Absurdly Long Limousine: The episode "Blue Cat Blues" has Tom competing with a rich cat for a kitty's heart. He eventually pulls up to his love interest's house in an old, broken-down car, only to be driven over by his competitor's limousine. It takes nearly 10 seconds before the front half of the whole thing drives into view (the driver's seat is in the middle), and another 8 before the back half drives out of view.
Agony of the Feet: All those times Jerry took a hammer to Tom's foot or lit matches beneath his feet when he wasn't paying attention.
It didn't even have to be Jerry; Tom was handy at doing this to himself on occasion! If Tom drops something like a bowling ball or a brick just to snatch up Jerry, there's a good chance it'll find one of his feet.
All Just a Dream: "Heavenly Puss" ends this way. Subverted earlier; when Tom gets sent back to his body, he's relieved, thinking it was only a dream... until he notices the "Certificate of Forgiveness" in his hand.
When Tom woke up for real, he wasn't anywhere near the piano, suggesting the chase that resulted on him getting smashed was part of the dream but it was later treated as real when the characters were watching videos from that and other previous stories.
Animal Jingoism: Mouse vs. Cat, and occasionally Cat vs. Dog (though only in one episode does Spike ever also chase Jerry).
Animation Bump: Granted, any halfway competent studio could have produced much better animation than what Gene Deitch's team churned out, but Chuck Jones's efforts are light-years ahead of Deitch's work (and even the final few Hanna-Barbera theatrical shorts) in overall animation quality.
Deitch's first Tom and Jerry cartoon, "Switchin' Kitten" has noticeably better animation compared to his later efforts, due to the fact that Deitch produced that cartoon in the USA with the help of some of his former Terrytoons colleagues, before departing to Czechoslovakia to make the rest of his cartoons with a much less experienced animation team.
Tom and Jerry and The Wizard of Oz has this going for it compared to the other direct-to-video films.
Anthropomorphic Shift: Tom undergoes this. He looked like a real cat in the first short, but over time the change was striking. He began to walk upright more and more often. Other characters underwent a similar transformation, though Jerry himself changed very little over the course of the series, having always been somewhat humanoid.
This is all Depending on the Writer instead of a shift over time, but occasionally cats wear clothes and live in houses with no humans in sight.
Art Evolution: Tom and Jerry looked far different in their first short (with Tom actually looking like a real cat), but over time their designs became far more slick and cartoonish. It then went through a de-evolution in the mid Fifties as the budget became smaller and Limited Animation was used, making them resemble Hanna-Barbera's later TV cartoons. Modern adaptations (and thus the way they're normally pictured these days) tend to give Tom and Jerry the look they had in the late Forties to early Fifties.
Ass in a Lion Skin: Several times the characters disguise themselves as other animals, as for instance when Tom disguises himself as a dog to find Jerry in a dog pound in "Puttin' on the Dog".
Babysitting Episode: In the shorts "Busy Buddies" and "Tot Watchers", Tom and Jerry have to continuously chase down and rescue the baby from trouble because the actual babysitter spends her time gossiping on the telephone.
The Bad Guy Wins: Tom gets this in some episodes, though many times when Tom wins it's during an episode when Jerry has been particularly cruel.
Bee Bee Gun: "Tee for Two". Jerry directs a bee swarm straight to Tom via the bamboo breathing apparatus the cat is using while lying at the bottom of the lake.
Berserk Button: In "The Milky Waif", Tom goes after Jerry's adopted nephew Nibbles after trapping Jerry in a jar. When Tom is foolish enough to (sort of) spank Nibbles while he's cowering, an enraged Jerry breaks free with adrenaline-powered super strength and begins swinging Tom around by his tail.
Tom at times gets violently infuriated by his outwittings by Jerry that even the latter realizes the fun is over (eg. "The Million Dollar Cat"). This may apply more as being gradually pushed over the edge than a traditional Berserk Button however.
Black Face: Many shorts that still appear on DVDs and television, such as "The Milky Waif" and "Yankee Doodle Mouse", had blackface gags edited out, leaving the resulting cartoon very choppy. In the case of "The Milky Waif", we suddenly jump from Nibbles squirting milk in Tom's face to Tom suddenly being hit in the face with a frying pan. Also occurs in "The Mouse Came to Dinner" where they edit out Mammy's intro... which means Tom is coming out of a potted plant at the start for no reason whatsoever. It's rare to find unedited versions.
