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Thundercats Hooooooo-ld Up. Save Thundercats!

Judging by the nostalgia boom revolving around the cartoons and toys from our youth, one could be forgiven for thinking they’d time-traveled to an alternate reality version of the 1990s where nothing is quite as it seems. From GI Joe to Transformers to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or was it just Ninja Turtles?), the properties we grew up with are being stripmined, retrofitted and rebooted for a new era. One property that was a bit slower to get out of the throwback gate was Thundercats. After years of attempted film adaptations – both live and CG animated (thankfully aborted) – and being thoroughly outclassed by a Photoshop-filled fan film, Cartoon Network finally gave Lion-O and the ‘Cats new life in their animated series Thundercats last year. And sadly, the adventure is being cut short; they’ve pulled the plug.

The adventure-based series managed to get two seasons under its belt before the axe fell; The adventures of Lion-O and company was not on Cartoon Network’s list of returning shows in a recent press announcement. The show played closer in tone to Avatar: The Last Airbender than the campiness of the original, which was a point of contention for many diehard fans. Some decried it for its less-than-faithful look at the tale of the Thundercats, but many more praised it for bringing more complex storytelling, character development and morality tales to the genre. Seeing a teenage Lion-O being forced to deal with the loss of his kingdom and family, while also attempting to combat the ever-growing armies of Mumm-Ra by seeking out the Book of Omens, was an incredibly rich experience for the viewers who had been weaned on a steady diet of battles against a monster of the week to rescue Snarf from the clutches of Mumm-Ra’s ineffectual minions.

The question remains: if the show was so good, why is it being cancelled? What went wrong? Where were the droves of people who own t-shirts and belt buckles emblazoned with the iconic Thundercats symbol? Why didn’t the crossover audience from Avatar: The Last Airbender switch the channel to Cartoon Network? While Avatar was an undeniable success for Nickelodeon, the story of Aang becoming a massive hit came as a surprise for many people who didn’t see room in Nickelodeon’s stable for a more serious, adventure-based series. So, the question then becomes: has Cartoon Network’s demographic shifted?

One of the network’s biggest draws is its Adult Swim programming block, which brings in the coveted 18-34 stoned-on-your-couch-at-home demographic. All snarkiness aside, Adult Swim brings in surprisingly good numbers and has made the network a staple of late-night television. So, was Thundercats the victim of poor timeslotting? The show debuted with an hour-long episode on a Friday night at 8PM, then shifted to Friday nights at 8:30PM for subsequent episodes. Friday night can be something of a death sentence for television shows, as it’s traditionally a night where many go out, leaving their Nielsen boxes at home collecting dust. It could be argued that 8:30PM is too late for the after-school crowd and too early for the Adult Swim audience. In effect, Cartoon Network missed both the opportunity to hook younger viewers with a slick, Avatar-esque show that seems tailor-made for them and to cash in on the nostalgia factor of older viewers who are probably staring down a pint of beer at their local watering hole at 8:30PM on a Friday rather than sitting at home reliving the 1980s. Thundercats may very well have been stuck in television’s Bermuda Triangle, a time slot where many shows enter, but none ever leave. The shift to Saturday mornings may have come too late, especially for a serialized show where the new audience would not have yet caught up with the original episodes.

All of this leaves us with one final question: is there any hope to save the show? After Adult Swim’s April Fool’s Day prank, in which they revived the popular anime-centric programming block Toonami for a night, a #BringBackToonami campaign ignited the Twittersphere, giving Cartoon Network execs genuine pause for a moment and leading to the block’s revival on May 26th. Could we see a #BringBackSnarf in our future? A group of very attractive fans with that mission in mind have made a home on Tumblr. Save Thundercats features four young ladies in pseudo-cosplay of the team (including our own Chloe Dykstra as Lion-O) to bring awareness to the Thundercats’ plight. Organized by Marisha Ray, the Tumblr is trying to get people to sign this petition to get Warner Bros to reconsider and save programming she finds worthwhile. Will it be enough? Only time will tell, unless, of course, you have the Book of Omens.

What do you think went wrong and do you want to see the show return? Let us know in the comment section below.

Additional reporting by Dan Casey.

