Thomas F. Wilson

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Thomas F. Wilson
Tom Wilson photo by Josh Alder.jpg
Wilson at Helium Comedy Club in
Portland, Oregon on July 16, 2011
Thomas Francis Wilson Jr.

(1959-04-15) April 15, 1959 (age 59)
Other namesTom Wilson
OccupationActor, voice-over artist
Years active1983–present
Caroline Thomas (m. 1985)

Thomas Francis Wilson Jr. (born April 15, 1959) is an American actor, voice-over artist, and podcaster best known for playing Biff Tannen, Griff Tannen and Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen in the Back to the Future trilogy and Coach Ben Fredricks on NBC's Freaks and Geeks and for his voice-over work in movies, TV shows and video games.

Early life[edit]

Wilson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and raised in nearby Wayne, Pennsylvania. While attending Radnor High School, he was involved in dramatic arts;[1] was president of the debate team, where his partner was future New York Times columnist David Brooks, and played tuba in the high school band and was drum major of his marching band. He studied international politics at Arizona State University.

Wilson attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. While in New York, he got his first "real" stage experience as a comedian.[citation needed]


In the early 1980s, Wilson moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career.[citation needed] He shared an apartment with fellow aspiring comedians Andrew Dice Clay and Yakov Smirnoff, and later joked that he "taught them both about America."[2]

Wilson had a small role in the second season of NBC's Knight Rider in an episode titled "A Knight In Shining Armor".

His breakthrough role was the bully Biff Tannen in the 1985 film Back to the Future. He returned in the sequels Back to the Future Part II and Part III to reprise not only his role as Biff, but also to play Biff's grandson Griff Tannen and great-grandfather Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen. In every Back to the Future film, he ends up in a pile of manure (in reality, a heap of decayed sphagnum and other plant matters) after trying to kill or hurt Michael J. Fox's character Marty McFly. He reprised his role as Biff and voiced various Tannen relatives in the animated series. Wilson did not reprise his role as Biff in the initial versions of Telltale's Back to the Future: The Game released in 2011, being replaced by Kid Beyond. When the game was ported to the PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One in 2015 in commemoration of the original film's 30th anniversary, Wilson returned to provide Biff's voice in these newer versions.

In 1992, he voiced gangster Tony Zucco in Batman: The Animated Series and police detective Matt Bluestone in the animated series Gargoyles.[citation needed] He later went to co-star with Mark Hamill in Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, a video game. It was the third chapter in the Wing Commander series, but the first to feature live action and was extremely popular at the time. The character played by Wilson was Major Todd "Maniac" Marshall, a fellow starfighter pilot of Hamill's character. Wilson also starred in the sequels Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom (1995) and Wing Commander: Prophecy (1997) and contributed his voice to the animated series Wing Commander Academy (1996) in the same role. He also guest starred in an episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in 1997.

Wilson played McKinley High School's Coach Ben Fredricks in the 1999–2000 NBC comedy-drama Freaks and Geeks. Coach Fredricks dated Bill Haverchuck's mother. Wilson was briefly reunited with his Back to the Future co-star Christopher Lloyd in the 1994 film Camp Nowhere.

Wilson has done voice-over work for the Nickelodeon TV show SpongeBob SquarePants. He has voiced particular villainous characters that are physically strong and/or menacing, such as Flats the Flounder in the second season episode The Bully, and The Strangler in SpongeBob Meets the Strangler, and the non-villainous character Reg the Club Bouncer in No Weenies Allowed.

He has hosted a podcast, Big Pop Fun, on the Nerdist Network starting in November 2011. The podcast features Tom sharing stories of his career, as well as informal chats with show business friends including Samm Levine, Blake Clark, Steve Oedekerk, "Weird Al" Yankovic, and more.

Personal life[edit]

Wilson is a painter.[3] Many of his paintings focus on classic children's toys. In 2006, he was selected to join the California Featured Artist Series at Disneyland.[4]

Wilson practices Catholicism, and released a Contemporary Christian album in 2000 called In the Name of the Father.[5]

With the rise in popularity of the Back to the Future series, many people began to ask him questions about his experiences making the films. Wilson found the repetitive nature of the questions to be so amusing and annoying that he wrote a song about them titled "Biff's Question Song" which he features regularly in his stand-up routine.[6]



