Not to be confused with The Plight Before Christmas.
The Night Before Christmas is a 1941 one-reel animated cartoon and is the 3rd Tom and Jerry short.
In a house on Christmas Eve, nothing was stirring, not even a mouse...or so it was at first. Jerry emerges from his hole avoiding a Christmas-themed mousetrap (already baited with a piece of cheese wrapped in a red ribbon) placed by his hole. Jerry quickly heads for the Christmas presents, jumping merrily around the tree, licking candy canes, and jumping onto a plush toy lion that squeaks. Jerry continues jumping on the soft toy, but bounces too hard and lands on what he thinks is another soft toy. Jerry jumps up and down on the grey fur, not realizing that he is jumping on, in fact, Tom, who has woken up. Tom snarls and just before he can eat Jerry, the quick-thinking mouse grabs a nearby "Do Not Open 'Til Xmas" sticker and instantly places it on Tom's mouth.
Jerry hides among the myriad of toys (even firing a trick cannon's cork at Tom) and hides inside a Christmas fairy light, causing him to glow. Tom, obviously not fooled by this, grabs Jerry and is promptly electrocuted. Jerry hides among some toy soldiers, but Tom spots him, and just as he is about to crush Jerry with his paw, the mouse runs off. Tom chases Jerry, but is stopped by the barrier of a miniature level crossing. A toy train passes by, with many Passenger Cars. Jerry is sitting on top of the caboose, waving cheekily at Tom and pulling faces. However, the train enters a model of a tunnel, and Jerry, sitting on top of the train, hits his head, knocking him onto the track. He quickly runs through the tunnel, pursued by Tom, who knocks the tunnel over. Jerry hides inside a boxing glove and boxes the puzzled cat in the face before running off behind the Christmas tree. Tom, now arming himself with a boxing glove of his own, follows him and spots him jumping into a Jack-in-the-box. Opening up the box, Tom is punched by the boxing glove stuck on Jack's head and is knocked out. Jerry jumps out and holds it up in victory like a boxing referee.
Tom chases Jerry once again, but Jerry holds out a piece of mistletoe in front of him and persuades an embarrassed Tom to kiss him. Tom blushes, and while his back is turned, Jerry kicks him in the rear. The mouse darts through the letterbox slot into the outdoors. As Tom opens the lid of the letterbox to see where Jerry has gone, Jerry hurls a snowball at his face. Tom angrily barricades the slot so that Jerry cannot get back into the house.
While Jerry trudges up and down in the heavy snow in a vain attempt to warm himself, Tom fluffs up his cushion and prepares to sleep. He is unable to settle himself; heavenly choirs sing carols, pricking Tom's conscience with the message of Christmas peace and goodwill. He first props open the slot to allow Jerry back in and, when the mouse does not reappear, ventures anxiously outside to find Jerry, frozen. Fearing for Jerry's life, he brings the frozen mouse indoors and warms him up by the fire. Slowly, Jerry regains consciousness, but is wary of the cat. Tom hands Jerry a candy cane, his Christmas present. A delighted Jerry licks his cane, but then quickly reacts to prevent Tom from drinking from his bowl of milk. He dips his cane into the bowl, and a loud snap is heard. Jerry uses the cane to fish a mousetrap that he had earlier planted in the bowl. Tom appreciates Jerry's warning and the mouse runs back to his hole. He uses his candy cane to hook the cheese off the mousetrap. Instead of snapping like a usual mousetrap does, the spring slowly comes down, ringing the tune of Jingle Bells as Jerry smiles in admiration of the musical mousetrap.
- Frank Graham as Narrator
- This is the first time Tom rescues Jerry. He also saves the little brown mouse in The Truce Hurts, Snowbody Loves Me, Dog Trouble and The Missing Mouse.
- This is the first time where Tom wins in the end.
- First Tom and Jerry cartoon with a narrator
- This is the first of twenty-one cartoons in which Tom and Jerry both win in the end. The other cartoons are Mouse in Manhattan, Old Rockin' Chair Tom, Heavenly Puss, Smitten Kitten, Triplet Trouble, Just Ducky, Life with Tom, Puppy Tale, Neapolitan Mouse, Mucho Mouse, Happy Go Ducky, Carmen Get It!, Snowbody Loves Me, Tom-ic Energy, I'm Just Wild About Jerry, Matinee Mouse, Of Feline Bondage, The A-Tom-Inable Snowman, Surf-Bored Cat, Shutter Bugged Cat and Purr-Chance to Dream.
- This is the second Tom and Jerry short to be nominated for an Academy Award.
- The idea of the scene where Jerry puts the "Do Not Open 'Til Xmas" sticker on Tom's mouth is similar to the much later Disney Mickey Mouse cartoon titled Pluto's Christmas Tree in 1952, in where at the ending Chip and Dale put the sticker on Pluto's mouth because of his howling annoying them.
- When Tom defrosts Jerry over the fire, the ice does not seem to melt, it just disappears without any water dripping off of him.
- This is the only Tom and Jerry cartoon that officially exists in master quality (as held by Turner/Warner Bros.) with the original 1941-1943 Tom and Jerry title card (but with a Christmas-themed background).
- The title of Disney's 1993 animated film The Nightmare Before Christmas is a bit of a reference to this cartoon short.
- A fragment of this short was used in Episode 46 of Justice League Action titled Party Animal, when Plastic Man gently seats Grundy on the couch and tries to distract him with Tom and Jerry Christmas cartoons.
- This cartoon was released one day before the infamous Japanese military waged the attack on Pearl Harbor, one of the most influential turning points in the history of World War II.
- This is the first time Tom gives Jerry a present.
- The first Tom and Jerry cartoon to have a poster.
- This is the first Tom and Jerry cartoon that does not have an appearance of Mammy Two Shoes.