Bloodless Carnage - Despite the high levels of violence in the earlier shorts there was never any blood. (Unless it's faked with ketchup.)
In Touché, Pussycat!, when Jerry splits Tom in half with an axe, the two halves fall separate ways to the ground, and there's still no blood or gore.
The 2005 short The Karate Guard has a disturbing variation — Tom is facing us when the blade comes down. We don't see anything but we hear a very wet sound before Tom passes out. Occurs at 3:26-3:28 in the short. (He also gets mashed in a garbage truck compactor at 3:10.)
Bowdlerized: Tom's owner, MammyTwo Shoes was considered racist during reruns, and occasionally episodes featuring her recolor her skin white and have a different person dub her voice.
Less so on Boomerang in the UK, where the episodes are left as they were (though some episodes, like "Texas Tom" and "Tennis Chumps" are edited to remove characters smoking cigarettes and cigars).
A Boy and His X: Many episodes involve Jerry helping/protecting another animal from Tom, so it's A Mouse and His (Goldfish, Canary, Puppy, Elephant, Kitten, Duckling, Lion, Seal, Other Mouse...)
Breaking the Fourth Wall: A rare Show Within a Show version of this marks the end of the short with Jerry's country-singing uncle Pecos, whose guitar strings keep breaking and he plucks Tom's whiskers to replace them. For his big TV debut, the guitar string breaks yet again. Tom (watching it on TV) laughs out loud, only for Pecos to reach out of the TV to pluck one last whisker off his face.
Breakout Character: Spike and Tyke, who even had their own brief role in solo shorts. Some of their later appearances in the Tom and Jerry series also seem to be focused primarily on them, with the title duo's war as more of a side story.
Butt Monkey: Tom. Jerry isn't immune to moments of this either.
Buzzing The Deck: While Tom is joyriding on the witch's broom in "The Flying Sorceress", he flies past the window of the house where Jerry is contentedly eating a hunk of cheese. Tom's first buzz causes Jerry to blink, but dismiss the sight as an aberration. Tom's second buzz causes Jerry to discard his cheese as "bad."
Chained to a Railway: In "Kitty Foiled", with a model train set. Luckily, the canary acts fast moments before Tom is about to kill Jerry.
Character Focus: Spike and Tyke towards the late 50's, perhaps in order to sell the spinoff series Hanna-Barbara was trying to make with them.
Characterization Marches On: In Spike's original appearances, he was more or less an non-anthropomorphic dog and even would attack Tom and Jerry without preference in his debut. Then, in "Quiet Please", the team developed the standard plot for Spike (telling Tom he would pound him if Tom did X only for Jerry to spend the rest of the short framing Tom for X) and gave him an actual personality. His voice was quite different, too, being voiced by Billy Bletcher. Later on, they gave him his son and the characterization we all know now. In these cartoons, Spike was voiced by Daws Butler, who made Spike sound something like Jimmy Durante.
In "The Bodyguard," the dog catcher's truck drives away with Spike the bulldog penned inside. Jerry Mouse pursues the truck, hoping to free Spike a second time. Tom Cat pursues Jerry Mouse because that's what Tom does.
In "Part Time Pal," a drunken Tom Cat is chased under the moonlight by a vengeful Mammy Twoshoes.
Inverted in "Doctor Jekyll And Mister Mouse," where it's Jerry chasing an ultra-miniaturized Tom around the house.
Played with in "Texas Tom," where Jerry Mouse rides Tom Cat like a bronco into the western sunset.
In the banned short "Mouse Cleaning", Tom pretends to be a random African American passerby when Mammy asks where Tom is, because his face his smeared with coal after Jerry floods the house with it. Mammy chases him into the sunset throwing coal at him, and in the distance one hits him in the head and he goes down.
Chekhov's Gun: Literal instance in "Year of the Mouse". Early in the short, Jerry and his nameless partner in crime place a gun in Tom's hand and make him think he's pulled the trigger on himself. At the short's climax, the gun reappears when Tom discovers and captures the mice, first holding them at gunpoint and then rigging a bottle trap so that they'll shoot themselves if they try to escape.
