He-Man and the Masters of the Universe hit television screens in 1983. The series ran for 130 episodes, with two seasons containing 65 episodes each. The series was put in the hands of Filmation Productions, which was an experienced animation studio responsible for many other cartoons, such as The Adventures of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. As with many other cartoon series from the 80s and early 90s, the He-Man series was created in order to sell toys. In fact, the series was created for the original Masters of the Universe toyline created by Mattel. The original toyline did not necessarily focus around He-Man, but we’re sure glad the cartoon did.
I like to think of He-Man as the quintessential 80s cartoon. The very essence of what makes a nostalgic 80s cartoon is found in He-Man. He-Man perfected the formula: one-dimensional characters, a goofy but scary villain, and cheap animation to mass produce several dozen episodes. These qualities may seem quirky to us today, but people who grew up watching He-Man did not really care to notice. He-Man was a strong guy with a cool sword; nothing else mattered.
When you are watching a cartoon as a child, there are a lot of things to overlook. Many themes, jokes, or inappropriate moments can be missed. He-Man is not an exception. After all, He-Man was still a cartoon created by adults. These are 20 things in He-Man that went completely over your head.
20 Familial Bonds
You can never get too much Skeletor. He is He-Man’s nemesis, but he was never too scary in the 80s cartoon. It seems that at times he was more of a comic relief character, and I find him to be funnier than most of the other characters. Sometimes you had yourself questioning if he was actually serious.
That aside, he is still the Evil Lord of Destruction.
Besides being the Evil Lord of Destruction, it was also hinted that Skeletor could be He-Man’s uncle. In the 80s series, it was briefly mentioned that King Randor had a long-lost brother named Keldor. The 2002 series shed some new light onto the topic by revealing Skeletor as Keldor, King Randor’s brother and Prince Adam’s uncle unbeknownst to Prince Adam.
19 The Case Of The Missing Pants
There are some pretty cool characters in the He-Man animated series. Who could not love Prince Adam’s manly pink vest? Or was it a coat? Whatever article of clothing his pink torso was technically called, it was pretty neat. When he transformed into He-Man, most of his clothing was shed. Wouldn’t it make more sense to wear more armor or clothing during battle? Now that I think about it, lack of clothing is actually a trend that was pretty common in the series. First you have He-Man, who was only wearing long boots, red shorts, and an Iron Cross on his chest. Skeletor is actually lacking in the clothing department, too. He wore no shirt and, like He-Man, opted out of wearing pants. The Sorceress of Castle Grayskull also wasn’t fond of pants.
18 He Does One Thing, And He Does It Well
Several He-Man characters can leave one scratching their head in disbelief. Ram Man? What were they thinking? I guess they were determined to create as many characters to make toys out of as possible. Kids will buy anything, and I guess the simpler the concept the better. Ram Man was marketed by Mattel as the “human battering ram” and had a very stout appearance.
Ram Man was equipped with an axe and wore a flat-topped metal helmet presumably to ram into things.
I feel kind of bad for the guy. His whole purpose was to ram his head into things. Even his name is “Ram Man.” His entire identity was focused around bashing his head into things. Give any bulky guy a flat-topped helmet and they could have done his job.
17 The Final Fantasy Connection
Orko was the wizard-looking character that accompanied Prince Adam and Cringer after having saved them from a tar swamp. His wizard looks are fitting because he was actually a very talented wizard, but most of his spells seemed rather useless. This might be in part because Orko was used for comedic relief. In fact, Orko was never a part of the original toy line and was created for the sole purpose of comedic relief. One interesting part about Orko is that he resembles the Black Mage from the Final Fantasy Series. In fact, I have a hard time not seeing the resemblance when I watch He-Man. He-Man came before Final Fantasy by several years, but I cannot help but wonder if the Black Mage was somehow influenced by Orko.
16 Half Human, All Man
He-Man’s alter-ego, Prince Adam, is actually half-human and half-Eternian. Eternia is the main planet in the franchise, and is where all the action takes place. Prince Adam’s father, King Randor is fully Eternian, fitting for the King of the entire planet of Eternia. Prince Adam’s mother was revealed in the episode “Teela’s Quest.” Prince Adam’s mother is Queen Marlena.
Marlena was an astronaut for NASA whose ship crashed on Eternia.
I’m not sure why she was on a spaceship alone, but just go with it. The Masters of the Universe Bible claimed she was traveling with other people who got mixed up with Skeletor after appearing on his planet somehow. Anyway, King Randor and Queen Marlena raised Adam to be smarter, more agile, stronger, and more muscular than any Eternian.
