Many millennials may not know who Skeletor is, but for those of us who watched He-Man and the Masters of the Universe religiously, Skeletor was the top of the line in cartoon villains. This blue-skinned, yellow-skulled nemesis of Prince Adam and the rest of the citizens of Eternia was hilarious or intimidating, depending on how you looked at him. Either way, Skeletor was entertaining. I mean, come on, he was a muscular, barely-clothed blue guy with a floating skull for a head. Every time he appeared on the screen, he could be entertaining based on his appearance alone.
Luckily for us, Skeletor had the magnetism that such an interesting character could provide aside from his looks. He wanted to conquer the world of Eternia, and to do this, he had to take over Castle Grayskull, the fortress where He-Man, King Randor, and Teela all lived. Within Castle Grayskull, ancient secrets that could grant Skeletor power to rule the planet resided. And if he got the power of Grayskull, Skeletor would be able to rule not just the planet, but the universe as well. Those are some high goals. And though Skeletor never wins (not winning is like his modus operandi), that never stops him from trying.
But with such a visage and such aspirations, it only stands to reason that Skeletor would have some skeletons in his closet. (Skeletons? Skeletor? Get it?) Given that Skeletor began as a toy concept that was later explained in a minicomic, which then turned into a cartoon kids' show, his back story is as convoluted as it is intriguing. There exist several explanations for why he looks the way he does, why he wants what he wants, and how he operates to achieve his goals. I don't see this as a negative. If anything, the changeability of his character makes it possible to have multiple permutations of the same basic villain. (I would compare him to the Joker. Different people's takes on the Joker just make him more fascinating.) With so many interpretations of Skeletor, his past is chock-full of dark secrets. Shall we begin?
25 Naughty Uncle Skeletor
It is a bit of a trope nowadays to have the main villain of an epic be related to the main hero, and Masters of the Universe follows this typical approach to hero-villain relations to the letter. As far back as the early minicomics, Skeletor's relationship to He-Man and King Randor was hinted at. Randor tells Prince Adam the story of his long-lost brother Keldor, and they go on the search for him. Skeletor finds out that they are looking for Keldor and declares that they must be stop. Just before they can figure out where Keldor is, Skeletor foils their plan. He's defeated, but he is able to stop them from learning the truth. That was just crumbs compared to the full loaf of information the 2002 television series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe gave us, where they showed us Skeletor's history as Keldor, half-brother to Randor and uncle to He-Man.
24 Snake Food
Another villain in the Masters of the Universe series is King Hiss. King Hiss, before being trapped in the Void, had done battle with the early inhabitants of Eternia, using magic that was even more powerful than what Skeletor could conjure. King Hiss' army of Snake Men is fiercely loyal to him, which is a far cry from Skeletor's henchmen, who fear him, but could desert him if they feel they're going against stakes that are too high. While Skeletor and King Hiss have teamed up, at one point, they were at odds with each other, and King Hiss had Skeletor consumed by a giant snake. It's all too common for Skeletor to be defeated, but it's not every day that he gets eaten by a snake.
23 The Skull Bone's Connected To The Neck Bone
One of Skeletor's biggest physical appeals is that his skull seems to float above his body without any connecting neck tissues. In the original cartoon series, he wears a hood so often that it looks like his head does not touch his body; it just floats upon his shoulders. This aspect of Skeletor's appearance is actually mutable. In some versions, when Skeletor has his hood drawn back, the lack of a neck is apparent. However, in others, thin, yellow flesh creeps out from underneath his cloak, creating a sallow neck. This change of features is never explained or made official, and it can be a divisive topic. Personally, I prefer a Skeletor without a neck. If you're going to create a villain whose face is a skull, while not go the extra mile and have that skull defy gravity?
22 Half A Sword Is Half The Power
We all know (or at least those of us who watched He-Man and the Masters of the Universe do) that the Power Sword that Prince Adam wields is what allows him to turn into He-Man. "By the power of Grayskull...I HAVE THE POWER!" Those lines are famous to fans of the cartoon, and even people who haven't seen the show, might have heard those words. However, in the minicomics that came with the first line of He-Man toys, the Power Sword is revealed to have two halves, one that Prince Adam has in his possession and another that Skeletor holds. That's right. Skeletor had a Power Sword. In the minicomics, Skeletor and He-Man unite the two halves of the sword to defeat the powerful Trap Jaw. This never happens in the show, and it's actually kind of a shame. It would have been cool.
