Western Animation: ThunderCats
"Thunder! Thunder! Thunder! Thundercats! HOOOOOOO!"ThunderCats
is an Animated Show
from Rankin/Bass Productions
and animated by Pacific Animation Corporationnote
, and was one of the most popular Merchandise-Driven
cartoons of The Eighties
Somewhere in the depths of space, a group of aliens with feline-patterned skin/80s glam rock stars with a cat-like theme flee their doomed homeworld of Thundera. Pursued by their enemies, the Mutants, their ship crash-lands on the planet of Third Earth.
The series chronicled the ThunderCats as they adapted to their new home, making allies and enemies with the natives, and battling the machinations of the series' Big Bad
, a mummified sorcerer-lich named Mumm-Ra who usually cowed the Mutants into doing his bidding. The show's second season chronicled their return to Thundera and their attempts to re-stabilize it, with an expansion of the cast of other refugee Thunderans.
Check the character sheet
NOTE: Any tropes related to only the 2011 reboot of the show should be placed in the ThunderCats (2011) page.
Sword of Omens, grant me tropes beyond tropes!
- Action Girl:
- Cheetara. Remarkably, in several episodes she gets to save the day, on her own, when all the rest of the team has been defeated.
- Pumyra and the Warrior Maidens as well.
- Action-Hogging Opening: More than a few fans have stated the opening credits are the best part of the whole show.
- Achilles' Heel: Mumm-Ra's reflection instantly defeats him. Averted in
later seasons season 2. Doubles as Weaksauce Weakness.
- After the End: The Thundercats' original homeworld blows up during the Premiere. There are also hints that Third Earth is the future of our world, but what happened to the human race is not revealed. A few human-looking populations are shown (the warrior maidens, Professor Dometome and his associates). Also, there are some stray humans such as Hachiman, Mandora and Safari Joe.
- Amazon Brigade: The Warrior Maidens.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Obviously, they're all cat-based.
- Animation Bump: The Title Sequence, "Crystal Canyon", "The Telepathy Beam" and "The Wild Workout".
- Applied Phlebotinum: Both Thundrillium and Thundrainium fall into this category.
- Artifact of Attraction
- As Long as There Is Evil: "And wherever evil exists
- Bald of Awesome: Panthro and Lynx-O.
- Bald of Evil: Safari Joe.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: The Thundercats universe blatantly disregards many physical facts, but none are as jarring as the fact that apparently everyone can breathe and speak in outer space just fine, thank you.
- Bat Signal: The Sword of Omens can do this when Lion-O invokes "Thundercats, HOOOOOOOOO!"
- Beauty Equals Goodness: The episode "Good and Ugly" subverted it: the beautiful alien was the evil one, the ugly one good. From the good alien's perspective, Lion-O and Snarf were ugly.
- Berserk Button: The Ancient Spirits of Evil do not take kindly to Mumm-Ra deciding that he doesn't need them anymore after he gains possession of the Golden Sphere of Seti. They're so angry, in fact, that they not only send the sphere far away, they refuse to transform Mumm-Ra into his Ever-Living form, and while they eventually agree to do so, once he reclaims it, they threaten to forever ban him from the Black Pyramid unless he surrenders it.
- Big Bad: Mumm-Ra
- Bigger Bad: The Ancient Spirits of Evil.
- The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: The Sword of Omens does this a lot.
- Bully Bulldog: Maa-Mutt
- By the Power of Grayskull!:
- "Thunder, Thunder, Thunder, Thundercats, Hoooooooooo!"
- "Sword of Omens, give me sight beyond sight!"
- "Ancient Spirits of Evil...transform this decayed form...to Mumm-Ra...THE EVER-LIVING!!!"
- Canon Foreigner: Lynxana, an exiled Thundercat rebel from the Marvel comics
- Card-Carrying Villain: Mumm-Ra, to the point that carrying an actual card would be redundant. This guy is so enthusiastically and devoutly evil that he practically screams his own wickedness from rooftops.
- The Caretaker: Snarf, especially in the early episodes
- Cat Folk: They were supposed to be this, but most of the Thunder Cats didn't really look so much like animals, but more like 80's glam rockstars with a cat-theme.
