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Franchise / Masters of the Universe

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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  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; it has since been defictionalized as a term (often used derogatorily) for real Wall Street power brokers.


Works in the franchise:


Live-Action Film


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

Also has a character sheet in progress.

Contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Teela — all incarnations. Both the '80s series and the 2002 revival depict Teela as being (seemingly) better in combat than Adam, although 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 that she is one of the best warriors in the King's service, not to mention a reliable ally for the entire team.
    • 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 is 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.
    • Marlena's name can be forgiven as she is from Earth, likewise for her son's name being Adam. The rest have no explanation.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The trope isn't thought about much as Queen Marlena is the only Earthling living in Eternia and one could assume Translation Convention was in play and Marlena simply learned "Eternian" but the few stories showing Eternians interacting with other Earthlings show they actually speak English.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Eternia, of course.
  • Amusing Alien: Orko.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Every episode of all four animated series has a Public Service Announcement at the end to emphasize its Aesop. Interestingly, in the case of the '02 series, the "morals" were shown only in some international releases and didn't air in America.
  • 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.
  • Arm Cannon: Hordak's shapeshifting abilities could turn his arm into a cannon, and one of Trap Jaw's arm-weapons is a cannon.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The Christmas special.
  • Badass Mustache: Man-At-Arms sports one. The mustache itself is a sort of Canon Immigrant, as it was introduced in one of the cartoons and then added to all later toylines and iterations of the franchise.
  • 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.
  • Bat People: The Speleans are a race native to the caverns of Subternia. They are vaguely humanoid with blue skin, wings, and bat-like faces with giant ears that give them excellent hearing. Although some of them have become villains, they're no more inherently evil than humans and their leader, Dactys, is a personal friend to King Randor.
  • Berserk Button: Cringer almost always lives up to his name, but can be the opposite if Adam is in great danger. For example, in the 2002 series, Cringer attacks a Snake Man for trying to eat Adam.
  • 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.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: The Trope Namer. In The New Adventures of He-Man, he would actually say "By the Power of Eternia", though.
  • 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, he did not get a toy until 2015.
    • 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.
    • Prince Adam and his royal family started appearing in DC Comics and the Filmation cartoon versions before being incorporated into the toyline.
    • 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; Seth Green himself wrote the back of the box bios, and references to skit were peppered all over (the Skeletor figure has a missing tooth, for starters).
  • 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.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Skeletor has a Skull for a Head, keeps trying to Take Over the World, and is named Skeletor.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "By the power of Grayskull!"
    • "I have the power!"
  • Cavalry Betrayal
  • 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.
  • Crossover: With Superman in the comics, twice in fact. The first featured the origin of Superman's weakness to magic, and was the first time He-Man was shown having another identity. More recently with the entire DC Universe, ThunderCats (1985), and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
  • 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.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: The 2002 series makes quite a few characters barefoot. 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. To be fair, as mentioned in the Trivia page, his name was originally to be Gorpo, but a big G in his costume would make difficult to mirror the animation cells, which was necessary due to the low budget, so they changed his name to Orko in order to have a symmetrical letter in his costume.
    • Averted in the dub of the 2002 series, which 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 Installment Weirdness:
    • The earliest mini-comics had little in common with either the DC comics or the 1983 cartoon series. Originally there was no Prince Adam or magical transformation, though surprisingly the Sorceress was still involved. He-Man was simply He-Man, a barbarian warrior granted great strength by that harness he wears. Teela (or Tee-La) was depicted as a warrior goddess completely unrelated to Man-at-Arms, and Skeletor was obsessed with making her his bride.
    • And speaking of the DC comics, they themselves were pretty different from the cartoon, though not nearly as much as the original mini-comics.
