ThunderCats is an American animated television series that was produced by Rankin-Bass Animated Entertainment and Leisure Concepts debuting in 1985, based on the characters created by Tobin "Ted" Wolf. The series, for which Leonard Starr was the head writer, follows the adventures of a group of catlike humanoid aliens. The animation for the episodes was provided by the Japanese studio Pacific Animation Corporation, later acquired in 1989 to form Walt Disney Animation Japan. 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. Leisure Concepts which helped co-develop the show acted as a licensing agent for the series.
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 7, 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.
ThunderCats follows the adventures of the eponymous team of heroes, catlike humanoid aliens on a planet called Third Earth. The series plot begins with the dying planet Thundera [thun•DAIR•uh] 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 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's 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 after ten "galacto-years," Lion-O discovers that his suspension capsule has slowed, rather than stopped, his aging, and he has now become essentially a child in the body of an adult. (He has thus grown in size without actually growing up, and has missed out on the first-hand life experiences which confer maturity.) 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, as a demonic, mummified sorcerer calling himself 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 may continue to hold sway over Third Earth.
- Main article: ThunderCats episode list
Voice of Characters
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.
|Voice actor||Regular Heroes||Regular Villains||Recurring characters|
|Larry Kenney||Lion-O||Jackalman||Snarf Eggbert|
|Earle Hyman||Panthro|| Red-Eye|
Ancient Spirits of Evil
|Earl Hammond||Jaga|| Mumm-Ra|
| Snarf Oswald|
Snowman of Hook Mountain
|Peter Newman|| Tygra|
|Lynne Lipton|| Cheetara|
Mandora the Evil Chaser
|Bob McFadden|| Snarf|
Grune the Destroyer
Two video games based on the franchise exist: ThunderCats: The Lost Eye of Thundera, a 1987 side-scrolling video game; and ThunderCats, a 2011 Nintendo DS game based on the show's revival.
The series continued as the comic book series from Wildstorm.
Released on DVD in 2006 with limited bonus material. Interviews with grown up fans on the first series, then very little until the final six disks. Therein was a complex system of jumping between disks with features turned on for specific scenes for clues. Throughout the process there is a trivia challenge with interviews from Leonard Starr, Peter Newman and Gerrianne Raphael. These are the "Keys" to the final puzzle. To skip them, just enter the code 0314 to view the special tribute to Mumm-Ra and voice actor Earl Hammond
- Main article: ThunderCats videography
- ThunderCats (1985–1988) — ThunderCats Lair
- ThunderCats DVD official web site
- ThunderCats DVD official web site for Volume 2
- ThunderCats (1985 TV series) at the Internet Movie Database