ThunderCats remains a beloved staple of ’80s animation, particularly its iconic intro sequence. The show aired 130 episodes between 1985 to 1989 which, by nature of broadcast syndication, amounted to two seasons of television, both available online. The reboot series, while initially aiming for a 52 episode run, only produced a single 26-episode season before being canceled in 2013, yet it retains a sizeable fanbase for its narrative and modernized changes to the source material.
The original Thundercats follows a race of cat-humanoids who flee their dying homeworld Thundera to another planet called Third Earth. Consisting of Lion-O, Tygra, Cheetara, Panthro, WilyKit, WilyKat and Snarf, the group must regularly defend the legendary Sword of Omens — specifically the Eye of Thundera stone that powers it — from the Mutants of Plun-Darr and the evil demon-priest Mumm-Ra, a being of pure evil. Much of this responsibility falls to Lion-O as “Lord of the Thundercats,” who must learn to take on a leadership role while bearing the mind of a 12-year old, as the suspension capsule holding him during the trip to Third Earth failed to slow down his physical growth.
In the reboot, Lion-O and the Cats are already living on Third Earth, and sit atop the planet’s animal hierarchy. They must defend against the Lizards and Mumm-Ra, who leave the Cats’ kingdom in ruins and Lion-O and Tygra’s father King Claudus dead. With leadership duties and the Sword of Omens passed down to him, Lion-O and his allies must locate the ancient Book of Omens for information on how to defeat Mumm-Ra, all while seeking alliances with the planet’s other animal communities.
Created by the late Ted “Tobin” Wolf and produced by Rankin/Bass Animation Entertainment and Leisure Concepts, ThunderCats aired its first run between Sept. 9, 1985 and Sept. 29, 1989. The series has since received two reboots on Cartoon Network. The first was a more anime-styled version that aired between 2011 and 2012, while the second and current reboot is the more comedic ThunderCats Roar.