Top Cat (TV series)

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This article is about the TV series. For other uses, see Top Cat.
Top Cat
TC title card.png
On-screen title card.
Created by William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Network ABC
Production company Hanna-Barbera
Distributor Screen Gems
Original release September 27, 1961April 25, 1962
Run time 25 minutes
Starring Arnold Stang
Maurice Gosfield
Marvin Kaplan
Leo De Lyon
John Stephenson
Allen Jenkins
Producer(s) William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Music composed by Hoyt Curtin
Writer(s) Kin Platt
Barry E. Blitzer[1]
Harvey Bullock[1]
R.S. Allen[1]
Director(s) William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Second title card
Boss Cat title card.png
British title card in the 60s and 80s.

Top Cat is an American animated sitcom television series produced by Hanna-Barbera (H-B) for ABC. It ran from 1961 to 1962, airing 30 episodes that spanned one season. Every episode was directed by Joseph Barbera and William Hanna, the co-founders of H-B. It was the second prime-time animated series geared towards adults, although its accessibility for the whole family allowed it to be aired on Cartoon Network and Boomerang in their heydays.

An anthropomorphic group of alley cats led by Top Cat try and get by in life by regularly scamming the citizens of Manhattan. Acting as a foil to their schemes is beat cop Officer Dibble.

The entire series has been released on DVD.



Joseph Barbera's sketch of Top Cat (circa 1961).

Barbera drew a sketch of a smart aleck cat with the words "Top Cat" underneath[2] which was finalized by Ed Benedict.[3] This, along with a description of the show, inspired by the Phil Silvers comedy series You'll Never Get Rich, was quickly sold to Ollie Treyz, then President of ABC.[4]


Before Arnold Stang was selected to voice Top Cat, Michael O'Shea was first slated to voice the character, but dropped out because of other commitments. According to associate producer Alan Dinehart, O'Shea took too long to record his lines and was replaced by Stang mid-production.[5] In a story published by Weekly Variety (dated July 19, 1961), Andy Devine, Mickey Rooney, Jerry Lester, Larry Storch, and Max Rosenbloom were also among the actors who had auditioned for the role before Stang.[6]


The music was composed by Hoyt Curtin, who employed a George Gershwin-inspired jazz motif compared to his previous work on other Hanna-Barbera shows.[7]

The theme song for both the opening sequence and closing credits remain the same, save for a change of one lyric line between both instances.

Opening theme lyrics

Top Cat!
The most effectual, Top Cat!
Who's intellectual,
Close friends get to call him T.C.
Provided it's with dignity.

Top Cat!
The indisputable, leader of the gang.
He's the boss, he's the whip, he's the number one pip!
He's most tip top,
Top Cat!

Yes, he's the chief, he's the king, but above everything,
He's most tip top,
Top Cat!

Top Cat!

Closing theme lyrics

Top Cat!
The most effectual, Top Cat!
Who's intellectual,
Close friends get to call him T.C.
Provided it's with dignity.

Top Cat!
The indisputable, leader of the gang.
He's the boss, he's the VIP, he's the championship!
He's most tip top,
Top Cat!

Yes, he's the chief, he's the king, but above everything,
He's most tip top,
Top Cat!

Top Cat!


This order is how it aired on ABC gathered from researching, which is quite different from the order in which Warner Home Video released this on DVD.

Episode Number Original air date
"The $1,000,000 Derby" 1x01 September 27, 1961
"The Missing Heir" 1x02 October 4, 1961
"Hawaii, Here We Come" 1x03 October 11, 1961
"Top Cat Falls in Love" 1x04 October 18, 1961
"The Violin Player" 1x05 October 25, 1961
"The Unscratchables" 1x06 November 1, 1961
"All That Jazz" 1x07 November 8, 1961
"Choo Choo's Romance" 1x08 November 15, 1961
"A Visit from Mother" 1x09 November 22, 1961
"Rafeefleas" 1x10 November 29, 1961
"Sergeant Top Cat" 1x11 December 6, 1961
"Naked Town" 1x12 December 20, 1961
"The Maharajah of Pookajee" 1x13 December 27, 1961
"The Long Hot Winter" 1x14 January 3, 1962
"The Tycoon" 1x15 January 10, 1962
"The Grand Tour" 1x16 January 17, 1962
"Space Monkey" 1x17 January 24, 1962
"T.C. Minds the Baby" 1x18 January 31, 1962
"The Golden Fleecing" 1x19 February 7, 1962
"The Case of the Missing Anteater" 1x20 February 14, 1962
"Farewell, Mr. Dibble" 1x21 February 21, 1962
"The Late T.C." 1x22 February 28, 1962
"Choo Choo Goes Ga Ga" 1x23 March 7, 1962
"King for a Day" 1x24 March 14, 1962
"Dibble Breaks the Record" 1x25 March 21, 1962
"The Con Men" 1x26 March 28, 1962
"Dibble's Birthday" 1x27 April 4, 1962
"Dibble Sings Again" 1x28 April 11, 1962
"Griswald" 1x29 April 18, 1962
"Dibble's Double" 1x30 April 25, 1962


Dates are in order of release:



Title Number Original air date
Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law: "Mindless" 1 September 25, 2005


While the series proved to be a ratings failure, it found better success on Saturday morning television and all or some of the characters appeared in crossover productions of H-B, including Yogi's Ark Lark and Yogi's Treasure Hunt. They also starred in their own 1988 TV movie, Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats. Top Cat also proved to be a big hit in Mexico, where it is dubbed as "Don Gato y su Pandilla". Two official theatrical films were produced in that country, later translated and dubbed into the English-language films Top Cat: The Movie and Top Cat Begins.

