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Western Animation / SilverHawks

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"Wings of silver, nerves of steel... Silverrrhawwwwks!" note 

SilverHawks is sort of a mashup of ThunderCats (1985) (IN SPACE!) and Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. It's a Rankin/Bass Animated Series from 1986 that shares most of its producers, creative teamsnote  and Voice Actors with its predecessor.

The SilverHawks, the "partly metal, partly real" space law-enforcement for the Limbo Galaxy (which wasn't much bigger than a solar system) oppose The Mob, run by the evil Mon*Star. The show wasn't as bad as you might have thought (with a few exceptions), despite its total lack of realistic astronomy, physics, or really any sort of science. However the character designs are interesting, the characters themselves are engaging, and most of the stories are fun.

Now has a character page, currently under construction.


SilverHawks provides examples of the following tropes:

  • 65-Episode Cartoon: As usual for syndicated Merchandise-Driven cartoons of the era (though more on this further down).
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: A subversion. While it does occur at the end of each episode, it's neither a "moral of the story", nor a "public service announcement". Instead, it's a short astronomy lesson, mostly about the solar system and its nine planets (the show was produced before Pluto's demotion to dwarf planet) presented within the context of Bluegrass training the Copper Kidd as a pilot. And then it became plot-relevant, when in one episode Bluegrass was captured, and the team had Copper fly their ship to get him back, specifically referencing his pilot training sessions.
  • Artistic License – Astronomy: When the "Limbo Galaxy" is introduced in the pilot episode, the main characters supposedly have to be converted to cyborgs because it's the only way they can survive such a long trip. The distance is then stated as two light years, which is half of the distance from Earth's sun to the closest neighboring star. If it were truly another galaxy, then it would be more like THREE MILLION light years. And three million light years is considered a very close neighbor in real-world intergalactic terms.
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  • Artistic License – Military: While all of the original main heroes, except Copper Kidd, have military ranks these seem to have little bearing on their actual positions. Bluegrass, a colonel (presumably Air Force), technically holds the highest comparative rank out of everyone but is clearly below Commander Stargazer and (Lieutenant) Quicksilver on the team.
  • Artistic License – Physics: In this show, space has air. And also a "down." A few harmless insectoid workers get thrown off a ship in one episode, and this is as close to an on-screen death as we usually get. Not only has it a "down," but down apparently means Earth. One episode had the good guys in peril of falling all the way down to Earth and going splat. Since people got cyborged so they could survive the long journey from there, it would probably take a while.
    • There's a hero (Bluegrass) and a villain (Melodia) who both use sound-powered weapons.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The Sinistar Saloon. 100% alcohol-free.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Yeah, it's by the people who did ThunderCats (1985), alright.
    • Of course it says something that this was one of the least ridiculous things about the way the cartoon treated how space works. The creators at least tried to make it believable by having the characters pull a visor over their faces anytime they have to actually fly around outside their Cool Starship; they still had an arm exposed to the sub-zero temperatures and vacuum of space.
  • Cardboard Prison: The Silverhawks are pretty good at getting the Mob sent to jail. Now if only the jail was just as good as keeping hold of the Mob...
  • Cool Starship: The Maraj. Aesthetically pleasing design, it also contains compartments to launch each of the SilverHawks from, and the main cockpit can detach into a fighter-like mode while the rest of the craft goes invisible.
  • The Dreaded: Human gangsters in Chicago, mentioned in the episode "Battle Cruiser". Mon*Starr had his people steal heavy weaponry from the Silverhawks, instead of using "the might, the muscle, the menace of Mon*Starr".
  • Environment Specific Action Figures: The action figure line included Quicksilver, Steelwill and Bluegrass in "ultrasonic suits" as well as their regular outfits.
