YMMV / G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero

  • Broken Base: A lot of fans disliked the DiC Entertainment continuation, but there are some who find it a good show on its own even if it doesn't quite live up to the quality of the Sunbow series.
  • Dork Age: Many people feel this way about the DiC Entertainment continuation, following on the Sunbow series with a smaller budget, Art Shift, a new Cobra Commander and a number of other changes that weren't well received.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Senior Cadet Sheila McDermott at the Cobra Academy, a one-episode minor villain. A Dark Action Girl who served as The Dragon to that story's major villain, Commandant McCann, she is popular mainly for providing a name and human face for the regular, usually anonymous Cobra soldiers, who was more of a "realistic" fascist true believer than a megalomaniac supervillain. (Though it probably didn't hurt that hers was an attractive face, either.)
    • And Raven, the Strato-Viper (Cobra Ace Pilot) from one of the last Sunbow episodes. For much the same reasons, really.
  • Evil is Cool: Most Cobra characters, really; even the much-maligned Cobra Commander manages it on occasion. Serpentor might be the one exception.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • The Baroness, obviously.
    • Cadet Sheila McDermott. Especially noteworthy because she completely averts the Custom Uniform of Sexy rule all other female villains in the series fall victim to, and still looks great in a standard Cobra dress uniform.
    • Played with, and to some extent inverted, with Zarana, who is actually more attractive in her undercover identity as classy US Army Sergeant Carol Weedler than as herself.
    • At least some people consider Destro a male example.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: The Cobra-La storyline is often ignored by fans. And sometimes everything that came after it, too.
  • Fridge Horror:
    • When Scarlett and the Duke android fight in "Synthoid Conspiracy". Imagine if they were real people: She knows he's a fake by then, but it's still a young woman beaten up and almost killed by someone who looks, walks and talks exactly like the man she loves, down to the smallest detail. Of course, she's saved before he does any permanent damage to her, but even so, what does that (realistically) do to her psychologically? Will she ever feel safe with Duke again?
    • "Glamour Girls," when Cobra kidnap auditioning young model hopefuls to feed to a latter-day Countess Bathory expy. This is obviously pretty bad in itself, but if one ignores the fantastic life-draining aspect, the episode reads very much like Cobra are running a human trafficking ring.
    • Zarana's life might double as this. See Tear Jerker below.
    • Extensive Enterprises. GI Joe know this massively corrupt Mega Corp. is run by Cobra, but they apparently can't shut it down. Only two explanations for this are possible. Either Washington is so corrupt in this setting that the government protects a company that finances domestic terrorism. Or, even worse: Cobra is so powerful that they can lean on the government to stay out of their business.
    • That last bit must be true, anyway. Cobra semi-regularly launches full-blown military attacks on domestic targets in the CONUS, with air support and armor, and the government is by all accounts either unable or unwilling to stop them. So, imagine what a Crapsack World this universe must be: The United States is subject to air raids by an N.G.O. Superpower of fascist terrorists, like Yemen or Pakistan are to American bombings in real life.
    • The Cobra Academy, which turns out the elite of Cobra's troops. It's run by a dishonorably discharged ex-Marine who is an exemplary soldier and brilliant officer, but who was run out of the Corps because he is also a bully and Sadist who injured, abused and extorted his own classmates as a cadet. Now he's in charge...
    • Really, a lot of Cobra's cartoonish villainy becomes this if one stops to think about it. For example, having unarmed captives fight wild beasts for entertainment? Within the limits of the show (where, of course, nothing graphic happens) this makes for an exciting scene; taken seriously, it means that the Cobra leaders are depraved sadists on par with the nastier Roman emperors, who enjoy seeing people horribly mauled and eaten alive.
    • Lady Jaye is a bastard daughter of the Destro clan, which means she has the taint of the Old Ones In the Blood. Suddenly, all her improbable survivals and extreme physical feats in the series take on a new and more frightening significance...
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The idea of a terrorist N.G.O. Superpower with a faceless leader and a legion of brainwashed fanatics taking over whole countries and terrorizing the world isn't as fictional now as in the 1980s. Granted, Cobra is very different from ISIS thematically, but there are some parallels.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Cobra Commander, in the stories where he went into politics. He generally ran a populist campaign against government corruption and incompetence, offering the people simple and drastic solutions to Washington's shenanigans and ranting against the crooked media and the villainy of the Federal Reserve. Like Pat Buchanan, he was a couple of decades ahead of his times...
  • Inferred Holocaust: Many of Cobra's attacks are of a type that will have lasting consequences, though these are generally not addressed beyond the end of the episode.
    • For just one example, the story where they attacked New York and fired heavy artillery into the inner city, blowing down whole skyscrapers. Since nothing indicated it had been evacuated (with panicking crowds running through the streets), there should be thousands dead as an absolute minimum.
    • "Cobra Stops the World" had them cutting off the US entirely from foreign sources of petroleum, and destroying enough of domestic refining and distribution infrastructure to drive the economy to a standstill. In other words, think 1970s oil crisis on super-steroids. This will totally wreck not only the US, but the global economy for years to come. And depending on just how successful they were—Apparently very much so, since even the military forces were on critical rationing—there might even be starvation and social breakdown in the cities, when food distribution fails for lack of fuel.
  • Moral Event Horizon: All Cobra leaders dive headfirst through it. Their doomsday plots will generally amount to mass genocide, but they're totally ruthless (and often sadistic) about little things, too. In no particular order:
    • Cobra Commander going I Have You Now, My Pretty on Scarlett. Not made any better by the fact that he subsequently feeds her to a thousand tarantulas. And Scarlett is an arachnophobic, too...
