ThunderCats (1980s)



Classic 'toon's conflict is OK for older kids.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The show intends to entertain rather than to educate, but there are some positive take-aways in the Cats' adherence to morality.

Positive messages

The show’s themes include honesty, courage, and responsibility, and the ThunderCats embody these traits in their efforts to champion the weak and oppressed. The lone female character is on equal footing with the men (although she's greatly outnumbered).

Positive role models

The heroes uphold the virtues of honor, justice, and truth, and they risk their lives to protect innocent creatures from the evil Mutants, but violence usually is the sole means by which they do so.

Violence & scariness

Weapons include laser guns, clubs, stun darts, swords, whips, and sticks. Violence is prevalent in the ThunderCats' exchanges with their enemies. Injuries are rare and exchanges are brief, but occasionally characters die, though its presentation is very sanitized and there's no blood or gore. The show's villains are a motley crew of monsters who may frighten young kids.

Sexy stuff

No sexual content, but the lone female character's breasts are accentuated by her tight suits and curvy physique, and the guys' muscular arms, legs, and abs are visible through their bodysuits.


No cursing, but some use of words like "stupid."


During its heyday in the '80s, the show inspired a marketing line of toys, video games, comic books, and a few movies. An updated version of the show will likely inspire more products.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the catlike heroes in this '80s cartoon are champions of justice and defend the weak and oppressed, but their methods are often violent. Weapons like stun darts, swords, and whips are prevalent, and although visible injuries are rare, a character's death is part of at least one storyline. Happily, though, there are some instances in which the heroes deter an onslaught without force, so viewers do see that there's always a choice to be made in confrontational situations. The array of mutant villains are bound to frighten the very young, but older kids who aren't bothered by this sort of content might enjoy the show's action. The series' animation style definitely dates it, but its messages about loyalty, determination, and perseverance are just as relevant today as they were during the show's original run.

What's the story?

The death of the planet Thundera leaves a group of its natives adrift in space, and when they come under attack from their intergalactic enemies, the Mutants of Plun-Darr, only the passengers of one spacecraft escape with their lives. With their ship damaged, the THUNDERCATS head for the nearest livable planet, Third Earth, where they set up camp and befriend some of the locals. Unfortunately the Mutants follow them there and join forces with the ancient evil sorcerer Mumm-Ra (voiced by Earl Hammond), who's also bent on stealing the Eye of Thundera, which bestows the Cats' power and is set in a sword entrusted to the heroes' leader, Lion-O (Larry Kenney). Together with Panthro (Earle Hyman), Cheetara (Lynne Lipton), WilyKit (Lipton again), WilyKat (Peter Newman), and Tygra (Newman again), Lion-O must protect the Eye of Thundera from its would-be captors and help their new neighbors settle the score with some of their enemies as well.

Is it any good?


ThunderCats exemplifies the ubiquitous action-adventure cartoons at the disposal of children -- especially boys -- of the '80s. It plays out much the same as its peers like BraveStarr and Transformers; a band of heroes risks their lives to fend off their nefarious enemies and to help the downtrodden they encounter, all the while teaching their young viewers a thing or two about morality. While this cartoon isn't as blatant in its delivery of positive messages as, say, He-Man, its heroes still stand up for what's right and band together to protect the innocent.


Violence is an unavoidable byproduct of the show's good-vs.-evil plot, but by today's standards, it's fairly tame. Many of the characters use weapons like laser guns or stun darts, but when an opportunity exists to deter an enemy without force, the heroes take it, which sends messages to kids about making good choices. The storylines also center on themes like loyalty and courage, so there are plenty of issues to discuss with your kids at the show's end.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about heroes. In what ways are the ThunderCats' actions heroic? What qualities do you most admire in them? Who are some of your heroes? 

  • How does this cartoon compare to some of your modern favorites? Did you like this one's animation style? How are the characters different? Are the show's messages still relevant?

  • What rules should exist about violence in TV shows? Do you think seeing violence in a cartoon affects you? What shows have you seen that are more violent than this one? Did the content scare you?

TV details

Cast:Earl Hammond, Larry Kenney, Lynne Lipton
Genre:Kids' Animation
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship
TV rating:TV-Y7-FV
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 9 years old August 20, 2011

OK original show, but i liked it more than the 2011 version

this old show was a little better and more kid friendly, not as dark and violent as the new show, but it has a better plotline
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byMarinFan October 8, 2011

Really Good, but kind of... tounge in cheek,

it seems like they fake violence to be funny, but it is very appealing,
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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