Thomas F. Wilson

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Thomas F. Wilson
Wilson in July 2011
Thomas Francis Wilson Jr.

(1959-04-15) April 15, 1959 (age 65)
Other namesTom Wilson
Years active1979–present
Caroline Thomas
(m. 1985)
YouTube information
Years active2006–present
Subscribers40 thousand[1]
Total views8 million[1]

Thomas Francis Wilson Jr. (born April 15, 1959) is an American actor, comedian, musician, podcaster and YouTuber. He is best known for playing Biff Tannen, Griff Tannen, and Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen in the Back to the Future film trilogy (1985–1990). He also played coach Ben Fredricks in the comedy series Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000) and voices various characters, mainly villains, on the animated series SpongeBob SquarePants (2001–present).

Early life[edit]

Thomas Francis Wilson Jr. was born in Philadelphia on April 15, 1959, and grew up in nearby Wayne. While attending Radnor High School, he was involved in dramatic arts,[2] served as president of the debate team (where his partner was future New York Times columnist David Brooks), played the tuba in the high school band, and was the drum major of the school marching band. He studied international politics at Arizona State University and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. In 1979, he got his first significant stage experience as a comedian.[3]


In 1981, Wilson moved to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career.[3][4] He shared an apartment with fellow aspiring comedians Andrew Dice Clay and Yakov Smirnoff, and later joked that he "taught them both about America".[5] He had a small role in the second season of NBC's Knight Rider in an episode titled "A Knight In Shining Armor".

Wilson's breakthrough role was as the bully Biff Tannen in the 1985 film Back to the Future. He returned in the sequels Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III to not only reprise his role as Biff, but to also play Biff's grandson Griff Tannen and great-grandfather Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen. In each Back to the Future film, his character ends up in a pile of manure after trying to kill or hurt Michael J. Fox's character Marty McFly. He reprised his role as Biff and voiced various Tannen relatives in the animated series. Wilson did not reprise his role as Biff in the initial versions of Telltale's Back to the Future: The Game released in 2011, being replaced by Kid Beyond. When the game was ported to the PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One in 2015 in commemoration of the original film's 30th anniversary, Wilson returned to provide Biff's voice in these newer versions. Wilson has said that the car scene that he did with Lea Thompson in the first Back to the Future was the most difficult scene he shot, because of the nature. In between takes Wilson whispered to Thompson "I'm so sorry, Lea." to which Thompson replied with "It's just acting, Tom."

In 1992, he voiced gangster Tony Zucco in Batman: The Animated Series and police detective Matt Bluestone in the animated series Gargoyles.[citation needed] He later went to co-star with Mark Hamill in the video game Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger. It was the third chapter in the Wing Commander series, but the first to feature live action and was extremely popular at the time. The character played by Wilson was Major Todd "Maniac" Marshall, a fellow starfighter pilot to Hamill's character. Wilson also starred in the sequels Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom (1995) and Wing Commander: Prophecy (1997) and contributed his voice to the animated series Wing Commander Academy (1996) in the same role. He also guest starred in an episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in 1997.

Wilson played McKinley High School's Coach Ben Fredricks in the 1999–2000 NBC comedy drama Freaks and Geeks. In 1994, Wilson was briefly reunited with his Back to the Future co-star Christopher Lloyd in the film Camp Nowhere.

Wilson has done voice-over work for the Nickelodeon television series SpongeBob SquarePants. He has voiced many villainous characters that are physically strong and menacing, such as Flats the Flounder in the third-season episode "The Bully", The Tattletale Strangler in "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler", and the non-villainous character Reg the Club Bouncer in "No Weenies Allowed". In 2005, he played Coach Phelps in the TV series Zoey 101.[6]

In 2009, he released his first stand-up comedy special and second comedy album, Tom Wilson: Bigger Than You.[7]

He hosted a podcast, Big Pop Fun, on the Nerdist Network from 2011 to 2014. The podcast featured Tom sharing stories of his career, as well as informal chats with show business friends including Samm Levine, Blake Clark, Steve Oedekerk and "Weird Al" Yankovic.

