Tom & Jerry features comic fights between an iconic pair of adversaries, a house cat (Tom) and a mouse (Jerry). The plots of each short usually center on Tom and Jerry's numerous attempts to beat each other at some game or competition and the mayhem and destruction that follows. Despite Tom's clever strategies, determined and energetic mindset, large size, and exceptional overall intelligence, he rarely succeeds in getting the best of Jerry, mainly because of Jerry's cunning abilities, luck, and cautiousness. However, on several occasions, they have displayed genuine friendship and concern for each other's well-being. At other times, the pair set aside their rivalry in order to pursue a common goal. Despite their endless attacks on one another, they have saved each other's lives every time they were truly in danger.
Tom is a gray and white domestic shorthair cat. He is usually but not always, portrayed as living a comfortable, or even pampered life, while Jerry is a small, brown house mouse who always lives in close proximity to Tom. Despite being very energetic, determined and much larger, Tom is no match for Jerry's wits. Jerry also possesses surprising strength for his size, approximately the equivalent of Tom's, lifting items such as anvils with relative ease and withstanding considerable impacts. Although it is believed that cats typically chase mice to eat them, it is quite rare for Tom to actually try to eat Jerry. By the final "fade-out" of each cartoon, Jerry usually gets the best of Tom.