Tygra's poor characterization

Discussion in 'ThunderCats (1985)' started by Wilycub, Oct 4, 2018.

  1. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist TC.org Staff

    We've had many discussions here (most of them started by @Tygra_Rules ;)) about why Tygra wasn't very popular with the writers of the show, and subsequently ended up getting smaller and insignificant roles. Even though there are some really fantastic Tygra-centric episodes, there are many where Tygra doesn't do much (he's either captured/defeated early on, "away" for the duration of the episode", or completely absent).

    I was watching another TV show yesterday and it was then that I stumbled upon why (in my humble opinion) Tygra got the short end of the stick. And I feel that it is a direct result of his original characterization. In a lot of cartoons, movies, TV shows featuring a group of heroes (or villains), each character is given one or more special skills/weapons that enable him/her to do something that no one else in that group can.

    The same formula was used with TCats as well. Lion-O is the leader and carries the Sword of Omens, Cheetara has super-speed and a sixth sense, Panthro was the grease monkey as well as the muscle of the group, the Kittens are cunning and have their bag of tricks, Snarf has..... er.... um.... a prehensile tail! :biggrin And what about Tygra? Well he was ........ (drum roll).........the architect! That's your problem right there! How many kids of the 80s thought that being an architect was a "cool skill"? Not many I'm guessing, and the same feeling probably echoed among the writers as well.

    As an architect, Tygra, designed and built the uber-cool Cats Lair. But once that was done (by the 4th episode), what use was there for the architect? What else was he going to build? Not much, and I feel that is why the writers didn't focus too much on him. Pumyra and Bengali also posed the same problem for the writers. They didn't have much to work with as far as his architectural skills go. That's probably why they tried to "invent" other skills for him (his mind power, his chemical skills etc.) but those were only used once or twice and never really stuck.

    So we are back to the only other thing Tygra has - his invisibility. Yep it's a decently cool ability, but it's more suited for spying and/or escaping from a situation. None of those things scream "brave superhero". And even then, the skill wasn't too useful against opponents like Mongor or Red-Eye. Panthro should have been made the architect, in addition to his other skills. I mean the guy can build all kinds of weapons, vehicles, gadgets and gizmos, so it would have been just as easy and believable to have him be the guy who designed and built the Cats Lair.

    Tygra needed a completely different, awesome ability/power. Maybe give Panthro's martial arts skills to him? They would work nicely with his invisibility. He could have been like the Thunderian Bruce Lee! Or maybe make him an ace pilot? Like they did in the 2011 series. Maybe instead of making water, his weakness, they could have made it his strength? Given him the ability to control and manipulate water, like Percy Jackson did in the movies.

    In conclusion, Tygra had the best design of all characters. He just needed a skill/power that was outstanding, intimidating and more usable by writers. What skills/powers/abilities would you have liked Tygra to have?
    LiamABC, Tygra_Rules and Mark M like this.
  2. tone

    tone Glass Walker

    I’ve never thought much about Tygra but I definitely hate the suggestion of nerfing Panthro (grease-monkey? Panthro was an engineer, as you indirectly reference later). And Panthro’s martial arts are rooted in the impetus for his character (part of why his 2011 incarnation is trash).
    I like the ace pilot idea. And invisibility is a great ability. His weapon was weird though. I think a bow and arrow would’ve let him have special arrows and opened his usefulness up for battles.

    In conclusion, you make some good points about Tygra being sidelined but leave Panthro alone ✊
  3. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I agree @Wilycub. The tiger would be more suited to having martial arts skills instead of the panther. In fact shouldn't the tiger be the biggest and muscle of the group since they are the biggest cat species?
    Tygra was the architect and scientist of the group but just because he was smart he wasn't useless. he did have other skills.
    He could turn invisible and had mind powers.
    Those are already some pretty special abilities they really could have been utilised for some interesting episodes.
    They should have made more use of Tygra's abilities to make him stand out more.
    I think the main problem was more with the writing staff were too concerned with cramming the sword of omens with more powers and making Lion-O the hero.

