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Western Animation / Top Cat

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T.C. and the gang (and Dibble) note 

Top Cat!
The most effectual Top Cat!
Who's intellectual
Close friends get to call him T.C.
Providing it's with dignity!
Top Cat!
The indisputable leader of the gang!
He's the boss, he's the pip, he's the championship!
He's the most tip-top, Top Cat!
Yes he's the chief, he's the king, but above everything...
He's the most tip top, Top Cat!
Top Cat!
— Theme song

Hanna-Barbera produced this Animated Series for ABC in 1961. Unlike the studio's earlier series, Top Cat was set in the midst of New York City. Even before the first episode was broadcast, Bill Hanna knew that Top Cat was going to be popular.

Top Cat is a Lovable Rogue who leads his gang of alley cats through one Zany Scheme after another, keeping the cats ahead of Officer Charlie Dibble, the local beat cop. The series took a page from The Phil Silvers Show, with "T.C." (as his gang called him) based on Phil Silvers' Sgt. Ernie Bilko. Maurice Gosfield, who played Pvt. Doberman on The Phil Silvers Show, provided the voice of Benny the Ball.

In the late 1980s, Arnold Stang reprised his Top Cat role in the syndicated series Yogi's Treasure Hunt and the Made-for-TV Movie Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats (part of the "Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10" series). In 1990, T.C. and Choo-Choo had an entry in the Fender Bender 500 segment of Wake Rattle And Roll. Top Cat and his gang have also appeared on Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.

A Flash animated Top Cat movie with CGI backgrounds has been released in 2011 in Mexico, where the show has been especially popular in the past decades where it's known as Don Gato y Su Pandilla (Don Gato and His Gang). A sequel was made which uses CGI entirely and released in 2015. The cast also appears as recurring characters on the 2021 HBO Max animated series Jellystone!.

This series provides examples of:

  • 13 Is Unlucky: The episode "Rafeefleas" has T.C. collecting money for a pizza from the gang (as part of a scheme to get free pizzas for each of them), and Brain has thirteen cents.
    T.C.: Thirteen is an unlucky number. Get rid of that hoodoo! (Brain drops the money in T.C.'s hat)
  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Spook and Fancy, who only wear ties or collars.
  • Advertising-Only Continuity: In a Corn Flakes ad, Top Cat appears behind a wooden fence, eyeing a police officer conversing on a telephone, carrying a grocery bag with a box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes. As the officer hangs up, he turns to see Top Cat standing on a box, positioning his hands in the shape of a screen as if he is a film director. Top Cat woos the officer with promises of fame. Meanwhile, a cat appears with a makeshift fishing rod made of a broom. Three more cats appear, solidifying the illusion of a film production set. One of the cats slaps the officer with an enormous powdering pad, creating an explosive poof of makeup. Top Cat reaches through the makeup cloud and snatches the box of cereal and holds it as if still filming for the make-believe camera. Top Cat asks if the officer likes Corn Flakes, and the officer says, "I do!" Top Cat says "Cut!" Thanking the officer for his participation in the commercial, Top Cat walks away, and the officer thanks Top Cat, and walks away with his grocery bag, then shakes his head and snaps to, realizing his box of cereal is missing. The group of cats now sit at a table next to the fence, enjoying bowls of Kellogg's Corn Flakes. The police officer walks up to table, grabs the box of cereal, placing it back in his grocery bag, and asks Top Cat if he is being paid for this "commercial." The powder makeup cat returns, slapping powder on the officer, leaving another cloud looming upon the officer's head. Top Cat yet again reaches into the makeup cloud and takes the box from the officer, walking away.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Sri Lanka dub has a completely different theme created by Titus Thotawatte.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: The cats have interesting fur colors (T.C. is bright yellow, Benny is indigo, Choo-Choo is pink, Fancy-Fancy is cinnamon brown, Spook is olive-green and Brain is orange).
  • Animation Bump: Most of the series is in the typical Hanna-Barbera limited animation style — except the opening and closing title animation, which although still limited seems to have had more care and attention lavished on it. It was not the only H-B show of the era whose intro was more fluidly animated than the main show; those of Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw were as well, along with their interstitial segments.
