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ThunderCats is an animated children's television series. It was developed by Rankin-Bass in 1983. Series One was shown from 1985 to 1986 (65 episodes) and Series Two from 1986 to 1987 (65 episodes). There were also several comic book series produced. Marvel Comics' version 1985 to 1988 and two series by Wildstorm an imprint of DC Comics, one in 2004 and another 2003 to 2004. It was created to tie in with a wide range of merchandising which pre-dated the show. Items of clothing featuring the ThunderCats logo have enjoyed a resurgence of late.

Like many similar 1980s animated series, ThunderCats had a simple and predictable structure. It offered a long-running battle between good (the ThunderCats) and evil (the Mutants) set in a milieu that combined high technology and hand-to-hand combat. The ThunderCats are humanoids with distinct feline appearances while the Mutants are a rag-tag of uglies.

Throughout most of the series, the action is set on a planet called Third Earth. The Egyptian-like hieroglyphics and other visual and spoken references indicate that Third Earth is our own planet Earth in a distant future. Both the ThunderCats and the Mutants are non-native, the ThunderCats fled there when their home planet, Thundera, was destroyed by the Sword of Plundarr's magic, and the Mutants came from planet Plundarr itself. While the entire population of Thundera (called Thunderians) fled the disaster, the ThunderCat nobles number only seven (eight including Jaga, who died en route). They dwell in a substantial fortress built in the shape of a cat, the Cat's Lair.

In later episodes, Mumm-Ra utilizes ultra-powerful magic to reconstruct the entire planet of Thundera, for the purpose of finding the Sword of Plundarr and gaining its power. In these episodes, the Thundercats' dwelling/adventures/battles alternate between the New Thundera and the Third Earth.

Four of the Thundercats. From left to right: Panthro, Lion-o, Tygra, and Cheetara.
Four of the Thundercats. From left to right: Panthro, Lion-o, Tygra, and Cheetara.

* Lion-O - The leader of the ThunderCats. During the trip to Third Earth, his suspended animation pod malfunctioned, while only a youth on Thundera he arrives on Third Earth physically an adult of twenty-four-years-old while mentally still a child.

Despite this problem Lion-O carries the group's super weapon, the Sword of Omens. When unused the sword is no larger than a dagger but extends to full size in battle. Embedded in the hilt of the Sword of Omens is the Eye of Thundera, the source of the ThunderCats' power.

With the power of the Eye, Lion-O could call upon a variety of powers and abilities from the sword, including "Sight Beyond Sight" (the ability to peer at faraway goings-on and pierce the veil of the dimensional boundaries) and the "Cat's Growl" (a warning when danger was near and/or other ThunderCats were in trouble). With a cry of "Thunder! Thunder! Thunder! THUNDERCATS! HO!", Lion-O could summon the other ThunderCats to assist him in times of great danger.

* Jaga - The group's original leader, did not survive the trip, piloting the ship towards Third Earth whilst the other ThunderCat nobles went into suspended animation. He appears in the form of a spiritual apparition, providing Lion-O with counsel when needed.

* Tygra - Second to Lion-O, an older male and the intellectual of the group, acting as a foil to Lion-O's intemperate nature. Often referred to as "The Architect", it was Tygra who designed Cat's Lair. He is armed with a bolo-whip which with a special twist can render him invisible, as well as other supernatural abilities but rarely demonstrates them.

* Panthro - The strongest of the group and also the most technically adept. Easily the best fighter of the group, Panthro fights with nunchucks and is the designer/mechanic/driver of the group's oversized vehicle - the Thunder Tank.

* Cheetara - The only adult female (for the first series). She can run extremely fast, fights and vaults with a collapsible quarterstaff (magnetically-affixed to her gauntlet). Cheetara also has a budding sixth sense. By spinning rapidly in place, she can "see" past events, though the use of her ability is extremely taxing upon her.

* Wiley-Kit and Wiley-Kat - They are two youngsters, who are constantly causing problems, getting into trouble and needing rescuing. They are armed with a "utility belt" of sorts, filled with various capsules and globes that perform a wide variety of tricks. They also wield lariats for ensnaring and the like. Their hoverboards are destroyed in almost every episode in which they are featured.

