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

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He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (also known as Masters of the Universe vs. The Snake Men) is a 2002 Continuity Reboot to the Masters of the Universe franchise, and particularly the 1980's cartoon; it's the first animated adaptation since 1990's ill-fated The New Adventures of He-Man.

However, this series was similarly short-lived, and only lasted one and a half seasons before getting cancelled owing to a lack of promotion and poor toy distribution.


  • 0% Approval Rating: The Evil Warriors can't stand their boss Skeletor. Evil-Lyn most frequently plots against him, but given the chance any of the others would ditch him if given the chance; they just put up with his abuse because they are too afraid to openly defy him. His Council of Evil actually likes him at first, until Skeletor states he has no intention of sharing the spoils of conquering Grayskull, and Count Marzo's failed attack demonstrates that there is nothing they can do about it.
  • Action Dad: Duncan, Teela's father, is often out battling beside her and the other Masters.
    • King Randor also has his moments. He was a Frontline General before he became king and he's shown a life of politics hasn't dulled his skills.
  • Action Girl: Teela.
  • An Aesop: Much like the 1980s cartoon, a lesson is given at the end of each episode.
  • Alien Sky: Gold-colored sky with a gas giant and two moons; yup, definitely not Earth.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Evil-Lyn and Keldor seemed to have a relationship going before Keldor became Skeletor.
  • All the Other Reindeer: Ancient Snakemen (especially General Rattlor) think lowly of their modern descendants, but ironically, King Hssss lacks this bias; he loves all his children. Hssss makes a point of praising modern Snakeman Kobra Khan when he succeeds in a mission, which irks the "true" Snakemen to no end.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Fisto to Man-At-Arms.
  • Arm Cannon: Man-At-Arms wields a cannon on his forearm sometimes.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Odiphus is shown to desperately want to be fighting for the bad guys, which he ultimately does as Stinkor.
  • Autocannibalism: In the last episode, Zodak mystically hypnotizes four of King Hssss's heads into eating the fifth, and main, one. (Had the show gone on for another season, Hssss would have regenerated it.)
  • Bad Boss: Skeletor is a terrible boss who constantly punishes and berates his minions while undermining any legitimate accomplishments they may make. The only reason they put up with this treatment is because they know he'd do much, much worse if they talked back.
    • Slightly averted with Stinkor, whom he often praises, even when missions go south. (It didn't keep him from sacrificing him along with the rest of his minions, though. Hence the "slightly".)
    • Later with his Council of Evil, he makes this striking threat to the giants over asking a simple question:
      "You are aware that I sacrificed my evil warriors without a second thought? And them I liked."
    • Hordak vaporizes one of his warriors - not for questioning him, but for delivering bad news beyond his control that he didn't want to hear.
    • Subverted with King Hssss, who actually cares for his subordinates, and is never seen abusing them. Note that this only applies to actual Snake Men, as Evil-Lyn finds out the hard way.
  • Badass Boast: The Pilot Movie has back-to-back examples.
    Skeletor: Surrender? Have you the faintest inkling to whom you speak? I am Skeletor, overlord of evil!
    He-Man: [deflects his blast] And I am He-Man, defender of Eternia!
    • Stratos gets one of his own in Episode 5:
    Stratos: I won't be the one who starts this war. But I will be the one who finishes it.
  • Badass Normal: Duncan and Teela, two non-powered humans in a group where everyone else has super powers. Yet they are two of the most capable and formidable Heroic Warriors after He-Man himself.
  • Batman Gambit: Skeletor has one in spades in "The Council of Evil" two-parter. He sends all of his Evil Warriors to a region he knows the Masters regularly patrol, leading to them being captured. Once the Masters let down their guard, he sends his new team to capture them one-by-one. He also counts on He-Man rushing to Snake Mountain to try to rescue them.
    • "Sky War" has two. Skeletor instigates a war between Stratos and Buzz-Off's people in order to steal ambrosia and gain power to kill He-Man. During their fight, however, He-Man goads Skeletor into exerting himself—knowing that the ambrosia will wear off quicker if he does.
  • Battle Cry: "By the power of Grayskull! I HAVE THE POWEEEEEEEERRRRRRR!"