  • Annoying Patient: In the episode "The Late T.C.", Dibble overhears part of a conversation between Top Cat and a doctor and mistakenly believes Top Cat is dying. T.C. takes advantage of this to make Dibble bring him food, throw him parties, etc.
  • Apes in Space: In the "Space Monkey" episode, the feline heroes help a monkey astronaut by sending his rocket into his home Africa.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In one episode, Officer Dibble is replaced by an even stricter police officer, who is so zealous that he is drawing public complaints to his superior for being excessive. To get rid of him, T.C. convinces said officer that the city's mayor is Cha-cha Charlie, a gangster wanted by police for extortion, smuggling and leading a dance school without permission.
  • Artificial Limbs: In Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, one scene reveals Snerdly has a mechanical hand (covered by his usual butler's glove), which he's seen using all of once to smack a stone wall, leaving his handprint (and then causing a piece of the wall to hit him on the head, resulting in a Cranial Eruption).
  • Automobile Opening: In the opening of the show, T.C. is seen presumably being driven in a limousine. When the limousine turns around, we see he's actually riding on its rear fender.
  • Balloon Belly: Subverted in the film adaptation, in the scene where Dibble returns to the alley to alert T.C. and his gang that the villain became Chief of Police... after the gang had a celebration going. It may or not be visible to you, but if you've got a good eye and can compare other scenes T.C. is in, take your pick (Go to 0:23:00). He does however, state he feels sick from eating too much having partied.
  • Big Applesauce: The series is set in New York City, where the gang has their alley.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: In the episode "Rafeefleas", Spook ends a billiards game by shooting all the remaining balls in all the pockets in one shot.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Benny. Also Dibble in the show, but he gained sclerae in modern depictions, as seen above.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Though not the laziest bum in the box, T.C. tends to rely on the others to do the manual work while he does the mental work.
  • Buffoonish Tomcat: Brain, in stark contrast to most of the rest of the gang.
  • The Butler Did It: "The Missing Heir", in which butler Chutney tries to do in Benny in order to obtain a fortune he's mistakenly believed to be an heir to, and Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, where butler Snerdly does the same thing (and has also manipulated Amy Vandergelt into never visiting her aunt Gertrude and working at a car wash, keeping her from learning of her aunt's "death" and that she's the primary heir). T.C. actually dismisses him as a threat at first, saying it's an old cliche and that the butler never does it anymore, but eventually comes to realize that Snerdly really is a villain.
  • Butt-Monkey: Dibble and sometimes Benny.
  • The Cameo: In Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, to get to the Vandergelt mansion, the gang hitches a ride on the back of a tourist bus that's showing people all the fancy houses and people of Beverly Hills. While passing through the neighborhood, Fred Flintstone, Wilma Flintstone, and Dino can be seen in one yard, and Barney and Betty Rubble are in the next yard over.
  • Canine Companion: Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats has an evil variation in Ratsputin, a Russian wolfhound who's loyal to his master Snerdly and is almost never seen apart from him.
  • Captivity Harmonica: Lampshaded in one episode. The gang is tricked into robbing a warehouse, and are sent to prison. Choo-Choo whips a harmonica from hammerspace, and begins playing it. When T.C. questions it, Chooch explains, "They always play harmonicas in prison movies", upon which T.C. reminds him that This Is Reality.
  • The Casanova: Fancy-Fancy, in a PG-rated sort of way.
  • Casting Gag: Benny's voice actor had previously starred in The Phil Silvers Show as Private Duane Doberman, and was fittingly voiced by Doberman himself, Maurice Gosfield.
  • Cats Are Mean:
    • Averted — Top Cat may be a con artist, but he's also a pretty decent guy. He once helped an immigrant hot dog vendor who had been conned (unbeknownst to the vendor) by another pair of swindlers (although he was planning on scamming him himself...)
    • The movie makes his decent side clearer, as he not only saves an old woman from being squashed, he makes it clear to his gang when they suggest stealing someone's tickets to an event that they will only steal from someone who deserves it. He is also shocked to learn that he has been accused of stealing from an orphanage.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: T.C.
    T.C.: [to Dibble] I'd suggest a battle of wits, but you're only half-prepared.
  • The Charmer: T.C., big time.
  • Coin-on-a-String Trick: Seen in the opening credits, with T.C. snatching the coin back from a doorman after he's tipped him.
