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Western Animation / ThunderCats (1985)
aka: Thunder Cats

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"Thunder! Thunder! Thunder! ThunderCats! HOOOOOOO!"

"From beyond any known galaxy, bringing with them the laws and ideals of their doomed planet, Thundera, come the ThunderCats. Jaga, the wise...Tygra, the invisible ... Cheetara, the quick ... WilyKat & WilyKit, the junior cunning duo ... Panthro, the deadly ... and Snarf. The ThunderCats - all sworn to serve their young Lord, Lion-O, and to instruct him in the secrets of the "Eye of Thundera," the "eye" embedded in the hilt of the Sword of Omens, is the source of the ThunderCats' power."
Intro from the pilot episode "Exodus".

ThunderCats, an Animated Show from Rankin/Bass Productions that was animated by Pacific Animation Corporation,note  was one of the most popular Merchandise-Driven cartoons of The '80s.

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.

And if you ever wonder about what the show was actually like, remember that this was the 80s, a time of six-pack superheroes, magical weaponry that could do absolutely anything, and villains who shared their wardrobes with death-metal bands, all powered by the Rule of Cool, and ThunderCats was no exception.

Even if you've never seen an episode of the show in your life, you've probably seen someone wearing a t-shirt with the show's logo on it: ThunderCats t-shirts became an unlikely alt fashion item around the mid-2000s after Hot Topic began selling them.

The show is well-remembered enough that it has received two Remakes/Reboots, the Continuity Reboot Thunder Cats 2011 and ThunderCats Roar, an Affectionate Parody that debuted in 2020.

Sword of Omens, bring me... oh, I don't know... where did I leave the remote control?

Check the character sheet.

NOTE: Any tropes related to only the 2011 reboot of the show should be placed in the Thunder Cats 2011 page. Any tropes related to only the 2020 reboot should be placed in the ThunderCats Roar page.

Sword of Omens, grant me tropes beyond tropes!

