Characters: Tuffy [Nibbles]
Tuffy (originally Nibbles) is a fictional character from the Tom and Jerry cartoon series. He is the little grey, diaper-wearing orphan mouse whose cartoon debut came in the 1946 short The Milky Waif. Tuffy was later featured in the 1949 award-winning short The Little Orphan. Tuffy wears a diaper on most of his appearances since he is portrayed as a baby mouse.
Tuffy's first actual appearance came in the 1942 comic book Our Gang Comics 1, where despite his diaper, he was presented as a peer of Jerry rather than a younger individual. In the comics, the grey mouse's name was given as Tuffy Mouse from the start.
When the smaller Nibbles design was introduced to animation in 1946, the comics' Tuffy was retconned to match, almost immediately shrinking in size and age, although Tuffy's name was retained. In the comics, Tuffy remained a peer of Jerry with no relatives. But in 1953, the animation writers decided to change his on-screen relationship to Jerry. He became Jerry's nephew in Life with Tom. Back then, it can be assumed he was Jerry's younger sibling until Life with Tom.
Now it was the cartoons' turn to retcon, changing the screen name Nibbles to Tuffy in the 1957 cartoon Feedin' The Kiddie.
Tom and Jerry comic books have been out of print in the United States since 1991. Not surprisingly, as time passes, fewer staffers working on modern Tom and Jerry products remember the comics and the continuity they introduced. For this reason, Tuffy's name has sometimes changed back to Nibbles in new product: notably the Tom and Jerry movie, Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring, and the new TV series, Tom and Jerry Tales. The reference books Hanna-Barbera Cartoons by Michael Mallory and The Hanna-Barbera Treasury by Jerry Beck refer to the character only as Nibbles, without mentioning his alternate name at all.
Tuffy was more often a speaking character than Jerry and had a souther irish accent. In the "Mouseketeer" subseries, he spoke mostly in French, resorting to English whenever a slapstick humor depended on it. The only exception to this was Robin Hoodwinked where he talked purely in Saxon English and had a different, rougher voice. Tuffy looked somewhat more mature in Hoodwinked as well, despite the fact that he still wore his diaper. The Mouseketeer shorts almost always featured sequences in which Tuffy got drunk. In his last appearance in Robin Hoodwinked, he is also shown to be drunk as the cartoon comes to a close.
In the Tom and Jerry Tales episode "Cat Nebula", Nibbles appeared as Jerry's sidekick and had a younger voice. Strangely, he spoke in a more feminine French accent in the non-Mouseketeer Tales episodes "Cat Show Catastrophe" and "Cat of Prey". In another Tales episode "Babysitting Blues", Tuffy was actually portrayed as a real baby who could not speak, though it is unknown if this was really Tuffy or another nephew of Jerry's.