  • Community-Threatening Construction: T.C. and the gang guest-star in a crossover comic with Scooby-Doo, "Reigning Cats and Dogs", in which the villains are a pair of realtors aren't doing anything illegal, but they're jerkasses who don't care about the people whose lives they're ruining with their plans. T.C. and the gang, along with Officer Dibble, work together to stop their plan.
  • The Con: The Landmark Scam variant is used as a Brick Joke in one episode — T.C. goes to the doctor after a nasty fall. When Choo-Choo mentions this to Dibble, the latter snidely remarks that T.C. will try to sell him the Brooklyn Bridge ("I didn't even know it was for sale!" replies Choo-Choo). Sure enough, when the doctor begins discussing his fee, T.C. then tries to pay him with a "business opportunity": "I can't mention any names but it's about a certain bridge..."
  • Cool Cat: Top Cat and company, particularly Spook.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Officer Dibble. Top Cat can make him look like a moron, but Dibble proves himself a very brave, competent cop whenever facing a seriously dangerous criminal; he actually gets into gunfights with bank robbers and other delinquents, usually arresting them in the end.
  • Denial of Animality:
    • In one episode, TC leaves one of his gang as collateral for a loan. The lender is perplexed: "A human collateral?" Then again, the only time in the entire series when the gang actually behave like cats is when they spend the winter at Dibble's, and they all jump into the only bed, crowding Dibble out and pushing him onto the floor: anyone with a cat knows what THAT's like.
    • The episode "The Million Dollar Derby" has this line.
      Benny: I like animals. Some of my best friends are animals.
  • The Ditz: Brain. As T.C. says of his intelligence (or lack thereof) in Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, "He's a terminal twit."
  • Door Judo: One episode has Benny go on a cruise, prompting the rest of the gang to tag along. At several points, Officer Dribble, the ship's captain, and a counterfeit artist try to barge into the cabin... only to end up running right off the ship, having to cling (unsuccessfully) to the side of the hull.
  • Dreadful Musician: In Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, Amy has a habit of singing variations on "Tomorrow" from Annie, but her singing is physically painful to Top Cat and the rest of the gang. Worse, she doesn't seem to realize it.
  • Faking the Dead: The plot of Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats revolves around Benny being heir to the wealthy and recently deceased Gertrude Vandergelt. She turns up alive and well at the end, disguised as her lawyer, much to evil butler Snerdly's shock — he even saw her in the coffin, as indicated by his line "I went to your funeral!", and Gertrude's explaining that she hired a body double.
  • A Father to His Men: Top Cat is hinted to be this to his gang.
  • The Fettered: Officer Dibble. He's passionately devoted to his duty, even when his duty causes him great grief and makes him the butt of all jokes.
  • Finish Dialogue in Unison: The episode "Rafeefleas" has Choo Choo explaining to T.C. what Benny the Ball was doing at the museum:
    Choo Choo: He was in front of a display with a big sign that said "Watch This Space."
    T.C.: So?
    Choo Choo: So, Benny was just standing there...
    Choo Choo and T.C.: Watching the space!
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: Episodes feature this happening a few times. The most notable one is where a millionaire gives Benny a check to T.C for one million dollars after he finds out how rough the gang has it. When the merchants' association finds out, T.C and the gang are treated like royalty. In the end, it all goes away because Top Cat, who didn't give Benny a chance to explain about the million dollars, tore up the check. To be fair, Top Cat thought that Benny had been tricked into accepting a ticket for a 25 cent raffle, so he didn't know any better.
  • Friendly Enemy: T.C. and Dibble. The former will always find a way to humiliate the latter, while the latter is deliriously happy at every opportunity to arrest T.C. But they'd give their lives for each other just as quickly.
  • Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal: The episode "A Visit from Mother" features Penelope Jean Brook-Ball, also known as Mrs. Ball, Benny the Ball's mother. In contrast to her son's Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal status, she wears a hat, dress and Victorian-era styled boots.
  • Funny Animal: T.C. and the gang straddle the line between Funny Animal and Civilized Animal. They wear clothes and can communicate with humans in English, but are otherwise function and are treated as members of their respective species.
  • Garbage Hideout: T.C. lives in a garbage can. It may be squalor, but with his method of thinking and conniving, it's practically a mansion.