21 Acid Face
In the 2002 cartoon series, the origin for Skeletor's stunning skeletal looks was revealed. While attacking the Hall of Wisdom, Skeletor, then known as Keldor, fought against Randor. It was a well-matched sword fight, but Randor got the upper hand when he flicked Keldor's sword away from him. Instead of admitting defeat, Keldor reached into an inner pocket and threw a vial of acid at Randor. Randor deflected the acid with his shield, and a lot of acid flecked back onto Keldor's face. He ran away with the help of Evil-Lyn. Keldor's wounds were so grievous, he was apparently close to death. He summoned Hordak, his former mentor, to save his life, and when he emerged from the poof of smoke that had enveloped him, he was Skeletor, complete with floating skull.
20 Injustice: Kings Among Us
Kings can be cruel. With power and authority at their fingertips, it's easy for them to misuse it. In both the Filmation and in the 2002 animated series, Miro seemed a kind leader. However, when the 2012 DC comic rolled out, Masters of the Universe: The Origin of Skeletor, it is shown that while Keldor should have been first in line to the throne of Eternia, Miro chose Randor over Keldor. As we've seen in several versions of Masters of the Universe, Keldor/Skeletor's skin is blue, and this is because he is half Gar. The Gar are a race of blue-skinned humanoids who led a coup against the line of Grayskull, and it is because of this that Miro denies Keldor his birthright.
19 That Schnoz Is Still Working
Skeletor's skull floating notwithstanding, it is agreed that it is in fact a skull perched up on Skeletor's body, a skull made of bone. That means that there is a distinct lack of tissue. So how is it that he can smell? In the 2002 animated series, Skeletor meets Stinkor, a skunk-like human that releases a pungent odor unwillingly. Upon first greeting him, Skeletor makes motions as if the stench has reached him. But how is this possible?! With a skull for a head, he should have no tissues, and humans smell when odors reach sensory cells in tissues within our nostrils. I call bullturkey. Sure, you can say Skeletor is using magic in order to smell, but then why on earth would he make himself smell Stinkor? His name is Stinkor, for crying out loud.
18 Earth-Born Evil
Evil-Lyn is the evil witch who has helped Skeletor in most of his schemes against the heroes of Eternia. She uses her magic to trick the unwary and to imbue Skeletor's abilities with even more power. She appears as a pale-skinned woman, with her skin color sometimes dipping into yellow. Her use of magic makes her seem a part of the world of Eternia, but one version of her backstory has her hail from Earth. Along with Queen Marlena, He-Man's mom and queen of Eternia, Evil-Lyn crashed a human spaceship onto Eternia. Evil-Lyn landed in Infinita, a dark and magical place known to be Skeletor's homeland (in some versions, anyways). Once there, Evil-Lyn's knowledge of science translated into a knowledge of the black arts, and she became the evil Evil-Lyn.
17 Oscar-Worthy Performance
The great Frank Langella is an outstanding actor. He has portrayed former president Richard Nixon and has enacted numerous roles with great aplomb. When I first saw the live-action movie Masters of the Universe, I had no idea who Frank Langella was. I had no clue what his acting pedigree was. I only found out after the fact, and it only reinforced my opinion of Langella's portrayal of Skeletor: it was phenomenal. Out of all the roles in that film, Skeletor came alive under Langella's abilities. He seemed like a tortured villain, who simultaneously relished and loathed his position. If you needed reinforcement that Skeletor is an awesome villain, you need look no further than the fact that Frank freaking Langella played him.
16 Stop Saying I'm Dead
Scare Glow was introduced as an action figure with a description that stated he was an evil ghost of Skeletor's. Because of this phrasing, fans of the series assumed that Skeletor had reached whole new levels of cool. Reaching into time and space, fans believed that Skeletor had plucked the ghost of his dead future-self and called upon it to serve him. That... would have been awesome! Alas, the verity of this fact has been disputed. Canon for the Masters of the Universe story lines have put forth that Scare Glow is the ghost of a being called Karak Nul. Turns out when they said that he was a ghost of Skeletor, they meant that he was a ghost who worked for Skeletor, and that's it. Shame.
