Masters of the Universe is a franchise that started with a toyline by Mattel. The title referred to a mystical power hidden under Castle Greyskull. Chosen by the Sorceress of Greyskull to be its guardian, He-Man's strength came from there, channeled through his sword. His arch-nemesis Skeletor possessed a companion sword which, when combined with He-Man's, would open the secrets of Greyskull.An amusing bit of apocrypha states that the franchise was originally intended to be based on the film Conan the Barbarian (1982), but a new plotline and characters were written when marketers realized the folly of basing children's merchandise on a very violent film that most children had not seen.note However, the Conan film got its own toyline from Remco. The franchise became so well known that the stockbroker protagonist of Tom Wolfe's novel The Bonfire of the Vanities identified himself as "a master of the universe" (the character's daughter owned some of the figures) because of the power he held.
Another reboot came along in 2008 in the form of Masters Of The Universe Classics. Primarily a toy line aimed at making modern updates to the vintage toys, there IS a story running through the series, dished out in the character bios, although no major media tie-in has been produced. Despite starting with the goal of updating the original toys, when the She-Ra cast was introduced Mattel stuck to the original animation model sheets instead of the toys, which were vastly different. A few elements from the 2002 series were included, such as the new Count Marzo design, possibly due to the fact it took Mattel several years to negotiate full Filmation rights. The line also includes updates of toys from the New Adventures series.The franchise still has loyal followers, who have created the comprehensive fan site He-Man.org.Also has a character sheet in progress.
Contains examples of:
Action Girl: Teela — all incarnations. Both the '80s series and the 2002 revival shows Teela as being better in combat than Adam as well as being a reliable ally for the entire team. This is complicated by the fact that Adam makes a point of pretending to be a goof-off to protect his secret, but it doesn't change the fact she's one of the best warriors in the King's service.
Evil-Lyn, especially in the 2002 series.
Even the Queen of Eternia, Marlena, gets a moment to flex her abilities. In the '80s series, she's revealed to have been one of Earth's best fighter pilots when she leads a squadron against Skeletor to rescue her kidnapped family. In the 2002 series, she gets to reveal her swordsmanship.
Aerith and Bob: The Classics toyline gives each of the characters a real name. Names like Nikolas Powers and Marlena Glenn coexist with names like Uqquz Zekul Mshqx and Tzzzzt zzz zzTTTzz, and even with names pronounced through eye blinks or claw clicks.
Aliens Speaking English: The trope isn't thought about much as Queen Marlena is the only Earthling living in Eternia and one could assumeTranslation Convention was in play and Marlena simply learned "Eternian" but the few stories showing Eternians interacting with other Earthlings show they actually speak English.
An Aesop: Every episode of every version had one at the end - the '02 series softened the blow by always making it the exact lesson the episode as a whole was meant to teach you, rather than clumsily segueing into "yo, kids — don't smoke." The earlier show had a bad habit of being hard on its aesops - see Broken Aesop below.
Balance Between Good and Evil: While the original toy package labeled him a villain (because every toy had to be classified as one or the other, no exceptions), in the Filmation series, Zodak was portrayed as more of a cosmic agent of balance, favoring the good guys, as they seem more likely to cooperate with his goals. The 2002 reboot has him as an angrier, more selfish character.
Big Bad: Skeletor for the most part. No matter how competent, powerful or arrogant they were shown to be prior, few villains ever successfully challenged Skeletor. Many even served him, despite their goals being incompatible.
Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: Season 1 of the 2002 reboot ends with Skeletor capturing all of the heroic Masters, leaving only Prince Adam (sans Power Sword) to defend Castle Grayskull against Skeletor, all his minions, and nearly every villain from the whole season.
Pretty much the whole episode "The Courage of Adam" from 2002 series. It implies that Adam is useless and really needs his alter ego form to be of any use. It also contradicts many subsequent lessons, about being yourself. Adam is never allowed to develop his own, more realistic character. What we see instead is an instant of little-effort, power-gain Transformation.
The original series was the real king of the Broken Aesop, sometimes making and breaking an Aesop over the span of one or two scenes, or having the And Knowing Is Half the Battle scene clash with the episode — or even the series premise.