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93 comments

  • they  let  it  go  cus  of  some  stupid  toys ?  come  on , that  new  scooby  doo  show  was  on  cartoon  network  ,  it  finished  and  it  was  CRAP !!! so  why  keep  that  stupid  show  and  not  thunder cats ? it   makes  no  sens .

  • Two seasons? Man there was only ONE season and it was awesome. They pulled the plug on this to save crap like Adventure Time? I question their sanity and the viewer’s sanities…

  • I dunno why so many people were hung up on this cartoon, frankly it was horrible.  When the plans to re-launch this series were made public, CN and WB brazenly stated that it was going to be better than the original.  As a life-long fan of the original and as an animator myself, this reboot was one of the sloppiest and laziest I have ever seen.  By the time this “much more story-driven” piece of crap relaunched, I was disappointed by episode 1.  Not only did they make Tygra a complete douche bag, but they made the Thundercats out to be these oppressive asshole-regime Nazis.  WTF is this?  And btw, Panthro is dead and tech is outlaw … except he’s not really dead just living in the woods now … with a Thundertank … ?

  • It was rude to Cancel the series like that. Espacily for the hanging out of a mystery, like what would happen to Pumymra and Lian-o relationship and Among other things.Whether the fans like the old or the new Verison of the Thundercats.Its best everyone interest that you finish the series. So that way there will be closure, just like the original series.So please continue the series, Whether the fans like the old or the new verison of The Thundercats.

  • I cant believe this shit I have waited a lifetime for this reboot you have got to be out of your minds to cancel such an awesome remake. The fans are happy mostly and my children loved it so much they went back and started watching the original series. Cartoon Network needs a slap in the face if they think crap like Adventure Time will endure. The show was deep and insightful the story was complex and rich with great characters. I don’t get upset often, but this is wrong and they know it. Please someone save this show, this generation of children need a good show with morals. Thanks for listening.

  • CARTOON NETWORK!!!!! YOU SUCK!!!!! You guys might want to get a Colonoscopy. In my professional opinion, You guys have something stuck so far up your ### that you don’t know your left from your right. “Kids Love Action, Action Sells” (Dennis Leary, Small Soldiers), I mean come on Adventure Time! What kind of bull### is this. Its like Barney the Dinosaur grew up and got a job as an Executive with CN. I want to call CN out and say I see right through you. The constant adds for BS programs like adventure time during the commercials of Thundercats was bluntly obvious that you guys had no idea who your audience was that was planning to watch this?

    - TO WB Animation Studios!
    Thank you so much for your hard work and creative effort. This is the best production I have seen in years from Cartoons. It was wonderful to see all the characters again. I will forever cherish this production and show my kids and generations to come. Please keep up the good work and I hope you guys are able to find a buyer or get the rights sold to NICKTOONS or HUB or something. It seems like Cartoon Network only cares about ratings and toy sales. I don’t blame them for that. However, This was a big let down and a spit in the face to all the Dev/Production team. Again thank you and a big thank you to Rankin/Bass for keeping it alive one last time.

  • Yes bring it back my son loves it I love we record every episode it is a whole lot better than the first one better story more convincing struggles with a young king trying to get his kingdom back the mistakes the morals put on place every guys dream for helping teaching values and gals who are into it come on Cartoon Network bring it back

    • Bleh… rather watch the old ones.. the new ones … ugh.. they kept having Lion-O relearn the same lessons over and over… it got silly and repetitive… and last i checked cartoon network still shows it on their toonami block.

  • I watched Thundercats with my boys one time and became hooked. I really loved the plot and story lines of each episode.

    Hopefully, the network will bring Thundercats back. If not, I too will be disappointed.

  • If it means anything, heck yes bring it back!

    Thundercats deserves this kind of attention. The plots were sensible, just complex and interesting enough (I’d love to see it as an hour long, but I’m a dreamer.)

  • One thing I find most annoying is how so many people go on to say that the new TC has a smoother flow of animation than that of the older series. How can people thoughtlessly compare the animation styles and techniques that are over twenty years apart?

    When I saw the previews of the new series I felt a small bit of let down that they were following the trend of giving it that anime-ish look and feel.

    I’ve watched the old TC and the new one. I was a fan of the old one but that didn’t keep me from sitting down to watch the new one. I mean I actually enjoyed new Masters of the Universe show and had hoped that it would continue long enough to give us a She-Ra Princess of Power remake.

