In the vein of previous judgments of ‘80s toy and cartoon franchises, we now turn to the ThunderCats, the feline protectors of Third Earth. Here are our scientific and completely unassailable ranking, from best to worse, of both the friends and the foes of the ThunderCats (ho).
Note: We’re going solely off of the ‘80s cartoon and the original toys. Their rebooted versions, as seen in the sometimes-slow-but-sometimes-amazing 2011 animated reboot, were not considered. Please keep that in mind.
What if a mummy could transformer into a bodybuilder? And was a sorcerer? And also a terrifying badass? Mumm-Ra is the answer. Although his plans never worked out any more successfully than any other ‘80s villain, he more than made up for it in his singularly evil style. Plus, as long as evil existed somewhere in the universe, he couldn’t be killed. That’s hardcore.
There were two female characters that seized the attentions of kids growing up in the ‘80s: the Baroness from G.I. Joe and Cheetara. What Cheetara had over her other animated competitors is that she kicked just as much ass as the male characters did, and with her own hands (er, paws).
The ThunderCats’ Obi-Wan, but he was actually helpful. Having sacrificed himself to get the ThunderCats safely to Third Earth, the wise ex-warrior Jaga stuck around in ghost form to advise the often rock-stupid ThunderCats. But he was also a badass fighter in his youth, who was selected to protect the Sword of Omens and the Eye of Thundera, too. He would have been a much better leader than Lion-O, had he not been all dead and stuff.
Hey, did you know Satan was a guest-star on ThunderCats? Sure, they called him Mongor, but he’s still a giant demon with goat-like features that feeds on fear. And since he’s a giant goat-demon who wields an equally giant scythe, he eats quite well. They actually made a toy of this guy!
As the star of the show and leader of the ThunderCats, you might think that Lion-O deserves to be higher on this list. Honestly, he deserves to be lower, since he was basically a 12-year-old in an adult Thundercat’s body (thanks to a cryosleep capsule malfunction). His coolness comes entirely from his amazingly awesome equipment: The Sword of Omens, the Eye of Thundera, and the Claw Shield, which was a gauntlet/grappling hook that literally every kid who ever watched the cartoon wished he had.
The evil ThunderCat! This saber-toothed tiger-inspired warrior was so determined to seize power that he rebelled against the king, fought Jaga in a fight that lasted for days, varely lost, and then got banished into space. When he died he was such an asshole he still messed with the ThunderCats as a ghost.
Panthro was the strongest and the smartest of the main ThunderCats, and he was the team’s main mechanic and possibly the most noble, but somehow he wasn’t the coolest. Maybe it’s more accurate to say Panthro was the ThunderCat you would most want to have a beer with.
Mumm-Ra’s power was such that he could summon any being in the universe to help him wage his war against the ThunderCats—and maybe even other universes. Because he definitely summoned an honest-to-god samurai from Japan, although the samurai quickly figured out the screaming mummy bodybuilder person was a bad guy and joined forces with the ThunderCats instead.
Um, this is basically ThunderCat Daredevil. Blinded during the destruction of Thundera, he also had superhuman (superthundercat?) senses, and was such a bad ass fighter he could do that thing where he touches your pressure points and you instantly collapse.
So this ally of the ThunderCats is a yeti in armor. He also had a cat he named SnowMeow. His awesomeness is self-evident.
This is a robot space pirate named Captain Cracker. He has a robot parrot that sits on his shoulder. Again, no other explanation should be necessary.
Second-in-command to Lion-O, Tygra is the ThunderCats’ chief scientist and has the ability to create illusions. He also… actually, that’s about it, really. His relatively high ranking is because he was a main hero and had a lot of screentime, so he did more than most of the characters on this list. But he’s definitely the least interesting of the original group of ThunderCats.
