Tom is one of the few non-adult characters that doesnt go to Lawndale High. He is a smart, polite and mature young man, despite thats he's made a few screw-ups, but he does always mean well. His parents are Kay and Angier Sloane, and his sister is Elsie.
He was voiced by Russell Hankin.
"Remember when we went to the drugstore and read the greeting card poems aloud? That was a fun date." ― Sappy Anniverary
Tom Sloane is a rich teenager who belongs to one of Lawndale's richest families, but this is neither apparent from his appearance, nor by the car he drives. He was introduced in the episode "Jane's Addition" and indeed was the titular "addition" of that episode. Tom continued as Daria's boyfriend throughout the final season.
He has a casual, easy-going personality, unconcerned with most situations and assuming that things are going to go fine for him in a way that crosses the line into smugness. Tom shows decency and ethics on a number of occasions - helping out strangers ("A Tree Grows in Lawndale", "I Loathe a Parade"), trying to repair a Daria/Jane rift ("Jane's Addition"), and expressing contempt for Wizard Computers' treatment of workers ("Prize Fighters") - but has also shown a mild arrogance and a habit of assuming people think the same way as him. He is often surprised when this irritates people. Daria summarised him in "Is It College Yet?" as being "a good guy. A little spoiled, a hair smug, a trifle egotistical, but a smart, funny guy who's basically very caring and sensitive in the not-pukey way".
Unique among the teenaged cast, he doesn't go to Lawndale High School but instead to Fielding Preparatory Academy. This is first mentioned in "Partner's Complaint", followed by Jane saying Tom's parents "make him go there".
He has certain characteristics in common with Daria: he is intelligent, well-read, and cynical, and he is not afraid to show it. He also shares an interest in older and more artistic films, such as Federico Fellini ("Fire!"), the works of Luis Buñuel, and The Third Man (he has posters of The Third Man and an iconic [Un Chien Andalou shot in his bedroom). Tom's inability to notice he's pissing people off more than he should is also in common with Daria, and in "Life in the Past Lane" the two of them jointly put down her new boyfriend without realising it was genuinely angering her.
Unlike Daria (and more like Jane), he is more open and friendly to new experiences and people. Tom is quite adaptable to new situations, able to quickly work out solutions to problems ("A Tree Grows in Lawndale"), and to social groups. In both cases, this can be faster than others might find comfortable: he quite quickly became attached to Jane and part of her intimate circle of friends/family (disorienting and frustrating Daria) and grew increasingly involved with the Lawndale High crowd; he then moved rapidly from the break-up with Jane to dating Daria, despite the obvious tensions this was causing. He didn't realise that the girls weren't going to adapt and move on as fast as he was, leading to conflict and tensions that he was quite confused by.
In emotional conflicts, Tom attempts to use reason to resolve situations: he approached Daria in "Jane's Addition" to put forward a calm, reasoned argument for burying the hatchet; he pointed out his relationship with Jane was already dead in "Dye! Dye! My Darling"; and during conflicts with Daria, he would make appeals to logic and her intellect. This usually works in the end, but has been known to greatly irritate Daria.
He has a younger sister, Elsie, with whom he appears to have a hostile relationship. He seems to get on with his parents, though we primarily see them when Daria's present; remember that they did basically steal his old car and dispose of it in the middle of the night before giving him a more 'suitable' one for his class. Either way, he says in "Is It Fall Yet?" that never tells them about anyone he's dating, and was a bit worried when they caught him with Daria; this seems to be more from embarrassment than any conflict over who he dates though, as according to him his parents like Daria. In "Boxing Daria", he made a casual comment that his family (and other rich families) try to ignore their family problems and pretend they don't exist.
During the summer months, at least in the year of "Is It Fall Yet?", he works in his father's office at Grace, Sloane, and Page. He is presumably being groomed to take over the family business.
It seems to be hinted that Tom is not very popular at his own school, much like Daria and Jane at Lawndale High. He shows little interest in social events of his own class, such as not being interested in going to the dance in Is It Fall Yet? and referring to those events as "dull". In "Jane's Addition" his "good friends" blow him off, leading him to seek Jane at Pizza King. In My Night at Daria's when Daria tells him that a rumor is going around Lawndale that the two of them had sex, Tom asks if they could get the rumor going at his school, too. Notably, we never see any of Tom's friends from Fielding and (post-"Addition") only hear about them once, when Jane mentions going to a bowling alley with them in "Of Human Bonding".
