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File:TOMnami small 6037.png

The many hosts of Toonami, in charge of building you a better cartoon show. [1]


"Welcome to the televised revolution,
As we drift through outer space aboard the Absolution,
With TOM back in active duty as captain,
In charge of bringing superior Anime action.
Yeah…Toonami’s back, bitches,
To celebrate TOM’s return to television."

Richie Branson[2]

Toonami, an influential programming block consisting primarily of a mix of Western action-adventure cartoons and anime, aired on weekday afternoons (and, later, Saturdays) on Cartoon Network starting in 1997. The block featured incredibly high production values for its commercial bumpers, advertisements, and ARG campaigns, which included high-end 3D graphics, a soundtrack consisting of then-uncharacteristic (for a children's block) drum-and-bass and ambient music, and a consistent setting and narrative. Toonami had a hand in uncancelling several syndicated series (Dragon Ball Z, ReBoot, and Sailor Moon), and it premiered several series on its own, both anime (Gundam Wing, Outlaw Star, all three of the original Tenchi Muyo series) and Western animation (the 2002 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe). In regards to anime, fans and historians both credit Toonami for single-handedly ushering in the mainstream Japanophilia boom of the early-to-mid 2000s.

Toonami began life as a spinoff of Space Ghost Coast to Coast, with Moltar broadcasting action cartoons from the Ghost Planet. Cartoon Network later Retooled the block with an original host character, TOM (standing for Toonami Operations Module), broadcasting from the Cool Starship Absolution (with Spaceship Girl SARA joining the cast later). The network also created story-based events and online games associated with TOM and the Absolution (the first of those events, The Intruder, resulted in the upgrade of TOM to TOM II). The tenth anniversary of the block brought yet another Retool, relocating the Framing Device to a jungle planet with a new incarnation of TOM and several other new Robot Buddies; fans widely think of this version's cast as Replacement Scrappies.

Cartoon Network exported Toonami to other nations' versions of the network; it even became an entire network thanks to a revamp of the spinoff channel CNX (before degrading into "CN Too"). The Kids WB weekday afternoon block also tried to adopt Toonami's brand for about a year from 2001-2002, but the programming didn't fit the block's image, and the Toonami branding soon went away.

Fans of Toonami recognize the block — or, more accurately, Toonami's "Midnight Run" — as the Spiritual Ancestor of Adult Swim. Several anime series that aired on Toonami ended up airing on [as] during the latter block's first year.

Cartoon Network eventually cancelled Toonami due to flagging ratings (a direct result of moving the block to Saturdays only and filling it with reruns), then-flagship show Naruto working through the now-infamous pre-Shippuuden Filler Arc, and the higher-ups' need to retool the network itself. The final edition of Toonami aired on 20 September 2008 (surprising fans who had no knowledge the network had cancelled Toonami), and the "Toonami Jetstream" streaming video site subsequently went offline in January 2009.

Toonami...was shut down.

for a while...

On April Fools' Day 2012, Adult Swim "revived" Toonami for one night; while it mainly reused clips from the past — and showed episodes of classic Toonami shows — it also featured new lines recorded for a special Bleach bumper and an all-new review of Mass Effect 3.[3] Needless to say, fans pretty much ate it up like candy. A massive frenzy surged through the internet as fans tweeted, posted, and rallied together to support the idea of bringing Toonami back, with Steve Blum (the voice of TOM) leading the charge. At its 2012 upfront on May 16, [as] officially announced the return of Toonami after the resounding success of the April Fools special; the block would rise again on May 26, and it would receive a mix of old and new programming.

Currently, the new is set to run on a shoestring budget until ratings go up, but with new animated segments featuring a slightly revamped TOM 3 and airing several [as] anime favorites as well as two new shows. There are also currently talks to pick up licenses to several other shows.

Stay gold.

