Thunderbirds Are Gone! – A Gerry Anderson A21 News Story

International Rescue, the top secret organisation dedicated to saving lives wherever they may be in distress, was set up by multimillionaire and ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy and his five sons. Based on a small island in the South Pacific, the courageous Tracy family are always ready to swing into action at a moment’s notice, launching the fabulous Thunderbird rescue craft on dangerous missions to save lives.

We’re all familiar with the story and any fan of Thunderbirds can tell you the set up of the International Rescue organisation and how they operate. We’ve watched them go about their incredible business through 32 episodes, 3 anniversary specials and 2 feature films, and their legacy continues to this day.

But suppose for a moment that we take a step into a parallel universe – a universe where International Rescue had never been formed and the world of 2065 had no familiarity with the Thunderbird craft. How would the story have unfolded then?

Using the power of A21’s recently-perfected Alternate Possibility Scope, we’re about to find out!


Jeff Tracy, his wife and his five young sons are on a winter holiday in the Alps. Jeff and the boys go off to play in the snow, leaving Mrs Tracy alone in the cabin. Suddenly she notices that she has run out of milk and heads off to buy more at the store, narrowly avoiding an avalanche that flattens the cabin minutes later. Jeff, Mrs Tracy and the boys move to a New York penthouse. A few years pass and the boys become car salesmen.  As a result, Jeff never meets Brains, Kyrano, Tin-Tin, Lady Penelope or Parker. The Thunderbirds are never created.

Introducing Thunderbirds

A beautiful island in the South Pacific. It’s completely deserted and has only ever had one visitor when Colonel Jeff Tracy was deliberately marooned on it years ago. He never came back.

Trapped in the Sky

The Hood sits in his temple, wishing there was some sort of secret organisation he can lure into a trap so that he can steal their secrets. Unfortunately there isn’t, so he takes up tennis instead. Fireflash makes an uneventful maiden flight. Commander Norman gets a minor ear infection.

Pit of Peril

A 500-tonne US Army walker explores the desert. Suddenly the ground collapses and it falls into a flaming underground pit. After two unsuccessful attempts to reach the crew, a third attempt is made and the machine is hauled upright and it climbs out of the pit with no serious casualties.

The Perils of Penelope

Perfectly ordinary socialite Lady Penelope and her manservant on probation, Parker, take a ride on a train. Unknown to them, renowned toymaker Sir Jeremy Hodge is also on the train and is kidnapped for inventing a new form of whoopee cushion, which he claims is powerful enough to launch a rocket.

Terror in New York City

Ned Cook and his cameraman are trapped under the wreckage of the collapsed Empire State Building. They are rescued by local police officers, who are clever enough to pass several oxygen cylinders down the hole rather than just one each. After several hours of digging, the men are freed. Cook sues the city of New York for gross negligence.

Edge of Impact

The Hood continues to practise his tennis skills in several amateur tournaments in Malaysia. Back in Britain, the Red Arrow Project is a total success. Commander Norman’s ear infection clears up a little. The BT Tower monitors a storm in Iceland, and a bird flies into the control room window and is momentarily stunned, but other than that, Stan and Jim have a quiet evening.

Day of Disaster

The MSP Rocket Transporter is running a little late after the driver stopped to ask for directions. As a result he drives twice as fast as he should, crossing the Allington suspension bridge without incident.

30 Minutes After Noon

Tom Prescott is in a hurry, he’s very late for his third wedding anniversary. As he nears his house, he drops his watch and bends down to retrieve it. Consequently, he doesn’t see the odd looking chap trying to hitch a lift and runs him over. The man is later found to be a known and dangerous criminal, Prescott is cleared of all charges and has a wonderful belated anniversary dinner.

Desperate Intruder

Having won Malaysia’s most prestigious tournament, The Hood sets his sights on Wimbledon. Professor Bleakly makes a huge find in Lake Anasta, but squanders it all funding his next expedition.

End of the Road

Eddie Houseman tries to save his road company by sneaking out in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, he trips and falls – knocking himself out before he can leave the base vehicle. He wakes up the next morning to discover the mountain has collapsed in the storm. With his contract in ruins, he consoles himself by opening a small Chinese restaurant with his former business partner Chang.

The Uninvited

Two archaeologists go looking for a lost pyramid, but they don’t find it.

Sun Probe

The Sun Probe space rocket fails to launch with its new whoopee-cushion-based fuel system.

Operation Crash-Dive

Fireflash continues to uphold its spotless flight safety record and Commander Norman completely recovers from his ear infection.

Vault of Death

One of the Bank of England’s most hard working employees is accidentally locked in the vault. Since the vault has a perfectly ordinary outdated door and plenty of air inside, he is found alive and well the next morning.

