Another new head-to-head match-up between Old and New School Cartoons! Which cartoon will prove to be victorious between our two contenders this go-around–Tom and Jerry or Family Guy? Which of these two is your personal favorite? Please let me know in the Comment form below!
The information about the two shows in this comparison is derived primarily from their two wiki sites, though my analysis and thoughts about them, and the decisions I arrive at as to who is the winner of each category and who is the Over-All Winner, are totally mine, based on the evidence I use to arrive at my conclusions. The Tom and Jerry site can be reached by clicking here, and the Family Guy one, by clicking here.
Tom and Jerry was created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Hanna and Barbera ultimately wrote and directed 114 Tom and Jerry cartoons at the MGM cartoon studio in Hollywood, California between 1940 and 1957, when the animation unit was closed. It won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film seven times, tying it with Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies as the theatrical animated series with the most Oscars. Tom and Jerry has a worldwide audience that consists of children, teenagers and adults, and has also been recognized as one of the most famous and longest-lived rivalries in American cinema. In 2000 TIME named the series one of the greatest television shows of all time.
In 1960, in addition to the original 114 H-B cartoons, MGM had new shorts produced by Rembrandt Films, led by Gene Deitch in Eastern Europe. Production of Tom and Jerry shorts returned to Hollywood under Chuck Jones’s Sib-Tower 12 Productions in 1963. This series lasted until 1967, making it a total of 161 shorts. Tom and Jerry later resurfaced in television cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera and Filmation Studios during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s; a feature film, Tom and Jerry: The Movie, in 1992 (released domestically in 1993); and in 2000, their first made-for TV short, “Tom and Jerry: The Mansion Cat” for Cartoon Network. The most recent Tom and Jerry theatrical short, “The Karate Guard,” was written and co-directed by Barbera and debuted in Los Angeles cinemas on September 27, 2005.
This sounds like a pretty awesome summation of one of the best classic Old School cartoons of all time, doesn’t it? It is still funny today, and it won many awards in its heyday, at the heights of its popularity. Pretty awesome beginning, huh? How can any cartoon compete against it, whether it be an Old or New School one? Let’s see!
Family Guy was conceived by its creator, consultant, and executive producer MacFarlane after developing two animated films, “The Life of Larry” and “Larry & Steve.” MacFarlane redesigned the films’ protagonist Larry and his dog Steve, and renamed them Peter and Brian, respectively. MacFarlane pitched a 15-minute pilot to Fox which aired on December 20, 1998. Shortly after the third season of Family Guy aired in 2001, Fox canceled the series. However, favorable DVD sales and high ratings for syndicated reruns convinced the network to renew the show in 2004.
Family Guy has been nominated for 12 Primetime Emmy Awards and 11 Annie Awards, and has won three of each. It has garnered three Golden Reel Award nominations, winning once. In 2009, it was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, the first time an animated series was nominated for the award since The Flintstones in 1961. Family Guy has also received criticism, including unfavorable comparisons for its similarities to The Simpsons.
It appears as if, despite Tom and Jerry’s great history and the fact that it has won many awards, these things are not alone a guarantee that is is the winner of this particular match-up. That’s because, though it’s a much more recent cartoon, Family Guy is also incredibly humorous, and has earned many awards. Several critics have slammed it for various reasons, like its frequent reliance on vulgar, adolescent humor, but that doesn’t stop it from being funny, and also often Cartoon Network’s biggest syndication rating success.
