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ThunderCats is an animated television series created in 1985 by Tobin "Ted" Wolf and Rankin-Bass Animated Entertainment. The series follows the story of a group of cat-like humanoid aliens on the fictional planet Third Earth. It was popular enough to launch a multimedia franchise including comics, toy lines, video games, two additional TV series and an upcoming live-action film.
The original ThunderCats television series ran for four seasons from 1985 to 1989. The animation was provided by Pacific Animation Corporation. The cast only included six actors (Larry Kenney, Earle Hyman, Earl Hammond, Peter Newman, Lynne Lipton and Bob McFadden), each providing voices for multiple characters. The series was accompanied by a line of action figures produced by LJN. The ThunderCats opening theme song was uploaded to YouTube on June 30th, 2011, where it received 11 million views in 10 years (shown below).
Originally airing in syndication, the series would also air on Cartoon Network's Toonami, being the very first series shown on the block in 1997. The entire series was released on DVD by Warner Brothers in 2005 across four sets. The Season 1, Volume 1 DVD set was recalled when it was discovered that the second episode was missing its background musical score, and a corrected version was eventually released. In 2019, Warner Brothers released a complete series DVD set.
ThunderCats (2011 reboot)
In 2011, an animated ThunderCats reboot premiered on Cartoon Network. The series was produced by Warner Bros. Animation with animation provided by Studio 4°C, taking a darker and more cinematic approach with more focus on characterization and sophisticated themes. On April 3rd, 2011, the official trailer for the ThunderCats reboot was uploaded to YouTube by the channel Tim Freyer, where it received 330,000 views in 10 years (below, left). The promo for the show that was shown on Toonami was uploaded to YouTube on October 12th, 2012, by the channel Junior (below, right).
The series initially aired on Cartoon Network's Friday night lineup, then moved to Saturday mornings as part of the DC Nation block. Reruns of the show would later air on Toonami via Adult Swim. Initially planned for 52 episodes, the series was canceled after only one season consisting of 26 episodes. Warner Brothers released the series across three DVD sets in 2011 and 2012, and would eventually release the complete series on Blu-Ray in 2014.
In 2018, it was announced that a second reboot by Warner Bros. Animation, ThunderCats Roar, would be premiering on Cartoon Network. The announcement generated backlash as the trailer seemed to promise a much more family-friendly tone than the previous two series, with many fans criticizing the art style and comedic tone similar to Teen Titans Go!. The series premiered on Cartoon Network in February of 2020 and ended in December of the same year, being canceled after only one season. The official trailer was uploaded to YouTube by the channel MovieManiacsDE on May 18th, 2018, where it received 1.2 million views in three years (seen below, left).
A comic book adaptation of the original ThunderCats series was published in 1985 by Marvel Comics through its Star Comics imprint and ended in June of 1988. From 2002 to 2004, DC Comics published several ThunderCats mini-series comics through its Wildstorm imprint, as well as several one-shots, including two crossovers with Superman and Battle of the Planets. In 2016, DC Comics published He-Man/ThunderCats, a comic book crossover with the Masters of the Universe franchise.
In 1987, a side-scrolling video game ThunderCats: The Lost Eye of Thundera was released for various home computers including the Amiga, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum. In 2012, a 2D platform game based on the 2011 reboot, simply titled ThunderCats, was released for the Nintendo DS. In 2017, a fan-produced remake of the 1987 game was released on Game Jolt, titled Super ThunderCats: The Lost Eye of Thundera.
In 2007, a ThunderCats film adaptation was announced. Intended to be a CGI animated film directed by Aurelio Jaro and produced by Spring Creek Productions, the film was never greenlit and, as of 2020, has yet to be produced. In March of 2021, Warner Bros. announced that they were developing a live-action film, set to be directed by Adam Wingard.
ThunderCats has a large online following on sites such as Reddit , Tumblr , and DeviantArt . There are also multiple fan sites dedicated to the series such as ThunderCats.org, ThunderCatsFans.org, and the ThunderCats Wiki. DeviantArt contains over 20,000 images dedicated to the series.