The original Toonami featured the following programs, among others:

Western Animation


Live Action Television

  • Wulin Warriors (for all of 2 episodes)

The [adult swim] version of Toonami has featured the following programs

2012 April Fools' Block

  • Astro Boy (1963)
  • The Big O
  • Blue Submarine No. 6
  • Dragon Ball Z
  • Gigantor
  • Gundam Wing
  • Outlaw Star
  • Tenchi Muyo (The third OVA)
  • Trigun
  • Yu Yu Hakusho

Shows shown starting on the May 26th Revival

The Toonami framing sequences were basically their own universe — and as such, had their own tropes:
  • Actor Allusion: TOM 4.0's final line closing out Toonami's initial run echoes that of another character voiced by Steven Jay Blum.
  • April Fools' Day: As stated, the block was dusted off for a one night stand on April 1st 2012 on Adult Swim, And the Fandom Rejoiced!
  • Ascended Fanboy: Richie Branson, whose raps celebrating Toonami's return played on Adult Swim's bumpers and became the official theme for the return of Toonami.
  • The Asteroid Thicket: One of these was seen in 2003.
  • Back From the Dead:
    • TOM went through four bodies. The first one bit it when he was eaten by an unidentifiable red liquid, and the second one was crushed by a spaceship hijacker as his head was unceremoniously thrown in the garbage. Whatever led to the fourth one is never really explained.
    • In 2015, TOM 1 returned as part of the Intruder and wanted to hunt down TOM so they could merge. He also killed TOM 4 and absorbed it into himself, and even took Sara offline. TOM 5 was able to defeat him, though, and restore Sara.
    • Sara herself died from being struck by space lightning in 2017 and turned into an alien intelligence who called itself "Vindication." Fortunately, the future TOM came to the past and made sure none of that would ever happen.
  • Bowdlerization: A good number of the anime series Toonami got its hands on suffered through this to get to air. A few shows got a reprieve from the censorship thanks to the Midnight Run (Gundam Wing, most notably). Yu Yu Hakusho made an interesting jump from Adult Swim for some 26 episodes before being transported to Toonami for the remainder of it's run, and as such fans got to see the unedited version first.
  • Brother Chuck: Toonami was pretty good at averting this, and seeing as most blocks don't bother with continuity at all, that's fairly impressive. However, the 2007 season dropped all pretenses of keeping the plot straight - TOM v.4 replaced v.3, and SARA and the Absolution both disappeared entirely for no apparent reason.
    • SARA's absence was due to her VAs Sally Timms and Samantha Robson being unavailable, until 2013, when she came back, being voiced by Dana Swanson.
    • Swayzak has just disappeared off the face of the Earth after Trapped in Hyperspace, only reappearing in a game review in 2004... with a different voice that sounds almost like Lokar. To be fair, this is just because Carl Lumbly is unavailable.
  • Broke the Rating Scale / Hilarity Ensues: When TOM did video game reviews (usually during commercial breaks) one game received a "?" rating, Dropship: United Peace Force for the PlayStation 2, as TOM had no idea how to rate the game since he could never get past the sixth level. This was accompanied by repeated footage of TOM losing on that level. The synopsis on Toonami Digital Arsenal reads "A robot loses his mind over a video game. Hilarity ensues." And you know what's even more hilarious? To this date, they still didn't beat Dropship.
  • Call Back: The new Toonami's "Building a Better Cartoon Show" promo is a direct update of several Moltar- and TOM 1.0/2.0-era promos. It even uses the same audio clip every similar promo shared, a line from the Superman Theatrical Cartoons: "We won't be intimidated by criminal threats!"
  • Cool Ship: Both Absolutions.
  • Deadpan Snarker: TOM and SARA were both very prone to snark during the story arcs. Even Swayzak from Trapped in Hyperspace was somewhat of a snarker, what with his "Good luck, hero!"
  • Disney Death: Sara in The Intruder II and Countdown.
  • Disney Villain Death: The Intruder in The Intruder II dies as TOM blows up the Absolution III.
  • Dumb Muscle: TOM 3, who tries to act painfully cool ("Drop it like it's hot" in the IGPX game review, anyone?) and absolutely fails at it. He was a huge contrast from the awkward and dorky yet heroic TOM 2, and some fans just didn't agree with it.
  • End of an Age: The block's cancellation is definitely considered this by fans, as well as a major sign of Cartoon Network's rapidly worsening Network Decay.
  • Face Heel Turn:
    • TOM in the final level of the Trapped in Hyperspace game, where Swayzak infects him. TOM even has his own Evil Laugh — a very cute one at that.
    • Unfortunately, what happens to Sara in Countdown all because she was too stupid and stood close to a dangerous nebula.
  • Fan Sequel: Several fan-run streaming sites exist or are in the works, some even doing original bumps. Not exactly legal, though, so no links for you.