  • The Beastmaster: Beast Man as always. He's even able to use this ability in "The Monster Within" to take control of Man-E-Faces' monster mode until he later overcomes it. However, Beast Man is unable to control dragons.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: "Dragon's Brood" opens with Adam freeing a creature from a collapsed cave, and it turns out to be a dragon. During a later fight, the dragon smells He-Man and realizes he's Adam, so it spares him and later helps fight off the Evil Warriors.
  • Berserk Button: Cringer is a scaredy cat, but as Tung Lashor found out, he won't tolerate anyone threatening Adam.
  • Bifurcated Weapon: Skeletor's sword.
  • Big Bad: Skeletor.
    • Season 2 saw King Hssss and his army of Snakemen take the position of the greatest threat to Eternia, knocking Skeletor and his Evil Warriors out of the box.
    • Had the show continued, viewers would have seen Hordak and his Evil Horde take the top spot.
  • Big Good: King Grayskull was this, figuratively and literally. He was known for his honorable, benevolent and peace-loving nature, and was absolutely massive in size, towering over the Sorceress and nearly every other humanoid character in the series.
    • The Sorceress serves as this in the present day: many episodes begin with her warning He-Man of a potential danger or threat that he must overcome, and she oftentimes must assist him in doing so with
  • Bittersweet Ending: "The Ties That Bind" ends with Skeletor's forces again driven off, but it's an emotional hassle for Teela and the Sorceress. Also, Skeletor learns for certain about the power hidden inside Castle Grayskull.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • The Sorceress has the same limitations as in the original cartoon series, where she has extraordinary powers but can only use them within the confines of Castle Grayskull. "Out of the Past" showed she does have some power outside the castle, but it's greatly diminished.
    • The Faceless One is implied to be a powerful practitioner of magic, but can't leave the Temple of the Ram Stone.
  • Body Horror:
    • In "Second Skin," King Hssss uses an ancient artifact to turn people into Snakemen - including Man-At-Arms, Teela and Mekaneck.
    • We don't see much, but what we do see of Keldor's skin melting and his transformation into Skeletor is quite horrifying.
    • Tri-Klops gets his cybernetic eye array busted open in one episode to give us a lovely view of cables going into his natural eyesockets.
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: Season 1 ends with Skeletor capturing all of the heroic Masters, leaving only Prince Adam (sans Power Sword) to defend Castle Grayskull against Skeletor, all his minions, and nearly every villain from the whole season.
  • Broken Aesop: Pretty much the whole episode "The Courage of Adam". Though the intent may have been a lesson about biting off more than you can chew, or letting go of your own ego (Adam is upset that He-Man is showered with praise while everyone believes he is a coward) it implies that Adam is useless and really needs his alter ego form to be of any use. It also contradicts many subsequent lessons, about being yourself.
  • Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: In "The Courage of Adam," Skeletor kidnaps Adam to use as bait for He-Man.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: This series explains just what that phrase means.
  • Canon Character All Along: King Grayskull is shown to command a band of warriors similar to the Masters, though most of them stay in the background, don't get named onscreen, and seem unimportant. When Grayskull dies, his power goes into them, transforming them into the Council of Elders from the Pilot Movie.
  • Cat Folk: The Quadians.
  • Cardboard Prison: "Trust" opens with Tri-Klops breaking Mer-Man out of custody. Reportedly, this is not a unique occurrence. The plot of the episode is about obtaining a stronger metal to build cells out of.
  • Catchphrase: Man-At-Arms' cry of, "Battle positions!" This is even echoed in the episode, "The Island," by his old mentor Dekker.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: He-Man just can't help himself. He'll even save the villains.
    Man-At-Arms: You saved Skeletor because you could do nothing else, because you have a good heart.
  • Continuity Cameo: Grizzlor, Leech, and Mantenna appear in "The Power of Grayskull" as Hordak's generals.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Characters routinely stand near lava or dangle over it without suffering any ill effect.
  • Crushing Handshake: There is an episode where Man-At-Arms shakes hands with his brother Fisto. When they shake, Fisto's mechanical hand can be heard clanking, implying he's applying more pressure than he needs to. Man-At-Arms doesn't scream (or even wince), however.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to the original series.
