Thomas F. Wilson

Thomas Francis Wilson Jr. (born April 15, 1959) is an American character actor, voice actor, comedian, writer, artist, musician and podcaster. He is best known for portraying Biff Tannen, Griff Tannen and Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen in the Back to the Future trilogy (1985–1990), and as Coach Ben Fredricks in the TV Series Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000).

Thomas F. Wilson
Tom Wilson photo by Josh Alder.jpg
Thomas Francis Wilson Jr.

(1959-04-15) April 15, 1959 (age 61)
Other namesTom Wilson
  • Actor
  • voice actor
  • comedian
  • writer
  • artist
  • musician
  • podcaster
Years active1981–present
Caroline Thomas
(m. 1985)

Early lifeEdit

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, 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.[2]


In 1981, Wilson moved to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career.[2][3] He shared an apartment with fellow aspiring comedians Andrew Dice Clay and Yakov Smirnoff, and later joked that he "taught them both about America."[4]

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 not only reprise his role as Biff, but to also play Biff's grandson Griff Tannen and great-grandfather Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen. In every Back to the Future film, his character ends up in a pile of manure (in reality, a heap of decayed sphagnum and other mulches) 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 many villainous characters that are physically strong and menacing, such as Flats the Flounder in the third season episode The Bully, and The Tattletale Strangler in SpongeBob Meets the Strangler, and the non-villainous character Reg the Club Bouncer in No Weenies Allowed. In 2005 he played Coach Phelps in the TV series Zoey 101.[5]

He hosted a podcast, Big Pop Fun, on the Nerdist Network from 2011 to 2014. The podcast featured Tom sharing stories of his career, as well as informal chats with show business friends including Samm Levine, Blake Clark, Steve Oedekerk and "Weird Al" Yankovic.

Wilson currently maintains a YouTube channel, where he regularly vlogs. As of April 2020, his channel has over 23,000 subscribers.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Wilson has been married to his wife Caroline Thomas since July 6, 1985.[7] Together they have four children.[8]

Wilson is also a painter.[9] Many of his paintings focus on classic children's toys. In 2006, he was selected to join the California Featured Artist Series at Disneyland.[10] Wilson is a devout Catholic, and released a Contemporary Christian album in 2000 called In the Name of the Father.[11]

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 both hilarious and frustrating, so he wrote a song about them titled "Biff's Question Song" which he includes in his stand-up routine.[12]