Category 1 – Main Characters
Tom and Jerry
* Thomas “Tom” Cat
(Clarence Nash: Vocal Effects in The Hanna-Barbera era (1940–1941); William Hanna: Vocal Effects in The Hanna-Barbera era (1942–1958) shorts, “The Lonesome Mouse,” “The Million Dollar Cat”; Billy Bletcher: 1944 Shorts: “The Bodyguard,” “Zoot Cat,” “Quiet Please!”; Daws Butler: 1956 Short: “Mucho Mouse” (and a few others as well); Allen Swift: Vocal Effects in the Gene Deitch era (1961–1962) shorts; Mel Blanc: Vocal Effects in the Chuck Jones era (1963–1967) Shorts, “Is There a Doctor in the Mouse?”; Terence Monck: 1964 Short: “The Cat Above and the Mouse Below”; Frank Welker: Tom & Jerry Kids, The Tom and Jerry Show, The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show; Richard Kind: Tom and Jerry: The Movie (speaking voice only); Bill Kopp: “Tom and Jerry: Blast Off to Mars,” “Tom and Jerry: The Fast and the Furry,” “Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers”; Jeff Bennett: Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring; Don Brown: 2005 Short: “The Karate Guard”; Don Brown: Tom and Jerry Tales; Billy West: Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale, Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes)
(Frank Welker: The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show, Tom and Jerry Kids, Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring; Dee Bradley Baker: “Tom and Jerry: Blast Off to Mars,” “Tom and Jerry: The Fast and the Furry” [uncredited], “Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers” [uncredited]; Jeff Bergman: “The Karate Guard”; Sam Vincent: Tom and Jerry Tales, Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale [uncredited]; Joe Alaskey: Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes [uncredited])
* Peter Griffin (Seth MacFarlane)
* Lois Griffin (Alex Borstein)
* Chris Griffin (Seth MacFarlane in the Pilot Pitch; Seth Green starting
in “Death Has a Shadow”; Kevin Michael Richardson while under the
influence of mushrooms in “You May Now Kiss the…Uh…Guy Who
* Meg Griffin (Rachael MacFarlane in the original Pilot Pitch; Lacey
Chabert in Production Season 1; Mila Kunis from Production Seasons
2-Present; Tara Strong did Meg’s singing voice in “Don’t Make Me
Over”; Debi Derryberry sang as Meg in the alternate opening of
“Whistle While Your Wife Works”; Lisa Wilhoit played Other Meg on
The Real Live Griffins in “Fifteen Minutes of Shame”
* Stewie Griffin (Seth MacFarlane)
* Brian Griffin (Seth MacFarlane)
The winner of this category I believe has to be Family Guy. Why? It’s a case of two styles of comedy that are used in cartoons, one that is mainly conveyed non-verbally, by the use of chase scenes, and slapstick comedic violence, the other through farce, parody, satire–in other words, primarily verbally–therefore, voices become much more important in conveying the storyline. It’s not exactly fair to compare cartoons this way–they are both great cartoons, but the comedy of both is conveyed in different manners. There are some very talented voice actors who have done the voices of Tom and Jerry over the years, but generally, they don’t speak all that much. Their humor is more often than not a non-verbal type.
Also, Seth MacFarlane is like a modern-day Mel Blanc, in that he, like Blanc, can do a wide assortment of voices very well. And, come on, Mila Kunis alone doing a cartoon character’s voice would be enough to get most red-blooded males watching it, even if the character is Meg, who is rather plain-looking, and whom even Peter refers to as a guy in many episodes. Alex Borstein was awesome in Mad TV, and does great as the voice of Lois. So, I’ll say that Family Guy won this category. What are your feelings/opinions? Do you think it’s fair to judge some Old School cartoons that are classics like this and The Roadrunner Show by the numbers of main characters and the actors and actresses involved in doing the voices?
Category 2 – Secondary Characters
Tom and Jerry
* Spike (aka: Butch or Killer. He’s a British Bulldog. From 1944 to 1949, he was voiced by Billy Bletcher; after 1949, by Daws Butler.
* Tyke (He’s the son of Spike. He doesn’t speak, just barks, whimpers, yaps, and growls. In Tom and Jerry Kids, he actually does speak, but I didn’t see anywhere
who does his voice.)
* Butch (He’s a back and white alley cat, and the leader of the alley cat bullies. He is sometimes Tom’s friend, and sometimes his rival. I didn’t find out who did his voice.)
* Toodles Galore (She’s an attractive white female cat who is also Tom’s love interest in some of the cartoons. She’s voice by Anna Plowright.)
* Mammy Two Shoes (Mammy Two Shoes is a very non-PC cartoon character. She’s an hefty plus-sized African American woman, and is Tom’s owner in the earlier cartoons from the 1940’s and 1950’s.)
* Tuffy (Voiced by Francoise Brun-Cottan, 1952–1957; Lucille Bliss 1958; Lou Scheimer for The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show; Tara Strong in Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring; Reece Thompson, later Chantal Strand in Tom and Jerry Tales; Chantal Strand in Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale; Kath Soucie in Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes; and, finally, Etsuko Kozakura in Japanese dubs of the cartoons. In the Mouseketeer shorts, his favorite catchphrase is “Touche, Pussy Cat!”