    That being said I still sat down to watch it thinking that I was going to see a revival of TC not a reboot. I guess that’s what I get for not looking into it more. But I watched it anyhow trying to push aside the information that I knew and what I was seeing.

    At first it was okay with a few interesting additions, we got more character depth and development but sadly these things were so cliched I felt as if I was watching a repeat of something else with a different look.

    Then as the episodes went on it felt as if the quest to beat Mum-ra had been forgotten in favor of some side tracking adventure, it left me wondering if the Thunder Cats had ADHD. Too much filler to stretch the show and the pacing was just off not by a lot but by enough that it left me sitting awkwardly on my couch wondering I wasn’t enjoying this more than I was.

    Something was just wrong with it to me. I’ve read people praise it mainly for the design and few changes but those praises seem shallow. What of the writing, what of the true originality where plot devices and characteristics aren’t a cliche I’ve seen done a hundred times over already?

  • I have to agree; we have been waiting for centuries for a remake of the show to be done. Now it’s finally happened….and they want to destory it?! OVER MY DEAD BODY!!!! I’m for ‘SAVE THUNDERCATS!’ all the way.

  • @Daniel

    I have to ask, do you think 9-11 was an inside job as well?

    Thundercats was advertised. It was advertised on facebook, cartoon network’s own website, fan sites/forums. There was plenty of advertising for Thundercats. Don’t blame the network because you were too lazy to look or listen.

    Thundercats was not repeatedly moved around from time slot to time slot. It had one move from Friday nights to Saturday morning (funny considering Jelenic claimed it wouldn’t by a Saturday morning cartoon) and that was it.

    Green Lantern and Young Justice were pulled due to multiple reasons. There were issues with certain characters being used, there were certain issues with upcoming storylines, and it is Cartoon Networks 20th birthday celebration running through December, thus GL and YJ were held off. The offical word from the network is that GL and YJ will be back in January.
    If you constantly seek news, you should have known all this already.

    Fact is, Thundercats just couldn’t cut the mustard. The storylines were just all over the place, as was the character development. The plots were rushed and choices were made by the crew based on pure shock value and not logical storytelling.

    This reboot was such a let down, I’m glad it ended where it did. Another 13 episodes and there wouldn’t have been but a handful of Thundercats fans left in the entire world; the rest would have run screaming in terror at the horrors and injustices inflicted upon them.

    .

  • I think the reboot is actually better then the original. The story and character development has alot of depth. This isnt just a kids show. I really enjoyed it and loved the background story. I hope the series continues no matter which network its on. I dont think there could have been a better reboot of the series.

  • i haste the way cn is managing these days. its like the great cartoons they cancel and the garbage like annoying orange get t v time?this is ridiculous.they nedd somebody in their thay knows what to do how to advertise and put on the cartoons that people want to see cause thundercats2011 young justice and green latern are their best cartoons right now.i miss the old days when spaceghost and spiderman and dbz and all the cartoons from my childhood aired instead of this mindnumbing garbage

  • There have been 2 attempted re-boots by cartoon network over the past decade “Master’s of the Universe” back in 2002 and now “Thundercats” in 2011. Time slot doesn’t matter if the show is handled properly. and CN fumbled the ball way back then and now.

    If you have watched CN as much as I did you would of noticed that the only time a commercial advertising “MOTU” back then and “Thundercats” today; was during their prospective time slots.

    My point as you can plainly see is,. How can a show find an audience if one, you don’t advertise it; and two you move it around so much people can’t find it.

    I would also like to make another point along these same lines. I have come to believe that the executives at CN don’t want the 18-35 audience watching their network anymore. why and how have i come to this conclusion?

    All programs on CN that air before 8PM that attract that age group air so rarely that they are hard to follow.

    1. thundercats (canceled)
    2. Green Lantern new episodes Started 2-3 weeks ago only to
    pulled from the Saturday line-up until January)
    3. Young Justice (Same As Green Lantern)

    If I didn’t constantly look for news on these and many other shows that I like to watch I would of thought that all 3 of these shows are dead or dieing.

  • While it’s great re-runs of the sub-par 2011 Thundercats series are being aired on Toonami, I don’t see that as being enough to bring the raor back into Thundercats.

