The protagonist of the classic ‘80s TV series and toy line He-Man and the Masters of the Universe may be a sword-wielding pretty boy, but everyone knows that the true face of the franchise is He-Man’s archnemesis, Skeletor. Conceptually, Skeletor really was the perfect Saturday morning cartoon villain for the 1980s: he was hilarious and borderline incompetent much of the time, but showed enough flashes of humanity to endear himself to viewers who otherwise would have been put off by his intimidating exterior.
Skeletor made his debut with the first wave of Mattel's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe toy line back in 1982. When it came time for the accompanying animated series, the show's writers only had limited backstory details to work with and had to fill in the blanks as they went. Along with Alan Oppenheimer's now-iconic vocal performance, Skeletor became one of the most popular cartoon characters of the decade, to the point where he's become just as well known as the franchise's main hero (if not more so).
For a character with such simplistic beginnings, Skeletor has morphed into a surprisingly complex antagonist throughout the many different incarnations of He-Man. Here are 25 spooky facts about the Lord of Destruction/Overlord of Evil that you may not be aware of.
25 Skeletor Is Human (Sort Of)
While the name Keldor was only briefly mentioned in the ‘80s minicomics, it wasn’t until the 2002 animated series that we’d find out the truth about King Randor’s long-lost brother.
Skeletor was once a half-human, half-gar warrior.
Gars are a race of blue-skinned humanoids. He led an assault on the Council of Elders, only to be thwarted by Randor. This kicks off a series of events that lead to Keldor becoming Skeletor, which also means that …
24 Skeletor Is He-Man’s Uncle
That’s right: Skeletor’s nephew is also his greatest foe! However, this revelation is complicated by the fact that the Keldor in the 2002 series has no blood relation to the royal family of Eternia. It wasn’t until the 2012 one-shot comic Master of the Universe: The Origin of Skeletor that the connection was explicitly revealed, confirming that He-Man’s nemesis was also his uncle. If you go back and watch Masters of the Universe with this knowledge, it makes the interactions between He-Man and Skeletor much more interesting!
23 Acid Burned Skeletor’s Face Off
At this point, you might be wondering how Keldor actually became the Skeletor we know and love. It was always clear that something grosssh must have happened to Skeletor’s face, but it wasn’t revealed what that was until the revival series.
It turns out there was a strange reason for that.
During Keldor’s battle with Randor, the former attempts to hurl a vial of acid at his opponent, only to have it deflected back into his own face. The acid burned Keldor’s blue skin off, but it wasn’t the only reason for his transformation.
22 ...But A Curse Was Involved Too
Following his confrontation with Randor, Keldor returned to his master Hordak (more on him below), begging for the sorcerer to spare his life. Hordak obliged, turning Keldor’s head into a floating skull and dubbing him “Skeletor.” An alternate origin story was revealed in Masters of the Universe: The Origin of Skeletor. In this version of events, Keldor searches for his brother Randor after the latter is captured by Hordak, leading to a confrontation with Death itself. Keldor defeats the spectre, but the encounter leaves a curse that rots his flesh away. Yuck.
21 Skeletor Originally Worked For Hordak
One of Skeletor’s defining traits is his disdain for his underlings, as evidenced by the frequent (and hilarious) insults he hurls at them. Although he fancies himself the big bad of Eternia, it’s revealed in the He-Man sister series (literally) She-Ra: Princess of Power that Skeletor started out as a pupil of Hordak, an even more powerful sorcerer.
Skeletor was a pupil of Hordak, an even more powerful sorcerer.
Skeletor didn’t take too kindly to being left for dead by his former master and actively works against Hordak when the opportunity presents itself; even going so far as to team up with He-Man to thwart one of his plans.
20 He’s From A Different Universe
Granted, it’s hard to say whether we can even consider this to be canon anymore, but the comic series that accompanied the original Masters of the Universe toyline paints a much different picture of Skeletor’s origins than the one detailed above. This early iteration presented He-Man as the leader of a barbarian jungle tribe and Skeletor as a being from another dimension who ends up in He-Man’s world unintentionally. Needless to say, the franchise and its backstory have changed dramatically over the years.
19 Skeletor May Or May Not Have A Neck
Though his appearance has shifted with various incarnations of the He-Man series, Skeletor’s neck remains a source of mystery. That is to say, it’s unclear whether or not he even has one! In the original Filmation series, Skeletor’s neck area is covered in shadow by his hood and in the rare cases where the hood was down, it was conveniently never far enough to reveal anything.
Skeletor’s neck remains a source of mystery.
The 2002 reboot series went a step further by giving Skeletor a floating head, further complicating matters and leaving the question of his neck up for debate to this day.
