Gonna be honest. Thunder and Lightning are my favorite Titans. When I saw them on here, I sucked down on my teeth and just stared in total disbelief.
1. Only used as a plot device to teach Beast Boy and kids a lesson.
Let me break this one down. Beast Boy did something wrong. He hurt Starfire and did not apologize for it nor did he acknowledge he did something wrong by pulling that prank. If it weren’t for Thunder and Lightning coming to town, ignorant of earthly culture and having “fun” their own way, Beast Boy would never have realized what he did was wrong and apologized. This was a valuable lesson for Beast Boy and younger kids watching the episode to learn. It was also deep character development for the brothers, too. Thunder and Lightning, the latter learning this from the former, learned the same lesson and left the episode not as hedonistic, carefree elementals, but as (supposedly-they were never given a communicator at the end) Titans with a mission to protect others with their powers. As for “plot device,” Slade manipulated them to create a massive fire monster to destroy the city. Not only did they have to go through such an emotional time, they had to fight each other and realized there was evil in their once obliviously fun world.
What I can say is this: they needed another episode. Look at Hot Spot and the Hive Five. We saw Hot Spot for five minutes in Winner Take All, but he reappears in Trust, and he became a developed character within the episodes he appeared in. For the Hive Five, we saw Jinx’ transformation from villain to Titan in her episodes, especially in Lightspeed. We even saw the other personalities of the Hive boys’ such as See-More’s crush on Jinx, and Mammoth being somewhat moral as he paid for the candy bar Kid Flash snagged from him. If Thunder and Lightning had another episode somewhere in the series, I’m sure we would have seen a better side to them that would be different from the playful, unknowing twins in their debut episode.
2. Stupid, hedonistic (Lightning).
It’s obvious they aren’t human. They had no idea what fire was. They in the live clouds far away from humanity. Fans speculate they could be demigods, which is a plausible excuse for them, but since they had no backstory like half of the Titans, it’s unknowable to know what Thunder and Lightning are. However, since they aren’t fully human, they don’t know about earthly culture. It shouldn’t be expected of them to know about what’s good and bad on Earth when they have lived their lives in the clouds with only each other apparently. Thunder and Lightning seemed to live by what they knew, and they have changed because of their encounter with Beast Boy and the Titans to more mature, knowledgeable beings.
As for Lightning’s hedonism, that’s true. Lightning loves fun. His goal in life is to have fun and spread that joy with his brother, whom he dearly loves and provokes him only to have as much fun as he has. He does this for Thunder, it seems, and frequently encouraged Thunder to destroy because he did not want Thunder to be left out of the fun before Thunder explains to him that their idea of “fun” is wrong.
3. Ugly (Thunder)
Thunder gets so muck flak for this that it isn’t funny. Fangirls flock to Lightning because he is the charming, better-looking twin with a crafty sneer and explosive personality. On the other hand, Thunder is thoughtful, humble, and wears his heart on his sleeve. Because he has a bulkier build than the noticeably thinner Lightning, fans tend to ignore his existence. I call that bias. Thunder is my favorite Titan because of his personality, not his looks, and he is absolutely adorable in his own, compassionate way.
4. Too forceful (Lightning)
Lightning can be a bully. It’s true. He prods and uses peer pressure to force Thunder to tag along with him, and when Thunder tells him to stop, Lightning nearly annihilates him until Thunder’s reasoning gets the best of him. He is like a hedonistic child at first, but there is a reason for this. Lightning wants Thunder to have fun. He doesn’t want Thunder to think too harshly on things and instead embrace life with as much passion as he does. To Lightning, a little persuasion is fine so long as Thunder is not getting himself into trouble.
When they first encountered the Titans, Robin told them to stop their destruction or they would be taken down. They were obviously shocked by the Titans’ intrusion, and their shock became quick anger when Lightning retorted back and threw the first blow. The brothers were defending their honor, and when they saw Beast Boy and Starfire searching for them, they saw this as a challenge and went on the offensive. They attacked the Titans once more because Slade as the “Old One” told them too because the Titans would destroy their “fun” (fire monster). Throughout, they were defending themselves, their honor, and Slade manipulated them once more.
As for Lightning attacking Thunder, he thought Thunder betrayed him. He was going to finish off Starfire, but Thunder blasted him into a group of trees and looked ready to battle. He was clearly dumbfounded and enraged. His brother betraying him? His brother fighting him? were possible thoughts rushing through his mind when Thunder ordered him to stop, and this led to their confrontation. Lightning’s reasoning is logical, seeing that Thunder had attacked him first when he should have prevented Lightning from hurting Starfire in a vocalized, more thought out manner.
6. Not understanding what they were doing was wrong until Beast Boy told them.
They’re not human. They don’t understand human ways. They didn’t know what FIRE was. How are they supposed to know what’s right and wrong when they didn’t interact with humans? Besides, it’s clear they were raised this way. They thought it was all right to cause chaos and destruction because they saw it as “fun.” No one ever said no to them. No one ever stopped them. They thought their life style was okay and pursued it until a convinced Beast Boy set them straight.
However, we don’t know much about Thunder and Lightning just like how we don’t know much about Argent, Jericho, Pantha, and Bushido. Heck, we don’t even know Mas y Menos’ background. If they were given another episode in season five or were even featured in Winner Take All, there would be a change in Thunder and Lightning. I love these two. They’re my favorite Titans. There was so much left to interpret about their past, personalities, and futures as Titans that I couldn’t help but love them.