Children Are Innocent: In "Professor Tom", Tom is trying to teach a kitten how to chase mice. Though the kitten chases Jerry around, it's only because that's what he's told to do, and he responds eagerly to Jerry's offers of friendship. Jerry is noticeably much nicer to the kitten than he is to Tom, and gets very upset when he sees Tom spanking the kitten near the end of the short.
Also the plot of "The Unshrinkable Jerry Mouse", where Jerry defends a kitten newcomer from a very jealous Tom.
Reversed around in "The Little School Mouse" when Jerry tries to teach Nibbles how to outsmart a cat. Each of his demonstrations on Tom fail miserably while Nibbles naively just asks Tom to comply to his requests, and actually succeeds.
Clip Show: More so around the time the series began to decline in quality, though Hanna and Barbera managed to keep some of them genuinely entertaining. It required an Art Shift whenever Chuck Jones did one, so their look would match the clips. Tellingly, Tom and Jerry's Art Evolution made the differences between the clips and the Framing Device particularly jarring every time a Clip Show episode was done.
Noticeable in the two clip-show shorts made during the Jones era, Matinee Mouse and Shutter Bugged Cat, both directed by Tom Ray. The most discernible contrast between the new footage and the clips of the H-B shorts is the animation. The originals bristle with life and energy while Ray's looked lethargic by comparison — which isn't really surprising when you consider that Ray had to storyboard and animate the whole thing himself, as opposed to the full team of animators that H-B and Jones normally had.
Cock Fight: Tom and Butch are often in competition over the affection of an attractive female cat.
Come Back My Pet: Tom's owner gets annoyed that Tom never tries to catch Jerry anymore so replaces him with a robot mouse catcher and Tom is kicked out. Since Jerry can't live in the house due to the robot throwing him out he and Tom work together and eventually the robot goes wild and Tom rescues his owner.
Conspicuous Consumption: "Blue Cat Blues", where Tom keeps trying (and failing) to out-spend Butch in order to impress a female cat.
Construction Zone Calamity: The short "Tot Watchers" has the duo try to protect a baby who wanders into a construction zone. A later Chuck Jones short, "Bad Day at Cat Rock", has Tom chasing Jerry through a construction zone.
Convenient Cranny: Jerry tends to run at his rat house whenever Tom tries to get him. When Tom tries to reach his hand into the rat house, Jerry will usually exit through another way, or play a prank on Tom.
Cut a Slice, Take the Rest: Used in a short, "The Truce Hurts", where Tom, Jerry and Spike are trying to figure out how to divide a steak they've found, and can't come to an agreement, thereby ruining their truce.
In another short, "Baby Butch", Butch the alley cat cuts a small slice of ham for Tom and Jerry each, then takes the rest for himself.
Done yet another time in the later shorts where Tom and Spike belonged to a married couple; in this case Tom was attempting to retrieve an incriminating photograph before his owners saw it.
Dinner Deformation: This happened a lot to Jerry and Nibbles when they ate something larger than themselves, though only occasionally to Tom (either from his Dagwood Sandwich or swallowing something large and inedible like an umbrella).
Disney Death: In "Heavenly Puss", Tom gets hit by a piano and dies, ending up in heaven, but he won't be able to pass through the gates without Jerry's forgiveness. Tom is given a set amount of time to receive Jerry's signature on a certificate of forgiveness, but gets it seconds too late, and falls down to Hell, to the glee of a devilish Spike. Turns out to be All Just a Dream and Tom suddenly hugs a bewildered Jerry.
This is an interesting reverse of Disney's own "Pluto's Judgment Day", which has a dog at the mercy of infernal cats.
While most episodes where Tom wins start out with Jerry initiating the conflict, the short Southbound Duckling, where Jerry is trying to help Quackers fly south whilst avoid being eaten by Tom, ends with Tom sneaking up behind the pair as they relax at Miami beach, trapping them under a bucket then giving an Evil Laugh to the camera. Whatever he does to them next is up to your imagination.
Driven to Suicide: In one episode, Quackers attempts suicide multiple times. His motives are disturbingly realistic as he even says "I'm useless" and "Nobody loves me" as well as "I'm just ugly". However, once Quackers gets a girlfriend, all suicidal thoughts miraculously disappear!