Tom and wealth
It is directly stated by many characters on the show that his family is not only rather wealthy but is also quite powerful. (This was retroactively introduced starting with "Is It Fall Yet?")
His interest in this wealth and power varies considerably.
Tom's initial car is a Ford Pinto, considered to be among the more dangerous cars ever made. It can be seen as a clear attempt by Tom to escape or at least not be associated with his family's immense wealth. We later see him driving what appears to be a well-used Jaguar, a car more fitting of his station (he states his parents had his old car towed away in the night). His clothes generally look cheap: he's 'dressing down'.
Tom has also stated repeatedly that he finds the social gatherings of his social class to be deathly dull, as well as the family get-together's at "the cove" where his Aunt Mildred has a summer home. He has been seen trying to sneak his way out of the former (he never seems to pull off sneaking from the latter), and generally prefers to laze around at home most of the time instead. When Andrew Landon joked about his mother having great "power" by being on a country club board, Tom looked briefly mortified by both the suggestion and it being made in public (and in front of Daria).
However, he is not only gleefully going to attend the pompous, Ivy League school known as Bromwell, he never shows any concern that he might not get in (though he has got safety colleges) and is shown having and using Bromwell contacts & influence through his family, though he shrugs that off when Daria points it out. He also uses his family's influence to get Daria into Bromwell as well, which (despite being a helpful act on his part) irked Daria. He could get defensive when criticised for any presumed elitism, and sometimes appeared unaware that his family's wealth (and assumptions that came with it) might confuse, irritate, or embarrass people who were less wealthy.
Jane referred to Tom as being forced to go to Fielding, which is possibly how Tom had described it to her; Daria was unimpressed by this claim, implying Tom can't be too bothered or he'd have done something about it. He never expressed any irritation or concern about Fielding to Daria.
Generally, he seems to enjoy his family's wealth while noticing and casually disparaging some of its absurdities. His family's wealth and power was a source of tension between him and Daria during their relationship, sometimes from his unnoticed privilege and sometimes because she automatically assumed the worst because of his class.
The "Love Triangle" Story Arc
In the episode "Jane's Addition," Tom was introduced and began dating Jane Lane in very short order. They met at a Mystik Spiral gig while Daria was briefly absent. The amount of time Jane spent with Tom was a source of tension between Daria and Jane for many episodes afterward, much as Jane's dates with Evan had been ("See Jane Run").
Daria and Tom, however, had a lot in common. Though Jane was never portrayed as stupid, she was definitely not as "book-smart" as Daria or Tom. By the episode "I Loathe a Parade," however, it was clear that the tension between Daria and Tom had blossomed into something else. Meanwhile, Tom and Jane's relationship began to deteriorate, with increasing clashes between the two; Tom made several big romantic gestures to Jane, ones that were out of character for him, to try and revive the relationship ("Sappy Anniversary"). After the end, Tom admitted they'd just been getting bored of each other. (Notably, he didn't blame Jane for this and said this is something that just happens in relationships.)
Meanwhile, Daria and Tom began a strange flirtation in "Fire!", which did not go unnoticed by Jane. ("When," she asks bitterly, "did I become a third wheel in my own relationship?") While Tom and Daria hadn't been shown doing anything before then, Jane appeared to have been worried already that he was becoming interested in her friend.
In "Dye! Dye! My Darling", Tom tried to talk to an unwilling Daria about their situation, leading to a moment known as The Kiss in Tom's car. This betrayal nearly ended Daria and Jane's friendship. Daria's relationships with both Jane and Tom were not fully resolved until Is it Fall Yet?. At the end of that movie, Daria and Jane's friendship was revealed to be stronger than the boy-drama, and Daria decided to pursue a romantic entanglement with Tom. In the rest of the series, the characters would occasionally make jokes about how Daria was dating her friend's boyfriend ("Life in the Past Lane", "Is It College Yet?").