  • Fan Art: During the TOM 1.0 and TOM 2.0 years, there was a period during which you could mail it into Cartoon Network and it'd be showcased on-air.
  • Fan Vid: Toonami created several Fan Vid-styled montages of scenes from their shows, often revolving around dramatic monologues either from the shows themselves or written especially for the video (and read by Peter Cullen). For example, "Advanced Robotics".
  • Fantastic Voyage Plot: The fifth level of the Trapped in Hyperspace game, where you (the player) were inside TOM in order to save him from Swayzak, who had infected him. TOM's insides were what you'd expect of a typical robot's; the walls were grey, and everything was composed of metallic tubes (it was a Descent-type game.) You fought Swayzak, who showed his full body for the first time, in pitch darkness accompanied by mechanical humming/growling, apparently TOM's brain.
  • Four-Fingered Hands:
    • TOMs 2 and 4 both had four fingers on each hand. TOM 1 had only 3 fingers, while TOM 3 was the only one to have all five.
    • Swayzak also had five fingers on each hand.
  • Four Point Scale: Out of all the video game reviews done on the show, it was rare for anything to get a score below 7 out of 10. No games ever received a 5 or lower on that scale either.
  • History Repeats: Toonami began its earliest days with a limited budget and lineup strictly limited to shows whose licenses were cheap to pick up. Over ten years later, in 2012 during the re-launch? Well....
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: When Future Sara tries to kill TOM in Countdown, TOM starts talking about how much he loves her, despite what happened to her. This causes her to come back to normal.
  • In Name Only: Toonami on Kids WB.
  • Killer App: Dragon Ball Z was this during the block's golden age. Sure, it was rerun to hell and back, but it still got some of the best ratings Cartoon Network has ever seen.
    • Gundam Wing was also this during Toonami's heyday. It was one of the first "serious" anime to premiere largely uncut on a mainstream western network. Gundam Wing was so popular, its airing of the OVA special "Endless Waltz" is, to this day, the second highest rated program ever in the history of Cartoon Network.
    • And then in 2005, a year after the block became Saturday-only, it was Naruto. Unfortunately, Naruto is considered by some to be the show that killed Toonami — it is something of a Creator's Pet to the old, pre-2004 fanbase, what with the constant airing of the show in the significantly shorter block.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Like turn you evil and make you try to destroy all organic life. All because you're too dumb to get out of the way.
  • Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: Try explaining something like Countdown to someone who hasn't seen the block. ...Yeah.
  • Marathon Running: One in 2000 called Full Cycle, and the second in 2006 called the Naruto Hundo.
  • Never Say "Die": Much of its programs thankfully averted this, which contributed to its edgy factor. Gundam Wing received this for its daytime airings, but was fortunately allowed to say "kill" and "die" during Toonami's Midnight Run block.
    • One of the rare and unfortunate examples of this trope played straight, however, was Gundam Seed. Granted, it was Bandai Entertainment, NOT Cartoon Network, who requested this to sell more toys. However, this forced American fans to wait for the Gundam Seed DVDs to hear the words "kill" and "die", since Adult Swim (which replaced the Midnight Run) had no interest in showing the uncut version of Gundam Seed.
  • Noodle Incident: When Moltar hosted the show, he mentioned that he used to date Sailor Jupiter, but something happened that caused them to break up.
    • As mentioned above, there's also no explanation for why TOM v3 was replaced with v4, or went back to v3 for the April 1st airing and subsequent relaunch (though Canon Discontinuity is probably responsible for the latter).
  • The Nth Doctor:
    • The Clydes are the most prevalent example--the 49 was a single satellite unit during Moltar's reign. Once TOM stepped in, Clyde 49 became Clyde 50s (floating security cameras around the Absolution). The DOKs, unoffically Clyde 51s, added limbs to the design (amongst other things). The Clyde 52s were basically floating, solar-powered emoticons. The Clyde 53s were complex beetle-like structures with elements from each of their predecessors. The singular Clyde 54 vaguely resembled the Clyde 50s, but with a humanoid face (much like TOM v.4).
    • TOM was destroyed and rebuilt thrice. The presence of the fourth version was never explained.
    • SARA also changed from a face on a screen to a full-on hologram (to better defend the Absolution), and even the Absolution was replaced once.
  • Oh Crap: Future TOM lets out a barrage of "CRAP CRAP CRAP" when Future Sara appears in episode 4 of Countdown.
  • One of Us: In-universe wise, TOM is a huge fan of Mario games, LEGOs, and Star Wars. His other game reviews also shed some light on everything he's a fan of.
  • Precision F-Strike: TOM begins the full revival on 5/26/2012:

