Puss Gets the Boot is a 1940 American one-reel animated cartoon and is the first short in the Tom and Jerry cartoon series, though the duo are not identified as such in this short. It was directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, and produced by Rudolf Ising and Fred Quimby. As was the practice of MGM shorts at the time, only Rudolf Ising is credited. It was released to theaters on February 10, 1940 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
In this short cartoon, a tomcat named Jasper takes great pleasure in tormenting a mouse (unnamed on-screen but given the name Jinx in pre-production), who is trying to run away from Jasper while he keeps grabbing Jinx's tail to keep him from running anywhere. Eventually, Jinx breaks free but goes into Jasper's mouth, narrowly escaping. Jasper then draws a mouse hole on the wall to trick Jinx into entering it. Jinx bangs against the wall so hard that it knocks him silly. Jasper revives him using water from the fish tank and picks him up. Having slowly realized the situation, Jinx punches Jasper in the eye, causing him yelp in pain. The angered cat chases Jinx and accidentally bumps into a Greek pillar, where it breaks upon falling onto him along with the flowerpot that was standing on it. Mammy Two Shoes enters the room and scolds Jasper for his unacceptable behavior, issuing him an ultimatum that if she catches him making one more mess, he will get kicked out of the house. Jasper sulks off, Jinx chuckles at him and this causes Jasper to chase him, but when Jinx holds a glass over the edge of the table, Jasper backs off after seeing a furious Mammy walking away with the remains of the broken flowerpot, fearing that he will get himself into trouble again.
After Jinx puts the cup down, seeing his chance, Jasper rushes at him, but he holds back Jasper by threatening to drop the glass again. Then Jinx drops the cup and Jasper rushes to catch it. Jinx throws more cups, making it very hard for Jasper to catch them all. As Jinx walks away with the last cup, Jasper gets the idea: he drops a bunch of pillows on the ground. When Jinx tries to humiliate Jasper by dropping the cup, it stays intact when it lands on the soft surface of one of the pillows. Jinx tries to escape but Jasper catches him by the tail. Jasper inadvertently throws Jinx onto a shelf, where he escapes and begins pelting him with several dishes, making sure that in order to blackmail Jasper, he will force him to immediately "get the boot". Jasper begins to tire of holding all the dishes, after which, in humiliation, Jasper can only watch as Jinx drops one last dish on the ground.
Mammy once again enters the room in frustration just as Jinx swims in Jasper's milk bowl, uses his tail as a towel and finally kicks Jasper, causing Jasper to drop all of the dishes, creating a huge mess and forcing him to take the blame. Enraged, Mammy throws Jasper out of the house and shuts the door. As soon as Jasper is kicked out from the house, Jinx waves to him, sticks his tongue out, puts a HOME SWEET HOME sign in front of his hole, and enters it.
- Clarence Nash – Jasper Cat
- William Hanna – Jinx Mouse
- Lillian Randolph – Mammy Two Shoes (original)
- June Foray, Thea Vidale – Mammy Two Shoes (edited)
Puss Gets the Boot marked the debut of Tom and Jerry. In 1939, Joseph Barbera and William Hanna teamed up together in animation. Their first idea together was a cartoon series about a cat and a mouse. They built the cartoon but just as they were making the cartoon series theme, after releasing the short, the boss of MGM's cartoon studio, Fred Quimby, asked them to pursue other themes, believing that cat-and-mouse cartoons were old and boring. However, after the success of the cartoon, the first nomination for an Academy Award and a letter for a very important distributor in Texas asking for "more of the wonderful and delightful cat and mouse cartoons", Fred Quimby changed his mind.
Puss Gets the Boot was directed, drawn and written out by Hanna and Barbera but they gave sole credit to their close friend: animation teacher Rudolf Ising, who actually just looked it over and permitted release of the short.
Originally produced as a stand-alone cartoon, the entry was so popular with audiences that MGM commissioned additional cartoons from Hanna and Barbera. It was with the second release, The Midnight Snack, that the characters were explicitly named Tom and Jerry. Puss Gets the Boot was nominated for an Oscar, losing to another MGM cartoon, The Milky Way.
At over nine minutes, Puss Gets the Boot has the longest running time in the series. The names in the short also differ from the later entries in the series, which named Tom and Jerry after a holiday cocktail; in Puss Gets the Boot, Jerry has not yet been named publicly (design sheets referred to the mouse by the name Jinx), while the cat, for the first and only time in the series, bears the name Jasper.
- Blu-ray: Tom and Jerry Golden Collection, Volume 1, Disc 1
- DVD: Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection: Double Feature, Disc 1
- DVD: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Academy Award-Nominated Animation: Cinema Favorites
- DVD: Tom and Jerry Golden Collection, Volume 1, Disc 1
- DVD: Tom and Jerry: The Deluxe Anniversary Collection, Disc 1
- DVD: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Academy Awards Animation Collection, Disc 2
- DVD: Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection, Volume 2, Disc 1