Did Tom and Jerry Kill Themselves?
February 10, 2015
(Shortened version of the opening. Cut to NC at his table)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. A while ago, an article appeared online, making the very grim claim that in the last episode of Tom and Jerry, they apparently committed suicide.
(As "Blue Danube Waltz" starts playing, screenshots of many articles about the aforementioned fact are shown)
NC (vo): If you search the Internet even more, you'd find there's actually a lot of articles claiming the same thing. That in the last animated short by Hanna-Barbera, the episode grimly ends with them sitting on the railroad tracks waiting for death to take them. This couldn't possibly be true, could it? But upon more research, you'd find that some channels have banned the episode and, even to this day, it gets few, if any, showings on American TV. Holy shit! This might actually be legit!
(Clips from classic Tom and Jerry cartoons start playing)
NC (vo): Did the world's most hilariously violent team-up end their days in the most disturbing way possible? (posters for some direct-to-DVD movies are shown) I mean, we all know we'd see them in other projects and even some where we wish they were dead, but did the original creators, Hanna-Barbera, really do this to them? Did Hanna-Barbera really do something so terrible to two of their most famous icons?
NC: (thinks for a second) ...Sort of. There's a bit more to the story.
(Clips from the infamous short, "Blue Cat Blues", play out as NC speaks)
NC (vo): The episode in question is called "Blue Cat Blues". And yes, it does open up with Tom sitting on the railroad tracks, waiting to be run over. Jerry watches, shaking his head, and, through inner monologue, gives us the story. Apparently, Tom and Jerry used to be the best of friends - but don't worry, they still get smashed up pretty good - until a female comes into their lives and ruins everything. Tom falls in love, pushing Jerry aside, but then she falls in love with another cat. Tom does everything to try and win her back - even selling an arm and a leg for her - but absolutely nothing works. Eventually, she ends up getting married to the other cat, resulting in Tom being so beaten and torn that he lays himself on the tracks. Jerry, of course, justifies what a perfect relationship he's got, only to find out his girlfriend as well ran off with someone else, resulting in him asking Tom if he can scoot over a bit. Um...dem dames, eh? (said caption appears) Bros before...animalised, kind of humanistic hoes?
NC: Okay, so there's a few angles to come at this from. One...
(Clips from more classic shorts are played again)
NC (vo): Tom and Jerry have been squashed, smashed, beaten, hit with every object you can imagine. I think it's more than likely they would survive the train. But then again, a flexible reality can go both ways.
(Some clips from The Addams Family are shown briefly)
NC (vo): The Addams Family, for example, have done a lot that would obviously kill them but a bullet from the gun or threat of electrocution apparently are fatal blows. You could also make the argument that their acceptance of their doom is what suddenly launches them into reality.
NC: Grey area, to be sure, but there's also the fact that Tom and Jerry's timeline doesn't follow that much continuity.
(We see some more clips from classic shorts)
NC (vo): Every episode is a little different. The house looks a little different, the owner is a little different. Hell, Jerry's adopted son Nibbles is left on his doorstep God knows how many times. What, does he just keep sending him back after every adventure? That's kinda douchey. So, again, kind of a flexible reality.
NC: Most importantly, though, well, this is one of the final episodes. It's not THE final episode.
(Clips from the last theatrical short by Hanna-Barbera, "Tot Watchers", are shown)
NC (vo): The final episode is actually called "Tot Watchers". And they don't commit suicide, they look after a baby. A fucking baby! A touch less depressing, don't you think? In fact, Hanna-Barbera still had two years of cartoons that came out after the supposed last episode. So it's pretty obvious this was meant not to be the end for our depressed duo.
NC: So, then, why the controversy of their banning from other channels?
NC (vo): Well, because Tom and Jerry ending their lives is kind of a fucking downer. People's sensitivities have changed over time to race, gender, and yes, even some forms of violence.
(Clips from Looney Tunes short "Rabbit Fire" and Donald Duck short "Up a Tree" play at one point)
NC (vo): Now, that's not to say people haven't also died from shootings and falling off high places and so forth, but the tone is still kept pretty upbeat, and in a different reality.
(Back to Tom and Jerry)
NC (vo): This, though still the punchline of the joke, is pretty heavy to watch for two main characters we know and love so much. (We see a clip from Tom and Jerry: The Movie again) Though, again, I argue not quite as hard to watch as this.
NC (vo): I remember seeing this episode when I was a little kid, and I wasn't at all disturbed by it. I got the joke. Jerry thinks he's being above it all, and that could never happen to him, and when it does happen to him, he comedically does the exact same thing. But, as much as I love grim humor, not every little kid is going to get it and could easily take it too seriously. (Articles about Tom and Jerry's "suicide" are shown again) Hell, if the Internet has shown us anything, it's that even adults can take it too seriously!
NC: So, did Tom and Jerry commit suicide in the last episode? Not really.
NC (vo): We never see them get axed off, they survive much worse, it's obviously the punchline of the joke and, most importantly, they had about a dozen cartoons after this one! If this demonstrates anything, it's that we've grown more sensitive to certain jokes in connection with certain characters. A suicide joke in an episode of Louie wouldn't be that big of a deal, but in Tom and Jerry, eh, many people can get uncomfortable. But, in turns of any grand, shocking ending people are looking for, it's certainly not here. It's a funny little episode with what they thought at the time was a funny little ending. In the end, it's not as epic or Gothic as many would suspect, it's just a silly joke about obsessing over romance.
NC: And really, when is anything related to romance in the media ever caused anybody to commit suicide?
(NC takes out his HTC tablet and promptly stops smiling. Somber, yet triumphant ending music from "Blue Cat Blues" plays. NC just watched an article about Fifty Shades of Grey being a box office hit worldwide. He looks at the camera for a moment and goes out... (in live-action/cartoon hybrid form, a la Mary Poppins) to Tom sitting on the railroad tracks. Tom scoots over and NC sits in front of him in sorrow. Iris shot)
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Tom (in deep voice, from "Mouse Trouble"): Dooon't yooou believe it!