Thundarr the Barbarian

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Thundarr the Barbarian
Thundarr the Barbarian promotional image.jpg
1980 Thundarr the Barbarian promotional image
Foreground from left to right Thundarr, Ariel, and Ookla
Created by
Developed bySteve Gerber
Written by
Directed by
Voices of
Narrated by Dick Tufeld
Composer Dean Elliott
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes21
Executive producers
Producer Jerry Eisenberg
Production company Ruby-Spears Productions
  • Filmways (season 1)
  • Taft Broadcasting (season 2)
Original network ABC
Original releaseOctober 4, 1980 (1980-10-04) 
October 31, 1981 (1981-10-31)

Thundarr the Barbarian is an American Saturday morning animated series, created by Steve Gerber and produced by Ruby-Spears Productions. [1] The series ran for two seasons on ABC from October 4, 1980, to October 31, 1981, and was rerun on NBC in 1983. [2]



Thundarr the Barbarian is set in a future (c. 3994) post-apocalyptic wasteland of Earth divided into kingdoms and territories, the majority of which are ruled by wizards, and whose ruins typically feature recognizable geographical features from the United States, such as New York City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle, the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Denver, Atlanta, Boston, San Antonio and its Alamo, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Cape Canaveral, and the Grand Canyon. Other episodes with recognizable settings are set outside the United States, and include Mexico and London, UK. Another notable feature of this future Earth is that the Moon was broken in two pieces. The shattered moon and the ruins of the former human civilization were caused by the passage of a runaway planet between the Earth and the Moon in 1994, which, from scenes shown in the opening sequence, caused radical changes in the Earth's climate and geography. However, by the time period in which the series is set, the Earth and Moon seem to have settled into a new physical balance. Earth is reborn with a world of "savagery, super-science, and sorcery" far more chaotic than "Old Earth" (the show's name for the preapocalyptic world).

The hero Thundarr (voiced by Robert Ridgely), a muscular warrior, and companions Princess Ariel, a formidable young sorceress, and Ookla the Mok, a mighty lion-like biped, travel the world on horseback, fighting injustice. Their main adversaries are evil wizards who combine magical spells with reanimating technologies from the pre-catastrophe world. [3] Some of these malevolent wizards enlist the service of certain mutant species to do their bidding.

Other enemies include The Brotherhood of Night (a group of werewolves who could transform others into werewolves by their touch), the cosmic Stalker from The Stars (a predatory, malevolent cosmic vampire), and various other mutants. Intelligent humanoid-animal races include the rat-like Groundlings, the crocodile-like Carocs, and talking hawk- and pig-like mutants. New animals that existed include fire-shooting whales, a giant green snake with a grizzly bear's head, and mutated dragonflies and rabbits.

Thundarr's weapon is the Sunsword that projects a blade-like beam of energy when activated, and can be deactivated so that it is only a hilt. The Sunsword's energy blade can deflect other energy attacks as well as magical ones, can cut through nearly anything, and can disrupt magical spells and effects. The Sunsword is magically linked to Thundarr and as such, only he can use it; however, this link can be disrupted. [Note 1]

Comic book writer-artist Jack Kirby worked on the production design for the show. The main characters were designed by fellow comic book writer-artist Alex Toth. Toth, however, was unavailable to continue working on the show, so most of the wizards and other villains and secondary characters that appear on the show were designed by Kirby. He was brought onto the show at the recommendation of comic writer Steve Gerber and Mark Evanier. [4]

The series was the creation of Steve Gerber. Gerber and friend Martin Pasko were having dinner in the Westwood area one night during the time Gerber was developing the series. Gerber commented to Pasko that he had not yet decided upon a name for the wookiee-like character the network insisted be added to the series, over Gerber's objections. As the two walked past the gate to the UCLA campus, Pasko quipped, "Why not call him Oo-clah?" [5] Pasko later became one of several screenwriters also known for their work in comics, such as Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, to contribute to the show.[ citation needed ] After writing several scripts, singly and in collaboration with Gerber, Pasko became a story editor on the second season. Other writers included Buzz Dixon and Mark Jones. [6]


The series' narrator was Dick Tufeld.