  • Episode Title Card: Yet another element the series has in common with Thundercats.
  • Expository Theme Tune: ¨Partly metal, partly real..."
  • Expy:
    • The Big Bad is a gravelly voiced villain who has his own transformation phrase and can transform into a much more powerful form. Hmm, on what show was there also a character like that? Emphasized by the Brazilian dub, in which both villains were voiced by the same actor, Silvio Navas.
    • The Silverhawks as a whole are this to the Thundercats.
  • Film Noir: Although the series was entirely in color there's trace elements of noir here and there, like Stargazer's old school office, or Mon*Star being basically a mob kingpin with his own gang. Later addition Condor was explicitly a detective in the film noir style, with somewhat obsolete tech and a two-fisted attitude to make up for it. (At least, as much of a two-fisted attitude that you could get away with in a 1980s cartoon.)
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Seymour and Zeek.
  • Hollywood Cyborg: The SilverHawks.
  • Humans Are Warriors: One episode featured a plan to move in and take over organized crime on earth. However, since "Those Chicago boys are pretty tough", Mon*Star and his gang weren't willing to just try to land and take over. Instead, they attempted a Colony Drop. Human gangsters are so terrifying that even Mon*star doesn't want to fight them face to face.
  • Instrument of Murder: Bluegrass's guitar and Melodia's keytar.
  • Leitmotif: All over the place (a big-band "sleazy" number for the casino and bar, a noir-esque piano piece for Stargazer and scenes within his office, Theme Music Power-Up for when the Silverhawks move into action, etc).
  • Male Gaze: Steelheart gets quite the pan up on her body in the Title Sequence.
  • Memory Jar: Recurring villain Zero the Memory Thief stores the memories he's drained on tapes worn on his chest.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Initially an Averted Trope. One of the series creators had become tired of seeing cartoons based upon toys and decided to create an original cartoon as an act of rebellion. However, before the end of the first season, fans were demanding toy versions of the characters, subverting the aversion. Kenner wound up making SilverHawks action figures, and there was plenty of other merchandise as well.
  • Methuselah Syndrome: People apparently measure their lifespans in the millennia.
  • Mildly Military: Despite the military ranks most of the characters possess, they behave more as a team of peers. They also observe very little military protocol.
  • Mirror Morality Machine: In "Switch", there's a gas that temporarily switches people's moralities. The SilverHawks become robbers and the mob captures them. Once Mon*Star and his mob are back to normal, they moan over the fact they returned the stolen money and then they try to take advantage of the fact most SilverHawks are in prison.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Steelheart is an attractive female member of the Silverhawks who usually wears a very form-fitting armor and other outfits that highlight her very muscular yet voluptuous body, strong toned muscles, toned broad shoulders, large breasts, and long muscular legs.
  • Never Recycle Your Schemes: Played with in the episode "Magnetic Attraction"; when Commander Stargazer gives Steel Will a polarity reverser to deal with the bad guys' gimmick of the episode, Will asks how he had one handy. Stargazer replies it's not the first time they've tried it, it's just the first time since the SilverHawks were around.
  • Nice Hat: Bluegrass' cowboy hat. The gold armor plating that covers half of Stargazer's head (complete with telescopic left-eye implant) also qualifies.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Condor's voice is an imitation of Humphrey Bogart.
  • One-Word Title: The series itself, plus quite a few of the episodes.List 
  • Operation: [Blank]: The episode "Operation Big Freeze".
  • Phlebotinum Battery: A villainous example. In one episode, Mon*Star is captured and jailed, and Hardware pretends to be captured in order to smuggle in a box full of the Moonstar's energy.
  • Planetville: Paired with Planet of Hats and It's a Small World After All. Most of the planets in the "galaxy" of Limbo are extremely small (little more than asteroids) and characters casually come and go from the exact locations on a given planet that they need to get to. Most planets also have a single overriding theme.
  • Preppy Name: Comic book character Percunius Wadsworth Wellington the 62nd
