T.J. is the leader of the main six kids on the show and has been best friends with them since kindergarten (except Gus, who moved to town in the first episode, however, he has also been shown in kindergarten with the rest of the kids). He is outgoing, kindhearted, friendly, and takes having fun very seriously. He also appears to have a good sense of honor, which was demonstrated when he realized how wrong it was to take advantage of Finster while she was injured ("The Fuss Over Finster") and when he discovered an envelope with money and decided to give it back to its rightful owner rather than keep or spend it ("The C-Note"). While he is prone to occasional lapses of ignorance and laziness, he consistently executes playground schemes that improve the lives of him and his friends. Despite being more heavy-set than the other five members of the gang (except for Mikey of course), he is capable of pulling a few stunts, such as escaping detention by climbing either out the window or from the roof of the school a few times. In second grade, he invented the word "whomps", which is what the kids of the playground use instead of "stinks" or "sucks" to describe an unpleasant situation or person. Aside from "whomp", he also uses the word "frooping" a number of times (to replace the 'f' word), though it is unknown whether he created the word or not. He also commonly uses the word "tender" when he feels good about himself. T.J. often roots for the underdog and cares about every kid on the playground, including his enemies. Thus causing most of the school to like him, with the exception of Gordy, as seen in the episode, "Nobody Doesn't Like T.J.". He is hardly ever seen without his red baseball hat.
His parents are very loving and supportive. They do not always appreciate the full extent of T.J.'s high spirits, but they love him just the same.
T.J.'s relationship with his sister Becky is on much shakier ground, but underneath all her objections she does love him too, even coming to his rescue in Recess: School's Out. But unfortunately, she goes back to being mean to him in Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade, most likely for appearance.
T.J. is good friends with Mikey. In "The Break-Up", T.J. says he "appreciates his insane (innate) spiritual gifts". However, he is sometimes embarrassed by Mikey's behavior. In "Tucked In Mikey", after Mikey read a poem inspired by Menlo, T.J. claimed, "for once, it didn't embarrass me". He also was a little embarrassed at Mikey's comment that the Fifth and Sixth Graders' Club was a "rainbow hug of togetherness". T.J. respects Mikey despite his behavior, as seen at the end of "Rumor Mill".
T.J. surprisingly does not say much about Gretchen. She has, apparently, tutored him in Grammar. The two do not always see eye-to-eye on things. T.J. supported her in her math club with Hank "A Genius Among Us", but soon stopped going since it put the gang to sleep. In "Outcast Ashley", Gretchen did not consider T.J. a friend for a while since he did not share her interest in science and astronomy, or helped make her pinhole projector. In the end, they apologize for taking each other for granted. T.J. respects her for being the smartest kid in school, and Gretchen says T.J. is a good friend.
Many have speculated Vince and T.J. to be best friends. In "The Barnaby Boys", Vince and T.J. act as characters from their favorite book. They are seen doing a lot of things together back in second grade such as being in the same Boy Scout troop or making up the word "Whomps". However, in "The Break-Up", T.J. cannot quite bring himself to say Vince is his best friend, though it is implied that this may indeed be true due to the length of this particular scene when compared to the other members of the group. Vince is also occasionally ambivalent about T.J.'s plans, especially at the beginning of the show. It is thought T.J. shares the most interests with Vince, but he is an equal friend in T.J.'s sight.
- Main article: T.J. and Spinelli's relationship
Throughout the course of the series, T.J. has been shown (in pretty obvious ways) to have a crush on Spinelli, and vice versa. Many episodes have moments where he wraps his arms around her shoulders for the heck of it, showing his affection. In "More Like Gretchen", he even tells Spinelli, "My heart goes out to you", which confirms his affections. He also views her as his right-hand woman, someone he can always count on which signifies his trust. On many occasions, Spinelli has returned these affections like in "The Experiment" when they just had their experimental kiss; many telltale signs showed that they most likely enjoyed it.
T.J. is a sort of older brother figure to Gus. He is usually the first to stand up for Gus against bullies or teachers. He also gives him advice in "Gus and Misdemeanors". Gus, on the other hand, usually follows whatever T.J. says, and is used to taking orders from him. T.J. said that he inspires him in "The Break-Up".
T.J. is short and chubby (this is more pronounced in the show's earlier episodes). He has light brown hair, wide eyes, and freckles on his cheeks. He usually wears a red baseball hat facing backward, a white t-shirt, a green jacket, baggy jeans, and sneakers.
In the original version of the episode "The Break In", which was the original pilot, he was tall and skinny with messy reddish-brown hair, wide green eyes, freckles on his cheeks, and larger ears. His outfit consisted of a white, green, and red T-shirt with "T.J." written on the side, jeans, and sneakers.
