Dino-Riders Explored – This Lost 80’s Cartoon On Weaponized Dinosaurs Deserves A Live-Action Film!

    There are innumerable legends and myths surrounding the existence of dinosaurs, and they have always been a fascinating topic of scientific discovery. Even in media, countless movies and shows are created about these marvelous creatures who walked the Earth millions of years ago.

    One such show was ‘Dino-Riders,’ which offered a peek into a prehistoric world with dinosaurs. Along with dinosaurs, this show was packed with exciting elements such as sci-fi, time travel, the triumph of good over evil, adventure, and so on.

    Written by the legendary duo Gerry and Carla Conway, ‘Dino-Riders’ was primarily created with the objective of launching a dinosaur toy-line alongside. Today, we will be exploring this legendary show in detail and tell you everything there is to know about the Dino-Riders!

    What was the show all about?

    What was the show all about

    Dino-Riders is set in a prehistoric world, where dinosaurs still existed on the planet Earth and lived a peaceful life. However, their peace is disrupted when a species known as ‘Valorians’ travels from the future to their Earth. The Valorians were essentially the good guys who had ended up on Earth as a last resort to escape from the evil ‘Rulons’ and their leader’ Krulos.’

    The Rulons follow the Valorians to the past, and soon try to capture the dinosaurs and brainwash them into working for Krulos. On the other hand, the Valorians befriend the dinosaurs and work alongside them to stand up to Krulos and his army of Rulons. The show was based on the idea of ‘triumph of good over evil,’ and the episodes often ended with the Valorians defeating the Rulons by working together in unity.

    Created by ‘Tyco Industries’ with the main intention of boosting toy sales, the series ran only for one season with just 13 episodes. But, the Dino-Riders series had a lot more to offer than just being a means to promote a toy line. It was an exciting show packed with action and adventure and had amassed quite a fan following! Let us now dive into this world of dinosaurs and Valorians and Rulons, and explore a few episodes of the show!

    Exploring the initial episodes

    Exploring the initial episodes

    The Dino-Riders first aired in the year 1988, with an episode titled ‘The Adventure Begins.’ It gave us a glimpse into the world of dinosaurs before the Rulons overtook Earth, and took us through the history of the Dino-Riders. The Valorians and the Rulons were futuristic races of supernatural beings with a long history of clashes. While the Valorians were the good guys, the Rulons were a predatory species of evil humanoids who often stirred up trouble for the Valorians. In one such instance, the Rulons chase the Valorians across space, who decide to use their ‘space-time energy projector’ crystal [S.T.E.P.] in order to escape them.

    By using the crystal, the Valorians end up traveling through time and find themselves in a prehistoric world 65 million years in the past. They leave their spaceship, explore the place, and are amazed to see a world untouched by any destruction.

    The Valorians then spot the dinosaurs and realize just how much they have traveled through time. The dinosaurs tentatively approach the Valorians and are pretty frightened and confused by these unfamiliar species.

    ‘Yungstar,’ one of the Valorians, chases a dinosaur who initially seems scared and confused by the Valorian. Yungstar uses his ‘A.M.P. Necklace,’ a device that helps them communicate telepathically, to reassure the dinosaur that he means no harm. He tries to pet the dinosaur, who soon warms up to him and even allows Yungstar to climb on him and ride him.

    In the meantime, it so happens that the Rulons’ spaceship also gets caught up in the S.T.E.P. crystal’s power, and they end up following the Valorians to this prehistoric world. The Rulon leader ‘Emperor Krulos’ is a frog humanoid who decides that they must return to their future world as soon as possible. For this, they need to steal the Valorian ‘space-time energy projector,’ and Krulos orders the Rulons to search for the Valorians. He also has his eye on the dinosaurs and conjures a plan to exploit them for his own benefit.

    The Rulons use their technologically advanced weapons to capture the dinosaurs and cruelly modify the dinosaur’s heads to fit mind-controlling devices called ‘brain box.’ Krulos soon has an army of dinosaurs under his control, and he exploits these animals’ strength to attack the Valorians.

    The Valorians are initially confused as to why some of the dinosaurs are getting so violent, while the rest of the dinosaurs are letting the Valorians ride them quite peacefully.

    In the meantime, Krulos fits the ‘brainbox’ on more dinosaurs. He has even created dinosaur armor that can shoot lasers, and he tests them out on the dinosaurs under his control. Though satisfied with the results, Krulos wants to capture more dinosaurs and wishes to get his hands on the mighty ‘Tyrannosaurus Rex.’