For example, that episode that ends with an anti-violence message... after one more episode of an action show.
Three fights in that one. He-Man vs. Demon, He-Man vs. Wizard, Dragon vs. Dragon.
Canon Immigrant: Orko, The Sorceress, and Evil Seed were originally created just for the Filmation cartoon. They all have since been adopted into the He-Man canon — though in Evilseed's case, a toy has yet to be made.
The Sorceress was in the original comics and all. She was just known by a different name: "The Goddess". The particular look of the Sorceress, nevertheless, puts her closer to this trope. "The Goddess" in the mini-comics looked like Teela in her snake armor form. The bird-woman look was from the cartoon, and, like Orko, was incorporated into the toyline and comics later.
Depending on your point of view, the Snake Men and Stinkor may count as well. Absent from the original cartoon (because the show had ended when the Snake Men's toys came out and Stinkor was judged "waaaaay too stupid to use"), they became fairly large parts of the 2002 series. Fellow original toyline characters not featured in the original cartoon Rio-Blast, Clamp Champ, and Snout Spout were integrated into the 2002 canon in its comic and statue lines.
Mo-Larr, Eternian Dentist, oddly enough- he went from being a character in a Robot Chicken sketch to sort of part of official canon with the release the Mo-Larr/Skeletor 2-pack in the current Classics toy line.
Can't Catch Up: The rest of the team when compared to He-Man's borderline God Mode at times, though the show still does a good job of keeping He-Man out of the picture enough to get to know the other characters. The newer series' "The Monster Within" episode tried to show He-Man as being just as vulnerable as the other Masters under the right circumstances; Man-E-Faces got in trouble and He-Man had to save him, but mere minutes later the roles were reversed.
Clark Kenting: Nobody (other than the Sorceress, Man-At-Arms and Orko) spots that Prince Adam is He-Man, even though they have the same build and girly haircut and as Ram Man once pointed out, Prince Adam and He-Man are never seen together.
To be fair, He-Man also has tanned skin, which may help the disguise some. Even so...
Averted in the 2002 reboot by depicting Adam as looking more like He-Man's younger brother. He was half He-Man's size and probably gained at least a foot and a half in height and at least a hundred and fifty pounds of additional muscle after he transforms into He-Man.
Filmation actually wanted to do this from the start, but a limited budget and heavy use of stock footage forced them to give Adam and He-Man the same character design, so it would be easier to re-trace and re-use the animation. Then again, virtually every male character in the original cartoon has the same build (just like the toys), so Adam and He-Man's similar physiques wouldn't have proved much.
Cloning Blues: Skeletor once created an army of clones who were like him except they're smaller. Realizing each clone must be just as greedy as the original, He-Man turned the tables on Skeletor by asking the clones what they'd get from helping Skeletor becoming the ruler of Eternia. As each clone wanted to rule Eternia as much as the original Skeletor wants, they fought among themselves.
Convection Schmonvection: In the 2002 series, characters routinely stand near lava or dangle over it without suffering any ill effect.
Crossover: With Superman, twice in fact (though this was the comics version of He-Man). The first featured the origin of Superman's weakness to magic.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Orko is consistently the comedic relief, but there are times when he demonstrates skill and intelligence to help his friends.
One of the best examples may be in the 2002 series, where Orko interrogates a captured Snake Man. Orko gets the needed information by whipping out a mongoose (a predator of snakes), making it grow and letting it attack the Snake Man's cell.
In the Filmation series, Orko was from an alternate dimension where the rules of magic worked differently. On his home world of Trolla, he was his people's greatest wizard, but on Eternia, he had to re-learn even the most basic spells, or else have them blow up in his face. When Orko was able to make his way back to his own dimension, he utterly dominated Skeletor in a magical duel, leaving his friends in complete awe. It should also be mentioned that Orko saved He-Man's life when they first met, and showed great magical skill in the rescue (until he lost the medallion that allowed him to perform magic competently in Eternia).
In the Classics canon, Orko casts a spell that dissolves the entire Snake Man race.
Crushing Handshake: In the revival cartoon, there is an episode where Man at Arms shakes hands with his brother. When they shake, the brother's mechanical hand can be heard clanking, implying he's applying more pressure than he needs to. Man at Arms doesn't scream, however.
