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  • Accidental Aesop:
    • "Blue Cat Blues" has quite a few:
      • Your love life will not grind to a halt just because your first love cannot work things out with you. It's not worth throwing your life away over your first romantic rejection. There are other fish in the sea.
      • Watch out for Gold Diggers. Ditch the parasites as soon as you find out no matter how pretty or charismatic they are. It's not worth it.
    • "Pet Peeve" can be taken as a lesson about taking long-term costs into account when buying high-maintenance pets while also advocating getting a low-maintenance pet instead if you are already struggling to pay your bills.
  • Accidental Innuendo:
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Several cartoons imply that Tom and Jerry are actually friends who enjoy their game of chase. The comics and The Movie made it pretty explicit.
    • Also, fans who view Jerry as the Villain Protagonist. Of course, in some cartoons, he explicitly is.
    • Similarly, does Tom really chase and/or torment Jerry for the heck of it, or is he just doing his job under his owners' orders? It's telling that when he gets drunk, he acts friendly towards Jerry and antagonistic towards Mammy.
    • Is Spike the world's worst guard dog? He spends more time helping Jerry out than guarding the house like he's supposed to.
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    • Most of Tom's owners are surely raging sociopaths. How many real-life cat owners commit severe physical abuse against their pets just because they happen to have (for example) stolen an item of food?
  • Archive Panic: The original MGM series lasted for the better part of 20 years, and that's not counting the Deitch and Jones shorts, TV shows, and movies, if you're really a completist.
  • Awesome Music:
    • The music from Mouse In Manhattan featured Louis Alter's cover of "Manhattan Serenade" — which was later used for The Godfather.
    • "Solid Serenade" and "Saturday Evening Puss".
    • As far as the Deitch shorts go, his final cartoon, "Carmen Get It", is light-years ahead of any of his prior shorts in the soundtrack department, swapping out the sparse, tinny music previously used for a decent-sized orchestra and some actually very good renditions of the music from Carmen.
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    • "Cat and Dupli-Cat" begins with Tom singing the classical Neapolitan song "Santa Lucia". The song is a leitmotif throughout the short, and it ends with Jerry stumbling drunk across the docks while mumbling and hiccuping the end of the song.
    • "The Cat Above and the Mouse Below" has Tom and Jerry duking it out over "Largo al factotum" from The Barber of Seville. Complete with awesome singing parts from both, no less.
    • "The Two Mouseketeers" replaces the regular opening theme with a faster, more energetic of Nelson Eddy's "Soldiers of Fortune" that sets up the swashbuckling adventure tone very well.
  • Badass Decay: Tom is much more of a threat in his early appearances. Compare how much of a dominating force Tom is in the first few episodes and how easy he is to beat as time went on. Played with since by the end of Hanna Barbara's run, Tom has more instances of outright defeating Jerry.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Jerry. Many Tom fans hate him and think he's a jerk who provokes Tom. Other fans, however, prefer Jerry over Tom.
    • Mammy Two-Shoes. While she definitely earns Ethnic Scrappy points these days, she is still often considered the most iconic and humorous of Tom's owners due to her matriarchal Sassy Black Woman personality. Generally her character goes down better with those who grew up with redubbed shorts than the originals, given they toned down some of the Values Dissonance of her character.
  • Contested Sequel: Or series in this case, as depending on who you ask, there can be different cut-offs and zig-zags:
    • The Cinemascope Hanna-Barbera shorts has increasingly lower background quality, which is pretty jarring when some of the shorts are remaking the old ones, such as "Feedin' the Kiddie" compared to "The Little Orphan", possibly attributed to lower budget (as it's the last batch of Hanna-Barbera shorts) despite the wider screen dimension.
    • The Deitch shorts are often contested. While the slapstick was kept and in some instances being Denser and Wackier, the background, animation, and other characters often suffer in quality.