    The Valorians get used to riding the dinosaurs and then regroup outside the valley. Here, the Valorian’ Turret’ is constructing a wall to stop the Tyrannosaurus Rex from entering the valley where they have parked their spaceship. As they talk among themselves, the Valorians notice laser shootings from outside the valley. They realize that such a laser ‘viper’ was used in the future only by the Rulons. Their leader ‘Questar’ sends Gunner and another Valorian to investigate the source. They end up at the Rulon’s base and find themselves cornered by the Rulons, who attack them with lasers. The Valorians look for a way to escape and finally start a fire to divert the Rulons’ attention and run away.

    The Tyrannosaurus Rex makes an appearance, and Krulos sends his army of Rulons with his trained dinosaurs to shoot him down with lasers. He finally manages to capture the Rex, and he fits a brainbox on the dinosaur’s head despite the animal’s protests.

    In the meantime, the Valorians make a plan to attack Krulos while Mind-Zei advises them not to underestimate the Rulon leader. The two groups finally face each other, and the Valorians fend themselves against the Rulons and his army of dinosaurs. While they are busy, Krulos sends some of his Rulons to the Valorian spaceship to steal the S.T.E.P. Mind-Zei had stayed back in their spaceship, and he defeats both these Rulons single-handedly.

    On a different side of the valley, Questar faces Krulos himself, who has taken over the prized Tyrannosaurus Rex. Questar notices the headgear that has trapped the dinosaurs to do the Rulon’s bidding. He uses his telepathy with Serena and tells her to shoot the T-Rex’s ‘brainbox’ off. Once the equipment falls off his head, the dinosaur snaps out of Krulos’s control and goes on a rampage to attack him. The Rulons retreat away, and the Valorians celebrate their victory against them. They even declare that they are ‘not Valorians anymore, they are Dino-Riders!’

    However, the Rulons do not give up so quickly, and they return in the next episode titled ‘Revenge of the Rulons.’ The episode begins with Questar and Serena coming across a Stegosaurus, who has been injured in a fight against a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

    They rescue the dinosaur and return with it to the rest of the group to find that all the Valorians have discovered their preferred rides. They now have a rare ‘Dimetrodon’ and a ‘Pachycephalosaurus,’ among other dinosaurs. While they boast about their rides, the ground beneath them starts to rumble and scares the dinosaurs away. The Valorians wait for the rumbling to pass, but the ground beneath them shakes more violently, and they realize that there is an earthquake.

    As the earthquake passes, they return to their spaceship to find that almost seventy percent of their ship has been destroyed. They are also defenseless against the Rulons since most of the dinosaurs ran away during the earthquake. While some of the Valorians leave to find more dinosaurs, the rest of them assess their damages. It turns out that their S.T.E.P. crystal’s power source has been destroyed, and they need an alternate power source. Vector analyzes the damages and concludes that they need some lava to fix the machine.

    In the meantime, Krulos manages to recapture the Tyrannosaurus and once again brings the dinosaur under his control. 

    YungStar, Serena, and Tark decide to go to the volcanoes to collect the lava. On the other hand, Tag and Gunner team up to find more dinosaurs, and the young Llahd also joins them. As they travel around the valleys and look for dinosaurs, Llahd gets into trouble with the Rulons and gets captured by them. Tag and Gunner realize that Llahd is being held hostage by the Rulons a little too late, and Gunner asks LLahd to hang on and promises to free him soon.

    When YungStar, Serena, and Tark return after collecting lava, they are cornered by the Rulons, who claim to have a message for YungStar. They tell him that Krulos has captured LLahd and is willing to return him on the condition that the Valorians hand over their ‘Space-Time Energy Projector’ to him.

    They return to Questar, and the group gathers together to decide how to rescue Llahd. While Mind-Zei advises them to stall a little, the others want to go on the offense and break into Krulos’s base camp. After much discussion, they come up with ‘Project Still’ and decide to take the Stegosaurus with them in case they face the Tyrannosaurus again. YungStar, accompanied by two others, hides behind the dinosaurs, and they sneak into Krulos’ territory unnoticed. YungStar rescues Llahd, and they almost make it out of the place without being detected.

    In the meantime, Questar and the rest of the group distract the Rulons so that YungStar and Llahd can escape safely. Questar runs into Krulos in the middle of a valley and finds himself face to face with Krulos’ Tyrannosaurus. However, this time he has his Stegosaurus to put up a fight against the Tyrannosaurus.

