Genre Science fiction, fantasy, action, adventure Created by Rankin/Bass, Ted Wolf Developed by Leonard Starr Written by Leonard Starr
Directed by Katsuhito Akiyama
Arthur Rankin, Jr.
Voices of Earl Hammond
Composer(s) Bernard Hoffer Country of origin United States No. of episodes 130 (List of episodes) Production Executive producer(s) Arthur Rankin, Jr.
Producer(s) Tony Giovanniello
Running time 22 minutes Production company(s) Rankin/Bass Distributor Telepictures (season 1-2)
Lorimar-Telepictures (season 2-3)
Warner Bros. Television Distribution (season 3 onwards, as successor to Lorimar-Telepictures)
Broadcast Original channel Syndication
Cartoon Network (later re-runs)
Original run January 23, 1985 – 1989
ThunderCats is an American animated television series that was produced by Rankin/Bass Productions (the same that created the SilverHawks, TigerSharks and The Comic Strip) debuting in 1984, based on the characters created by Tobin "Ted" Wolf. The series follows the adventures of a group of cat-like humanoid aliens. The animation was provided by Pacific Animation Corporation. Season 1 of the show aired in 1985 (65 episodes), followed by a TV movie entitled ThunderCats - HO! in 1986. Seasons 2, 3 and 4 followed a new format of twenty episodes each, starting with a five-part story.
The series was originally distributed by Rankin-Bass Productions' then-parent company Telepictures Corporation, which would later merge with Lorimar Productions in 1986. In 1989, Lorimar-Telepictures was purchased by and folded into Warner Bros., whose television syndication arm would eventually assume distribution of the show; Warner Bros. have had the rights to the series (and all Lorimar-Telepictures programming) from that point on.
There were also several comic book series produced: Marvel Comics' version (currently owned by Warner Bros. rival Disney), 1984 to 1988; and five series by Wildstorm, an imprint of DC Comics (Warner Bros.' corporate sibling), beginning in 2003. Items of clothing featuring the ThunderCats logo and DVD boxsets of the original series have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years as nostalgia for the former children's favorite has grown.
It was announced on June 5, 2007, that Aurelio Jaro is making a CGI-animated feature film of ThunderCats, based on a script written by Paul Sopocy. In October 2007, Variety magazine revealed that Jerry O'Flaherty, veteran video game art director, had signed on to direct. The film is being produced by Spring Creek Productions. It was originally set for a summer 2010 release, but it has since been reported that the movie is on hold. Concept art for the film has also been leaked online.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Seasons
- 3 Characters
- 4 Action figures, statues and other merchandise
- 5 Bandai ThunderCats toys
- 6 Comic books
- 7 Reception
- 8 Movies
- 9 2011 series
- 10 DVD releases
- 11 References
- 12 External links
ThunderCats follows the adventures of the eponymous team of heroes, cat-like humanoid aliens from the planet of Thundera. The series pilot begins with the dying Thundera meeting its end, forcing the ThunderCats (a sort of Thunderan nobility) to flee their homeworld. The fleet is attacked by the Thunderans' enemies, the Mutants of Plun-Darr, who destroy most of the starships in the "ThunderFleet," but spare the flagship hoping to capture the legendary mystic Sword of Omens they believe is on board. The sword holds the Eye of Thundera, the source of the ThunderCats' power, which is embedded in the hilt. Though the Mutants damage the flagship, the power of the Eye drives them back. The damage to the ship means the journey to their original destination is not possible, instead having to journey to "Third Earth"; which will take much longer than they had anticipated. The eldest of the ThunderCats, Jaga, volunteers to pilot the ship while the others sleep in capsules; however, he dies of old age in the process, but not before ensuring they will reach their destination safely. The flagship contains the young Lord of the ThunderCats, Lion-O, as well as the ThunderCats Cheetara, Panthro, Tygra, WilyKit and WilyKat, and Snarf.
When the ThunderCats awake from their suspended animation on Third Earth, Lion-O discovers that his suspension capsule has slowed rather than stopped his aging, and he is now a child in the body of an adult. Together, the ThunderCats and the friendly natives of Third Earth construct the "Cat's Lair," their new home and headquarters, but before long, the Mutants have tracked them down to Third Earth. The intrusion of these two alien races upon the world does not go unnoticed, however - the demonic, mummified sorcerer, Mumm-Ra, recruits the Mutants to aid him in his campaign to acquire the Eye of Thundera and destroy the ThunderCats so that his evil might continue to hold sway over Third Earth.