Early Installment Weirdness: The early shorts had a strong Disney influence, undoubtedly a hold-over from Hugh Harman's influence on MGM's cartoon shorts. As such, the earlier shorts are very atmospheric and fluid in their animation, but to a point where its self-conscious, and as such hampers the timing and pacing of the cartoons. Tom and Jerry also had more of a sibling rivalry than a true cat-eats-mouse rivalry. Once Tex Avery arrived at MGM, his influence starting taking hold of the shorts (although he never directing anything on the series), resulting in more streamlined designs, sharper timing, crisper pacing, and the sibling rivalry aspect of Tom and Jerry's relationship was abandoned altogether.
Eating Shoes: Tom eats his shoes and shoelaces in "His Mouse Friday".
Eek, a Mouse!!: Numerous times. Invoked by Tom in "Trap Happy" when calling the mouse extermination service.
Enemy Mine: There are times Tom and Jerry are facing a common enemy.
Enemy to All Living Things/Friend to All Living Things: Many shorts involve Jerry befriending a one shot character (usually another stray animal). Tom on the other hand usually ends up either provoking its rather violent wrath, or deciding he wants to eat it, depending on the species. It doesn't help the large majority of alternate characters tend to sympathize more with the innocent little mouse being chased by the big pussy cat, in some cases even the humans that sent Tom after him in the first place.
The short "Yankee Doodle Mouse" may or may not have actually been using this reference.
Enormous Engagement Ring / Glowing Gem: In "Blue Cat Blues", Tom and an obscenely rich rival tom-cat are trying to impress their love, a lovely white cat lady. The ring from Tom's rival was so big and bright that you had to put on welder's glasses to look at it. For Tom's ring, however, you needed a magnifying glass. The kitty married Tom's rival.
Everything Explodes Ending: "The Missing Mouse" has Tom scared by a lab mouse that swallowed a powerful explosive. By the end a radio announcement declares that the mouse will not explode and Tom gives it a good kick. It explodes anyway.
Finger in a Barrel: Seen in the short "Quiet, Please!". Jerry tires to wake up Spike by firing a shotgun, and Tom sticks his fingers down both barrels to stop it, leaving him with throbbing, swollen fingers.
Similar when Tom runs over Mama Duck with a lawnmower in "Little Quacker", exposing her turquoise bra and bloomers, which she quickly covers with her now robe-like feathers.
Gaslighting: Jerry does this to Tom in "The Year of the Mouse".
Genre Savvy: In "The Duck Doctor", an anvil is falling toward Tom. He runs in circles for a few seconds trying to escape, but then acknowledges that no matter what he does, he's going to get conked. So he digs a grave and stands next to it, smoking a cigarette as if he's waiting for the firing squad, until he gets hit and falls in.
In "Million Dollar Cat", Tom gets Jerry to jump out of a penthouse window, then sits down for breakfast. He gets suspicious and peeks under the silver lid covering the dish, obviously expecting Jerry to be there. He's wrong; Jerry was hiding in the napkin.
Gray and Grey Morality: Neither Tom or Jerry are out and out innocent character and can be rather vindictive in their feud, however the shorts alternate with who is the most sympathetic and they both at the very least have some justified motives (Jerry needs food, Tom - and usually his owner - wants a pest out of his house).
Hammered into the Ground: In one episode, Tom had a nightmare about a giant bulldog pounding him into the ground like a nail.
Heart Beats out of Chest: Occurs twice in "Kitty Foiled" from June 1948. First, Tom Cat captures Jerry Mouse in a goblet. Cornered and facing certain doom, Jerry's heart beats out of the left side of his chest. After using his left hand to push his heart back into place, it begins beating out of the right side.. Later, Tom captures a small yellow canary beneath a flower pot. He peers at his prize through the drainage hole in the bottom. The canary's heart beats out of his chest in fear. When the canary turns away from Tom's yellow bloodshot eye, his heart starts beating out of his butt.
Later Hanna-Barbera shorts did try to play this more straight, making Jerry more altrustic and often saving another animal friend from being victimized by Tom. The odd time he strayed from this he was more likely to suffer Laser-Guided Karma.
