For an animal that’s synonymous with being uncool to have inspired possibly the badass action cartoon ever is an epic feat in itself. To have that cartoon still stand as one of the coolest shows to love more than 25 years after it’s inception is outstanding. Having grown up on ThunderCats myself, I tend to have an eagle eye for the trademark black-and-red shirts that roam the streets in increasing numbers. My freshman year of college, my roommate put up posters of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and paintings of sophisticated, angry-looking French cats. I put up this similarly feline-themed poster (later to be transferred to my cubicle at the school newspaper). And yes, I did special order it online. For Christmas years ago, my mom gave me DVD box sets of seasons one and two. And yes, I was 19 years old that year.
That gift was given much to the dismay of my older brother, who insists to this day that not only is he the bigger ThunderCats fan, but that Lion-O is the coolest ThunderCat of them all, which makes him wrong about two things. Now, you may be thinking, “That’s so not true, no space-cat can surpass Cheetara in my book,” and unfortunately, that would make you wrong as well. I contend, my Mumm-Ra-fearing friends, that the hands-down coolest ThunderCat of all time (presumably until July when Cartoon Network reboots the series and forever changes the landscape and dynamics of planet Thundera) is indisputably Panthro. Yes, Panthro! I said it. His badassery simply cannot be contended with. Or can it? Let’s debate!
Appearance: Pink-skinned and orange-haired with a major physique
Claim to fame: Lion-O is the head of the pack (herd? pride? What’s the proper name for a group of intergalactic cats?), as evidenced by his face on the cover of the DVDs. He’s usually the first one to stand atop hills and summon his fellow Cats with the Sword of Omens.
Full disclosure: Though I give him props for being the most famous ginger hero of the ’80s (Chuck Norris notwithstanding), I just can’t get past his sense of entitlement and the way he talks down to poor Snarf.
Diagnosis: Narcissistic personality disorder, egotist, hero-complex
Appearance: Feminine but also muscular, Cheetara is blonde with cheetah spots
Claim to fame: She can move at super speed; always had an unspoken sexual tension that was never consummated (this is a kids show, get your mind out of the gutter) with Lion-O.
Full disclosure: I was always curious as to why Cheetara never had any lady friends. Sure she is the coolest girl of the group, but why was she the only one? If you ask me, someone was seeking validation in the wrong places…
Diagnosis: Low self-esteem, poor self-concept
Appearance: Silver/grey skinned, most closely resembles Mike Tyson, the hairless minx cat; his apparel included retractable metal-spiked suspenders
Claim to fame: Not only is Panthro a skilled martial arts student, he is the engineer of the ThunderCats team. His keen ability to build awesome things like ThunderTanks and HoverCats makes him the Q to Lion-O’s James Bond.
Full disclosure: He’s brilliant, a respected warrior, and I imagine he comes home and jams out to jazz records. My kind of guy. Though I will note that because he’s so wise, he can, from time to time, lose his temper with his fellow Cats.
Diagnosis: Impatience, mild rage issues
Appearance: Defined by his tiger-like orange and white stripes
Claim to fame: Tygra is supposedly second in command of the ThunderCats but he really never gets the kind of credit that Lion-O does, even though he has crazy mind powers that allow him to turn invisible.
Full disclosure: Tygra has to be the most underrated cat. Everyone remembers the others, but poor Tygra is like the lost, unappreciated hero of the team.
Diagnosis: Middle-child syndrome
Appearance: Clearly doesn’t value fitness as much as the other cats, Snarf is a pudgy, red and yellow cat with an old-man beard and a strangely reptilian belly.
Claim to fame: Arguably the most conflicted of all the Thundercats, Snarf is Lion-O’s former nursemaid and his obsessive need to protect Lion-O is often overridden by his extreme cowardice.
Full disclosure: Snarf is my favorite. But just because he’s my favorite doesn’t make him cool. My tendency to stress-eat and use third person when referring to myself doesn’t make me cool.
Diagnosis: Empty nest syndrome, co-dependence, over-eater, generalized anxiety
What do you all think? Am I irrationally biased against Lion-O? Or have I overlooked your favorite characters of all, WilyKit and WilyKat? Vote in the poll below!