    • The Baroness (using mind control) trying to force Scarlett's father to kill her.
    • And with Zartan, the way he treats Zarana. See Tear Jerker, below.
    • Averted on the personal level with Storm Shadow, who is not sadistic and can be a sort of Noble Demon on his better days. However, he's still working for genocidal fascists. In one story, he even tried to destroy his own country, Japan, for them.
    • If they hadn't already qualified separately, Cobra Commander, Destro and the Baroness cross it jointly when they laugh at a young woman about to be eaten by a polar bear.
  • Narm:
  • Nightmare Fuel: Incredible amounts of this, for a series that's retrospectively known for softness and light. One doesn't even need to invoke Fridge Horror, though that adds considerably to the picture.
    • Any story with the synthoids in it. There's Body Horror when they melt, but the mere fact that they are used to impersonate Joes and their family members is much worse. Imagine being beaten and nearly killed by the wonderful man you love? Or your school-age daughter?
    • Cobra has access to mind control technology, and use it liberally. In other words, they practice industrialized Mind Rape. In one episode, they nearly forced Scarlett's father to kill her.
    • And in another episode, they forced a captured pacifist scientist to build a weapon of mass destruction for them. He resisted fiercely until the treatment was complete; afterward, he worked equally diligently to complete it. When Cobra Commander congratulated him on his work, he said nothing, but stared emptily into the camera with silent tears running down his cheeks.
    • In one story, Cobra used remote mind control to give the Joes debilitating nightmares and hallucinations. Imagine a Psycho Psychologist who can sit a continent away, read your subconscious mind and slowly drive you mad with your own worst fears... The base descended into borderline outright insanity through sleep deprivation and mental fatigue.
    • And besides high-tech mind control, there's still plenty of old-fashioned Cold-Blooded Torture. Torture with electric shocks? Threatening the lives of loved ones? Gaslighting? Torturing an arachnophobic girl with spiders? All depicted onscreen. Possibly not quite as horrible as some of the more fantastic things, but given more weight by the fact that these things can actually happen in real life.
    • Cobra also perform experiments on humans. Some are turned into Super Soldiers and some... are turned into other things.
    • There's the fate of the workers in the Cobra labor camp in one episode. They are supervised by robots and AI, who run them like machinery. Any slowing of pace is punished with cattle prods, and workers may rest only at irregular intervals when the computer commands it. Nothing is said about eating. The implication is that this is a death camp, where workers are simply used up and replaced. When the Joes arrive, the inmates are rather traumatized, obviously.
    • And let's not forget the reeducation facility at Spring Field, which is basically the Village on steroids.
    • It isn't brought up very often, but Destro is a worshiper of the Great Old Ones, who leads an ancient evil cult that meets at his castle at every winter solstice to offer up human sacrifices to monsters sleeping deep beneath its dungeons. No, really, this isn't made up. We even get to see it when the chanting cultists slowly lower a victim into the pit wherein the beasts dwell...
    • Per the movie, all of Cobra is an Ancient Conspiracy serving one of these precursor species, who want to wipe out human civilization altogether. This puts a somewhat different spin on their generic Take Over the World villainy.
    • Finally, what was done to Cobra Commander by his non-human superiors when he failed them. Asshole Victim? Big time. Still, the way it's depicted is pure High Octane Nightmare Fuel. He doesn't just slowly lose his humanity, he loses his mind as well.
    Cobra Commander: I was a man. Yes, oh, yes. I was a man. I was man, yes. Was a man...
  • Rooting for the Empire: Despite Cobra being shown to be much more blatantly evil than, say, the original Empire. Because Evil is Cool and gets cooler uniforms than the good guys.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • Zarana in "Computer Complications," who chose Cobra and her screwed-up family over Mainframe, the nice and decent man she fell in love with when she infiltrated GI Joe, because blood is thicker than water. And then ended the episode with Zartan and his pack jeering and laughing at her for ever thinking she could have a normal life with him.
      • It's even worse once you apply some logic to her brief and tragic love affair. Basically, all Mainframe (a Nice Guy, but hardly any sort of alpha male) did was to act with some basic courtesy and decency toward her, and not try to take advantage of her when she was assigned to his shift—And this was enough to make her fall for him. Do we need to spell out the obvious? This girl has spent her entire childhood and youth with brutal outlaw bikers and militia nuts, and she's been so traumatized by this that she responds desperately to any sort of kindness. Puts quite another spin on what seems like rather flat writing, no?
    Mainframe:I wanted to make a pass at you. But you're too decent a lady to treat like that.
    • The ghosts Cobra Commander summons to haunt GI Joe. While this may sound lame, it's played totally serious in the show: The ghosts are bound by his magic, and must do his bidding, remaining for ever in living death doing nothing but killing his enemies. How sad is it? One of them, a "young" American World War I pilot, is so tormented that he has literally gone mad and thinks he is still alive: Cobra Commander is his CO, the GI Joe ground forces he strafes are the Kaiser's men, and the war will be over any day now so he can go home to see his fiancée again... Also possibly qualifies as Nightmare Fuel.
      • At least that guy gets a happy ending after the Joes exorcize him, implying that there was an afterlife where she was waiting for him. Still, he has spent a lifetime as an increasingly mad ghost before that, if he died in 1918. And the other ghosts were hundreds, one literally thousands of years older ...
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/GIJoeARealAmericanHero