- Grune and Lynx-O are some exceptions. Panthro's visible pointy ears also count.
- The designs for the new series look more cat-like when paired up next to the originals, though.
- Catch Phrase: Both the caption, and Mumm-Ra's transformation spiel. Panthro often says "If we're gonna do it, let's do it."
- Christmas Cake: Cheetara. She appeared to be in her late teens/early twenties in the first episode, when Lion-O was still a cub. Then again, nobody ever seems to age in this show.
- Code of Honour: The Code of Thundera: "Justice, Truth, Honor, and Loyalty."
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Mumm-Ra's armor suit (a copy of Lion-O's) is colored red, in contrast with Lion-O's blue.
- Cool Sword: The Sword of Omens not only provides Lion-O with "sight beyond sight"; it can seemingly do pretty much anything he commands it to, including (but not limited to) levitation, shooting energy blasts, and creating force fields.
- Cosmic Keystone: The Treasures of Thundera
- Crapsack World: A very dark tome holds records of a time when there was nothing but anguish and despair on third earth. A real page-turner for Mumm-ra.
- Cute Machines: Robear Berbils
- Darker and Edgier: The Return comic series, and its sequel Dogs Of War. Not kid-friendly, folks.
- Deal with the Devil: In "Monkian's Bargain", Monkian agrees to allow Mumm-Ra to make him powerful enough to defeat the Thundercats and rule Third Earth. He's so impatient that he leaves without hearing what the price is, and he's too Genre Blind to question why Mumm-Ra is giving him the power and not using it himself. After he manages to defeat the Thundercats, what happens to him is pretty scary, even if he does recover.
Mumm-Ra: You rule Third Earth. But it is a kingdom you will never see! Because you can never leave my pyramid!
- Death World: Visit beautiful Third Earth, home to locales such as the Field of Daggers, the Crumbling Cliffs of Vertigo, and the Burning Sands of the Phosphorus Desert, and that's just for starters! No wonder most of humanity seems to have died out.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Lion-O's theory in challenging Snowman.
- Depending on the Writer: Is entering the black pyramid a daunting task or a drive-thru?
- Descriptive Ville: Their home planet, Thundera
- Distracted by the Sexy: Lion-O versus Tashi in the episode "The Doomgaze." And this is before she uses her titular Hypnotic Eyes against him. Lucky for him that Cheetara was there to intervene.
Lion-O: She's... so beautiful...
I-In a kind of evil
way, of course.
- Does Not Like Shoes: The Warrior Maidens go barefoot. So does Tygra, Wilykit, and Lynx-O. Sort of.
- Does This Remind You of Anything? The Sword of Omens, which lengthens dramatically when it's time for action, but needs a firm hand on its grip and verbal encouragement... yeah...
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: The Doom Gaze
- '80s Hair: Good Grief. Every character who has hair qualifies.
- Empathic Weapon: The Sword of Omens
- Epic Hail: Lion-O just might be the only action hero whose most iconic move is calling for help.
- Episode Title Card
- Everybody Laughs Ending: Normally at something Snarf says.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: Fully aware of this but driven to grave desperation - with his allies beaten and more and more of third earth falling to the thundercats - a powerless Mumm-ra stands ready to invoke the four lords of all evil, wondering if they will answer his pleas or make him wish he were dead.
- Evil Is Not Well Lit: Mumm-Ra's pyramid
- Evil Minions: The Mutants
- Evil Sorcerer: Mumm-Ra
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink
- Fashionable Asymmetry: Wilykit and Jackalman get this treatment. As does Grune the Destroyer, who only has one saber tooth.
- Five-Man Band
- For the Evulz: Mumm-Ra could just ignore the Thundercats and wait for them all to die (since he's, y'know, immortal), but where's the fun in that? This trope does still apply with him, but leaving the Thundercats alone, in his viewpoint, does let them build up. His immortality doesn't help him all that much when he has at least 2 weaknesses, so this wouldn't be wise if he plans to oppose them. Better to deal with them when they're still vulnerable.
- Forgot About His Powers: A number of episodes would have ended early if Lion-O had remembered that he could call his sword to his hand.
