Tom and Jerry is an animated television series and a series of short films developed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera in 1940. The series concentrates on the rivalry between the main characters, a cat named Tom and a mouse named Jerry, and is best known for its 161 theatrical short films produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Several recurrent characters appear in several short films.
Between 1940 and 1958, Hanna and Barbera made 114 Tom and Jerry short films for MGM. They earned seven Academy Oscars for Best Animated Short Film during this time, tied for first with Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies for the most awards in the category. MGM restarted the series when the MGM cartoon studio closed in 1957, with Gene Deitch directing 13 more Tom and Jerry films for Rembrandt Films from 1961 to 1962. Tom and Jerry then surpassed Looney Tunes as the highest-grossing animated short film series of the time. Between 1963 and 1967, Chuck Jones worked with Sib Tower 12 Productions on additional 34 short films. The Mansion Cat was released in 2001, The Karate Guard in 2005, and A Fundraising Adventure in 2014, bringing the total number of shorts to 164.
The television shows The Tom and Jerry Show (1975), The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show (1980–1982), Tom & Jerry Kids (1990–1993), Tom and Jerry Tales (2006–2008), and The Tom and Jerry Show (2014–2021) are among the many spin-offs. Tom and Jerry: The Movie, the first feature-length film based on the series, was released in 1992, and 13 direct-to-video films have been made since 2002, with a live-action/animated hybrid picture set to be released in 2021. Tom and Jerry: Purr-Chance to Dream, a musical adaption of the cartoon, premiered in Japan in 2019 in honor of Tom and Jerry’s 80th anniversary.
Tom is a gray and white domestic shorthair cat who first appeared as “Jasper.” (“Tom” is a male cat’s generic name.) Jerry (whose name is not clearly given in his initial appearance) is a little, brown house mouse that constantly lives in close proximity to Tom and is typically presented as enjoying a nice, if not pampered, existence. Tom is no match for Jerry’s intellect, despite being exceedingly active, motivated, and considerably larger. Jerry also has astonishing strength for his stature, about equal to Tom’s, capable of lifting anvils with moderate ease and withstanding significant hits. Although cats typically chase mice in order to eat them, Tom rarely tries to eat Jerry, preferring instead to hurt or compete with him as is customary in a more intimidating strategy to taunt Jerry (even as revenge), and even to obtain a reward from a human (including his owner(s)/master(s) for catching Jerry, or for generally doing a good job as a house cat. By the time each cartoon’s final “fade-out,” Jerry has generally beaten Tom.
Other outcomes, though, are possible. Tom only wins on rare instances, generally when Jerry becomes the aggressor or pushes Tom too far. In The Million Dollar Cat, Jerry discovers that if Tom hurts any animal, particularly mice, he would lose his newly obtained money; he then torments Tom excessively until he retaliates. Jerry is pushed over the brink by Tom’s look-alike cousin in Timid Tabby. They both lose on occasion, and typically humorously, since Jerry’s latest trap or attack on Tom backfires on him or he missed something. Jerry orders a shark from the pet store to keep Tom away from eating a goldfish in Chuck Jones’ Filet Meow. After that, the shark also chases Jerry away. Finally, they become friends, however there is frequently a last-minute occurrence that shatters the ceasefire in this series of stories. Snowbody Loves Me is one animation with a happy ending.
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