This first Animated Series for the Masters of the Universe franchise changed the face of children's television when it debuted in 1983. Filmation produced the show for daily syndication in conjunction with a pre-existing line of Mattel toys and action figures. Its huge success led to dozens of others Merchandise-Driven cartoons in The '80s. It is now being rerun on RTV on Saturday mornings and MeTV on Sunday mornings.
Existing in a world that has futuristic elements alongside sword, legend and lore, the series focuses on Adam, the crown prince of Eternia, who as described in the opening monologue, has the Sword of Power. He can use it to turn into his super-strong, (nigh) invincible, heavily-abbed alter-ego, He-Man. This Transformation Sequence also turned Adam's cowardly talking pet tiger Cringer into the brave and fearsome Battle Cat. Additionally, the Sword of Power was an indestructible Absurdly Sharp Blade that could cut through pretty much anything, an awesomeness made slightly redundant by the fact that He-Man's punch could break anything too.
His primary foe was the evil Skeletor, a skeleton-faced warlord who was part Magic Knight, part cackling lunatic. With the help of a motley crew of heroes, including wise veteran Man-At-Arms, Lady of War Teela, and the bumbling comic relief sorcerer Orko, He-Man battles the forces of Skeletor and other evil enemies.
Of note is that Paul Dini was a member of the writing staff (as was J. Michael Straczynski), and Bruce Timm did layouts; both would later go on to be main figures in Tiny Toon Adventures and Batman: The Animated Series. (Also of note: Haim Saban and Shuki Levy were involved in the original production of the show as well,note also going on to make Power Rangers).
The show left syndication and was shown on the USA Network, which back then was known for being the "used car" network for its reliance on reruns.
There are about three further animated adaptations of the franchise, first two of which were short-lived, the third is currently in limbo. Masters of the Universe: Revelation was designed to be a direct continuation of the show, only with more modern sensibilities.
She-Ra: Princess of Power was a Spin-Off, although it wasn't quite as successful. But it did get a reboot in the form of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, which was far better received.
This cartoon contains examples of:
- Acid-Trip Dimension: In one episode, Skeletor erases He-Man's memory and sends him to a world that looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.
- Action Girl: Every major female character can fight, with magic, with force of arms, or both.
- Adaptation Title Change: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was adapted from the Masters of the Universe toyline.
- Adaptational Heroism: In the first wave of action figures which preceded the cartoon, Zodac was clearly marketed as a villain, his package reading "Evil Cosmic Enforcer", and presenting the usual finned forearms and webbed feet of the line's Evil Warriors figures. In the series, however, he is upgraded to a sort of neutral overseer of things that is actually mostly good, and even gets to deliver the And Knowing Is Half the Battle lesson in two of the episodes. Re-releases of the figure had him packaged simply as "Cosmic Enforcer".
- Adaptational Nice Guy: Skeletor in most continuities is a truly malevolent warlord with several hundreds of atrocities under his belt and generally shows no redeeming qualities of any kind. This Skeletor, on the other hand, is still an ambitious warlord but never quite goes as far as his other counterparts have gone, shows a lot of standards such as caring for children and is generally shown to have the capacity to be a good guy deep down.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: In "The Rainbow Warrior", at one point, Skeletor refers to both Beast Man and Trap Jaw as "pathetic pitiful pinheads".
- Adorable Abomination: The episode "Daimar the Demon" features Orko summoning a new friend to play with named Daimar, who is an adorable little demon creature. That is, until he emerges out of his cocoon.
- All There in the Manual: Evil-Lyn was an astronaut from Earth named Evelyn. This is only mentioned in the series' bible.
- Always Need What You Gave Up: In "The Problem with Power", He-Man (who's been tricked into thinking he killed someone) surrenders The Power of Grayskull. Then he learns what's really going on and he needs to regain the power to save Teela, so he goes on a quest to get it back.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Every episode has a Public Service Announcement at the end to emphasize its Aesop. One notable bit had He-Man and She-Ra address the problem of sexual abuse. After the episode ran, at least one kid was able to come forward and admit to his or her parents about being sexually abused.
- Animation Bump: Various scenes animated by storyboard artist Tom Sitonote , including Evilseed's death in "Evilseed" and He-Man's gate ripping scene from "Castle of Heroes". Which look really out of place in a series that otherwise relied heavily on Stock Footage and still frames.
- Anti-Magic: The Sword of Power deflects and dispels magic attacks.
