Tom Terrific

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Tom Terrific
GenreAnimated television series
Created byGene Deitch
Developed byGene Deitch
Written byWilliam Bernal, Phil Eastman, Bud Evsalin, Bob Kuwahara, Ralph Newman
Directed byGene Deitch
StarringLionel Wilson
Theme music composerThomas Lee Morrison, Philip A. Scheib
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes26
Executive producerWilliam M. Weiss
ProducerGene Deitch
EditorJack MacConnell
Production companyTerrytoons
First shown in1957-1958
Original releaseJune 10, 1957 (1957-06-10) –
1959 (pre-reruns)

Tom Terrific is a 1957–1959 animated series on American television, presented as part of the Captain Kangaroo children's television show.[1]

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 was made as twenty-six stories, each split into five episodes, with one five-minute episode broadcast per day. The first thirteen stories were filmed in 1957, with the second set in 1958. Captain Kangaroo continued to rerun the episodes for many years. Starting in 1962, Captain Kangaroo broadcast Tom Terrific every other week, alternating with Terrytoons' Lariat Sam.[2]

Drawn in a simple black-and white style reminiscent of children's drawings, the show features a gee-whiz boy hero, Tom Terrific, who lives in a treehouse and can transform himself into anything he wants, thanks to his magical funnel-shaped "thinking cap," which also enhances his intelligence. He has a comic lazybones of a sidekick, Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog, and an arch-foe named Crabby Appleton, whose motto is, "I'm rotten to the core!"[3] Other foes include Mr. Instant the Instant Thing King, Captain Kidney Bean, Sweet Tooth Sam the Candy Bandit, and Isotope Feeney the Meany. Some of the dialogue was written by cartoonist Jules Feiffer.[4]

Gene Deitch adapted the feature from his earlier newspaper comic strip, "Terr'ble Thompson!" distributed during the 1950s by United Features Syndicate.[5] 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.

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

The character Tom Terrific was ranked #32 by TV Guide magazine on its 2002 list of "50 Greatest TV Cartoon Characters."[6]


  • Each episode was shown in five installments, one per day, Monday through Friday.
Episode Title Air Date[7]
1 The Nasty Knight June 10, 1957 (1957-06-10)
2 The Pill of Smartness June 17, 1957 (1957-06-17)
3 Sweet Tooth Sam June 24, 1957 (1957-06-24)
4 Snowy Picture July 1, 1957 (1957-07-01)
5 Crabby Appleton's Dragon July 8, 1957 (1957-07-08)
6 Captain Kidney Bean July 15, 1957 (1957-07-15)
7 The Gravity Maker July 22, 1957 (1957-07-22)
8 Scrambled Dinosaur Eggs July 29, 1957 (1957-07-29)
9 Who Stole the North Pole August 5, 1957 (1957-08-05)
10 Instant Tantrums August 12, 1957 (1957-08-12)
11 Track Meet, Well Done August 19, 1957 (1957-08-19)
12 The Great Calendar Mystery August 26, 1957 (1957-08-26)
13 Elephant Stew August 2, 1957 (1957-08-02)
14 The Missing Mail Mystery August 9, 1957 (1957-08-09)
15 The Prince Frog September 16, 1957 (1957-09-16)
16 Isotope Feeney's Foolish Fog September 23, 1957 (1957-09-23)
17 Moon Over Manfred September 30, 1957 (1957-09-30)
18 Go West, Young Manfred December 2, 1957 (1957-12-02)
19 The Silly Sandman September 7, 1957 (1957-09-07)
20 Crabby Park October 14, 1957 (1957-10-14)
21 The Million Manfred Mystery October 21, 1957 (1957-10-21)
22 The Flying Sorcerer October 28, 1957 (1957-10-28)
23 The Big Dog Show-Off November 4, 1957 (1957-11-04)
24 The End of Rainbows November 11, 1957 (1957-11-11)
25 Robinsnest Crusoe November 18, 1957 (1957-11-18)
26 The Everlasting Birthday Party November 25, 1957 (1957-11-25)

Home video[edit]

As of 2020, there has not been an authorized VHS, DVD or Blu-ray release of the series.

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.
  • Tom Terrific appeared in the 1999 pilot Curbside, voiced by Haley Joel Osment.[8]
  • American football player Tom Brady attempted to trademark the phrase for himself, but was turned down in August 2019, to prevent confusion with baseball player Tom Seaver.[9]


  1. ^ Woolery, George W. (1983). Children's Television: The First Thirty-Five Years, 1946-1981, Part 1: Animated Cartoon Series. Scarecrow Press. pp. 295–296. ISBN 0-8108-1557-5. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  2. ^ Hamonic, W. Gerald (2018). Terrytoons: The Story of Paul Terry and His Classic Cartoon Factory. John Libbey Publishing Ltd. pp. 289–290. ISBN 978-0861967292.
  3. ^ Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 653. ISBN 978-1538103739.
  4. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 862–863. ISBN 978-1476665993.
  5. ^ Terrible Thompson strip
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ DataBase, The Big Cartoon. "Tom Terrific Episode Guide -CBS Prods @ BCDB". Big Cartoon DataBase (BCDB). Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  8. ^ "Curbside". The Big Cartoon Database. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  9. ^ New York Post: "Tom Brady denied Tom Terrific trademark" Aug. 23, 2019

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]