Tom and Jerry is an American animated media franchise and series of comedy short films created in 1940 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Best known for its 161 theatrical short films by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the series centers on the rivalry between the titular characters of a cat named Tom and a mouse named Jerry. Many shorts also feature several recurring characters.
Tom (named "Jasper" in his debut appearance) is a gray and white domestic shorthair cat. ("Tom" is a generic name for a male cat.) He is usually but not always, portrayed as living a comfortable, or even pampered life, while Jerry (whose name is not explicitly mentioned in his debut appearance) is a small, brown house mouse who always lives in close proximity to Tom.
Although many supporting and minor characters speak, Tom and Jerry rarely do so themselves. One exception is The Lonesome Mouse where they speak several times briefly, primarily Jerry, to contrive to get Tom back into the house. Tom more often sings while wooing female cats;
Nibbles is a small gray mouse who often appears in shorts as an orphan mouse. He is a carefree individual who very rarely understands the danger of the situation, simply following instructions the best he can both to Jerry's command and his own innocent understanding of the situation.
Mammy Two Shoes is a heavy-set, middle-aged black woman who often has to deal with the mayhem generated by the lead characters. Voiced by character actress Lillian Randolph, she is often seen as the owner of Tom.
"Tom and Jerry" was a commonplace phrase for young men given to drinking, gambling, and riotous living in 19th-century London, England, United Kingdom. The term comes from Life in London, or Days and Nights of Jerry Hawthorne and his elegant friend Corinthian Tom (1821) by Pierce Egan, the British sports journalist who also authoring and writing another and related novel, Boxiana. However Brewer notes no more than an "unconscious" echo of the Regency era original in the naming of the cartoon.
Beginning in 1965, the Hanna and Barbera Tom and Jerry cartoons began to appear on television in heavily edited versions. The Jones team was required to take the cartoons featuring Mammy Two Shoes and remove her by pasting over the scenes featuring her with new scenes
Filmation Studios were commissioned by MGM Television to produce a Tom and Jerry TV series, The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show, which debuted in 1980 and also featured new cartoons starring Droopy,