- Mumm-Ra seemed oddly helpless in the Book of Omens despite having more than enough abilities to retaliate or escape.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: From the safety of his home, Lion-o uses his sword's sight beyond sight to find out about Mumm-ra's latest scheme, only to see the villain speak right at him and address his spying attempts with mockery and accuse him of cowardice. An indignant Lion-o storms the black pyramid, falling right into a trap and providing the last piece Mumm-ra needed to complete his plan - the sword itself.
- Gender Bender: Several of Mumm-Ra's plots involved him transforming into a female of some form to trap or trick the Thundercats.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- In "Crystal Canyon". when Alluro gets the Keystone and has control over Lion-O and Lynx-O, he says some... interesting stuff.
: If you're good, I may even give you to Chilla
. What a wonderful pet you'd make.
- In "Exile Isle", we get this from Captain Cracker when he chases Snarfer.
Capt. Cracker: Come back here, you pussylover!
- Good Samaritan: What the Thundercats typically are, much to the advantage of Mumm-Ra
- G-Rated Drug: In "Crystal Canyon" and "The Garden of Delights"
- Grows on Trees: The "fruit" trees include bread trees, candy trees, eggplant trees, cabbage trees, etc.
- Hilarious Outtakes: The infamous blooper reel, often referred to as BlunderCats.
- Human Popsicle: How the Thundercats made the trip from Thundera to Third Earth; Lion-O undergoes a Plot-Relevant Age-Up because of a faulty cryogenic pod
- Idiot Ball: Apparently being in cryogenic stasis not only gives you outrageous muscles and martial prowess, it also makes you retarded. Lion-O is basically a ten-year-old (or however old he was before stasis) in a buff adult body. If there was an Idiot Manchild trope, he'd qualify.
- James Bondage: Tygra, and the fandom runs away with it
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: What Slithe threatens Lion-O's father with - whom he suspects of hiding weapons plans stolen from the mutants.
Slithe: You cannot see, but you can feel.
- Kryptonite Factor: Thundrainium to the Thundercats
- Large Ham / No Indoor Voice: MUMMMM-RAAAAAA, THE EVERRRRRRR LIVIIIIINGGGGG!!!!!!
- Leotard of Power: Cheetara
- Leitmotif: Every adult Thundercat had one (Lion-O's was based on the main theme), the kittens share one, Snarf had a Plucky Comic Relief Leitmotif, and Mumm-Ra had his own scary theme.
- Let's You and Him Fight: Interestingly enough, used by the heroes more often than the villains.
- Averted when Mumm-Ra tried to make Lion-O and Hachiman the samurai batlle each other. Altough the heroes were willing to fight, their swords refused to battle.
- Light Is Good / Dark Is Evil: The evil Mumm-Ra is in a dark, dreary pyramid and everything is shades of black or dark blue. The good Mumm-Rana is in a bright pyramid where everything is white and golden.
- The Load: Snarf and occasionally Snarfer. Sometimes the locals of Third Earth as well if they're tagging along.
- Master of Disguise / Master of Illusion: Mumm-Ra. A great many plots revolved around him disguising himself as an innocent or ally to sabotage the Thundercats. In one episode it's revealed that Tygra's also a master of illusion, not just invisibility. It puts a severe strain on him, though, and takes tremendous concentration and meditation to do (which also provides the necessary handwave as to why he had never used it before he was saving it up for Lion-O's Anointment Trials.)
- Mirror Match :In "Fond Memories", Mumm-Ra merges himself with a statue of Lion-O to match his physical appearance, abilities and weapons before dueling against him.
- Motive Decay: Mumm-Ra's overall goal is supposed to be to steal the Sword of Omens, yet in some episodes he has the chance to take without any resistance from Lion-O and either flat out ignores it out or tries to get rid of it rather than taking it.
- Mushroom Samba: Tygra in "Garden of Delights"
- New Powers as the Plot Demands:
- Cheetara's psychic powers, Tygra's illusion abilities, the list goes on.
- One time when Snarf was injured some distance away, Lion-O drew the Sword of Omens and kept saying "Thunder" (No, it's not going where you are thinking) until it was about 15 feet long, then it took off like a rocket with Lion-O hanging on to the handle. To add to it, when he got there, Lion-O used never before seen strength to lift rubble off of Snarf.