  • Aborted Arc: The Treasures of Thundera hunt is forgotten by Season 4.
  • Achilles' Heel: Mumm-Ra's reflection instantly defeats him. Averted in season 2. Doubles as Weaksauce Weakness.
  • 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.
    • Mandora, the Evil-Chaser too.
  • Action-Hogging Opening: More than a few fans have stated that the Title Sequence is the best part of the whole show.
  • Advertised Extra: "Return of the Driller"; the Driller is barely in it.
  • 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 (though the latter two are Human Aliens).
  • Amazon Brigade: The Warrior Maidens.
  • Ancient Artifact: The Sword of Omens is the legendary sword of the ThunderCats, wielded by their Lord after proving himself worthy. In addition to changing size and being nigh-invulnerable, it offers the wielder New Powers as the Plot Demands thanks to the Eye of Thundera, which provides power not only to the sword but also to the ThunderCats in general. Depending on the continuity, it cannot be used or even touched by those with evil intent.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Obviously, the Thundercats are all cat-based, while the Mutants are based on other animals (Slithe is a reptile, while the others are named after their species - Jackalman, Vultureman, Monkian, Rataro).
  • Animation Bump: The Title Sequence, "Crystal Canyon", "The Telepathy Beam" and "The Wild Workout".
    • Episode 45, "Turmagar the Tuska", has a long scene with the Thundercats fighting a giant robot. The whole sequence has pretty cool animation, compared to the rest of the episode.
  • Animesque: This being part of a trend involving outsourcing cartoons to Japan, this was expected. Which is perhaps the most visible in the opening animation.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Both Thundrillium and Thundrainium fall into this category.
  • The Artifact: Lion-O and Lynx-O's name due to the fact that originally all of the title characters were supposed to have names like this: Tig-R, Cheet-A, Panth-R, etc.
  • Artifact of Attraction: Lion-O can call for the Sword of Omens to come to him.
  • As Long as There Is Evil: "And wherever evil exists… Mumm-Ra lives!"
  • Bag of Kidnapping: In “Safari Joe” the titular villain captures Wileykit and Wileykat with this method after shooting them off their hovercrafts.
  • Bald of Evil:
    • Arguably Mumm-Ra. His head is normally covered in either a hood (in his decayed form) or an elaborate headdress (in his ever-living form) but he is apparently bald as a nut underneath. At least if the 80s action figure and some of the comics are to be believed.
  • Barely-Changed Dub Name: In the Brazilian dub, the names of Lion-O and Lynx-O had the "-O" part removed, becoming simply Lion and Lynx. The changes are kept in its 2011 remake.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: In the first episode, the Thundercats are all naked, and they have no genitals or nipples... or even butt clefts. And yet they all apparently have this. Weird.
    • Word of God is that they are, in fact, wearing clothes (as one might think from Panthro's belt, Cheetara's boots, and the Kittens' "trunk lines"), their clothes just oddly match their skin patterns. Jaga's line when he presents their gear is that, on Thundera, they didn't need "special" clothes or weapons, not that they didn't wear clothes at all.
  • 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 the sphere, they threaten to forever ban him from the Black Pyramid unless he surrenders it.
  • Big Bad: Mumm-Ra is the main antagonist.
  • Big "NO!": As Lion-O readies to pursue Mumm-Ra into the Book of Omens, he is suddenly met with violent protest from The Ancient Spirits of Evil who take a more active role to prevent the threat to their evil influence.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Shadowmaster": Lion-O rescues Claudus from the Shadowmaster, but he turns into a spirit like Jaga. However, he tells Lion-O that he's proud of him.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: The Sword of Omens does this a lot.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three female Thundercats. Cheetara's hair is blonde with black spots, Pumyra's is brown with white tufts and Wilykit's is auburn with a black stripe down the middle.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Not in the show, but the two Gamebook adaptations both had a "choice" that was really just there to have the author tell the reader how silly they were being if they guessed wrong.
  • 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 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. You'd kind of have to be when you're the chosen envoy of the Ancient Spirits of Evil, one presumes.
  • 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.
  • Catchphrase: Both the caption, and Mumm-Ra's transformation spiel. Panthro often says "If we're gonna do it, let's do it."
  • Children Are Innocent: Exploited by Mumm-Ra in "Leah", where he uses the title character (a Thunderian girl of around six or seven years old) as an unwitting pawn in his plan to unleash the evil Mirror Wraith on the Thundercats.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Every single villain in the show will waste no time in backstabbing the Thundercats after making a truce or being rescued by them after pleading for their lives. This extends to the villains themselves, if two or more villains make an agreement or a collaboration to steal a MacGuffin, make no mistake, one of them will get backstabbed by the end of the episode.
  • 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.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: During the series' original run, Star Comics (a kid-friendly imprint of Marvel Comics) did the honors. Years later, DC Comics released a Darker and Edgier take on the show aimed at grown-up fans.
  • 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.
  • Creepy Centipedes: First appearing in "Turmagar the Tuska," Technopede is a giant robotic centipede, armed to the teeth with lasers and other weapons.