- Arm Cannon: Many characters (such as Man-At-Arms, Teela and Stratos) use wrist-mounted lasers.
- Big Bad: Skeletor, for the most part, obviously, but some individual episodes have shown some of the other Evil Warriors to be one in their own right, such as Mer-Man in "City Beneath the Sea". Count Marzo has also filled this role from time to time.
- Blessed with Suck: The Sorceress in the Filmation series. Blessed with the ability to discern almost all the things happening on Eternia, having extremely powerful magic at her command... and yet, she was unable to leave the Castle without being reduced to flying around as Zoar the Falcon with very low-level telepathy. One imagines the limitations got quite frustrating. The very few times she was able to overcome these limitations were explicitly stated to be special circumstances.
- Borrowed Catchphrase: In "Evil-Lyn's Plot", Skeletor uses an amulet of Coridite to become just as strong as He-Man. When he powers up, he borrows He-Man's phrase with, "Now, I have the power!"
- Break Out the Museum Piece: In "The Rainbow Warrior," Queen Marlena breaks her former ship (and her uniform) out of the castle display room to engage Hordak's forces.
- Bridal Carry: He-Man does this to Teela near the end of "The Problem with Power" just after saving her from the mesotronic bomb that she was going to use to blow up the dimensional gate, which ended up being blown up by the bomb anyway.
- Broken Aesop: 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.
- A perfect example of this is in the first episode The And Knowing Is Half the Battle message is to work hard and not take shortcuts. In the episode Skeletor tries to take over the palace using The Lost Diamond Ray of Disappearance. In the message following the episode He-Man chews out Skeletor because he tried to take a shortcut instead of working hard. Take a shortcut?! Skeletor literally found an item the rest of Eternia called the LOST, meaning THEY COULDN'T FIND IT and yet he did.
- But Now I Must Go:
- The Sorceress does this in her origin episode after she drives both The Evil Hordenote and the evil wizard Morgoth out of Eternia. Justified, since she has to return to Castle Grayskull in order to take over for the previous Sorceress.
- In "Search For the Past", right after they rescue King Randor's father King Miro from imprisonment, Randor offers his father the kingdom back. Miro declines because he has been imprisoned for so many years and doesn't know anything about the kingdom anymore. Miro says he must go on a long journey to relearn everything about the kingdom and its people.
- By the Power of Grayskull!: As indicated in the page quote, this is the Trope Namer.
- Call-Back: While she is a supporting character in this series, Queen Marlena (AKA: Marlena Glenn) being an astronaut from Earth is one to Blackstar, where the title character is also an astronaut from Earth. They even ended up on Earth the same way (well, mainly).
- Campfire Character Exploration: In one episode, Teela and Evil-Lyn find themselves having to travel together. Around the campfire, Evil-Lyn reveals she has no real loyalty to Skeletor. She just wants power.
- "Not so fast, Skeletor!"
- "Curse you, He-Man!"
- Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Several episodes had titles that followed this pattern.
- Childhood Friends: Adam and Teela grew up together, to the point that they're Like Brother and Sister. They're close enough that Teela doesn't even bother addressing Adam with anywhere near the same reverence that she shows King Randor or Queen Marlene.
- Notably, this trope is the reason Teela is so upset when in "Into The Abyss" Adam (mentally exhausted from his dual identity) curtly dismisses her with "Thank you, Captain, that will be all." It's also why Cringer pulls a What the Hell, Hero? on Adam. For his part, Adam realises he's been a huge jerk and immediately apologises the next time he sees her.
- Childhood Friend Romance: The pitched but ultimately rejected sequel series would've revealed that Adam and Teela had a child together.
- Christmas Episode: Yes, there was one, and it had a Trapped in Another World plot featuring a pair of young urchins from Earth. The children actually explain what Christmas is to Orko but that part gets the fade-off. The Nostalgia Critic gave it a look, and in his opinion it was as cheesy as he had expected. But then, it was probably assumed that this was commonly known information that would just bore the audience.
- Clark Kenting: The only difference between Prince Adam and his He-Man mode are a more revealing outfit and a tannote .
- Cloning Blues: In the episode, "Here, There, Skeletors everywhere", Skeletor creates an army of clones which he calls "Skeletoids" who were like him except 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.
- Covered in Mud: He-Man frequently threw his opponents into conveniently-placed mudholes or bodies of water. A soft landing, to be sure, but not very dignified. His superhero sister She-Ra did it too.