15 The Most Vampiric Villain
Mosquitor is one of the original Mattel toys for the Masters of the Universe toy line. He was first released in 1987, making him one of the rarest toys because of his late arrival. Unfortunately, he never made an appearance in the 1980s cartoon because of this. Besides being a rare figure, there is something about Mosquitor that is very off-putting. Mosquitor has a long proboscis like a mosquito would have, and his eyes are on the side of his head as a result. You cannot actually see his eyes looking from the front. Anatomically, it would be impossible for an upright biped to effectively walk with eyes on the side of its head. He also has a visible pool in his chest, which is pretty creepy.
14 Strength To Rival Them All
If you have read this far, you might already be familiar with good old Ram Man. Ram Man has to wear a ridiculously heavy helmet on his head in order to effectively and safely ram his head into people. There are also a variety of other characters with heavy armor that seems to stay on most of the time. One of the best examples is Man-At-Arms.
Man-At-Arms wears very heavy-looking armor in addition to his helmet.
Think about it: how often do you see Man-At-Arms without his armor? Carrying all of that armor around for so long should have made him stronger than He-Man after a while. Prince Adam/He-Man wears barely any armor, but Man-At-Arms is constantly running around with his heavy armor. I think he was holding back his strength.
13 The Evil Robot He-Man
Faker is the black sheep of the Master of the Universe franchise. Throughout the various different types of media he has appeared in, Faker has had varying interpretations. In the 80s cartoon, Faker appeared in one episode. He looked exactly like He-Man except for glowing eyes and a hollow-sounding voice. Skeletor magically created Faker with relative ease. One can’t help but wonder why Skeletor didn’t try this tactic multiple times. Anyway, the cartoon depiction of Faker was confusing for those who were following the toy line. The original Faker was a robot instead of a magical creation. Faker also looked different than He-Man. He had a blue skin tone and had different armor. He was marketed as the “evil robot of Skeletor” and actually looked pretty off-putting.
12 Sad Tale Of Castle Grayskull
Castle Grayskull is the legendary castle located on a pedestal of bones. It’s a generally creepy looking place. It is also home to The Sorceress of Castle Grayskull and serves as a refuge for He-Man and his friends. It is a mysterious place that is typically viewed from the outside. The mysteries go even farther than face value. Centuries before the events of the 1980s cartoon, there were a series of Great Wars.
During the Great Wars, Eternia was invaded by evil forces, such as King Hiss.
Castle Grayskull was built as the temporary seat of the government of Eternia when the Royal Palace was being occupied by King Hiss. Grayskull was also a center of religion for the worship of Eternia’s Goddess. Castle Grayskull was probably a beautiful place before it became war-torn.
11 Take A Good Look At That Snout
Snout Spout is one of the characters that did not make his cartoon appearance until the She-Ra series. Upon first glance, Snout Spout is just a silly elephant-looking character. Snout Spout is actually a really unnerving character. Snout Spout is a half-human and half-robot with a human body and a metal elephant head. As you would expect from an elephant head, Snout Spout has a large snout. Snout Spout also works as a firefighter, using his snout to his advantage. He stores a pack of water on his back which fuels his snout. He refills his water pack by taking water from rivers and lakes. Like some of the other characters in the series, Snout Spout is severely underdressed. He seems not to be a big fan of pants or shirts.
10 Useless Sword
He-Man’s sword, commonly referred to as the Power Sword or the Sword of Grayskull is the source of He-Man’s power. The Sorceress of Grayskull gifted Prince Adam the Power Sword so he can transform into He-Man and transform his pet tiger, Cringer, into Battle Cat. You know the words He-Man utters when he transforms, “By the power of Grayskull… I have the power!”
Ironically enough, the power of He-Man's sword is never displayed in the cartoon.
Throughout the several dozens of He-Man episodes, he never uses his sword in an offensive manner. You never see him slash at an enemy or chop somebody. He-Man only uses his sword to escape from traps or obstacles. It’s kind of a waste of a sword, if you ask me.
9 Talent On The Team
As with other cartoons and comics, He-Man required a talented team of writers and artists at Filmation. While the animation was very obviously cheap, one cannot deny that the visuals were pretty nice. The co-creators of the DC Animated Universe, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini actually worked at Filmation on He-Man. These talented individuals were responsible for some Batman, Superman, and Justice League cartoons. Bruce Timm was a backround artist and layout designer for He-Man. Paul Dini wrote the scripts for He-Man. Writer J. Michael Straczynski also worked on He-Man as a story editor. Straczynski worked on the 2011 Thor film and the World War Z film. It is without a doubt that the crew working on He-Man at Filmation had fostered some real talent.
8 Oblivious Characters
He-Man’s true identity is Prince Adam, the prince of Eternia. He is the son of King Randor and Queen Marlena. The one stipulation is that most people do not know that He-Man is Prince Adam.
The only people that share his secret are Man-At-Arms, Orko, Cringer, and the Sorceress.
