ingmar Bergman was born, hence the Grim Reaper in this episode having a thick Swedish accent. Unlike this episode, neither side cheats or uses hijinks. The knight wins the chess game, and the Grim Reaper says that the knight's own life hung in the balance, and thus his "prize" will be that Death will not visit him again for a long time.
This episode shows what happens when an Animaniac dies.
The Hip Hippos move away from the jungle to the city, but Gina Embryo, who is studying them, attempts to prevent them from doing so.
In production order, this was the first Hip Hippos cartoon, which explains why the intro appears at the end instead of the beginning.
Rita and Runt cameo when they run over Gina Embryo. But for some reason, the Animaniacstheme plays over their cameo instead of Rita's theme or Runt's theme.
Gina Embryo is a parody of nature documentary host Joan Embree.
A family of rhinos is shown who live in filthy conditions, disgusting the Hip Hippos into leaving. Despite being such minor characters, the rhino family is always shown at the beginning of the "Hip Hippos" vignette.