  • Gaslighting: In one episode, Top Cat faked an illness so he could be waited on by a Hospital Hottie, but once she went away to get married and he was left with a much less pleasant nurse he got out of her care by making her think the Christmas decorations around his room (in Summer) are only in her head.
  • Gesundheit: Variant in the episode "Space Monkey", where Top Cat and his gang help Eek-Eek, a chimp from a space program, to escape and get home. Later on, when talking to Officer Dibble who's none the wiser about their scheme, they are delivered a crate of bananas and a letter signed by Eek-Eek.
    Top Cat's gang: Eek-Eek!
    Officer Dibble: What's all this "Eek-Eek" stuff?
    Top Cat: Guess the boys just have a touch of indigestion.
  • Gold Digger: Kitty Glitter in Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, who hears T.C. is rich and promptly agrees to try and woo him (as part of Snerdly's plan to distract him from protecting Benny). At the end of the film, when she learns T.C.'s actually broke, she instantly drops him and drives off, having no interest in a non-wealthy cat.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Four of the gang wear tops — Top Cat (who wears a vest), Benny (who wears a shirt), Choo Choo (who wears a white sweater) and Brain (who also wears a shirt) — but no pants.
  • Half Hour Comedy: An animated example.
  • Handbag of Hurt: In one episode, a female cat sends Fancy-Fancy flying with her handbag.
    Fancy: Oh boy, she's weakening! Last time, she hit me with her fist.
  • Hero Antagonist: Officer Dibble, an honest cop who regularly opposes the gang's schemes to earn money in dishonest ways.
  • Heroic Canines, Villainous Felines: Inverted in Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, where most of the main characters are cats, but the villain's sidekick is an evil dog.
  • Honey Trap: Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats features Kitty Glitter, who's contacted by Snerdly in order to serve this role to distract T.C. and draw him away from Benny, whom he's protecting from Snerdly's thinly-disguised murder attempts. Unlike most cases, she isn't actually evil (and doesn't seem to realize that Snerdly is up to no good) — she's just told that T.C. is rich and immediately comes to try and win his heart.
  • Human Ladder: In the episode "The Late T.C.", Top Cat tries to watch a ball game at Yankee Stadium by having his gang stand on top of each other so he can peek over the fence.
    Choo-Choo: I heard of supporting your team, but this is ridiculous.
  • Identical Stranger: In the episode "The Missing Heir", when reading the heir’s physical description in the newspaper, the cast realizes that Benny matches that description perfectly. Unsurprisingly, by the end, it's revealed Benny is not the heir, but the real one is near identical, outside of a birthmark on his foot (the matching birthmark on Benny turning out to actually be a piece of chewing gum).
  • If I Do Not Return: Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats has this during the scene where they rescue Benny from the dog pound, but argue over who gets to go:
    Top Cat: Never mind, I'll go, but if I'm not back in 10 minutes, take off without me.
  • Ill-Timed Sneeze: Dibble sneezes while disguising himself as a statue when a curator dusts his face (curator says "Gesundheit"), Choo-Choo gives the gang away when they are hiding from gangsters (T.C. stops him with the finger trick, but then lets go) and Benny sneezes thrice in the show: first time he explodes a barrel, second time he explodes a safe and the third time he explodes a building.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: In Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, Gertrude Vandergelt left her entire fortune to her niece because she hates her other relatives. No reason for this hatred has ever been mentioned.
  • Ironic Name: The dimmest member of T.C.'s gang is named Brain. The Latin American Spanish dub managed to make it more hilarious by renaming him "Demostenes", after the Greek philosopher.
  • It's a Small World, After All: In the episode "Rafeefleas", T.C. plans an all-you-can-eat pizza binge for him and his pals but picks the wrong pizza shop to do it:
    T.C.: A thousand pizza parlors in New York and we had to pick the one run by Officer Dibble's cousin!
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: Issue #16 of Cartoon Network Presents features the story "It's a Wonderful Strife", in which both T.C. and Officer Dibble, tired of putting up with each other, wish they'd never come to the city. The both of them are then shown alternate realities by their guardian angels, played respectively by Huckleberry Hound and Snagglepuss. Huck shows T.C. that, without guidance from a crafty leader, his gang has to resort to crime for sustenance, and Snagglepuss shows Dibble that if he never became a police officer, T.C. would be an anarchist bossing around the entire police force.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: T.C. (who is very close to his friends despite his sarcastic attitude) and Officer Dibble.