15 Cry Havoc
Instead of having a Power Sword like the original minicomics intended for him to have, Skeletor wields a staff that is topped with a ram's head. This staff is called the Havoc Staff, and it is rare that we see Skeletor without it in the Masters of the Universe series. For the most part, the staff is used to channel Skeletor's magic. Kind of like an overgrown wand, Skeletor has shot beams of energy from the staff's head towards his foes. However, he has also used his staff as a melee weapon, swinging it around to hit opponents. (Can't do that with a wand. Beat that, Harry Potter.) While the Havoc Staff does not hold the same power that the imaginatively named Power Sword has, it looks cooler and packs a mean swing.
14 Mean To Teacher
Skeletor has a... complicated relationship with his mentor. Hordak taught Skeletor many things about magic and about just being evil. But I guess it turns out that Skeletor learned a bit too much. Hordak had been trapped in another dimension, and it is through this dimension that he taught Skeletor. When the time was ripe for him to be freed, he called upon his former student to save him. Skeletor decided to let his master languish in his prison dimension for a bit longer. Hordak wasn't too pleased about that, and when he got himself free, he wreaked havoc on He-Man and his crew as well as on Skeletor. Hordak used magic and science in his villainous machinations, which set him apart from the other evil citizens of Eternia.
13 Strange Magic
The world of Eternia was a strange one in that it combined a barbarian mysticism with a science-fiction understanding of space. It was a unique take on a universe, and one that would not seem out of place in the ranks of some modern sci-fi adventures. While not as adept at science as his mentor Hordak, Skeletor could combine magic and science as part of his arsenal against He-Man. He is called an evil sorcerer, which we know to mean magic user, but at the same time, we see him craft machines to aid him in his quests. It's an odd blending, but it works pretty well within the setting. His magical and scientific experience make a formidable villain.
12 Loved And Lost
In the live-action film, an added layer of drama was included in the working relationship between Skeletor and Evil-Lyn. While she assisted him in the Filmation animated series, the movie added a spark of romance between them. It's a love that exists to serve a purpose, as they both have things that they can give to the other, so it is not really a selfless love, and thus peters out by the end of the film. The idea of this relationship persisted into the 2002 animated series. In the cartoon series, Evil-Lyn had fallen in love with Skeletor back when he was Keldor. But when his transformation into Skeletor occurred, his dive into madness and true evil pushed Evil-Lyn away.
11 A Gift From A Hero
In The New Adventures of He-Man, Skeletor and He-Man jet off into space, leaving Eternia and landing on the planet Primus. They get into new adventures on this new planet, as the title clearly suggests, but one of the things that's interesting to note is that Skeletor underwent a wardrobe change. In a minicomic released before the show, it is explained that Skeletor found out that Prince Adam and He-Man were one and the same. At this time, Prince Adam went through a change that would make him He-Man permanently. During this change, energy poured forth from He-Man, catching Skeletor in the blast. In order to treat the wounds he received from this rush of energy, Skeletor had to craft those new duds he sports in The New Adventures of He-Man.
10 The Architecture Of Snake Mountain
Snake Mountain is the iconic home of Skeletor. It is a large mountain fortress that is clearly in the shape of a giant snake. Its origin changes, however. In the 2002 series, the mountain was actually formed when a snake god, Serpos, was bound to the land by the Council of Elders. This later comes into play when King Hiss releases Serpos to wreak havoc on his enemies. In the earlier Filmation series, the creation of Snake Mountain is credited to Skeletor. Using magic, he built the fortress to house his evil minions. This is yet another reason why Skeletor is so awesome. He built his own crib, and it looks foreboding and impressive.
9 Mutant Love
When The New Adventures of He-Man came out, we were treated to a new cast of characters. It was somewhat sad to see our favorite series regulars gone, but new is not necessarily bad. One of the additions we met was Crita, one of the evil Mutants that Skeletor allies himself with in his quest to destroy He-Man. She proves to be one of Skeletor's most valuable allies, and she turns into one of his love interests. He displays flirtatious behavior towards her, though in one particular episode, where he puts Crita's life at risk in order to suit his goals, we all remember that Skeletor only cares about himself.
8 A Brother's Blood
In the Masters of the Universe: The Origin of Skeletor comic, a woeful tale of Skeletor's beginnings was told. An injured Keldor wanders in search of Randor, his brother. Keldor is close to dying, and he sees past visions of injustices that had occurred to him. He finally meets up with his brother Randor, who still loves him, and Keldor stabs him to take his blood, which will help him from dying and enact his final transformation into Skeletor. This comic issue stands out from others because it paints the backstory of Skeletor more grimly than any other before it. Skeletor usually has a tinge of hilarity to him that is missing in this comic, and while that makes it different, it does not make it bad.