Year Title Role Notes
1985 Ninja Turf Member of Spike's Gang
Back to the Future Biff Tannen
1986 April Fool's Day Arch Cummings
Let's Get Harry Bob Pachowski
1987 Smart Alex Lieutenant Stevenson
1988 Action Jackson Officer Kornblau
1989 Back to the Future Part II Biff Tannen / Griff Tannen
1990 Back to the Future Part III Buford "Mad-Dog" Tannen / Biff Tannen Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
1991 High Strung Al Dalby
1992 Boris and Natasha: The Movie Additional voices Voice, Uncredited
1993 Blood in Blood Out Det. Rollie McCann
1994 Caroline at Midnight Officer Keaton
Mr. Write Billy
Camp Nowhere Lt. Eliot Hendricks
1995 Born to Be Wild Det. Lou Greenburg
1997 That Darn Cat Officer Melvin
1998 Girl The Ticket Seller
2003 Atlantis: Milo's Return Ashton Carnaby Voice, direct-to-video
2004 The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Victor / Fish #3 / Tough Fish #1 Voice
2006 Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector Bart Tatlock
Zoom Dylan's Teacher
2009 The Informant! Mark Cheviron
House Broken Fire Chief Henry Decker
2010 Yohan: The Child Wanderer Kevin
2011 Rio Trapped Bird / Screaming Hang Gilder Voice
2012 Atlas Shrugged: Part II Robert Collins
2013 Epic Finn Voice
The Heat Captain Frank Woods
Tom and Jerry's Giant Adventure Mr. Bigley / Ginormous Voice; direct-to-video
2015 The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water Angry Customer #1 Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1983 Knight Rider Chip Episode: "A Knight in Shining Armor"
1984 The Facts of Life Moose Episode: "All or Nothing"
1990 Turner & Hooch Det. Scott Turner Unsold TV pilot
1991–92 Back to the Future Biff Tannen and other Tannens Voice
1993 The Pink Panther Additional voices Voice
Batman: The Animated Series Tony Zucco / John Grayson Voice; episodes: "Robin's Reckoning: Parts 1 & 2"
1995–96 Gargoyles Matt Bluestone Voice
1996 Superman Joey Voice; episode: "A Little Piece of Home"
Wing Commander Academy Todd 'Maniac' Marshall Voice
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Simon Episode: "Dream Date"
Andersonville Thomas Sweet TV movie
1997 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Carter Landry Episode: "Lethal Weapon"
Duckman Park Ranger Smith Voice; episode: "Short, Plush and Deadly"
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Marty Voice; episodes: "Clockwise/Gromble Soup", "Showdown/Internal Affairs" Costumer / Talk Show Host TV movie
Fired Up Steve Summer
1998 Pinky and the Brain Larry Bruhn Voice; episode: "Dangerous Brains"
Men in White Ed Klingbottom TV movie
The New Batman Adventures Howlin' Jake / Gotham Angels Biker Voice; episode: "Torch Song"
Zoomates Mark the Polar Bear Voice; TV short
Maggie Hank Episodes: "Just Shoot Him", "Every Little Star"
The Angry Beavers Otis Otto / Bowling Patron Voice; episode: "If You Insisters/Alley Oops!"
1999 The Hughleys Stan Episode: "Why Can't We Be Friends?"
Timon & Pumbaa Additional voices 1 episode
Pepper Ann Coach Bronson Voice; episode: "Beyond Good and Evel/One of the Guys"
1999–2000 Freaks and Geeks Coach Ben Fredricks 6 episodes
2000–01 Max Steel Pete Costas Voice; recurring role (season 1), main role (season 2)
2000 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Buster Voice; episode: "Root of Evil"
2001 Nash Bridges Jack Noon Episode: "Bear Trap"
The Zeta Project Burly Boyfriend Voice; episode: "West Bound"
2001–13 SpongeBob SquarePants Additional voices Voice
2001 Titus Joe Episode: "Amy's Birthday"
2002–03 Do Over Coach Dorsey 4 episodes
2002 She Spies Roger 'Rush' Gibson Episode: "Fondles"
2003 Ed Sean Nowell 4 episodes
The Pitts Guard Episode: "Ticket to Riot"
Boston Public Paul Stanton Episode: "Chapter Sixty-Six"
Striperella Tom Green, Zumo, Painted Patron, Director Voice; episodes: "Beauty and the Obese: Part 1 and 2", "The Wrath of Klinko"
Two and a Half Men Mike Episode: "Pilot"
2004 The Mullets Lyle Turner Episode: "Losin' It"
Rock Me Baby Buffalo Buck Episode: "Go, Otis! It's Your Birthday!"
2005 Rodney Bill Episode: "Sorry Charlie"
Zoey 101 Coach Phelps Episode: "Disc Golf"
Higglytown Heroes Truck Driver Voice; episode: "Kip's Dad Gets a Strike"
Reba Ted Episode: "Reba and the One"
George Lopez Sonny Episode: "George Drives the Batmobile"
2006 Help Me Help You Kenny 4 episodes
Still Standing Coach Kirk Stone Episode: "Still Flunking"
Cold Case Arnold Brown Episode: "Superstar"
2006–08 Ghost Whisperer Tim Flaherty 6 episodes
2007 American Body Shop Juicy Lou Episodes: "Juicy Lou's", "Shop for Sale"
House Lou Episode: "Whatever It Takes"
Boston Legal Jeffrey Bass Episode: "Attack of the Xenophobes"
2008 The Spectacular Spider-Man Stan Carter Voice; 6 episodes
Bones Chip Barnett Episode: "The Baby in the Bough"
Back at the Barnyard Krebs Voice; episode: "Brave Udders"
2008, 2009 Batman: The Brave and the Bold Sportsmaster / Catman Voice; episodes: "Invasion of the Secret Santas!", "Legends of the Dark Mite!"
2009 Psych Butch Episode: "Let's Get Hairy"
Family Guy Additional voices Voice; episode: "Quagmire's Baby"
2010, 2011 Big Love Ricky Jax 3 episodes: "The Mighty and Strong", "Blood Atonement", "The Oath"
2010 Adventure Time Head Marauder, Cat Man, Coal Guy Voice; episodes: "Memories of Boom Boom Mountain", "It Came from the Nightosphere"
True Jackson, VP Ben Franklin Episode: "Field Trip"
2011 Harry's Law Allan Meade Episode: "Bangers in the House"
Billion Dollar Freshmen Principal Preston TV Movie
Planet Sheen Narrator / Blurg #1 Voice; episodes: "Ooze on First/Monster-Fighting Combat Strike Force", "To Chill a Mocking Blurg/Now You Sheen It"
2011–12 Franklin & Bash Spiritual Advisor Episodes: "She Came Upstairs to Kill Me", "For Those About to Rock"
2011 Melissa & Joey Councilman Herbert Hancock Episode: "Play Ball"
2012–present Dragons: Riders of Berk Bucket Voice, 16 episodes
2013 Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous Mr. Stone Main role, 12 episodes
Mad Additional voices Voice; episodes: "S Cape from Planet Earth/The X-Mentalist"
2014 See Dad Run Principal Templeman 2 episodes
2015–18 Pig Goat Banana Cricket Banana, Body Builder Voice; 40 Episodes
2016 The Ranch Coach Fitzgerald Episode: "The Boys of Fall"
K.C. Undercover Agent Whitman Episode: "The Legend of Bad, Bad Cleo Brown"
Trollhunters Coach Lawrence Voice; 20 Episodes
School of Rock Mr. Finn's Dad Episode: "A Band with No Name"
2017 Workaholics Barnes Episode: "The Most Dangerless Game"
Training Day Gary Millstone Episode: "Quid Pro Quo"
Doubt Anthony Kellem Episode: "Running Out of Time"
Will vs. The Future Principal Rhodes
The Mayor Governor Fillucci Episode: "Here Comes the Governor"
2018 Mosaic Cliff Jones Mini Series: 6 Episodes
DC's Legends of Tomorrow Henry "Hank" Heywood 5 Episodes

