Sandokan is a young man living on an island of Singapur along with his mentor Macassar, who has taken care of him since he was a baby. But after the death of the old man, Sandokan receives shocking news: he is the son of the rajah of the lost kingdom of Kiltar, which was killed in an invasion by Dayak warriors. Seeking for the truth and the key to his origins, Sandokan travels to Labuan and meets the British governor James Brooke, who soon proves to know more than he says...
This is the beginning of Sandokans adventures as a pirate leader in the search of bringing Brooke to justice and getting back his kingdom. He will be aided in this perilous task by the Portuguese adventurer Yañez (and his lizard pet Paco!), the Indian shaman Tremal-Naik, the street urchin Kammamuri and of course Brookes own niece Marianna, Sandokans love interest.
The series, originally of 26 episodes, was followed by a second season, Sandokan - The Yiger Roars Again (Sandokan II - La tigre ruggisce ancora), and yet a third one, Sandokan, The Two Tigers (Sandokan III - Le due tigri).
The first season was fairly popular in Spain, even if it clashes in collective memory with another Sandokan cartoon produced by Spanish company BRB International some years before (though they are pretty easy to tell apart, as the Spanish series was a more kid-friendly cartoon with Anthropomorphic Animal). Both cartoons's opening themes are particularly remembered, and not only for being catchy, but also for being played by the brothers De Angelis, who reprised their theme from the 1976 TV series starring Kabir Bedy as the eponymous hero.
- Action Girl: Marianna is a crackshot with guns and is never shy about using them.
- Animesque: The realistic drawing style owes a lot to Japanese animation, even although the rest of the action is more clearly based on the adventure film genre.
- Badass Crew: Sandokan's crew, to the smallest member.
- Bad Boss: Brooke generally doesn't have much consideration towards his underlings, particularly Guillonk.
- Battle Couple: Sandokan and Marianna.
- Big Bad: James Brooke, later with priest Suyodhana.
- Blow Gun: Kammamuri's signature weapon is a blow gun.
- The Brute: Mati for Brooke in the second season.
- Cain and Abel: Hindi brothers Nasumbata and Hyrundo; the former betrayed the second to get his throne.
- Canon Foreigner: While Reginald Guillonk's surname is probably based on the character James Guillonk from the source books, the character is so different that it can be considered a completely different one.
- Composite Character: As usual in adaptations, James Brooke is Marianna's uncle in lord Guillonk's place.
- Chef of Iron: Sambigliong, who is not only a excellent cook and a wise man, but also a great fighter.
- Cool Mask: Suyodhana is introduced wearing a golden mask, and later Brooke himself dons a sinister porcelain mask as the White Rajah.
- Dark-Skinned Redhead: Kammamuri. It is never mentioned in the series, so it's likely meant to be an artistic choice on the producers's part and not a in-universe trait.
- Defecting for Love: Marianna, as in every incarnation of the story.
- Disney Villain Death: Shockingly averted with Nasumbata he falls down from a high balcony, but we are presented with a clear, rather graphic sequence of his body crashing and going limp.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Most of the main cast, as well as quite a lot of secondary characters. Sandokan and Kammamuri start the story in a case of Barefoot Poverty, but both retain a liking to go barefoot, particularly the latter, while it's a given with Tremal-Naik due to his indigenous ways.
- Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: The series's fighting scenes feature martial arts moves surprisingly well researched for this kind of cartoon, including kicks from Southeast Asian fighting styles and throws from Judo for good measure. Both good and bad guys are skilled fighters, specially Sandokan, who is implied to be a practitioner of the Malaysian art of silat melayu (although in a pretty acrobatic variation, of course).
- Facial Markings: Tremal-Naik and the Dayaks wear facepaint.
- Fiery Redhead: Yañez is a male example.
- Guyliner: Word of God says Sandokan wears kajal makeup. A bit of an Informed Attribute given the art style.
- Hard Head: Mati's main trait, aside from his raw strength.
- HeelFace Turn: Guillonk later in the series.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: In Sandokan's case, a parang sword.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Every character who is good with weapons demonstrates this in some occasion.
- Knife Nut: Sandokan is skillful with his kris dagger, though not as much as Ushitora with his flying blades.
- Loyal Animal Companion: Yañez has Paco, a lizard, while Kammamuri has Dharma, a tigress.
- Mr. Fanservice: Pretty much every male character is well muscled and spends a lot of time (if not all the time) barechested.
- Orphan's Plot Trinket: Sandokan's lion medalion, which was given to him by Macassar.
- The Quiet One: Kien Koa, who unlike his partner Mati can speak but chooses not to most of the time.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Lady Carradine. It's only thanks to her aid that Sandokan and company manage to take Brooke out his seat.
- Religion of Evil: The thugs.
- Spirit Advisor: Macassar appears later as such.
- Street Urchin: Kammamuri grew up as one before finding Tremal-Naik.
- Teens Are Short: Hard to pin down due to Kammamuri's Vague Age, but it's implied he is around 13 years old around the third season, yet he is still some heads shorter than most adult characters.
- The Voiceless: Mati, who had his tongue cut out as part of his background.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Kammamuri and Tremal-Naik lack upper body clothing in their regular attire.