    • The Chuck Jones shorts, while generally considered better than most if not all other post-Hanna-Barbera installments, are either loved or hated, chief reason is because of the blatant Art Shift (especially where in many of the shots, Tom looks more Ugly Cute than cute) and how the chase pace is slower where in many cases Tom and Jerry rely more on tools and wits than chases, possibly due to the Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner spiritual influence, which Jones were famous of. Jones himself didn't care much for the Tom and Jerry shorts he did, but they did give him practice for when he created the TV adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
    • The 70s era dumps the iconic slapstick in favor of walking together in a row, but those who watched it might found it better than Deitch and Filmation these days. It's also held in higher esteem by general Hanna-Barbera fans.
    • The Filmation Tom and Jerry, despite the return of traditional cat-and-mouse formula, gets more dislikers due to each episode reusing the same music and repetitive slapstick. It started the trend of other MGM cartoon characters entering into the franchise, but it seems people think it was better handled later.
    • Tom & Jerry Kids is neck and neck with the Jones era for second best by most, as it retains the original cat-and-mouse slapstick formula. But it still has some detractors, mostly due to the Totally Radical The '90s aesthetics.
    • And finally, the recent incarnations, the DTV features and Tom & Jerry Tales are in decent standing with plenty of people on the other side.
    • Similar to others, The Tom and Jerry Show (2014) seems to be very well liked by certain people and viewed as inferior to the DTV line by others.
    • To the same extent, the DTV line is still running with that good old fashioned HB polarizing attitude in full effect, with some questioning why it even still continues to exist, while others support it every year and dismiss the haters as an internet periphery.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes gets a pretty noticeable case of this if you happen to be a Sherlock Holmes fan. In one scene, Holmes mentions the case of the Red-Headed League and Watson responds that it was a crime perpetrated by Holmes' nemesis, Moriarity. The Red-Headed League caper was actually masterminded by a criminal named John Clay. However, this could be a reference to the 1985 adaption starring Jeremy Brett, where Moriarty was the mastermind, with Clay being his pupil.
    • "Rock'n'Rodent" really should've been called "Jazzin' Jerry"; the music in the cartoon sounded closer to upbeat jazz than what rock & roll sounded like when the cartoon was released in 1967.
  • Designated Hero: Jerry skirts this line in many cartoons. Nowhere is this worse than in "The Two Mouseketeers", which Tom's death is somehow treated as heroic despite Tom not doing anything heinous and Jerry and Nibbles showing no remorse for him. This title occasionally applies to the Gene Deitch shorts' interpretation of Jerry the most accurately, in which the mouse is exaggerated from a (at least) somewhat sympathetic, if mischievous, character confronting the genuine threat of being eaten by Tom (or another cat) into a quasi-Jerkass who torments Tom for seemingly no reason.
  • Designated Villain: By the same token, we're almost never meant to be rooting for Tom, even if he didn't actually do anything to provoke Jerry (or if Jerry doesn't even have the right to be provoked, like in the short when he screws with Tom's piano recital because it was disturbing his sleep or the one where he ruins Tom's game of golf because again, it disturbed Jerry's sleep; never mind that Jerry's the idiot who decided to set up shop in a concert hall's grand piano or inside the hole at a golf course).
  • Dork Age:
    • The Gene Deitch shorts, which wreck the formula by giving Tom a Jerkass owner who beats the stuffing out of him whenever he slips up, whilst additionally amplifying Jerry's more malicious side to further push Tom into a needlessly tormented Butt-Monkey. Moreover, it suffered a lot of animation errors, incredibly stiff movement and sparse, tinny background music (all immense comedowns from the fluid animation and lush, vibrant score of the MGM shorts) populated by obnoxious electronic sound effects.