- Cowardly Lion: Cringer freely admits he really doesn't like transforming into Battle-Cat and charging into battle, but he's still glad that he can since the alternative is Adam going off as He-Man on his own without his best friend Cringer at his side.
- Crystal Ball: These are extremely popular with wizards. In fact, both Skeletor and Evil-Lyn have crystal balls on the ends of their Magic Staff and Magic Wand respectively. Plus, Skeletor has a larger domed one set into the conference table in Snake Mountain. The Sorceress of Greyskull uses a Magic Mirror instead.
- Darkest Hour: "The Problem With 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 an extremely dangerous mission to stop Skeletor because He-Man is no longer available.
- Deadpan Snarker: Skeletor."I could write a book about what you don't know!"
- Deal with the Devil: This is the main plot of the aptly named episode, "Bargain With Evil".
- Depending on the Writer: A lot of details can change between episodes, but Orko's magic almost hits Continuity Snarl levels. In one episode, it's stated that his magic doesn't work because he lost a crystal amulet he used to focus and stabilize his magic when he got trapped on Eternia. In another episode, his magical issues are directly linked to the different physical laws between his dimension and Eternia's—in his own dimension, he was a master wizard, but on Eternia, he can barely make it work. In yet another episode, he's stated to have always been a bumbling and incompetent excuse for a mage, even on Trolla.
- Despair Event Horizon: "The Problem With 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 an extremely dangerous mission by one soldier (Teela).
- Do An Immelmann Turn: Queen Marlena gets to show off her Top Gun skills in "The Rainbow Warrior".
- Don't Try This at Home: One episode's And Knowing Is Half the Battle segment features Ram-Man advising kids to never use their heads to hit things like he does.
- The Dreaded: Skeletor himself, despite his reputation out of universe as being an ineffectual villain. This was par for the course for 80s villains.
- Early-Bird Cameo:
- In "Origin of the Sorceress", the flashback shows an evil group of conquerors who are clearly meant to be the Evil Horde; their distinctive "bat" symbol can be seen. The episode also mentions two Swords of Power, one of them being She-Ra's Sword of Protection.
- "The Time Wheel" features an early bird musical cameo. A music cue from She-Ra's series can be heard in one scene. This later happens in a few other later second season episodes.
- The Echoer: Subverted with Hollywog. He is a "bird" (for the Etherians, although he is furry and with bat wings) that repeats whatever other people say, frequently using this to communicate himself. He seems unable to say anything on his own excepting "holy", until near the end, when the Sorceress offers him the chance to be free instead of returning to Beast Man. Surprisingly, Holly speaks with his own voice for the first time: "Do you take me for a dunce? I want to stay with you," making everybody laugh.
- Eldritch Abomination: One-shot guest-villain Sh'Gora is a surprisingly hard-core example.
- Enemy Mine: Aside from the times Skeletor and He-Man would have to work together to defeat a bigger threat, one episode ("The Witch and the Warrior") ended up with a de-powered Evil-Lyn trapped in the desert with Teela and having to work with her to get back to the villain who had her powers and was threatening Eternia. The two work surprisingly well together (lampshaded by both the women at different points in the episode), and it's one of the better episodes of the series because of it.
- Episode Title Card
- Everybody Do the Endless Loop: Constantly in this, and other 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.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: The Vine Jungle.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Skeletor has had to deal with this problem at least twice:
- 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 want to feel good! I want to feel evil!"
- Evil Is Not a Toy: A recurring motif throughout the series. The heroes and the villains occasionally fall victim to power they thought they could control, only to find it controlling them.
- The Exact Center of Everything: Eternia is the location where the Big Bang occurred. As a result, it still contains part of its power in the form of the Starseed, an artifact granting omnipotence to its holder.
- Expanded Universe: Of a sort. There were a number of storybooks published by Western Publishing under the Golden label (which is now owned by Random House)note which tell original stories not featured in the show.
- Exposed to the Elements: Everyone in "The Region of Ice", but especially Teela. Snowflake's skimpy outfit is justified as she has An Ice Person powers and cannot stand heat.
- Expository Theme Tune: The Spanish opening song's lyrics sang by Chilean rockstar Capitán Nemo pretty much explains the general plot.
- Expy: Prankster the Trollan is a magic-wielding troublemaker who will be forced to return to his home dimension if he says his hard-to-pronounce name (Wokrapanwooki) aloud - similar to Mr. Mxyzptlk.
- 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.