In the United Kingdom, Top Cat became quite successful when it aired on BBC Television Service (now BBC One) on May 16, 1962. However, on June 13 of the same year, the show had to be renamed "The Boss Cat", which would then be shortened to "Boss Cat" in 1967. The name change occured because of a then-popular British cat food similarly named "Top Cat", and because BBC didn't carry advertisements in their broadcasts, responded quickly by altering the visuals for the show's intro and end credits with a simple "Boss Cat" title card. Despite this, Top Cat's original name was left unaltered in the audio tracks of each episode. The last time the "Boss Cat" titles were used was in a 1989 rerun on BBC One, marking the end of its long-run of the program, and by the time the show was aired again in April 6, 1999 on BBC Two (which once carried the program twice in August, 1983 and in December, 1988), the aforementioned "Top Cat" food brand had been long since discontinued, allowing the show's original American title cards to be used on British airings without issue. The last time Top Cat aired on a BBC channel was BBC Two in 2007, although Boomerang kept airing it in the early morning for a few years after that.

In the 1990s, Turner Entertainment commissioned a 20-part talk show hosted by Top Cat in the form of interstitials for Cartoon Network's international market. Top Cat's first two guests were David Hasselhoff and Carl Lewis.[8] Sadly, all 20 seem to have not survived for the internet to watch.

In the 2000s, Top Cat and his gang had a guest appearance in the Adult Swim spoof, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. Warner Bros. Animation attempted to do a new Top Cat TV series at one point, but never completed it outside of some concept art. T.C. and his gang would have looked the same except for wardrobe changes, whereas Officer Dibble would have been given a radically new design. There were also plans to introduce a new girl in T.C.'s gang called Roxy.[9]

In 2016, there was questionable usage of Top Cat being used to in an ad campaign by Halifax.

In 2021, Top Cat, Benny the Ball, Choo Choo, Brain, Spook and Fancy Fancy have made several guest appearances in the HBO Max web TV series, Jellystone! This series not only presents new personalities for each of the gang, but Choo Choo, Brain and Spook (named Spooky) are also girls for this series.

In popular culture

  • The scene from "Naked Town," in which Top Cat, his gang, and Dibble are sitting on the curb outside the Ajax warehouse is being watched by Mike in the 1984 film Sixteen Candles.
  • Chief Judge Ricky watches his favorite episode "The Violin Player," in the fourth issue of the Red Razors comic series, although only Top Cat is seen.
  • In the Lucifer episode "Yabba Dabba Do Me," a young Jimmy Baines watches Top Cat.

Dead Ringers (radio)

  • "Episode Two" (series 2): Nick Russ presents Cartoon Crimewatch that reports on Top Cat victimizing the passerby that walked through Hoagy's Alley. Top Cat was using the stupid Brain (mistakenly called "Brains") to swindle money for a fake charity for stupid cats. He gets an old lady's watch, which he gives to Benny to fence, but he takes it literally. Officer Dibble comes onto the scene, but is distracted by a phone call from the sergeant who wants him back at the station, which disappoints Dibble because he would rather stay on TV, breaking the fourth wall.
  • "Episode Three" (series 7): BBC News' Michael Burke interviews Officer Dibble after Top Cat has him removed from his beat under the Cartoon Animal Bill of Rights Act, only because Officer Dibble had Top Cat arrested for using his phone, but T.C. had him suspended on suspicious entrapment, and putting a wire on Choo Choo.

In other languages

Language Name Meaning
Japanese ドラ猫大将 (Doraneko Taisho) Boss Cat
Spanish Don Gato y Su Pandilla Mr Cat and His Gang


  1. ^ a b c Sennett, Ted (October 30, 1989). The Art of Hanna-Barbera, page 120. Viking Studio Books. Retrieved November 24, 2022.
  2. ^ Sennett, Ted (October 30, 1989). The Art of Hanna-Barbera, page 115. Viking Studio Books. Retrieved November 23, 2022.
  3. ^ Barbera, Joseph (1994). My Life in 'toons: From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century, page 142. Atlanta, GA. Turner Publishing. Retrieved June 11, 2024.
  4. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Top creation
  5. ^ Yowp, Don M. (September 28, 2009). "Top Cat! Starring the Voice of ... Who?"
  6. ^ Yowp, Don M. (December 9, 2015). "Hanna-Barbera Chugs Along, 1961"
  7. ^ Kress, Earl (July 2, 1996). Hanna-Barbera's Pic-A-Nic Basket of Cartoon Classics (CD booklet), page 21-22. Kid Rhino; Hanna-Barbera Productions. Retrieved November 27, 2023.
  8. ^ (1996). "MIP TV ISSUE". Television Business International. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  9. ^ Kupcyzk, Dave (January 11, 2008). "Top Cat Remake". Dave's blog. Retrieved August 1, 2021.