    • Not to mention the 1975 TV series, which suffers from similarly low-budget animation and the show's main premise of Tom and Jerry (thanks to the omnipresent influence of Moral Guardians during production) becoming friends, which surgically removed both the slapstick and conflict from a series formerly devoted almost entirely to slapstick and conflict, which many fans believe left little more than an empty shell of dull shenanigans in its place.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Tom never ever did anything wrong! Tom was only following his instincts, how dare Jerry object to being eaten! And trying to stop poor Tom from eating his friends or selling them off? For shame!
    • Jerry is a cute lovable mouse! It doesn't matter if he ruins Tom's life again, again, and again! note  It doesn't matter if he steals food and other things from the house's owners! That dirty tomcat deserves all the abuse he gets!
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Jerry's more consistent family members are often fan favourites:
      • Muscles, Jerry's "tough guy" cousin and one of the most unambiguously badass characters on the show, who also underwent a bit of Memetic Mutation. It's easy to forget that he only appeared in one short.
      • Uncle Pecos, Jerry's uncle for being The Juggernaut and having a very catchy song. Nothing and I mean nothing, is going to get in the way of him using Tom's whiskers as replacement guitar strings.
    • Tupo from Neapolitan Mouse is also fondly remembered for being a Bully Hunter and a fan of the silent duo.
    • Despite only appearing in one episode each, both Eagle (from "Flirty Birdy") and Lion (from "Jerry and the Lion") were fondly remembered enough to be playable characters in Tom And Jerry: War Of The Whiskers.
  • Ethnic Scrappy: Mammy Two-Shoes. Later TV airings would dub her with a less "stereotypical" voice, but it didn't last long.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop:
    • Stealing food is good. Punishing those tasked to stop you is good. It's arguably meant to act as Truth in Television. Jerry is a mouse and thus takes whatever food is available to survive, making him more of a Loveable Rogue. Though, granted, there are shorts where he steals a bit more than his own means.
      Human: Besides, a mouse doesn't eat very much...
      *Jerry glances at a huge pile of stolen food hidden in his mousehole*
    • "Blue Cat Blues" more or less seems to suggest that suicide is the best solution to a lousy love life, as Jerry's inner monologue laments, "It's better this way."
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • In an odd example, Tom and Jerry and their fellow MGM characters are in the middle of one. Namely because even though the MGM cartoons are legally Time Warner property (via their acquisition of Turner Broadcasting in 1996), there is next to no use of MGM as a brand (likely because MGM still exists as a separate company). As a result, Warner Bros. and fans tend to lump them either in with Looney Tunes, due to being from the same era and influence of Tex Avery, etc., or with Hanna-Barbera because they created Tom and Jerry and their company and/or the men themselves worked on many of the recurring MGM characters at some point. These two fandoms have some issues regularly but there is some animosity which one Tom and Jerry and friends are better off with.
    • With Harveytoons due to Tom and Jerry fans seeing Herman and Katnip as a cruder ripoff.
    • Warner Bros. originally seemed to split the difference in home media— they put MGM cartoons as extras on Looney Tunes Blu-Rays but also moved their planned DVD releases to the Warner Archive where most of the Hanna-Barbera library was released, likely assuming, one way or another, they'd see which approach worked.note  Presently it seems WB is lumping them more in with Hanna-Barbera, as witnessed by having Tom and Jerry cross over with Jonny Quest and having Tom and Jerry items show up on Wbshop when you select Hanna-Barbera. In mid 2017, they also rebranded the Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection into the Hanna Barbera Diamond Collection.
  • Fanfic Fuel: What would happen if Tom even caught Jerry? The possibilities have been speculated since the beginning.