* Snarf - The final member of the group is the comedy character, a curious hybrid of species. He is small, and fat. Snarf was Lion-O's nursemaid, but when Lion-O was aged to maturity, Lion-O didn't feel he needed a babysitter anymore. Still, Snarf is the most loyal of ThunderCats and their most underrated member.

Later additions

As well as the original ThunderCats, the second series saw other Thunderians already on Third Earth (escaping the Thundera cataclysm in a RoBear Berbil scout ship). They were eventually recruited as ThunderCats:

* Bengali (the white tiger blacksmith)
* Pumyra (the second mature female of the show)
* Lynx-O (the blind ThunderCat).
* Snarfer (Snarf's nephew and technological genius)

Other allies include Mandora the Evil-Chaser (an intergalactic police officer), Hachiman (a samurai swordsman), Snowman (a chivalrous Yeti Knight, who fights with weapons crafted from ice) and Snowmeow (Snowman's pet Sabertooth tiger).


Opposing the ThunderCats are the Mutants, living in Castle Plundarr. Their lineage is more diverse than the ThunderCats and includes a number of less well regarded species. In common with most cartoon 'bad guys' they are extraordinarily incompetent. Led by the sibilant Slithe, they include Monkian, Jackalman and Vultureman.

In order to offer a significant challenge to the ThunderCats, the Mutants are led by Mumm-Ra, an ancient native of Third Earth. He usually resides in a pyramid as a withered corpse-like being but, by reciting the following: "Ancient spirits of evil, transform this decayed form, to Mumm-Ra, the ever-living!" This would transform him into a much more muscular blue-skinned being to offer the ThunderCats an episode-long challenge before being driven back. Mumm-Ra also has a blue bulldog named Ma-Mutt. Ma-Mutt is capable of flight, supernatural feats of strength and abilities and is generally evil, though some episodes have shown him as having "good" qualities

Sometimes other evil entities arrive on Third Earth, before being forced back into space. A longer term threat are the Lunataks, who are a band of powerful villains. The Lunataks were ancient criminals who were imprisoned and encased in volcanic rock. The Lunataks were released by the Mutants on Mumm-ra's orders, and enlisted in the fight against the Thundercats. The Lunataks are led by Luna, a diminuitive strategist. She is carried around by Amok, a large silent servant. TugMug comes from a high gravity world and is thus capable of incredibly powerful leaps. Chilla comes from an ice world, and can both freeze objects with her breath and incinerate them with her hands. RedEye has super vision which lets him detect Tygra while invisible, as well as throw his discus with considerable accuracy. Alluro has a club which allows him to control other's minds.

Third Earth natives

Upon arriving on Third Earth, the ThunderCats encountered many of the planets native species and cultures, notably the anomalous Robear Berbils, cyborg bear-like creatures. The peaceful Robear Berbils, lead by Robear Bill (and his girlfriend/mate Robear Belle) made allies of the ThunderCats, assisting Tygra in building the ThunderCats' vehicles and technology, chiefly the Cat's Lair itself.


The Christian rock band Relient K has a song about ThunderCats called "I'm Lion-O" on their 2001 album The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek.

A series of audio files is in circulation on the Internet, containing outtakes from the recording of the show's dialogue. Voice actor Larry Kenney ("Lion-O") has confirmed in interviews that the outtakes are genuine. The files are popular enough to be a minor Internet phenomenon, particularly due to the heavy use of profanity from voice actors on a children's show.


Warner Brothers released the first set of six discs containing the first half (33 episodes) of the first season of the series on August 9, 2005.

Volume 2, featuring the second half of the first season, is scheduled for release on December 6, 2005.

See also

* List of ThunderCats episodes
* Larry Kenney Voice actor for Lion-o
* Anthropomorphic Superheroes
* Snarfle

External links

* - Thundercat's fansite with many forums, pictures, videos, games and more. (contains audio outtakes and theme downloads)
* Larry Kenney audio interview (contains audio samples of Thundercats Outtakes - adult language)
* Interview with Lion-o voice actor Larry Kenney
* Thundercats recording outtakes as individual files, from Claws and Paws (adult language)
* Return to Thundera - Thundercats' fansite
* ThunderCats Illustrated - ThunderCats photo realistic artwork site, blog, neat episode guide.
* Thundercats' comeback is for adults only - Article on the second Wildstorm Thundercats comic-book miniseres.
* Thundercats DVD official web site


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