Hollywood Healing: It takes about five seconds for Tom to grow his teeth back. And that's just one example among many.
Somewhat averted in "Mouse Trouble", the various Amusing Injuries Tom suffers stick with him as a Running Gag. These include various bandages, a Dodgy Toupee after a shotgun blast takes the top of his scalp off and a wind-up mechanical mouse still rattling around inside him. He's still sporting all of them when his final plot against Jerry results in him being blown up and ascending in angel form to Fluffy Cloud Heaven.
Hollywood Magnetism: In the episode The Framed Cat, Jerry gets Tom to swallow a magnet and then drills a screw into Spike the bulldog's bone, so the bone flies at Tom from clear across the yard to make it look as if Tom's trying to steal it.
Honorable Elephant: In "Jerry-Go-Round", an elephant loyally defends Jerry from Tom after Jerry pulls a nail from the elephant's foot.
The extent of Mammy Two Shoes' abusive treatment of Tom (and how justified it is due to the latter's antics) varied Depending on the Writer. Various alternate owners were paired with Tom throughout the franchise's run, their treatment of the cat ranging from lenient or justified to outright psychotic (the latter being Deitch's unnamed owner character).
In "Heavenly Puss", the feline St. Peter sadly shakes his head and mutters "What some people won't do..." when the next "person" in his line is a sack full of kittens who were apparently drowned.
The babysitter takes the cake. She completely ignores the baby to talk on the phone instead. The only time she actually notices the kid is immediately after Tom has rescued the baby from killing itself, at which point she jumps to the conclusion that Tom is attacking the child and beats the stuffing out of him.
The little girl who dresses Tom up as a baby and treats him as such, including putting him in a diaper and feeding him castor oil? The latter is particularly grating, since she walks into the room to discover Tom's "friends" mocking and humiliating him and her immediate response is to blame and punish him.
In another cartoon, "Puttin' on the Dog", Tom Cat disguises himself as a dog to infiltrate a dog pound. When Tom is ultimately unmasked, he climbs to the top of a flagpole, and ties his own limbs into knots to keep himself anchored there, beyond the dogs' reach.
Another cartoon, "Sufferin' Cats!", has Jerry being chased by Tom and another cat; by running around both of them, Jerry managed to tie both of them into a knot.
The Hunter Becomes The Hunted: In the short "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse", near the end Tom finally drinks his own power potion which Jerry had been using throughout the short. Instead of growing stronger however, it backfires, and Tom shrinks until he's as tall to Jerry as Jerry normally is to him. The short ends with Jerry chasing after Tom with a fly swatter.
Injury Bookend: On one episode Tom gets a Tap on the Head and thinks he's a mouse. Jerry tries to get Tom hit again to return him to normal, and eventually succeeds. Unfortunately, Mammy has the same idea, and Tom is back as a mouse for the Iris Out.
In The Style Of: "The Karate Guard" was the first theatrical Tom & Jerry short in nearly 40 years, and it used opening & closing graphics from the MGM era... with one tweak: The Vanity Plate used by Warner Bros. was designed to look like the blue-background MGM intro, instead of their usual red-tunnel artwork.
In Vino Veritas: "Part Time Pal" has Tom actually befriending Jerry while drunk.
Just Following Orders: In some episodes, Tom only goes after Jerry because his owner tells him to, yet he is still treated as a villain for wanting to get rid of the possibly disease ridden mouse.
Just Whistle: Spike makes this kind of an arrangement with Jerry in "The Bodyguard" and a couple later shorts.
Karmic Trickster: In most shorts, Jerry doesn't start trouble until Tom wrongs him in some way. In some shorts he skews more towards a Screwy Squirrel and attacks Tom without being provoked, but usually Jerry is fighting for his survival, or at least unhappy with the unfair situation Tom is putting him in (i.e. using him as fish bait, dressing him in a bow and giving him to a girl cat as a present, using him as a paddleball, etc.).
Killer Mouse: Jerry. He may look adorable, but when threatened? Beware.
Kung-Foley: Some of the most legendary foley work in animation history, in fact.
Laser-Guided Karma: Usually applied to Tom, particularly in episodes with Mammy Two Shoes involved, but occasionally hits Jerry. Generally, in episodes where Jerry gets just a little bit too vindictive when dealing with Tom the plot will deal him some kind of misfortune as well, even if Tom doesn't "win" per se.
