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Western Animation: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002)

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is a 2002 Continuity Reboot to the Masters of the Universe franchise, and particularly the 1980's cartoon; it's the first animated adaptation since 1990's ill-fated The New Adventures of He-Man. However, this series is similarly short-lived, and only lasted one and a half seasons before getting cancelled owing to a lack of promotion and poor toy distribution.

For what it's worth, this version was better received by fans than 1990's New Adventures of He-Man was.


Tropes:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Evil-Lyn and Keldor seemed to have a relationship going before Keldor became Skeletor.
  • All the Other Reindeer: Ancient Snakemen think lowly of their modern descendants, except for King Hss, he loves all his children.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Fisto to Man-At-Arms.
  • Arm Cannon: Man-At-Arms wields a cannon on his forearm sometimes.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Odiphus is shown to desperately want to be fighting for the bad guys, which he ultimately does as Stinkor.
  • Autocannibalism: In the last episode, Zodak mystically hypnotizes four of King Hiss' heads into eating the fifth, and main, one (had the show gone on for another season he would have regenerated it).
  • Bad Boss: Skeletor is a terrible boss who constantly punishes and berates his minions while undermining any legitimate accomplishments they may make. The only reason they put up with this treatment is because they know he'd do much, much worse if they talked back.
    • Slightly averted with Stinkor, whom he often praises, even when missions go south. (It didn't keep him from sacrificing him along with the rest of his minions, though. Hence the "slightly".)
    • Later with his Council of Evil, he makes this striking threat to the giants over asking a simple question:
      "You are aware that I sacrificed my evil warriors without a second thought? And them I liked."
    • Hordak vaporizes one of his warriors - not for questioning him, but. for delivering bad news beyond his control that he didn't want to hear.
  • Bifurcated Weapon: Skeletor's sword.
  • Big Bad: Skeletor.
  • Bigger Bad: Hordak was set up as this, but we never got far enough to find out if Horde Prime would exist there or not.
  • Bishounen: Poor Keldor
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • The Sorceress has the same limitations as in the original cartoon series, where she has extraodinary powers but could only use them in Castle Grayskull.
    • The Faceless One is implied to be a powerful practitioner of magic, but can't leave the Temple of the Ram Stone.
  • Body Horror: In "Second Skin," King Hiss uses an ancient artifact to turn people into Snakemen - including Man-At-Arms, Teela and Mekaneck.
    • We don't see much, but what we do see of Keldor's skin melting and his transformation into Skeletor is quite horrifying.
    • Tri-Klops gets his cybernetic eye array busted open to give us a lovely view of cables going into his natural eyesockets.
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: Season 1 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.
  • Broken Aesop: Pretty much the whole episode "The Courage of Adam" from. 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.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: This series explains just what that phrase means.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Characters routinely stand near lava or dangle over it without suffering any ill effect.
  • Crushing Handshake: There is an episode where Man-At-Arms shakes hands with his brother Fisto. When they shake, Fisto's mechanical hand can be heard clanking, implying he's applying more pressure than he needs to. Man at Arms doesn't scream, however.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to the original series.
  • Demoted to Extra: In the second season, 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.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: This happens to Keldor when he first meets Evil-Lyn.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Nearly all of the villains and a few of the heroes. Most, yet not all of the cases are characters who had clawed feet in the original toyline.
  • Dumb Muscle: Ram Man, Clawful, Baddrha, and to a lesser degree Beast Man, Trap-Jaw, and Whiplash. 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: 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.
  • Even Bad Women Love Their Daddies: Evil-Lyn returns her father's sacred magical artifact the Ramstone to him after Skeletor tries to destroy He-Man with it.
  • 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.
  • Evil Uncle: 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: The Evil Warriors and the Snake Men are in much less amicable terms than in the old minicomics.
    • Had the 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.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Anwat Gar is/was feudal Japan.
    • Although its name seems inspired by Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
  • Genre Savvy: Skeletor demonstrates this now and then, especially when berating the failures of his team:
    Trap Jaw: We would've won if He-Man hadn't shown up.
    Skeletor: He-Man always shows up!
  • Heroic Sacrifice: King Grayskull gave his life to banish Hordak.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: In the pilot movie Skeletor pulls this off twice in the same fight.
  • 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 Man Behind the Curtain: Zortek in "Of Machines And Men".
  • Monster Shaped Mountain: Snake Mountain, it was eventually revealed to actually be a giant snake frozen in place when King Hiss and the Snake Men take over.
  • Pet the Dog: Skeletor somehow manages to do this at the same time as he has a Kick the Dog moment. He admits that he actually does like his Evil Warriors (possibly as friends) but says this in the same breath as he admits to betraying them without a second thought. And he only says it as a threat to someone else.
  • Power Incontinence: Poor Stinkor. He's not immune to his own power, either.
  • Race Lift: Zodak is black and Sy-Clone is more or less Asian. In response to the former, the Classics toyline split the difference and released "Zodac" (based on the original) and "Zodak" (based on the '02 interpretation) as separate figures/characters.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Skeletor.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: King Hiss, the Snake-Men and Hordak. Skeletor and his Evil Warriors were like this but break free in the pilot.
  • The Starscream: Evil-Lyn
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Zodak deliberately allows the key to the Snake Men's prison to be stolen so that King Hiss can be released and Zodak can settle his personal vendetta against him.
  • 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, this version would always have enough strength necessary to complete any given task, he just needed to apply it correctly.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: In one episode, Skeletor spends the episode being mocked by his minions, because he is wearing a belt that shocks him whenever he thinks an evil thought, and seemingly can't be removed. When he finally gets the belt off, he gets his revenge by suspending his minions over a tub of lava.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Ram-Man is afraid of the dark. Orko is afraid of dragons, but as anyone who hears him say it replies, "Who isn't?"


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