- Never Say "Die": As per the usual, but Wilykit's cry of "He... isn't alive!" is the apex of this.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The reason that Thundera blew up in the first place is because in the past, Jaga threw the evil Sword of Plundar into the planet's core in order to destroy it and keep it from ever being used for evil. The evil energies apparently caused the seismic catastrophe.
- In "The Last Day", the Ancient Spirits of Evil give Mumm-Ra one last chance to defeat the Thundercats. He naturally fails and is banished forever - until the very next episode. As they're about to leave Third Earth for New Thundera, the Thundercats level the black pyramid. The Ancient Spirits of Evil were not happy, so Mumm-Ra was freed and sent to New Thundera to fight the Thundercats again.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Snarf
- The Obi-Wan: Jaga, on occasion. He even glowed blue.
- Oh, Cisco!
- One-Sided Arm-Wrestling: Lion-O vs a Caveman
- One-Winged Angel: "ANCIENT SPIRITS OF EVIL!!! TRANSFORM THIS DECAYED FORM TO... MUMM-RA, THE EVER LIVING!!!"note And he does this nearly every time he appears in an episode. Admittedly, the transformation is not as monstrous as some, but the differences between "decayed form" and "MUMM-RA THE EVER LIVING" are pretty severe. But it should be noted that the ability to become "Mumm-Ra" is not a natural ability he possesses, but it's quite literally the Ancient Spirits of Evil giving him a power up. And it's not restricted to Mumm-Ra: Snarf demonstrated in one episode that ANYONE who invokes the Ancient Spirits of Evil in his chamber will temporarily become super-powered. - This explains why he only leaves his tomb to fight the Thundercats, and spends the rest of his time in a coffin in the main chamber: if he didn't, then anyone who wanted to could take that power and use it against him, and he'd be unable to stop it.
- When Lynxo and Cheetara broke into the pyramid, the Ancient Spirits of Evil attacked them. And in "The Heritage" when a treacherous Mummra started the transformation chant, they flat out cut him off and refused. So it may have been a writing inconsistency (not unusual) or the usual Snarf Character Shilling. Of course if a worthy evil being somehow reached the inner sanctum, he may convince the Evil Spirits that he would make a better servant than Mummra and take the power for himself.
- Our Liches Are Different: Despite his name and bandaged appearance, Mumm-Ra falls more into this category.
- Pet the Dog: Mumm-Ra, of all people. Not only is Ma-Mutt his pet, but Mumm-Ra actually shows it affection.
- Surprisingly, the Ancient Spirits of Evil get a moment. When Mumm-Ra is abandoned on Thundera (the Thundercats haven taken his Mumm-Raft in order to get back to Third Earth) and only able to communicate with Ma-Mutt via the cauldron, the ASOE are the ones who return him to the pyramid.
- Phlegmings: Mumm-Ra, natch
- Plot-Relevant Age-Up: See Human Popsicle.
- Product Promotion Parade: The title sequence
- Psycho Serum: A crystal which made Tygra think he was smarter and more powerful, and was painfully addictive. Alluro stole it and was the worse off for it.
- Put on a Bus: The Luna-Taks and Mutants are put on a prison train near the end of season 3 and aside from one episode do not appear again.
- Reforged Blade: The Sword of Omens is broken and reforged not once, not twice, but three times over the course of the series.
- Remember the New Guy: Vultureman, Ma-Mutt. Justified in Ma-Mutt's case, as Mumm-Ra summons him from a stone pillar in his first appearance. Vultureman, not so much.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: S-S-Slithe and the Reptillians
- Ridiculously Difficult Route: The five-part episode "Lion-O's Anointment", has Lion-O tested by his teammates as a Coming of Age ceremony that every Lord of the Thundercats must go through to earn the title. In the second one, he actually has to race Cheetarah. As impossible as that seems, Lion-O is allowed to take an alternate route (which makes winning possible, given that Cheetarah can't run at full speed for as long as he can) but there's one catch - it's far more dangerous than the route she takes. After avoiding a Man-Eating Plant, a two-headed monster, and dwarf-like savages, he's able to win.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Thundercats were the noble class of their people, with Lion-O as their ruler.