His current voice, anyway. He just sounded like a gruff man in his first speaking role.
Leitmotif: Beginning with 1949's "Polka-dot Puss", every T&J short opened with one of these composed by Scott Bradley.
In "Mouse in Manhattan", most of the music is just variations of a single melody, matched to fit the mood of whatever's currently happening. The Godfather would use some of the music from the short, however.
Let's Get Dangerous: If Jerry pushes Tom a little too far, Tom will wear a disgusted, determined face which usually means Jerry is in for a whole world of hurting. If Tom wears a devious, vengeful grin, Jerry's lost, such as when Tom discovers the Vanishing Creme.
Logo Joke: At the beginning of the Chuck Jones shorts, the lion in the MGM logo fades out, and an angrily roaring Tom replaces it.
At the end of the "Switchin' Kitten" episode, Jerry finds a mouse hole, which looks remarkably like the "Ars Gratia Artis" arch in the MGM logo, and roars like a lion in it.
Lolicon: "Toots" from "The Zoot Cat" dosen't quite fit this trope (it's implied that she may be a teenager, due to her mature Southern voice, since the short is supposed to parody the teenagers of that time period) but you sure wouldn't be able to tell just by looking at her—especially considering she looks like a child and wears an equally small dress.
Long-Lost Relative: Jerry's Uncle Pecos, a country singer that even Jerry can't stand, and Jerry's cousin Muscles, who is identical to Jerry but super strong.
Lower Deck Episode: "Mouse in Manhattan" is a Jerry solo short, with Tom only appearing in the opening and ending. The two shorts centered around Spike and Tyke also count.
Lull Destruction: In Japanese dubs, Tom and Jerry are sometimes given voice actors along with a narrator.
Made of Iron: Jerry can be amazingly tough at times. For instance while chasing him, Tom repeatedly hits him with a fireplace poker and finds to his astonishment that not only does he make a exact outline of the mouse's body each time he hits him without apparently hurting him, but each impression has the mouse taunting him by sticking his tongue in the outline as well.
Matryoshka Object: "The Yankee Doodle Mouse" has Tom cornered by a large firecracker. Instead of blowing up, it breaks apart to reveal a smaller firecracker, which then reveals a smaller firecracker, and so on until all that is left is a tiny firecracker. Tom holds it in his hand, laughs in amusement, and then it blows up in a huge explosion.
Mama Bear: In "Love Me, Love My Mouse", Tom offers Jerry to a female cat as a present, but Jerry invokes this trope by acting cute, causing her to treat him like her child. It only lasts until she gives him a kiss, at which point she realizes he tastes pretty good.
In "Timid Tabby", Tom and his cowardly identical cousin pull this on Jerry by switching around and eventually pretending Tom has turned into a two-headed, four-armed-and-legged monstrosity, sending Jerry running to the Home for Mice Suffering from Nervous Breakdowns.
In "Jerry and Jumbo", Jerry colours an elephant cub and its mother to look like him and drives Tom crazy. He breaks down when all three Jerrys jump ahead of him, starts laughing manically, runs through a brick wall and disappears in the sunset.
Mood Whiplash: The 1956 cartoon "Blue Cat Blues" is rather depressing compared to the rest of the series, as it begins with Tom sitting on a railroad track preparing to commit suicide. Jerry tells us how Tom was driven to this state by a love affair gone sour, and the cartoon ends with Jerry realizing his girlfriend has been unfaithful and joining Tom on the tracks. Cue the sound of a train whistle, iris out.
Motive Decay: Tom originally wanted to eat Jerry. Now he just mostly harasses him.
Mouse Hole: Sometimes Jerry's mouse hole even has a little door, or fancy decorations around it, as if the architects of the house Tom and Jerry are in specifically built the mouse hole into the wall.
Mustache Vandalism: In Touche', Pussy Cat, Nibbles uses an artist brush to paint a caricature of Tom Cat on a wall. When Nibbles realizes that Tom is glaring at him, Nibbles paints spectacles and a mustache on Tom's face.
In "The Lonesome Mouse" Jerry draws a Hitler mustache and comb-over on a picture of Tom, and spits at it.