According to the first chapter on Wildstorm’s comic Thundercats Origins: Heroes and Villains, the Third Earth is actually our Earth in the future. Mumm-Ra originates from ancient Egypt, where he first enslaved himself to the Ancient Spirits of Evil in exchange for his tremendous powers and knowledge of the universe. He is – seemingly – the one responsible for destroying the human race, after he broke free from the onyx pyramid’s burial chamber where a Pharaoh's son imprisoned him.
This status holds strong for the first season of the show, and served as the basis for a vast array of stories that freely mixed elements of science fiction and fantasy into a traditional good-versus-evil tale that steadily introduced more and more recurring allies and villains into the world of the ThunderCats. Futuristic technology is just as central to the series as magic and myth, but even in the midst of all this action, the series never under-emphasizes the importance of moral values in solving problems. Each episode would normally include a short dénouement, featuring the characters recuperating after the events of the story and taking the time to single out a personal value or wholesome approach that helped save the day, or could have done so if they had not seen it.
The first half of Season 1 featured a gentle continuity, with early episodes following on from one another and establishing recurring concepts, although this became less common as the season transitioned into its second half, which comprised mostly incidental one-shot adventures. Tying the second half of season one together was the over-arching five-part adventure, "Lion-O's Anointment," in which an unarmed Lion-O faced off against the other ThunderCats to truly earn his title as Lord of the ThunderCats. Although intended to be viewed consecutively (as the adventures depicted occurred one day after the other), the five parts of the mini-series were erroneously aired (and released on DVD) with multiple other episodes between each installment.
ThunderCats - Ho!
The 1986 TV movie "ThunderCats - Ho!" featured the first major shake-up to the status quo of the series, introducing three new Thunderans (whom Lion-O later christened as ThunderCats) who had also survived the destruction of Thundera. A massive cast of returning heroes and villains were incorporated into the story and concluded with the apparent destruction of Mumm-Ra.
When the series returned in 1987, however, it was revealed that the evil wizard, Mumm-Ra had survived. "Mumm-Ra Lives!" set the pattern for the show's final three seasons, which each began with a five-part mini-series that established the new characters and concepts that would go on to influence the rest of the season. In the case of "Mumm-Ra Lives!", these concepts included the debut of the villainous Lunataks, who became a third faction that existed for the rest of the series, and the new team of ThunderCats from ThunderCats - Ho! being given their own headquarters, vehicles and so forth.
The 1988 season began with "ThunderCubs," a miniseries named for its plot about the ThunderCats being transformed into children, but which was principally about Mumm-Ra reconstructing Thundera in order to retrieve both the weapon that had originally destroyed it (the Sword of Plun-Darr) and the legendary Treasure of Thundera. In the course of the adventure, the treasure - containing the Book of Omens, a tome holding all the secrets of the ThunderCats, and many other mystical items - was scattered across the New Thundera, ushering in a new concept for the series: a season with an actual story arc. Continuity between episodes became tighter as the ThunderCats, Mutants, Lunataks and Mumm-Ra alternated their adventures between Third Earth and New Thundera, searching for the treasure and exploiting its powers. The season also featured the running theme of the Ancient Spirits of Evil having to take a more active hand in pushing Mumm-Ra into action, culminating in another unique feature of the season - an actual finale episode, "The Last Day," in which the spirits give Mumm-Ra one last chance to destroy the ThunderCats. Ultimately, the villain failed and was banished to the farthest corner of the universe by the spirits.
However, Mumm-Ra returned for the 1989 season. In the opening miniseries, "Return to Thundera!", the ThunderCats returned to New Thundera to rebuild their society, but before departing, they destroyed Mumm-Ra's pyramid, enraging the Ancient Spirits of Evil to the point that they brought Mumm-Ra back, and installed him within a new pyramid on New Thundera. The season proved to be quite divorced from what had gone before, with adventures consigned almost entirely to New Thundera, and most villainous opposition coming from either Mumm-Ra or assorted new villains. The Mutants, Lunataks and Captain Cracker all returned for one episode each, however. In the series finale, several conclusions are reached: Mumm-Ra stands up to and successfully asserts himself over the Ancient Spirits of Evil, the mystery of the Book of Omens was at last solved, and the tumultuous and terrifying environment of Thundera was at last rendered peaceful and pristine.