    The problem with Panthro was they made him the muscle, an engineer and a martial artist. That is too many skill sets for one character in the group.
    Tygra or Panthro the martial artist and the other could have been the muscle. Even Kit and Kat could have been his apprentices.

    This kind of reminds me of Transformers Animated 2008. All the characters had their own abilities. Prowl was the Martial Artist and Bulkhead, whilst being the engineer, was the muscle of the group.
    Wilycub likes this.
  4. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist TC.org Staff

    My apologies, mate. I certainly didn't mean to nerf Panthro. Just wanted to say that he was indeed the "inventor/fixer" of the group (like Donatello, Man-at-Arms, etc.). Perhaps grease monkey was not the right word but I certainly did not mean to undermine his engineering skills. :)

    I agree. But then again, it wasn't very easy to utilize those skills in an exciting manner. There's so much that can be done with his invisibility. They did make it a central point in 'Out of Sight", but it quickly turned into more of a problem than an awesome ability that saved the day (like the SoO or Cheetara's speed, or Panthro's ingenuity). Same thing with his mind power. It's not really a very "exciting" ability when taken in context of an action/adventure cartoon. I mean how excited would kids get watching Tygra using his mind powers to create illusions? That ability would have suited someone older like Jaga or Lynx-O. And besides it also could become similar to Cheetara's Sixth Sense. Two cats with mind powers?

    My feelings exactly!! They made Panthro super-skilled, leaving Tygra with the not-so-exciting stuff. But I don't want to go too much into this for fear of angering @tone ;) It's fine if Panthro has all those skills, provided Tygra was given some (at least one) equally impressive skill. Something that would have made the Mutants cower in fear.

    Yes! Like I said in my original post, many shows with a group of heroes/villains used this formula. TMNT, Centurions, He-Man, Transformers, MASK, Rambo, Silverhawks, Justic League, Avengers etc etc. That way, no one character overshadows everybody else and each of the character can have an episode focused on them, showing off their skills. As far as I can remember, Tygra's skills only saved the day in "Pumm-Ra".
    Mark M likes this.
  5. tone

    tone Glass Walker

    It’s weird to me that the only way to improve Tygra apparently must involve cannibalizing Panthro. More than one character can have muscles. And take Panthro’s martial arts? Nope.
  6. ButterflyBoy

    ButterflyBoy Thunderian Legend

    Let me start by saying that Tygra has always been my favorite Thundercat.

    Having said that, I don't think we actually give the writer's enough credit for their attempts to feature Tygra. While it may be true that in standard episodes he tends to fall by the wayside more than Panthro, I would argue that he actually is not as maligned as we think. Just look at the fact that in the first season, he had at least 3 episodes that focused on him very much ("Garden of Delights", "Fireballs of Plundarr" and "Out of Sight"). By comparison, Panthro and Cheetara arguably had one each ("Spitting Image" and "Sixth Sense"). In those examples, Panthro and Cheetara actually spend most of the episodes sidelined in some way, but I mention them because the whole of the episode still seemed to be about them. My point is that they were clearly trying to give Tygra the spotlight at times.

    If we move beyond season one, again, Tygra is one of the only characters to have an episode that really is about them ("Crystal Canyon"). The only other example I can think of is Cheetara with "The Telepathy Beam". For all his popularity, I don't really feel like Panthro ever got his "own" episode.

    I can certainly agree that I think the writers realized they left Tygra pretty lean as far as specialties go which is why we see him suddenly becoming a chemist and such. As for his mind power, I think its pretty obvious that this was invented as a one off in order to have something tangible for Lion-O to compete against in his trial. It was either that or have an episode detailing which of them could design a better strip-mall.

    Part of why we as a fandom think Tygra got the shaft is that he was left behind in the last season. The very notion that he is left on Third Earth while the action moves to New Thundera leaves us thinking he got shafted. Yet, if we take "Mossland Monster" into account, Tygra is still not really featured much less than Lynx-O or Bengali who are both absent for a majority of the final season.

