What happened in the last episode of the Tom and Jerry original series? Explained
The legendary cartoon characters Tom and Jerry entertained audiences from 1940 to 1958 with their hilarious slapstick cat-and-mouse chases. While the original series ended decades ago, debates continue among fans over what the final episode of the series was.
Tom and Jerry first appeared in the 1940 MGM animated short, Puss Gets the Boot, created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Though initially intended as a one-off cartoon, the cat and mouse duo quickly gained popularity, starring in their own official series by the next year.
After nearly two decades of cat-and-mouse mayhem, the Tom and Jerry theatrical shorts series by Hanna-Barbera came to an end in 1958. Since then, fans have argued over which of the later classic-era shorts marks the real finale to the original run. Some cite the very last release, while others point to more somber episodes closer to the end that could imply finality.
An overview of the Tom and Jerry series
The story of the series centers on the eternal conflict between a gray housecat named Tom and a small brown mouse called Jerry. Tom is always trying to catch Jerry using traps, tricks, and any means necessary. Jerry, in turn, does whatever he can to outwit the cat and cause trouble. Though they are supposed enemies, the duo seem to enjoy outsmarting each other and often team up when facing a common threat.
The original series of Tom and Jerry shorts were produced by MGM Animation. During their initial run until 1958, the series won seven Academy Awards for the innovative animation and dynamic chase gags that inspired generations to come. After the original series ended, the franchise deteriorated but continued to live on through various reboots over the next 60 years.
Tot Watchers, Blue Cat Blues and other contenders for the last episode of the legendary series
There are a few classic episodes which fans argue over as potentially being the final episode of the original run. One possibility is Tot Watchers from 1958, which was the 114th and last short released by Hanna-Barbera under MGM.
In this episode, Tom and Jerry are tasked with babysitting a wandering toddler who gets into danger at a construction site. They try various methods to protect the child as she explores the site. By the end, the toddler's distracted babysitter is scolded by the mother for neglecting the girl while talking on the phone.
Another oft-cited candidate is Blue Cat Blues from 1956.
This darker episode shows Tom and Jerry sitting depressed on some railroad tracks, waiting for a train to end their sadness over lost loves. The ambiguous ending implies possible death by suicide for the duo. However, this tragic interpretation was never explicitly confirmed by the show's creators.
A third option some fans point to is The Karate Guard from 2005. This was the final theatrical short produced, albeit decades later, by Warner Bros Animation. In it, Tom and Jerry are continually bothered by Spike bulldog, the deuteragonist of the series, and eventually team up to defeat the dog using a rat who knows karate. They call a truce at the end of the short.
While The Karate Guard was the last movie short produced, most fans and animation historians agree that Tot Watchers served as the conclusion to the original run. As the 114th short made by Hanna-Barbera, it wrapped up their classic era from 1940-1958 which earned the series widespread acclaim and awards.
The tragic tone of Blue Cat Blues may lead some fans to assume it was the finale, but it actually premiered in 1956. Meanwhile, The Karate Guard was an official Tom and Jerry production but made specifically for theaters much later than the original series timeframe.
With Tot Watchers ending on a sweeter note of the duo caring for a child, it reflects the evolution of the series from adult theaters to more family-friendly slapstick over the golden age of its animation.
In conclusion, while the exact final episode is debated, popular consensus is that Tot Watchers marked the end of the initial beloved Tom and Jerry run that defined the characters. The original Hanna-Barbera shorts stand as classic animation that influenced comedy for generations. While the series continued in revivals, their original era of cat-and-mouse comedy cemented their legacy in animation history.
Tom and Jerry shorts are considered the most influential in animation history, shaping cartoon comedy forever through their gags. Beyond accolades and awards, the characters themselves became cultural icons and global superstars. While their eternal rivalry continues through modern reboots, the original series and its 114 shorts will always be remembered as classic animation.