Also, the 2013 DC comis. The fans were not amused, to say the least.
Darkest Hour: "The Price of Power" sees Skeletor arrange one of these for He-Man when he thinks he killed an innocent. He crosses the Despair Event Horizon and gives up being He-Man completely, a misery that is further compounded when Prince Adam learns that Teela will have to go on a suicide mission to stop Skeletor because He-Man is no longer available.
Demoted to Extra: In the second season of the 2002 series, Skeletor and his minions appeared less frequently and had less impact on plots to make room for King Hiss and the Snake Men (Season 2 being half as long as Season 1 likely didn't help, either). Reportedly, this would've been rectified in a third season.
Despair Event Horizon: "The Price of Power" where He-Man makes the decision to give up being He-Man and throw his sword into the bottomless abyss of Greyskull because he thinks he's killed an innocent while fighting Skeletor, resulting in the forces of good being left to fight a battle they can't win except through a suicide mission by one soldier (Teela).
Taken to an extreme with the Snake-Men. Not only did the majority have freakish two-toed feet, but only their king wasn't barefoot... and he wore sandals.
Drop the Hammer: Tytus, a giant twice He-Man's size, wields a similarly gigantic hammer. Hammers were also the preferred weapons of three giants who appeared in the 2002 show.
Dub Name Change: When the Filmation series arrived in Brazil, several characters had their name changed. Skeletor became "Esqueleto" (Brazilian Portuguese for "Skeleton"); Evil-Lyn became "Maligna"; Beast-Man's name was translated; Trap-Jaw became "Mandíbula"; Man-At-Arms became "Mentor" (the name "Duncan" was occasionally used as well); Man-E-Faces became "Multi-faces"; Ram-Man became "Aríete"; Orko became "Gorpo".
Orko's name change deserves special mention during his Forgotten Birthday episode. He got a cake with his name written and the Brazilian dub had Prince Adam comment that "Gorpo"'s name was misspelled.
Surprisingly enough, the 2002 series dub decided to have those characters keep their original names.
Dumb Muscle: Both versions of Ram Man, the original Tri-Klops, 2002 Clawful, Baddrha, and to a lesser degree Grizzlor, Beast Man, Trap-Jaw, Whiplash, and Spikor. Clawful is probably the single most emblematic example — the show's writers mention in DVD commentary that they once drew up a hierarchy of intelligence among the evil Masters, and Clawful was dead last. It's eventually revealed that he's more or less illiterate in his own native language; Evil-Lyn had to translate a message sent by his cousin for him. However, when it comes to physical might, he knows few true equals, and he can outmuscle even He-Man.
Early-Bird Cameo: For the 2002 series, in "Snake Pit" and "Separation" respectively, King Hiss and Hordak make brief, shadowy cameos. Their roles are expanded (particularly the former) in Season 2.
Enemy Mine: Stratos and Trap-Jaw have to work together to survive! It doesn't go well.
Teela and Evil-Lyn, in contrast, are able to successfully work together when stranded in the desert by a common enemy in "The Witch and the Warrior". To the point that both express genuine regret that they're on opposite sides (it doesn't last, but it does lead to an almost friendly goodbye by Evil-Lyn... by Eternian villain standards, anyway).
He-Man and the Sorceress needed Skeletor's help to defeat Evilseed.
Even Bad Women Love Their Daddies: Evil-Lyn in the 2002 series returns her father's sacred magical artifact the Ramstone to him after Skeletor tries to destroy He-Man with it.
Equal Opportunity Evil:Both subverted and played straight. Mostly subverted, as He-man's team consists of Lizardman, Stratos, Buzz-Off, and at least one cyborg, but also sort of played straight when seeing how DIVERSE Skeletor's minions really are.
Even Evil Has Standards: Evil-Lyn is willing to help Skeletor in his attempt for world domination, but she will not betray her father and returns his magical Ramstone back to him when Skeletor loses it.
Also, Evil-Lyn wouldn't betray Skeletor to the Snake Men until one of them revealed to her Skeletor had set her (and his other allies) up to be captured so the heroes would be lured into a false sense of security. Even then, she demanded the one telling her to prove it.