    Maybe I am just playing Devil's Advocate here but I wanted to offer a different perspective.
    LiamABC and Tygra_Rules like this.
  7. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I'm just saying instead of giving Panthro so many skills they could have done with giving some to the other characters. Even giving Tygra mind powers was a bit pointless since Cheetara already had psychic abilities.
    Invisibility and martial arts would have been a great combination for a character to have in the show.
    But yes Tygra could have been given other skills aside from being an architect that wouldn't require reassigning another character's skill.
    Tygra could have been a hot shot pilot of the Hovercat, or maybe an expert in war tactics, an excellent shot with bow and arrow or rifles or even a magician.
    Tygra_Rules, Wilycub and tone like this.
  8. tone

    tone Glass Walker

    Sorry, it's probably clear that Panthro's my favorite, so I maybe got a little rustled up.
    I actually like Tygra and I think Wilycub and you have some good points. If anything, in a reboot, I'd maybe skip Bengali and give Tygra the blacksmith creds and the Hammer of Thundera. And give him a fighting style tied to that.
    One of my favorite series is Avatar the Last Airbender, and in there, they gave the various nations unique fighting styles. And in old Kung-Fu movies, there was a Tiger style of kung-fu that was of course fiction but looked cool and unique on the screen. So I could see the writers fashioning a way to make Tygra more relevant.
    Mark M likes this.
  9. tone

    tone Glass Walker

    Good perspective!
  10. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist TC.org Staff

    No arguments there, BB. You are absolutely right! :thumbsup My point however, (which I perhaps should have phrased better) was that Tygra was rarely made the "hero" by the writers. You are right about the episodes devoted to Tygra, but if you notice, in most of them he is a victim and requires to be saved in the end. I wanted special abilities for Tygra because I wanted it to be HIM who saves the day by using those abilities. I really like Tygra too and that is why I always felt a bit frustrated that the writers never made him the hero. Lion-O saves the day in most episodes. Cheetara saves the day in eps like "Doomgaze" and "Telepathy Beam", and even Panthro, Snarf and the Kittens have episodes where they help to save the day in the end, but not Tygra, at least I can't remember any other than "Pumm-Ra".
    Tygra_Rules and Mark M like this.
  11. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    Avatar is a great example. Aang was the main character, the Avatar...but all the other characters in the group were equally as interesting arguably just as skilled in their bending powers. Aang was a great airbender but his water, fire and earth bending abilities were not up to the level of Kitara, Zuko and Toph.
    If Lion-O and especially the Sword of Omens hadn't been so over powered it would have given the other characters more chance to shine saving the day.
    Even in Spitting Image Lion-O had to use the sword to tell the real Panthro when there was no need. They should have just let the real Panthro show his skills and defeat the fake Panthro himself.
    tone and Wilycub like this.
  12. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist TC.org Staff

    Bingo! You hit the nail on the head, my friend. The scenario you described is SO much better than the usual using the SoO to solve everything. Same thing with "Out of Sight". It would have been better to have had Tygra himself figure out a way to gain visibility. Just imagine if the climactic fight of "Spitting Image" had been something like the one in "Superman 3". In many cartoons where there is a fake clone of the hero, it is always the hero himself who defeats the fake and shows why he truly is the hero.
    tone and Mark M like this.
  13. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    Of all the action cartoon shows that have had an episode with an imposter/clone/robot of one of the heroes "Spitting Image" really ranks among the worst in comparison.
    Defenders of the Earth, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Ghostbusters, Batman etc have all done it better. Not so much the entire episode but the methods in which the figure out and defeat the fakes.
    Tygra should have been able to be the hero of his episodes. One of my favourite episodes is "Garden of Delights" but Tygra really didn't play much in solving the problem to help them win. It would have worked better seeing Tygra overcome the hold Mumm-Ra had on him and save the others. That could have been a very inspiring and powerful episode highlighting the dangers of drugs. Instead it's nothing special.
    Now if you want to see the greatest cartoon episode highlighting the dangers of drug addiction watch the Bravestarr episode "The Price".
    tone likes this.
  14. Tygra_Rules

    Tygra_Rules Thunderian Legend

    Hmmm… interesting topic LOL :tygra

    First off, thanks for the shout-out, Wily! On my defense, I rarely start a thread about this topic, I jsut reply in one another member starts... I just get too passionate about it. But now you opened the door again, so this will be looooong. LOL

    I think the main premise is right, although not in 100%. Yes, Tygra somehow suffered from a lack of cool abilities and/or powers, but I think invisibility and mind power are real cool powers for children. Personally, as a kid I always thought how cool it’d be to turn invisible at will. So, I don’t think those were unattractive to kids.