    As they launch into an attack, Questar uses his telepathy to send a message to Tark to execute ‘Project Landslide.’ On Questar’s orders, ‘Tark’ pushes a huge boulder off the cliff, and the rock creates an obstacle between Krulos and Questar. Questar and the rest of the group use this as their cue to escape, while YungStar and Llahd also make their way to safety.

    The Dino-Riders do not have long to rejoice their victory as Krulos continues to come up with new ideas to steal the S.T.E.P. crystal. In this episode titled ‘The Rulon Stampede,’ Krulos initially barges into the Dino-Rider’s camp and hopes to defeat them with the aid of a few dinosaurs.

    As the Valorians spot the Rulons approaching their camp from afar, they get ready for battle. Questar finds himself face to face with Krulos and his Tyrannosaurus Rex once again, while the rest of the Dino-Riders face the other Rulons. Amid the chaos, Gunner’s Torosaurus gets critically injured, and it does not look like he will make it. Serena uses her powers to heal the dinosaur and shares all her energy with it, which leaves her exhausted.

    As she struggles to recover, yet another dinosaur of the species’ Monoclonius’ is hurt in battle and needs Serena’s energy to heal. Even at the cost of sacrificing her life, Serena gives all her energy to the dinosaur and saves its life. However, Serena ends up losing her consciousness, and Questar tells the group that the only way to save her is by performing an ancient Valorian rite of restoration. YungStar rushes to get the S.T.E.P. crystal to perform the ritual, and they soon start the process. All the Valorians have to give up some of their life energy to restore her, and she finally returns to life.

    In the meantime, Krulos decides that he needs an even larger army of dinosaurs if he wishes to defeat Questar and get the S.T.E.P. crystal. He sends his army of dinosaurs to create a stampede at the Dino-Riders’ base camp, and he follows behind in the hopes of stealing the S.T.E.P. crystal amidst the chaos.

    Back at the spaceship, the Dino-Riders anticipate an attack and get ready to defend themselves. Total chaos breaks out as the dinosaurs wreck the Dino Riders’ camp, and Krulos breaks into the ship to steal the crystal. However, he is unaware that Questar has replaced the original crystal with a duplicate. The original crystal is still safe with the Valorians, and Krulos realizes that he has been fooled.

    In the next episode, titled ‘The Blue Skies of Earth,’ the Dino-Riders finally get a moment’s peace and spend their time flying around the skies on the dinosaurs. They also upgrade their technology, attach new saddles to the dinosaurs and modernize their rides.

    In the meantime, there is some unrest at Krulo’s camp as two of his most trusted Rulons fight against each other to become his second-in-command. In this episode, we finally get a glimpse into the inner workings of Krulos’s camps and a proper introduction to some important Rulons. Rasp, a humanoid with cobra-like features, seems to be Krulos’ favorite and top choice for the role of the second-in-command. However, he is faced with Hammerhead, who resembles a shark, and is one of Krulos’s most reliable members when it comes to fighting against the Valorians.

    To win Krulos’s favor, Rasp plots an attack on the Dino-Riders and collects an army of Pteranodons for Krulos to lead an attack. Krulos orders Hammerhead to lead the air strike for the attack, and Rasp is given the task of stealing the S.T.E.P. crystal.

    However, Questar corners Rasp and defeats him easily. In the meantime, Krulos leads an attack upon the Dino-Riders, who have prepared ahead of time to trap Krulos. While Krulos marches forward on his dinosaur, he steps into a puddle created by the Valorians in order to trap the Rulons. Krulos finds himself stuck and is unable to get out of the sticky mess of the puddle. He accepts his defeat and vows to return to get revenge one way or another.

    In the next episode, ‘Toro, Toro, Torosaurus,’ the young ‘LLahd’ is sent to train with the dinosaurs under Tag and Gunner’s eye. However, they are disrupted by Krulos and his army of Rulons, who launch a surprise attack on the Dino-Riders. Amid the chaos, Llahd finds it difficult to control his dinosaur and finds that the lasers on his dinosaur have jammed. However, the rest of the Dino-Riders manage to defeat Krulos, and they celebrate their victory while Llahd sulks in a corner. He is disappointed because he couldn’t be of much help and decides to run away all by himself.

    The other Dino-Riders notice his absence and frantically search for him. Tag and Gunner finally locate Llahd, who seems to be stuck around a few dinosaurs. They come to his rescue and together return back to their base.