"Toonami's back, bitches."

  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Retraux: The 2012 April Fool's run recreated the TOM 3 era visually.
  • Robot Buddy: TOM is one to many kids, because of his sheer badassery and his knowledge of anime and video games.
  • Satan: Swayzak resembled the devil, to the point where he even had a pitchfork in the Trapped in Hyperspace online game.
  • Screwed by the Network: Toonami aired every weekday for years before being moved to Saturdays only, and the block's time slot was cut in half; its schedule eventually consisted of reruns, filler, and Naruto; it was replaced by the network's new darling Miguzi the week following its move to Saturdays-only...the list goes on and on. Long story short, it was canceled by Cartoon Network, which was supposedly due to bad ratings, despite the fact they were the ones causing them.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The main plot of Countdown, "what once went wrong" being an evil version of Sara from the future all because she stood too close to a dangerous nebula.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Socially Awkward Hero:
    • TOM 2 was socially-inept, awkward and dorky, yet good-hearted, and when the Absolution was in danger, he showed off his heroic side. His dorkiness especially shines in his game reviews. Fans have compared him to Peter Parker (especially the Raimi version) and Jaime Reyes.
    • The British version of TOM 2 was even more socially awkward, as evidenced by his conversations with Sara. While the American TOM 2 had at least some sort of social competence, Sara seemed to be the only person the British TOM 2 knew.
  • Spaceship Girl: Sara controls the Absolution. When the block was moved to Saturday nights, she gained a full body to better defend the Absolution. Taken Up to Eleven in Countdown, where a lightning strike from a mysterious nebula fries Sara's morality and has her merge with the ship.
  • Story Arc: Has six of them, a first for a what was essentially framing devices for the shows. These were usually considered special events and allowed audience participation.
    • The Intruder: The first and considered a Wham! Episode by many fans. A red blob attaches itself to the Absolution and slowly eats at the engine. Tom goes to fight it but ultimately fails and his body is devoured. However, Sara releases his new body, TOM 2, who manages to jettison the engine and the blob out into space. Viewers were then allowed to pick the new engine for the ship.
    • Lockdown: The Absolution comes upon distress signal that leads them to a spaceship graveyard. Their controls are locked down trapping them there. Tom and SARA find that the problem coming from a nearby ship and an entity whose signal is keeping the ships trapped. As TOM and SARA are stuck on the Absolution, they send their probes (controlled by their viewers) to destroy the entity and free them.
    • Trapped in Hyperspace: TOM tries out a new hyperspace function but a computer virus named Swayzak attacks the ship during so, leaving the Absolution stuck hurling through hyperspace. The only way to free the ship is for TOM to plug his mind into the computer grid and confront Swayzak directly. The confrontations were part of a flash game the Toonami site was holding, which is now lost media because NOBODY BOTHERED TO BACK IT UP. Thus, everyone considers it the worst TIE when it was actually one of the best. Also known for those who DID play the game for being the first (and only, so far) time TOM has become evil; in the fifth stage, Swayzak infected him.
    • The Intruder II: The Intruder comes back for revenge, Sara dies, and TOM loses an arm.