Wilson currently maintains a YouTube channel, where he regularly vlogs. As of March 2023, his channel has over 36,100 subscribers.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Wilson married Caroline Thomas on July 6, 1985.[9] They have four children, and live in Los Angeles, California.[9]

Wilson is a devout Catholic and released a contemporary Christian album in 2000 called In the Name of the Father.[10] He is also a painter in his spare time,[11] and many of his paintings focus on classic children's toys. In 2006, he was selected to join the California Featured Artist Series at Disneyland.[12]

With the rise in popularity of the Back to the Future series, many people began to ask Wilson questions about his experiences making the films. He found the repetitive nature of the questions to be both hilarious and frustrating, and wrote a song about them titled "Biff's Question Song" which he includes in his stand-up routine.[13]



Year Title Role Notes
1985 Ninja Turf Member of Spike's Gang
Back to the Future Biff Tannen
1986 April Fool's Day Arch Cummings
Let's Get Harry Bob Pachowski
1987 Smart Alex Lieutenant Stevenson
1988 Action Jackson Officer Kornblau
1989 Back to the Future Part II Biff Tannen, Griff Tannen, Gertrude Tannen
1990 Back to the Future Part III Buford "Mad-Dog" Tannen, Biff Tannen Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
1991 High Strung Al Dalby
1993 Blood In Blood Out Det. Rollie McCann
1994 Caroline at Midnight Officer Keaton
Mr. Write Billy
Camp Nowhere Lt. Eliot Hendricks
1995 Born to Be Wild Det. Lou Greenburg
1997 That Darn Cat Officer Melvin
1998 Girl The Ticket Seller
2003 Atlantis: Milo's Return Ashtin Carnaby Voice, direct-to-video[14]
2004 The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Victor, Fish #3, Tough Fish #1 Voice[14]
2006 Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector Bart Tatlock
Zoom Dylan's Teacher
2009 The Informant! Mark Cheviron
House Broken Fire Chief Henry Decker
2010 Yohan: The Child Wanderer Kevin
2011 Rio Trapped Bird, Screaming Hang Glider Voice[14]
2012 Atlas Shrugged: Part II Robert Collins
2013 Epic Finn Voice[14]
The Heat Captain Frank Woods
Tom and Jerry's Giant Adventure Mr. Bigley, Ginormous Voice, direct-to-video[14]
2015 The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water Angry Customer #1 Voice
2021 Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans Coach Lawrence Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Knight Rider Chip Episode: "A Knight in Shining Armor"
The Facts of Life Moose Episode: "All or Nothing"
1990 Turner & Hooch Det. Scott Turner Pilot
1991–1992 Back to the Future Biff Tannen, additional voices Voice, 26 episodes
1992 Batman: The Animated Series Tony Zucco, John Grayson Voice, episode: "Robin's Reckoning"[14]
1995–1996 Gargoyles Matt Bluestone Voice, 14 episodes
1996 Superman: The Animated Series Joey Voice, episode: "A Little Piece of Home"[14]
Wing Commander Academy Todd 'Maniac' Marshall Voice, 13 episodes
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Simon Episode: "Dream Date"
Andersonville Thomas Sweet Television film
1997 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Carter Landry Episode: "Lethal Weapon"
Duckman Park Ranger Smith Voice, episode: "Short, Plush and Deadly"
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Marty Voice, 2 episodes[14] Costumer, Talk Show Host Television special
1997–1998 Fired Up Steve Summer 5 episodes
1998 Pinky and the Brain Larry Bruhn Voice, episode: "Dangerous Brains"
Men in White Ed Klingbottom Television film
The New Batman Adventures Howlin' Jake, Gotham Angels Biker Voice, episode: "Torch Song"[14]
Zoomates Mark the Polar Bear Voice, television short
Maggie Hank 2 episodes
The Angry Beavers Otis Otto, Bowling Patron Voice, episode: "Alley Oops!"
1999 The Hughleys Stan Episode: "Why Can't We Be Friends?"
Pepper Ann Coach Bronson Voice, episode: "Beyond Good and Evel/One of the Guys"
1999–2000 Freaks and Geeks Coach Ben Fredricks 6 episodes
2000–2001 Max Steel Pete Costas Voice, 20 episodes
2000 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Buster Voice, episode: "Root of Evil"[14]
