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The official logo for ThunderCats.
Genre Anime, Science fiction, Action, Adventure
Created by Ted Wolf
Directed by Arthur Rankin Jr.
Julie Bass
Voices of Earl Hammond
Earle Hyman
Larry Kenney
Lynne Lipton
Bob McFadden
Peter Newman
Doug Preis
Gerianne Raphael
Composer(s) Bernad Hoffer
Country of origin Flag of the United States United States
Flag of Japan Japan
No. of episodes 130 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Arthur Rankin Jr.
Julie Bass
Lee Danacher
Masaki Ihzuka
Producer(s) Japanese Producer:
Tsugu Kubo
Minoru Nishida
Katsuhito Akiyama
Akihiko Takahashi
American Producer:

Tony Giovanniello
Matthew Malach
Connie Long
Heather Winters
Running time 22 minutes
Original channel first-run syndication
Original run January 23, 1985 – 1990
External links
Official website

ThunderCats is a Japanese-American animated television series that was developed and produced by Rankin/Bass Productions (the same that created the Silverhawks and The Comic Strip) debuting in 1985, based on the characters created by Tobin "Ted" Wolf. The animation was provided by Pacific Animation Corporation, the working name for a collective of Japanese studios prominently including Topcraft, a group who would later go on to form Studio Ghibli. 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; these aired from 1987 to 1988, 1988 to 1989, and 1989 to 1990, respectively.

The series was originally distributed by Telepictures Corporation (which would later merge with Lorimar Productions). Near the end of 1988, Lorimar-Telepictures was purchased by Warner Bros., whose television syndication arm would eventually assume distribution of the show; Warner Bros. would eventually gain rights to the series (and all Lorimar-Telepictures programming) from that point on.

On March 17, 1997, ThunderCats was the series seen on (Warner Bros' corporate sibling) Cartoon Network's new action-animation afternoon block, Toonami. The series would depart and return in various timeslots including Saturday mornings and late night marathons until 2002.[citation needed]

There were also several comic-book series produced: Marvel Comics' version, 1985 to 1988; and two series by Wildstorm, an imprint of DC Comics (another 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 Warner Brothers 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 is set for a summer 2010 release.[1]


[edit] Plot

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 Thunderean nobility) to flee their homeworld. The fleet is attacked by the Thundereans's enemies, the Mutants of Plun-Darr, who destroy all the starships in the "ThunderFleet," but spare the flagship hoping to capture the legendary Sword of Omens they believe is onboard. The sword holds the mystical Eye of Thundera, the source of the ThunderCats's power, embedded in the hilt. Though the Mutants damage the flagship, the power of the Eye drives them back, and Lion-O's elderly guardian, Jaga, pilots the ship to the safety of the world of "Third Earth"; however, he dies in the process, as there are insufficient cryo-stasis pods aboard the ship, and the journey to Third Earth takes several decades even with advanced interstellar spacecraft. 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 failed to inhibit his aging, and he is now a child in the body of a man. 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.

This status quo holds strong for the first season of the show, and serves 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 denouement, 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 overlooked 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 a little less common as the season transitioned into its second half, which comprised mostly incidental one-shot adventures. Tying the second season 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.

The 1986 TV movie "ThunderCats - Ho!" featured the first major shake-up to the status quo of the series, introducing three new ThunderCats who had also survived the destruction of Thundera. A massive cast of returning heroes and villains were incorporated into the story to make it the most epic ThunderCats adventure yet produced, and it concluded with the apparent destruction of Mumm-Ra. When the series returned in 1987, however, this was quickly proven not to be the case in the opening mini-series, "Mumm-Ra Lives!", as the evil wizard survived his fate. "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, the 1989 season proved that you can never keep a good villain down. 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 the wild and wonderful locales of 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, and at the conclusion of the series, 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.

[edit] Characters

[edit] Voice cast

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 Earle Hyman (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. While actor Doug Preis is regularly credited on the Internet as the voice of Lynx-O, it was Bob McFadden who provided that voice. Preis actually provided the voice of Lunatak Alluro.[citation needed]

Voice actor Regular characters
Earl Hammond Mumm-Ra, Jaga, Vultureman, Amok
Earle Hyman Panthro, Red-Eye
Larry Kenney Lion-O, Jackalman
Lynne Lipton Cheetara, WilyKit, Luna
Bob McFadden Snarf, Slithe, Lynx-O, Tug-Mug, Snarfer,
Peter Newman Tygra, WilyKat, Ben-Gali, Monkian
Doug Preis Alluro
Gerrianne Raphael Pumyra, Chilla, Jaguara

[edit] Action figures and other merchandise

LJN produced the ThunderCats action figures from 1985–1987. The ThunderCats line was based on the animated series which was actually created in 1982. Due to difficulties, it wouldn't air until 1985. 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 head and Mumm-Ra's eyes would illuminate when a special 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, 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.