  • Darkest Hour: Skeletor's Council of Evil plan was as grim as it gets: the Masters are locked up in Snake Mountain, Adam loses his Power Sword, and all of the villains are poised to invade Castle Grayskull.
  • Deal with the Devil: "The Price of Deceit" reveals that after his last encounter with Randor, Keldor is taken to Hordak's sanctuary. Keldor begs his old mentor to save his life, which leads to him being remade as Skeletor. Hordak warns Keldor this would come at a price, which he comes to collect in "The Power of Grayskull" by getting Skeletor to free him.
  • Demoted to Extra: In the second season, Skeletor and his minions appear less frequently and have less impact on plots to make room for King Hssss and the Snake Men. (Season 2 being half as long as Season 1 likely didn't help, either.) Reportedly, this would've been rectified in a third season.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: This happens to Keldor when he first meets Evil-Lyn.
  • Distress Ball: Tossed around a lot in the series so He-Man has someone to save.
  • Distressed Dude:
    • A natural conclusion to the above mentioned trope. One notable example is the episode "The Mystery of Anwat Gar," in which the otherwise competent Man-At-Arms has to be rescued FIVE TIMES by He-man.
    • Battlecat/Cringer is often knocked out or incapacitated by the threat of the week.
    • In "Council of Evil Part One," Mekaneck is captured and put out as bait for He-man.
  • The Dreaded: Hordak. In "The Power of Grayskull" when he attempts to force Skeletor to free him by threatening to take back the life he gave him, it's made clear Skeletor does not want Hordak free. King Hssss, who usurps Skeletor as the main villain in season 2, is shown to likewise be terrified of him. He puts his Evil Plan to revive Serpos on hold when he learns Evil-Lyn is trying to free Hordak because he considers his old adversary that big a threat to his plans. In the same episode, Evil-Lyn actually has to coerce Count Marzo into helping with her plan to free Hordak because Marzo believes freeing Hordak is mistake.
  • Due to the Dead: The flashbacks in "The Power of Grayskull" end with the King's Last Request and death. As King Grayskull's wife takes his sword into the castle, the newly formed Council of Elders bow as she walks by.
  • Dumb Muscle: Ram Man, Clawful, Baddrha, and to a lesser degree Beast Man, Trap-Jaw, and Whiplash. Clawful is probably the single most emblematic example — the show's writers mention in DVD commentary that they once drew up a hierarchy of intelligence among the evil Masters, and Clawful was dead last. It's eventually revealed that he's more or less illiterate in his own native language; Evil-Lyn had to translate a message sent by his cousin for him. However, when it comes to physical might, he knows few true equals, and he can even give He-Man a run for his money in a physical struggle.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Happens a few times, with each example getting more screen-time later:
    • "Snake Pit" actually has three. The main example is Season 2 Big Bad King Hssss, who appears briefly in shadow in the flashback and later the pit. Webstor also makes a brief cameo in a cavern of Snake Mountain—setting up his appearance at the end of the season. A little fellow by the name of Odiphus appears in a cell, and he'll return in "The Sweet Smell of Victory" to become Stinkor.
    • Hordak makes a shadowy cameo in "Separation" when the Sorceress explains the origin of the dark hemisphere.
    • The Sorceress's husband in "Out of the Past" is deliberately shown covered in bandages. Nothing was ever revealed onscreen, but Word of God says he's Fisto.
  • Eldritch Abomination: In "The Price of Deceit," Skeletor summons one from the Forsaken Realm.
  • Enemy Mine: Stratos and Trap-Jaw have to work together to survive! It doesn't go well.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: In "The Power of Grayskull", Skeletor is ordered by Hordak to go to his temple and free him from Despondos. Skeletor's in no position to refuse since the temple allows Hordak to kill Skeletor at a whim. When he arrives at the temple, He-Man is there to bar his path. He-Man defiantly states that once the temple is destroyed, Hordak will never be able to escape. Skeletor pauses, notes that He-Man's made an excellent point, and destroys the temple himself.
  • Even Bad Women Love Their Daddies: Evil-Lyn returns her father's sacred magical artifact the Ramstone to him after Skeletor tries to destroy He-Man with it.
