The 1980s cartoon favorite finds a new streaming home!
If just hearing those words gave you a Pavlovian impulse to grab a Rubik’s cube and some bagel bites, you are not alone. Although never as popular as a say G.I. Joe or a Jem, ThunderCats was another successful cartoon series based on a popular toy line — in this case one in which alien felines squared off against an evil mummy. Because 1980s, awesome.
Debuting in syndication in 1985 and usually scheduled in after school time slots alongside shows like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Transformers, M.A.S.K. and, er, Heathcliff, the show’s initial run spawned 130 episodes of feline inter-spacial conflict. In it the wake of the show’s immediate popularity came the success of not only the LJN toy line that kicked the whole saga off but ancillary products like comics and clothes, and even a magical-sounding traveling stage show in which the space cats were joined by, among others, Gumby.
Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every, every minute?
Anyway, as the years went on, so did the show’s popularity. Characters like the heroic Lion-O, Cheetara and Panthro became 80s icons…and inspired a disquieting amount of erotic fan fiction. Yes readers, the ThunderCats are even responsible for jump-starting the puberty of many viewers. Rule 34 y’all. Sexy cats aside, the great voice work of the series by veteran actors like Earle Hyman (best known as Cliff’s father on The Cosby Show) helped elevate the show to be more than just a sly attempt to remove money from the wallets of parents everywhere.
For there was real gravitas in the saga’s battle against good and evil, even if the original series shrouded it in easily resolved storylines. Realizing there was an opportunity to tell more meaningful stories, the Cartoon Network decided to give Thundercats an anime-flavored reboot in 2011. This time around, the stakes felt higher, the stories more realistic and as a whole the entire affair was better than it had any right to be be. Unfortunately, nostalgia for the source material did not translate into ratings or popularity. Like the similarly underrated G.I. Joe: Renegades, nostalgia did the new ThunderCats was cancelled after one measly season.
The current ThunderCats Roar! series attempted to reinvent the saga, but its different animation style has inspired many vocal “fans” to dismiss it outright due to it not reconciling with their memories. Oh fandom.
This all brings us to the point that both the original and 2011 ThunderCats shows launch on Hulu today, meaning that you can enjoy the adventures of the vaguely arousing Cats and their foe Mumm-Ra (how do you not LOVE that name?) anytime you want. We recommend fans of the classic series actually start by watching the 2011 reboot, as it really captured the spirit of the original while enhancing the inherent storytelling much in the same way that Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance did — you’ll come out of it with a much deeper appreciation of the original material.
In these tumultuous times, watching cosmic cats square off against a bandaged antagonist who comes off like a more vain Skeletor won’t solve any problems, but it will help you forget your troubles for a bit. And to that, we say a resounding Hoooooooooooooo!