  • Rogues Gallery: Mon*Star and his mob fill this role for the SilverHawks, fittingly enough. The specific members of Mon*Star's mob are Yes-Man, Hardware, Melodia, Windhammer, Molec-U-lar, Mumbo Jumbo, Poker-Face, Buzz-Saw and Timestopper. Other villains include Zero the Memory-thief (who worked occasionally with Mon*Star's mob), the Rhino, the Cyclops, the Space Bandit and the Bounty Hunter.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Read the above note on Artistic License – Astronomy. Furthermore, the Silverhawks are also supposedly assigned to patrol a whole galaxy, and all of the action happens on what, at most, seems to be a single solar system (and how long it takes to get from one planet to another depends strictly on Travelling at the Speed of Plot).
    • The most absurd example is in one of the later episodes where Commander Stargazer's been fitted with a time bomb. He thinks he's about to blow up, but Moonstryker cheerfully reminds him there's an hour difference between "Earth time" and "Limbo time" and they're still in the clear. The idea that there'd only be one time zone for a whole planet, let alone a whole galaxy, boggles the mind.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sixth Ranger: The original SilverHawks got four new teammates (Hotwing, Flashback, Condor and Moonstryker) midway through the series.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Occurs on both sides with Steelheart (good guys) and Melodia (bad guys). Unusually for this trope, the two are not arch-enemies. Instead, Steelheart usually faced off against Mumbo Jumbo (since both had Super Strength) and Melodia against Bluegrass (since both used music-based sonic weaponry), averting Designated Girl Fight.
  • Somewhere, an Ornithologist Is Crying: Very weirdly averted. Tallyhawk not only looks like a classic Red-tailed Hawk, he calls like onenote  and often acts like one, too, albeit one with a wired-in controller.
  • Space Police: The premise of the show.
  • The Starscream: Yes-Man of all people briefly becomes this in "No More Mr. Nice Guy".
  • Superheroes in Space: They were a team of cyborg superheroes protecting the Limbo Galaxy from the villainous Mon*Star.
  • Surfer Dude: Moon Stryker.
  • Team Pet:
    • Tallyhawk, Quicksilver's cyborg hawk. The rest of the team got their own Fighting Hawks later on: Sideman (Bluegrass), Rayzor (Steelheart), Stronghold (Steelwill) and Mayday (the Copper Kid).
    • Sky Shadow, for Mon*Star and the mob.
    • The first wave of the toy line had a robotic bird sidekick for every member of both the Silverhawks and Mon*Star's Mob, but only a few of them made it into the show. In addition to the ones mentioned above, Flashback had Backlash, Hotwing had Gyro, Stargazer had Sly-Bird, Condor had Jet Stream, Moonstryker had Tail-Spin, Buzz-Saw had Shredator, Mumbo-Jumbo had Airshock, and Mo-Lec-U-Lar had Volt-ure.
  • Team Title: The team's name is the Silverhawks.
  • The Teaser: Each episode opened with clips from that day's story, accompanied by a narrator giving a brief plot synopsis.
  • Tentacled Terror: Mon*Star's mode of transportation and battle mount is the Sky-Runner, a five-tentacled space squid clad in armor.
  • Those Two Guys: Seymour and Zeek.
  • Transformation Sequence: Combined with By the Power of Grayskull! and Added Alliterative Appeal. Different in that the bad guy does it.
    • Subverted in the episode "No More Mr. Nice Guy", where Yes-Man entered the transformation chamber with Mon*Star. Visually, he got all the same camera angles and dramatic poses that Mon*Star got, but he didn't actually physically change. (Seen in the above video link, starting at about 8:30) Then double-subverted when it was shown that he underwent a mental change, and may have gained some powers despite not looking any different.
  • Villain Exclusivity Clause: Mon*Star as the Big Bad in every episode.
  • Weird Sun: The Artificial Sun, a titanic flashlight at the edge of the sector.
  • Wild Card: Seymour. While he'd make runs for the Silverhawks in his taxi, usually for payment, he'd also provide taxi service for the mob. Above all, he's more concerned with making a living and saving his own hide rather than taking sides between the two factions, "ya know what I mean"?
  • The X of Y: The episode titles "The Threat of Dritt" and "The Star of Bedlama".
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Implied in the pilot, where Mon*Star begs the guards to release him. They state they remember what happened to the last guy who fell for that.


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