The Mighty Atom

Six months ago The Hood destroyed a nuclear power plant in Australia. Now he’s playing the finals in Wimbledon as a second plant opens in Africa.

City of Fire

A careless driver is arrested on the highway and taken into police custody. The Carter family have a wonderful day at Thompson Tower after a short detour to buy a guidebook.

The Imposters

Two crooks attempt to steal priceless military secrets, but are discovered when they can think of no plausible reason to be skulking around a disused mine shaft near the military base.

The Man From M.I.5

Top British agent Jimmy Bondson just about manages to save the world from a fiendish international gang.

Cry Wolf

Two Australian boys play hide and seek in the outback while their father watches his favourite tennis player win a second Wimbledon title.

Danger at Ocean Deep

When the Ocean Pioneer tanker mysteriously explodes in the middle of the sea and Ocean Pioneer II does the same a few months later, the design is thought to be cursed and is scrapped.

Move – and You’re Dead

With no decent challengers to stop him, Victor Gomez wins the Parola Sands Grand Prix .

The Duchess Assignment

The Duchess of Royston falls on hard times after betting on horses named after episodes of her favourite children’s television series.

Brink of Disaster

A crooked investor tries to raise cash to build a monorail. In doing so, he successfully steals all of Lady Penelope’s jewels.

Attack of the Alligators

When a new growth hormone is accidentally released into a river in South America, the research team’s house is besieged by alligators — now ten times their normal size. With nothing to stop them, they trash the house and seek out new prey. They are still alive and well and roaming the jungle.

Martian Invasion

Mr Goldheimer, renowned film director, and winner of 14 prestigious awards for safest film set for “Martian Invasion”, is approached to direct an upcoming film based on the life of Malaysia’s greatest tennis player.

The Cham-Cham

When several aircraft are shot down during live broadcasts of a particular tune, nobody notices a connection. The sabotage continues for six months until the Cass Carnaby Five split up due to personality clashes between the vocalist and the drummer.

Security Hazard

A young boy goes to sleep while his father helps fight a raging fire at a mine in England. He can’t sleep because of the traumatic situation and instead lays awake wishing that Troy Tempest and Stingray would show up at his house to amuse him.

The Abominable Snowman

The Abominable Snowman legend persists, despite the fact that no one has ever seen it. Meanwhile, no one realises that there’s a fortune in priceless Uranium just waiting to be mined in the mountains of the Himalayas.

The Stately Homes Robberies

Lady Penelope’s house is blown up by a fellow aristocrat with a family grudge. Fortunately she was out clothes shopping at the time.

Thunderbirds Are Go

The Hood is enjoying worldwide fame after the film premiere of his life story. Meanwhile, a new spacecraft, Zero-X is destined for Mars carrying a crew of five astronauts. It makes it safely to Mars, makes peaceful contact with a race known as the Mysterons and returns to Earth after a fruitful exchange of technologies.

Atlantic Inferno

World Navy trials of atomic torpedoes inadvertently threaten the lives of the crew of the large offshore Seascape rig. After a rogue torpedo ignites a gas field near the rig, the crew are successfully evacuated by the World Navy.

Path of Destruction

Crablogger pilot Peterson declares that he wouldn’t eat in Sanchez’s “rubbish tip of an eatery” if it were the last place on Earth, and opts for the local chip shop instead. The next morning, the Crablogger has a completely successful test run.

Alias Mr Hackenbacker

François Lemaire has his entire new collection stolen and is left for dead in the desert, where he makes friends with a prairie dog.

Lord Parker’s ‘Oliday

The sleepy Italian village of Monte Bianco is threatened after a damaged solar station reflector looks set to scorch the town when the sun rises. The next morning the town is burned to the ground, but there are no casualties as everyone had the common sense to evacuate during the night.


A manned telecommunications satellite’s orbit is disrupted by the detonation of a rogue unmanned space rocket and it is set on a collision course with an oil refinery. After engineer Loman dies from suffocation in a faulty airlock, DJ Rick O’Shea decides to eat Honey Crunch Krispies as he awaits his own inevitable fate.

Give or Take a Million

Coralville Hospital has a terrible Christmas and two crooks make off with a huge sum of cash on Christmas Eve.

Thunderbird 6

The New World Aircraft Corporation comes up with a few new futuristic aircraft designs, but can’t find anyone to build them.


The absence of International Rescue from the timeline of the future creates some pros and cons: On the negative side, some people would surely perish with no means of rescue. On the plus side, many people may find other means of rescue, and the Hood could become a great tennis star and no longer evil to boot. Unfortunately, it may be some considerable time before anyone attempts to produce The Adventures of The Hood.

So what do you think might happen if there was no International Rescue organisation in the Anderson universe? Leave a comment below!

Written by
Andrew Clements

A writer, film maker and self confessed Gerry Anderson fanatic. Free to good home.

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