In the off-canon canon IIFY Post-Movie Chat, when asked which of the girls was a better kisser, Tom covered himself by claiming he had "no memory of ever kissing Jane" - Jane responded with "Tom who?".
In a 2006 interview with Kara Wild, Glenn Eichler said Tom was created as "I thought it was really pushing credibility for Daria to have only had one or two dates during her whole high school career - I thought it was time in the evolution of her personality for a boyfriend to enter the picture. And of course it would provide us with some fresh storylines, always welcome after 39 episodes." The reason Tom started as Jane's boyfriend was both because Glenn felt Daria would need to grow on a high school boy for him to ask her out, meaning "he would need to spend a fair amount of time in her company BEFORE they started dating", and because "I thought the situation would allow us to explore and test Daria and Jane's friendship". He admits this "may have backfired" as a chunk of the audience didn't buy Jane would forgive Daria for that.
In a 2019 interview with Nerdist, he also admitted "I felt like maybe the fact that I don’t want to write about her having a romance isn’t enough justification for her not to have one."
Daria actress Tracy Grandstaff has suggested that Daria's part in the triangle happened because she "never expected a guy to be interested in her—until Tom came along" and because "she sat in the shadows crushing over the unattainable Trent for so long, she was blindsided by Tom’s attention ". (Also a more tongue-in-cheek answer of "maybe the writers wanted to make the storyline more interesting")
Guy Moore, director of most of the Daria/Tom/Jane love triangle stories, said in 2014 "I never much understood why anyone found Tom appealing, as his personality was fairly bland, and he didn’t seem to have any chemistry with either Jane or Daria. But the mess of having all your relationships change because you got caught off guard by new feelings, THAT I understood-- that sort of thing had happened to me, and to plenty of other people I knew, and I was very familiar with the resultant awfulness. So I gave the writers kudos for going there and exploring it, even as I was cringing."
Relationship with Daria
Tom is the only character we meet to have actually "dated" Daria, in the sense of having a mutually-understood, ongoing, romantic relationship. Daria described him as "very caring and sensitive in the not-pukey way" in "Is It College Yet?".
His relationship with Daria was marked by clashes and periods of friction, due to Daria's emotional and intimacy issues: this had been a problem since the start and she regularly pushed against him, sometimes to the point of trying to get him to stop dating her. This sometimes irritated him, though the two would make up afterwards. Other times, such as "Sappy Anniversary", Tom could inadvertently tick off Daria with his unconcerned, laconic personality, and a habit of assuming she'd feel the same way as him and not asking her ("Sappy", IIFY?, IICY?).
Between its clashes, the relationship was shown to be quite laid back and not traditionally romantic: in "Sappy Anniversary", Tom said he liked this about the relationship, that neither was going in for big gestures and they were happy to be lazy. (Ironically, that was the one time she was hoping for a gesture.) Usually, the two would hang out at his house or hers, making sarcastic comments about things. In "Life in the Past Lane", both of them were bemused and snarky over the retro scene and the elaborate dates Jane's then boyfriend was taking her on. In "Fizz Ed" and "The Story of D", however, Tom pushed Daria into taking action on things.
MTV's "It Takes Two to Tangle" feature summed up the pairing thusly: "They have a healthy sense of boundaries, probably due to the fact that hers are extra-thick and lustrous. His family background puts him at risk for hyper-exclusivity."
It is not clear how far Daria and Tom went physically in their relationship, just that no intercourse was had. (This gap led to some speculation in fan fiction, and produced some pornographic fan art.) In "My Night at Daria's", it came out that Tom and Daria had discussed sex before and that Tom had backed off early on after Daria said she wasn't ready; he still carries condoms with him 'just in case', and was annoyed when Daria got in a dig at him for it, pointing out he was being responsible. He was very eager to have sex when she raised the idea again but when she was unable to go through with it, he made it clear he didn't view this as a relationship killer.
