Tom Terrific

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Tom Terrific
Genre Animated television series
Created by Gene Deitch
Developed by Gene Deitch
Written by William Bernal, Phil Eastman, Bud Evsalin, Bob Kuwahara, Ralph Newman
Directed by Gene Deitch
Starring Lionel G. Wilson
Theme music composer Thomas Lee Morrison, Philip A. Scheib
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 26
Executive producer(s) William M. Weiss
Producer(s) Gene Deitch
Editor(s) Jack MacConnell
First shown in 1957-1958
Original release 1957 – 1959 (pre-reruns)

Tom Terrific was an early animated series on American television, presented as part of the Captain Kangaroo children's television show.

Created by Gene Deitch under the Terrytoons studio (which by that time was a subsidiary of CBS, the network that broadcast Captain Kangaroo), Tom Terrific ran in a series of five-minute cartoons created specifically for the Captain Kangaroo show from 1957-1959, and was rerun on Kangaroo for years thereafter. For several years after 1962, Tom Terrific would be broadcast every other week, alternating with Lariat Sam, another Terrytoons creation.

Gene Deitch adapted the feature from his earlier newspaper comic strip, "Terr'ble Thompson!" distributed during the 1950s by United Features Syndicate.[1] Terr'ble Thompson was a six-year-old boy who imagined himself to be the "Hero of Hist'ry" and freely travelled back in time to assist historical figures. An illustrated book reprinting the adventures of this precursor to Tom Terrific was published by Fantagraphics Books.[2]

All the voices were performed by Lionel Wilson (who later voiced Eustace Bagge from the Cartoon Network series Courage the Cowardly Dog).

Drawn in a simple black-and white style reminiscent of children's drawings, it featured a gee-whiz boy hero, Tom Terrific, who lived in a treehouse and could transform himself into anything he wanted thanks to his magic, funnel-shaped "thinking cap," which also enhanced his intelligence. He had a comic lazybones of a sidekick, Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog, and an arch-foe named Crabby Appleton, whose motto was, "I'm rotten to the core!" Other foes included Mr. Instant, the Instant Thing King; Captain Kidney Bean; Sweet Tooth Sam, the Candy Bandit; and Isotope Feeney, The Meany.

Tom Terrific appeared in the 1999 pilot Curbside in where he was voiced by Haley Joel Osment.[3]

Terrific was ranked # 32 by TV Guide magazine among its "50 Greatest TV Cartoon Characters."[4] There has never been an authorized VHS or DVD release of the series.


  • Each episode was shown in five installments, one per day, Monday through Friday.
Episode Title
1 The Nasty Knight
2 The Pill of Smartness
3 Sweet Tooth Sam
4 Snowy Picture
5 Crabby Appleton's Dragon
6 Captain Kidney Bean
7 The Gravity Maker
8 Scrambled Dinosaur Eggs
9 Who Stole the North Pole
10 Instant Tantrums
11 Track Meet, Well Done
12 The Great Calendar Mystery
13 Elephants Stew
14 The Missing Mail Mystery
15 The Prince Frog
16 Isotope Feeney's Foolish Fog
17 Moon Over Manfred
18 Go West, Young Manfred
19 The Silly Sandman
20 Crabby Park
21 The Million Manfred Mystery
22 The Flying Sorcerer
23 The Big Dog Show-Off
24 The End of Rainbows
25 Robinsnest Crusoe
26 The Everlasting Birthday Party

Theme song[edit]

Tom Terrific's theme song

Terrytoons presents:
The real, great adventures of me, Tom Terrific!

With Mighty Manfred, the Wonder Dog!
I'm Tom Terrific, greatest hero ever!
Terrific is the name for me, 'cause I'm so clever.
I can be what I want to be, and if you'd like to see,
Follow, and follow me!

If you see a plane up-high,
A diesel train go roaring by.
A bumble bee, or a tree, it's me!

When there is trouble,
I'm there on the double.
From Atlantic to Pacific,
They know Tom Terrific!

Aaand, I'm Mighty Manfred, the Wonder dog,
Aaand Tom's ever faithful companion.

There was another version of the theme song, and that was in Season 2.


Terrytoons presents:
The real, great adventures of me, Tom Terrific!

With Mighty Manfred, the Wonder Dog!
I'm Tom Terrific, great adventure lover!
With Mighty Manfred at my side, villains run for cover.
I can be anything you see, change my shape most readily,
How I do it puzzles me!

If you see a rocket blast,
A sailing ship come sailing past.
A little flea, a golden key, it's me!

All kinds of fun things,
I'm never just one thing.
My name's Tom Terrific!

Aaand, I'm Mighty Manfred, the Wonder dog,
Aaand Tom's ever faithful companion.

Crabby Appleton's theme song:

My name is Crabby Appleton,
and I am simply awful.
It does my heart a lot of good
to do a deed unlawful!
I'm fond of gloom, impending doom,
I think good deeds are sappy!
I laugh with glee, it pleases me
when everyone's unhappy.
– (last verse sung in a low voice)

Crabby Appleton's theme also had a variation:

My name is Crabby Appleton,
I'm rotten to the core.
I do a bad deed every day,
and sometimes three or four.
I can't stand fun for anyone,
I think good deeds are sappy,
I laugh with glee, it pleases me,
when everyone's unhappy.
– (last verse sung in a low voice)


There were 26 stories produced, the first thirteen filmed in 1957, the remaining thirteen filmed in 1958. Each story was split into five parts for broadcast each weekday morning. During the years that Captain Kangaroo was also broadcast on Saturday mornings, the episodes would be re-edited into two parts (with cliffhangers and recaps from the daily versions eliminated), the first part broadcast during the first half-hour, the conclusion during the second half-hour.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The character also appeared in a comic book for six issues in 1957 from Pines Comics, with some stories drawn by Ralph Bakshi.
  • Tom Terrific appeared in a few Wonder Books, an imitation of Little Golden Books.
  • Crabby Appleton was the name of a rock group, which used the character's image on a 1971 album, ROTTEN TO THE CORE.
  • In the introduction to his book, The Great Big Book of Tomorrow, Tom Tomorrow (Dan Perkins) says that he chose his pseudonym through misremembering the name of Tom Terrific.


Further reading[edit]

Kevin Scott Collier. The Amazing Transformations of Tom Terrific. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017. ISBN 1974583899

External links[edit]