    • The first wave figures of the toyline apply as well: those primarily familiar with the animated canon may scratch their heads at why Man-At-Arms' figure is clean-shaven, why Teela has that strange snake armor and staff, and why He-Man and Skeletor have one half of the Power Sword each, plus why He-Man has an axe and shield that he never used in the cartoon. Subsequent variants of He-Man dropped the shield and then the axe, but both him and Skeletor kept the split sword in almost all of their original toyline incarnations.
  • Emergency Transformation: Keldor to Skeletor, courtesy of Hordak.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 (fiction) or Roboto (toy gimmick).
    • Tri-Klops to Man-E-Faces.
    • Panthor to Battle Cat.
    • Jitsu to Fisto.
    • Evilseed to Moss Man (or Stinkor to Moss Man, going by the odor gimmick of the toys, and the mini comics depicted this rivalry a few times).
    • 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 Sorcerer: Skeletor, Evil-Lyn and several others.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Averted with Skeletor, whose voice is infamously shrill and grating. Played straight with Beast Man, Tri-Klops, 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 vs. 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.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The franchise has its share of characters with rather unimaginative names which also describe their abilities: Ram-Man rams things. Stinkor emits a horrible stench. And so on.
  • The Fair Folk: Gars seem to qualify.
  • 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."
  • Fanfare
  • Fantastic Racism: Granamyr the dragon doesn't think much of humans, though he does respect He-Man in a You Are a Credit to Your Race sort of way. The Gar people, the blue-skinned people with Pointy Ears that include Keldor and Sy-Klone, were also discriminated against because of their innate magic.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Anwat Gar is/was feudal Japan. Although its name seems inspired by Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Val Staples in the Toys That Made Us episode of "He-Man" even refers to it as "the kitchen sink property".
  • 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.
  • Five-Man Band: Not always a very straight example of this, though you could fit various characters into the token roles:
  • 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.
  • Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: Skeletor at times
  • 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.
  • Growing Muscles Sequence: Averted in the first cartoon because in order to cut animation costs, Adam is already as buff as He-Man, his lighter skin and clothes being the only differences between the two. Played straight in some episodes of the 2002 series, until He-Man gets his armor.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Adam's mother, Queen Marlena, is actually an astronaut from Earth.
    • In the 2002 series, Keldor is Randor's half-brother, and as such is implicitly half Eternian human and half Gar.
  • Happily Adopted: Teela, by Man-at-Arms.
  • Happily Married: King Randor and Queen Marlana.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Half the reason for the Ho Yay.
    "Skeletor to Randor. Skeletor to Randor. Come in, you royal boob!"
  • 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.
  • Her Heart Will Go On: The Sorceress (both versions).
  • Heroic Build: If you think He-Man is an example, wait'll you get a load of King Grayskull.
  • Heroic Fantasy
  • 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 than 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 Witch: Evil-Lyn.
  • Human Alien: Every "human" character is this, except for Queen Marlena in the original series.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Granamyr's general opinion of humans.
  • Hunk: He-Man himself.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: Both 1983 originalnote , and the 2002 revivalnote .
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: When King Hiss turns some Heroic Warriors into Snake Men:
    He-Man: Man-at-arms, fight it!
    Man-at-Arms: I can't... nor do I want to!
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Skeletor tends to do this on a near-daily basis.
    • In the first battle between He-Man and Skeletor of the '02 series, he does this twice.
  • Incapable of Disobeying: Goat Man, while physically powerful, is by nature gentle and peaceful but is an Evil Warrior by dint of being unable to disobey the orders of Beast Man. It's stated that this is more than Beast Man's usual mental control over animals, as Goat Man's entire race are magically bound to be subservient to Beast Man's people.
  • 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.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: In the 2002 series, Teela was voiced by Lisa Ann Beley and Evil-Lyn was voiced by Kathleen Barr. By an amazing coincidence, Beley was also the voice of the heroic Cat Girl Felicia while Barr was the voice of the evil Hot Witch Morrigan from the Darkstalkers television series.
  • The Key Is Behind the Lock: In the 80s DC Comics miniseries, He-Man was questing with Teela for the halves of the Power Sword. Wielding this sword was the only way to enter Castle Grayskull. And yes, the sword was inside the castle.
  • Lady of War: Teela and Evil-Lyn.
  • Large Ham: Skeletor and He-Man.
  • Legacy Character: He-Man, as of the Classics series. Before Prince Adam was given the power sword, Wun-Dar(based on the "Wonder Bread" mail-away action figure) and Oo-Larr(based on the original mini-comic "jungle tribe" concept) held the title in the past.
  • 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.
  • Leotard of Power: All the Action Girls, good or evil.
  • Loincloth: Part of He-Man's outfit. 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.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Teela has a crush on He-Man but dismisses Adam as a lazy coward.