  • Counter-Earth: Thundera and Plun-Darr are on opposite sides of the same sun.
  • Cute Machines: Robear Berbils basically look like cyborg Ewoks.
  • 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.
  • Demoted to Extra: When the Thunder Cats leave for New Thundera, Tygra and Pumyra stay behind to watch Cats Lair and the Tower of Omens.
  • Depending on the Writer: Is entering the black pyramid a daunting task or a drive-thru?
  • Descriptive Ville: Their home planet, Thundera.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: In the last episode, the Ancient Spirits of Evil expressly forbid Mumm-Ra from using the Book of Omens. Surprisingly, he openly defies them and uses it anyway.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Lion-O versus Ta-She 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...
    Snarf: Lion-O...
    Lion-O: I-In a kind of evil way, of course.
  • 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...
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Some of the characters' names in the series are not only their names, it's also the name of their entire respective species:
    • Snarf has an entire race and a planet named after him, along with a nephew named Snarfer. Subverted in that it's revealed Snarf actually has a name (Osbert), but he hates it so much that he insists everyone call him Snarf anyway.
    • Monkian, Jackalman and Vultureman are also not only the names of the main Mutant baddies, but also of their species. It can be inferred from Snarf's case that they also have real names, but for whatever reason, these names are not used. Averted with Slithe, whose particular species of Plun-Darian Mutants are called "Reptilians."
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: The Doom Gaze.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In "The Fireballs of Plun-Darr" and "The Thunder-Cutter" the Mutants had an army's worth of their fellows serving them. Where did they come from and where did they all go?
  • '80s Hair: Good Grief. Every character who has hair qualifies.
  • Empathic Weapon: The Sword of Omens works whenever Lion-O needs it to.
  • Epic Hail: Lion-O just might be the only action hero whose most iconic move is calling for help.
  • Episode Title Card
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Slithe tells Monkian they need a woman's touch in Castle Plun-Darr, Monkian calls him a chauvinist.
  • "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 are Mumm-Ra's henchmen.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Mumm-Ra
  • Evil Is Petty: It's implied in the episode "Hair of the Dog" that The Ancient Spirits of Evil are petty enough to troll Mumm-Ra by turning Snarf into a superpowered being called Snarf-Ra so that they can enjoy Mumm-Ra's humiliation at the hands of Snarf-Ra.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Third Earth is a setting where powerful magic, super science, and all kinds of weird creatures exist.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Wilykit and Jackalman get this treatment. As does Grune the Destroyer, who only has one saber tooth.
  • 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.
  • Fountain of Youth:
    • In "Time Switch," Lion-O is exposed to gases from a Suspension Capsule that make him grow younger over the course of the episode. This is reversed by entering the Cave of Time, where you age many times faster than normal.
    • In "Thundercubs," Panthro, Cheetara, Tygra, Snarf, and Snarfer wander into the Canyon of Youth, were they are regressed to children. As before, this is remedied using the Cave of Time. In "Return of the Thundercubs," Panthro, Cheetara and Tygra fall victim to the Valley of Youth again, but this time are restored by the Mirror of Truth.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In-Universe. 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 accusations 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.
  • Frog Men: A one-episode villain they face is Frog-Man, a literal anthropomorphic frog.
  • Gamebook: There were a pair of entries in the Find Your Fate series based on Thundercats, adding an interactive element to two episodes of the show.
  • Gender Bender: Several of Mumm-Ra's plots involved him transforming into a female of some form to trap or trick the Thundercats.
  • Giant Spider: Spidera, the titular menace in "Queen of 8 Legs".
  • Go-Go Enslavement: In The Return, an adult Wilykat and Wilykit are enslaved as Mumm-Ra's personal servants, half-dressed, and he refers to Wilykit as his concubine.
  • Good Samaritan: What the Thundercats typically are, much to the advantage of Mumm-Ra
  • G-Rated Drug: Used in "The Garden of Delights" and "Crystal Canyon" to convey Drugs Are Bad lessons.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Ancient Spirits of Evil are the source of Mumm-Ra's power. They would also probably count as The Man Behind the Man.
  • Grows on Trees: The "fruit" trees include bread trees, candy trees, eggplant trees, cabbage trees, etc.
  • Hands Looking Wrong: One of the first things Lion-O does when he emerges from his suspension capsule on arriving on Third Earth is looking at his hands. He immediately notices that they are much bigger than they were when he entered the capsule, and a subsequent glance at his reflection in a puddle reveals that he has aged from a pre-teen to an adult while in suspension.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: The infamous blooper reel. Even better, they became so popular that the "samoflange" blooper was referenced in other media including the remake.
  • Home Base: The Thundercats and the Mutants each build an impressive fortress on Third Earth; the "Cat's Lair" and "Castle Plun-Darr", respectively.
    • And of course, there's Mumm-Ra's Black Pyramid.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: The series begins with the leaders of Thundera leaving their planet by spaceship and watching as a natural disaster destroys it. It initially seems as if they may be the only survivors, but later seasons introduce many other refugee ships crewed by both other warriors and ordinary civilians.
