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 producer(s)William M. Weiss
Producer(s)Gene Deitch
Editor(s)Jack MacConnell
First shown in1957-1958
Original releaseJune 10, 1957 –
1959 (pre-reruns)

Tom Terrific is 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 Captain Kangaroo from 1957-1959, and was rerun on Captain 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 wherein he was voiced by Haley Joel Osment.[3]

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


  • Each episode was shown in five installments, one per day, Monday through Friday.
Episode Title Air Date[5]
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 Elephants 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)


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.
  • American football player Tom Brady attempted to trademark the phrase for himself, but was turned down in August 2019, to prevent confusion with New York Mets legend Tom Seaver.[6]


  1. ^ Terrible Thompson strip
  2. ^ Terrible Thompson
  3. ^ "Curbside". The Big Cartoon Database. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  4. ^ TV Guide's 50 greatest cartoon characters of all time
  5. ^ DataBase, The Big Cartoon. "Tom Terrific Episode Guide -CBS Prods @ BCDB". Big Cartoon DataBase (BCDB). Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  6. ^ 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]