Despite its large cast of characters, ThunderCats featured a rather small circle of voice actors, with only six actors providing voices for the entire first season. Every actor provided multiple voices, although the distinctive baritone of Ethan Wright (Panthro) left the actor providing only very occasional guest voices in comparison with his fellow performers. In particular, as the first season's only female actor, Lynne Lipton (Cheetara and WilyKit) provided voices for every single female character that appeared in the season. Above all others, however, actor Bob McFadden would most regularly provide the voices of guest characters, with his two diametrically-opposed main roles - the timid, high-pitched Snarf and the rumbling, sibilant Slithe.
Despite introducing a large number of new regular characters, the show's second season brought in only two new actors. Gerrianne Raphael provided the voice of Pumyra, and was able to provide Lynne Lipton with some relief by adding new female voices.
Voice actor Regular characters Recurring characters Earl Hammond Mumm-Ra/Jaga/Vultureman/Amok Snarf Oswald/Snowman of Hook Mountain Earle Hyman Panthro/Red-Eye/Ancient Spirits of Evil Larry Kenney Lion-O/Jackalman Snarf Eggbert Lynne Lipton Cheetara/WilyKit/Luna Willa/Nayda/Mandora The Evil Chaser Bob McFadden Slithe/Tug-Mug/Snarf/Snarfer Ratar-o/Grune the Destroyer Peter Newman Tygra/WilyKat/Ben-Gali/Monkian Hachiman Doug Preis Lynx-O/Alluro Gerrianne Raphael Pumyra/Chilla/Jagara
Action figures, statues and other merchandise
LJN produced the ThunderCats action figures from 1984–1987. The ThunderCats line was based on the animated series which was actually created in 1982. Due to difficulties, it would not air until 1985. (The toyline actually lasted longer than the television series itself) Each figure had an action feature of some sort, and the line also included a unique "laser" light-up feature that interacted between the Cats' Lair playset, some figures, and some accessories. Lion-O's eyes and Mumm-Ra's eyes would illuminate when a special battery-powered key ring that came with the figure was pressed into a slot in their backs. PVC companions were packaged with some figures in 1986, including WilyKat with Tygra, WilyKit with Cheetara, Snarf with Lion-O, and Ma-Mutt with Mumm-Ra. The PVC companion figures were also produced as full size articulated figures.
LJN did produce a few variant figures including the young Tygra version and the silver rat-eye daggers for Rataro. There are also a few slight color variations of Lion-O, such as red and orange-haired versions. The third series of figures from 1987 are harder to find along with the Tongue-A-Saurus and Astral Moat Monster. Driller and Stinger are the toughest figures to track down; Stinger's wings are very fragile, making it next to impossible to find a loose, complete figure.
An unproduced final series of figures would have included The Mad Bubbler, Red-Eye of the Lunataks, Ratilla, Cannon-Blaster and Quick-Jaws from the Bezerkers as well as the Feliner, Thunderstrike and Luna Tacker. The Mad Bubbler is rumored to have been produced, but this has yet to be proven. Photos of these were featured in the 1987 LJN catalog.
In 1987, Elite Systems released the game ThunderCats: The Lost Eye of Thundera, for Commodore64/128 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum personal computer systems. Many years later, Cartoon Network's official website featured a game that allowed visitors to play as Lion-O and rescue fellow ThunderCats while venturing into Mumm-Ra's tomb (this game, titled, "Thundercats: Tomb of Mumm-raa," can be found on an archived Toonami database).
Other ThunderCats merchandise of the 1980s included, among other items, a board game, TV tray table, an electronic racing set, tin lunch box and apparel. A retro spurt occurred in the mid 1990's and 2000s that began with the familiar 1980's ThunderCats emblem on t-shirts and has since grown to include new t-shirt designs and various other ThunderCats-themed apparel such as hats and belt buckles.
In May 2009, Warner Brothers gave Hard Hero the rights to produce a line of collectible statues based on the ThunderCats characters.
In June 2010, Bandai announced that new toylines will be released, based on both the classic and the 2011 series.
In July 2010, a Warner Bros press announced that Icon Heroes, a company specializing in collectible pop memorabilia, released their new line of classic ThunderCats statues, dioramas and vehicles.
On November 29, 2010, Jordan Hembrough, President of Hollywood Heroes Inc, posted on the ThunderCatsLair.org forum the very first picture of an actual working prototype of the Mad Bubbler slated to go on sale at a future date to be determined. Hembrough also announced that Hollywood Heroes would be the sole broker for a large collection of prototype toys and original artwork.
