Thomas F. Wilson

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Thomas F. Wilson
Tom Wilson photo by Josh Alder.jpg
Wilson at Helium Comedy Club in
Portland, Oregon on July 16, 2011
Born Thomas Francis Wilson, Jr.
(1959-04-15) April 15, 1959 (age 56)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
Other names Tom Wilson
Occupation Actor, stand-up comedian, voice actor, writer, musician, painter
Years active 1983–present
Spouse(s) Caroline Thomas (m. 1985)
Children 4

Thomas Francis Wilson Jr. (born April 15, 1959) is an American actor, writer, musician, painter, voice-over artist, comedian, and podcaster. He played Biff Tannen, Griff Tannen and Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen in the Back to the Future trilogy, and Coach Ben Fredricks on NBC's Freaks and Geeks.

Early life[edit]

Wilson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and raised in nearby Wayne, Pennsylvania. While attending Radnor High School, he was involved in dramatic arts; was president of the debate team, where his partner was future New York Times columnist David Brooks; and played tuba in the high school band and was drum major of his marching band. He studied international politics at Arizona State University.

Wilson attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. While in New York, he got his first "real" stage experience as a comedian.[citation needed]


In the early 1980s, Wilson moved to Los Angeles to further pursue his career.[citation needed] He shared an apartment with fellow aspiring comedians Andrew Dice Clay and Yakov Smirnoff, and later joked that he "taught them both about America."[1]

Wilson had a small role in the second season of NBC's Knight Rider in an episode titled "A Knight In Shining Armor".

His breakthrough role was as the villain, bully Biff Tannen, in the 1985 film Back to the Future. When Back to the Future became a trilogy, he was asked to perform in these sequels again as Biff's grandson Griff Tannen and Biff's great-grandfather Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen.[citation needed] His famous catchphrases include: "Hello! Hello! Anybody home? Think, McFly, think!",[2] "What are you looking at, Butthead?", "Say hi to your mom for me", and "Why don't you make like a tree and get out of here". In every Back to the Future film, he always ended up in a pile of manure (in reality, a pile of decayed sphagnum and other plant matters) when 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 played the role of a Detroit police officer in the 1988 film Action Jackson.

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 in Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, a video game with Mark Hamill. 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 of 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. Coach Fredricks dated Bill Haverchuck's mother. Wilson was briefly reunited with his Back to the Future co-star Christopher Lloyd in the 1994 film Camp Nowhere.

Wilson also played Simon, Hilda's dream date made out of dough, in Sabrina the Teenage Witch in 1996.

In 2003, Wilson appeared on the screen in a mockumentary movie called Trial and Error: The Making of Sequestered. Wilson has often lent his voice to animated productions such as Batman: The Animated Series (1993), The New Batman Adventures (1998), Max Steel (2000), Disney's Atlantis: Milo's Return (2003), and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004). As well as the animated roles, he has continued to voice characters in computer and video games. He had supporting roles in the film Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector and the TV drama Ghost Whisperer.

In 2004, Wilson played the role of Noah Curry in the Pasadena Playhouse production of the musical 110 in the Shade, also starring Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley. In 2005, Wilson released his comedy album, Tom Wilson Is Funny!.

In 2007, Wilson appeared in the episode "Whatever It Takes" of the drama series House M.D. as Lou, the father of Dr. House's patient.

In 2008, Wilson appeared in the episode "The Baby in the Bough" of another Fox drama, Bones. He played Chip Barnett, owner of a tire recycling plant.

Wilson appeared in an episode of the ABC drama Boston Legal (Season 4, Episode 7), "Attack of the Xenophobes", as a former police officer who is charged with murder.

Wilson performed "Sleigh Ride" with Relient K on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, playing acoustic guitar. The members of Relient K are fans of Wilson and invited him to perform on the show with them.