    I do think though there were too many abilities on other TCs that made them interesting and attractive in detriment of Tygra. As said, Panthro was the strong one AND the martial artist AND the engineer; Cheetara was the speedster/athletic AND the brave and bold one (to me, Tygra always seemed too cutious, even coward, when next to her) AND the one with a sixth sense. But Tygra’s set of abilities, well put, could have made him interesting: he was an architect AND a scientist AND the smart one AND the invisible one… Thing is, sadly “brains” don’t scream COOL for kids. On top of that, of all the adult TCs, Tygra was depicted as the one with the less fighting skills in comparison to Panthro and Cheetara, so he usually had to rely on his invisibility.

    He was also kind of the agile one, usually the one being on top trees or jumping from here to there, but that was never exploited either.

    As for what Wily said of two cats with mind powers, I always dreamed of an episode where those two powers complemented each other. Like Tygra and Cheetara feeling outcasts because of those, and then they combined saved the day.

    So, I don-t think he needed another ability, just that they could have worked more with his skills (intellect, knowledge, mind power, etc.), added with a set of at least decent/average fighting skills to make him the one to save the day more often. The ace pilot thing though wouldn’t have harmed him; Lion-O even kind of hinted it in “Mumm-Ra Lives”.

    Wily, you are wrong on something. Tygra not only saved the day in “Pumm-Ra” and “Out of Sight” (yes, he did it in this episode), he also kind of did in “Wolfrat”. I especially liked that episode because it highlighted his scientific skills and saved the day with them. I agree with you though in that he was NEVER made the hero properly, unlike Panthro, Cheetara, the kittens or Snarf! (In “Pumm-Ra”, his defeat of Mumm-Ra was overshadowed by Lion-O’s intervention; in Out of Sight”, his invisibility played against him at the end; and in “Wolfrat” no one seemed to notice his work).

    On the other hand, I think Tygra’s designated victim status damaged him, and that it had to do a lot with “politics”: getting Cheetara in trouble most of the time would have been sexist, having Panthro would have been racist, and the kids would have portrayed kids as useless. Tygra was the other “white adult male” besides Lion-O, and we all know he was untouchable. So Tygra got the short straw most of the times.

    Now, BB, you are right in that early in the series he had many episodes centered on him. But, as Wily pointed out, in most of those, it was for the worst. Also, usually he was the first one to fall (if not the only one) and that damaged his image. Unfortunately, there were much more episodes in which he was portrayed as the weak one, or the clumsy (“Garden of Delights”, “Fireballs of Plun-Darr”, “Trouble with Time”, “Crustal Canyon”, “Mossland Monster”); even in the episodes where all the TCs got captured, Tygra was usually the easiest one, the one to get caught first or, faster or easier (“Mongor”, “Safari Joe”, “Snarf Takes Up the Challenge”(after Lion-O), “Dimension Doom”… in this one his battle against Wizz-Ra was the lamest IMO). Again, I think that had a lot to do with showcasing Panthro and Cheetara, leaving too little episode time for Tygra to do a decent battle (exceptions here: “Monkian’s Bargain”, “MummRa Berbil”).

    Mark M mentioned “Garden of Delights”, as a good example of a missed opportunity. I that episode, in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene, Tygra overcame Mumm-Ra’s influence, but that played nothing on the final overcome.

    I also hated when writers unnecessarily wrote him off entirely (“The Terror of Hammerhand”, “The Trial of Cunning”, many of seasons 2 to 4) or gave him just a short appearance, many of them with no lines at all when that could have been different (“Tight Squeeze”, “Ravage Island”, “Sound Stones” to mention some).