Secondary Characters – Family Guy
There are tons of secondary characters that have appeared in Family Guy episodes. Just to give you a sampling, here are a few (for a more thorough list, click here) recurring characters:
* Connie DiMico
* Evil Monkey
* Ernie The Giant Chicken
* Dr. Hartman
* Greased-up Deaf Guy
* Santos & Pasqual
* Diane Simmons (Deceased)
* Tricia Takanawa
* Paddy Tanniger (Deceased)
* Jake Tucker
* Stacy Tucker
* Tom Tucker
* Mr. Weed (Deceased)
* Mayor Adam West (Adam West)
* Ollie Williams
* Adolf Hitler (Deceased)
* Vern and Johnny (Deceased)
In the category of best Secondary Characters, I’ll say that Tom and Jerry holds its own. There are many more secondary characters than the two main ones, and some very good voice actors/actresses provide their voices. I didn’t write about any of them, except for Janet Waldo, who caught my eye because she did the voices for classic cartoon characters I really liked to watch, like Judy Jetson, Penelope Pitstop, and Josie, from Josie and the Pussycats. But, again I’ll declare Family Guy to be the winner of this category, because Seth MacFarlane does some of their voices, and he’s an incredible voice actor. I didn’t know he did Glenn Quagmire’s voice until I did research for this match-up, and Quagmire is one of my favorite Family Guy characters. And, with actors like Patrick Warburton, Norm MacDonald, Adam Carolla, and Adam West providing some of the characters’ voices, and for the fact that there numerically are so many more secondary characters than in Tom and Jerry, I’ve got to give the nod to Family Guy.
Category 3 – Over-All Concept
Tom and Jerry
What is the “over-all concept” of Tom and Jerry? Why, it’s one of the oldest ones in the world, cat chases mouse, or predator chases prey! It’s like the coyote chasing the roadrunner, or Elmer Fudd trying to shoot “that wascally wabbit,” Bugs Bunny! The humor comes into play when we see that the prey is not as helpless as it might be in real life, when we see that Jerry’s (or the Roadrunner’s, or Bugs Bunny’s) greater intellect will cause the predator to fail, time and time again. Tom sometimes will catch Jerry, or hit him with something like a shovel, which in real life would either kill or seriously injure a mouse; but, Jerry gets back at Tom and outwits him by doing something like putting Tom’s tail in an electrical outlet, or making Tom think his own tail is Jerry, and biting into a sandwich with his tail in it, etc. We know that both will continue to “live,” as we’re watching a fantasy, a cartoon, but for some reason we enjoy watching the tables get turned, and Jerry, the Roadrunner, and Bugs tricking their opponents and surviving to engage in another battle of wits in next week’s Saturday morning cartoons. Tom and Jerry sticks to this concept, follows it well, and that’s a part of the reasons we love watching it!
Family Guy also sticks to its basic premise very well, which is one of parodying both the average white American middle-class family and pop culture. Nothing is sacred–everything from religion, sex, and politics gets poked fun of, and no topic is off limits. As a result, many critics of the show, and parent organizations, have denounced the series for being too sexually suggestive, and dealing with topics that are not “politically correct” ones. Family Guy does just that, and more, and I would agree that it is not meant for kids and younger teens to view. But despite (or sometimes because of) its often vulgar or crass humor, it’s bleepin’ hilarious (IMHO, at any rate, though this opinion is not necessarily that of the editors/owners of this fine website)!
Though both cartoons have strong concepts that they follow, it’s difficult to compare them head-to-head because they are so different in many ways. They are both excellent cartoons, but both approach comedy in very different ways. It really might not be fair to either one to compare them head-to-head, but they’re both cartoons I have loved and still do, so whichever one ends up as the Over-All Winner is not me saying that the other one is not a great cartoon.