    Evil-Lyn: What I do for family...
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Evil-Lyn is willing to help Skeletor in his attempt for world domination, but she will not betray her father and returns his magical Ramstone back to him when Skeletor loses it. Also, Evil-Lyn at first refused betray Skeletor to the Snake Men, until Kobra Khan reveals to her that Skeletor had set her (and his other allies) up to be captured so the heroes would be lured into a false sense of security. Even then, she demanded that Khan provide proof.
    • Count Marzo is prepared to work with a monster like Skeletor when it suits him, but he is horrified by Evil-Lyn trying to free Hordak. Based on how Hordak treats his followers, his fears appear well founded.
    • Hordak had one moment in the flashbacks when he used the Spell of Separation to divide the world between the light and dark hemisphere. The spell worked too well and nearly ripped the entire planet in half, forcing him to stop it so he wouldn't die along with the rest of the planet.
    • Kobra Khan, unlike the rest of the Snake Men, really does not like the concept of eating their enemies, and he strives to avoid having to do so. Though this is only exclusive to sentient beings as he has no qualms eating mindless animals.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Evil-Lyn helps release King Hssss and the rest of the Snake Men in hopes of a reward. This nearly gets her eaten until she tells him about the power of the Elders in Castle Grayskull.
    • Count Marzo is aware of this trope when Evil-Lyn attempts the same plan with Hordak. Based on how we see Hordak treats his underlings, he's right and freeing Hordak is a terrible idea.
  • Evil Uncle: Word of God indicates that in the 2002 reboot Keldor/Skeletor is actually King Randor's half-brother. Um... on which side of the family are Randor and Adam related to King Grayskull again? Funnily enough, Skeletor doesn't even know Adam's name (he thinks it's "Alan"), probably due to being exiled before he was born.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The Evil Warriors and the Snake Men are in much less amicable terms than in the old minicomics.
    • Had the series continued the plot would have eventually involved Hordak returning to Eternia and most of the fighting would be between the Horde and Skeletor's Evil Warriors.
    • According to "The Power of Grayskull," the Snake Men and Hordak fought against each other as often as they did King Grayskull. An off-screen battle between them was so decisive that Hordak was free to begin his true conquest.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Orko often sparkles when he moves, and makes an accompanying jingling noise.
  • Eviler than Thou: Both Skeletor and King Hssss are intimidated by Hordak—feeling it'd be impossible to conquer Eternia if he were around.
  • Expressive Ears: Orko's ears droop when he feels sad.
  • The Faceless: The (aptly named) Faceless One.
    • Also Mekaneck, due to the audience never seeing behind his visor.
    • Orko's face is constantly blacked out through the series, and his eyes are the only part of it one sees.
  • Facial Horror: In the pilot episode, the flashback to Randor's fight with Keldor ends with the latter getting acid reflected back on him, severely burning his face, and by the present, all that's left of his head is a skull. In "The Price of Deceit" we see that isn't wholly the reason Keldor becomes Skeletor; the acid burn was killing him and he survived by cutting a deal with Hordak.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Anwat Gar is/was feudal Japan.
    • Although its name seems inspired by Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
  • Foreshadowing: Teela reads Mekaneck's mind in "The Ties That Bind" and learns he wishes he had better powers. "Mekaneck's Lament" is built around this.
  • Fiery Redhead: Teela, who is also a Significant Green-Eyed Redhead.
  • Giant Spider: Webstor is human-sized spider, but eating ambrosia in "Web of Evil" mutates him into an actual giant.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Upon seeing what Hordak turned him into, Skeletor just starts laughing.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Skeletor may be dangerous now, but long ago Hordak was the greatest threat to Eternia, and he's far worse than Skeletor, being responsible for the death of King Grayskull and the transformation of Keldor into Skeletor. He also originally defeated King Hsss and the Snakemen, and created the dark hemisphere, nearly annihilating all of Eternia in the process. If he is ever released from Despondos, death and destruction will surely follow.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Zodak and Moss Man agree to ally with the Masters, but they only appear sparingly since they're quite powerful.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • During the Great Unrest, Randor served as captain and led the Masters in battle against Keldor. We see some of this in the first episode.