In "Is It College Yet?", the relationship once again came under strain, this time during the college application period. Their differing views on where they were going and what it involved began to clash, and Tom again assumed Daria's view for her: she ended up missing out on visiting the Boston colleges after Tom decided - without asking her - that they could stay at Bromwell for an extra half-day so he could encourage Professor Woods to put some "influence" his (and Daria's) way; he assumed they still had "plenty of time" (to Daria's silent anger) when they were late getting away, and when they didn't, lightly joked (much to her anger) that it was a good thing they weren't that late to Bromwell. Later, during an argument, she threw at him that she wasn't able to get an application interview at Raft University, and in anger he claimed she probably got in because they hadn't met her. He later tried to make it up to her by trying to use his influence to get her into Bromwell, something she initially found off-putting ("some crappy romance novel where the troubled young viscount decides the lowly stable girl is good enough for him after all", as she put it to Jane).
It was Daria that broke off the relationship in the end, citing (ironically) that they were both starting to lose interest and that they were simply going down different paths after high school and they wouldn't be able to keep it going. Tom initially tried to argue against Daria's claims but stopped after she asked him if he was truly not bored with the relationship or if he was just upset Daria pointed it out first. Tom was left despondent and tried to call her, only to bottle it and hang up when she answered. He later met up with her, admitted in person she was right about what she'd said, and the two agreed to stay friends, with Daria saying she was glad they had dated and Tom telling her "I really look up to you, and your opinion's important to me".
Tom's potentially ending the relationship between Daria and Jane, and effectively sealing the fate of the flirtation between Daria and Trent Lane, caused Tom to be a very controversial character. The Kiss generated enormous antipathy for both Tom and Daria, therefore, there are very few fanworks that portray them in a positive light. Notable exceptions are Ring Toss by Nemo Blank and Mr. and Mrs. Sloane by Quiverwing. See essays like Kara Wild's "Anatomy of a Tom Hater" for disgruntled contemporary views with the character. In contrast, Admonisher's "A Rant About "Evil" Tom" argued fans were taking their dislike of Tom too far, with nothing in canon to show he was intended as 'evil'.
The Tom/Daria pairing has come in for stick for Tom being too much in the right, with some saying the relationship comes off as parternalistic and unequal as a result; others criticise it for being too unromantic, viewing this as unrealistic. Others defend the latter as making sense for Daria, a normally closed-off person.
Outside of his relationship with Daria, Tom's portrayal still varies. A number of writers show him being a good person and/or an ally of Daria's. Others have criticised Tom for being dull and not having much to him beyond being "the boyfriend", claiming he wasn't fleshed out enough. Brian Taylor's critical essay "Why Did It Come to This" argued that Tom was actually too nice of a character in his first year, considering Daria had little grounds for being frosty with him. The Angst Guy has usually shown Tom as being weak, attempting to do the right thing but backing out or getting it wrong; on the Daria Fandom Blog, he also once remarked Tom had been punished for The Kiss by having to date Daria, which he viewed as being a source of pain and frustration for Tom.
In a Q&A, Guy Moore - who worked on "I Loathe A Parade", "Fire!", and "IIFY?" - said that various show admin kept an eye on the fan's views and "mention[ed] in a general sense that the viewers WERE reacting furiously [to the Kiss plot], waiting to see how it resolved. They never qualified "reacting well" or "reacting poorly" I assumed it was well."
In 2017, Glenn Eichler told Vice that "the audience really did not like when she got a boyfriend" and believed this was due to some of the fans disliking when "Daria showed any vulnerability... Daria was echoing a place a lot of the viewers were in emotionally, but some of them just didn't keep going with her."
Because of the Triangle issue, Tom was occasionally portrayed as basically unfeeling and cavalier of the attitudes of others. This can be presented to a lesser or greater extreme, where Tom may have good qualities and be charming but is fundamentally undermined by moral weakness. The fanfics by The Angst Guy tend to lean to this, where Tom is at heart weak and can't be relied on. One example is the alternate ending for "Dye!" called "Die, Die, You Bastard!", where Tom tries to deliberately kiss Daria rather than it being a hormonal accident and the whole plot warps from there.
A version of this take for some fans is assuming that Tom was deliberately 'slumming' at the Zon to pick up girls, and is more of a 'player' than seemed.
This stereotype has been parodied and taken to the extreme in several fanfics, painting Tom as a genuinely malevolent figure. This trope has become wearisome to many fans, but still it lives on
The "Evil Tom" stereotype was on some message boards referred to as "Thom."