Additional voices

The series' voice director was Alan Dinehart.


Twenty-one half-hour episodes were produced by Ruby-Spears Productions, an animation house formed by former Hanna-Barbera head writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, [11] from October 1980 to October 1981 on the ABC network. Despite decent ratings, the show was cancelled, as Paramount wanted to make room in the programming schedule for Laverne & Shirley in the Army . [12] [13] Reruns of Thundarr appeared on NBC's Saturday morning lineup in 1983.


Season 1 (1980)

All episodes of season 1 were directed by Rudy Larriva and produced by Jerry Eisenberg. [14]

List of Thundarr the Barbarian season 1 episodes
No. in
TitleLocationOriginal air dateProd.
code [14]
11"Secret of the Black Pearl" New York City (Manhattan)October 4, 1980 (1980-10-04)27-01
Thundarr, Princess Ariel, and Ookla escort a man who is carrying a magical black pearl that can defend against the two-faced wizard Gemini and his Groundlings (a race of mutated rat people). The man needs the pearl to protect the inhabitants of the village of "Manhat", which is actually the ruins of Manhattan.
22"Harvest of Doom" Chichen Itza, Yucatán Peninsula, MexicoOctober 11, 1980 (1980-10-11)27-02
Thundarr, Princess Ariel, and Ookla encounter a train carrying Death Flowers (whose pollen can hypnotise both humans and Moks) being transported by the Carocs (a race of crocodile people) to a wizard that they work for. The episode introduces Tye, a swamp-urchin, who agrees to aid Thundarr on the condition that he capture the train and give it to her. Tye would reappear in Season 2's "Last Train to Doomsday". [15]
33"Mindok the Mind Menace" Cape Canaveral, FloridaOctober 18, 1980 (1980-10-18)27-04
The evil wizard Mindok lost his body in the Great Cataclysm 2000 years earlier, although his brain survived. He, General Zoa, and Zoa's minions seek out cryogenically frozen 20th-century scientists called "Ice People" in a plot to build Mindok a new body for his brain.
44"Raiders of the Abyss" New York City [Note 2] October 25, 1980 (1980-10-25)27-03
The evil wizard Morag and his raiders attack a cruise ship village to kidnap its inhabitants and steal their life essence.
55"Treasure of the Moks" Norfolk, Virginia November 1, 1980 (1980-11-01)27-05
Thundarr, Princess Ariel, and Ookla come to the aid of the Mok Chieftain Oblach against Captain Kordon, Queen of the River Pirates, who is after the Moks' hidden treasure and intends to use the "fire lances of the ancients" to get it. Thundarr learns that these "fire lances" are actually 20th century torpedoes. Thundarr and the Moks defend the ruins of a U.S. Navy base against being captured by the River Pirates, however Ookla must overcome something else beside the River Pirates, his longstanding fear of water.
66"Attack of the Amazon Women" Mount Rushmore, South DakotaNovember 8, 1980 (1980-11-08)27-07
Thundarr, Princess Ariel, and Ookla come to the aid of a race of amphibious Amazons led by the deposed Queen Diona who has been usurped by Stryia, an evil half-human, half-shark wizard-queen who plans to conquer both the land and seas with her shark legion army.
77"The Brotherhood of Night" Washington, D.C. November 15, 1980 (1980-11-15)27-06
Zevon is the leader of the Brotherhood of Night, a tribe of werewolves that can add anyone to their ranks by touching them and is also targeting the evil wizard Infernus hoping to make the pack completely invincible.
88"Challenge of the Wizards" Las Vegas, NevadaNovember 22, 1980 (1980-11-22)27-08
Thundarr, Princess Ariel, and Ookla are caught up in a battle between the wizards Sholow and contestants Basim, Skorpos and Chom who seek the Helmet of Power. Thundarr ends up having to side with the wizard Sholow when he threatens a group of villagers.
99"Valley of the Man Apes" San Fernando Valley, CaliforniaNovember 29, 1980 (1980-11-29)27-09
Simius and his fellow Man Apes assemble salvaged parts of a movie studio's giant robotic gorilla in a plot to terrorize the local villagers.
1010"Stalker from the Stars" Denver, ColoradoDecember 6, 1980 (1980-12-06)27-10
A spaceship containing an alien vampire lands on Earth. The alien captures Princess Ariel and all the villagers in the ruins of Lakeside Amusement Park hidden under the snow and ice of the Rockies as a source of its food.
1111"Portal Into Time" San Antonio, TexasDecember 13, 1980 (1980-12-13)27-12
The evil wizard Crom threatens a tribe of humans at the Alamo. They can protect themselves by using a sophisticated Guardian machine that utilizes flying robot drones that can disable the wizard's laser tanks. However, it blows a circuit and cannot be replaced as circuits are no longer produced. Their only hope is to infiltrate Crom's lair in order to use his moon dial, which sends them to Old Earth. In the 20th century, Thundarr, Ookla and Ariel are aided by a little girl named Samantha, who helps them obtain a fresh circuit. The trio return to New Earth and prepare for battle with Crom, but are glad they had a chance to see the preapocalyptic world.
1212"Battle of the Barbarians" San Francisco, CaliforniaDecember 20, 1980 (1980-12-20)27-11
The evil wizard Kublai seeks the Golden Scepter of the Yantzee (the only item which can strip him of his magic) and terrorizes the villagers of San Francisco's Chinatown in the process. When Thundarr thwarts his initial attempts, the wizard recruits another barbarian named Zogar to engage him in battle while Kublai tries again to find the scepter.
1313"Den of the Sleeping Demon" Grand Canyon, ArizonaDecember 27, 1980 (1980-12-27)27-13
Judag is a bitter, escaped former slave of an evil wizard who plans to awaken a sleeping demon that allegedly can grant whoever wakes it the powers of 1,000 wizards. It is up to Thundarr to prevent Judag from accomplishing this mission.