    • While we only see King Grayskull's final battle with Hordak, he is reported to have regularly fought both his forces and the Snake Men.
    • Zodak imprisoned all of the Snake Men in the void.
    • A flashback sequence in "Out of the Past" shows the Sorceress defending a town against a warlord.
    • In Count Marzo's backstory, he was foiled and subdued by forces led by Captain Miro (Adam's grandfather).
  • Heroic Sacrifice: King Grayskull gives his life to banish Hordak.
  • Huge Holographic Head: Hordak appears as one in "The Price of Deceit".
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: The flashback in "Out of the Past" shows the Sorceress grew tired of being all alone in the castle. She left for a time to enjoy a simpler life and met her husband. She only returned to the castle when it was necessary.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: King Hssss uses an artifact in "Second Skin" to turn Man-At-Arms, Teela, and Mekaneck into Snake People obedient to him.
    He-Man: Duncan, fight it.
    Man-At-Arms: I can't... nor do I want to!
  • I Surrender, Suckers: In the pilot movie Skeletor pulls this off twice in the same fight.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: Most of Skeletor's Council of Evil is introduced in otherwise one-off episodes: Count Marzo in "Mekaneck's Lament," Evilseed in "Orko's Garden," and the three giants in "Buzz-Off's Pride." "Lessons" also introduces the Ram Stone, which Skeletor later uses to incapacitate the Sorceress.
  • Ironic Echo: From "Turnabout":
    "You didn't say please."
  • Ironic Hell: Skeletor punishes bitter enemies Tuvar and Baddrah by merging them into Two-Bad.
  • It's the Journey That Counts / Magic Feather: King Grayskull seeks the power to defeat Hordak, and is told by a seer to journey to discover it. When he does, he finds the seer, who returns Grayskull's sword (lost in a previous battle) and tells Grayskull he always had the power; he just needed to take the journey to realize this for himself.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: "Council Of Evil" opens with the Evil Warriors sent into area that is routinely patrolled, which the heroes presume was just Skeletor getting sloppy. As it turns out no, he knew better than that and intentionally sent his warriors out to get captured to lure Eternia into a false sense of security so his replacements for the Evil Warriors could pick off the Masters and leave Castle Grayskull defenseless.
  • Large Ham: Man-E-Faces has his moments due to being an actor.
  • Legacy Character: He-Man is revealed to be one of King Grayskull—having the same power and sword, as well as a cat companion.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: At one point the Snakemen take Snake Mountain from Skeletor and his minions are turned to stone by Snakeface. Merman is even shattered. The Snakemen are later defeated and Skeletor retakes Snake Mountain, using magic to restore his minions. As he passes over poor Merman, he reassembles and unpetrefies him with a wave of his hand.
  • Loophole Abuse: Zodak would never open the Snake Men's prison in order to get revenge on King Hssss, but if someone just happened to steal his staff and open the prison themselves...
  • Made of Iron: Characters regularly have hugs rocks thrown at them, or are smashed through large stone formations and are back to fighting in a minute or two. Even non-superhumanly powerful warriors such as Teela, Duncan and King Randor shake off what should be bone-breaking impact with no problem.
  • Magic Skirt: Teela fights in a very acrobatic style with flips, spins, and kicks, yet manages to maintain her modesty. However, "Awaken The Serpent" averts this; When she is lifted up by her ankle by Tongue-Lashor, her skirt drops down, resulting in a brief Panty Shot.
  • Magic Staff: Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, and the Sorceress all use staffs in combination with their magic.
  • Magic Wand: Before he lost it while saving Adam, Orko had one of these.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: Zortek in "Of Machines And Men".
  • The Man Behind the Man: In this version, Hordak saves Keldor's life by remaking him into Skeletor.
  • Mirror Reveal: After Keldor is transformed into Skeletor, a horrified Evil-Lyn shows him his reflection. Skeletor sees his head is now nothing but a skull.... and starts laughing manically.
  • Mommy Had A Good Reason For Abandoning You: As in the original series, the Sorceress is Teela's mother and cannot raise her due to her responsibilities. "The Ties That Bind" deconstructs it by showing the Sorceress anguishing over the choice she had to make and Teela struggling with being left in the dark.
