He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

    "I am Adam, Prince of Eternia, and defender of the secrets of Castle Grayskull. This is Cringer, my 'fearless' friend. Fabulous secret powers were revealed to me, the day I held aloft my magic sword and said, 'By the Power of Grayskull!' I have the power!"

    —From the original series' Opening Narration

    This Animated Series 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 Eighties. It is now being rerun on Qubo late at night and on RTV on Saturday mornings.

    Existing in a world that has both 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 ability to transform into his super-strong barbarian alter ego, He-Man. This Transformation Sequence also turned Adam's cowardly pet Talking Animal Cringer into the brave and fearsome Battle Cat.

    His primary foe was the evil Skeletor, a warlord who was equal parts wizard and warrior. 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.

    The title, Masters of the Universe, referred to a mystical power hidden under Castle Greyskull. Chosen by the Sorceress of Greyskull to be its guardian, He-Man's strength came from there, channeled through his sword. Skeletor possessed a companion sword which, when combined with He-Man's, would open the secrets of Greyskull.

    An amusing bit of apocrypha states that the franchise was originally intended to be based on the film Conan the Barbarian, but a new plotline and characters were written when marketers realized the folly of basing children's merchandise on a very violent film that most children had not seen. 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 Levi were involved in the original production of the show as well, also going on to make a surprisingly long-lived children's franchise). The franchise became so well known that the stockbroker protagonist of Tom Wolfe's novel The Bonfire of the Vanities identified himself as "a master of the universe" (the character's daughter owned some of the figures) because of the power he held.

    The show left syndication and was shown on the USA Network, which back then was known for being the "used car" network for rerun lots of rerun shows.

    A live action film was made in 1987, called Masters of the Universe, featuring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man.

    An ill-fated Revival/Retool, The New Adventures of He-Man, premiered in 1990 but lasted only a year. Depending on whom you ask, it failed either because it was Recycled in Space or They Changed It, Now It Sucks.

    A 2002 Continuity Reboot, first aired on Cartoon Network's Toonami, was much closer to the original series while being modernized and more consistently written. Unfortunately the new series failed after one and a half seasons due to a lack of promotion and poor toy distribution.

    She-Ra: Princess of Power was a spinoff, although it wasn't quite as successful.

    The franchise still has loyal followers, who have created the comprehensive fan site He-Man.org.

    There's a character sheet in construction.