  • Kitchen Sink Included: Humorously subverted, then played straight, in Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats. Top Cat and his gang are having a wild party and their neighbors respond by throwing a bunch of junk at them to get them to quiet. Fancy then remarks that the neighbors have thrown everything but the kitchen sink; the next object dropped is a grand piano. T.C. yells, "What's the matter with you up there?! He said, 'kitchen sink'!", with predictable results.
  • Late to the Punchline: Getting the core joke of the series really required an understanding of period American street culture and of the likes of Damon Runyon. A lot of kids probably only understood that it was a show about a street gang full of colorful hoods some years later.
  • Laugh Track: Like other Hanna-Barbera prime-time cartoons of the time, the show sports one. The Mexican dub removed it, however.
  • Lazy Bum: The entire gang. Proudly so. They even simultaneously shriek in horror when Dibble suggests they find jobs.
  • Legacy Vessel Naming: In Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, Benny is given by the butler an inflatable inner tube named Titanic II so he can float in the pool. Benny has the feeling he's heard that name before... naturally, Snerdly's planning to shoot it out from under him with a harpoon gun.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: The cats are treated on par with humans and they behave like humans. No one thinks twice of a bipedal cat talking to a human.
  • Literal-Minded:
    • Benny the Ball is implied to have done this in "Rafeefleas" when Choo Choo tells T.C. that Benny was at the museum:
      Choo Choo: He was standing in front of a display with a big sign that said "Watch This Space."
      T.C.: So?
      Choo Choo: So, Benny was just standing there...
      T.C. and Choo Choo together: Watching the space!
    • Brain too; in one scene of Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, Choo Choo suggests drawing straws to decide who goes up the ladder to rescue Benny. Brain, not understanding the concept, literally draws one on a pad of paper.
  • Lovable Rogue: Top Cat and his gang, of course. They're always out to get cash to get rich and afford food, but they're really nice guys at heart who don't hurt anyone except other scammers.
  • Malicious Misnaming: A running gag on the show was Top Cat calling Dibble Dribble. However, it was more in a cheeky teasing sort of way, rather than malicious. This was carried over in the Mexican dub, where "Oficial Matute" would sometimes be referred to as either "Patute" or "Matate", depending on the episode.
  • Maintain the Lie: In the episode "A Visit from Mother", Benny the Ball has told his mother that he's the mayor, so when she visits, T.C. and the gang arrange a mayoral reception.
  • Market-Based Title: In Britain there was once a Top Cat brand of cat food. This led to The BBC changing Top Cat to Boss Cat up to the late '80s. Seeing as they only changed the show's title, and not its theme song, or the lead character's name, it was rather a token gesture. The show was called by its proper title by the '90s.
  • Master of Disguise: One episode has a criminal who can do this, and used this to disguise himself as Officer Dibble.
  • Meddlesome Patrolman: Officer Dibble provides the trope picture, always trying to interfere in the gang's plans to earn money through underhanded means.
  • Mistaken for Dying: "The Late T.C." has Officer Dibble mishear a conversation between T.C. and a doctor about a broken clock and think T.C. only has one week to live. After a few more misunderstandings, T.C. figured out the situation and tries to take advantage of it. Of course Dibble eventually finds out and gets quite angry at this development.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: "The Maharajah of Pookajee" has a maharajah with a habit of giving out rubies staying in town at a fancy hotel. Top Cat, on learning of this, impersonates him with the aid of some old towels and a bag of fake rubies. Amusingly enough, when the real maharajah shows up, Top Cat ends up mistaking the real deal for another impostor.
  • Mistaken Identity: Benny is subject to a few of these, such as being mistaken for the heir to a fortune in "The Missing Heir".
  • Mock Millionaire:
    • T.C. once pretended to be a Texan millionaire to out con a couple of con artists who had tricked an immigrant hot dog vendor (who T.C. was apparently going to con himself) into investing in some worthless stock.
    • In "The Maharajah of Pookajee", a maharajah with a habit of handing out rubies is staying in town at a fancy hotel. T.C. impersonates him, with the help of a bag of glass beads. Later, T.C. ends up running into the real maharajah, but assumes he's just another impostor pulling the same scam and ends up throwing the bag of "fake" rubies the maharajah gives him into the bay.