- Foreshadowing: In "Origin of the Sorceress", the background of a flashback scene features She-ra's sword. It also features the first arrival of Horde scouts on Etheria, who were summoned by the evil wizard Morgoth. It was from these events that eventually led to Hordak's invasion years later, along with Princess Adora's kidnapping as an infant.note
- Forgotten Birthday: In one episode everyone seems to have forgotten Orko's birthday, and Orko decides to run away. In the end, Orko is told that he should have known that everyone would remember his birthday.
- Friend of Masked Self: Prince Adam claims to know He-Man, and often pretends to cowardly flee from a dangerous situation to tell He-Man that everyone else needs help. In reality, he's going for a secluded place to transform.
- Golden Snitch: In "The Games", Fisto and Spikor enter a game where they can win points by pressing the buttons on spheres hidden by the Bendari. Each one of the yellow spheres gives 100 points and the red one gives 2000 points. After He-Man takes Fisto's place, he finds the red one, turning the last yellow one into a tie-breaker.
- Grand Romantic Gesture: Orko does this in the episode "The Bitter Rose" using the Flower From The Mountain Top method.
- Green Aesop: Zodac's end-of-episode message in "Quest for He-Man". Adam and Teela also give one at the end of "Island of Fear".
- Green Thumb: Moss Man, who can turn into whatever plants are nearby. Plus, when shaking hands with Melaktha in The Ancient Mirror of Avathar, he accidentally gives him plant seedsnote .
- Hammerspace: Adam's sword is frequently nowhere to be seen until he pulls it out from his back to transform.
- Hell: The Realm of Demons mentioned in a couple episodes. Granamyr tends to send people who annoy him there to get rid of them.
- Heroic Build: The adult male characters, not counting a few monsters or cyborgs. The adult female characters have Impossible Hourglass Figures.
- Hypocritical Humor: A perfect, albeit, likely unintentional example is in the Christmas Special with She-Ra when they take a jab at Transformers.Swiftwind: "They're changing into other forms! What evil robots!"note
- Implied Love Interest: In several episodes, it was shown that both He-Man and Teela have a bit of a mutual attraction. One example is in the episode "The Problem With Power", where He-Man expresses enough concern for Teela that she flitratiously observes, "Why, He-Man, I didn't know you cared!" before he picks her up in a Bridal Carry and offers to carry her home. The episode ends with a bemused Teela claiming she's fine, and when He-Man suggests carrying her part of the way home, she points out what good that would do as He-Man continues making excuses.
- It should be pointed out that in the pitched sequel series, the main character He-Ro would've been Adam and Teela's son.
- I Was Beaten by a Girl: Skeletor in Secret of the Sword."A female He-Man! This is the worst day of my life!"
- It's a Wonderful Plot: This happens to Orko in "The Rarest Gift of All".
- Know When to Fold 'Em: Skeletor generally cut and run the moment he realised he'd lost his advantage.
- Legion of Doom: The Evil Warriors are led by Skeletor, but they are more or less distinct and independent in their agendas.
- Lighter and Softer: In comparison to the earlier comics, which were pretty much "Conan-lite" stories with actual physical confrontations, devoid of comic relief characters, and with villains that were fairly competent and imposing.
- Limited Animation: This was made by Filmation after all, so this shouldn't be unexpected.
- Living MacGuffin: "The Starchild."
- Loud Gulp: In the very first (chronological) 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!
- Lying Finger Cross:
- Orko in "Disappearing Act" when he promised He-Man, Man-At-Arms and Battlecat he'd clean up his room without magic.
- Dree Elle's brother Yuckers in "Dree Elle's Return" when he promised her he'd not play pranks during their stay in Eternia.
- Magic Fire: Granamyr, Oldest and Wisest of Dragons, draws his immense magical power from his firepit. Notably the fire in the pit cannot simply be put out to depower him, an enemy has to use a shard of infinite ice to do so. Likewise starting it up again requires a piece of first fire to do so, though apparently it can be stoked with normal wood like any other flame.
- Magic Staff:
- Skeletor's weapon is his Havoc Staff, which seems to be an Amplifier Artifact for his magic, as well as containing a small Crystal Ball in the back of the ram's skull at the head of the staff, which Skeletor uses to scry on people.
- The titular staff in "The Shaping Staff", which can be used to inflict Forced Transformation on people.
- Modest Royalty: Prince Adam wears no Requisite Royal Regalia of any kind, and his parents wear only simple crowns.
