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Western Animation / Skeleton Warriors

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Skeleton Warriors was a short-lived Saturday Morning Cartoon made by Landmark Entertainment Group and broadcast by CBS in 1994.

The story is set on the planet Luminaire, with the Lightstar Crystal as the center of the series. Baron Dark tried to steal it, but he could obtain only half of the Crystal, empowering him with the ability to turn people into the eponymous Skeleton Warriors, while Prince Lightstar, the one who was guarding the crystal, obtained the other half. Then, a battle ensued, in which each side tried to obtain the other's half while guarding its own. Lightstar isn't alone, since his siblings, Joshua (who was closer with Baron Dark until their Karmic Transformation) and Jennifer, and their uncle Ursak formed the Legion of Light. Their half of the crystal gave them many powers, such as energy channeling (Lightstar), flight (Jennifer/Talyn) and shadow-travelling (Joshua/Grimskull).


Video games for Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn were released, as was a toyline. The cast also appeared in the 1994 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and a Kickstarter campaign for a revival of the toyline was successful.

"These Are the Tropes of the Skeleton Warriors..."

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Shriek has a huge crush on Prince Justin, and she retains this even after being turned into a hideous Skeleton Warrior. Needless to say, Justin is repulsed by her attempts to court him.
  • Absent Animal Companion: In "...Long Live the King", Dark claims a skeletonized horse as his personal steed, which is never seen again.
    • Talyn's hawk Serafina isn't seen again after "Overload".
  • Action Figure File Card: The toys had them.
  • After the End: Luminicity depended on the Lightstar Crystal to provide limitless power. When the Crystal is shattered, the resulting power surge causes widespread destruction and leaves the kingdom vulnerable to the rising threat of the Skeleton Warriors. By the time the Legion of Light is formed, Baron Dark already rules much of the world, and the ruins of highways and cities dot the landscape.
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  • Alien Sky: The planet has two moons.
  • Alphabetical Theme Naming: Prince Justin and his siblings Joshua and Jennifer.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Baron Dark is defeated but the Steeles now have to clean up the mess left by the war and Dark's army is still out there.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: The fearful soldier Ferris, after being rescued at the start of "Heart and Soul", is skeletonized by Baron Dark during a battle shortly afterwards. He gets better, which leads to the discovery of a cure for the Skeleton Warrior transformation.
  • Antagonist Title: The eponymous Skeleton Warriors are the bad guys.
  • Anti-Hero: Grimskull, who caused the whole mess courtesy of his jealousy and anger at his perceived inferiority to his brother, but repents his mistake and seeks to make amends. All whilst looking like a zombie and having the power to teleport through shadows.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Baron Dark was already an evil noble long before he went after the Lightstar Crystal.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The titular Skeleton Warriors, who can normally just reassemble themselves after any attack, have 'Heart Stones' inside their rib cages that if destroyed or removed would turn them back into human beings.
  • The Atoner: Grimskull intends to redeem himself after helping Baron Dark to steal half the Lightstar Crystal.
  • Back for the Finale: In "Past, Perfect, Future Tense" Grimskull befriends a wolf whom he names Stalker. Stalker isn't seen again until the two-part series finale.
  • Badass Biker: Skeletons riding bikes, yeah. Flying motorcycles, no less.
  • Badass Family: The core group consists of two brothers, their sister and their uncle leading the resistance.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Baron Dark is finally defeated but the Lightstar Crystal is lost, Luminicity is destroyed and Dark's army is still out there. However, Lightstar points out that Dark lost far more than they did and Guardian assures them that their father is proud of them.
  • Black Sheep: Prince Joshua/Grimskull, who originally sided with Baron Dark against Justin due to being jealous of his brother's inheritance of the throne. When the full extent of Dark's evil is revealed, however, he pulls a Heel–Face Turn and becomes The Atoner.
  • Bloodless Carnage: People get turned into skeletons rather then being killed. If the skeletons are knocked apart, the bones slither back into place.
  • Butt-Monkey: If something bad is about to happen to any one of the Skeleton Warriors, then it's probably going to happen to Dagger.