    Tropes used in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe include:
    • Action Girl: Teela—all incarnations. Both The Eighties series and the 2002 revival shows Teela as being better in combat than Adam as well as being a reliable ally for the entire team. This is complicated by the fact that Adam makes a point of pretending to be a goof-off to protect his secret but it doesn't change the fact she's one of the best warriors in the King's service.
      • Evil-Lyn, especially in the 2002 series.
      • Even the Queen of Eternia, Marlena, gets a moment to flex her abilities. In the Eighties show, she's revealed to have been one of Earth's best fighter pilots when she leads a squadron against Skeletor to rescue her kidnapped family. In the 2002 series, she gets to reveal her swordsmanship.
    • Action Series
    • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: The New Adventures of He-Man was launched with four pack-in minicomics explaining the setup changes, including the change in appearance of He-Man and Skeletor, and the change of He-Man's "By the Power of Grayskull" to "By The Power Of Eternia". In the TV series, they appear from the beginning in their hi-tech costumes, and He-Man with his new transformation phrase, with no explanation for the changes. Some things in the comics were ignored by the cartoon however, such as Skeletor finding out Prince Adam was He-Man moments before the He-Man identity became permanent, as well as the redesign of the sword to match the recently released toy, as the new Sword of Power in the cartoon looked nothing like the new merchandise. He-Man's secret identity also remained secret in the cartoon, and no explanation is given in the show for Skeletor becoming an apparently cybernetic being, though this was addressed in the comics. Perhaps the writers were expecting people to assume a tie to the 1987 feature film to explain Skeletor's cybernetic augmentation if they hadn't gotten ahold of the minicomics. If so, it didn't work.
    • Adapted Out: The live action movie used another character, Gwildor, to replace Orko.
    • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Evil-Lyn and Keldor seemed to have a relationship going before Keldor became Skeletor.
    • All Planets Are Earthlike: Eternia, of course.
    • All of the Other Reindeer: Ancient Snakemen think lowly of their modern descendants, except for King Hss, he loves all his children.
    • All There in the Manual: In the original series, Evil-Lyn was an astronaut from Earth named Evelyn. This is only mentioned in the series' bible.
    • Aloof Big Brother: In the 2002 series, Fisto to Man-At-Arms.
    • Always Need What You Gave Up: "The Problem with Power"
    • Amusing Alien: Orko.
    • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Every episode of both versions has a Public Service Announcement at the end to emphasize its Aesop. Interestingly, in the case of the '02 show, the "morals" were shown only in some international releases and didn't air in America.
    • An Aesop: Every episode of every version had one at the end - the '02 show softened the blow by always making it the exact lesson the episode as a whole was meant to teach you, rather than clumsily segueing into "yo, kids -- don't smoke." The earlier show had a bad habit of being hard on its aesops - see Broken Aesop below.
    • Animated Series
    • Arch Enemy: Skeletor
    • Arm Cannon: Many guys, like Man-At-Arms, Teela and Stratos use at some point wrist-mounted lasers in the Filmation series. Man-At-Arms wields a cannon on his forearm sometimes in the reboot.
      • One of Trap Jaw's arm-weapons is a cannon.
    • An Asskicking Christmas: The Christmas special.
    • Ascended Fanboy: Odiphus is shown to desperately want to be fighting for the bad guys, which he ultimately does as Stinkor.
    • Auto Cannibalism: In the last episode of the 2002 reboot, Zodak mystically hypnotizes four of King Hiss' heads into eating the fifth, and main, one (had the show gone on for another season he would have regenerated it).
    • Badass Mustache: Man-At-Arms sports one.
    • Badass Normal: Duncan
    • Bad Boss: In the 2002 series, at least, 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.
      • 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 in the '02 series. He vaporizes one of his warriors - not for questioning him, but for delivering bad news beyond his control that he didn't want to hear.
    • Balance Between Good and Evil: While the original toy package labeled him a villain (because every toy had to be classified as one or the other, no exceptions), in the Filmation series Zodak was portrayed as more of a cosmic agent of balance, favoring the good guys, as they seem more likely to cooperate with his goals. The 2002 reboot has him as an angrier, more selfish character.
    • Beast Man: Not the Trope Namer, but don't tell him that: it would hurt his feelings!
    • Beauty Equals Goodness: Averted in the original show, but played straight in The New Adventures of He-Man. Nearly all of He-Man's Galactic Guardians are normal humans using technological equipment in lieu of actual powers. Meanwhile, Flogg and Skeletor's Mutants are all, well, mutants, each possessing a variety of deformities and superhuman abilities.
    • Berserk Button: Cringer almost always lives up to his name, but can be the opposite if Adam is in great danger. For example, in the 2002 series, Cringer attacks a Snake Man for trying to eat Adam.
    • Bifurcated Weapon: Skeletor's sword in the 2002 reboot.
    • Big Good: The Sorceress.
    • Big Bad: Skeletor for the most part. No matter how competent, powerful or arrogant they were shown to be prior, few villains ever successfully challenged Skeletor. Many even served him, despite their goals being incompatible.
    • Bigger Bad: Horde Prime for the entire He-man/She-Ra universe.
      • The 2002 reboot set up Hordak as, but we never got far enough to find out if Horde Prime would exist there or not.
    • Bishonen: Poor, poor Keldor.
    • Blessed with Suck: The Sorceress in the Filmation series. Think about it. 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 a bird 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.
      • this trend was continued in the 2002 reboot
      • also in the 2002 reboot the The Faceless One is implied to be a powerful practitioner of magic, but can't leave the Temple of the Ram Stone
    • Blow You Away: Sy-Klone.
    • Body Horror: In the 2002 reboot's "Second Skin," King Hiss uses an ancient artifact to turn people into Snakemen - including Man-At-Arms, Teela and Mekaneck.
    • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: Season 1 of the 2002 reboot 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.
    • Boring Invincible Hero: Seems to happen with He-Man at times; the only truly desperate fights seem like the ones where he's either not involved or up against an enemy who can really beat him.
    • Broken Aesop: All OVER the place.
      • Pretty much the whole 2002 episode "The Courage of Adam" implies that Adam is useless as Adam and really needs his alter ego form to be of any use. It also contradicts many subsequent lessons, about being yourself and trying hard being the way... Adam is never allowed to develop his own, more realistic character. What we see instead is an instant of little-effort, power-gain Transformation.
      • 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.
      • For example, that episode that ends with an anti-violence message... after one more episode of an action show.
        • Three fights in that one. He-Man vs. Demon, He-Man vs. Wizard, Dragon vs. Dragon.
    • Burning with Anger: Skeletor.
    • By the Power of Grayskull: The Trope Namer. In The New Adventures of He-Man, he would actually say "By the Power of Eternia", though.