Foreign Voice Actors
- Arabic: Ramo Hani
- Brazilian Portuguese: Thiago Barioni/Úrsula Bezerra
- Castilian Spanish: David Jenner (series)/Nacho Aldeguer (movies)
- Danish: Sebastian Jessen
- Dutch: Martijn Canters
- Finnish: Jon Jon Geitel
- French: Donald Reignoux
- German: Robert Stadlober (First two seasons)/Fritz Vogt (Season three+)
- Hindi: Nachiket Dighe
- Hungarian: Stukovszky Tamás
- Italian: Paola Majano
- Japanese: Wasabi Mizuta (First half of season one)/Kōki Uchiyama (Second half of season one+)
- Latin Spanish: Manuel Yex Flores/René Rodriguez Carreño
- Norwegian: Harald Mæle jr.
- Polish: Matthew Maksiak
- Portuguese: Luís Lucena
- Swedish: Tobias Sward
- Taiwanese: Liu Xiaoyu
- In the original drafts of the show, his name was going to be P.J., to stand for the first initials of the show's creators (Paul and Joe). After the first recording for "The Break In", his name was changed for unknown reasons.
- He has the most voice actors out of the main six characters in the series. Ross Malinger played him for all of season one and a few episodes of season two, ending with "Outcast Ashley". Starting from "The Game", Andrew Lawrence played him due to Ross Malinger going through puberty and no longer sounded like T.J., and played him until the end of the series. In between the last episode of the show ("Lost Leader") and the direct to video movies (Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade and Recess: All Growed Down), Andrew Lawrence went through puberty and was replaced by Myles Jeffrey for the movies. When the Lilo & Stitch crossover special, "Lax", aired, he had been replaced by Axel Alba. Both Axel Alba and Myles Jeffrey played T.J. in various TV spots for the show when airing on Toon Disney.
- In the Italian dub, T.J.'s favorite show is mentioned to be Darkwing Duck.
- According to Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere, T.J. is described being "a funny looking little guy with a lot of charisma".
- According to "To Finster with Love"; T.J. weighs 76 pounds.
- According to "Big Ol' Mikey"; his estimated future height is 5'9".
- T.J. has had the most episodes focused on him out of the entire cast.
- T.J. appeared in every episode of the series.
- T.J and the gang were set to make cameo appearances in Lloyd in Space.
- During the first season of the show, T.J. had highlights in his eyes. For unknown reasons, they were removed in season two but sometimes appeared in either off-model moments or tie-in merchandise.
- T.J. is the only member of The Recess Gang with brown hair.
- T.J. is one of the three members of the gang with siblings (along with Spinelli and Vince), however, he is also the only member of the gang with a sister.
- The first line spoken by T.J. in the show was "Tomato Surprise; just when you thought it was safe to go back in the lunchroom". This is also the first line spoken by any character in the show.
- In some early concept art (Using the finalized character designs), T.J.'s sneakers were gray instead of red, his eyes were also completely circular instead of being semi-circular, and his hair was blond instead of light brown.
- T.J. was the first animated character that Ross Malinger and Andrew Lawrence have played.
- In Japan, T.J. seems to be a fan-favorite; he is commonly seen as the show's mascot and is apparently considered an example of a "moe" character.
- T.J.'s character design resembles Ralphie Tennelli from Scholastic's The Magic School Bus.
- In the Swedish dub, his first name is changed to "Tobias" (a.k.a. Tobbe), which is also the first name of his Swedish voice actor.
- In the episode "The Great Jungle Gym Standoff", he mentions an older brother. However, he was never mentioned or seen for the remainder of the series.
- Recess Gag Reel: 0:05
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Characters: T.J. Detweiler | Vince LaSalle | Ashley Spinelli | Mikey Blumberg | Gretchen Grundler | Gus Griswald | Captain Bradley | Cornchip Girl | The Diggers | Hustler Kid | Erwin Lawson | Miss Grotke | Muriel Finster | Becky Detweiler | Dr. Phillium Benedict | Menlo | Brock | Peter Prickly | Bald Guy | Butch | Ashley Armbruster | Ashley Boulet | Ashley Quinlan | Ashley Tomassian | Fenwick | Brandon the Singer | Gelman | King Bob | Chucko | Jocko | Randall Weems | King Freddy II | Chewy | Spencer | Swinger Girl | Upside-Down Girl | Gordy | Hector | Miss Lemon | Lunchlady Irma | Tubby | Jordan & Jerome | Flo Spinelli | Bob Spinelli | Guru Kid