At the time of his post, Hembrough commented on the collection, stating it be "the largest in recorded history." Hembrough added that the value lay not only in the incredible pieces that made up the inventory, but also the fact that the items came from the personal collections of LJN designers and could be traced backed to them directly.
Mezco Toyz announced in February 2011 that they acquired the ThunderCats license to produce large scale rotocast figures based on the 1980s animated series. Lion-O was the first announced figure and is expected to be released sometime in July.
Bandai ThunderCats toys
Bandai revealed a brand new line of ThunderCats toys at the 2011 International New York Toy Fair. The new line will consist of a 4" and 6" action figure line based on the new animated series, set to hit Cartoon Network in Fall of 2011. In addition, the 4" line will include basic and deluxe vehicles, as well as a Tower of Omens playset. Bandai will also be producing an 8" Collector's Classic line based on the 1980s animated series. The toys will hit U.S. retailers sometime in the August/September 2011 timeframe.
In 1985, a ThunderCats series was published by Marvel Comics through its Star imprint. It ended with issue #24 in 1988. The following year, a new series was published by Marvel UK. The series consisted of 129 issues and was published for three years.
In 2002, DC Comics, owned by Warner Bros. (who acquired the rights for the franchise due to its 1989 purchase of Lorimar-Telepictures), published a ThunderCats sourcebook through its Wildstorm imprint. In 2003, a wave of mini-series and one-shots were published.
The original mini-series, Reclaiming Thundera (written by Ford Gilmore with various artists contributing), published in 2003, formed a series of loosely connected "episodes" that saw Lion-O continue his struggle against Mumm-Ra and The Mutants. A major plot point was the slow corruption of WilyKat by Mumm-Ra, which would play a major role in later storylines. After another fateful battle with Grune, Lion-O entered the Book of Omens to begin his training and claim his rightful place as Lord of the ThunderCats, but Mumm-Ra uses a powerful spell to keep Lion-O trapped in the book for several years in real time, not "Book" time, and seizes control of Thundera afterwards.
In the follow-up mini-series, The Return (written by Gilmore and illustrated by Benes, Pimental and Lea), Lion-O returned to Thundera to find it enslaved to Mumm-Ra. Several of the ThunderCats are scattered, held prisoner, or enslaved to his enemies. This storyline was distinctly more mature than many episodes of the series, with much harsher language such as "bastard" used by Mumm-Ra. Cheetara is depicted as holding a grudge against Lion-O for "abandoning" his friends and leaving her to be abused by the Mutants, and WilyKat's corruption in the earlier mini-series takes greater form. Realizing he has betrayed his friends, the older cub flees when the mini-series concludes. Lion-O and the ThunderCats emerge triumphant over Mumm-Ra once again.
By the third mini-series, The Dogs of War (written by John Lyman, illustrated by Brett Booth, Joe Prado, Al Vey and Eric Nguyen), many years have passed, and Thundera has prospered. Lion-O is now an aged and experienced commander of his countrymen. An invasion of Dogstar forces ultimately lead Lion-O to ally with Mumm-Ra himself (when Ma-Mutt even turns against him). Along the way, WilyKit finds true love and WilyKat redeems himself. The storyline concludes with Mumm-Ra offering Lion-O an elixir of youth so that they may continue their struggle against one another.
The remaining mini-series were all set during the events of the animated series. These were "Hammerhand's Revenge" (written by Fiona Avery, illustrayed by D'Anda, and Enemy's Pride, (written by Layman and illustrated by Virens, Hellig and Campus), which was published in 2004.
Several one-shots were also published. These one-shots consisted of two crossovers with Battle of the Planets, one crossover with Superman, a Sourcebook and two "Origins" issues that established more of the back-stories. These were published in 2003 and 2004.
In 1985, ThunderCats - HO The Movie was produced. The movie was released on VHS in the UK but not in the USA. It was later edited into the five episodes which ultimately led to season 2 (even though season 2 never aired in the UK).
In 2008-2009, Warner Bros. was in the process of creating a CGI animated film based on ThunderCats. It was rumored to be an original story expanding on the events of the first episode and the film's concept artwork (released in July 2009) contained the main character Lion-O and three locations. A two minute test scene was filmed and presented to Warner Brothers, however the movie has been put on hold perhaps due to the critical and commercial failure of the 2008 movie "Speed Racer" (another Warner Brothers CGI project).