    • Canon Immigrant: Orko, The Sorceress, and Evil Seed were originally created just for the Filmation cartoon. They all have since been adopted into the He-Man canon—though in Evilseed's case, a toy has yet to be made.
      • The Sorceress was in the original comics and all. She was just known by a different name: "The Goddess". The particular look of the Sorceress, nevertheless, puts her closer to this trope. "The Goddess" in the mini-comics looked like Teela in her snake armor form. The bird-woman look was from the cartoon, and, like Orko, was incorporated into the toyline and comics later.
      • Depending on your point of view, the Snake Men and Stinkor may count as well. Absent from the original cartoon (because the show had ended when the Snake Men's toys came out and Stinkor was judged "waaaaay too stupid to use"), they became fairly large parts of the 2002 series. Fellow original toyline characters not featured in the original cartoon Rio-Blast, Clamp Champ, and Snout Spout were integrated into the 2002 canon in its comic and statue lines.
    • Can't Catch Up: The rest of the team when compared to He-Man's borderline God Mode at times, though the show still does a good job of keeping He-Man out of the picture enough to get to know the other characters. The newer series' "The Monster Within" episode tried to show He-Man as being just as vulnerable as the other Masters under the right circumstances; Man-E-Faces got in trouble and He-Man had to save him, but mere minutes later the roles were reversed.
    • Card-Carrying Villain: Skeletor has a Skull for a Head, keeps trying to Take Over the World, and is named Skeletor.
    • Catch Phrase:
      • "By the power of Grayskull!"
      • "Not so fast, Skeletor!"
      • "Curse you, He-Man!"
    • Cavalry Betrayal
    • Character Name and the Noun Phrase
    • 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 it's as cheesy as you would expect.
      • Justified with It Was His Sled. It was probably assumed that this was commonly known information that would just bore the audience.
    • Clark Kenting: Nobody (other than the Sorceress, Man-At-Arms and Orko) spots that Prince Adam is He-Man, even though they have the same build and girly haircut and as Ram Man once pointed out, Prince Adam and He-Man are never seen together.
      • To be fair, He-Man also has tanned skin, which may help the disguise some. Even so...
      • Averted in the 2002 reboot by depicting Adam as looking more like He-Man's younger brother. He was half He-Man's size and probably gained at least a foot and a half in height and at least a hundred and fifty pounds of additional muscle after he transforms into He-Man.
        • Filmation actually wanted to do this from the start, but a limited budget and heavy use of stock footage forced them to give Adam and He-Man the same character design, so it would be easier to re-trace and re-use the animation. Then again, virtually every male character in the original cartoon has the same build (just like the toys), so Adam and He-Man's similar physiques wouldn't have proved much.
    • Convection, Schmonvection: In the 2002 series, characters routinely stand near lava or dangle over it without suffering any ill effect.
    • Cool Sword
    • 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. Sister superhero She Ra did it too.
    • Cowardly Sidekick: Cringer
    • Crossover: With Superman, twice in fact (though this was the comics version of He-Man). The first featured the origin of Superman's weakness to magic.
    • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Orko is consistently the comedic relief, but there are times when he demonstrates skill and intelligence to help his friends.
      • One of the best examples may be in the 2002 series, where Orko interrogates a captured Snake Man. Orko gets the needed information by whipping out a mongoose (a predator of snakes), making it grow and letting it attack the Snake Man's cell.
      • In the Filmation series, Orko was from an alternate dimension where the rules of magic worked differently. On his home world of Trolla, he was his people's greatest wizard, but on Eternia, he had to relearn even the most basic spells, or else have them blow up in his face. When Orko was able to make his way back to his own dimension, he utterly dominated Skeletor in a magical duel, leaving his friends in complete awe. It should also be mentioned that Orko saved He-man's life when they first met, and showed great magical skill in the rescue (until he lost the medallion that allowed him to perform magic competently in Eternia).
    • Cyber Cyclops: Tri-Clops, oddly enough.
    • Daddy's Girl: Evil-Lyn
    • Dark Action Girl: Evil-Lyn, especially in the 2002 version.
    • Darker and Edgier: The 2002 reboot.
    • Darkest Hour: "The Price of 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 a suicide mission to stop Skeletor because He-Man is no longer available.
    • Demoted to Extra: In the second season of the 2002 series, Skeletor and his minions appeared less frequently and had less impact on plots to make room for King Hiss 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.
    • Despair Event Horizon: "The Price of 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 a suicide mission by one soldier (Teela).
    • Distaff Counterpart: She-Ra
    • Distracted by the Sexy: This happens to Keldor when he first meets Evil-Lyn.
    • Do An Immelmann Turn: Queen Marleena gets to show off her Top Gun skills in "The Rainbow Warrior".
    • Does Not Like Shoes: The 2002 series makes quite a few characters barefoot.
      • Taken to an extreme with the Snake-Men. Not only did the majority have freakish two-toed feet, but only their king wasn't barefoot... and he wore sandals.
    • Drop the Hammer: Tytus, a giant twice He-Man's size, wields a similarly gigantic hammer. Hammers were also the preferred weapons of three giants who appeared in the 2002 show.
    • Dumb Muscle: Both versions of Ram Man, the original Tri-Klops, 2002 Clawful, Baddrha, and to a lesser degree Grizzlor, Beast Man, Trap-Jaw, Whiplash, and Spikor. Clawful is probably the single most emblematic example—the show's writers mention in DVD commentary that they once drew up a hierarchy of intelligence among the evil Masters, and Clawful was dead last. It's eventually revealed that he's more or less illiterate in his own native language; Evil-Lyn had to translate a message sent by his cousin for him. However, when it comes to physical might, he knows few true equals, and he can outmuscle even He-Man.
      • The New Adventures of He-Man also gives us Butthead and Staghorn.
    • Early-Bird Cameo: For the 2002 series, in "Snake Pit" and "Separation" respectively, King Hiss and Hordak make brief, shadowy cameos. Their roles are expanded (particularly the former) in Season 2.
    • Eldritch Abomination: One-shot guest-villain Sh'Gora is a surprisingly hard-core example.
    • Emergency Transformation: Keldor to Skeletor, courtesy of Hordak.
    • Enemy Mine: Stratos and Trap-Jaw have to work together to survive! It doesn't go well.
      • Teela and Evil-Lyn, in contrast, are able to successfully work together when stranded in the desert by a common enemy in "The Witch and the Warrior". To the point that both express genuine regret that they're on opposite sides. (It doesn't last, but it does lead to an almost friendly goodbye by Evil-Lyn... by Eternian villain standards, anyway.)
    • Episode Title Card
    • Even Bad Women Love Their Daddies: Evil-Lyn in the 2002 series returns her father's sacred magical artifact the Ramstone to him after Skeletor tries to destroy He-Man with it.
    • 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.
    • Everybody Do the Endless Loop: Constantly in the 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.
    • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Sorceress.
    • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: 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 like to feel good! I like to feel evil!"s!