    • The Intruder III: TOM and Sara's hideout on Shogo 162 gets invaded by sandworms. The sandworms aren't evil, they're just warning TOM and Sara to leave the planet as it's about to blow up. Sara and TOM adopt a baby worm from the planet and name it "Georgia," but Shogo 162 is gone, forever.
    • Countdown: another TOM comes from a future where Sara died by a nebula and is now a bloodthirsty zombie killing other planets. Depending on who you are, this TIE either was eh or SUCKED.
    • The Forge: TOM finds out where he came from (contradicting The Swarm, a comic from the TOM 1 era that was subsequently stated to be non-canonical) when he is kidnapped by a Complete Monster alien (who also fails completely at hiding his gut) and taken to a forge where all the other robots of his model reside. TOM and Sara manage to reprogram the robots, but TOM sacrifices himself for the others. Thankfully, Sara uses the forge to make a new body for him.
  • Surfer Dude: TOM 2 on the UK Toonami had a stereotypical surfer voice, which still managed to sound hot depending on who you are.
  • Totally Radical: Arguably subverted in that while TOM 3 says things like "Ride 'em Cowboy" and "Drop It Like It's Hot" when reviewing games, he still sounds like a badass... at least to some. To other viewers, it caused them to vomit all over their monitors.
  • Trailers: Toonami was famous for putting together professionally well-made trailers for the programs it aired. The pre-debut trailer for Gundam Wing was so good that Bandai asked for--and received--permission to start using the Toonami trailer instead of its own to advertise the show's DVD release.
  • Twist Ending: The intro for the April Fools' Day block.
  • Uncanceled: Toonami's Back Bitches.
  • The Voiceless: TOM, oddly enough, on the Kids WB Toonami. Arguably, this could've made him more cute, because it was TOM 2, but one could say his social awkwardness made him cute.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: TOM seems to have picked this up since the revival. It's part of the marketing campaign too, with the official hashtag being #ToonamiIsBackBitches.
  • Watershed: For a while, Toonami aired specials after the watershed hour as a special block called the "Midnight Run". Among other things, they aired episodes of Gundam Wing uncut, as opposed to the slightly-edited versions that aired during the day. As noted above, Midnight Run was essentially an early version of Adult Swim.
  • Web Comics: Toonami had two of them. The first called Swarm explained the origins of Tom 1, while the next one called Endgame explained how Tom 2 became Tom 3. There were also Dynomutt Dog Wonder comics on the site, even though that show never aired on Toonami.
  • Wham! Line:
  • What an Idiot!: Sara should've known better than to stand close to a nebula that wasn't any of the charts in Countdown. When she saw the lightning coming, she should've DUCKED LIKE TOM DID! This leads to a soul-scarring moment of her SUFFERING AND DYING that's even worse than her previous "death" in The Intruder II since it comes STRAIGHT out of nowhere. You would think it would be TOM who stood too close and died, considering he's died/gone evil before.
  • With This Herring: TOM, after being rebuilt, was expected to (and proceeded to) destroy Orcelot Rex. With a dinner fork.


Only Toonami


  1. From left to right: Moltar (C. Martin Croker, 1997-1999), TOM 1.0 (Sonny Strait, 1999-2000), TOM 2.0 (Steve Blum, 2000-2003), TOM 3.0 (Steve Blum, 2003-2007, 2012), TOM 4.0 (Steve Blum, 2007-2008), and TOM 3.5 (Steve Blum, 2012-on).
  2. "#ToonamisBackBitches", which was used as the intro to Toonami during its 2012 return premiere.
  3. Click this link to watch everything that happened, sans the shows.