Mumm-Ra had some of the greatest designed minions in the ‘80s cartoon game, and Jackalman was top of the pack, as he was actually cunning and intelligent. It also helped that Jackalman looked more like his animal inspiration than literally any other anthropomorphic being on the show, and that jackals look pretty cool. .
The healer of the ThunderCats joined later in the show. She really didn’t have much going on, although she was the most agile and athletic of the ThunderCats, which isn’t nothing.
This dragonfly-man never appeared on the cartoon, but he did have a fantastically creepy design and had his own action figure. He looked better than 85% of the Sectaurs, which was an ‘80s toyline specifically about bug people.
Walrus man. Walrus man. ‘Nuff said.
Normally it sucks when cartoon villains have pets, but Mumm-Ra’s canine pal Ma-Mutt was a bulldog with demonically glowing red eyes, the ability to fly for no reason, and was smarter than most of Mumm-Ra’s lackeys.
The King of the ThunderCats and father of Lion-O. He died back on Thundera, and didn’t do much else other than having a strange beard.
One of the mutants and Mumm-Ra minions. Kind of an idiot, but he looked impressively threatening until you heard him talk.
An ancient ThunderCat sorceress, which sounds like it should be awesome but instead she just sat around guarding some doohickey that somehow controlled New Thundera’s gravity. Points docked for looking like Rita Repulsa.
One day a big game hunter appeared on Third Earth. From where? Who knows. We do know that he’s enough of an asshole that he’s thrilled to embody all stereotypes of safari hunters, down to calling himself “Safari Joe.” The only reason he’s ranked this high is because he actually caught all the ThunderCats, and fairly easily. (I can’t reiterate this enough: The ThunderCats were not bright.)
Sorry, but despite being an official ThunderCat, Bengali was like a less interesting version of Tygra, and Tygra wasn’t that interesting in the first place.
Wikipedia calls this bad guy “a metallic demon of the sand who has a drill in place of legs” which sounds awesome in theory but, like a great deal of ThunderCats, lost much in execution.
The leader of the Mutants, which were more or less conscripted by Mumm-Ra into fighting the ThunderCats. Ratar-O was smart and capable and wielding two sails, but he looked like one of Disney’s The Rescuers on steroids, and it was hard to take him seriously as a threat. The fact that he was a rat-man fighting cat-men didn’t help either.
A roving gang of space bounty hunters who called themselves the Berserkers sounds promisingly cool in theory, but again, the reality fell far short. They were basically looked like—and were—generic Masters of the Universe cast-offs: Hammerhand had a hammer… for a hand, Ram-Bam had a wheel in his torso (for ramming), et cetera.
Vultureman was the smartest of the evil mutants, but all he did was make vehicles and weapons that the other idiots would inevitably break while failing to capture the ThunderCats. Much like Tygra, the show just didn’t know how to make his inventions (or his inventing) interesting.
A lizard guy who was less stupid than Monkian, but not by much. Points docked for being a generic anthropomorphic lizard.
Shiner was supposed to be some sort of lavender-colored dog man, apparently, but he actually looked more like anthropomorphized naked mole rat. His German accent and monocle did him no favors either.
Like most young children who inexplicably hung out with a bunch of adults in ‘80s cartoons, WilyKit and WilyKat were dipshits. However, since no one on the ThunderCats was exactly a Mensa member, these two still managed to save the day a few times.
Watch this video of Ro-Bear Berbil Bill and just try not to be consumed with irritation.
Orko. Uni the unicorn. Blip. Slimer. Wonderdog. Gleek the Monkey. All masterful, rich, nuanced non-human sidekicks compared to the animated atrocity that was Snarf. From his horrible design to his sniveling voice to his obnoxious personality, everything about Snarf was loathsome. Watch and see for yourself. Watch and see.
Someone on the ThunderCats decided one day that what the show needed was another Snarf who was somehow more awful on every single level. I honestly think this person was Hitler, having faked his death, moved to America, and joined the American animation industry. Only a being of true evil could possibly have brought Snarfer into this world.