One of the most famous children’s cartoons (if not the most famous), but also enjoyed by the older public, is definitely Tom and Jerry. Originally created by Americans William Hanna and Joseph Barbera between 1940 and 1957, the two ever-bickering characters have become renowned worldwide, and additional programs “starring” the two were later created, including a film. The simplicity as well as rapidity of the action scenes is highly entertaining for people of all ages. The plot of these cartoon shorts is an uncomplicated one and revolves around a single idea, namely Tom’s perpetual and mostly fruitless attempts to capture Jerry, in scenes of some what might call “side-splitting mindless violence”.
Tom is a rather frustrated house cat, as his plans are often ruined by small but agile mouse Jerry, who lives in the same house, in the now classical hole in the wall. Tom is a normal feline, trying to either please his owner, initially called Mammy Two Shoes, or just get on with life by eating his food, eating small animals such as birds, relaxing or seducing female cats. Jerry’s aim, on the other hand, is mainly to steal Tom’s or his owner’s food, to stop other animals being eaten by Tom and to destroy any prospect he might have with the opposite sex.
The confrontations between the two are always violent but rarely gory, and although they depict circumstances of extreme suffering, the characters always recover with amazing speed and continue their quarrel. Tom is usually subjected to more acts of violence, as Jerry is too swift and lucky to be caught; that makes the whole situation even funnier, as Jerry is supposed to be more vulnerable before the predator. Although no one can accuse Tom of lack of resourcefulness, his irritation is so great that it leaves him prone to disasters. Tom is often squashed with the window, hit in the head with an iron or turned into wallpaper. Also, it is quite common for him to swallow dynamite. Tom is typically regarded as the evil one, as he is in conflict with most animals, who seem to back Jerry, such as Spike the bulldog, who Tom always manages to infuriate unintentionally.
Jerry is sometimes caught but never eaten, which makes Tom extremely aggravated, as the small mouse keeps escaping him every single time. When Jerry does get caught, Tom’s satisfaction and anticipation of the final moment, when he will at last get to eat Jerry, is plain to see in the great detail he prepares his long-awaited meal with. Fortunately for Jerry and riotously irritating for Tom, the main ingredient always goes missing.
Although they are mortal enemies most of the time, some episodes feature scenes of compromise and even some sort of brotherly love, which brings about the idea that they actually have a love-hate relationship, although the terms could easily be reversed.
Throughout so many decades, Tom and Jerry have brought amusement to millions of people worldwide, and even to this day their popularity is not easily achieved or surpassed.