Early 80's action cartoon on ABC.

In the midst of the original Dungeons and Dragons frenzy, ABC began showing a new cartoon called Thundarr the Barbarian. The cartoon had elements of fantasy, adventure, and science along with a female character in a short costume, making it the perfect vehicle for its target audience.

The series was set in a distant future. After the destruction of civilization in the early 1990's by the gravitational pull of a rogue planet, the world returned, but a world ruled by sorcery and advanced science. People were being oppressed and mistreated. But a champion arose to defend the weak and deliver really bad dialogue. He is Thundarr the Barbarian! Armed with his mystic flaming sun sword, Thundarr traveled the world fighting evil. He was accompanied by Princess Ariel, a dusky-skinned sorceress with a penchant for calf-high boots and short costumes, and Ookla the Mok, a hairy, fanged creature of incredible strength and the pronounciation skills of Ozzy Osbourne.

These three traveled the globe in search of adventure, battling the forces of evil and looking for opportunities for Thundarr to speak such gems of dialogue as "Ariel! Ookla! Ride! or to use exclamations like Demon Dogs! or Lords of Light!.

The series ran for a year and a half on ABC and is occasionally shown on the Cartoon Network.

The coolest thing about Thundarr's post-apocalypse, to me, was the fact that the celestial event that had ruined civilization also split the moon in two. The two half-moons, with a little debris between, were nearly always visible above the action in Thundarr's nightscape. I remember many a gradeschool dialogue about whether this was possible. My science-leaning peers decreed that any gravitational effect powerful enough to rend our moon in twain would leave no life behind on our planet, not even the tough, wookie-like Ookla. Or if it did, the resulting gravity weirdness would play havoc with Earth. I always wondered how it could stay split...it seemed to me that its own weight would cause it to fall back onto itself.

However, I was able to suspend disbelief throughout the whole series and get my Saturday-morning light saber and wookie fix during the excruciating lull between Star Wars installments.

Thundarr's light saber (or "sun sword," as it's called) was held magnetically on a metal greave he wore on his left forearm. When not active, it was just a bladeless hilt. Note that Thundarr never used it on living beings--he only "killed" robots.

Thundarr the Barbarian was created by animation veterans Joe Ruby and Ken Spears.

Intro to the cartoon:

"The year 1994. From out of space comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the Moon, and unleashing cosmic destruction. Man's civilization is cast in ruin.

Years later, Earth is reborn. A strange new world rises from the old, a world of savagery, super science, and sorcery.

But one man bursts his bonds to fight for justice. With his companions Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel, he pits his strength, his cunning, and his fabulous sun sword against the forces of evil. He is Thundarr The Barbarian!"

This intro was voiced by Dick Tufeld - also the voice of the Lost in Space robot.

Apocalyptic entertainment for ages 3+

Thanks to this cartoon, I became an eschatologist and apocalypse-fetishist at the age of eight. Scenarios in which magic re-enters the world in the ultimate paradigm crash of the post-apocalypse became my favorite sci-fi/fantasy trope: The Stand by Stephen King, The Postman by David Brin, Swan Song by Robert McCammon, etc..

All because of Thundarr the Barbarian. I loved seeing American cities cast in ruins and half-consumed by the elements, stages for battles of magic and might. I was a child, sitting in front of the TV, my hand stuck into a box of Cheerios and forgotten, my mouth slightly open and my eyes wide, watching the barbarian and the sorceress fighting across the ruined hills of Hollywood. It seemed like a marvelous idea then, and I didn't even know the half of it yet.

Episode Guide:

Season 1 (1980-1981)

Secret Of The Black Pearl
Harvest Of Doom
Mindok The Mind Menace
Raiders Of The Abyss
Treasure Of The Moks
Attack Of the Amazon Women
The Brotherhood Of Night
Challenge Of The Wizards
Valley Of The Man Apes
Stalker From The Stars
Portal Into Time
Battle Of The Barbarians
Den Of The Sleeping Demon

Season 2 (1981-1982)

Wizard War
Fortress Of Fear
Island Of The Body Snatchers
City Of Evil
Last Train To Doomsday
Master Of The Stolen Sunsword
Trial By Terror
Prophecy Of Peril

My favorite episode: Wizard War

Synopsis edited from www.thundarr.com:

Outside of St. Louis, Thundarr, Ariel and Ookla encounter a group of villagers under attack by the Wizard Skullus (a floating head with a giant domed skull) and his army of four pure energy magical battle droids. A battle ensues, and Skullus uses his magic to hypnotize the villagers into fighting for him. Skullus then sets the village on fire and teleports up to his ship with the villagers in tow.

Thundarr, Ariel and Ookla escape the burning buildings and head across the Desert of Demons into the ruined city of St. Louis. Ariel is captured by the desert people who live in the city ruins. Thundarr and Ookla pursue her captors, ultimately rescuing her and Jeal (a member of the tribe that Skullus captured in the desert) from an underground death trap prison.

They then ride out into the desert to find Skullus and free Jeal's people. They decide to battle Octagon first, to prevent him from killing the captive villagers in battle. The Wizard Octagon summons a magical creature to battle Thundarr and Ookla. Thundarr and Ookla hurl the creature into Octagon's power generator, destroying it and lowering the stronghold's defenses. Octagon flees in defeat.

Ariel discovers a map inside the fortress detailing the tunnels leading to Skullus' stronghold. Thundarr, Ariel and Ookla head through the tunnels and come up through the ground under the wizard's war machine. Thundarr cuts his way into the war machine with his sunsword and battles Skullus to the death.

Thundarr shatters Skullus's dome with his sunsword and Skullus loses control of his magic. The wild magic energy destroys Skullus and his war machine, and Jeal's people are freed. Thundarr et. al. continue on their heroic way...

"Ariel, Ookla, ride!"


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