Tom and Jerry
There are so many classic episodes to chose from, and they’re all great, but I’ll choose “The Two Mouseketeers.” It came out in 1952 and was an American one-reel animated cartoon. It is the 65th Tom and Jerry short. It was produced in Technicolor and released to theatres on March 15, 1952 by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. It was produced by Fred Quimby and directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, with musical supervision by Scott Bradley. The cartoon was animated by Ed Barge, Kenneth Muse and Irven Spence. The character of Nibbles was voiced by Francoise Brun-Cottan, then six years old. “The Two Mouseketeers” won the 1951 Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons. Hanna and Barbera went on to create a total of four adventures in the Mouseketeers series. The second of the four, 1954’s “Touché, Pussy Cat!” (another fave of mine!) got an Oscar nomination.
This is one of my favorite New School Cartoons. It and The Simpsons top my list as the two best New School Cartoons. I have many “favorite,” episodes, but the one I’ll choose is the one where Peter Griffin decides to form his own country, “E. Peterbus Unum.” It premiered July 12, 2000. The synopsis at the wiki site doesn’t do it justice, but to give you an idea of what the episode is about, here it is in full:
When his neighbors gets such a large tax refund, Peter decides to use his for a swimming pool, only to learn he isn’t entitled for a refund. Disappointed when he learns that city codes forbid pools in his area after trying to build one, Peter decides to fight City Hall. When he discovers that there is no record of his property in the city records, he declares his land a country and makes himself the president.
What are “intangibles”? They’re the sorts of things that can be hard to define about your favorite cartoon, or anything else, that gives you a reason to like it, dislike it, hate it, etc. For instance, for past head-to-head match-ups, I’ve discussed which cartoon had the best theme song, the most merchandising associated with it, memorable catchphrases and laughs of certain characters, and other factors, like if a character ever had a balloon in the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade or a cartoon ever had a movie made of it.
I weigh this category heavier than any other, because it’s the intangibles that often make a difference on how much we like a cartoon when it’s compared to another one. Will the intangibles also make a difference in this case? Will Tom and Jerry be able to make a comeback, by winning this category, and become the Over-All Winner, or will Family Guy continue its winning ways, and be the victor?
Tom and Jerry has a memorable theme song, but, as far as I know, there are no words to it–it’s an instrumental. Family Guy, on the other hand, has a memorable theme song that I like singing along to–it’s fun and catchy. So, I ‘d say that as far as theme songs go, I like Family Guy’s more.
But, as far as merchandising goes, if only because it’s been around for decades longer, there have been more products made with Tom and Jerry’s faces advertising them. That is changing rapidly, though, as I’ve seen the characters of Family Guy on products ranging from pens, to shot glasses, to action figures, video games, and clothing. They may have already caught up to Tom and Jerry, but I’m giving the Old School cartoon the benefit of the doubt here.
I’m not sure if Tom and/or Jerry have ever been balloons in any parade–I don’t believe so, but I might be wrong–but, neither have the characters of Family Guy. Now, neither Tom nor Jerry speak much, so they don’t have catchphrases associate with them, though Nibbles/Tuffy as a Mouseketeer has the relatively famous line “Touche, Pussy Cat!” Stewie on Family Guy has a couple, though, like: “Victory is mine!” and “What the deuce?” Also, Quagmire often says: “Gigidi, gigidi!” and “Oh, yeah!” when in the presence of the opposite sex.
Jerry the Mouse has been in at least one famous movie that comes to my mind, “Singing In the Rain,” in which he dances with Gene Kelly. Also, they have appeared in their own animated movies, like Tom and Jerry and the Magic Ring and Tom and Jerry: The Movie. The characters of Family Guy have been in Star Wars paradies, but I don’t believe they’ve been in any movie that debuted in movie theaters yet.
Who Is the Over-All Winner?
I’d say that Family Guy has won the most categories, and did well enough in the “Intangibles” category not to lose their lead. That’s why I’m saying that it’s the official “Over-All Winner.” However, both cartoons are winners, both are much loved, and I would say that Tom and Jerry is the favorite of these two with most kids and younger teens. It would most likely be the “Over-All Winner” for this age group, as the subject matter Family Guy often deals with is not suitable for younger viewers, who might not get the references, anyway. So, though I’m declaring Family Guy as the “Over-All Winner,” it might be more fair to say it is for older teens/adults, and Tom and Jerry is the “Over-All Winner” for everyone else. What are your opinions as to the “Over-All Winner”? Please leave your comments below!