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1990 Back to the Future... The Pinball Biff Tannen uncredited
1994 Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger Maj. Todd 'Maniac' Marshall Credited as Tom Wilson
1996 Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom Maj. Todd 'Maniac' Marshall Credited as Tom Wilson
1997 Wing Commander: Prophecy Maj. Todd 'Maniac' Marshall Credited as Tom Wilson
2000 Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force Crewman Rick Biessman
2001 Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex Rok-Ko Credited as Tom Wilson
2002 Run Like Hell: Hunt or Be Hunted Craig
2004 Back to the Future Video Slots Biff Tannen archive audio
2008 CR Back to the Future Biff Tannen archive audio
2010 Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Videogame Catman
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Electro
2011 Star Wars: The Old Republic Additional voices
2013 Back to the Future: Back in Time Video Slots Biff Tannen, Griff
2015 Back to the Future: The Game 30th Anniversary Edition Biff Tannen Credited as Tom Wilson


  • Wilson, Tom (2012). The Masked Man: A Memoir And Fantasy Of Hollywood. BookBaby. ISBN 1624880819. Self published.


  1. ^ Eustache, Louis (November 2, 2016). "Tom Wilson Of 'Back To The Future' Talks Pop Art, Biff Tannen And Parallels To Trump". Konbini United States.
  2. ^ "What's What With … Tom Wilson". Philadelphia magazine. MetroCorp. December 3, 2008. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ Alexander, Bryan (21 October 2015). "'Back to the Future': Catching up with the cast". USA Today. Gannett. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Tom Wilson Artist Corner". The Art of Disney Parks. Archived from the original on November 20, 2011. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Thomas F. Wilson – Musician". Dusty Tuba Entertainment, Inc. Archived from the original on February 8, 2011. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  6. ^ Zimmerman, Neetzan (5 November 2012). "Biff Tannen Has a Business Card that Answers All Your Annoying Questions About Back to the Future". Gawker. Retrieved 16 March 2019.

External links[edit]