  • Morality Chain: On a few occasions, T.C. is seen willing to go a little too far in his schemes, but the rest of the gang will object and convince him otherwise.
  • The Movie: Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, released as part of the Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10 series.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the episode "The Tycoon", a millionaire in search of a needy person to receive a million dollars from him learned from Benny how badly off the gang was, so he wrote out a check to Top Cat. As a result, when all the merchants found out, Top Cat and his bunch were treated like royalty. But in the end, they lost everything again because Top Cat tore up the check, thinking it was for a 25-cent raffle.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: In Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, if not for the butler's plans to get rid of Benny and inherit Mrs. Vandergelt's fortune, Top Cat and his gang wouldn't have found her missing niece.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Fancy's voice is basically Cary Grant.
    • In Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, Top Cat is playing pool, and when he sinks all of the balls blindfolded, the gang asks him how he did it. Top Cat then pulls out a picture of someone he claims to be his "teacher", whom the gang recognizes as "Minnesota Cats".note 
  • Non-Indicative Name: Brain is not very smart. In the comics, however, he's just as intelligent as his name implies.
  • On One Condition:
    • In "The Missing Heir", a rich person's disappeared cat had a deadline to reappear or else the butler would get the inheritance. Benny was mistaken for the missing cat, turning him into the target of the butler's ire. The real cat then appeared and got the money despite having missed the deadline. The viewers were left to assume that it was because it was the butler who caused the disappearance in the first place.
    • Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats: With the disappearance of Mrs. Vandergelt's niece Amy Vandergelt, Benny was the next in line for the inheritance. (Mrs. Vandergelt had other relatives but despised them all for unspecified reasons.) Provided that Amy didn't return and nothing bad happened to Benny in the next 48 hours, he'd get the inheritance. If something happened to him, the butler would get the money.
      Top Cat: Ah, Beverly Hills. When they try to terminate ya, they do it with class.
  • Only Known by Initials: Top Cat is often (but not always) known as T.C. (though according to the theme song, it's reserved for close friends).
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: Dibble overheard Top Cat's doctor saying the ticker was shot when TC tried to pay with a clock, and thought Top Cat was dying. Also, Dibble overheard the Chief talking about getting rid of the old wrecks (the worn out police cars) and thought he was going to be laid off.
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: At the start of Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, Benny saved a wealthy woman's life. Because she hated all her relatives (besides a missing niece), she left her entire estate to him. Assuming the niece doesn't reappear and nothing happens to him within 48 hours from her death. Of course, then it turns out she's faked her death.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Top Cat uses conniving and hucksterism to keep his gang fed in an otherwise impoverished organization.
  • Pet the Dog: Dibble's repeated failures in "The Long Hot Winter" drive him to tears and thinking he should just quit his job. Top Cat feels so bad for him that he confesses to having had an overdue library book for a few months and figures that's gotta at least be a misdemeanor. He is promptly arrested.
  • Playing Cyrano: Top Cat does it for Choo-Choo. As usual with this plan, it does not end well.
  • Prequel: Mexican movie Top Cat Begins is the prequel to both Top Cat: The Movie and the show, as it shows how the gang met.
  • Princess for a Day: In "A Visit From Mother", the gang rally round to convince Benny the Ball's mother that he's Mayor of New York, just like he said in his letters home.
  • Punny Name: The Mexican dub excelled at giving these to main characters and one-shots. The original version was more straightforward.
  • Race Against the Clock:
    • In Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, Benny must wait for 48 hours before he can inherit a fortune. Should anything happen to him during that time, the evil butler and his dog would get it. Subverted in that the urgency doesn't start until 24 hours have passed.
    • Also that the original heiress returned and the benefactress faked her death to trick the butler into revealing his true colors.
  • Rags to Riches: Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, is precisely this to Benny, and the trope even gets name-dropped at one point:
    Spook: It's the old rags to riches story.
    Top Cat: Right, except Benny could never afford the rags.