I always found that this was kind of strange. One of the biggest reasons why I am dubious of this is because He-Man looks exactly like Prince Adam, down to the hair and body structure. To make matters worse, King Randor is always lamenting how cowardly and weak his son is. How could King Randor not realize that his hulking blonde son is not the same guy as He-Man? It’s incredibly frustrating how oblivious everyone is.
7 Again With The Weird Characters...
Out of all of the Masters of the Universe characters, Stinkor is probably the most ridiculous character of all time. Let’s start off by giving a brief description of Stinkor’s appearance. Stinkor is black and white, kind of similar to the colors of a skunk. Aside from the colors, Stinkor is a rip-off of the character Mer-Man. Yep, Stinkor is just a recolor. Here’s the strangest part about Stinkor: he stinks. Mattel introduced the Stinkor action figure in 1985 with a comic titled The Stench of Evil. The figure for Stinkor also had a foul scent. I suppose that was his main gimmick and weapon. He used the power of smelling really bad to take down his foes. It is one of the dumbest ideas for an action figure I have ever heard.
6 Skeletor’s Insults
Skeletor is the beloved foe of He-Man. He can be so silly and incompetent that one cannot help but wonder if he is actually being serious or not half the time. If there is one thing that will convince you that Skeletor means serious business, it would be his rude insults and comments. One evil-doer asked Skeletor why he can’t join him and his forces, and Skeletor’s response was, “cause you are a wimp scientist and you could be a wimp villain.”
Skeletor used the word “wimp” multiples times throughout the series.
He has also threatened to turn someone into a suitcase. One time, Skeletor knocked on the head of one of his thugs and said, “just as I suspected, hollow, you metal-munching moron.” Skeletor is quite the wordsmith when it comes to insults.
5 Uncomfortable PSA
A cartoon that aired from the 80s to the early 90s could not be complete without the usual PSAs that immediately followed the end of an episode. You know what I am talking about. Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog had the “Sonic Says” sections, there were Ninja Turtles commercials about smoking, and the list goes on and on. He-Man also had PSAs that are kind of uncomfortable when you go back and watch them. The intentions were pure, and it was a cartoon meant for kids, but it’s hard to take He-Man seriously. How can I take lessons from a guy who runs around with barely any clothes on and keeps a secret from his entire family? Perhaps He-Man should watch a few PSAs himself before trying to dish them out.
4 No Need To Look Further Than His Name
There is nothing exceptional about “Fisto” except for his giant metal fist that he hopefully uses for combat purposes only. Let me make it clear that only one hand has the fist. Seriously, what were they thinking? I know I have said that Stinko and Mosquitor are absurd, but Fisto is definitely in the top 5. Mattel released Fisto for the Masters of the Universe toy line in 1984 as the “heroic master of hand-to-hand combat.”
It is not quite clear whether Fisto’s fist is a metal gauntlet or some sort of cybernetic attachment.
For all we know, Fisto could just be a poorly designed cyborg. I say poorly designed because having one side of his body significantly heavier than the other side would make it impossible to stand properly.
3 Is Teela Stronger?
Teela Na, or the Sorceress of Grayskull, might actually be stronger than He-Man. Without his Sword of Power, He-Man is only wimpy old Prince Adam (ignoring the fact that Prince Adam is ripped). The Sorceress of Grayskull was the one who originally endowed Prince Adam with the Sword of Power, and thus the power to become He-Man. The Sorceress of Grayskull has powerful magical abilities, but can only use them from within the confines of Castle Grayskull for some reason. Outside of Grayskull, the Sorceress can only become a wimpy little falcon that uses telepathy to communicate. That being said, who would win in a fight between the Sorceress and He-Man if they were within the confines of the castle? My bet would be on the Sorceress.
2 Iron Cross?
One of the most questionable parts about He-Man is the symbol that he adorns on his armor. He-Man wears little clothing, but he is at least wearing a chestplate of some kind. On his chest, one can see a large red cross which resembles the German Iron Cross. The Iron Cross was first used in Prussia, and was later used in the German Empire after the unification of Germany in 1871.
The symbol is controversial because it has been used by Germany in both the First World War and the Second World War.
However, there are differences between He-Man’s symbol and the traditional Iron Cross. He-Man’s symbol is red and often has a circle in the middle; the Iron Cross is typically black or gray colored.
1 Cheap Animation
Cheap animation is not all that uncommon in cartoons today. Typically, the best cartoons are those which are painstakingly and meticulously animated frame-by-frame like the old 2D Disney movies. However, one cannot expect that level of animation out of all cartoon production studios, especially those which are trying to act on a budget and sell as much toys as possible. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe had exactly 130 episodes over the course of two years. There would certainly not have been as much content if it had been animated as smoothly as it could have. If you could not notice the cheap animation, try watching it again and paying attention to the movements of the characters. They have only a few keyframes that they recycle over and over again.