2001 Nash Bridges Jack Noon Episode: "Bear Trap"
The Zeta Project Burly Boyfriend Voice, episode: "West Bound"[14]
Titus Joe Episode: "Amy's Birthday"
2001–present SpongeBob SquarePants Flats the Flounder, Tattletale Strangler, Marty, Herb Star, Regg, additional voices Voice, recurring role[14]
2002 She Spies Roger 'Rush' Gibson Episode: "Fondles"
2002–2003 Do Over Coach Dorsey 4 episodes
2003 Ed Sean Nowell 4 episodes
The Pitts Guard Voice, episode: "Ticket to Riot"
Boston Public Paul Stanton Episode: "Chapter Sixty-Six"
Stripperella Tom Green, Zumo, Painted Patron, Director Voice, 2 episodes[14]
Two and a Half Men Mike Episode: "Pilot"
2004 The Mullets Lyle Turner Episode: "Losin' It"
Rock Me Baby Buffalo Buck Episode: "Go, Otis! It's Your Birthday!"
Johnny Bravo Trent Voice, episode: "The Time of My Life/Run Johnny Run"[14]
2005 Rodney Bill Episode: "Sorry Charlie"
Zoey 101 Coach Phelps Episode: "Disc Golf"
Higglytown Heroes Truck Driver Voice, episode: "Kip's Dad Gets a Strike"
Reba Ted Episode: "Reba and the One"
George Lopez Sonny Episode: "George Drives the Batmobile"
2006 Help Me Help You Kenny 4 episodes
Still Standing Coach Kirk Stone Episode: "Still Flunking"
Cold Case Arnold Brown Episode: "Superstar"
2006–2008 Ghost Whisperer Tim Flaherty 6 episodes
2007 American Body Shop Juicy Lou 2 episodes
House Lou Episode: "Whatever It Takes"
Boston Legal Jeffrey Bass Episode: "Attack of the Xenophobes"
2008 The Spectacular Spider-Man Stan Carter Voice, 6 episodes[14]
Bones Chip Barnett Episode: "The Baby in the Bough"
Back at the Barnyard Krebs Voice, episode: "Brave Udders"[14]
2008–2009 Batman: The Brave and the Bold Sportsmaster, Catman Voice, 12 episodes[14]
2009 Psych Butch Episode: "Let's Get Hairy"
Family Guy First Step Voice, episode: "Quagmire's Baby"
Tom Wilson: Bigger Than You Himself Stand-up special
Also executive producer
2010 Adventure Time Head Marauder, Cat Man, Coal Guy Voice, 2 episodes[14]
True Jackson, VP Ben Franklin Episode: "Field Trip"
2010–2011 Big Love Ricky Jax 3 episodes
2011 Harry's Law Allan Meade Episode: "Bangers in the House"
Billion Dollar Freshmen Principal Preston Pilot
Planet Sheen Narrator, Blurg #1 Voice, 2 episodes[14]
Melissa & Joey Councilman Herbert Hancock Episode: "Play Ball"
2011–2012 Franklin & Bash Spiritual Advisor 2 episodes
2012–2016 Dragons: Riders of Berk Bucket Voice, 19 episodes[14]
2013 Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous Andrew "Drew" Stone 12 episodes
Mad Additional voices Episode: "S Cape from Planet Earth/The X-Mentalist"
2014 See Dad Run Principal Templeman 2 episodes
2015–2018 Pig Goat Banana Cricket Banana Voice, main role
2016 The Ranch Coach Fitzgerald Episode: "The Boys of Fall"
K.C. Undercover Agent Whitman Episode: "The Legend of Bad, Bad Cleo Brown"
School of Rock Mr. Finn's Dad Episode: "A Band with No Name"
2016–2018 Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia Coach Lawrence Voice, 21 episodes[14]
2017 Workaholics Barnes Episode: "The Most Dangerless Game"
Training Day Gary Milestone Episode: "Quid Pro Quo"
Doubt Anthony Kellem Episode: "Running Out of Time"
Will vs. The Future Principal Rhodes Pilot
The Mayor Governor Fillucci Episode: "Here Comes the Governor"
2017–2018 Mosaic Cliff Jones 3 episodes
2018–2019 3Below: Tales of Arcadia Coach Lawrence Voice, 9 episodes[14]
Legends of Tomorrow Henry "Hank" Heywood 9 episodes
2019 SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout Dog walker/Himself Television special
The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants Major Messy/Camoflush Voice, episode: "Captain Underpants and the Cunning Combat of the Covert Camoflush"
2020–2021 Sydney to the Max Grandpa Doug 3 episodes
2020 Wizards: Tales of Arcadia Coach Laurence Voice, episode: "Wizard Underground"
2020 NCIS Angus DeMint Episode: "Blood and Treasure"
2021–present The Patrick Star Show Cecil Star Voice, main role
2022–present Spidey and His Amazing Friends Sandman Voice,[15] 4 episodes
2022 Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years Cecil Star Voice, episode: "Help Not Wanted"