- Moral Guardians: Like just about every bit of Western (especially American) animation during the 80s, this is the reason why despite his power and abilities Skeletor is defeated by He-Man episode after episode. Like his contemporaries he couldn't even achieve temporary victories unless pulling an Enemy Mine with He-Man or in Evil vs. Evil scenarios.
- Music Soothes the Savage Beast: "Song of Celice" is all about this, involving a monster in the caverns deep beneath a city which must be kept asleep with Celice's song or else it will destroy the city with earthquakes. He-Man has to face it on his own when Skeletor and Evil-Lyn kidnap and hypnotize Celice to get her to use her powers on the Sorceress.
- Named by the Adaptation: King Randor and Queen Marlena originally appeared in the pre-Filmation minicomics, but originally didn't have specific names.
- No Antagonist: The episode "Not So Blind", about He-Man and Ram-Man taking a blind child on an adventure, features no villains at all.
- Not Me This Time:
- Played straight in "Evilseed", in which the eponymous villain was responsible for the trouble but He-Man initially thought it was Skeletor.
- Subverted in "Teela's Triumph". Skeletor developed a ray that sends people to another dimension and tested it on a falcon. Unbeknownst to him, the falcon was the Sorceress so, when He-Man accused Skeletor of being responsible for her disappearance, He-Man was right but Skeletor didn't know.
- One-Man Army: He-Man, of course. He isn't The Most Powerful Man in the Universe for nothing. In fact, even King Miro (from "Search for the Past") describes him this way:"By the ancients! He fights like an entire army!"
- Oscar Bait: Or, in this case, Emmy Bait. Animator Tom Tataranowicz, who came up with the idea for the Unexpectedly Dark Episode "The Problem With Power", openly admitted in the DVD commentary that he did so to enforce this trope, as episodes in which someone died always won Emmys. It didn't work, though the episode is considered to be one of the very best of the show.
- Poke the Poodle: In a break from the show's usual formula of Skeletor's elaborate schemes of trying to take over Eternia, Skeletor plots to ruin a circus in "The Greatest Show On Eternia".
- Power Echoes: As He-Man, Adam's voice gains a booming echoing effect, even when speaking softly.
- Redemption Promotion: NOTHING ever goes right for Skeletor, unless he's in an Enemy Mine with He-Man, or when he actually does decide to some good in the Christmas Special.
- Royal Brat: Prince Adam's visiting cousin Lady Edwina is a stuck-up young woman who drops Stealth Insults about her uncle's kingdom the second she arrives, refers to Man-At-Arms and Teela as "the help", and brushes off Orko until she learns he once had a magical medallion that helped him cast much more effective spells, which piques her interest. After that, she friendlies up to him so she can try to sway him into selfishly using the medallion to wish the two of the out of the castle so they can use the amulet together—and abandon He-Man in the middle of a fight. Orko doesn't bite, realizing that all she cares about is what the medallion can do, which she'd likely take for herself once they were gone. By the end of the episode, Randor's banished her from the kingdom until she shapes up.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: King Randor judges disputes and otherwise governs his realm. He is also quite competent in a fight. Queen Marlena is a former astronaut from Earth who also presumably had prior military fighter training, as she is an Ace Pilot who mops the floor with Skeletor and his fleet of robot drones.
- In the flashback sequence of Secret Of The Sword, she shows she doesn't even need a fighter to be a badass, and gets to inflict a judo flip on Skeletor.
- Prince Adam is a subversion. He-Man is a Badass, but his cover identity verges on Non-Action Guy. However, this is likely part of his Clark Kenting; in "Secret of the Sword", he gets into a fight with Horde Warriors on Etheria, and performs an expert martial arts throw on one of them, stating he's glad Teela taught him the move.
- Samus Is a Girl: Subverted. No one seems surprised that the Ace Pilot in "The Rainbow Warrior" is a woman — this is a world of Action Girls, after all — but only her husband expects it to be the queen.
- Schizo Tech: While technology on Eternia is very advanced, it does not seem to be universally available. Common people often live in communities that look like they are in Medieval Stasis, while places like the Royal Palace and Snake Mountain are high-tech enclaves.
- Science Fantasy: Eternia is a world where advanced technology and powerful magic exist side-by-side, and many people use both.
- Sdrawkcab Speech: In "A Friend In Need," the incantation that Ileena is given to summon Jarvan through her ring is "em ot emoc."note
- Secret Identity: Adam has to keep his identity as He-Man secret from just about everyone save Cringer, Orko, Man-At-Arms and the Sorceress. Several episodes show his unhappiness with this arrangement, since it forces Adam to come off as being lazy and/or cowardly to his loved ones. "Prince Adam No More", for example, shows how bitterly hurt he is that his own father considers him a less-than-reliable layabout and would much prefer having He-Man around.