Good Guy Tom
In what those fans would see as canon, Tom has also been depicted as a mostly-good, smart character with emotional ties to Daria or Jane. This is usually not the focus of the story but the general treatment of the character. Tom may also be an ally for other characters, like the genderswap "Finn Morgendorffer" series by HolyGrail2007 where he's a friend to the eponymous Finn. A popular romantic example is Nemo Blank's "Ring Toss", where Tom and Daria have remained together and are working together to save Grace, Sloane, and Page from takeover.
The outcome of the Triangle led some fanfic writers to speculate that Tom properly belonged with someone else entirely. This issue has been examined in a number of shipper fanfics, creating pairings such as Tom/Quinn and Tom/Jodie, most of which are implied to have turned into successful relationships.
A gag trope invented by Shiva was that Tom gets dolled up, dressing up in a nurse's outfit and seducing the men of Lawndale. Whether or not he is doing this as a coping mechanism for being dumped by Daria, a devious fetish or just for the lulz is usually open to interpretation.
Tom, Only A Poor Old Boy
One take in a sympathetic Tom story is to have him uneasy about his money and class trappings. HolyGrail's "Bromwell Bound" has him worried that he got into Bromwell solely on legacy ties and not by his own merit, while CAP's "The Road Not Taken By Tom" (requires the Rosetta Stone) has Tom deliberately not join Bromwell to prove himself to himself.
Tom has no canonical friends from Fielding Prep. Fanfic writers duly went out and gave him some, if they assumed he must have at least one friend there. In the early to mid 2010s, a set of friends created by Roentgen had become ubiquitous but they have since fallen out of use after Roentgen, hoping to turn the fanfic into an original story, had the story taken offline.
- When he was dating Jane, we rarely saw any interaction between him and Jane's brother Trent. The exceptions are "The F Word" and "Mart of Darkness". In the former, he pleads with Tom not to abandon Jane because "she needs you right now" (she'd started dressing 'conventional' and he was worried). In the latter, while Trent seems to have no issue with Tom, Trent's laconic, easily-distracted approach to things was shown to drive Tom up the wall.
- MTV did a piss-take of shipping wars with the Guy vs. Guy site.
- In the Latin American dubbing, he was voiced by Jorge Ornelas.
In-depth studies of Tom Sloane’s character and his role in the TV series may be gleaned from these essays and message-board threads.
- First March 2005 interview with Glenn Eichler on DVDaria, with a long, interesting answer to the question, "Why Tom?"
- January 2006 interview with Anne D. Bernstein on DVDaria (see individual questions)
- “The Other Side of the Kiss: An Examination of the Infamous ‘Love Triangle’,” by Kara Wild.
- “Anatomy of a Tom Hater: Why There Is So Much Anger Towards Tom Sloane,” by Kara Wild with help from Alan Benard.
- “The Fall of Tommunism,” by CINCGREEN (site down)
- "A Rant About 'Evil' Tom," by Admonisher
- Why so much hate for Tom? thread on PPMB (thread removed)
- Tom's Passion thread on PPMB (thread removed)
- "The Adventures of Nurse Goodnsexy" by Shiva
- "Bromwell Bound: That One Fateful Summer, by HolyGrail2007
- "Dear Tom," by Ruthless Bunny
- "Ghosts of Christmas Future", by Crusading Saint
- "God Save The Esteem", by Charles RB
- "Last of the Summer Whine", by Kristen Bealer
- "The Next Step," by Mike Xeno
- "A New World", by breitasparrow
- "My Night at Daria's, Ad Infinitum", by Smijey
- "My Night at Tom's," by Thessalian
- "Naked Came the Cynic" by Lawndale Stalker
- "Night of the Living Furniture" by Smijey
- "Reflections in the Hood of a Car," by Angelinhel
- "Ring Toss", by Nemo Blank
- "Spirit of the Game, Nature of the Beast," by HolyGrail2007
- "Tom's Eye View,", by Dennis
- "Tom's Overkill", by ticknart
- "Tom Sloane: Angel or Demon?", by Quiverwing