    • Evil Counterpart: This series practically personifies this trope. Here are a few examples.
      • Evil-Lyn to Teela
      • Skeletor to King Randor
      • Clawful to Ram-Man
      • Trap-Jaw to Man-At-Arms
      • Tri-Klops to Man-E-Faces
      • Panthor to Battle Cat
      • Evilseed to Moss Man
      • Webstor to Buzz-Off
      • Count Marzo to Orko
      • Hordak to The Sorceress
    • Evil Laugh: Skeletor. In one episode of The New Adventures of He-Man, Skeletor mocks Flogg's halfhearted chuckle and insists he leave these things to the professionals.
    • Evil Sorcerer: Skeletor, Evil-Lyn and several others.
    • Evil Sounds Deep: Averted with Skeletor, whose voice is infamously shrill and grating. Played straight with Beast Man, Tri-Clops, and Trapjaw in the original series.
      • Played straight with Skeletor in the Italian adaptation of the 2002 version, where he receives a deep, raspy voice.
    • Evil Twin: Skeletor created one (conveniently named "Faker") to He-Man.
      • With help from a magic mirror, Skeletor created an evil twin from one of He-Man's allies. The mirror was eventually destroyed by Skeletor's good duplicate.
    • Evil Uncle: If the comics are to be believed, Skeletor himself.
      • Word of God indicates that in the 2002 reboot Keldor/Skeletor is actually King Randor's half-brother. Um... on which side of the family are Randor and Adam related to King Greyskull again? Funnily enough, Skeletor doesn't even know Adam's name (he thinks it's "Alan"), probably due to being exiled before he was born.
    • Fail O'Suckyname: One of the Skeletor-allied mutants from The New Adventures of He-Man was a helmeted, headbutt-happy mauler called... "Butthead". Come on, really? The cartoon mercifully refers to him solely as "BH", but that's still probably the single worst name they could have possibly come up with.
    • Fanfare
    • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Anwat Gar is/was feudal Japan.
    • Fan Vid: He-Man is the subject of many a Gag Dub on YouTube; The Skeletor Show is probably the funniest and most popular. In Chilean television, the humor show "Canal Copano" featured a pretty funny parody as well.