  • Real Vehicle Reveal: In the opening credits, Top Cat appears to be riding in the back of a limousine. However, as the car turns a corner, it is revealed he is actually riding on the fender.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: In trying to help Choo-Choo woo a lady cat, TC ends up drawing pistols at high noon with the lady's actual boyfriend. Of course, he rigs the duel beforehand and has Benny replace everyone's bullets with blanks, and then he feigns a fatal injury so his "Heroic Sacrifice" would get him back into everyone's good graces. Turns out, though, that Benny didn't have time to switch out the bullets, at which point T.C. stares at the bullethole going through the middle of his hat and faints dead away.
  • Recycled Premise: T.C. and the gang's trying to put numerous schemes over on Officer Dibble is reminiscent of Sgt Bilko, with Maurice Gosfield appearing on Sgt. Bilko as Private Doberman and on Top Cat as Benny the Ball.
  • Repeating So the Audience Can Hear: Officer Dibble, every time he speaks to his superiors (or someone else) over the phone.
  • Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony: In "A Visit From Mother", in which Benny's mother shows up, she attempts to "christen" a ship by whacking it with the bottle, but whacks Officer Dibble instead. Later, when she cuts the ribbon to "open" a bridge, a similar incident happens to Dibble.
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: Evil Butler Snerdly, the Big Bad of Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, has a right-hand hound named Ratsputin.
  • Ring Around the Collar: As typical of the Hanna-Barbera output, the character designs make use of this trick, which is why the cats wear clothing.
  • Sand In My Eyes: Happens when the gang adopts an abandoned baby, only to have to give him back when the mother reclaims him.
    Top Cat: What's the matter? Ain't you never seen a guy with somethin' in his eye before?
    Choo Choo: Sure we did, T.C., but not you.
  • Scarecrow Solution: T.C. and the gang guest-star in "Reigning Cats and Dogs", a crossover comic with Scooby-Doo, in which two realtors are doing a project that threatens the local suburbs. Since what they're doing isn't illegal, no matter how despicable they are, Officer Dibble pulls the Bedsheet Ghost trick to get rid of them. It takes some time to convince them it's a real ghost since Top Cat had previously tried the trick to keep his illegal gambling operation a secret and dressing up as a ghost is the first thing they teach at realtor school and, when they're finally convinced, they flee not in fear of the ghost itself but of how unprofitable the land they want becomes because of it.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: T.C. and the gang guest-star in "Reigning Cats and Dogs", a crossover comic with Scooby-Doo, in which a developer says dressing up as a ghost is the first thing they teach at realtor school. Ironically, neither of the two developers in that story pull the trick. The first two ghosts are Top Cat's gang trying to keep Officer Dibble from catching Top Cat's illegal gambling scheme, and the other ghost is Officer Dibble using a Scarecrow Solution to prevent the developers from destroying a suburb.
  • Serial Romeo: Choo-Choo. Poor guy.
  • Short-Lived Leadership: In "All That Jazz", the new cat in town, A.T. (All That) Jazz, takes over the pool hall, steals Top Cat's girlfriend, sways the gang, and gets on Dibble's good side by cleaning up the alley. This sparks a contest between Jazz and T.C., each trying to trick the other into getting out of town. When a movie producer shows up at the alley, offering T.C. a part in a Hollywood film, he assume it's another trick, as does Jazz. Benny accepts the offer and is cast in the starring role in "The Thing from the Alley." He leaves for Hollywood in a limo, accompanied by T.C. and the gang in the guise of Benny's manager, valet, vocal coach, tailor and chauffeur. Jazz consoles himself with the thought that at least the alley is now his. Not long after, Dibble catches Jazz using the police phone. He declares that Jazz is "just as bad as Top Cat" and makes Jazz and his buddy Beau keep the alley clean for thirty days.
  • Shout-Out: Lots.
    • In "Farewell, Mr. Dibble", Top Cat paraphrases Finian's Rainbow.
    • In "Rafeefleas", the cats sneak into a museum and see statues of Fred and Barney. Choo-Choo even says that he's seen the statues on television, but he can't remember where.
    • In "King for a Day", Top Cat and the gang appear on the titular game show, which is basically a Gender Flipped Queen for a Day.
  • Sleep Mask: T.C. dons one before going to sleep in his trash can, as seen in the closing credits.