    In the meantime, Krulos takes advantage of the fact that the Dino-Riders left their camp to look for Llahd, and he launches an attack on their base. Once again, Questar and his companions defend themselves and emerge victorious against Krulos. The episode ends with a lesson on unity and how the Dino-Riders can overcome any attack as long as they work together and stick by each other’s side.

    As the show progresses, the Rulons and the Dino-Riders keep clashing, as Krulos refuses to give up until he gets his hands on the S.T.E.P. crystal.

    Exploring Some of the important characters

    Exploring Some of the important characters

    The Valorians, led by Questar, and the Rulons, led by Emperor Krulos, were the show’s main characters, along with the various species of dinosaurs that lived on the Earth.

    The Valorians were a futuristic species from the planet ‘Valoria’ and had certain powers, such as the ability to communicate using telepathy. Under the leadership of Questar, the Valorians used their telepathy to befriend the dinosaurs by using their ‘A.M.P. necklaces.’

    Questar was a great leader to the Valorians, who fearlessly resolved any crisis faced by his group as well as the dinosaurs. Questar was quite skilled in combat, and he often went up against Krulos and had defeated him on many occasions. In any battle, Questar always ensured that the dinosaurs’ safety was not compromised and tried to avoid any violent wars as much as possible.

    Emperor Krulos, on the other hand, looked for any opportunity to wage an attack on the Valorians. He also brainwashes the dinosaurs and creates ‘brainboxes’ that help him control them and make them work for him. He ruled over the ‘Rulons,’ who were humanoids that resembled various animals such as frogs, sharks, snakes, etc. Krulos’ preferred ride was a Tyrannosaurus Rex, especially while fighting against the Valorians.

    Marvelous Verdict on the greatness of the show

    Marvelous Verdict on the greatness of the show

    Dino-Riders was an instant hit with the audiences and was an absolute classic among cartoon series in the 80s. Fans especially loved the combination of the dinosaur’s strength paired with sci-fi elements, which merged to create a world where dinosaurs dressed in battle armor attacked their opponents with missiles and laser guns. A wide range of dinosaur species were written into the show, and the writers were really creative with the character designs for the dinosaurs and the Valorians and the Rulons.

    Though the show’s animation was not really the best, the artwork, on the other hand, was truly commendable and made the show quite aesthetically pleasing to watch. The show’s popularity led to the success of the Dino-Riders toy lines as well, and they were quite the craze back in the 80s! Dino-Riders combined science fiction with dinosaurs and made for an enthralling show that deserves more recognition than it gets!

    Will there be a reboot?

    Will there be a reboot

    The Dino Rider series has not had a reboot so far, and it is not very likely that the show will be rebooted anytime soon. The show ran for about one season in 1988, and though it was pretty popular, especially due to the toy line that came with it, the show has been forgotten over time. Their toy line had quite a magnificent run and was a great marketing strategy for the Dino Riders’ brand. If the show is ever to be rebooted, it would be a wise idea to base the reboot on the toy designs rather than the show’s character designs.

    Dino Riders’ Comic Series

    Dino Riders' Comic Series

    In 1989, Marvel Comics published a volume of a ‘Dino-Riders’ limited comic series, which consisted of three issues. The comic was based on the same concept as the animated show released a year earlier, and it followed the same storyline. However, some elements of the show were modified for the comics, as the comic was set against a ‘darker’ backdrop.

    The first issue of the comic, titled ‘The Path,’ followed the Valorian’s arrival on Earth. Only in this version, Valoria was destroyed while they traveled to the past, and Questar blamed himself for not being able to save Valoria. Moreover, some of the other Valorians, especially Ariel and Tark, questioned Questar’s leadership skills and even wanted him to give up the title of leader.

    The rest of the comic covered the Rulons’ arrival on Earth and Krulos’s efforts to bring the dinosaurs under his control. While Krulos gets his hands on the tyrannosaurus rex, Tark challenges Questar for the ‘fight to lead,’ which was an ancient Valorian law. According to this law, Questar was obliged to step down as the leader if Tark managed to defeat him in combat.

    In the meantime, Krulos launches an attack on the Valorians. In an unfortunate turn of events, Tark creeps up upon Questar and aims to shoot him from the back. However, Questar senses the danger behind him and assumes that it is Karlos who is about to kill him. Questar shoots his laser gun at who he thinks is Karlos but turns out to be Tark. Tark loses his balance and falls off a cliff while dodging Questar’s attack. At the end of this issue, Ariel labels Questar as a murderer and places him under arrest.