Everybody Do the Endless Loop: Constantly in the Filmation series, making the animation seem extremely robotic most of the time. Worst of all in the first season, where the budget was limited even by Filmation's standards.
Everybody Laughs Ending: Just about every episode ended with Orko screwing up a magic spell and making someone (usually Man-At-Arms) angry, while everybody else laughs.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: In an episode where He-Man and Skeletor are forced into an Enemy Mine situation in order to save Eternia, Skeletor tries in vain to comprehend doing something good for a change. He asks He-Man, "Don't you ever feel like doing something evil?" He-Man answers, "Don't you ever feel like doing something good?"
Another example would be Skeletor trying to understand what Christmas is in the Christmas Special, and then coming down with the Christmas spirit.
"But I don't like to feel good! I like to feel evil!"s!
Evil Counterpart: This series practically personifies this trope. Here are a few examples.
Evil-Lyn to Teela.
Skeletor to King Randor.
Clawful to Ram-Man.
Trap-Jaw to Man-At-Arms.
Tri-Klops to Man-E-Faces.
Panthor to Battle Cat.
Evilseed to Moss Man.
Webstor to Buzz-Off.
Count Marzo to Orko.
Hordak to The Sorceress.
Evil Laugh: Skeletor. In one episode of The New Adventures of He-Man, Skeletor mocks Flogg's halfhearted chuckle and insists he leave these things to the professionals.
Evil Sounds Deep: Averted with Skeletor, whose voice is infamously shrill and grating. Played straight with Beast Man, Tri-Clops, and Trapjaw in the original series.
Played straight with Skeletor in the Italian adaptation of the 2002 version, where he receives a deep, raspy voice.
Evil Twin: Skeletor created one (conveniently named "Faker") to He-Man.
With help from a magic mirror, Skeletor created an evil twin from one of He-Man's allies. The mirror was eventually destroyed by Skeletor's good duplicate.
Evil Uncle: If the comics are to be believed, Skeletor himself.
Word of God indicates that in the 2002 reboot Keldor/Skeletor is actually King Randor's half-brother. Um... on which side of the family are Randor and Adam related to King Greyskull again? Funnily enough, Skeletor doesn't even know Adam's name (he thinks it's "Alan"), probably due to being exiled before he was born.
Evil Versus Evil: Each group of villains will fight each other as well as the Masters. Sometimes, the villains within a group will turn on each other.
Had the 2002 series continued the plot would have eventually involved Hordak returning to Eternia and most of the fighting would be between the Horde and Skeletor's Evil Warriors.
Although its name seems inspired by Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Fan Vid: He-Man is the subject of many a Gag Dub on YouTube; The Skeletor Show is probably the funniest and most popular. In Chilean television, the humor show "Canal Copano" featured a pretty funny parody as well.
"Hi there! I'm Adam, Prince of Eternia, and this is my kitty Mr. Cringerpants — the most cutest kitty in the universe. Fabulous secret powers were revealed to me when I held a-loft my magic sword... and sang."
Fish People: Mer-Man and the other Aquaticans. Mer-Man has an unfortunate speech impediment when speaking on dry land that undercuts his menace quite a bit.
Flower From The Mountain Top: In "The Bitter Rose", Orko does this to prove his love for Dree'Elle. Initially it causes problems for everyone until it's revealed he did something unexpectedly beneficial, after all.
Fog Feet: The Faceless One is always portrayed, both in animation and comic books, as a ghostly figure with mystic smoke around his legs. When he finally received an action figure that had no representation of the smoke, many fans were displeased.
Giant Spider: Webstor is a human-sized being with spider features. In the 2002 series episode "Web of Evil," ambrosia makes him even bigger and more spider-like.
Go Mad from the Revelation: Upon seeing that his handsome face has been reduced to nothing but a skull floating above his shoulders, Keldor/Skeletor cackles madly.
Great Offscreen War: The original minicomics had the Great Wars that caused the devastation of Eternia, which became a Scavenger World (the original reason for the middle ages/Sci fi mix). The 2002 series has the Great Unrest, a war in which Duncan and Randor fought during their youth.