  • Capture the Flag: By way of Dismantled MacGuffin - Prince Justin owns one half of the Lightstar Crystal, while Baron Dark owns the other half. As a result, The Legion of Light and the Skeleton Warriors are both trying to capture the opposition's half of the Crystal, while simultaneously protecting their own.
  • Catchphrase: Baron Dark develops one, for when he skeletonizes somebody:
    Baron Dark: "Darkest soul, evil's courier, serve me as a Skeleton Warrior!"
  • The Cape: Justin wears a cape and is the heroic leader of the Legion of Light.
  • The Corrupter: Baron Dark is very manipulative, and tempts many to join or help him, such as Joshua and Zara.
  • Cool Pet: Baron Dark adopts a savage skeleton dog he names Bad Dog. Grimskull, meanwhile, gains a wolf named Stalker as a companion. Talyn also has a pet bird of prey she has before the start of the series.
  • Cool Uncle: Guardian is very knowledgeable about history, warfare, tactics, strategies and logistics. He's dedicated to his nephews and niece.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Ursak seems like this at first, but then it is subverted. In one episode, it showed that he helped build a machine that let him see the future. After seeing the rise of the Skeleton Warriors, he starting preparing and waiting for the day that he knew would come, just not when exactly.
  • Darkest Hour: Episode 13. Baron Dark joins both halves of the Lightstar Crystal, which grants him a slew of godlike powers and the ability to transform people into Skeleton Warriors regardless of their morality. He then leads a massive assault on Luminicity to convert all the remaining humans into skeletons, whether they're part of the Legion of Light or not.
  • Dark Is Evil:
    • His name's Baron Dark, he turns people in evil skeletons, and all of them enjoy the night far more then the day.
    • Averted with Grimskull. Dark clothing and a shadow walker, but he's loyal to his family.
  • Decapitated Army: Discussed by Baron Dark and Dr. Cyborn, after the Skeleton Warriors' Weaksauce Weakness is discovered. When a Skeleton Warrior is changed back into a human, Baron Dark can just "reskeletonize" them; but what happens if Baron Dark himself gets changed back?
  • Dem Bones: The Skeleton Warriors themselves.
  • Disney Villain Death: In the series finale, Baron Dark is finally killed for good when Lightstar throws him (and the Crystal) off a cliff into a pit of lava.
  • Dracolich: Episode 12 features a skeletonized dragon, which Dagger tries and fails to train as his own personal attack beast.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: There are subtle hints that the skeletonization process has euphoric effects on the transformed; Baron Dark goes from being horrified at his transformation to openly embracing it in the time it takes him to return to his core followers. Those he transforms immediately revel in their new status, ranting about how good they feel. When one is accidentally changed back into a human (revealing their weakness) he runs back to Baron Dark and begs to be reskeletonized.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Lightstar and Talyn, who are imprisoned with Shriek and Dagger, suggest that they work together to escape. Dagger immediately agrees and Shriek calls him out because he just want to save himself. Dagger ask her what her point is. Shriek think about it for a second and agrees to help.
  • Easily Forgiven: Subverted with Grimskull. While his family is willing to trust him, the Legion of Light as a whole remains unconvinced for much of the series.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Prince Justin's sword is revealed to be made from a third piece of the Lightstar Crystal, and Like Cannot Cut Like. This quickly evens the playing field between him and the Lightstar-empowered Baron Dark during the final battle.
  • Enemy Mine: Lightstar and Talyn agree to team up with Shriek and Dagger to escape imprisonment. As a subversion, Shriek and Dagger didn't do anything useful and betrayed the siblings.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: Or, better yet, with the eponymous Skeleton Warriors.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Baron Dark takes the cake in the hamminess department.
  • Evil Laugh: All skeleton warriors laugh at their own evil deeds, Baron Dark most of all.
  • Fan Disservice: Shriek, who was your typical Chainmail Bikini-clad villainess when she was alive and who retains the skimpy outfit even after she has been transformed into a hideous living skeleton.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the first episode, Baron Dark has a spidery humanoid named "Aracula" as one of his minions. It turns out in the 10th episode that Aracula is one of a whole race of Araculans, long-standing enemies of the humans of Luminaire, and that Baron Dark actually was responsible for the death of the King by sending him into the hands of the Araculans.