A new ThunderCats animated series produced by Warner Bros. Animation began airing on Cartoon Network from July 2011. Animation production is being done by Japanese animation studio Studio 4°C, which provided animation for Warner Bros. films The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight. Sam Register (Teen Titans, Ben 10) is the executive producer and is joined by Michael Jelenic (Wonder Woman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold) and Ethan Spaulding (Avatar: The Last Airbender) as the producers for the series. The show will explain Lion-O's ascension to the Thunderean throne with a more original feel and darker style than the 1980s series. The new series makes it clear in the very beginning, however, that they are not adhering to the original story line. In the original series the Thunder Cats leave Thundera, as the last of their race, to eventually arrive on 3rd earth. In the new series the very first line states that the Thundereans are already on 3rd earth. As the first few episodes progress the new writers seem to use Thundera but it isn't clear if they are referring to a planet or kingdom. Former Lion-O voice actor Larry Kenney returned to play the role Lion-O's father Claudus in the opening two-part episode of the new series.
In January 2011, a promotional poster featuring re-imagined designs for Lion-O, Cheetara, Panthro, and Tygra as well as design for the Sword of Omens and vehicles were shown at the London Toy Fair. Cartoon Network aired an 80 second-long trailer during the After Party Special of the "Hall of Game Awards" sports award show (on February 25, 2011), giving the viewers peeks at all the previously confirmed characters: as well as Jaga, Wilykit/Wilykat, and King Claudus. On the 2nd April 2011, Cartoon Network aired another 80 second long trailer of the new series. The series began airing on Cartoon Network on July 29, 2011 with an hour long premiere.
The new series of ThunderCats premiered in the UK on Cartoon Network on 10th September 2011. 
Warner Home Video have released the entire ThunderCats series in a number of volumes in the following order:
DVD name Ep # Region 1 release date Region 2 release date Additional information Season 1, Volume 1 33 August 9, 2005 January 15, 2007
- "Feel the Magic, Hear the Roar: ThunderCats Fans Speak Out": an interview featurette in which Wil Wheaton (of Star Trek: The Next Generation) and other loyal fans give their memories and support to this animation classic
Season 1, Volume 2 32 December 6, 2005 August 13, 2007
- ThunderCats Ho! The Making of a Pop Culture Phenomenon: Executive Producer Arthur Rankin Jr. Shares Secrets from the Show
Season 2, Volume 1 34 April 18, 2006 April 14, 2008 Season 2, Volume 2 31 November 28, 2006 June 2, 2008
- Features ThunderCats Ultimate Adventure Challenge on Disc 12
Season 1, Part 1 12 July 12, 2011
Warner Home Video have released the entire ThunderCats series in a number of seasons in the following order:
DVD name Ep # Region 1 release date Region 2 release date Additional information Season 1 65 TBA 18 February 2008
Season 2 20 TBA 18 August 2008
Season 1 & 2 85 TBA 3 November 2008
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- ThunderCats DVD official web site
- ThunderCats (1985-1988) — ThunderCats Lair
- ThunderCats DVD official web site for Volume 2
- ThunderCats at the Internet Movie Database
ThunderCats Media CharactersSnarf • Tygra Television
specialsRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer • Return to Oz • The Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy Show • The Ballad of Smokey the Bear • The Cricket on the Hearth • The Mouse on the Mayflower • The Little Drummer Boy • Frosty the Snowman • The Mad, Mad, Mad Comedians • Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town • Here Comes Peter Cottontail • The Enchanted World of Danny Kaye: The Emperor's New Clothes • Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters • Willie Mays and the Say-Hey Kid • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea • Red Baron • That Girl in Wonderland • 'Twas the Night Before Christmas • The Year Without a Santa Claus • The First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas Snow • The First Easter Rabbit • Frosty's Winter Wonderland • Rudolph's Shiny New Year • The Little Drummer Boy, Book II • The Easter Bunny Is Comin' To Town • The Hobbit • Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey • The Stingiest Man in Town • Jack Frost • The Return of the King • Pinocchio's Christmas • The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold •The Coneheads • The Wind in the Willows • The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus • The Flight of Dragons • Santa Baby!
seriesThe New Adventures of Pinocchio • Tales of the Wizard of Oz • The King Kong Show • The Smokey Bear Show • The Tomfoolery Show • The Reluctant Dragon and Mr. Toad Show • The Jackson 5ive Show • The Osmonds • Kid Power • Festival of Family Classics • ThunderCats • SilverHawks • TigerSharks • The Comic Strip
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