Heart Is an Awesome Power: Even during the '80s run when Stinkor was deemed too ridiculous to use, a supplemental book version of his rejected episode showed this. Stinkor's stench was so powerful that it sapped He-Man's strength and Stinkor almost beat him.
Heroic Sacrifice: King Grayskull choose to fight Hordak knowing that he would not survive the battle.
He's Back: "The Price of Power". When Orko reveals to Prince Adam that Skeletor tricked him into believing he had killed someone, Skeletor really isn't too thrilled to find He-Man comes back.
Hidden Depths: Regardless of continuity, Cringer can be a lot braver than even he thinks he's capable of.
"You got more Battle-Cat in you then you think."
High-Class Glass: After being hit by a "brain ray", Butthead (shut up, we know) starts wearing a monocle. Later he completes the ensemble with a bowler hat and a fancy suit — though he doesn't take off his helmet at any point.
Hot Dad: Though older than most, King Randor caught the eye of some fangirls. Originally he was supposed to be a Badass Grandpa wizard in the beginning, instead of the middle-aged warrior he was in canon.
In the first battle between He-Man and Skeletor of the '02 series, he does this twice.
Incredible Shrinking Man: The result of the Reducto Ray in "No Job Too Small". Also a plot element in "Day of the Machines".
Inept Mage: On Eternia, most people think Orko is this. He's actually from a different dimension where the rules of magic work differently. As a result, his magic struggles on Eternia but what most don't know is that he's a very powerful and well-respected mage back home and that even on Eternia his magic can work properly but only when he's using a special medallion (original series) or a special wand (2002 reboot). In both cases, he lost the artifact saving Prince Adam's life just after arriving on Eternia.
Invincible Hero: Seems to happen with He-Man at times; the only truly desperate fights seem like the ones where he's either not involved or up against an enemy who can really beat him.
Ironic Echo: The 2002 Continuity Reboot starts with Adam doing the Opening Narration, but as soon as he gets to the line, "Fabulous Secrets", he's cut off in mid-sentence as the area he's standing in front of is under attack.
It's the Journey That Counts / Magic Feather: King Grayskull seeks the power to defeat Hordak, and is told by a seer to give up his sword and journey to find a new magic sword. When he does, he finds the seer, who returns Grayskull's sword and tells Grayskull he always had the power, he just needed the trip to focus his abilities.
The Key Is Behind the Lock: In one version of the backstory, Prince Adam was questing with Teela for what would later become his magic sword. Wielding this sword was the only way to enter Castle Grayskull. And yes, the sword was inside the castle.
Legion of Doom: After all of his normal minions are captured by the Masters, Skeletor teams up with every villain not affiliated with him up to that point in the series (Evilseed, Count Marzo, and the three giants. Webstor was there, too, but apparently he just happened to live in one of Snake Mountain's hidden corridors), thus forming the Council of Evil.
On the other hand, perhaps in keeping with the 1970s trend of matching garb for couples, the DC comics◊ had Teela occasionally sporting fur shorts identical to He-Man's with Frazetta style breastplates to maintain (some) modesty.
Loud Gulp: In the very first Masters Of The Universe episode, "Diamond Ray of Disappearance", Teela is confronted by the villain and does a very deep gulp that sounds rather mannish!
Luke, I Am Your Father: Teela, searching for the identity of her true parents, learns — and is promptly made to forget — that the Sorceress of Grayskull is actually her mother, and that at some point in time, she will have to take her place. In the 2002 series, it was planned to have Teela discover this and not be forced to forget, but it got cancelled before that could happen. And for it to be Teela's choice whether she would become the new Sorceress.
Two examples, actually: Although never covered in the series itself, the later minicomics (which notionally conformed to the animated canon) were set to reveal that Skeletor was in fact Keldor, Randor's long-lost brother and thus Adam (and He-Man)'s uncle. In the 2002 reboot, Skeletor was even shown in his Keldor days in the pilot and through flashbacks, but they didn't get around to pointing out the familial relationship (although they probably intended to: the writers discussed the fact that they were half-brothers on the DVD commentary).