Other ThunderCats merchandise of the 1980s included, among other items, a board game, TV tray, tin lunchbox, and apparel. A retro spurt occurred in the 2000s which saw a handful of new ThunderCats items like T-shirts and sweatbands make their way to shelves.

There is currently an online petition to get Warner Bros. to release an official soundtrack containing the music from the series, which was composed and performed by Bernard Hoffer. The petition can be found here

[edit] Comic books

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.[2]

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 for such a long time, 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, and two "Origins" issues that established more of the back-stories. These were published in 2003 and 2004.

[edit] Reception

In January 2009, IGN named Thundercats as the 49th best show in the Top 100 Best Animated TV Shows.[3]

[edit] Movies

In 1986, ThunderCats - HO The Movie was released on VHS in the UK and North America. It was later edited into the five episodes which ultimately led to season 2 (even though season 2 never aired in the UK).

Warner Bros. is in the process of creating a CGI animated film based on ThunderCats. It will be an original story expanding on the events of the first episode. Expected release circa 2010.[1]

[edit] Cultural references

  • In the Psych episode, Lassie Did a Bad, Bad Thing Gus says "Thundercats Ho" as Shaun extends his arms and pretends to hold the Sword of Omens.
  • In the Family Guy episode, The Man with Two Brians features a cutaway where Mumm-Ra appears to be watching Brian defecate on Cleveland's lawn, possibly parodying scenes in ThunderCats where Mumm-Ra frequently spies on the ThunderCats with his magic cauldron.
  • Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story has Larry Kenney and Lynne Lipton reprising their roles as Lion-O and Cheetara in a ThunderCats parody.
  • Stan Smith from American Dad! names his second wife ThunderCat, claiming he can't pronounce her real name.
  • ThunderCats action figures have appeared in the Robot Chicken episodes "Toys in the Hood," "Toy Meets Girl," "Federated Resources."[4]
  • In the Drawn Together episode "The Lemon-AIDS Walk," Captain Hero visits an underground facility where Panthro is seen working out.
  • In the South Park episode "Imaginationland," Cheetara and Snarf are present among numerous fictional characters. Snarf (along with the Lollipop King) accompanies Butters on a journey.
  • The Relient K song "I'm Lion-O" is about ThunderCats.
  • In the 2007 movie Juno, the title character calls out "ThunderCats are go!" just after her water breaks, a mixed reference to both the cartoon and the British Supermarionation series Thunderbirds.
  • The song "Touch the Sky" by Kanye West features Lupe Fiasco's line "I'm tryin' to stop lyin' (lion) like I'm Mumm-Ra,"
  • The band Mumm-Ra from Bexhill-on-Sea take their name directly from the chief villain of ThunderCats. They have appeared on stage with a replica model.
  • In the movie Y tu mama tambien, one of the main actors is reminded by his relatives about ThunderCats toys while remembering his childhood.
  • In MMORPG World of Warcraft a item called "Sword of Omens" can be obtained as a reward of a quest in "Scarlet Monastery" instance.
  • The Moldy Peaches song "Nothing Came Out" features the line "I'm just your average ThunderCats ho."
  • WWE wrestler Shelton Benjamin wears an Eye of Thundera necklace.
  • In the original World of Darkness setting by White Wolf a were-jaguar NPC named Jaga was mentioned in the Changing Breeds supplement.
  • The Wayne Brady song "Back in the Day" contains the line "I loved you since ThunderCats, ThunderCats, ThunderCats, Ho!".
  • The Code of Thundera (justice, truth, honor, and loyalty) is mentioned in "The Twin Brother Kaper" episode from the Karate Kat segment of The Comic Strip (TV series). Karate Kat's evil twin, Karate Krud, describes how his brother stands for "Justice, truth, honor, and loyalty" making Boom Boom Burmese quip, "Wow, he must be a Thundercat!". Larry Kenney, who voiced Karate Kat, also voiced Lion-O.
  • The Dear and the Headlights song "Skinned Knees and Gapped Teeth" features the line "and when you taped over/a good half of the wedding tape/I bet you never thought Thundercats/would ever make you cry"

[edit] International broadcasters

[edit] DVD releases

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[5] 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[6] 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[7] April 14, 2008
Season 2, Volume 2 31 November 28, 2006[8] June 2, 2008 [9]
  • Features ThunderCats Ultimate Adventure Challenge on Disc 12

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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