- Save the Villain: In the episode "Key to Thundera", Mumm-Ra gets trapped in the Book of Omens and repeatedly blasted by fire. Unwilling to let him roast for all eternity, Lion-O goes in and rescues him.
- Schizo Tech: Hunter-gatherer robot bears.
- Seers: The Sword of Omens. Cheetara now and then when the plot calls for it.
- Shoulders of Doom: Tashi gets these in Enemy's Pride.
- Shout-Out: Snarf is basically a Super-Deformed Smaug.
- Shut up, Jackalman: Slithe's fondness for diplomacy and free discussion along with an empathetic shoulder pat for Monkian quickly "soothed" any unruly behaviour from those two.
- Small Annoying Creature: Snarf and Snarfer.
- Speak In Unison: Used in a creepy way. While chanting to send Lion-O to the astral world to rescue Jaga; the Nether-witch's voice starts to overlap with another. (Mummra revealing yet another of his many disguises and the consequences of Lion-O's decision).
- Sugar Apocalypse: They often had said village burned or attacked; they were pretty much the designated Distressed Damsel of the series.
- Sugar Bowl: The Berbils' village.
- Summon to Hand: the Sword of Omens can do this.
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Both Mumm-Ra and Lion-O have this. Mumm-Ra from a fetid scrying pool and Lion-O from the Sword of Omens' "Sight Beyond Sight". Really good to find out who's in trouble and where, that.
- Talk to the Fist: In "Monkian's Bargain", Wilykit and Wilykat actually attacked Mumm-Ra while he was transforming.
- Team Mom: Cheetara, so damn much.
- Team Title
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Female Berbils? They had flowers on their ears.
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: To prove himself worthy of leadership, Lion-O must vanquish Mumm-Ra unassisted. He succeeds(!), but Mumm-Ra is still back the next episode of course.
- Theme Music Power-Up: Despite the theme music playing at various dangery intervals, it would never be completed. It would go for a verse at most or more often just a single line then switch to some other background music.
- Threatening Shark: The Black Widow Shark. Cage tours not recommended.
- Verbal Tic:
- Villain Ball As an 80's Children's show, it's to be expected.
- One notable incident had to do with Mumm-Ra getting an Orb which quadrupled his power. The Ancient Spirits of Evil felt threatened by it with the prospect of being replaced, so they closed the pyramid to him. They couldn't do this after he finally killed off the Thundercats?
- In another, The Ancient Spirits of Evil gave him 24 hours to finally kill the Thundercats, so he decided to do just that. Just as he was about to finish Lion-O off, they declared his time was up and whisked him away for punishment. If they had waited a few more seconds, Mumm-Ra would have actually won.
- Villainous Rescue: Granted, he had selfish reasons for doing so (he was worried that he would be replaced as the chief servant to the Ancient Spirits of Evil), but if Mumm-Ra hadn't interfered with the Shadow Master's assault on the Thundercats, the latter would have successfully destroyed them.
- Virtue/Vice Codification: The Code of Thundera: Justice, Truth, Honor and Loyalty.
- We Come in Peace Shoot to Kill: Thundercats Episode: "Good And Ugly" had Lion-o attack an innocent alien visitor, then out of embarrassment help the next alien he met, who turned out (of course) to be evil. This was also an example of Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain, as Lion-O fired on the first alien because he was ugly and spoke gruffly, while the second was elegant and cultured. So Now You Know. And Knowing Is Half the Battle.
- Whip It Good: Tygra uses a bolo-whip, but when he uses it correctly, he can turn invisible.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: In pursuit of the Lunatacs lair; Lion-O is about to call upon his friends when he hears a plea for help and finds a diminutive - unknown to him yet - Luna who's "losing consciousness". He lays down his sword to assist her, only to be grabbed by her hulking brute of a steed and have the daylights crushed out of him.
- You Did Everything You Could: In "Return to Thundera", Lion-O wanted his father to leave Thundera quickly (it's unclear if ever made it at the time). But Panthero told him there was nothing he could have done. "No one can change history. We can only learn from it."