  • First Installment Wins: The original MGM series of shorts are usually considered the best of the entire franchise, particularly the first ones made by Hanna Barbara.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Tom and Jerry would, in some of the original shorts, be friends and speak, though in sporadic Played for Laughs sequences, several of these episodes end with something always coming between their friendship, making them fight again. These elements are what are most reviled about The Tom And Jerry Show from the 1970's, and Tom and Jerry: The Movie.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Tom and Jerry has always been an incredibly noteworthy part of American animation since its debut, but its use of Mickey Mousing helps to grow its audiences outside of the United States, because so little of the series (including its humor) has to be translated into foreign languages. As a result, there are countries where Tom and Jerry is much more popular and well-known than Looney Tunes. A particular example is the series' popularity in Japan, where (at one point in time) it was not only the only non-anime series to make an audience top-100 list, at #58, it beat out other series such as Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- and Ghost in the Shell!
  • Growing the Beard:
    • The earliest cartoons featured Tom and Jerry looking more like a real cat and mouse, and making real animal sounds. Hanna and Barbera soon realized that this made them too much like laughing at animals getting hurt, and anthropomorphized them a little more. The design refinements were also simply a cost factor: It was much more time-consuming and painstaking to draw realistic fur on Tom, so they made his design much cleaner so it would be easier for the animators.
    • The fifties era Hanna-Barbera shorts gained a better grasp of the grey dynamic between the two. The slapstick was more free game, Tom usually avoided being a Designated Villain, with Jerry either having a more benevolent personality or being punished whenever he surpassed Tom's mean streak. Their Friendly Enemy chemistry was also displayed on a more regular basis. Most of the supporting characters had also been fully established and different backdrops from the usual household were frequently used, making for less formulaic scenarios.
    • For some, this even applies to Gene Deitch's shorts, as quite a few fans felt that "Carmen Get It" was where Deitch and the animators finally managed to nail the Tom and Jerry formula. Unfortunately for Deitch, that was the last short he worked on for the series; MGM pulled the plug on his team and gave the series to Chuck Jones immediately afterwards.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight
    • Used to be the #1 Cat Cartoon in Japan. Then from the shadows a weirder talking cat took the crown. (Even funnier is that show and T&J are both on Cartoon Network.)
    • Tom and Jerry are widely considered to be the greatest silent comedy duo in animation. Their two creators would go on to start an animation studio notorious for extremely dialogue-heavy cartoons.
    • Clarence Nash provided voice work, usually Tom's hisses and meows, in the earliest shorts. He ironically never voiced the blatantly Donald Duck-inspired Little Quacker in later cartoons.
    • In "Heavenly Puss", Jerry gets out of the way of the falling piano by running away at a right angle. Tom tries to run away from it. Sound familiar?
    • In the 1955 cartoon "That's My Mommy!", Quacker mistakes Tom for his mother. In 2013, a real-life case was documented of a mother cat adopting orphaned baby ducklings.
    • "The Unshrinkable Jerry Mouse" features a white kitten with blue eyes and a red patch on its face that bears an uncanny resemblance to Shouto Todoroki.
    • "Jerry's Cousin" has the titular character blowing his thumb to inflate his fist before using it as a Megaton Punch against Tom. As a fellow feline, Rob Lucci can certify it's effectiveness.
    • Chuck Jones originally created the Road Runner shorts as a parody of Tom and Jerry's chase format and how simplistic and interchangeable the plots were. Not only did Jones later get control over the series itself in the 60s, but ended up admitting he had a difficult time grasping it fully.
  • Ho Yay:
    • There's some of this as well, considering the fact that both Tom and Jerry are males. Jerry even kissed Tom more than once, just to annoy him.
    • The 1945 short "Flirty Birdy" revolves around Tom dressing himself in drag to seduce a male hawk who snatched Jerry from him. After much flirtation and shenanigans that would put Pepé Le Pew to shame, the cartoon ends with the two apparently married and Tom (somehow) laying eggs.
    • In one episode of The Tom and Jerry Show, Jerry is hit with a love potion and falls madly in love with Tom, to the point where he is willing to let Tom eat him.