    The reboot just screwed too much up and failed in too many ways. It was just sad watching fans walk away in such mass amounts.

  • I absolutely LOVE the old school Thundercats and I was initially thinking I wasn’t going to like the new version of the show. But I gave it a shot and I actually did like it. The only thing I would say is that I think the new Snarf was super adorable and cute than the old Snarf. (he annoyed me sometimes. LOL) Besides that, I personally think that the show should have went to Adult Swim first than CN. It’s obvious that CN can’t really handle revamped shows that have lots of nostalgia like Thundercats (like that He-Man show they did awhile back) for that matter. And the demographic that CN chose was not a smart one either. Kids these days don’t know the joys of awesome cartoons like us 80s kids. The days where we would abandon friends and homework to watch every action packed episode then getting pumped when the awesome intros with killer guitar riffs and the occasional synth keyboard of your favorite show comes on. Now the animation now (aside from anime and couple shows) is pretty much garbage. I swear every generation is getting dumber and dumber. But that is besides the point, I love that Adult Swim has put the Thundercats on the Toonami block. I really think they should consider showing more new episodes because I’m really into the in depth storylines and Mum-ra looks just as crazy as he did back in the day! LONG LIVE THE 80s CARTOONS!!!!

  • Bring Back cartoon networks best show ever ! Are you kidding me ?? No brainer this show rocks it’s got it all great story great music even the revamped characters are awesome ! I was that 1980′s kid watching the shows and I’ve got all the old DVDs too and I can tell you hands down this revision is the best ever done ! So figure it out feature the Thundercats on the best slot for all of us Adults look how avengers done ? It’s the movie and comics that made the younger generation watch it but it was the adults the older generation that took their children to the movies talked to their kids and friends about the characters either way cartoon network has it all wrong more adults watch the cartoons then kids do ! Especially the stupid bs that they are airing now ? Horrid stuff ! Horrid ! Get the Thundercats back on now ! The only other series on that network worth a damn are Young justice and Looney Tunes ! What ever happen to Batmen brave and the bold ? Thundercats must come back and make an lord of the rings slash Avatar movie to follow this same epic story ! That’s how you make us fans happy and Warner bros will get there billions

  • In my opinion, the reboot of the thundercats was a much needed save seeing how the old cartoons from the 80′s that have managed to be rebooted has had tons of obvious success, such as transformers. Reason being most of the old 80′s cartoons didn’t lack raw talent and simple originality like the common cartoons as of recent. So to cancel an upcoming re-master piece such as the thundercats simply due to timing doesn’t seem justified. Sounds more like no interest in the project for whatever reason. Would love to see Thundercats being un-cancelled.

  • NO NEW THUNDERCATS???? … The new Thundercats is a gateway for younger audiences to help bridge the gap between now and a time when all shows were awesome. It’s important for the youth of today to know where they came from…. BRING BACK THE THUNDERCATS!!!

  • Maybe what they need is more battles along the way, let each character have the uniqueness they had in the old show. each had their own theme song and side story archs thats missing from the reboot.

  • And I agree the HUB could buy renew the show, but they cancelled GI Joe for some reason and Disney would be a good idea maybe, but they’re getting rid of Avengers: Earth’s Mightest Heroes (another good show) so I hear, so who the hell knows…

  • Cartoon Network is becoming a Complete joke. This show was extraordinary and without even blinking an eye they move it to a different time slot (was Thursday or Friday at 8:00 pm, then nonsensically moved to Saturday at 9:30 am.) I didn’t even know the season had started till I went on a site online that streams tv shows. It’s funny, dark, deep (that episode with Tigra’s dad??? I mean come on!) Some of the best animation I’ve ever seen, and yet, everything has to be marketed to 7 year olds. You would have thought the execs at CN would have thought “Hmmm, maybe the scene when Panthro gets his fuckin arms chopped off into another dimension, might mean it’s not directed towards kids.” But no.. of course not. Go spend your damn money on 11 minute shows with horrible animation and writing instead. (Robot Chicken and Metalocalypse excluded). FFFFFF

  • The biggest problem with the HUB is a limited audience. More people have access to Cartoon Network than they do HUB. A better idea would be seeing if Nickelodeon would be interested in picking it up and reworking it from the ground up with a crew that actually understands what Thundercats is and aims to stay true to the legacy established by the OS unlike the crew that worked on the reboot that had no Earthly idea what they were doing outside of writing bad fanfiction.