- Secret Identity Vocal Shift: He-Man, and later She-Ra, have deeper, more resonant, voices than they do as Adam and Adora.
- Secret-Keeper: Cringer, Man-At-Arms and Orko know Adam is He-Man, but none of the other heroes do. Not even Adam's childhood friend and Man-At-Arms' adopted daughter Teela.
- Secret Test of Character: Granamyr's initial "mistrust" of He-Man in his first appearance is Retconed as this by his later appearance in She-Ra's series where he reads She-Ra's mind when she meets him on Eternia one thousand years before the events of either series, discovering that She-Ra is Adora and that He-Man is Adam.
- Series Continuity Error: In "Castle of Heroes", Skeletor refers to Clawful as his "right-hand man", even though it's usually Beast Man who has this role. Another episode, "Revenge is Never Sweet", has Skeletor referring to Evil-Lyn as his "right hand of evil".
- Queen Marlena's last name Glenn is likely one to real life astronaut John Glenn.
- One episode of the show is called "Fraidy Cat" (the name of a previous Filmation seriesnote )
- One episode features an attempt by an ancient sorcerer named Morgoth to escape his dimensional prison.
- Stock Footage: All the time. Following Filmation's Signature Style, a catalog of animation was created first with stories written around what actions they had.
- Straw Feminist: One of the kingdoms outside of Eternia's borders was run by a queen that hated men and imprisoned every male in the kingdom in the underground mines. Adam is captured and sent into slavery. Teela is not thrilled by this in the least.
- Sucksessor: Several episodes have King Randor fear that Adam will wind up like this, since he seems to not really care for any of his training or lessons.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: In episode "Into the Abyss", Adam, fed up with Teela's snarky pushing for training and the demands of a double identity, cuts her off sharply and dismisses her like any other servant of the kingdom talking snap to the heir to the throne. She even lampshades this to her father, to which Duncan reminds her he is the Prince of Eternia. Cringer of all people lets Adam know how little he thinks of Adam doing this, and Adam admits it wasn't his best moment. Teela for her part felt especially betrayed, feeling they'd been raised like brother and sister. This turns out to be the solution to the argument, but seeing any member of the royal family assert privilege was kind of jarring.
- Transformation Sequence: "BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL!!!"
- Unexpectedly Dark Episode: The majority of the show is campy and hard to take seriously even in its more serious moments, and then "The Problem With Power" revolves around Skeletor tricking He-Man into thinking he killed an innocent man during a fight, causing Adam to give up his power until he learned what happened. Originally the episode would've been even darker, with He-Man actually killing an innocent bystander by accident.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Several plots involve Orko (or another innocent soul) trying to do something and accidentally touching off a catastrophe.
- Very Special Episode:
- "Not So Blind", which features a one time character named Loos, who is blind. At one point, He-Man and Ram Man become blind while taking Loos on an adventure. At one point, Loos talks about how blind people aren't that much different from people who can see.
- "A Friend in Need" is the obligatory "Drugs are bad, m'kay?" one. A friend of Teela regrets not being strong enough, so she starts taking a potion from a villain disguised as an old woman, which increases her strength. Of course, she finds herself hooked to taking the potion, while the villain keeps raising the price of the doses...
- Villain Exclusivity Clause: Skeletor is the villain in almost every episode of the series (not counting crossovers and Enemy Mine situations).
- What Happened to the Mouse?: There were several Evil Warriors (Strongarm, Jitsu and Fang Man) who each appeared in one episode early in the series and were then never seen again.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The heroes smash apart the obviously sentient Monstroids in the Christmas special.
- What Year Is This?: It is apparently sometime in the future, as Earth has interstellar spaceships which seem to match Eternian equivalents based on the Rainbow Explorer's effectiveness in combat against Skeletor's ships. However, the Christmas Episode left some confusion as to this point.
- Whole-Plot Reference:
- The aptly named second season episode "Beauty and the Beast".
- Ditto for the equally aptly named second season episode "The Arena".
- World of Muscle Men: Even many of the Squishy Wizard types look like they live in the gym.
- You Are Not Ready: In "Teela's Quest", Teela finds out that the Sorceress is her mother but had to have this wiped from her memory as it wasn't the right time for her to find this out.