    "Hi there! I'm Adam, Prince of Eternia, and this is my kitty Mr. Cringerpants -- the most cutest kitty in the universe. Fabulous secret powers were revealed to me when I held a-loft my magic sword... and sang."

    • Fish People: Mer-Man and the other Aquaticans. Mer-Man has an unfortunate speech impediment when speaking on dry land that undercuts his menace quite a bit.
    • Five-Bad Band
      • The Big Bad: Skeletor
      • The Dragon: Trapjaw and/or Beast Man
      • Evil Genius: Tri-Klops, in the 2002 series. Modulok in the Filmation series, before he joined the Evil Horde instead. Sometimes Skeletor himself played this role.
      • The Brute: Clawful
      • Dark Chick: Evil-Lyn
      • Sixth Ranger: Anyone else who accompanied them at the time.
    • Five-Man Band: Not always a very straight example of this, though you could fit various characters into the token roles:
    • Flower From the Mountaintop: 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.
    • Fog Feet: The Faceless One is always portrayed, both in animation and comic books, as a ghostly figure with mystic smoke around his legs. When he finally received an action figure that had no representation of the smoke, many fans were displeased.
    • 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, even though they were flat-out lying to him to cover up his surprise party. Stupid Orko!
    • General Failure: Flogg in The New Adventures of He-Man isn't a particularly intelligent mutant and his strategies often leave something to desire, but he manages to subvert this occasionally—he's not smart, but he's a savvy and intimidating military commander who can draw up a battle plan that'll leave 'em reeling sometimes.
    • Genre Savvy: In the '02 series, Skeletor demonstrates this now and then, especially when berating the failures of his team:

    Trap Jaw: We would've won if He-Man hadn't shown up.
    Skeletor: He-Man always shows up!

    • Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: Skeletor at times
    • Giant Eye of Doom: Optikk, one of the evil mutants from The New Adventures of He-Man, is essentially a giant eye sitting on a suit of armor. Optikk is an alias; his real name is pronounced through a series of blinks.
    • Giant Spider: Webstor is a human-sized being with spider features. In the 2002 series episode "Web of Evil," ambrosia makes him even bigger and more spider-like.
    • Go Mad from the Revelation: Upon seeing that his handsome face has been reduced to nothing but a skull floating above his shoulders, Keldor/Skeletor cackles madly.
    • Grand Romantic Gesture: Orko does this in the episode "The Bitter Rose" using the Flower From the Mountaintop method.
    • Great Wall: In the backstory of the 2002 reboot, after Keldor (aka Skeletor) failed in his first insurrection, the Elders erected the Mystic Wall at the border of the Dark and Light Hemispheres, in effect making the entire Dark Hemisphere a prison for Skeletor and his minions. Presumably, this wall had some sort of magical ward that prevented them from climbing or flying over it or burrowing under. They would eventually break free after two decades, having spent that time gathering Corodite crystals to craft a weapon capable of breaking through it.
    • "Growing Muscles" Sequence: Averted in the first cartoon because in order to cut animation costs, Adam is already as buff as He-Man, his lighter skin and clothes being the only differences between the two. Played straight in some episodes of the 2002 series, until He-Man gets his armour.
    • Half-Human Hybrid: Adam's mother, Queen Marlena, is actually an astronaut from Earth.
      • In the 2002 series, Keldor is Randor's half-brother, and as such is implicitly half Eternian human and half... some kind of blue... something.
    • Happily Adopted: Teela, by Man-at-Arms.
    • Happily Married: King Randor and Queen Marlana.
    • Have a Gay Old Time: Half the reason for the Ho Yay.

    "Skeletor to Randor. Skeletor to Randor. Come in, you royal boob!"

    • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Even during the 80s run when Stinkor was deemed too ridiculous to use, a supplemental book version of his rejected episode showed this. Stinkor's stench was so powerful that it sapped He-Man's strength and Stinkor almost beat him.
    • Her Heart Will Go On: The Sorceress (both versions).
    • Heroic Build: If you think He-Man is an example, wait'll you get a load of King Grayskull.
    • Heroic Fantasy
    • Heroic Sacrifice: King Grayskull choose to fight Hordak knowing that he would not survive the battle.
    • He's Back: "The Price of Power". When Orko reveals to Prince Adam that Skeletor tricked him into believing he had killed someone, Skeletor really isn't too thrilled to find He-Man comes back.
    • Hidden Depths: Regardless of continuity, Cringer can be a lot braver than even he thinks he's capable of.

    "You got more Battle-Cat in you then you think."

    • High-Class Glass: After being hit by a "brain ray", Butthead (shut up, we know) starts wearing a monocle. Later he completes the ensemble with a bowler hat and a fancy suit—though he doesn't take off his helmet at any point.
    • Hollywood Cyborg: Trap-Jaw.
    • Hot Amazon: Teela, and Evil-Lyn (especially the 2002 version).
    • Hot Dad: Though older than most, King Randor caught the eye of some fangirls. Originally he was supposed to be a Badass Grandpa wizard in the beginning, instead of the middle-aged warrior he was in canon.
    • Hot Mom: And Queen Marlena is just as hot as her husband.
      • Isn't the Sorceress Teela's mother in at least the '02 series?
        • Yes, and in the original as well
    • Hot Witch: Evil-Lyn.
    • Human Alien: Every 'human' character is this.
    • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Granamyr's general opinion of humans.
    • Hunk: He-Man himself.
    • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: When King Hiss turns some Heroic Warriors into Snrake Men:

    He-Man: Man-at-arms, fight it!
    Man-at-Arms: I can't... nor do I want to!