    • In the sixth episode, Grimskull cuts off his connection to Baron Dark by tossing a mental construct of him into a pool of lava. This is how Lightstar dispatches of Baron Dark in the finale.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Nearly all projectile weapons are lasers.
  • Gem Heart: The Skeleton Warriors are revealed to have "heart stones" inside their ribcages. If it's ever removed or destroyed, the Skeleton Warrior transforms back into a human.
  • Golden Super Mode: Baron Dark acquires a set of golden armor after he joins the two halves of the Lightstar Crystal.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Grimskull was with Baron Dark before their Karmic Transformation.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Justin's weapon of choice is a sword.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Grimskull get hit hard with this. He betrayed the royal family, but had a change of heart at the last moment. With his half-dead appearance, people around him don't trust him. It get worse when the truth about his betrayal goes public. Even after he redeemed himself, they're are still a lot of uneasiness around him.
  • Hopeless War: Until the Skeleton Warriors' weakness is discovered, the good guys are fighting one. How do you win a war against an enemy who can't be killed, and who can convert any living human into their service?
  • Implacable Man: While they aren't as strong or skilled as the heroes, Baron Dark and the Skeleton Warriors are immortal and reform a few seconds after being shattered, meaning they can win battles through raw attrition. The Skeleton Warriors are well aware of this, and are quick to gloat about it.
  • Implied Love Interest: Talyn appears to fall for Ferris.
  • Incongruously Dressed Zombie: When subjected to their Viral Transformation, newly-created Skeleton Warriors are clad in a tattered-up version of whatever outfit they were wearing at the time. Some, such as Baron Dark and his inner circle, acquire a slew of skeleton-themed decorations on what's left of their clothing for no apparent reason.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Baron Dark cannot turn those who are essentially good into Skeleton Warriors, Though they don't have to literally be pure and saintly, just more good than bad. Marginal cases, however, need a good guy's assistance.
    • Averted when he gains the other half of the crystal, and the power to turn anyone regardless of morality into his warriors instantly.
  • Killed Off for Real: Baron Dark in the finale.
  • La Résistance: The Legion of Light is this, in a world ruled by the undefeatable Skeleton Warriors.
  • Last Episode, New Character: The third-to-last episode introduces Claw, a werewolf-like creature Baron Dark hired to patrol Luminicity for anyone who didn't fall in line with his rule. After skeletonizing himself, Claw became a high-ranking minion of Dark's alongside Dagger, Shriek, Cyborn and Aracula.
  • Light Is Good: Lightstar, who can shoot beams of light from his hands, and the Legion of Light.
  • Love Triangle: Lightstar was in love with Zara who left because she was in love with Grimskull.
  • Made of Plasticine: To an extent, at least; the Skeleton Warriors are fairly easy to shatter into bits with a strong impact. Not that it does much good since they have "the power of invincibility" and can reassemble themselves with a thought.
  • Meaningful Name: EVERYWHERE!!!
    • Talyn can fly and has enhanced vision, like a hawk.
    • Lightstar holds the resistance's half of the Lightstar Crystal and shoots lightbeams.
    • Grimskull's face looks like a skull, and he is grim because his betrayal in the first episode led to the current situation.
    • Uncle "Guardian", who looks out for his brother's children.
    • Baron Dark - loves the literal dark, and symbolic of the darkness he's brought to the land.
  • Merchandise-Driven: The purpose of the show was to sell comics and Skeleton Warriors related toys.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Cyborn, the chief scientist of the Skeleton Warriors.
  • Monster Progenitor: Baron Dark becomes the first Skeleton Warrior, and gains the power to spread the transformation to other humans.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Aracula has six arms and carry different weapons ranging from swords, axes to flails, making him a Multi-Melee Master.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Baron Dark.
  • The Necrocracy: The Skeleton Warriors, under Baron Dark's rule, control their civilization with an iron fist. Anyone too good-of-heart to be transformed into a Skeleton Warrior is instead used as slave labor to build weapons, munitions and skycyles.
