Panthro is black

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Add the fact the he was voiced by Earle Hyman, a black actor, most recognized as the grandfather on The Cosby Show.


Always a favorite of mine due to his “let’s get shit done” attitude. He didn’t want to chat about things, he wanted to finish the job.


I remember Lion-O as being orange as well, with a pale yellow on his hands.


Wasn’t this obvious? His name is an obvious transformation of “panther”, and panthers are black.

Panthero was always my favorite. He did all the cool stuff, like build the lair, build and drive the thundertank. He was bad ass. Much better than Lame-O.


I thought Lion-O was like lion colored, or at least cartoon lion colored.
Panthro was panther colored which is ummm duh. Besides from what little I remember of the show as I was half napping after school at the time it was on Panthro was awesome. Lion-O was a wishy washy manchild always getting lessons from Panthro.


I always thought he was “black” growing up because he sounded like he was voiced by a black actor (which he was). I don’t think it ever crossed my mind that I perceived him as black because he was a different color.


Wasn’t Lion-O’s body aged forward, while his mind stayed the same age, when they were in suspended animation? That’s my memory of the show.

He was the grandfather from the Cosby show. I totally recognized his voice from that, which is why I always thought of him as black too.

Thinking back on this though, what exactly does a “black actor” sound like? Is there a stereotypical “black voice”?


d’oh, yep. he was still youngish teenager experience wise. that would explain that.

Mostly what I remember is an adult–in his early twenties, which seemed quite old to me at the time–telling me he and his buddies watched the cartoon because Cheetara was hot.

That’s probably why she was drawn that way.


I wouldn’t call it ‘stereotypical’, but I think there is a black male bass voice that I can’t easily copy.

Earle Hyman
Isaac Hayes
James Earl Jones
Shea Billingslea
Michael Dorn

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Yup. Panthro == The Black Thundercat.

The cool thing about it, though, is that he wasn’t in any way treated as an inferior or anything like that. He was on the team, he was a super badass, he drove the tank and rescued everyone else all the time, and that was that.

Why are we talking about this? Thundercats was colorblind. We should all be colorblind. I can’t think of any reason why singling out the black voice actor, or pointing out that he played a character who is nominally a panther is helpful. I mean, what are we to do? They’re the Thundercats. You have a lion, a cheetah, a panther, a tiger, and a puma, plus whatever the hell Snarf is supposed to be. Nobody treated anybody differently because of what “kind of cat” they were.

It was a show that involved actors of different races playing characters of different races, both IRL and on the screen, and zero fucks were given, by anybody, on screen or off. Thundercats was a paragon of race relations precisely because it didn’t treat anyone differently because of race. They were all just people, or in this case, half-cat super warriors fighting an evil mummy and his jackal henchman.

tl;dr: Pointing out that we should all be on the lookout for differences between people is EXACTLY THE PROBLEM and super not helpful.


k. then how come Panthro, Jazz, and Roadblock weren’t the main characters of their series?

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Thundercats don’t have any L-cones, but they’re not completely colour-blind. Struggle with shades of red, though.


Came to mention Jazz. I’ll bet a true cartoon connesseur could find a half-dozen more examples. Jazz was sometimes a hero, but he wasn’t Optimus, was he?


I think of those characters as the “Master Sergeant” type of character, tactical knowledge. The “lead” character issues a command and they actually figure out the best way to execute and actually do it. Lion-O is lead by being a son of the leader, Optimus by fate of the last of the original Primes, and Duke, I imagine, had some knowledge of General Flagg’s illicit activities with hookers.

But these guys are the lifers who get shit done and bring everyone home alive. Not always the hero of the story (Frodo) but certainly the ones who get the job done (Samwise).


Panthro was my fave as a kid. Basically he kicked ass and had the best color scheme.


Also, Jazz is a classy vintage Porsche. Who doesn’t like those better than a Freightliner?

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I remember when they encounter gold in the first episode and they generally remark on its uselessness. The female thundercat liked it though and bent some into a necklace.

I think it’s an interesting thing to analyze. I don’t think anyone has to be excoriated because the character was coded as black, but it is a thing that happened. Why? Because 80’s kids cartoons had diversity quotas even for non-human characters? It’s interesting to think about.

Being “color blind” is, I think, pretty much impossible. The concept of race has had huge impacts on our society for a few hundred years, and is still taken pretty seriously by a lot of people. Analyzing the concept can help us understand our society better.

And I think you missed the point if you thought it was to “be on the lookout for differences between people”. The point is that we already are on the lookout for differences between people, and then map a subset of those differences even onto non-human cartoon characters – even though obviously it wasn’t really necessary to do so. Why? It’s an interesting phenomenon.

So maybe you personally don’t see a point to talking about this stuff and don’t want to. Then don’t. But I’m not sure why you don’t want anyone else to discuss it if they’re interested in it.