Season 2 (1981)

All episodes of season 2 were directed by Rudy Larriva and John Kimball, with animation supervision by Milt Gray & Bill Reed. [14]

List of Thundarr the Barbarian season 2 episodes
No. in
TitleLocationOriginal air dateProd.
code [14]
141"Wizard Wars" St. Louis, MissouriSeptember 12, 1981 (1981-09-12)R20-001
The wizard Skullus and his soldiers are enslaving villagers living in a ruined oil refinery and using them to attack the fortress of his enemy, the equally evil wizard Octagon.
152"Fortress of Fear" La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, CaliforniaSeptember 19, 1981 (1981-09-19)R20-002
When coming to the aid of an escaped slave, Thundarr, Princess Ariel, and Ookla are captured by robots working for the multi-eyed wizard Lord Argoth who wants Ariel as his bride.
163"Island of the Body Snatchers" London, EnglandSeptember 26, 1981 (1981-09-26)R20-003
The trio investigate a sector called the Mystery Zone where several ships get wrecked on an island. They learn the evil witch Circe is responsible as she needs a young sorceress to overcome a curse in which she will turn to stone if she leaves the island. When Ariel arrives with Thundarr and Ookla, Circe gets her opportunity as she switches bodies with her and becomes a threat to the others as she tries to leave the island.
174"City of Evil" Boston, MassachusettsOctober 3, 1981 (1981-10-03)R20-004
After being defeated by Thundarr, the evil wizard Sarott finds a research lab that holds the miniaturized City of Thieves. Its ruler Vortak promises Sarott a free rein to use the city's advanced army to enslave humans and other wizards if he can restore it to normal size. To do so, he'll need the Gauntlet of Power which can boost his magic to enlarge the city.
185"Last Train to Doomsday"Grand Canyon, ArogondaOctober 10, 1981 (1981-10-10)R20-005
Thundarr, Ookla, and Ariel are in pursuit of a mummy-like Janus after he and a race of hawk mutants attack villages and the train route of Tye (the former swamp urchin from "Harvest of Doom"). The group is in for a surprise when it turns out Janus is actually Gemini (the two-faced wizard from "Secret of the Black Pearl") in disguise seeking revenge on Thundarr. Tye, from "Harvest of Doom", returns as a train driving "businesswoman".
196"Master of the Stolen Sunsword" Beverly Hills and Hollywood, CaliforniaOctober 17, 1981 (1981-10-17)R20-006
During a battle with Yando (a supposed wizard with unusual magic), Thundarr is struck by red negative lightning which significantly diminishes the power of his Sunsword. The weapon can be restored at the nearby Pool of Power, but it is stolen by Yando who seeks to have the Sunsword's power for himself.
207"Trial by Terror" Atlanta, GeorgiaOctober 24, 1981 (1981-10-24)R20-007
Thundarr's friend Thorac is accused of stealing a village's fuel and is about to receive a death sentence (by being boiled alive over a geyser) when the barbarian rescues him. Thorac is granted a reprieve when Thundarr and the group investigate the crime, eventually learning the town's sheriff Korb is in league with the evil wizard Artemus. Artemus had stolen the fuel to power his Death Ship and gain the approval of the Council of Wizards.
218"Prophecy of Peril"Texases Peit, TexicanaOctober 31, 1981 (1981-10-31)R20-008
Thundarr, Princess Ariel, and Ookla battle the evil wizard Vashtarr when he steals the Crystal of Prophecy that can give the details of his downfall. When it shatters in his efforts to retrieve it, the prophecy is foretold as they learn three women will unite to defeat him. One is Maya, an element-shifter buried in the ruins of the old city of Endorr. Another is Cinda, a hermitic barbarian living in the Canyon of Death whose staff grants her great strength. The last is Valerie Storm, a fashion model from Old Earth who is abducted and taken prisoner by Vashtarr himself.

