Jerry Mouse is a fictional animated character, is the main protagonist in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's series of Tom and Jerry theatrical cartoon short films. Created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Jerry is a brown anthropomorphic mouse, who first appeared in the 1940 MGM animated short Puss Gets the Boot. Hanna gave the mouse's original name as "Jerry", while Barbera claimed the mouse went unnamed in his first appearance.
The name "Jerry" was chosen by MGM animator John Carr, who submitted "Tom and Jerry" as potential names for the duo after an important Loews Inc. distributor in Texas asked for follow-ups to Puss Gets the Boot. While the idea of a cat-and-mouse duo was considered shopworn by the 1940s, Hanna and Barbera decided to expand upon the standard expected hunter/prey relationship. Their Jerry Mouse, an "incurable scene stealer", served more or less as the protagonist of most of the films; instead of being a "cowering victim" of his pursuer, Tom Cat, he took delight in besting, and often torturing, his antagonist. Hanna and Barbera considered Tom and Jerry "the best of enemies", whose rivalry hid an unspoken amount of mutual respect.
In later Tom and Jerry cartoons, Jerry acquired a young ward: a small grey mouse called "Tuffy" or "Nibbles" depending upon the cartoon, who was left on Jerry's doorstep as a foundling baby in the 1946 short The Milky Waif. Jerry and Tuffy were also featured together in a sub-series of Tom and Jerry cartoons set in 17th century France which featured the characters as musketeers. The first of these shorts, The Two Mouseketeers, won the 1952 Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons.
Hanna and Barbera served as writer/directors of the Tom and Jerry cartoons until 1956, when they also became the producers. Fourteen Tom and Jerry cartoons between 1940 and 1954 were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons, with seven of the shorts winning that award. MGM shut down its animation department in 1957, but new Tom and Jerry cartoons were produced by Gene Deitch and later Chuck Jones during the 1960s. Jerry would also appear in later Tom and Jerry productions made for television, a series of direct-to-video features, and Tom and Jerry: The Movie, a 1992 theatrical film. Later productions eschewed much of the violence the 1940s and 1950s shorts were known for, and in several of the television shows Jerry was given a red bow tie and a kinder disposition.