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
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 Ashtin Carnaby (voice) Direct-to-video[13]
2004 The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Victor, Fish #3, Tough Fish #1 (voices) [13]
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 Glider (voices) [13]
2012 Atlas Shrugged: Part II Robert Collins
2013 Epic Finn (voice) [13]
The Heat Captain Frank Woods
Tom and Jerry's Giant Adventure Mr. Bigley, Ginormous (voices) Direct-to-video[13]
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 Pilot
1991–1992 Back to the Future Biff Tannen, Additional voices 26 episodes
1992 Batman: The Animated Series Tony Zucco / John Grayson (voices) Episodes: "Robin's Reckoning"[13]
1995–1996 Gargoyles Matt Bluestone (voice) 14 episodes
1996 Superman Joey (voice) Episode: "A Little Piece of Home"[13]
Wing Commander Academy Todd 'Maniac' Marshall (voice) 13 episodes
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Simon Episode: "Dream Date"
Andersonville Thomas Sweet Television film
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) 2 episodes[13] Costumer, Talk Show Host Pilot
1997–1998 Fired Up Steve Summer 5 episodes
1998 Pinky and the Brain Larry Bruhn (voice) Episode: "Dangerous Brains"
Men in White Ed Klingbottom Television film
The New Batman Adventures Howlin' Jake, Gotham Angels Biker (voices) Episode: "Torch Song"[13]
Zoomates Mark the Polar Bear (voice) Television short
Maggie Hank 2 episodes
The Angry Beavers Otis Otto, Bowling Patron (voices) Episode: "Alley Oops!"
1999 The Hughleys Stan Episode: "Why Can't We Be Friends?"
Pepper Ann Coach Bronson (voice) Episode: "Beyond Good and Evel/One of the Guys"
1999–2000 Freaks and Geeks Coach Ben Fredricks 6 episodes
2000–2001 Max Steel Pete Costas (voice) 20 episodes
2000 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Buster (voice) Episode: "Root of Evil"[13]
2001 Nash Bridges Jack Noon Episode: "Bear Trap"
The Zeta Project Burly Boyfriend (voice) Episode: "West Bound"[13]
Titus Joe Episode: "Amy's Birthday"
2001–2019 SpongeBob SquarePants Various voices 13 episodes[13]
2002 She Spies Roger 'Rush' Gibson Episode: "Fondles"
2002–2003 Do Over Coach Dorsey 4 episodes
2003 Ed Sean Nowell 4 episodes
The Pitts Guard (voice) Episode: "Ticket to Riot"
Boston Public Paul Stanton Episode: "Chapter Sixty-Six"
Stripperella Tom Green, Zumo, Painted Patron, Director (voices) 2 episodes[13]
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!"
Johnny Bravo Trent (voice) Episode: "The Time of My Life/Run Johnny Run"[13]
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"
2006–2008 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, Chameleon (voices) 6 episodes[13]
Bones Chip Barnett Episode: "The Baby in the Bough"
Back at the Barnyard Krebs (voice) Episode: "Brave Udders"[13]
2008–2009 Batman: The Brave and the Bold Sportsmaster, Catman (voices) 2 episodes[13]
2009 Psych Butch Episode: "Let's Get Hairy"
Family Guy First Step (voice) Episode: "Quagmire's Baby"
Tom Wilson: Bigger Than You Himself Stand-up special
Also Executive producer
2010 Adventure Time Head Marauder, Cat Man, Coal Guy (voices) 2 episodes[13]
True Jackson, VP Ben Franklin Episode: "Field Trip"
2010–2011 Big Love Ricky Jax 3 episodes
2011 Harry's Law Allan Meade Episode: "Bangers in the House"
Billion Dollar Freshmen Principal Preston Pilot
Planet Sheen Narrator, Blurg #1 (voices) 2 episodes[13]
Melissa & Joey Councilman Herbert Hancock Episode: "Play Ball"
2011–2012 Franklin & Bash Spiritual Advisor 2 episodes
2012–2016 Dragons: Riders of Berk Bucket (voice) 19 episodes[13]
2013 Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous Mr. Stone 12 episodes
Mad Additional voices Episodes: "S Cape from Planet Earth/The X-Mentalist"
2014 See Dad Run Principal Templeman 2 episodes
2015–2018 Pig Goat Banana Cricket Banana, Body Builder (voices) 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"
School of Rock Mr. Finn's Dad Episode: "A Band with No Name"
2016–2018 Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia Coach Lawrence (voice) 21 episodes[13]
2017 Workaholics Barnes Episode: "The Most Dangerless Game"
Training Day Gary Milestone Episode: "Quid Pro Quo"
Doubt Anthony Kellem Episode: "Running Out of Time"
Will vs. The Future Principal Rhodes Pilot
The Mayor Governor Fillucci Episode: "Here Comes the Governor"
2017–2018 Mosaic Cliff Jones 3 episodes
2018–2019 3Below: Tales of Arcadia Coach Lawrence (voice) 9 episodes[13]
2019–present DC's Legends of Tomorrow Henry "Hank" Heywood 9 episodes
2019 SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout Dog walker Television special
The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants Major Messy/Camoflush (voice) Episode: Captain Underpants and the Cunning Combat of the Covert Camoflush
2020 Sydney to the Max Grandpa Doug 2 episodes

Video gamesEdit

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
1997 Wing Commander: Prophecy
2000 Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force Crewman Rick Biessman
2001 Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex Rok-Ko Credited as Tom Wilson[13]
2002 Run Like Hell: Hunt or Be Hunted Craig [13]
2010 Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Videogame Catman
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Electro [13]
2011 Star Wars: The Old Republic Additional voices
2013 Back to the Future: Back in Time Video Slots Biff Tannen [13]
2015 Back to the Future: The Game 30th Anniversary Edition Credited as Tom Wilson[13]

Theme parksEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1991 Back to the Future: The Ride Biff Tannen Voice

Production workEdit

Year Title Position Notes
1989 The Last Ride Writer Short film
1996 Get Serious: Seven Deadly Subs Writer and producer 6 episodes


  • 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. Archived from the original on November 4, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Dennis Mclellan (March 11, 1993). "TUBA OR NOT TUBA? : Tom Wilson's Blasts of the Past Are Back". Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "What's What With … Tom Wilson". Philadelphia magazine. MetroCorp. December 3, 2008. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  5. ^ Grant, Stacey (October 29, 2015). "12 Celeb Guest Stars You Completely Forgot Were On 'Zoey 101'". MTV News. MTV. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  6. ^ "Tom Wilson". YouTube. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Alexander, Bryan (October 21, 2015). "'Back to the Future': Catching up with the cast". USA Today. Gannett. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  10. ^ "Tom Wilson Artist Corner". The Art of Disney Parks. Archived from the original on November 20, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  11. ^ "Thomas F. Wilson – Musician". Dusty Tuba Entertainment, Inc. Archived from the original on February 8, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  12. ^ Zimmerman, Neetzan (November 5, 2012). "Biff Tannen Has a Business Card that Answers All Your Annoying Questions About Back to the Future". Gawker. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa "Thomas F. Wilson - 64 Character Images". Behind The Voice Actors.

External linksEdit