7 All By Myself
Villains tread a lonely path, and Skeletor is no exception. While he willingly places himself above his inferiors, thereby isolating himself, even if he didn't, his grotesque facade would probably deter any who would get close to him. He states his loneliness in the most eloquent way possible in the live-action film. "Tell me about the loneliness of the good, He-Man. Is it equal to the loneliness of evil?" This perfectly underscores the distance that Skeletor feels from others. With the scope of his goals, the one person who probably understands him the most is his archenemy, He-Man. We've seen this kind of connection between two dichotomous persons before, and it was worded wonderfully by the talented Frank Langella.
6 Smell The Pretty Flowers
With several iterations of Skeletor in existence, he can appear as quite the imposing figure. Sitting on a throne in Snake Mountain or wielding his Havoc Staff, he looks the part of the threatening villain. That said, he can be the most comical of characters at the same time. His thin, reedy voice coupled with his occasionally inane plans, make him ripe material for meme-gathering. One facet of Skeletor is laughably normal. Apparently, he is allergic to flowers. He-Man, using some hitherto unknown flower transformation powers, turns some monsters of Skeletor's into flowers. Skeletor moans that he is defeated thanks to his intense pollen allergy. Not kidding. A pollen allergy.
5 Dastardly Dimensional Bad Guys
In one of Skeletor's backstories, he is not related to King Randor or Prince Adam. Originally, he was just some demon that came from another dimension, thrust into the strange world of Eternia that was not his own. Skeletor had a race of his own kind back in his own dimension. This ends up being the reason why Skeletor becomes so interested in getting the power of Grayskull. With that power, he could open up another hole to his dimension and bring his people to Eternia. With a larger force behind him, Skeletor could then conquer the whole planet. The Keldor/Randor brotherhood is a great backstory, but we don't think this one is too bad either.
4 Skeletor Blues
If we stick to the Randor/Keldor brotherhood backstory, then Keldor is half Eternian, half Gar. What is Gar, you might ask? I didn't know this until I dug deeper, but the Gar is a race of blue-skinned humanoids who used to have allegiance to King Grayskull. They heard a prophecy that one of Grayskull's descendants would bring death and destruction, so they killed King Grayskull. With that little tidbit in mind, it is a little easier to understand why King Miro might have preferred Randor to Keldor, since Keldor had the blood of the people who had killed Miro's ancestor. But then again, Miro must have lain with a Gar in order to create Keldor in the first place. Hypocrite.
3 Toys Before Television
Unlike most cartoon television shows, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was made after the toys had already been conceived. The toys came before the shows. Each toy was crafted with a story in mind, so making a show from the fictional biographies wasn't too difficult, but with each iteration, more and more lore was brought to the table. Holding these toys, you get the feeling that there is a story behind them. Their armor, features and accessories tell of world that desperately needs to be explored. The minicomics did a great job of giving us a taste of that world, but it is thanks to the animated series that we got a healthy helping of He-Man's universe.
2 Holiday Spirit
Even a maniacal villain such as Skeletor can suffer from a case of Christmas spirit. During a Christmas special, Skeletor meets two human children, and while at first he intends to take them, he ends up feeling sorry for them. He provides them with winter garb to protect them from the cold, and he even takes along with them a Manchine puppy (a mechanical puppy, basically). He asks them questions about Christmas, and he gets some warm-fuzzies in his soul. Skeletor ends up saving the children from Hordak, his mentor, becoming the hero of the day. It was a campy Christmas special, but it was still sweet to see a mechanical puppy lick Skeletor's skull-face.
1 Animal Feelings
Despite the warm feelings Skeletor inspired in the Christmas special, the one person he truly cares about has only ever appeared to be himself. Evil-Lyn has felt his snubs before, and so did Crita of the Evil Mutants. Surprisingly, Skeletor has a soft spot in his heart for his animal companions. He seems genuinely fond of his purple panther, Panthor, in the Filmation animated series. In The New Adventures of He-Man, Skeletor gets another animal companion in the form of Grr, a scaly mutant monster gifted to him by the Evil Mutants. He showed more love to Grr than he did to any other person in the series, including his Mutant allies.