18 He Might Also Have Eyes
Even more concerning than Skeletor’s lack of neck is his lack of eyeballs, as it’s unclear how he’s able to see anything (we’re assuming the explanation is “magic”). However, a couple incarnations of Skeletor have had actual eyeballs and the results are just as disturbing as you’d imagine. The short-lived 1990 animated series The New Adventures of He-Man depicted a Skeletor with intact ocular orbs, as did Frank Langella’s live-action version from the 1987 movie Masters of the Universe. Looking at all the incarnations of Skeletor, we much prefer him sans eyes.
17 His Appearance Was Inspired By An Actual Body
As iconic as Skeletor’s appearance is, it’s not all that complex from a conceptual perspective. He’s a muscular skeleton wizard with a funny voice—not exactly the most original character design out there, right? As it turns out, the inspiration for Skeletor’s design runs quite a bit deeper than a concept artist thinking skeletons are cool.
Skeletor was inspired by a real body a concept artist saw as a child.
As revealed by Mattel concept artist and designer Mark Taylor, Skeletor was inspired by a real dead body he saw at Pike Amusement Park as a child. That’s… a much creeper origin story than we were expecting.
16 He Has Hair Sometimes
While the existence of Skeletor’s neck remains a subject of debate, there can be no dispute over the villain’s hairline (or lack of one). Skeletor doesn’t have hair, case closed.
Or is it?
Anyone who watched the singular season of The New Adventures of He-Man knows that the show rebooted Skeletor with strands of scraggly hair (deep-rooted skull follicles?). This was revealed in the episode “The Tornadoes of Zi” when Skeletor’s helmet was destroyed, revealing the frightening locks still clinging to his head; a remnant of his former self.
15 Scare Glow Is NOT Skeletor’s Ghost
When Mattel first introduced the character Scare Glow, there was speculation that he was actually the ghost of Skeletor. This would have been both a cool and puzzling revelation, as Scare Glow was one of Skeletor’s henchmen and if they were one and the same, it would have meant Skeletor summoned his own ghost to serve him.
Mattel confirmed that Scare Glow is the ghost of Karak Nul, not Skeletor.
However, a lack of evidence and the fact that Mattel later confirmed that Scare Glow is the ghost of Karak Nul, not Skeletor, means that this popular fan theory has been thoroughly disproven.
14 He Has Sith-Like Lightning Powers
For a guy who routinely gets foiled by a blond guy with a sword, Skeletor has some pretty impressive abilities. Namely, Skeletor’s status as a master sorcerer gives him some powerful offensive moves. In the original cartoon, Skeletor can fire energy beams from the tips of his fingers and eye sockets, but the live-action 1987 movie took things to the next level by giving him the ability to shoot lightning from his hands, Emperor Palpatine style (Return of the Jedi was released just four years prior, so it’s a safe bet where the Masters of the Universe writers got the idea).
13 His Ability To Speak Makes No Sense
It’s an objective fact that Skeletor has one of the greatest, most iconic voices in animation history and without this feature, it’s hard to imagine he would have had much staying power. As great as Skeletor’s gift of speech is though, it’s not actually clear how he’s able to communicate verbally. He lacks a tongue, lips and (most likely) a neck, and all of those things are kind of required to produce speech. Then again, Skeletor is a sorcerer, so could be using magic to generate his voice, but it’s never been confirmed if this is the case or not.
12 It’s Unclear If He Needs Food And Water
While skeletons don’t require food or water to live (is that the right term?), it’s been well established up to this point that Skeletor is not your typical skeleton. His skull may lack skin, but the rest of his blue-skinned body is made of flesh and blood, and presumably requires sustenance to function. This is one of those dilemmas that can probably be explained away by “magic” but there have been instances where Skeletor has shown sipping on steaming beverages, so clearly he CAN consume food and drink. Whether he needs to is another question altogether.
11 No Nose? No Problem
Yet another peculiarity about Skeletor’s anatomy is that he has a sense of smell despite lacking a nose. Skeletor’s ability to detect scents was confirmed in the episode “The Sweet Smell of Victory” from the rebooted Masters of the Universe animated series. The episode introduces us to Stinkor, a creature mutated by a chemical accident that left him with both increased strength and stench.
Despite lacking a nose, Skeletor has a sense of smell.
When Stinkor approached Skeletor and requested joining his team, the latter covered his face with his hand and dismissed the foul-smelling creature from his presence, thus proving he was able to detect Stinkor’s scent.
10 He’s Allergic To Pollen
Another good indication of Skeletor’s working nasal passages is his pollen allergy. Skeletor’s hay fever is revealed in The New Adventures episode “Adam’s Adventure,” which sees Skeletor trap Prince Adam in order to force him into revealing his alter ego. To get out of the sticky situation, Adam uses some instant plant-growth formula to provide some cover while he transforms, but Skeletor quickly mutates the plants into monsters. Adam then somehow turns the plants into flowers, which sets off Skeletor’s pollen allergy. As far as humiliating defeats go, this has to be one of Skeletor’s worst.