  • Nepotism: When Grimskull's betrayal is publicly revealed, his brother's refusal to have him executed is perceived as this by the people.
  • No Romantic Resolution: The show's two love interests, Ferris and Zara, don't appear again after their single episodes.
  • Non-Human Undead: Aracula and Klaw - A spider-man and a wolf-man, respectively, turned into Skeleton Warriors.
  • Opening Narration: Each episode start with a narration voiced by Tony Jay.
  • Parental Abandonment: Jennifer, Justin and Joshua's father the king was dead before the start of the series. There's only a passing mention of their mother.
  • Psychic Link: Grimskull and Baron Dark have one as a result of their creation. Each can sense the other's presence, and if Grimskull doesn't keep his defenses up, Baron Dark can even control him like a puppet from a distance.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Played with - Baron Dark turns humans that defect to him into skeleton warriors, even if they would be more useful staying The Mole. It is perfectly in character for him, though: He's not only the sole infector of The Virus (making everyone "joined in the darkness"), and subtly implied to be compelled to spread his state, but the conversion is shown to make the victim far more loyal to him. A rabid dog becomes obedient, traitors and mercenaries who were Only in It for the Money instantly settle for doing his bidding only For the Evulz. Magically-enforced loyalty is probably the safest way to deal with someone who has a track record of betrayal.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: All members of the royal family take an active role in the Legion of Light, with Justin serving as its leader.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: The Skeleton Warriors will reassemble if broken apart in combat, which happens often.
  • Raising the Steaks: Any living creature can be skeletonized, which is demonstrated on a dog, a horse, and even a dragon.
  • Revenge Before Reason: When Justin learn that Baron Dark was responsible for his father's death, he start making rash decisions and is obsessed on taking out Dark Baron. It get worse when Grimskull is apparently dead.
  • Science Fantasy: The series leans more on the science end than the fantasy, but the Lightstar Crystal and the nature of the Skeleton Warriors are magical.
  • Shadow Walker: Grimskull uses shadows to teleport wherever he wants.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: The completed Lightstar Crystal shapeshifts into a golden sword, when Baron Dark fights Prince Justin for the climatic battle.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Baron Dark wears elaborate epaulets made of skulls chained together after becoming the first Skeleton Warrior.
  • Shout-Out: Shriek's line of "Get your paws off me you big ape!" from the episode "Ball and Chain" is taken from Planet of the Apes (1968).
  • Sickly Green Glow: The skycycle engines and weapon blasts of the skeleton warriors.
  • Sixth Ranger: The Skeleton Warriors get one in the form of Klaw, a wolf-man mercenary who intentionally skeletonizes himself using Baron Dark's collapsing skeletonization ray. He ends up being more competent than all of Dark's usual henchmen combined, and is noticeably more shatter-resistant than the average Skeleton Warrior.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Shriek and Jennifer are the only major female character of their respective factions.
  • The So-Called Coward: A Legion of Light warrior thinks himself a Dirty Coward because he ran from the skeleton warriors. However the flashback shows he only fled when his weapon ran out of power and he had no way of fighting them.
  • Spare to the Throne: When Grimskull's pre-Heel–Face Turn crime becomes publicly known, the people of Luminicity want him to be executed for this and the only way his brother can spare him without having to face a revolt is by being executed in his place. With Lightstar dead and Grimskull still being labeled a traitor, their sister will be the next in line to become the ruler of Luminicity regardless of the fact she never received any training for this. Fortunately, Grimskull earned forgiveness on time to prevent any executions from happening.
  • Spider People: The Araculans, six-armed goblinoids who spit sticky web-like slime from their mouths. They inhabit a vast, web-draped canyon called the Araculan Rift, and are enemies of the human race, having feuded with them for centuries.
  • Stripped to the Bone: The fate of Baron Dark and all his minions, and a rare example of this trope as a compelling - if hardly positive - fate, as those returned to humanity will typically plead with the baron to re-skeletonise them.