  • Hype Backlash: Widely considered to be one of the greatest theatrical cartoon series from The Golden Age of Animation, but in the internet age, a handful of notable animation personalities such as John Kricfalusi and Cartoon Brew editor Amid Amidi have criticized the shorts for their formulaic stories and alleged "workman-like" animation. Animation historian Michael Barrier is also not a fan of the series, claiming that nothing actually happens in the cartoons (alternatively describing the majority of the shorts' events as merely distractions from definitive plot, characterization or 'real' gags).
  • Jerkass Woobie: Tom is often punished for his own cruelty towards Jerry, usually ironically, but there are times where he becomes the victim of Jerry without provocation, and Jerry can go way too far in his retaliation at times. Tom also tends to be treated like dirt by several other characters (including his owners and Spike) for little to no good reason, and, for the most part, Tom chases Jerry away because he's ordered to do so, rather than any actual malice towards the mouse.
  • Misaimed Marketing: Tom & Jerry baby diapers by Onwards.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • A rare equal opportunity example. While there are times Tom is just asking for a comeuppance, the shorts were often perfectly willing to exemplify when Jerry's antics crossed from karmic or mischievous to outright malicious, usually leading to a rare Laser-Guided Karma victory for Tom. In some cases, both characters had gone to such vile measures against the other that they would usually face equal punishment.
    • In one episode, Tom attempts to shoot Nibbles.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • The opening theme in the Hanna-Barbera shorts as a whole would fit under this, but it's the conclusion of the theme (as the "Produced by Fred Quimby" title card would appear) that's especially beautiful.
    • One of the best inclusions of the Gene Deitch era was adding a closing fanfare version of the theme when the cartoon ended.
    • Tom's iconic "leather-lunged scream" (as described by The Other Wiki), performed by Hanna himself.
    • The loud rifle crack when someone takes a massive hit from something or a few other instances like a light bulb breaking or an actual gun going off.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games:
    • The SNES game is just another bland platformer, where the player, as Jerry, plays through a series of stages, running around until he hits the end of each stage and fights Tom. Along the way, he can pick up peas that he can use to throw at his enemies. The music is composed of nothing but random beeps. The game's multiplayer aspect is no better; to quote a YouTube commentator:
    So, lemme get this straight, both players, not even playing at the same time, have to complete the level, and if one dies they switch.
    • Averted with The House Trap on the PS1, which is a decently fun Spy vs Spy clone with a well-designed home level.
    • Also averted with Fists of Furry on the N64. A Tom and Jerry fighting game might sound like a recipe for disaster, but the end result is a competent Power Stone clone with the cartoon's slapstick elements mixing into the formula very nicely. It later got a spiritual sequel for the PS2 and Gamecube with War of the Whiskers.
  • Ron the Death Eater: While Jerry is by no means a saint, fans tend to make him out to be an outright malicious monster simply for going overboard with his retaliations against Tom regardless of whether or not it was provoked. Many fans also claim that Jerry is actually the bad guy and the instigator in all their altercations. The truth is that neither one is by any means innocent, being victim and provoker in almost equal measure, but Tom just gets the Draco in Leather Pants pass because he's an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain and gets more abuse (and even then there were some occasions Tom won undeserved instead).
  • Rooting for the Empire: Tom. This actually made its way in-universe to some extent. Allegedly Hanna and Barbera got several letters from fans rather irked by the heavy punishment Tom suffered in many early shorts. As a result, many more later shorts actually let Tom get the last laugh (most of which were karmic victories due to Jerry starting the feud).
  • The Scrappy: The Clint Clobber-like owner from the Gene Deitch shorts, who would lash out at Tom and beat him in ways that are far too harsh and cruel to be funny.
  • Sophomore Slump:
    • The second major Tom & Jerry era, Gene Deitch's run, is often considered one of its worst eras, if not the absolute worst.
    • Oddly enough, Chuck Jones's era has something of an inversion — his second short, "The Cat Above and the Mouse Below," is often regarded as the best one that he did.
  • Squick:
    • "Heavenly Puss": The implied causes of death of the cats in line for the train — most particularly the kittens in a burlap sack.