  • 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.
    • Although never covered in the series itself, the later minicomics (which notionally conform 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.
  • 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: 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.
  • Mega Neko: Battle Cat. Also Panthor, Skeletor's pet, er, panther, and the lion steed of King Greyskull in the 2002 revival, who was twice as big as Battle Cat and Panthor combined.
  • Merchandise-Driven: This was the first toyline driven show since Ronald Reagan deregulated FCC rules on shows pimping toylines.
  • 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 their Gadgeteer Genius.
  • Monster-Shaped Mountain: Snake Mountain. Also That's No Moon! in the 2002 reboot.
  • Mordor: The Dark Hemisphere of Eternia.
  • Morph Weapon: Man-E-Faces has a weapon with three modes, much like himself. Staff, gun, and club — respectively well-suited to his human, robot, and monster faces.
  • The Movie: Secret of the Sword, and in Live Action, Masters of the Universe.
    • 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.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Skeletor's origin is all over the place...
    • The original minicomics showed him to be one of an entire race of identical skull-faced demons from another dimension
    • Filmation never bothered to explain much, although we do know that he worked with Hordak when Adora was kidnapped as an infant... whether he was a native of the Etherian dimension or an Eternian who crossed sides to bring the Horde through, however, isn't explained- although it was revealed that Skeletor had worked with the Horde long enough that Horde Prime knew of him.
    • The later minicomics introduced the idea of Randor's half-brother Keldor- Skeletor becomes worried when he learns the heroes are looking for him. The line ended before further comics could continue this story but the writers did confirm that Keldor became Skeletor.
    • 2002 used the Keldor origin, with a twist that he was a member of the blue-skinned Gar race(albeit half-blooded, still related to Randor). Classics would likewise use this same origin story.
  • Mythology Gag: The 2002 Continuity Reboot series has an identical opening narration except that it is cut off by attacking villains:
    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", and a section of armor on his back has a symbol that looks like the Wonder Bread logo.
  • 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.
  • Never Be a Hero
  • 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).
  • Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: The episode "Buzz-Off's Pride" shows this about Buzz-Off.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In the 2002 series, Stratos' voice is plainly based on Sean Connery's — apparently, it was felt that Stratos' beard brought Connery to mind.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Buzz-Off's Queen Bee is pretty busty for an insect lady.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Inverted for Orco, who was an archmage in his home dimension. Too bad magic works differently in He-Man's.
  • Not Blood Related: Teela and her adopted father Man-At-Arms.
  • Obviously Evil: Skeletor and his army in spades. So much so in fact that he even provides the trope picture.
  • One-Man Army: King Miro regards He-Man as this the first time he ever sees him in action.
  • Only Six Faces: This sums up every character's build in the show quite nicely.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Orko in the Filmation series sometimes had an urban and/or Jersey accent. Probably because he was voiced by Filmation producer Lou Scheimer himself, who was from Pittsburgh.
  • Our Kobolds Are Different: In Slave City!, the kobolds are hunched, purple-skinned humanoids with protruding backbones. They are minions of the villain Lodar, and are banished underground alongside him by the heroes.
  • Overtook the Manga: Or, in this case, overtook the mini-comics. Then again, Filmation's show wasn't really based on the mini-comics anyway.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • 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 / He-Man — 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 his hair and skin being darker colored. 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.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Orko lives and breathes this trope.
  • Plucky Girl: Teela.
  • The Power of Acting: Man-E-Faces once received three standing ovations for concurrent performances; suffice it to say, the guy's good.
  • Power Echoes: "I-I HAVE-AVE-AVE THE POWER-ER-ER-ER-ER-ER!!!!!"
  • Power Fist: Sort of with Fisto — yes, he's wearing a glove(at least in the vintage series- it was replaced with a prosthetic in 200X after his real hand was badly broken), but his hand really is that big.
  • Psychological Torment Zone: The Valley of Winds.
  • Punny Name: Yeah... who doesn't have one?
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Hordak's toy colors, Anti Eternia He-Man, Adora before being freed from Horde control, Jitsu & Ninjor.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Skeletor, at least in the 2002 series, and Count Marzo. Tri-Klops has one red eye, one blue eye, and one yellow eye.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: He-Man and Skeletor, who wore red and blue and were on the sides of good and evil respectively.
  • 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.
  • Robo Speak: Roboto. He's a robot. Also Man-E-Faces' robot face.
  • Rogues Gallery: Skeletor and his army. Sometimes, there are episodes that featured villains that weren't part of the toyline, such as Evil Seed.