It goes much deeper than that in the 2002 reboot: We learn that Fisto is actually Man-At-Arms' brother, and — had the show continued — would've revealed not only that Teela was the Sorceress' daughter (as in the original series, but she wouldn't have forgotten, afterwards), but also that Fisto is her father. (Though there were also vague allusions that Man-At-Arms might be her biological father rather than just adoptive.)
The strange part about that is, in the 2002 series the Sorceress claims her husband (Teela's father?) had died. In the 1983 series Man-At-Arms says he knew Teela's real dad and indicated that he was dead. The comics said that Teela's father was a brave warrior that had died in battle.
Lying Finger Cross: Orko did this in "Disappearing Act" when he promised He-Man, Man-At-Arms and Battlecat he'd clean up his room without magic.
In "Dree Elle's Return", Dree Elle's brother did this when he promised her he'd not play pranks during their stay in Eternia.
Magical Girl Warrior: Oddly enough, this show is fairly close to that particular sub-genre of Magical Girl in spite of its macho overtones. This is partially because Filmation's take on the toyline's mythos incorporated many elements from their earlier hit adaptation of the Captain Marvel Family Comics, Shazam, which are acknowledged as being an Ur Example of the genre.
Male Gaze: A common occurrence when the female cast is involved in the '80s series. How many times has the viewer been treated to Teela's backside, whether she was landing or being crept up upon by a villain?
Actually it goes the other way too. How many times is the camera aimed directly at He-man's chest (but, tragically, almost never at that of any other male characters)? The whole series is much more enjoyable for straight females anyway, what with all the (almost) nude dudes all over the bleeding place.
Meaningful Name / Meaningful Rename: Consider names like Cringer/Battle Cat, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Man-E-Faces, Beast Man and so forth. With this franchise, character backstories tend to fall on the latter trope when it comes to names.
Missing Episode: A 40th episode of the '02 series was scripted, but never animated. A Comic Book Adaptation of it was included as a special feature on the DVD, though. King Hiss is fully healed and Man-At-Arms is turned into a Snakeman again to be theirGadgeteer Genius.
I am Adam, Prince of Eternia, and defender of the secrets of Castle Grayskull. This is Cringer, my "fearless" friend. Fabulous secret pow— (Castle Greyskull gets attacked)
The Classics toyline has released "Wun-Dar", an attempt to make canon the mysterious "Wonder Bread He-Man" with brown hair and different armor (who nobody can prove was actually offered by Wonder Bread). He even comes with an "Eternian baked good".
Skeletor's Bifurcated Weapon. The original He-Man and Skeletor toys each had a sword designed to join together to form a single powerful one.
Name's the Same: Fisto's toy even had to be called "Battle Fist" to avoid confusion with Star Wars' Kit Fisto, despite being created like 20 years earlier.
The Classics line turned Mark Taylor's original concept for Skeletor into a new character named Demo-Man. To avoid confusion, it should be stressed that the "demo" is short for "demon", not "demolitions".
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Skeletor, of course. Oddly, this could apply to both sides. Who would really want to hand around people named Ram-Man, Fisto, or Buzz-Off? The Classics line tries to make this all less silly by giving most of the characters real names and establishing their more familiar monikers as simple aliases.
Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: In one episode, He-Man and Skeletor use ancient artifacts to become, respectively, a samurai barbarian prince and a samurai skeleton wizard. The same episode introduced Sy-Clone, a samurai wind elemental. The original toyline featured Rio Blast, a cyborg cowboy (who admittedly was later introduced sort of into the 2002 continuity).
Man-E-Faces. To be fair, at least in the 2002 series, his faces aren't really a disguise, per se.
Also Faker, who looked exactly like Prince Adam — only blue. It gets worse; in the Filmation cartoon they didn't make him blue. Allegedly they intended to have him become blue in his next appearance... which never ended up happening. Funnily enough, virtually identical events transpired in the '02 show as well.
In the original, Adam/He-Man himself qualified too. His "secret identity" was "concealed" entirely by his wearing different clothes and having a different hairdo. How did nobody manage to notice that Adam looks exactly like He-Man? The 2002 series corrects this by making Adam get much larger and more muscular when he transforms into He-Man.
Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Played completely straight: See the cannibalistic, scheming, and downright evil snake-men; and Whiplash, a crude bully considered an embarrassment and a traitor by the rest of his people.
Actually subvertred with the rest of Whiplash's species. They're more or less portrayed as neutral in the 2002 cartoon; the entire reason they hate Whiplash and consider him a traitor is probably because he's giving the rest of the a bad name.
Averted with Lizard Man, a one-off member of the Heroic Warriors who only ever appeared in the 80s cartoon.
Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Adam uses this "fake identity" along with Obfuscating Stupidity to keep his secret. Done a bit more believably in the newer series, where Adam and He-Man's appearances are drastically different instead of He-Man just being more tanned and having a different attitude.
Man-E-Faces has a human face, a robot face and a beast face, each with an accompanying personality. One episode of the 2002 series has him learning to accept the advantages of his beast personality and overcome the weakness he had with Beast Man's power over animals. In the original, the number of faces he had and their exact unique qualities was never specified.
In a comic story, he covers three guard shifts on a tower by changing face when tired. How the robot face got tired is a mystery, and when he switch to the beast face, Beast Man dominates him over a long distance.
The Starscream: Evil-Lyn is pretty blatant about it. So was Awful Clawful in the original.
Also Kobra Khan in the 2002 series when pretending to align with Skeletor. He was completely loyal to King Hiss, however.
Tri-Klops in one episode of the 2002 series, "Roboto's Gambit". He builds an army of skeleton soldiers that multiply when destroyed, and sets out on his own to prove to Skeletor that they work. He then decides to just take the castle for himself. Of course, once He-Man smashes the remote that controlled them and Skeletor finds out about his plan, he's quick to get back in line.
Strong as They Need to Be: He-Man himself pretty much exemplifies the trope. He's exactly as strong as the plot needs him to be at any given moment. At one point his power is even specifically defined as this: his strength is exactly enough to accomplish whatever task he's attempting at the moment.
Suicide Mission: In "The Price of Power" Teela takes one of these to stop Skeletor from completing a dimensional gate that will bring through an army capable of conquering Eternia. Due to He-Man's unavailability, her chances of coming back alive are zero. Fortunately for her, He-Man turns upjust in time to save her.
Taken for Granite: Snake Face's power. It gets turned against him just one episode after his debut; the writers claim he had to be taken out quickly and permanently because his ability was too powerful.
Take Over the World: The goal of Skeletor and pretty much every villain is to take over Eternia.
And the toyline later included Dragstor, a villain who was also a car.
The toyline also included a Monstroid, but it was nothing like the ones from the special.
Talking Animal: Cringer/Battle Cat in the original series. Averted in the 2002 series.
Talking to Himself: In the 2002 series, Scott McNeil voiced Clawful, Mer-Man, Stratos, Ram Man, and Beast Man; an astonishing five regular characters. While in this series most of the cast voiced at least two people, that's still impressive.
And that's just at the start of the series. Mc Neil later voiced Kobra Khan.
In the original series this was all over the place. Despite the Loads and Loads of Characters there were at most eight actors in a given episode (and in a lot of episodes there were only five). Lou Scheimer (under the name Erik Gunden) voiced the most characters. See the character page for more info.
Team Pet: Cringer/Battle Cat, especially in the '02 series where he can't talk and acts like any normal (though large) feline.
That Man Is Dead: Keldor died when he got a face full of acid. Skeletor was born shortly afterwards. Figuratively speaking, of course. Among Skeletor's minions, Trap-Jaw (whose original identity of Kronis was abandoned after he became a cyborg) and Stinkor (who changed his name after becoming a formidable force for evil) arguably count, as well.
That's No Moon: Snake Mountain is really alive but frozen in place — until King Hiss sets it free.
Took a Level in Badass: There was once a He-Man villain known as Stinkor, a skunk-man who had the power of smelling so horribly he had to use a respirator to keep himself from being knocked out. You would think this is a useless or stupid ability, but the 2002 reboot shows just how deadly this can be.