    The story continues in the next issue titled ‘The Trial,’ where Questar is brought in to question for killing Tark. Questar pleads not guilty and tries to explain that he was acting in self-defense. Mind-Zei declares that he believes Questar is not a cold-blooded criminal, and Ariel is furious to learn that Mind-Zei acquitted Questar. The rest of the Valorians still question Questar’s innocence, and the trial continues outside. We also learn that Serena was to be married to Tark, but she broke off the engagement. Tark had been quite resentful over this and had even blamed Questar for being the reason why she broke their engagement.

    The Valorians are pretty distracted by the trial, and they do not pay any attention to the Rulons. Meanwhile, Krulos captures the Tyrannosaurus Rex and successfully fits the brain box on the dinosaur.

    As the trial continues, Mind-Zei, Ariel, and Serena are handed the responsibility of passing the judgment regarding Questar’s innocence. They conduct a ‘mind-probe’ test which looks into Questar’s thoughts by using telepathy. While Serena and Mind-Zei rule as ‘not guilty,’ Ariel still stands by his belief that Questar murdered Tark in cold blood.

    Questar wanders off by himself to clear his mind when he comes across Krulos and the Tyrannosaurus. He finds himself cornered, and Serena comes to his rescue and saves him from Krulos. They also discover that Krulos is after their S.T.E.P. crystal.

    They return to their base camp, and the Rulons soon attack the place in order to get the S.T.E.P. crystal. Questar steps up and defeats Krulos and even saves Ariel’s life by taking a hit for him. Ariel finally accepts that Questar could not have killed Tark on purpose and thanks to him for saving his life. As this issue ends, we are introduced to ‘Magnus,’ a Valorian who does not want Questar as his leader and seems to have some plans to sabotage Questar.

    In the final issue of the Dino-Riders comic, Tark makes a comeback that leaves everyone surprised. It appears that he had survived the fall after all, though he did suffer some injuries that left him disoriented. He ends up getting captured by the Rulons, who take him to Krulos.

    Tark blames Krulos for destroying his world, and the Rulons’ leader is enraged by his behavior. Krulo’s second in command, ‘Rasp,’ wishes to take Tark, and Krulos permits him to use Tark in any way he sees fit. Rasp shackles Tark to an advanced machine and reveals that he has plans to take his Valorian D.N.A. and combine it with the dinosaur’s D.N.A. to create a super-powerful mutation.

    Rasp intends to brainbox Tark and then use him to first destroy Krulos. He then has ambitious plans to destroy the Dino-Riders as well and rule as the supreme being of the universe. Though Tark is in tremendous pain, he refuses to be of any help in destroying his own people. Just as the experiment is in its final stages, Tark uses all his strength to break free from the machine and emerges as a super-powerful mutant. He then escapes the place while Rasp updates Krulos about the happenings in the lab.

    Meanwhile, Tark uses his newfound strength to free many dinosaurs from the brainbox’s controls. He also wishes to return to the Valorians but is horrified at his new appearance and does not want Serena to see him like this. On another side of the valley, the Tyrannosaurus launches an attack on the Valorians. Serena’s life is endangered, and though Tark does not want her to see him like this, he rushes to save her life. He helps the Tyrannosaurus break free from the brainbox’s control, and the dinosaur diverts his attention to Tark and leaves Serena untouched.

    Tark finds himself struggling to fight against the Tyrannosaurus and discovers that his new body is not invincible after all. However, he still fights with all his might and finally defeats Rex. Having defeated the mighty Tyrannosaurus, Tark then declares himself as the ‘Lord of the Dinosaurs’ as the comic comes to an end.



    Though Dino-Riders was mainly created in order to boost the sales of a toy line, the show in itself was pretty captivating and garnered many devoted fans. With its fascinating storylines that involved time travel, evil humanoids in the form of villains, and most importantly, dinosaurs, the show was a massive hit with the audiences. Dino Riders’ series even inspired many dinosaur character designs in animation.

    One such example is ‘T-Rex’ from Toy Story, as it is established that the character’s design was inspired by the Tyrannosaurus Rex from the Dino-Riders! The Dino-Riders series was the first attempt at incorporating dinosaurs in an animated T.V. series, and it was very well executed. The series was quite ahead of its time and is a legendary show that has sadly been forgotten over the years!

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