  • Secret Keeper: Man-At-Arms and Orko for Adam (He-Man) in both series. In the 80's He-Man was one for the Sorceress about being Teela's mother.
    • Secret Secret-Keeper: Several episodes of the 80's hint at Queen Marlena knowing that Prince Adam is He-Man but she doesn't come right out and admit she knows Adam is He-Man.
    • A Time Travel episode of She-Ra: Princess of Power suggests Granamyr learned the secret one thousand years before Adam and Adora were born.
  • She's Got Legs: Teela, Evil-Lyn, and the Sorceress.
  • Shipped in Shackles: In the 2002 series, Kobra Khan is shackled and muzzled when transported. The muzzle is left on in his prison cell due to his venom-spitting abilities.
  • Shout-Out: In the episode, "The Origin of the Sorceress", it featured Morgoth the Terrible and Koduck Ungol as the previous Sorceress.
    • In the episode "The Remedy", the Tacktryl is basically a pink Warlock Come to think of it, that's actually more of a Palette Swap...
    • As part of her origin as an astronaut from Earth, Queen Marlenanote  was given the last name "Glenn".
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Man-At-Arms and Fisto to a certain degree.
  • Single Tear: He-Man sheds one when She-Ra vanishes into the sunset in He-Man and She-Ra: Secret of the Sword.
  • Smug Snake: Skeletor and almost every villain in the series. King Hiss takes this to a literal extent.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Teela is the only girl on Team Good, and Evil-Lyn is the only one on Team Evil.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Syclone, both literally and figuratively.
  • Spider Tank: The Spydor from the original toyline.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Mattel's Big Jim 12" toy line of the 70s, as many character ideas and even several molds were taken from it.
    • Trap Jaw — Iron Jaw(similar heads and robotic arms with attachments)
    • Battle Cat/Panthor — mold originated in Mattel's Tarzan line as a black panther, later used in Big Jim as a tiger
    • Beast Man's whip — whip accessory to The Whip, explaining why Beast Man holds it by the guard as the handle is too big
    • Webstor's grappling hook — used in the Big Jim pirate boat set
    • Zoar/Screeech — bald eagle, explaining why it's so big compared to the other figures
    • Skeletor — skull head and hood are similar to Captain Drake
    • Man-E-Faces — face gimmick from Zorak, helmet and tubes from Vektor
    • Fisto — Boris, similar metal hand with punching gimmick
    • Jitsu — Dr. Steel, Asian karate fighter with metal hand
    • Attak Trak — All Terrain vehicle concept, uses the same threads
    • Talon Figher — Space Spy Vehicle, similar design
  • Split Personality:
    • Cringer/Battle Cat.
    • 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 switches to the beast face, Beast Man dominates him over a long distance.
    • His toy bio said that the human and beast faces would often fight with each other and this would occasionally cause the neutral robotic face to takeover. This was pretty much ignored everywhere else in the franchise.
  • 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 up just in time to save her.
  • Super Hero
  • 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.
  • Take That!: The Christmas Special featured an appearance by new villains in the form of giant evil robots called the Monstroids, who have the ability to transform into aircraft. You can probably guess which competing toy line they were knocking off here.
    • 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.
    • And on the villains' side there was Panthor.
  • Temporary Blindness: Happens to He-Man and Ram-Man in "Not so Blind". Fortunately, a boy who's already blind leads them to safety.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: He-Man goes through this in "The Price of Power" thanks to a Batman Gambit by Skeletor designed to make him think he had accidentally killed someone in order to get him to defeat himself and thereby give up. Unfortunately for Skeletor, not only did Orko overhear the plan but he also underestimated Orko's magical ingenuity in escaping Skeletor's prison. As a result, He-Man came back in a Big Damn Heroes way.
  • 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.
  • Title Theme Tune: Opening theme just has "He-Man!"
  • 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 Sequence: Adam into He-Man.
  • 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.
  • Treasure Chest Cavity: Orko.
  • 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.
  • A Villain Named Khan: Kobra Khan, one of Skeletor's (and later King Hiss') minions.
  • 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.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: He-Man and most of the male characters on the show.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Mekaneck's extendable neck, with Lampshade Hanging on it in the 2002 series. Rattlor has a similar (but more limited) ability, which is a lot cooler given that he's 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.
  • 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.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Ram-Man is afraid of the dark.
    • This pretty much sums up everyone's feelings in the 2002 series' second season, in which they battle the Snake Men.
    • 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 Orko, the resident Squishy Wizard), 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.
  • Worthy Opponent: Teela and Evil-Lyn in the Enemy Mine episode "The Witch and the Warrior".
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: "Kobra" Khan; also Tri-Klops to an extentnote .
  • 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.


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