In March 2009, he appeared as himself, busking, in Vidiotic, a comedy pilot on the British channel BBC Three.[3]

He has hosted a podcast, Big Pop Fun, on the Nerdist Network starting in November 2011. The podcast features Tom sharing stories of his career, as well as informal chats with showbusiness friends including Samm Levine, Blake Clark, Steve Oedekerk, "Weird Al" Yankovic, and more.

He is a contributor to The Bob & Tom Show and is part of their comedy tour.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Wilson is a painter.[citation needed] Many of his paintings focus on classic children's toys. In 2006, he was selected to join the California Featured Artist Series at Disneyland.[4]

Wilson is a Catholic, and released a Contemporary Christian album in 2000 called In the Name of the Father.[5]

With the rise in popularity of the Back to the Future series, many people began to ask him questions about his experiences making the films. Wilson found the repetitive nature of the questions to be so amusing and annoying that he wrote a song about them titled "Biff's Question Song" which he now features regularly in his stand-up routine.[6]



Year Title Role Notes
1985 L.A. Streetfighters 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
1990 Back to the Future Part III Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen
Biff Tannen
Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
1991 High Strung Al Dalby
1992 Boris and Natasha: The Movie Additional Voices Voice
1993 Blood in Blood Out Det. Rollie
1994 Mr. Write Billy
Camp Nowhere Lt. Eliot Hendricks
Caroline at Midnight Officer Keaton
1995 Born to Be Wild Det. Lou Greenburg
1997 That Darn Cat Officer Melvin
1998 Girl The Ticket Seller
2003 Atlantis: Milo's Return Ashton Carnaby Voice
2004 The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Victor
Fish #3
Tough Fish #1
2006 Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector Bart Tatlock
Zoom Dylan's Teacher
2009 House Broken Fire Chief Henry Decker
The Informant! Mark Cheviron
2011 Rio Trapped Bird
Screaming Hang Gilder
2012 Atlas Shrugged: Part II Robert Collins
2013 The Heat Captain Frank Woods
Tom and Jerry's Giant Adventure Mr. Bigley
2015 The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water Ben Tweedy Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1983 Knight Rider Chip Episode: "A Knight in Shining Armor"
1984 The Facts of Life Moose Episode: "All or Nothing"
1990 Turner & Hooch Det. Scott Turner Failed pilot
1991–1992 Back to the Future Biff Tannen Voice
1993 The Pink Panther Additional Voices
Batman: The Animated Series Tony Zucco
John Grayson
Episode: "Robin's Reckoning: Part 1", "Robin's Reckoning: Part 2"
1995–1996 Gargoyles Matt Bluestone Voice
1996 Superman Joey Voice
Episode: "A Little Piece of Home"
Wing Commander Academy Todd 'Maniac' Marshall Voice
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Simon Episode: "Dream Date"
Andersonville Thomas Sweet TV Movie
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
Episode: "Clockwise/Gromble Soup", "Showdown/Internal Affairs" Costumer
Talk Show Host
TV Movie
Fired Up Steve Summer
1998 Pinky and the Brain Larry Bruhn Voice
Episode: "Dangerous Brains"
Men in White Ed Klingbottom TV Movie
The New Batman Adventures Howlin' Jake
Gotham Angels Biker
Episode: "Torch Song"
Zoomates Mark the Polar Bear Voice
TV Short
Maggie Hank Episode: "Just Shoot Him", "Every Little Star"
The Angry Beavers Ottis Otto
Bowling Patron
Episode: "If You Insisters/Alley Oops!"
1999 The Hughleys Stan Episode: "Why Can't We Be Friends?"
