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Thunderbirds is the beloved British children's science-fiction series that originally aired in 1965 and 1966. It's about the adventures of International Rescue, which consist of family and friends that saves the day no matter situation is thrown at them. The Tracey family lives in a hidden island, headed by their super-rich ex-astronaut father. Their remarkable rocket-like vehicles, called Thunderbirds, are stored under water. When they are ready to launch, the pilots yell the series' catch phrase, Thunderbirds are go!

The remarkable aspect about the series is that no humans appear on screen. All of the characters are played by marionettes with actor voice-overs. If the marionettes look familiar, that's because they were deliberately made to resemble some of the most famous movie actors of the day, including Sean Connery. The series was created by Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson, the same creative team behind two other marionette-only children's series.

Although Thunderbirds was briefly popular in the UK, it took a long time before they made the jump over the Atlantic. Americans may recognize Thunderbirds in the form of movies broadcast in the early 1980s. The movies consisted of splicing several of the original half-hour episodes together, adding some extra music and cutting some scenes in order to make each movie two hours long.

Current Thunderbirds fans love the show for nostalgic reasons. Watching the episodes and collecting memorabilia help to recreate childhood feelings and optimism. The series often airs as reruns repeatedly in the UK ans Ireland. Attempts to make an American version of the series have failed. The Andersons claim they are working on making more episodes of their beloved children's classic, but so far nothing has materialized. Veteran science fiction actor Jonathan Frakes directed a big budget Hollywood movie based on the series, but it flopped.

ITV
1 Season, 32 Episodes
September 30, 1965
Action & Adventure
7.9/10
Cast: Sylvia Anderson, Peter Dyneley, David Graham, Shane Rimmer
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Thunderbirds Full Episode Guide

  • A radio DJ, Rick O'Shea, is employed in a pirated radio station on an unlisted satellite, much to Jeff's chagrin. It is the reason for a rocket malfunction, but the space commanders don't know that, for they explode the rocket next to it, bringing the DJ and his assistant on a slow descent toward Earth. When IR arrive, however, the engineer jumps onboard Thunderbird 3, but O'Shea hesitates. Will Alan be able to save Tin-Tin's fave DJ?

  • Lady Penelope and Parker are on vacation in an Italian town, which is about to become the first to have all its electricity solar-powered. However, the machine has been wrongly positioned, threatening to burn the town to a crisp. The dish collecting the solar energy is 400 tons -- considerably heavier than the Thunderbirds can be able to lift. Can they save the town from disaster?

  • The aircraft industry turns to Hiram K. Hackenbacker (otherwise known as "Brains") to design a new, safer airline, which he does -- the Skythrust. Lady Penelope decides to hold a fashion show aboard the plane to prevent someone from stealing the revolutionary new fabric created by French fashion designer Francois. But one of his models reveals a gun and threatens to use it on the pilots unless the plane is diverted in the middle of the Sahara. Brains, hearing the model's refusal to land the plane, orders a missle to be shot at the plane. What will become of his invention and, more importantly, his passengers?

  • Lady Penelope invites a reluctant Jeff to go on vacation with her in Australia. Jeff hesitates, worrying about disasters that might happen while he would be away. He sees a report about a naval torpedo accident that sparks an underwater fire. International Rescue, with Scott at the head, responds, to Jeff's chagrin. When a second fire breaks out, Scott has no choice but to dispatch the Thunderbirds again. Will his second error be costlier than the first? And what will Jeff say about this one?

  • Jeff detects an intruder aboard Thunderbird 2, an intruder who turns out to be a little boy stowing away. Virgil is given the job of babysitting -- and keeping his mouth shut -- while Jeff gives the boys a stern lecture about the security breach. He finally cracks when the boy challenges his pride by saying Thunderbird 1 is the best ship. The boy gains information from everyone -- even Jeff "I have no sons" Tracy -- and soon leaves on a warning. But can he keep his secret?

  • An aircraft from the military is shot down while trying to make an important delivery. This has happened twice before, and Scott remembers hearing the song "Dangerous Game" being played on the radio all three times. Lady Penelope and Tin-Tin are sent to investigate the band responsible for the song, the Crass Carnaby Five. Can they make progress in cracking the case?

  • Two scientists enter an alligator-infested swamp to test out a revolutionary new drug, which is said to enlarge animals and therefore will put a stop to world hunger. Trouble arises when the drugs are spilled down the drain, causing the alligators to find them and...well, you can pretty much guess what happens next. Can International Rescue hold them?

  • Ocean Pioneer I, the world's most modern tanker, comes in contact of a Bermuda Triangle-like mist and suddenly explodes. Jeff sends Lady Penelope to investigate any signs of sabotage and promptly loses all contact with Thunderbirds 1, 2 and 5. What is causing the interference? And what will happen to Ocean Pioneer II?