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1990 Back to the Future... The Pinball Biff Tannen uncredited
1994 Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger Maj. Todd "Maniac" Marshall Credited as Tom Wilson
1996 Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom
1997 Wing Commander: Prophecy
2000 Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force Crewman Rick Biessman
2001 Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex Rok-Ko Credited as Tom Wilson[14]
2002 Run Like Hell: Hunt or Be Hunted Craig [14]
2010 Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Videogame Catman
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Electro [14]
2011 Star Wars: The Old Republic Additional voices
2013 Back to the Future: Back in Time Video Slots Biff Tannen [14]
2015 Back to the Future: The Game 30th Anniversary Edition Credited as Tom Wilson[14]

Theme parks[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1991 Back to the Future: The Ride Biff Tannen


  • Tom Wilson is Funny! (2005)
  • Tom Wilson: Bigger Than You (2009)

Crew work[edit]

Year Title Position Notes
1989 The Last Ride Writer Short film
1996 Get Serious: Seven Deadly Subs Writer, producer 6 episodes


  • Wilson, Tom (2012). The Masked Man: A Memoir and Fantasy of Hollywood. BookBaby. ISBN 978-1624880810. Self published.


  1. ^ a b "About TomWilsonUSA". YouTube.
  2. ^ Eustache, Louis (November 2, 2016). "Tom Wilson Of 'Back To The Future' Talks Pop Art, Biff Tannen And Parallels To Trump". Konbini United States. Archived from the original on November 4, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Dennis Mclellan (March 11, 1993). "TUBA OR NOT TUBA? : Tom Wilson's Blasts of the Past Are Back". Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  4. ^ "Back to the Future™ Trilogy — Tom Wilson".
  5. ^ "What's What With … Tom Wilson". Philadelphia magazine. MetroCorp. December 3, 2008. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  6. ^ Grant, Stacey (October 29, 2015). "12 Celeb Guest Stars You Completely Forgot Were On 'Zoey 101'". MTV News. MTV. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  7. ^ "Back to the Future™ Trilogy — Tom Wilson".
  8. ^ "Tom Wilson". YouTube. Retrieved December 3, 2022.
  9. ^ a b "Tom Wilson — Bio". Tom Wilson. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  10. ^ "Thomas F. Wilson – Musician". Dusty Tuba Entertainment, Inc. Archived from the original on February 8, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  11. ^ Alexander, Bryan (October 21, 2015). "'Back to the Future': Catching up with the cast". USA Today. Gannett. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  12. ^ "Tom Wilson Artist Corner". The Art of Disney Parks. Archived from the original on November 20, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  13. ^ Zimmerman, Neetzan (November 5, 2012). "Biff Tannen Has a Business Card that Answers All Your Annoying Questions About Back to the Future". Gawker. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa "Thomas F. Wilson - 64 Character Images". Behind The Voice Actors.
  15. ^ "Alice! Mickey! Pooh! Spidey! Disney Junior Announces Slate of New Original Series and Shorts, Along With Returning Franchises, Debuting Across Disney+ and Disney Junior Platforms Through 2024 at First-Ever Disney Junior Fun Fest" (Press release). Disney Branded Television. April 29, 2022 – via The Futon Critic.

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