Home media releases

The debut episode of Thundarr the Barbarian was released on DVD as part of Warner Home Video's Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1980s compilation series. The DVD set, containing episodes of ten other shows, was released on May 4, 2010. [16]

On September 28, 2010, Warner Archive released Thundarr the Barbarian: The Complete Series to DVD in region 1 [17] as part of their Hanna–Barbera Classics Collection. This is a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release, available exclusively through Warner's online store and [18] The DVD set is branded as part of the Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection [19] as Thundarr and the other 1978–91 Ruby-Spears programs were sold to Turner Broadcasting in 1991 alongside Hanna-Barbera by Great American Broadcasting.[ citation needed ] On April 6, 2021, Warner Archive also released Thundarr the Barbarian: The Complete Series on Blu-ray. [20] Unlike the DVD release, the Blu-ray release restored the Ruby-Spears Productions logo, but the Filmways logo was still removed for the first season (due to being copyrighted by Hanna-Barbera).


In a November 2017 interview with Revolver , Morbid Angel guitarist Trey Azagthoth stated that the band's new album, Kingdoms Disdained , is based on Thundarr the Barbarian,

"Thundarr the Barbarian [inspired the new album's title]... Man's civilization is cast in ruin. 2000 years later Earth is reborn. A strange new world rises from the old — a world of savagery, super science and sorcery... One man burst his bonds to fight for justice and with his companions — Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel — he pits his strength, his courage and his fabulous Sun Sword against the forces of evil. WE MUST BE FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" [21]

There is also a filk band from New York called Ookla the Mok. [22] The series was referenced and was involved in the plot of the third-season episode "One Watson, One Holmes" of the CBS television series Elementary . [23] In Fairlady #3, by Brian Schirmer and Claudia Balboni, the characters Dunkarr, the Barbarian, Ari and Oosk were inspired by the main characters in the series. [24]



Action figures of the three main characters were released by Toynami in 2003. [12] A board game was released by Milton Bradley Company in 1982. [25]

Comics and books

A Sunday strip illustrated by Jack Kirby was planned, but the project was canceled. [26] [27] In 1982, a coloring book was published by Golden Books. [28] According to Mark Evanier, Whitman Comics had a Thundarr comic book project with scripts by John David Warner and art by Winslow Mortimer. [29]

See also


  1. The episode "Master of the Stolen Sunsword" details events where the Sunsword needs to be recharged, and viewers learn it becomes linked to whoever does the charging.
  2. Ariel refers to the U.S. Badlands, but the ruins of New York City's Empire State Building and World Trade Center (Twin Towers) appear later in the background.

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