1999–2000 Freaks and Geeks Coach Ben Fredricks 6 episodes
1999 Pepper Ann Coach Bronson Voice
Episode: "Beyond Good and Evel/One of the Guys"
2000–2001 Max Steel Pete Costas Voice
Recurring season 1, main cast season 2.
2000 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Buster Voice
Episode: "Root of Evil"
2001 Nash Bridges Jack Noon Episode: "Bear Trap"
The Zeta Project Burly Boyfriend Voice
Episode: "West Bound"
2001–present SpongeBob SquarePants Flats the Flounder
Tattletale Strangler
Tony Fast Sr.
additional voices
2001 Titus Joe Episode: "Amy's Birthday"
2002–2003 Do Over Coach Dorsey Episodes: "Pilot", "Joel Strikes Back", "Take Me out of the Ballgame", "Valentine's Day Dance", "Chilghetti"
2002 She Spies Roger 'Rush' Gibson Episode: "Fondles"
2003 Ed Sean Nowell Episodes: "Hyenas & Wildebeests", "The Case", "Good Advice", "Death, Debt & Dating", "Goodbye Stuckeyville"
The Pitts Guard Episode: "Ticket to Riot"
Boston Public Paul Stanton Episode: "Chapter Sixty-Six"
Striperella Additional Voices Voice
Episodes: "Beauty and the Obese: Part 1", "Beauty and the Obese: Part 2", "The Wrath of Klinko"
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!"
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 Episode: "Pilot", "Sasha's Birthday BBQ", "Working Women", "Boxer"
Still Standing Coach Kirk Stone Episode: "Still Flunking"
Cold Case Arnold Brown Episode: "Superstar"
2006–2008 Ghost Whisperer Tim Flaherty Episodes: "The Woman of His Dreams", "Deja Boo", "The Walk-in", "Delia's First Ghost", "The Prophet", "Threshold"
2007 American Body Shop Juicy Lou Episode: "Juicy Lou's", "Shop for Sale"
House Lou Episode: "Whatever It Takes"
Boston Legal Jeffrey Bass Episode: "Attack of the Xenophobes"
2008 The Spectacular Spider-Man Stan Carter Voice
Episodes: "Interactions", "Competition", "Persona", "Shear Strength", "Growing Pains", "Probable Cause"
Bones Chip Barnett Episode: "The Baby in the Bough"
Back at the Barnyard Krebs Voice
Episode: "Brave Udders"
2008–2009 Batman: The Brave and the Bold Sportsmaster
Episode: "Invasion of the Secret Santas!", "Legends of the Dark Mite!"
2009 Psych Butch Episode: "Let's Get Hairy"
Family Guy Additional voices Voice
Episode: "Quagmire's Baby"
2010–2011 Big Love Ricky Jax Episode: "The Mighty and Strong", "Blood Atonement", "The Oath"
2010 Adventure Time Head Marauder Voice
Episodes: "Memories of Boom Boom Mountain", "It Came from the Nightosphere"
True Jackson, VP Ben Franklin Episode: "Field Trip"
2011 Harry's Law Allan Meade Episode: "Bangers in the House"
Billion Dollar Freshmen Principal Preston TV Movie
Planet Sheen Narrator
Blurg #1
Episodes: "Ooze on First/Monster-Fighting Combat Strike Force", "To Chill a Mocking Blurg/Now You Sheen It"
2011–2012 Franklin & Bash Spiritual Advisor Episodes: "She Came Upstairs to Kill Me", "For Those About to Rock"
2011 Melissa & Joey Councilman Herbert Hancock Episode: "Play Ball"
2012–present Dragons: Riders of Berk Bucket Voice
2013 Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous Mr. Stone 12 Episodes
Mad Superman
Patrick Jane
Episode: "S Cape from Planet Earth/The X-Mentalist"
2015-present Pig Goat Banana Cricket Banana Voice
20 Episodes

Video games[edit]

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


  1. ^ What’s What With … Tom Wilson, Philadelphia magazine, December 3, 2008
  2. ^ IMSDb: "Back to the Future" Screenplay Fourth Draft, October 21, 1984
  3. ^ Vidiotic at the British Comedy Guide
  4. ^ Tom Wilson Artist Corner,
  5. ^ Thomas F. Wilson – Musician,
  6. ^ Biff's Question Song (Stand-up Comedy). YouTube. September 27, 2006. 

External links[edit]