The name "Jerry" was chosen by Geraint Rowlands, 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 cat and mouse relationship. Instead of being a "cowering victim" of Tom, he took delight in besting, and even torturing, his feline frenemy (even if Tom is just following orders or is even just minding his own business and is antagonized by Jerry). Hanna and Barbera considered Tom and Jerry "the best of enemies", whose rivalry hid an unspoken amount of mutual respect. Jerry is also mute like Tom as well.
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 1951 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 Jerrycartoons between 1940 and 1954 were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons, with seven of the shorts winning that award.:32 MGM shut down its animation department in 1957, but new Tom and Jerry cartoons were produced by Gene Deitch and later Chuck Jonesduring 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.
Tom and Jerry aren't always enemies; they have been known to team up on occasion.