  • @Thundercogg

    The HUB being operated by Disney is why you won’t see Thundercats on it. Thundercats is owned by Warner Brothers and Cartoon Network is a Time Warner/Warner Brothers brand.

  • Has anyone tried contacting the “HUB” Network???

    http://www.hubworld.com/

    The HUB network is operated by Discovery Communications:
    http://corporate.discovery.com/contact/viewer-relations/

    Maybe we could convince the HUB to pick up Thundercats? It seems like Thundercats would be be a perfect fit, because currently the HUB already airs all of the 80s-Reboots like Transformers & GI Joe…

    I’ve already sent an email to Discovery Communications, and I hope others will do the same. Petitions work… as evidenced by NBC deciding to continue Friday Night Lights, after the fans rallied!!!

    Let’s do this thing!!! THUNDERCATS HOOOOOOOO!!! :)

  • You really can’t please them all is a saying that goes well here. But 2 state my truth I loved this reboot of Thundercats. The voice and animation are amazing. But remember Lion-O is just starting out he’s learning and he goes through what every new king goes through, learning 2 be a king, u can’t just read a manual that tells u How 2 Rule Like A King For Dummies….. And they really look like cats instaed of the 80′s they were what? bodybuilders with bikinis. I really love this show I could go on all night, but everyone,is entitled 2 their opinions. But its a shame its been canceled…..

  • You really can’t please them all is a saying that goes well here. But 2 state my truth I loved this reboot of Thundercats. The voice and animation are amazing. But remember Lion-O is just starting out he’s learning and he goes through what every new king goes through, learning 2 be a king, u can’t just read a manual that tells u How 2 Rule Like A King For Dummies….. And they really look like cats instaed of the 80′s they were what? bodybuilders with bikinis. I really love this show n I watched both old n new n this is so much better. I could go on all night, but everyone,is entitled 2 their opinions. But its a shame its been canceled…..

  • I agree with Kaijus points except for number 10. I never had a problem with the character designs. Voltaire’s redesign was still an improvement, making him seem more like a vulture and less like an overgrown wingless balding parrot who sits in the back tossing useless and often non-working gadgets at minions who will fail anyway.

    The background story is sound as far as I’m concerned. The party moving foward with their quest to stop Mumm-ra. But the episode-to-episode execustion does fall short. Don’t get me wrong; I haven’t missed a single episode. Though I feel that there is too much of a gap between episodes, time-wise.. It’s like all of the character development takes place then instead of while the show is actually.. “visible”.

    Though I do have to say, at least they explain why Pumyra was all over the place with her attitude. Because she was TRYING to sabotage them.

    Also, yes. Definitely the time slot.

  • KaijuCeaser’s comment needs to get bumped; it really covers exactly what went wrong with Thundercats. I can’t support another season of what fans were given. Maybe if there were new writers and producers brought on board and an entirely new storyline or a new storyline replacing episodes 13 and on then I’d consider signing the petition to save the show but as it stands, I just can’t do it.

  • What went wrong with this reboot?

    Is there enough room to list the sheer volumes of stuff that got screwed up and what can one say that so many others haven’t already?

    Hmm, what went wrong….let’s see:

    1. Lack of fan fairness – pairing choices were not fair to fans. Should have been no romance at all. Save that for fanfiction. Since there was romance, should have paired Lion-O with Cheetara to balance the comic series pairing of Panthro and Cheetara as well as Tygra and Cheetara.

    2. Crew comments – hearing Thundercats crew members saying Cheetara was nothing but an “anorexic ho with arthritis and a boob job” discouraged a lot of fans. Hearing Mike Jelenic say he loves to upset fans discouraged many more. Reading Dan Norton’s psychotic and disgusting rants directed at critical fans of the show on Facebook and deviantArt certainly put off a lot of fans as well.