  • Monster-Shaped Mountain: Snake Mountain. It is eventually revealed to actually be a giant snake frozen in place when King Hssss and the Snake Men take over.
  • Mooks: Hordak is shown having four generals: three of which are named characters and a one-shot guy named Calix that he can kill.
  • Mythology Gag: The show's introduction starts off with Adam doing the "I am Adam, Prince of Eternia" spiel from the original series. However, as he gets to the "Fabulous secrets" bit, Skeletor attacks and he skips the rest of the monologue, transforming into He-Man and shouting his Battle Cry.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Pretty much everything the Snake Men do in Season 2 is the result of Zodak allowing Evil-Lyn and Kobra Khan to steal his staff.
  • Not Quite Dead: "Rise of the Snake Men, Part 2" ends with Zodak besting King Hssss and throwing him into the abyss around Castle Grayskull. Viewers quickly learn he survived, but it's not until "Second Skin" that the protagonists do.
    • When Mer-Man (along with the other Evil Warriors) is turned to stone and shattered, many viewers assumed he was dead and gone for good. But Skeletor effortlessly revives him the very next episode, reforming him before turning him back to flesh, effectively resurrecting him.
  • Offered the Crown: In the prologue, the Elders' last order to Captain Randor is to lead Eternia in their place as king.
  • One-Way Visor: Mekaneck's visor, which is attached to his helmet.
  • Overly-Long Tongue:
    • In the pilot episode, Orko licks tapioca off of his own hat. Possibly justified, as he's an alien and a wizard.
    • The Snake Man Tongue Lashor has one, which is his primary means of offense.
  • Pet the Dog: Skeletor somehow manages to do this at the same time as he has a Kick the Dog moment. He admits that he actually does like his Evil Warriors (possibly as friends) but says this in the same breath as he admits to betraying them without a second thought. And he only says it as a threat to someone else.
    • "The Sweet Smell of Victory" has a similar example. Skeletor punishes the other warriors for failing, but he praises Stinkor for proving himself useful.
    • King Hssss treats all of his men quite well, but his treatment of Kobra Khan is notable since the other Snake Men often deride him as a weakling descendant.
  • Pilot Movie: "The Beginning" three-parter originally premiered as this.
  • Power Incontinence: Poor Stinkor. He's not immune to his own power, either.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: In the last few episodes, King Hssss seeks to revive Serpos in order to conquer Eternia. However, when he learns Evil-Lyn is plotting to free Hordak in "History," he puts all of his plans on hold to deal with that.
    Rattlor: It is vital that—
    King Hssss: That Hordak never return!
    • In the same episode, Count Marzo agrees to help Evil-Lyn free Hordak in exchange for getting his amulet back. In all of the later confusion, he steals it back and double crosses her—feeling it's in his best interests if Hordak remains trapped.
    • Hordak is shown to be pure evil, but when the Spell of Separation risks destroying the planet, he stops the process and has the Artifact of Doom used to cast it divided into three pieces, to ensure the spell can't be used again.
  • Prophecy Twist: In the first episode, the Sorceress tells then-Captain Randor that a hero will emerge the day that Eternia is again threatened by evil. Randor asks how he will know this hero, but she doesn't tell him. Viewers, of course, know it's the son he'll eventually have.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: "The Power of Grayskull" opens with Adam having a nightmare about King Grayskull fighting Snake Men and facing Hordak. The Sorceress comes to believe this was no dream, but is instead the power of Grayskull attempting to warn Adam about Hordak's attempt to return.
  • Punny Name: Skeletor coins "Two-Bad" based on Tuvar and Baddrha's actual names, and their utter hatred of each other.
    Skeletor: So, you refused to work together as I commanded! Don't like each other, eh? Well then- TWO-BAD!!
  • Put on a Bus: After "The Last Stand," the Council of Evil characters drop out of sight. Webstor returns in "Web of Evil" and Count Marzo in "History," but Evilseed and the giants never appear again.
  • Race Lift: Zodak is black and Sy-Clone is more or less Asian. In response to the former, the Classics toyline split the difference and released "Zodac" (based on the original) and "Zodak" (based on the '02 interpretation) as separate figures/characters.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Skeletor.
