ThunderCats, an animated children's television series, was developed by Rankin-Bass in 1983. There were two series running from 1985 to 1987. Originally created for its merchandising power, the series became quite popular, with Comic books still being created.
The premise was structured with a simple and predictable story line. The age-old battle of good (the Thunder-Cats) and evil (the Mutants) was set in a milieu that combined high technology and hand-to-hand combat. The Thunder-Cats while considered humanoid, have distinctly feline (cat like) appearances. The Mutants, on the other hand, are a rag-tag bunch of uglies.
The action is set on a planet called Third Earth (any relation?), which is a wild and violent world. Thunder-Cats and Mutants alike are non-native. The ThunderCats fled their home planet, Thundera, when it became unstable and the Mutants came from a world called Plundarr. While the entire population of Thundera fled the disaster, the ThunderCat nobles, numbering only seven, were the only ones to make it to Third Earth. They dwell in a substantial fortress built in the shape of a cat, the Cat's Lair.
Leading the Thunder-Cats, is Lion-O. Due to a malfunction of his suspended animation pod en route to Third Earth, he arrived physically an adult while still possessing the mental capacity of a youth. Despite this problem Lion-O carries the group's super weapon, the Sword of Omens. The Eye of Thundera, the source of their power, is embedded in the sword’s hilt. With the power of the Eye, Lion-O can call upon a variety of powers and abilities from the sword. This includes the "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 others of the group were in trouble). With a cry of "Thunder! Thunder! Thunder! THUNDERCATS! HO!", Lion-O could summon the others for assistance in times of great danger.
The group's original leader, Jaga, 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.
Second to Lion-O is Tygra, an older male and the brains of the group. He is armed with a whip, which with a special twist can render him invisible, as well as other super-natural abilities but need rarely demonstrate them.
Next is Panthro, the strongest of the group and 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 is the only adult Thundercats female (for the first series). She can run extremely fast, fights and vaults with a quarterstaff, and, by running fast in a small circle, she can see into the past, though it is extremely taxing upon her.
There are two youngsters, Wiley-Kit and Wiley-Kat, whom are in constant trouble and frequently need 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.
The final member of the group is the comic relief. He is a small, fat, hybrid species by the name of Snarf. Snarf was Lion-O's nursemaid during his physical youth. Now that his body has reached maturity, Lion-O feels he no longer needs a babysitter. Still, Snarf is the most loyal of ThunderCats (yes...he is a ThunderCat) and their most underrated member.
As well as the original ThunderCats, later additions to the second series were Bengali (the white tiger blacksmith), Pumyra and Lynx-O (the blind ThunderCat). Other allies include Mandora, the Evil-Chaser (an intergalactic police officer), Hachiman (a samurai swordsman), and Snarfer, Snarf's nephew and technological genius.
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. Like most cartoon 'bad guys', they are extraordinarily incompetent. Their band consists of Slythe, Monkian, Jackalman and Vultureman. In order to offer a significant challenge to the ThunderCats, they are led by Mumm-Ra. He usually resides in a pyramid as a withered corpse-like being. By reciting a piece of doggrel though, he can be 'pumped-up' into a much more muscular blue-skinned being which in turn, offers the ThunderCats an episode long challenge before being driven back. At times other evil entities will arrive on Third Earth, to eventually be forced back into space. Mumm-Ra also has a canine companion, Ma-Mutt, blue in color and somewhat bulldogish in nature.
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