Thursday, July 25, 2024

ThunderCats is a Franchise That Deserves a Long-Run Series.

July 23, 2023 by  
Filed under Anime, Comics, GM, News, TV/Film/Movies

( In 1985, ThunderCats aired and for those who saw it when it originally aired, it was pretty groundbreaking compared to most animated action-adventure series at the time. It had more style to it than G.I Joe and He-Man as well as better animation. If anything, it was similar to Voltron, Robotech, and Battle of Planets.


That’s because ThunderCats is anime. It was produced by a Japanese animation studio and distributed by an American production company. For years among U.S anime fans, there was this debate about whether it was anime. Personally, I think it was because of the time the series aired that raised some doubt from fans.

It could also be because of the quality. While I feel that the quality was very good for the 1980s, when the series was rediscovered or seen years later in the mid-late 90s, U.S anime fans had seen a lot of great, better animated series. By comparison, the first two seasons of the series kind of come off as dated.

That’s weird because an iconic series like Dragon Ball—the first half in the West—had dated-looking animation as well.  When DB hit the U.S in 1995, the series was in the middle of its final arc. It also didn’t help that DBZ had its first U.S run on UPN, known for poor quality locally. At any rate, I didn’t see Thunder Cats when it aired originally but caught it via re-runs on TBS in the early 90s.

The first two seasons had a very plot-of-the-episode approach. I’ve always hated this approach and never really cared for episodic shows. It’s was cool when I caught Power Rangers as a kid and many shows but when you’re older, sometimes you want more to really dive into out of your shows. As a result, you might look at these series more critically.

That’s what I believe made it hard for me to enjoy the first two seasons when I revisited ThunderCats of the first season of Sonic SatAM. It just seems like the antagonist is obsessed with the protagonist but constantly fails in defeating them. This results in an expected end to episodes—just like when watching a Bugs Bunny-Elmer Fudd cartoon.

Anyway Mumm-Ra is constantly orchestrating these plans only for Lionel, Panthro, Tygra, and Cheetara to smash them up each episode. In season two’s opening multi-parter, Mumm-Ra provided a problem for the Thunder Cats but was back on his weak plans afterward.

I did enjoy the third and fourth seasons since the series had continuing storylines and changes were acknowledged. It actually felt like these weren’t episodes you could miss, return, and not miss anything significant.

Thundercats - TV Show.

The 2011 Reboot

ThunderCats always had a cult following with fan art, fan fiction, and trading of recorded episodes being a thing in the fandom. However, the property was dormant for decades. It’s weird because the cartoon was popular enough to warrant four seasons. That was pretty rare in the 1980s and early 1990s. You’d think the show was airing for a long time but it only had one season and was in syndication for years after its initial run.

Take Bucky O’Hare for instance—it spawned from a comic book series that didn’t run for long at all. The cartoon dropped in 1991 and resulted in both a video game and action figures. It made little sense but there was some investment in the series which ran for one season. It would run for a few years in indication, making it seem it had a lot of episodes if you didn’t catch it each week.

ThunderCats would see two comic book series, the first was from Marvel’s UK imprint Star Comics. It ran from 1985 until 1988. It continued to be printed by Star until 1991. I didn’t catch this series during its publication, obviously. However, I did catch Wildstorm’s TC comics and enjoyed them in the early 2000s. While the edgier approach doesn’t hold up as well when you look back at the writing, the approach is very modern for this series. I dig it.

In 2011, we got a new ThunderCats which dropped on Cartoon Network. I’d say this was a great, modern retelling of the group’s adventures. I’ve always maintained that writing for animation, film, and comics simply got better with time. It was a series where you couldn’t miss too many episodes since it ran with a storyline from the jump.

This usually meant that there were plans for this thing to run for several seasons. Unfortunately, it only got one season with 26 episodes. That’s just enough for a first run and a round of re-runs for the year. There would be another series in 2020 which ran with a minisode format which worked.

There are many short-lived shows I feel are worthy of a reboot or continuation. TC is one of those cartoons that could’ve been a bigger, long-running franchise that spawned several reboots. It has enough on the bone for marketing potential as well as being flexible enough to create lore.

Who knows, another animation project might just generate a new definitive version of ThunderCats. As was the case with the fun 2019 Saint Seiya series, Netflix might just be the platform for that goal.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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