  • Red Right Hand: Many of the bad guys have one. Tri-Klops is blind with a set of artificial eyes, and Trap Jaw has an artifical arm and jaw. Most noticeable of course is Skeletor, who has a bare skull for a head.
  • Restraining Bolt: In "Turnabout", He-Man and the Masters manage to put a belt on Skeletor that shocks him when he even thinks of doing anything evil. However, Skeletor manages to even the score by putting a similar belt on He-Man, one that shocks him when he does good.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: After betraying Skeletor to the Snake Men, Evil-Lyn found that King Hssss was going to eat her. Of course, from the Snake Men's perspective, that's considered a great honor. She avoids this fate, though, by telling King Hssss where the power of the Elders is.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Randor was a captain in the Eternian army before he became King, and he continues to fight in multiple episodes, including, in one Season 2 episode, going to rescue his wife by himself.
  • Save the Villain: The climax of "Turnabout" sees Skeletor dangling from a cliff, begging to be saved. Much as he might want to let him fall, He-Man saves Skeletor and gets blasted for his trouble.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The tide quickly turns in "The Last Stand" when the Masters arrive. While most of the villains at least try to put up a fight, the three giants and Evilseed agree working for Skeletor just isn't worth the trouble and walk off.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: All of the major villains. Skeletor and his Evil Warriors start out trapped behind a mystical barrier and break free in the pilot. The Snake Men were sealed away in a void and were set free in Season 2. Hordak was trapped in Despondos by King Grayskull and continually struggles to escape it.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: The Faceless One within his temple.
  • Secret Test of Character: In "Trust," Stratos and Trap Jaw both try to claim to the Kulataks that the other is trying to steal their Eternium. The leader wants time to think on it, so he has them locked in a supply chamber. The Kulataks secretly watch, Trap Jaw tries to claim what he thinks is Eternium and Stratos tries to stop him.
  • Security Cling: Orko does this to Adam, then later Man-At-Arms in different episodes.
  • Shoot the Messenger: Calix, one of Hordak's generals, advises against attacking Castle Grayskull, saying their forces were depleted from fighting the Snake Men. Hordak thanks him for his council by disintegrating him, before saying he really hates getting bad news.
  • Shout-Out: A taunt that King Hssss makes at He-Man, based off a taunt targeted at Dan Quayle:
    Hssss: You know, He-Man, I knew King Grayskull. I fought King Grayskull. And YOU'RE NO King Grayskull.
  • Sixth Ranger: The Masters and Evil Warriors start out with fixed lineups. Over the course of Season 1, Buzz-Off, Sy-Klone, and Roboto join the Masters, while Two-Bad and Stinkor join the Evil Warriors. Fisto also joins the Masters towards the end of Season 2.
  • Snake Versus Mongoose: Rattlor—a Snake Person—has a crippling fear of mongooses that Orko is more than happy to use against him.
  • The So-Called Coward: Whenever trouble is brewing Adam makes an excuse to disappear so he can become He-Man. Other characters, particularly Teela and his father King Randor, take note of this and think Adam a coward. Of course Adam can't give a good explanation of his actions, as that would risk his secret identity, so he spends quite a bit of time living with the stigma of being a coward.
  • Spanner in the Works: Skeletor would've succeeded in "The Last Stand" if not for Zodak contacting Moss Man and aiding the Sorceress, as well as Orko finding Adam's Power Sword.
    • Rattlor ends up being this to Evil-Lyn in "History." He sends Kobra Khan on a mission to distract the Masters in the hopes that he would be captured. However, Khan stumbles upon Evil-Lyn approaching Count Marzo about freeing Hordak. King Hssss decides to stop them, which ends up causing He-Man to be alerted to what's going on.
  • The Starscream: Evil-Lyn primarily. Tri-Klops has a brush with this in "Roboto's Gambit" when his new army proves quite unstoppable. Kobra Khan is completely loyal to King Hsss, but he often tries to undermine Rattlor.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Used rather egregiously with Cringer and stock cat noises.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Tri-Klops uses a series of small floating Conspicuous CG devices to spy on everyone. The heroes completely fail to notice them flying around their palace... most of the time. There are at least two cases of animals chasing them, and a minor villain finds one and uses it as an excuse to get inside Skeletor's base.