    • In "The Karate Guard", the samurai bulldog slices through Tom top-to-bottom at one point. Tom is facing the camera and we don't see anything, but we heard this disturbing wet sound of stuff falling out before he passes out out of frame. Jerry stares at the audience with a wide-eyed look of shock!
    • The infamous "The Two Mouseketeers" cartoon, in which Tom is beheaded, albeit off-camera for obvious reasons.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song:
    • The direct-to-video films (such as "Tom & Jerry & The Magic Ring") feature a sound-alike to the classic Tom & Jerry theme. Averted in Spy Quest, which springs for the original theme.
    • In the case of "The Karate Guard", not only does the opening horn fanfare sound similar to the ones in the classic cartoons, but Warner Bros. designed their Vanity Plate to look very identical to MGM's blue-background cartoon intro (they can't use the logo itself because MGM is still a separate company — they just own the pre-1986 stuff thanks to the 1996 merger with Turner Broadcasting, who acquired the library in 1986 after having MGM/UA for 74 days, then returning it).
  • Tough Act to Follow: Like most cartoon series' from The Golden Age of Animation, the original shorts are iconic. Any re-imaginings that followed are up for debate.
  • Ugly Cute:
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Tom. It's been said that you know you're a grown-up when you watch T&J and start rooting for him. Even in the episodes where Jerry wasn't harassing him, such as "Blue Cat Blues" Tom gets sympathy from fans for not winning the affections of a female cat and losing her to Butch. He's even nearly Driven to Suicide at one point. Worse, you later realize that the female cat Tom was chasing after was a Gold Digger and very shallow which makes Tom's failure to get the girl a blessing of sorts, sure. But it also means he was wasting his time on someone who wouldn't have done right by him even if he succeeded in winning her over, which in some ways makes the episode that much more sadistic.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Jerry, to the point most consider him a Villain Protagonist, as many episodes feature him as the instigator of the conflict. The few that don't, weren't written until he had a long history of brutally harassing and physically harming Tom, in some episodes even getting him killed off-screen. Making this worse, is that even in said episodes, he goes way too far in his retaliations. It doesn't help that he is consistently portrayed as a thief who steals much more food from Tom than he would ordinarily need.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • The many Black Face gags and Mammy Two-Shoes' original voice.
    • At the end of "Blue Cat Blues", Tom and Jerry's superficial love interests both ditch them for richer suitors, leaving the pair heartbroken, so they both decide to commit suicide and put themselves out of their misery by waiting on train tracks for a train to come and run them over. A train starts to rumble along towards them, comical music starts playing, and the short irises out to the usual MGM logo outro, suggesting the coda was supposed to be another amusing punchline. Most modern day viewers find the suicide joke to be more disturbing than anything.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion:
    • It is easy for first-time viewers to assume that Jerry is a female since he has long eyelashes, round features, a light color palette, a tendency to kiss Tom, and a motherly protectiveness over his sidekick, whether it be a younger mouse, baby bird, duckling, or puppy. In Tom and Jerry: The Movie as well as his cameo in Anchors Aweigh, he even has a female voice actress. Let's not forget, his original name was the gender-nonspecific "Jynx", and even "Jerry" can be a Tomboyish Name or nickname.
    • Tuffy can be victim to this, especially when written as older than an infant. The DTV movies have Kath Soucie voicing him, and is especially jarring considering she voiced Lil and Phil from Rugrats.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Thanks to MGM's hefty budgets and the skilled work of several master animators, the original shorts feature some of the best character animation by a non-Disney studio. This is particularly true of the 1940s shorts, when the majority of the shorts' runtime was heavily populated with surprisingly nuanced and expressive character animation from the likes of Ray Patterson, Irv Spence and Ken Muse, in addition to similarly impressive effects work (the effects animation in Heavenly Puss for the hell scenes is still stunning nearly a century later).

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