  • 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 stupid. Lion-O is basically a pre-teen in a buff adult body. If there was an Idiot Manchild trope, he'd qualify.
  • Inconsistent Spelling: Exaggerated for Slithe, whose toy reveals his name should be spelled "S-S-Slithe". Many sources and fans also spell his name "Slythe".
  • 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.
  • James Bondage: Tygra is the male Thundercat that got tied up the most.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Thundrainium to the Thundercats.
  • Leotard of Power: Cheetara wears a revealing leotard.
  • 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.
    • Even the Thunder Tank had one – a very funked-up version of Panthro's 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 battle each other. Although 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.
  • A Lizard Named "Liz": Most Thundercats have names that sound like the name of a Real Life cat species. Lion-O, Panthro, Cheetara, Tygra, Pumyra... you get the pattern.
  • 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. To be fair Tygra does mention in a subsequent episode that he's still exhausted from the strain of the Trials.)
  • Merchandise-Driven: Like a lot of cartoons of the era, this show had an accompanying toyline.
  • 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.
  • Missing Mom: Lion-O has his father Claudus but his mother is never seen or mentioned.
  • 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. Though it's justified since it cannot be used for evil, thus Mumm-Ra's reason to get rid of it.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: "The Time Capsule" features the most epic arm wrestling contest ever.
  • Mushroom Samba: Tygra in "Garden of Delights".
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Snarf says this in "Bracelet of Power". After discovering the golden bracelet gives whoever wears it control over the Thundercats, Snarf has fun ordering the other Thundercats around. Unfortunately, Mumm-Ra winds up stealing the bracelet from him and enslaving Lion-O, Panthro, Cheetara, and Tygra. Snarf feels heavily responsible for this.
  • Near-Villain Victory: The Shadow Master, in the episode of the same name - he tricks Lion-O into the Shadow Realm, then separates him from the Sword of Omens and sets a giant beast on him while he's weakened, which very nearly kills him. Luckily for Lion-O, the Shadow Master never counted on Mumm-Ra sending Ma-Mutt to steal back the sword.
  • Negative Continuity: Very often, plot points that are made in certain episodes do not stick.
    • In one episode, Tygra discovers a special formula that would replace Thundrillium as the fuel for the Thundercats' techonology, as Thundrillium was getting too scarce and difficult to find. This is never mentioned again and they're back to using Thundrillium a few episodes later.
    • In another episode, the ungrateful Mutants provoke Vultureman into destroying all of their technology. By the next episode, the Mutants' techonology is back with no explanation despite exploding on-screen in the previous episode.
  • Never Say "Die": As per the usual, but Wilykit's cry of "He... isn't alive!" is the apex of this.
  • 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.
    • The Sword of Omens can pretty much reverse every single thing the Thundercats are affected by. Chains? Poison? Body switching? Invisibility? Brainwashing? Mind control? Souls literally ripped away from the Thundercats' bodies? All gone the moment Lion-O decides to grab his sword and summon his team.
  • 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.
    • This plotline can be considered an example of the trope by the writers themselves - because for the sake of a fairly minor plot point, they essentially undermine Jaga's entire character arc all the way back to the first episode. His self-sacrifice is arguably significantly sullied if he is aware that he is responsible (even if indirectly) for the genocide and near-extermination of his people.
    • 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.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: The closest to a relationship was in the end of "Dimension Doom" where it was implied that Cheetara had become attracted to Wizz-Ra.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Snarf isn't as anthropomorphic in appearance as the Thundercats, but he's still sapient.
  • Oh, Cisco!: Many episodes end with the characters delivering a quick joke before the credits after the main conflict is resolved.
  • 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 Mumm-Ra 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 Mumm-Ra and take the power for himself—which reinforces the aforementioned Fridge Brilliance.
  • One-Word Title: The series itself, along with several episodes.List
  • Orcus on His Throne: Mumm-Ra doesn't stray far from his pyramid for long; justified as described in One-Winged Angel.
  • Our Liches Are Different: Despite his name and bandaged appearance, Mumm-Ra is more like an undead sorcerer.
  • Overnight Age-Up: In the episode "Trouble With Time," Tygra wanders into the Cave of Time where he ages into an elderly man. This is reversed by having him bathe in the Geyser of Life.
  • Pet the Dog: Mumm-Ra, of all people. Not only is Ma-Mutt his pet, but Mumm-Ra actually shows it affection. The best example is the episode "Ma-Mutt's Confusion" - despite being verbally abusive to the dog throughout the whole episode, even calling him a traitor when he is taken in by the Thundercats, after being defeated Mumm-Ra admits that it's his own fault Ma-Mutt ran away, and promises to be nicer to him from now on.
    • 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.