  • Take a Third Option: The side plot in "The Power of Grayskull" sees Hordak ordering Skeletor to travel to his sanctuary to release him from his imprisonment (which would mean no chance of Skeletor ever conquering Eternia) or, should Skeletor defy his master, he would suffer horrifically (per the Deal with the Devil). Skeletor instead says that he will release Hordak, but when he arrives at the sanctuary, he destroys it instead.
  • That Man Is Dead: Skeletor doesn't answer to his old name any more, but it's Hordak who officially coined this.
    "Keldor is no more. Now, there is only... Skeletor!"
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Mer-Man in "The Deep End." He swipes a powerful crystal for himself, which sets off a chain of events that endangers Man-At-Arms and leads to Skeletor to suspect that Castle Grayskull houses something important.
  • Unwitting Pawn: In "Orko's Garden," Orko tries to contact Mossman for help gardening and bumps into Evilseed, who tricks him into planting seeds that free him from his prison. The rest of the episode is He-Man and Mossman trying to put Evilseed back.
  • Villain Exclusivity Clause: Skeletor has this role.
  • A Villain Named Khan: Kobra Khan. Ironically, while most races of Eternia are afraid of him, given the reputation of his species, the Snake Men, his own species doesn't respect him much, thinking he's grown soft living so long without others of his kind around.
  • Villains Want Mercy: In "Turnabout", Skeletor is dangling from a cliff and begs for He-Man to save him. He-Man does, and Skeletor immediately gets a cheap shot in.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Despite being a large green tiger, Cringer meows as if he were a common house cat. Partially justified as he is an alien cat and some felines like cheetahs can make sounds like bird chirps.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The Shadow Beasts are quite powerful, but they can't stand light. Even moon light gives them trouble.
  • Wham Line: At the very end of "Lessons" when the Faceless One finds Evil-Lyn returned the Ram Stone.
    "Perhaps there's hope for you yet, my daughter."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Zodak deliberately allows the key to the Snake Men's prison to be stolen so that King Hssss can be released and Zodak can settle his personal vendetta against him.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: He-Man is sometimes pretty clever in how he defeats his enemies in the 2002 series but most of his solutions usually involve crushing something since he's not quite as versatile as most of the bad guys. Supposedly, this version would always have enough strength necessary to complete any given task, he just needed to apply it correctly.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "The Power of Grayskull." Much of the episode is the Sorceress showing Adam King Grayskull's climactic battle with Hordak.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: In "Turnabout," Skeletor spends the episode being mocked by his minions, because he is wearing a belt that shocks him whenever he thinks an evil thought, and seemingly can't be removed. When he finally gets the belt off, he gets his revenge by suspending his minions over a tub of lava with giant snake monsters ready to make a meal out of them.
    "So, you enjoyed yourselves, hmm? Mocking me, laughing at me—funny, I don't see anyone laughing now."
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Ram-Man is afraid of the dark. Orko is afraid of dragons, but as anyone who hears him say it replies, "Who isn't?" Rattlor is afraid of mongooses.
  • Women Are Wiser: Man-At-Arms and Randor fall over themselves in "The Last Stand" to take the blame for Skeletor's plan. Marleena tells them to stop acting like whiny children and to instead work towards a solution that'll prevent similar disasters.
  • Worthy Opponent: The Eldritch Abomination in "The Price of Deceit" is actually impressed by the fight He-Man puts up.
    "Such power..."
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: He-Man assumes in "The Power of Grayskull" that Skeletor wants to free Hordak when the viewers know he's being blackmailed into it.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are:
    • "Lessons": Orko feels he's really screwed up this time, so he asks the Sorceress to return him to Trolla. While he waits for the spell to be completed, Orko is reminded of the time he saved Adam's life when he first came to Eternia and how he always helps others however he can. He even outwits Skeletor.
    • "Mekaneck's Lament": Mekaneck feels his power is pretty useless, leaving him stuck with recon assignments instead of fighting. Adam tries to assure him what he does is important, but Man-At-Arms developing a new recon system doesn't do much for his mood. After Mekaneck later foils Count Marzo, He-Man points out how useful his power was.