  • Survivor Guilt: Ferris, the sole survivor of his unit in episode 3, is so tortured by the experience that his self-hatred gives him enough inner darkness for Baron Dark to skeletonise him, which was previously suggested to only be possible with overtly depraved personalities: what really seems to matter is how the victim perceives themself.
  • Theme Tune Roll Call: Which also describes each character's powers, and provides the only lyrics that aren't the show's title:
    Lightstar! He has the power!
    Talyn's a fighter in the sky!
    Guardian shouts the battle cry!
  • Token Flier: Talyn is the only one among the heroes with the natural power of flight.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Dagger is the most simple-minded of Baron Dark's followers and frequently makes comedic mistakes. As early as the second episode, Talyn tricks him into getting blown up by giving him a live grenade and telling him it's a birthday present.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The Power Trio consist of two princes and a princess.
  • The Vamp: Shriek wants to be this, but the problem is that she keeps making seductive banter towards Prince Justin as a skeleton.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Baron Dark goes into fits of rage whenever things doesn't go his way.
  • Viral Transformation: The Skeleton Warriors undergo this by becoming... well, skeletons.
  • The Virus: The Skeleton Warrior transformation works like this, with Baron Dark as Patient Zero and the sole carrier. Anyone with enough evil in their hearts is susceptible to the Viral Transformation, and becomes instantly loyal to Baron Dark afterwords.
  • Warrior Prince: Princes Lightstar and Grimskull both lead their rebellion by fighting on the front lines.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Initially, the Skeleton Warriors seem nearly unstoppable - While they can be shattered easily, they reform themselves within seconds, and their leader can create new Skeleton Warriors simply by touching people. Everything changes after Episode 3, however, when the Skeleton Warriors are revealed to have 'heart stones' inside their ribcages. If these stones are ever destroyed or removed, the Skeleton Warrior instantly transforms back into a human being, which also breaks Baron Dark's control over their mind if they weren't a willing recruit.
    • As noted above, this also creates a major strategic problem with having Baron Dark operating in the field, especially after Guardian invents a weapon which can break a heartstone at a distance. As Dr. Cyborn directly informs his leader, the Baron can readily skeletonize anyone who makes it back to their side — but if Baron Dark is turned into a human, who's going to reconvert him?
  • We Have Reserves: Baron Dark, because of the skeleton warriors Pulling Themselves Together.
  • Welcome Back, Traitor: The Legion of Light toward Grimskull, due to the part he played in the rise of Baron Dark.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Baron Dark make use of uncorrupted humans as slaves. Justified, as while they are imprisoned they can not rebel. And the shattering of the Lightstar crystal has left the city without power.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 12 ends with Grimskull seemingly killed and Baron Dark finally in possession of the Lightstar Crystal's other half.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: At the end of the series, Baron Dark and the Lightstar Crystal are destroyed, but Dark's huge Skeleton Warrior army - including his lieutenants and the several dozen innocent people he managed to skeletonize during the final battle - remains unaccounted for.
    • [[spoiler: Dagger, Cyborn, Shriek, Aracula and several other skeletons are last seen being swept away by a wave of lava and Claw isn't seen again after Dark reforms the Lightstar crystal. While it's possible the skeletons hit by the lava were destroyed, Talyn says there are other skeletons still out there.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Skeletons are shot without hesitation. Immortal Life Is Cheap though. And they'd just bring their victims to Baron Dark for recruitment.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Super?: The only use the skeletons see in those that are too good at heart to be converted is as expendable slaves.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The Skeleton Warriors. Baron Dark is able to inflict the transformation on humans, and quickly builds an army of near-unstoppable undead minions to conquer the world. By episode 12, the Skeleton Warriors are numerous enough to fill every seat in a huge stadium.
  • Zombie Infectee: Grimskull is partially-transformed into a Skeleton Warrior when the Lightstar Crystal is shattered. He develops a Psychic Link with Baron Dark, a trait implied to be common to Skeleton Warriors, and faces constant distrust and suspicion from the Legion of Light. Baron Dark is quick to take advantage of this, and hatches several plots to cause infighting among the Legion by playing on their paranoia and making Grimskull look like The Corruptible.