9 He’s Been A Victim Of Discrimination
As we now know, Skeletor was once Keldor, brother of King Randor. What you may not have known is that Keldor was the intended heir to the throne of Eternia, but he was passed over on account of his blue skin. Apparently, there is some deep-rooted prejudice against people with blue skin in Eternia, and this injustice no doubt influenced Keldor/Skeletor’s bitterness towards Randor and Prince Adam. Acid burns, curses, and old fashioned discrimination—Skeletor can hardly be blamed for having a massive chip on his shoulder!
8 He Has A USA Connection
Sure, we could make the connection that both Nixon and Skeletor are conniving, corrupt leaders, but that’s not the link we’re here to discuss today. No, what Skeletor really has in common with the 37th leader of the USA is that both have been played by actor Frank Langella on screen.
Both Nixon and Skeletor have been played by Frank Langella.
Langella played a live-action Skeletor in 1987’s Masters of the Universe and he’s pretty much the only good thing about that movie. Two decades later, Langella played Nixon in Frost/Nixon, a role that earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination.
7 He’s Not Actually A Bumbling Idiot
Skeletor may strike fear in his underlings, but he’s not exactly the most competent boss. The supervillain routinely bungles his schemes and thanks to Allen Oppenheimer’s performance in the original series, he’s practically a walking parody. However, as hilarious as Skeletor is, it’s hard to deny he’s actually a formidable force in his own right.
Skeletor is a brilliant inventor, tactician, and sorcerer.
He’s outclassed only by his overconfidence, as Skeletor routinely proves to be his own worst enemy. The 2002 reboot portrays Skeletor as a much more menacing figure, but even the original version we know and love isn’t quite the bumbling idiot he appears to be.
6 He Loves Animals
Skeletor likes to act like a true villain, but as seen in He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special, he’s really a big softy at heart! The holiday crossover event sees Skeletor capture two children and their dog, with the group forced to take a journey on foot. Despite making a big fuss about being villainous, Skeletor displays his gentler side by protecting his captives from a snow monster, as well as carrying the dog himself and letting it lick his face. Sure, this is just one isolated example but could anyone who keeps a large cat named Panthor as his pet truly dislike animals?
5 Skeletor Drives A Honda
Skeletor is such a beloved character that back in 2014, Honda did a series of commercials with the villain as its spokesman! It was a deliberate bit of self aware, nostalgia-baiting marketing that went so far as to have Skeletor tell viewers that buying a Honda will bring them the same sense of wonder they felt when they got his action figure as children.
Honda did a series of commercials starring Skeletor.
We’re willing to forgive Skeletor for being a corporate sellout at least a little bit because he also got to “take over” the Honda Twitter account, which gave us such masterful tweets as this.
4 His Voice Actor Was In The Original Westworld
Skeletor wouldn’t be half as memorable if it wasn’t for Alan Oppenheimer’s delightful vocal performance. Best known as a voice actor, Oppenheimer’s most famous live action role is probably as the park director for the original Westworld movie from the 1970s. This is the same role held by Anthony Hopkins in HBO’s new version of Westworld and although Oppenheimer hasn’t appeared in the series yet, it would be great to see him return to the franchise he’s best known for outside of He-Man.
3 Skeletor > Superman
Non-canon comic crossover stories offer the chance for characters who otherwise never would have met the chance to interact, often with outright bizarre results. Such is the case with DC Comics Presents #46, which sees the DC and He-Man universes collide. In this story, Skeletor somehow gains control of Superman and forces him to fight He-Man. The pair ended up having a rematch in DC’s Injustice line, though with much more surprising results, as He-Man ends up ending the Man of Steel.
2 Critics In The 1980s Thought He Was Demonic
Although fans know Skeletor to be a loveable rube of a villain, if you looked upon his appearance without any prior knowledge of his persona, you’d probably think he was pretty menacing; maybe even a bit scary. It’s understandable then that the character landed Filmation Studios in a bit of hot water back in the 1980s, with quite a few concerned parents writing in accusing the show of trying to teach children about satan. It wasn’t just Skeletor’s appearance that had some parents up in arms, but his Havoc Staff, which was viewed as a satanic symbol.
1 He’s Desperately Lonely
While the original animated series doesn’t delve too deeply into Skeletor’s mental health, the 1987 Masters of the Universe movie presented the Lord of Destruction as a lonely soul. There's even a point in the movie when Skeletor outright asks He-Man if he is lonely too, lending a nice dose of pathos to the troubled sorcerer.
Skeletor outright asks He-Man if he is lonely too.
There's also Skeletor's depressing backstory to consider, as one could make the argument that the being formerly known as Keldor is a tragic figure who may have actually turned out good if things had gone differently.