Transformation Trinket: The Sword of Power. Curiously, Skeletor wields a nearly identical sword in the toyline, which could merge with He-Man's sword and the two were known collectively as the Power Sword when merged, but it lacks this little ability. Skeletor's sword appears only in the children's books and occasionally the mini-comics, and is outright ignored in the cartoon. He did seem to have a duplicate version of the blade in Masters of the Universe, however, but it's so dark it's almost impossible to see if it really is supposed to be the 'dark half' of the Power Sword (referred to as The Sword of Grayskull in the film) or not.
Translator Microbes: Orko's "Translator Spell" is one of the only spells he can cast that actually works as intended.
Trapped In Villainy: In the 2002 version, Skeletor is trapped with a gem that prevented him from plotting evil or even being mean. His followers exacted payback by trapping He-Man with a device preventing He-Man from doing good but He-Man broke free, accidentally freeing Skeletor.
Turn In Your Badge: In "Prince Adam no More", when Skeletor banished Beast-Man from Snake Mountain, he told Beast-Man to turn in his whip and his seat at their meeting room. (Skeletor had the second part done by destroying said seat)
Underwear of Power: All the guys, though He-Man is the only one not to use the "Underwear on the Outside" variety.
Undying Loyalty: Cringer may be a scaredy cat, but he always stands by Adam - even when faced with all of Skeletor's evil warriors and the Council of Evil.
Use Your Head: Ram-Man: "Duuuuuh, good door! Soooo-lid!" Ram Man, as you might expect, loves to rush at things headfirst. Mekaneck also likes to land a good headbutt when he gets the opportunity. The New Adventures of He-Man's unfortunately named Butthead was essentially an evil Ram Man.
Villainous Friendship: Seen with some of Skeletor's henchmen in the Filmation series, oddly enough. It's most obvious with Trap-jaw and Whiplash's friendship (which comes across as Whiplash having a rather one-sided boy crush on Trap-Jaw), but Webstor and Kobra Khan seem to get along quite well also. Tragically, I don't think we'll ever know how Khan really felt about his Snakemen buddies killing Webstor in the 2002 series.
What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Meckanek's extendable neck, with Lampshade Hanging on it in the 2002 series. Mekanek's power is even more pathetic if you know the original toyline, because included therein was Extendar, who could extend his entire body outward, making Mekanek redundant. Rattlor has powers similar to Meckanek's, but they're much better suited to a Snake Man. Additionally, the toyline only character Blast-Atak is a robot who can explode — why go through the trouble of building a sophisticated robot if it's just to have it blow itself up? Snout Spout, meanwhile, could... fire water out of his snout. Stinkor also gets ribbed for the power of "smelling like, really, like, really really bad" — but it's a lot more effective than you might think.
When All You Have Is a Hammer: He-Man is sometimes pretty clever in how he defeats his enemies in the 2002 series but most of his solutions usually involve crushing something since he's not quite as versatile as most of the bad guys. Supposedly, that version would always have enough strength necessary to complete any given task he just needed to apply it correctly.
Whip It Good: Whiplash, as his name implies, is very fond of using his long tail as a whip, but he also has an actual handheld whip that mimics its appearance somewhat (though he uses it less often). Beast Man uses a whip — but rarely as a weapon. Rather, he uses it to tame animals. Two-Badd also uses a whip in one episode.
This pretty much sums up everyone's feelings in the 2002 series Snake-Man season.
Orko is also afraid of dragons in another episode. But to quote the recurring line of the episode, "Who isn't?"
World Half Full: Eternia wouldn't be that bad to live in, but it's still full of crazy things like a malevolent force of nature that hates people for eating plants, even though people need to do so to live.
World of Muscle Men: Virtually all male characters (save for Orco whose sex isn't clearly determinable) look like heavy steroid abusers, with bulging muscles especially in the upper body. This is even more apparent because many characters either wear very little to begin with or have some sort of clothing that fits extremely tight, almost like a coat of paint.
It's possible the toyline dictated this: in the He-Man toyline, every single male having the same muscular body meant that they could produce them all from the same plastic mold.
Your Magic's No Good Here: The magic on Orko's home world Trolla works differently than Eternia. While his spells constantly backfire on Eternia, he's Trolla's greatest wizard, and proved it when He-Man accompanied him there.