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15 Toon-Tastic Tom and Jerry Facts!

If you're a fan of classic cartoons, you just can't miss these fifteen fantastic facts about Tom and Jerry!

Beano Facts Team
Last Updated:  March 31st 2024

Name a more iconic duo! Tom and Jerry have been around for a long time, and there's a lot to learn about them. Do you know how many Oscars they've won, what major Disney film they almost starred in, and why some of the older cartoons have been edited? Read on and learn all about it! Don't forget to check out the rest of our fun facts too - learn all about Kung Fu Panda, Despicable Me, and Inside Out!

1. They've been around a long time!

Tom and Jerry first made their debut in 1940 - more than EIGHTY years ago! They were created by animators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Hanna and Barbera worked for MGM Studios, who wanted to create more original cartoon characters to boost their brand after an unsuccessful cartoon series based on a comic strip called The Katzenjammer Kids. Hanna and Barbera pitched the idea of two characters who were always in confict with each other. Their original idea was a fox and a dog, though this later turned into a cat and a mouse.

2. They were originally called Jasper and Jinx!

Puss Gets the Boot | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer | Rudolf Ising | William Hanna, Joseph Barbera

Before they were the dynamic duo we know and love today, Tom and Jerry had very different names! The very first short was called Puss Gets The Boot, and features a cat named Jasper and a mouse with no name. The mouse was nicknamed "Jinx" by the animators.

3. There was a contest to rename them!

Hanna and Barbera decided that they wanted new names for the characters, and a studio-wide competition was declared, with $50 as prize money (more than $1,000 today!). An animator named John Carr won the competition with his suggestion of Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse. There's some debate about what inspired the name. "Tom and Jerry" was used as a nickname for ne'er-do-well young men in early 19th century England. There was also a drink called the Tom and Jerry, which is a hot Christmastime cocktail alleged to be the favourite drink of Walt Disney!

4. It's made by Hanna-Barbera

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? | Hanna-Barbera Productions | CBS, ABC

Hanna and Barbera eventually made their own animation studio and production company, named Hanna-Barbera. This company went on to make some of the most famous American cartoons of all time, including The Flintstones, The Jetsons, The Yogi Bear Show, Top Cat, Wacky Races, Josie and the Pussycats, and of course, Scooby Doo!

5. They're not always enemies!

Tom and Jerry are famous for being locked in vicious combat, but they've also been depicted as friends! In the 1975 series The Tom and Jerry Show, they travel the world, solve mysteries and seem to enjoy hanging out with each other! Which version do you prefer?

6. They've won a lot of awards!

Tom and Jerry are no slouch when it comes to the awards circuit! The very first short, Puss Gets The Boot, was nominated in the Shorts category at the 1941 Academy Awards, and over the years they went on to win seven Academy Awards in this category from thirteen total nominations!

7. They actually can talk!

Tom and Jerry: The Movie | Miramax Films, Turner Pictures Worldwide Distribution | Phil Roman | Phil Roman

Tom and Jerry are famous for mostly staying silent, but they have spoken up a few times. In the 1943 short The Lonesome Mouse, they both speak several times, voiced by William Hanna himself! Tom is also shown singing several times, mostly in unsuccessful attempts to woo female cats. In the 1992 film Tom and Jerry: The Movie, both Tom and Jerry speak throughout, and can even be understood by humans! Mostly though, they stay quiet. Hanna's voice has been featured throughout the whole franchise as Tom's distinctive scream.

8. There are satellites named after them!

Two satellites launched by NASA in 2002 are named officially named GRACE-1 and GRACE-F2, but they've been nicknamed Tom and Jerry! The satellites are used to map gravitational anomalies around the Earth, as well as measure shifting water masses. The data they provide is useful in studying climate change.

9. Some people think it's too violent

Tom and Jerry love to fight, and sometimes they play dirty. Tom uses dynamite, hammers, guns, electricity, axes, and all sorts of devious traps to try and get the better of Jerry, and Jerry's retaliations are even worse! Tom has actually technically died five times in the original shorts, though he seems to respawn like a video game character. Though there's never any blood or gore, some people still feel this is too violent for a children's cartoon, and later versions tone it down a lot. What do you think - is it too much?

10. They were almost in a classic film!

Anchors Aweigh | Loew's Inc | Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer | Joe Pasternak | George Sidney

Tom and Jerry were originally slated to appear in 1988 Disney classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit! If you've seen the film, you know it blends live action footage with popular cartoon characters, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Woody Woodpecker, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goody, Donald Duck, Betty Boop, and more! Tom and Jerry would have fit right in, but Disney were unsuccessful in securing the rights. Casper the Friendly Ghost and Popeye also didn't appear in the film for this reason. Tom and Jerry did appear in a live-action film though - the 1945 musical comedy Anchors Aweigh, starring Gene Kelly! Gene Kelly and Jerry even have a dance number together!

11. There was a spin-off

While Tom tries to catch Jerry, he sometimes falls afoul of Spike and Tyke, a bulldog father-and-son. Usually Spike is trying to do something, and Tom and Jerry's antics totally ruin it, leaving Tom to always get the blame. A spinoff series called Spike & Tyke was released in 1957 - but only two episodes were produced before the original poudction studio shut down.

12. Tom has won!

Usually in the cartoon, Jerry manages to get one over on Tom - but not always! This first happened in the 1944 short The Million Dollar Cat, where Tom forfeits a million dollars just to get the better of Jerry. It's happened several times since, and some viewers prefer it that way, saying that Jerry goes out of way to annoy Tom and deserves the comeuppance! Whose side are you on?

13. Parts of it haven't aged well

Humans aren't shown all that often in the earlier cartoons, with one exception being Tom's owner, a woman named Mammy Two Shoes. You mostly just see her legs and hear her voice (becauses that's all a cat and mouse would see). But you might not remember seeing her at all, because newer versions of the early cartoons often edit out her scenes. This is because Mammy Two Shoes has been criticised as a racist stereotype. Racial justice group NAACP began protesting Tom and Jerry cartoons in 1949, which led to the original voice actress Lillian Randolph leaving, and the character being retired from future shorts. A 2005 DVD release of the early cartoons featured African-American actress Whoopi Goldberg speaking about the stereotypes and warning viewers that they were about to watch something made in a different time.

14. It's more than just a cartoon series!

Tom and Jerry have also appeared in movies (more on that in a sec!), but you can experience Tom and Jerry in a lot of interesting ways! Tom and Jerry have starred in comic books, beginning in 1942 soon after the shorts began, and a syndicated comic strip. They also appear as meetable characters in Warner Bros. World in Abu Dhabi, where they also have their own ride, Tom and Jerry Swiss Cheese Run! There are also Tom and Jerry video games - way more than you might imagine, most recently as playable characters in fighting game MultiVersus. A musical adaptation also ran in 2019, in Japan, called Tom and Jerry: Purr-Chance to Dream - strange but true!

15. They've done a lot of crossovers!

Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz | Warner Bros. Pictures | Spike Brandt, Tony Cervone |Spike Brandt, Tony Cervone

Ever watched a classic film and thought to yourself, "This is nice, but I wish it had Tom and Jerry in it"? You may be in luck! Recently Tom and Jerry have appeared in a lot of films, including Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale, Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes, Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz, Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Men, and Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. No word yet on whether or not they'll start breaking out into serious drama.