  • Plot Hole: The Time Skip between Thundera's destruction and the Thundercats' arrival on Third Earth is usually glossed over as the series goes on. In the first episode, the Thundercats are forced to spend light-years in suspension capsules to halt their aging until they finally reach Third Earth. This was already pretty inconsistent with The Mutants, who were apparently hunting down the Thundercats all the way to Third Earth for light-years and didn't seem to have aged one bit, but became even more so with the inclusion of Snarfer, who despite the Time Skip, is still a child by the time Snarf meets him again.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Lion-O, a pre-teen at the time of Thundera's destruction, is a fully grown adult when he emerges from his suspension capsule on landing on Third Earth. Though Jaga says "some ageing does take place" while one is inside a suspension capsule, none of the other Thundercats age visibly while in suspension, suggesting that the settings on Lion-O's capsule were altered so that he would be old enough to lead the Thundercats when they reached their new home.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In "Slaves of Castle Plun-Darr", the Thundercats have been trying to get the liberated Brute Men to escape from Castle Plun-Darr. They'll all confused by what they're trying to tell them, until...
    Lion-O: Don't you understand? You're not slaves anymore, you're free!
    Brute Men: (rejoicing) Free! Free! (they march back to their homes)
  • Product-Promotion Parade: The Title Sequence, which gives each hero and villain featured a chance to show off.
  • 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 each, do not appear again.
  • Raise Him Right This Time: When Malcar is accidentally de-aged into a baby by the Canyon of Youth, he's given to a Thunderian couple with Lion-O advising them not to teach him any magic.
  • 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 and 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.
    • So are the other cyborg Berserkers that worked for Hammerhand. In his first appearance, he had a crew of common human berserkers, but by his third appearance, the human crew were gone and replaced by Cruncher, Ram Bam and Top-Spinner, without any explanation of where they were before.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: S-S-Slithe and the Reptilians are ugly, nasty villains.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: "Snarf Takes up the Challenge" gives an unexpected example in the form of an animal not regularly depicted as cute at all in media: a bat. Just look at it!
  • 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 Cheetara. As impossible as that seems, Lion-O is allowed to take an alternate route (which makes winning possible, given that Cheetara 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.
  • Run the Gauntlet: In the five-part episode "Lion-O's Anointment", Lion-O must prove he's worthy of being Lord of the Thundercats by taking on and defeating each of the other Thundercats in contests that favor them: a trial of strength against Panthro, of speed against Cheetara, etc. The final trial is to defeat his greatest enemy, Mumm-Ra, alone and without the Sword of Omens.
  • Satellite Family Member: Torr's wife, child and mother never speak.
  • Save the Villain: Done numerous times, usually with the villains repaying the favor by attempting to kill the Thundercats immediately after. One notable instance comes from the episode "Key to Thundera", in which 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.
  • Series Fauxnale: "The Last Day", final episode of Season 3, looks and feels like a series finale episode. The Mutants and Luna-Taks have been captured and sent to prison, Mumm-Ra's pyramid is destroyed and he is defeated for good, the Thundercats die in battle and are brought back to life, the "Key of Thundera" arc comes to an end and the Thundercats decide to return to their home planet and rebuild it now that Third Earth is finally safe. Would've been a pretty epic conclusion, had the show not gotten renewed for another season.
  • Seers: The Sword of Omens. Cheetara now and then when the plot calls for it.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Ma-Mutt was not with Mumm-Ra in "The Book of Omens".
  • Shoulders of Doom: Ta-She gets these in "Enemy's Pride".
  • Shout-Out: Snarf is basically a Super-Deformed Smaug.
    • Many of the Thundercats, especially Tigra and the Thunderkittens, have character designs that look like embellished Cats designs. Cats had come out in 1981, the year before Thundercats went into production and was still a big deal even when the series aired in 1985.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: Slithe's fondness for diplomacy and free discussion with Jackal Man along with an empathetic shoulder pat for Monkian quickly "soothed" any unruly behaviour from those two.
  • Sixth Ranger: Several new Thundercats and villains were introduced in the second season.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: A form appears, although it comes mainly in the show's primary villains becoming more powerful later in the show, like the Mutants becoming a more competent threat under Ratar-O's leadership and Mumm-Ra gaining an Infinity +1 Sword of his own in the Sword of Plun-Darr. We do get some high-powered new villains in the Lunataks, who were so powerful as a group they usually only showed up alone or in pairs so the Thundercats could still believably win.
  • 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. (Mumm-Ra revealing yet another of his many disguises and the consequences of Lion-O's decision).
  • Spider-Sense: The Sword of Omens is a rare example of an object with this ability, as a part of its Empathic Weapon status. It can sense danger and warn Lion-O about it.
  • Strictly Formula: Mumm-Ra/The Mutants/The Monster of the Week does something, Lion-O goes to investigate, Lion-O gets in trouble, Lion-O uses the Sword of Omens to signal the other Thundercats, the Thundercats arrive and kick the baddie of the week's ass, they have a brief conversation about the moral of the episode, Snarf says something and everybody laughs, the end.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: The Berbils often had their village burned or attacked; they were pretty much the designated Damsel in Distress 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.
