Defenders of the Earth is an animated television series of the 1980s featuring three characters from comic strips distributed by King Features Syndicate - Flash Gordon, The Phantom, and Mandrake the Magician - battling the Flash Gordon villian Ming the Merciless in the year 2015. Supporting characters include their children Rick Gordon, Jedda Walker (daughter of The Phantom), Kshin (adopted son of Mandrake), Mandrake's assistant Lothar, and Lothar's son L.J. The show lasted for 65 episodes; there was also a short-lived comic book series published by Marvel Comics.
The pilot begins with Flash Gordon and his son Rick escaping from Ming the Merciless. Ming has exhausted all the natural resources of his home planet Mongo and has set his sights on Earth. Flash's wife (Dale Arden in the Marvel comic) is captured and Ming tries to brainwash her. She resists to the point of death.
- Flash Gordon is the legendary space hero and leader of the Defenders of the Earth. He is an ace space fighter pilot and the father of Rick Gordon.
- The Phantom is the legendary "Ghost Who Walks", and his true name is Kit Walker. According to a note in the end credits, this is the 27th Phantom. This version of the Phantom is different from how he is portrayed in the comics. By chanting either "By jungle law, the ghost who walks calls forth the power of ten tigers" or "By jungle birth rite,the ghost who walks calls forth the power of ten tigers" he is temporarily given superhuman strength. In the comics, the Phantom does not have any supernatural powers. In the show his horse Hero and his wolf Devil also make brief appearances too.
- Mandrake the Magician is a cultured man of mystery who has magical powers and knowledge of the occult.
- Lothar is superhumanly strong and a close friend of Mandrake.
- Richard "Rick" Gordon is an impulsive computer genius and the son of Flash Gordon. Rick along with many of the other teenagers of the show attended Central High located in Central city.
- Kshin is an orphaned Asian boy adopted by Mandrake, who is training him as his apprentice. As the younger of the group, he is always trying to prove he is worthy of being a true hero. Kshin has a pet alien called Zuffy - an orphaned Zuffoid found by Rick Gordon on the planet Mongo .
- L.J. (Lothar Junior) is the street wise martial arts expert son of Lothar, as well as Rick's best friend.
- Jedda Walker is the daughter of The Phantom and displays telepathic and limited psychic powers. She has a pet panther named Kisa. Some episodes imply a romantic relationship between her and Rick Gordon.
- Dynak - Is the central computer based in the Defenders of the Earth's Headquarters, formerly Flash's wife and Rick's mother (though she is never referred to by name, it is presumed that she is Flash's longtime comicbook love interest Dale Arden). In the first episode, Ming the Merciless kidnaps and attempts to brainwash her to reveal where Flash Gordon is hiding, but the enormous physical and mental anguish ends up killing her. Before she dies, however, her "essence" is saved in a crystal that is eventually used to power the Defenders' computer.
- Ming the Merciless has two children Prince Krotan and Princess Aura and is bent on world domination. This version is more alien like in appearance rather than his traditional Asian appearance to avoid racial stereotyping. In the show his hideout is Ice Station Earth located in the Arctic.
- Octon is a metallic octopus like machine which advises Ming the Merciless on how to conquer the Earth or defeat Flash Gordon and Co.
- Garax is the leader of Ming's soldiers, the Ice warriors
- Mongor is a giant serpent-like pet of Ming the Merciless.
- Kurt Walker is the older brother of the Phantom. Kurt is a character specifically created for the series, and has never appeared in a Phantom comic book or comic strip story. However he does appear in issue #3 of the Marvel Comics Defenders of the Earth mini-series.
- The Sky Band is one of the Phantom's oldest foes. In the series, they are space-pirates, while in the comic strips, they are airplane-pirates.
01 – "Escape from Mongo"
02 - "The Creation of Monitor"
03 - "A Demon in His Pocket"
04 - "A House Divided"
05 - "Bits and Chips"
06 - "The Root of Evil"
07 - "Cold War"
08 - "The Sleeper Awakens"
09 - "The Revenge of Astra"
10 - "The Hall of Wisdom"
11 - "The Mind Warriors, Part 1"
12 - "The Mind Warriors, Part 2"
13 - "The Lost Jewels of Tibet"
14 - "The Evil of Doctor Dark"
15 - "Diamonds are Ming's Best Friends"
16 - "The Men of Frost"
17 - "Battleground"
18 - "The Panther Peril"
19 - "Fury of the Deep"
20 - "Family Reunion"
21 - "The Defense Never Rests"
22 - "Like Father, Like Daughter?"
23 - "The Would-Be Defender"
24 - "Doorways into Darkness"
25 - "Deal with the Devil"
26 - "Terror in Time"
27 - "Ming's Household Helpers"
28 - "The Starboy"
29 - "The Gods Awake"
30 - "The Ghost Walks Again"
31 - "The Book of Mysteries"
32- "The Future Comes But Once"
33 - "Kshin And "The Ghost Ship"
34 - "The Carnival of Dr. Kalihari"
35 - "The Mystery of the Book"
36 - "Flash Times Four"
37 - "The Frozen Heart"
38 - "Rick Gordon, One Man Army"
39 - "The Rites of Zesnan"
40 - "Audie and Tweak"
41 - "Return of the Skyband"
42 - "Dracula's Potion"
43 - "One of the Guys"
44 - "100 Proof Highway"
45 - "The Time Freezer"
46 - "The Prince Makes His Move"
47 - "Prince Triumphant"
48 - "The Prince Weds"
49 - "The Prince's Royal Hunt"
50 - "The Prince is Dethroned"
51 - "Lothar's Homecoming"
52 - "Suspended Sabotage"
53 - "The Call of the Eternals"
54 - "The Return of Doctor Dark"
55 - "The Deadliest Battle"
56 - "The Necklace of Oros"
57 - "Torn Space"
58 - "Ming Winter"
59 - "The Golden Queen"
60 - "The Gravity of Ming"
61 – "Flesh and Blood"
62 - "Drowning World"
63 - "The Adoption of Kshin"
64 - "Street Smarts"
65 - "The Thunder Lizards of Ming"
Out of the sky, his rockets ignite,
Jets into battle flying faster than light!
Lord of the Jungle, the hero who stalks,
The beasts call him brother, the ghost who walks!
Defenders of The Earth!
Master of magic spells and illusion,
Enemies crumble in fear and confusion!
Defenders of The Earth!
His strength is a legend, his skills conquer all,
Armed with his power, we never will fall!
Defenders of the Earth!
With our new young heroes proving their worth,
Four become eight, defending the Earth!
Defenders of The Earth!
Defenders of The Earth!
The series has been released as part of BCI Eclipse's Animated All-Stars collection, with The first episode appearing on the BCI DVD Flash Gordon: The Complete Series. In 2006, BCI said it would release the first 33 episodes in Fall of that years.
Selected episodes are available in the UK, in compilations including Defenders of the Earth: The Movie, Defenders of the Earth: The Book of Mysteries, Defenders of the Earth: Prince of Kro-Tan and Defenders of the Earth: The Necklace of Oros.
In addition to the four-issue Marvel Comics miniseries, there have been books including The Creation of Monitor, A House Divided, The Sun-Stealers and Computer Checkmate'.
A video game was also made.