  • Sliding Scale of Animal Cast: Type 7 (Equally Human and Animal Cast) — Mr. Dibble the human character is as important a character as the cat characters are.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: Closer to 1 than to 2.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats features the dog Ratsputin, who speaks entirely in a thick growly voice (though none of the characters seem to have any issue understanding him).
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Benny had four episodes dedicated solely to him, and there were several more episodes where something he did got the ball rolling. Not to mention that in Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, he got the spotlight again.
  • Stray Animal Story: The main characters are a gang of Funny Animal stray cats.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Officer Dibble, who's generally pretty good at his job, friendly with the people on his beat, and has more than once arrested some genuinely dangerous crooks single-handed and under gunfire. He just can't get the better of Top Cat... most of the time. He also has a soft spot a mile wide for T.C. and tends to get along with him just fine if he's behaving himself. At his most officious, Dibble only wants to book him on legitimate charges to win the battle of wits.
  • Talking Animal: The main cast, a gang of cats who speak perfect English.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: "The Long Hot Winter" in a nutshell. With the city covered in snow, the gang needs a warm place to stay for the winter. With Dibble's wife out of town, Top Cat gets the idea to crash at his place by exploiting an obscure law and Dibble's need to look good to his boss. Despite Dibble's best efforts to get out of this, T.C. and the gang spend four months living in his apartment.
  • Thinly-Veiled Dub Country Change: The Brazilian dub changes the original New York City setting to Brazil's federal capital of Brasília.
  • Title Scream: As the intro goes:
    "Yes, he's the chief, he's a king, but above everything, he's the most tip top... Top Cat! TOP CAT!
  • Title Theme Tune: "Top Cat, the most effectual Top Cat".
  • Unexplained Accent: The Mexican dub became famous due to the use of different Mexican accents for each of the cats. Probably one of the reasons behind its broad popularity in Latin America.
  • Verbal Tic: In Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, the dog Ratsputin, befitting his name and breed (Russian wolfhound) tends to add "-ski" to the end of most of his words.
  • Villain Protagonist: T.C. is only this in the loosest sense of the term. He runs a street gang of cats and constantly schemes to get rich, but he rarely does anything evil.
  • Violin Scam: An amusing variation happened in "The Con Men", when a pair of con artists trick an immigrant hot dog vendor from the neighborhood into buying worthless stocks in a floundering Nova Scotia oil company. T.C. then tricks the scammers into thinking he's a Texan millionaire. While they are meeting in his "office" (the alley, only spruced up), T.C. leaves for a moment only for the "teletype" (the output of which actually comes from Benny hiding under a table with a typewriter) to state that the well struck oil and the value of the shares skyrocketed. The scammers then rush to the hot dog vendor and buy back the shares at triple the price. In other words T.C. managed to pull the violin scam for a worthless item the marks had previously owned!
  • Went to the Great X in the Sky: In Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, T.C. and the gang regretfully inform the niece of Gertrude Vandergelt that her aunt has "gone to the great country club in the sky".
  • Wraparound Background: Well, this is Hanna-Barbera, after all.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: In one episode, Benny the Ball demonstrates what he would do to some guy using a garbage can as a model. He performs an airplane spin and is readying to do "the ol' bodyslam" (He names the move!), but he loses his balance and hilarity ensues.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: The show was renamed "Boss Cat" in the United Kingdom since "Top Cat" was already used there by a then-popular brand of cat food and the show was broadcast on The BBC, which frowns upon the mention of trademarks. However, this applied only to textual mentions of the title in the opening and closing credits: a rather jarring and noticeable edit was carried on both to remove said mentions, with a title card using the revised name being inserted after the opening credits. The theme song and the dialog still mentioned "Top Cat", which led to the show being known as "Top Cat" by UK audiences anyway. By 1999, the cat food brand had been discontinued, making the point of the rename moot: the title was reverted to "Top Cat".
  • Xanatos Gambit: T.C. is a master at these, even when they devolve into Xanatos Speed Chess. When his plans go terribly wrong, Top Cat never ends up worse than when he started, and someone, whether Officer Dibble or one of his gang, always comes out better off.
  • Xylophone Gag: Used in the episode "The Missing Heir" in an attempt to kill Benny via a rigged xylophone set to explode when he hits a certain note, only the tune used is "While Strolling Through The Park One Day".
  • Zany Scheme: The gang is always concocting these to try and get cash through various dishonest methods.