    Then second season came and that was the real downfall for Tygra. A new female was a must, I guess. But I think Tygra was already “burnt”, so the introduction of Benagli had more to do with a so much needed *great* tiger character than with a white tiger at all. And Lynx-O took out the little that was left on Tygra, that is his knowledge and intellect. Turning Lynx-O into the new smart, know-it-all guy -and disabled for the matter- finished to bury Tygra. It felt to me that Tygra’s character was split in two: Lynx-O and Bengali. On top of that, there was a new bad guy that neutralized his remaining cool power, his invisibility, so he was now useless: not the strongest, nor the smart one, nor the more agile, nor the best fighter, nor the only one with mental/psychic powers, his invisibility was neutralized and he was not even the only tiger!

    So, I think he was the best character design-wise, with some cool abilities and a super cool weapon, and well-defined character traits (if not for the good of him: shy, addictive tendency, tight). What was needed was the chance to actually make those abilities LOOK cool, give them some over-the-top fighting skills and get rid of Bengali so he remained the only tiger (a much-needed cat in a show about cats). Maybe Tygra could have been the blacksmith too, as a side-effect of his scientific abilities.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
    LiamABC, ButterflyBoy and tone like this.
  15. Daremonger

    Daremonger Thunderian Legend

    This is a pretty amazing thread shedding light on Tygra's character. I completely agree that he wasn't utilized enough on ThunderCats. His invisibility, mind power, and fighting prowess definitely added to his character. In my ThunderCats fanfic world, he is not a designated victim.
    Tygra_Rules likes this.
  16. Tygra_Rules

    Tygra_Rules Thunderian Legend

    Neither in mine :)
    Daremonger likes this.
  17. tone

    tone Glass Walker

    I’m ashamed I forgot to push back on this point a little: you forgot someone who didn’t have any bending ability and whose strongest ability was his ingenuity: Sokka! I think cases have been made in here that Tygra had plenty of abilities if only the writers weren’t focused so much on the other big three (no disrespect to the kids!)
    Mark M and Wilycub like this.
  18. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist TC.org Staff

    Brilliant point! :thumbsup Even though I personally would have liked for Tygra to have had at least one additional awesome skill/ability, even without it he could still have been made a hero by the writers making full use of his existing abilities.

    @Mark M and @Tygra_Rules you both make excellent points, especially about "Garden of Delights". Tygra should have been the one to save the day in that one after all the TCats and the SoO were in Mumm-Ra's captivity. Same thing with "Crystal Canyon".

    @Tygra_Rules you are right in that being the intelligent one isn't necessarily an unattractive trait to kids as I had said. I guess the problem was that Tygra's intelligence was never used in a big way to save the day. So perhaps his intelligence was an unattractive trait to the writers! :biggrin They always preferred a more action-oriented resolution, and sadly, Tygra was never their preferred choice to do that, as you correctly pointed out.
    Mark M and Tygra_Rules like this.
  19. Tygra_Rules

    Tygra_Rules Thunderian Legend

    Well, along with "Wolfrat", where his scientific knowldges were a clue part on saving the day, I can think of "Time Switch" as an episode where his intelligencgence and scientific mind, along with some leadership from him, was highlighted. In that episode, he was the one who directed the actions of the other TCs and, when time came, he was the one who made baby Lion-O go through the bars on their cells to open the door from the outside.
    More episodes like that would have brought to kids the idea of being smart = being cool.
  20. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    That's another good point I was only meaning in terms of their bending abilities. But yes Sokka is another great example. He had no bending abilities, and was also the comic relief in some ways, but he had great leadership abilities, ingenuity and swordsmanship skills. In Avatar event he villains are all mostly interesting with their skills and abilities.

    @Tygra_Rules I think the problem with ''The Wolfrat'' is that the focus seems to be more on Snarf fighting the Wolfrat rather than Tygra's chemical skills.
    Wilycub likes this.

Share This Page