    3. Character development – anyone who says this show featured it in any kind of abundance is either drunk, stoned, stupid, or a combination of all three. The writers didn’t develop characters, they assassinated them.
    The first arc character development for Lion-O amounted to everybody who watched knowing he would always be second best to Tygra. The second arc developed him so that he would still always be second to Tygra in everything but he could take a few more hits from the Big Bads before pulling a lucky win out of his Spirit Stone.
    Tygra’s development was that he will always be better than Lion-O. Even when he is getting knocked around, Tygra still outshines the central character of the series.
    Like Lion-O, Cheetara had the potential for great development but it just never happened. Then,l she became nothing more than Tygra’s cheerleader in the second arc. She no longer acted like a cleric in any way, her lines were reduced as well as her screen time. She was turned into armcandy.
    Panthro..stretchy arms….nuff said.

    4. Poorly written episodes that just felt rushed and thrown together last minute. Thundercats forgot their powers all the *bleeping* time. A poorly done flashback established a rushed pairing. A flower was the reason behind a rushed pairing. Mumm-Ra is all powerful in his pyramid but one hit from the Sword of Omens sends him running Episode 25&26 were nothing more than episodes 12&13 redone…

    5. “Misdirection” “misinterpretation,” and “misleading” the fans. Ties in with fan fairness. I can’t think of any cartoon series over the last thirty years that needed to use “misdirection,” “misinterpretation,” and “misleading” as much as this reboot did. The OS never needed to use such tactics…

    6. Using Wildstorm comics for source material and reference when the crew stated that wouldn’t be the case. T/C pairing right out of comics. The flashback establishing T/C is right out of the comic with how WilyKit meets her boyfriend who – like Tygra – is a member of the guard at the time. Pumyra’s first reaction to Lion-O right out of comics with Cheetara’s reaction to Lion-O. Doberlord and Dobo. Ponzi’s cure-all and Mumm-Ra’s potion of Youth from the comics. Rattaro’s mines and the comics slave mines/prisons. Mutant occupation right out of comics. Grune and Panthro fighting is similar to Grune and Lion-O fighting in comics. i could go on with this but i think the point’s been made.

    7. Main hero being treated as heel. As much as Thundercats features a group setting, it centers on Lion-O. Always has. Except with this reboot it seems the writers do everything they can to tear down the central character. He gets burned in everyway from family to love.

    8. Lack of promotion and advertising. Kind of says it all right there.

    9. Shifting time slots. Friday at 8:00pm then 8:30pm then Saturday at 9:30…..

    10. Pure unoriginality. Tansformer Tygra, Master Chief outfit on Tygra, Teeney Weeny outfit on Ponzi, PokeMothra, Digimon Godzilla, FF7 Cloud outfit on Lion-O, fishy Captain Ahab, reptillian Moby Dick, raccoon Artful Dodger, Skeksis Vultureman, and so on and so on and so on.

    Really, outside of the amazing job by the Voice Actors and the animation done by Studio 4C, the entire show could serve as an example of everything NOT to do in a cartoon series, rebbot or otherwise.

  • I enjoyed the new T-cats. I’m a fan of the old series, too. i think where the new cartoon failed is 1) too many flashbacks-just tell the damn story. 2) missing dramatic intro- when you heard the original, you knew something exciting/spectacular was about to go down 3) too early for romance-sidetracking, and 4) Hachiman should have been introduced if Lion-O needed a swordmaster to help him battle Mumm-Ra (btw, WTF is that all about him fearing the sun?? he’s a mummy, not a vampire!). I will miss the show and i doubt we’ll ever see one again unless it’s another 10- 20 years down the line.

  • awsome show, one of the only reasons to get up on saturday, the other being fleamarkets! the toyline could use some work, but i bought nealry all of it, im missing a very few and i have all the rare stuff!

  • I’m a fan of the old Thundercats but I like the new cats much better mainly because Lion O is at the right age Not a full grow cat trying to act young the new cats fits a lot better the writing is good and the animation is great . I hope they don’t cancel it for a reality show I hate those.

  • at best, i would say the show is okay. i was very excited for the premiere and made a point to watch it. the major flaw for me the whole premise for the series. as Innocent and kind lion-o was, rooting for the cats felt like rooting for the bad guys. they thundercat kingdom either enslaved anyone who want a cat or condemed them to live in slums on the outskirts of the city. no wonder everytone else rebelled and destroyed them.