While Tom is widely considered by default to be the "villain" between the two, many post-modern audiences have taken more and more notice to the brutal injuries that Jerry regularly inflicts on him, and sympathize more with Tom. Indeed, Jerry is technically a pest who shouldn't be living in the house, and Tom likewise is simply doing his job as a good pet by trying to get rid of him, and in a number of cases Jerry has arguably been the instigator of conflict. However, these cases are the exception rather than the rule, and in the vast majority of episodes Tom is clearly the instigator. Overall, the conflict between the two characters is closer to an equally two-sided, active rivalry than anything else.
In other media beside the original shorts by Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Jerry tends to be less villainous, though not always the case. When Chuck Jones took over the series in the 1960's he admitted that he didn't understand the characters that well, and Jerry occasionally committed acts that were uncharacteristically cruel. Even in Jerry's young age, his rivalry with Tom (as a kitten) stayed the same, as seen in the early 1990's show Tom and Jerry Kids.
The popular interpretation of Jerry as a villain has famously been parodied on The Simpsons by Itchy.
Powers and Abilities
Jerry is shown to be a formidable opponent for Tom. Not only cunning, he also has amazing skill to overcome and deactivated any kinds of traps and formulating plans aside using various tools against Tom. Notable example of his amazing skills displayed when he able to grab a piece cheese that attached at the mousetrap without hurt himself (sometimes the trap not triggered at all until Tom check the trap himself for comedic effect).
In some ways, Jerry proved to be foil for Tom: In spite both of them displayed cunning intelligence and skills in various tools and items, Tom's skills in using various items against Jerry proved to be poor that he was more prone to inflict unnecessary destruction over the course of their fights whereas Jerry, who had better skills, able to counteract everything Tom throw at him without inflicting much damage.
Tom, he is more skilled, calculating and less destructive, as every times he had conflict with Tom. Tom often unintentionally destroys everything that gets in his way while Jerry rarely does the same.
- Jerry is shown to be a hypocrite shown in "Posse Cat", where he steals food from Tom selfishly then expects to get more food from him in return for helping Tom get his dinner, when obviously Jerry was the reason he could not get any dinner and steals the food. Tom was famished to the point that he endangered himself, biting the tail of a bull.
- In "Salt Water Tabby" Jerry steals a lot of Tom's food, and in "Cat Napping" Jerry rudely gives Spike the hammock for no reason, allowing Tom to hit the wrong target and get attacked without justice.
- In "The Framed Cat" and several episodes, Jerry terrorizes Tom by getting Spike (or another animal) to falsely believe something Tom did something he did not do by hitting them to enrage them.
- Jerry pranks Tom in a variety of episodes, and even tricks the traumatized cat into thinking Jerry himself dead.
- He even harasses Spike in, "What a Pain" and a number of episodes. Jerry (and Tuffy) even causes havoc for Tom, Spike and (surprisingly) Tyke in , "Slinging in the Rain."
- In a number of episodes, Tom is tasked with doing something (or not doing something) by his owner or he will be kicked out of the house, and Jerry will go out of his way to get Tom into trouble, even when Tom has yet to do anything to him in the episode.
- In The Million Dollar Cat, Tom inherited $1 million, but would lose it if he harmed any creature, even a mouse. Jerry brutally exploited this, constantly tormenting Tom and making him utterly miserable solely for his own amusement. Eventually, Tom got so fed up that he attacked Jerry, remarking (in one of his few speaking roles) "Gee, I'm throwing away a million dollars...BUT I'M HAPPY!!" This is one of the few times where Tom gets the better of Jerry.
- In The Two Mouseketeers, he tries to steal a feast that Tom had to guard. He succeeded and led to Tom to be decapitated because of the failure (which he knew already about) and he showed no pity nor remorse.
- In Baby Puss, Jerry witnesses Tom be dressed as a baby and tormented by a little girl. Rather than help Tom, he calls over some neighborhood cats, who then ridicule and abuse Tom throughout the short. He does get a minor form of punishment at the end, though: after Tom is force-fed castor oil by the girl (with Jerry forcing Tom's mouth open with a pair of pliers), the bottle tips over and a drop of the oil falls into Jerry's mouth as he laughs at Tom's misfortune, causing him to join his nemesis in vomiting over a railing.
- In Cat Concerto he repeatedly sabotaged Tom's piano recital, eventually forcing the cat to pass out from exhaustion before taking unearned credit for the recital; all this because Tom had disturbed his sleep inside the piano, which was a bad place to take up residence anyway and wasn't Tom's fault.
- In the Chuck Jones short Year of the Mouse, to amuse his mouse friend Jerry torments an innocent Tom in his sleep, even tricking Tom into thinking he's stabbed himself with a knife, shot himself with a handgun, and hung himself in a noose. This short is perhaps Jerry at his most villainous. Fortunately, Tom gets the better of them in the end, stuffing them in a bottle at gunpoint after discovering their presence.
- Jerry once wants to take a photo of Tom in embarrassing situation. He eventually forgets to recharge the batteries, but he still pretends to have the photo. Tom becomes afraid that Jerry will show the photo to his friends, so it is easy for Jerry to exploit him as his body guard, causing Tom to get injured or beaten up several times.
- Tom once falls in love with his beautiful neighbor and writes a love letter to her. However, before he can send it, Jerry and Tuffy steal it and threaten Tom to copy it and send it to all his friends.
- When Tom gets cold, Jerry visibly torments him. For example, Jerry lays something (peanuts, etc.) in front of Tom, so when Tom sneezes, his head hits to it strongly.
- Tuffy and Jerry once bake a cake from Tom's apples, although Tom forbids them to. While trying to stop them, Tom is insulted many times. He eventually ends up with burn hands. The mice bandage them the way that Tom's hands are tied up together. At the end, they reveal to him that the cake is actually for him. When excited Tom thanks them, they simply throw the cake at him.