  • Scott comes to the aid of a young boy, who supposedly has fallen over the side of a mountain and broken his leg. However, at the scene, the boy makes some kind of miraculous recovery. After being scolded scornfully by Scott for drawing them away on a false mission, he invites him and his friend over to Tracy Island, but afterwards, the Hood plants a bomb in a mine the boys are found in, and it explodes, putting them in real danger. Can International Rescue believe the boys?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, John, Brains, Lady Penelope, Parker, Tin-Tin, Grandma (no dialogue)A scuba-diver steals plans for a nuclear device, so send forth International Rescue. Lady Penelope sends Parker (which she finds out later may have been a mistake) to gamble in Monte Carlo and dons the guise of a fashion reporter, only to be hauled off the yacht which all that had taken place on. Can Lady P survive? Can International Rescue get a lock on her location?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, John, Lady Penelope, Parker, Tin-TinA fake International Rescue team saves the day but escapes with top-secret plans from a nearby aeronautical center. General Lambert launches a worldwide search to bring the team to justice. Horrified, the Tracys have no option but to shut down International Rescue and call on their network of operations to help find the imposters. Can the Thunderbirds' names be cleared? And can the imposters finally be found?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, John, Brains, Lady Penelope, Parker, Tin-TinSpoke City employee Tom Prescott gives a hitchhiker a lift, but explosive bracelets are snapped to his wrist, forcing him to return to his office where the keys have been kept hidden away. Can IR save Prescott from the subsequent explosion and resulting fire?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Gordon, John, Brains, Tin-Tin, Kyrano, Grandma, the HoodBrains and Tin-Tin explore below the surface of the desert Lake Anasta for an ancient treasure. The Hood, through his psychic power, discovers the plan and reaches the Middle East before the two and captures them. On Tracy Island, Jeff, worried about the lack of contact, dispatches TBs 1 and 2 to the location. Can they rescue their trusted companions?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, Brains, Tin-Tin, the HoodThe Hood, hired by the evil General Bron, places a homing device on a television relay tower to ensure the collision of the new Red Arrow fighter plane. With the ensuing crash, two men are trapped and IR are called. Trouble is, Jeff's old friend Col. Tim Casey is visiting Tracy Island, but Tin-Tin distracts him by taking him scuba-diving. Can International Rescue reach the men in time?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, John, Brains, Lady Penelope, Parker, Tin-Tin, GrandmaA Martian Space Probe is being transported to its launch site by way of the Allington Suspencion Bridge, which has just held up under a mighty storm. However, miscalculations have been made to the bridge's capacity, causing the bridge, the rocket, and the transport vehicle to collapse into the river, trapping two men! Can International Rescue save the day once again?

  • Construction manager Eddie Houseman is finishing his latest project: completing a contract. He does that by finishing a mountain road, and later sees old flame Tin-Tin at Tracy Island, meaning he sees the Tracy family, too. However, a mishap at his site forces him back to work, but this time his life is in almost-certain danger while he detonates a charge at a top of a mountain, sending his tractor on the edge of a cliff, with explosives still inside. This is a job for International Rescue! But can they save him without getting caught?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, Brains, Tin-Tin, Kyrano, Grandma (no dialogue)Scott and Virgil inadvertantly cross paths with a new Navy test vehicle, the Sentinel. The Navy responds by shooting down Thunderbird 2. At home, Virgil sees a report on the relocation of the Empire State Building. Trouble soon plagues the site, with the ground underneath swallowing up the cameraman and the reporter. Can International Rescue save the building?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, Brains (mentioned), Lady Penelope, Parker, Tin-TinOne of Brains' former assistants, Sir Jeremy Hodge, finishes his latest project--converting seawater into fuel. He only tells the secret of how he did it to Penelope, causing a group of kidnappers to take Penelope and Hodge, tying Lady P to a ladder and holding it in front of an oncoming train. Can International Rescue get there in time?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, John, Brains, Lady Penelope, Parker, Tin-TinAn investment in a new monorail project goes horribly awry when Jeff Tracy, Brains, and Tin-Tin are trapped on a rapidly moving train situated on a rapidly collapsing trestle. Can the Tracy boys save their father and their friends?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, John, Tin-Tin, Kyrano, the HoodThe Hood disguises himself as a filmmaker in order to bring International Rescue to the set of his martian movie. He successfully gets pics of International Rescue, and offers to sell them to General X. Can the Thunderbirds stop him?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon (no dialogue), Brains, Tin-Tin, GrandmaA jealous car racer kidnaps Alan and Grandma Tracy trapped on a bridge. You need more? Look at the episode title. He moves...he's dead. Can Jeff keep him talking?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon (no dialogue), John, Brains, Lady Penelope, Parker, Tin-Tin, Kyrano (no dialogue), GrandmaLord Silton, a Bank of London official, enlists Lady P and Parker to help prove that the bank needs new, modernized safes. But when a worker is trapped in the new safe, and an emergency call is sent, Parker mistakes the call's reason for a robbery by an old cellmate at Parkmoor Scrubs, and tries to stall time. Meanwhile, International Rescue is summoned, but the safe bypasses even their intelligence. Will the worker be saved before he suffocates?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, John, Brains, Lady Penelope, Parker, Tin-Tin, Kyrano, Grandma, the HoodThe Hood returns and sabotages a nuclear plant, using a device known as the Mighty Atom.

  • When Scott Tracy is attacked in Thunderbird 1, he crash-lands in the middle of a desert, and is rescued by explorers. However, those explorers get themselves lost, and when Scott attempts to rescue them, he finds himself in the same predicament all over again. Will the Tracys be able to save their brother?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, Brains, Tin-Tin, Kyrano, Grandma (mentioned)An accident in deep space causes three astronauts trapped on a collision course with the sun. Thunderbird 3 is launched, and the Sun Probe is brought back, but now Thunderbird 3 is on a collision course with the sun. Can they be saved in time?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, John, Brains, Tin-TinA small family is trapped inside a burning tower that is quickly about to collapse. A job for IR? Nope. The suits that Scott and Virgil had been testing before the mission cause them to pass out.

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, John, BrainsThe US Army's new test project, the Sidewinder, fails to reach its rendezvous point. The vehicle and its crew have fallen 300 feet down in a fiery crater. Can International Rescue save them?

  • Main Cast: Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, John, Brains, Lady Penelope, Parker, Tin-Tin, Kyrano, the HoodThe new Fireflash aircraft, during its maiden voyage, is sabotaged by the Hood: if it lands, a hidden bomb will explode. International Rescue makes their debut with this mission, but can they save the 600 passengers onboard?

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