  • Swamp Monster: "The Totem of Dera" has Mumm-Ra use the titular magic item on the Baleful Swamp to create the Baleful Swamp Monster, a creature made of mud and sludge, to attack the Thundercats.
  • Taken for Granite: The title mask of "The Mask of Gorgon" can do this to anyone when its eyes are opened. When combined with the Sword of Omens' "Sight Beyond Sight", the Mask's power has the opposite effect, turning stone to flesh, which Mumm-Ra uses to awaken the Child of Gorgon.
  • 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.
    • Also, when Lion-O is arm-wrestling the Caveman – not only does Lion-O refuse any help from the arriving Thundercats ("I'll fight my own battles! I accepted his challenge!"), but Panthro even agrees with him, saying "it's one on one!"
  • 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. An abonimable mix of a great white shark with arachnid legs. Immense in size, it leaps high out of the water with a terrifying shriek. The Thundercats' reactions ranged from "I never want to go through that again" to a desperate scream.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Captain Bragg's shenanigans ended with the capture of all of the Mutants and Luna-Taks. This proved to be the last straw for the Ancient Spirits of Evil, who gave Mumm-Ra a single-day ultimatum to redeem himself, imbuing him with power that nearly destroyed the Thundercats and all of Third Earth with them.
  • 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.
    • Averted with Mumm-Ra himself, however – he's all but unique among 80's cartoons in that he's depicted as cunning and genuinely a threat to the protagonists. While the show's tonal quality isn't quite bright enough to make him qualify for Vile Villain, Saccharine Show, Mumm-Ra would otherwise qualify for that trope.
    • In one episode, Vultureman invents a potion that gives him superpowers and allows him to defeat Mumm-Ra and the other Thundercats all by himself, the only problem is that the effects of said potion are temporary and Vultureman needs a refil from time to time to remain powerful. This comes full circle at the end of the episode, when Mumm-Ra steals the refil vial and gets it destroyed like an idiot, and Vultureman declares that he only ever made two vials and he'll never be able to make more. Vultureman would've easily won if he either made more vials of it or was smart enough to write down the formula, or was even smart enough to try to recreate it from memory.
  • Villain Exclusivity Clause: Mumm-Ra for most of the series was the sole Big Bad. Albeit with the Luna-Taks in latter seasons becomes a Rogues Gallery.
  • 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: "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.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • At the end of "The Crystal Queen", Queen Tartara's castle collapses when Lion-O, Panthro and Snarf drive the Thunder Tank through the walls in order to escape, with no hint of what became of Tartara and her guards.
    • The end of "Sword in a Hole" reveals that Captain Shiner escaped the destruction of his ship but there's no sign of his crew.
    • At the end of "The Evil Harp of Charr-Nin" Mumm-Ra easily escapes the collapsed cavern but it isn't shown what became of Charr-Nin.
    • In Part 4 of "Thunder Cats-Ho!", Snarf helps Ro-Bear Bob and Ro-Bear Bert escape the Berserkers' ship and the two are last seen in Part 5 nodding in approval while watching Bengali, Lynx-O and Pumyra meet up with the ThunderCats. The two are never seen again and the three Thunderians appear to forget all about the Berbils who saved them from Thundera's destruction, lived with them on an island and last saw them as the Berserkers' prisoners.
    • After "Thundercats-Ho!" Ratar-O was never seen again, even though the Mutants still possessed the Rat-Star.
    • Despite becoming Mandora's assistant, Quick Pick only appeared twice.
  • Word-O Name: Pretty common in this series, with a lot of characters having names like this that reflect their species. First, there is the main protagonist Lion-O, who is appropriately enough a lion. Other main characters include Panthro and Cheetara, and there's minor characters like Lynx-O, Pumyra, Jagara, Panthera, Sauro, and Spidera.
  • Worf Barrage: "Return to Thundera" introduced some heavy firepower for Cat's Lair like a "ballista" that shoots fireballs and ice balls, missile launchers and for some reason giant flailing chains, just for the Plundarian Warbot to No-Sell all of them.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: In pursuit of the Luna-Taks' 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. She later pulls the same trick on Hachiman to steal his sword.
  • The X of Y: Several episode titles. list
  • You Did Everything You Could: In "Return to Thundera", Lion-O wanted his father to leave Thundera quickly (it's unclear if he ever made it at the time, even without the time-traveling Lion-O's intervention). But Panthro told him there was nothing he could have done. "No one can change history. We can only learn from it."
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Mumm-Ra cruelly dismisses the ailing Panthro clone, not even addressing him by name. In revenge, the clone destroys his template, preventing him from making more clones.
  • Younger Than They Look: In the first episode, the Thundercats are placed into cryosleep for a long journey through space. Lion-O was about ten years old upon entering, but due to a malfunction in his pod, when he emerges, he's got the body of a full grown man.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Thundercats


"Ancient spirits of goodness"

Mumm-Ra calls upon the Ancient Spirits of Evil to transform into his true form. Mumm-Rana, meanwhile, calls upon the Ancient Spirits of Goodness to change into her true form.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / ByThePowerOfGrayskull

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