    • I Surrender, Suckers: Skeletor tends to do this on a near-daily basis.
      • In the first battle between He-Man and Skeletor of the '02 series, he does this twice.
    • Important Haircut: In The New Adventures of He-Man, but in reverse: He-Man's hair inexplicably (but quite explicitly) gets ponytail-length longer during a moment of awesome mystical display.
    • Incredible Shrinking Man: The result of the Reducto Ray in "No Job Too Small". Also a plot element in "Day of the Machines".
    • Inept Mage: On Eternia, most people think Orko is this. He's actually from a different dimension where the rules of magic work differently. As a result, his magic struggles on Eternia but what most don't know is that he's a very powerful and well-respected mage back home and that even on Eternia his magic can work properly but only when he's using a special medallion (original series) or a special wand (2002 reboot). In both cases, he lost the artifact saving Prince Adam's life just after arriving on Eternia.
    • Inside a Computer System: The plot of "Day of the Machines".
    • Intergenerational Friendship: He-Man and Duncan.
    • Ironic Echo: The 2002 Continuity Reboot starts with Adam doing the Opening Narration, but as soon as he gets to the line, "Fabulous Secrets", he's cut off in mid-sentence as the area he's standing in front of is under attack.
    • It's the Journey That Counts / Magic Feather: King Grayskull seeks the power to defeat Hordak, and is told by a seer to give up his sword and journey to find a new magic sword. When he does, he finds the seer, who returns Grayskull's sword and tells Grayskull he always had the power, he just needed the trip to focus his abilities.
    • I Want You to Meet An Old Friend of Mine: In the 2002 series, Teela was voiced by Lisa Ann Beley and Evil-Lyn was voiced by Kathleen Barr. By an amazing coincidence, Lisa was also the voice of the heroic Catgirl Felicia and Kathleen was also the voice of the evil Hot Witch Morrigan from the Darkstalkers television series.
    • I Was Beaten by a Girl: Skeletor in Secret of the Sword.
    • The Key Is Behind the Lock: In one version of the Backstory, Prince Adam was questing with Teela for what would later become his magic sword. Wielding this sword was the only way to enter Castle Grayskull. And yes, the sword was inside the castle.
    • Lady of War: Teela and Evil-Lyn.
    • Legion of Doom: After all of his normal minions are captured by the Masters, Skeletor teams up with every villain not affiliated with him up to that point in the series (Evilseed, Count Marzo, and the three giants. Webstor was there, too, but apparently he just happened to live in one of Snake Mountain's hidden corridors), thus forming the Council of Evil.
    • Leotard of Power: All the Action Girls, good or evil.
    • Living MacGuffin: "The Starchild"
    • Loin Cloth: Part of He-Man's outfit. Sadly, She-Ra does not wear a Fur Bikini.
      • On the other hand, perhaps in keeping with the 1970s trend of matching garb for couples, the DC comics had Teela occasionally sporting fur shorts identical to He-Man's with Frazetta style breastplates to maintain (some) modesty.
    • Loud Gulp: In the very first 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!
    • Loves My Alter Ego: Teela has a crush on He-Man but dismisses Adam as a lazy coward.
    • Luke, I Am Your Father: Teela, searching for the identity of her true parents, learns -- and is promptly made to forget -- that the Sorceress of Grayskull is actually her mother, and that at some point in time, she will have to take her place. In the 2002 series, it was planned to have Teela discover this and not be forced to forget, but it got canceled before that could happen. And for it to be Teela's choice whether she would become the new Sorceress.
      • Two examples, actually: Although never covered in the series itself, the later minicomics (which notionally conformed to the animated canon) were set to reveal that Skeletor was in fact Keldor, Randor's long-lost brother and thus Adam (and He-Man)'s uncle. In the 2002 reboot, Skeletor was even shown in his Keldor days in the pilot and through flashbacks, but they didn't get around to pointing out the familial relationship (although they probably intended to: the writers discussed the fact that they were half-brothers on the DVD commentary).
        • It goes much deeper than that in the 2002 reboot: We learn that Fisto is actually Man-At-Arms' brother, and—had the show continued—would've revealed not only that Teela was the Sorceress' daughter (as in the original series, but she wouldn't have forgotten, afterwards), but also that Fisto is her father. (Though there were also vague allusions that Man-At-Arms might be her biological father rather than just adoptive.)
    • Magical Girl Warrior: Oddly enough, this show is fairly close to that particular sub-genre of Magical Girl in spite of its macho overtones.
    • Male Gaze: A common occurrence when the female cast is involved in the 80's series. How many times has the viewer been treated to Teela's backside, whether she was landing or being crept up upon by a villain?
    • Meaningful Name / Meaningful Rename: Consider names like Cringer/Battle Cat, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Man-E-Faces, Beast Man and so forth. With this franchise, character backstories tend to fall on the latter trope when it comes to names.
    • Mega Neko: Battle-Cat
      • Also Panthor, Skeletor's pet, er, panther, and the lion steed of King Greyskull in the 2002 revival, who was twice as big as Battle-Cat and Panthor combined.
    • Merchandise-Driven: This was the first toyline driven show since Ronald Reagan deregulated FCC rules on shows pimping toylines.
    • Missing Episode: A 40th episode of the '02 series was scripted, but never animated. A Comic Book Adaptation of it was included as a special feature on the DVD, though. King Hiss is fully healed and Man-At-Arms is turned into a Snakeman again to be their Gadgeteer Genius.
    • Mordor: The Dark Hemisphere of Eternia.
    • Morph Weapon: Man-E-Faces has a weapon with three modes, much like himself. Staff, gun, and club—respectively well-suited to his human, robot, and monster faces.
    • The Movie: Secret of the Sword, and in Live Action, Masters of the Universe.
    • Mythology Gag: The 2002 Continuity Reboot series has an identical opening narration except that it is cut off by attacking villains:

    I am Adam, Prince of Eternia, and defender of the secrets of Castle Grayskull. This is Cringer, my "fearless" friend. Fabulous secret pow--
    (Castle Greyskull gets attacked)

      • The Classics toyline has released "Wun-Dar", an attempt to make canon the mysterious "Wonder Bread He-Man" with brown hair and different armor (who nobody can prove was actually offered by Wonder Bread). He even comes with an "Eternian baked good".
      • Skeletor's Bifurcated Weapon. The original He-Man and Skeletor toys each had a sword designed to join together to form a single powerful one.
    • Name's the Same: Fisto's toy even had to be called "Battle Fist" to avoid confusion with Star Wars' Kit Fisto, despite being created like 20 years earlier.
      • Also, Butthead from The New Adventures of He-Man.
    • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Skeletor, of course. Oddly, this could apply to both sides. Who would really want to hand around people named Ram-Man, Fisto, or Buzz-Off? The Classics line tries to make this all less silly by giving most of the characters real names and establishing their more familiar monikers as simple aliases.
    • Never Be a Hero
    • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: In one episode, He-Man and Skeletor use ancient artifacts to become, respectively, a samurai barbarian prince and a samurai skeleton wizard. The same episode introduced Sy-Clone, a samurai wind elemental. The original toyline featured Rio Blast, a cyborg cowboy (who admittedly was later introduced sort of into the 2002 continuity).
    • Nobody Calls Me Chicken: The episode "Buzz-Off's Pride" shows this about Buzz-Off.
    • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In the 2002 series, Stratos' voice is plainly based on Sean Connery's -- apparently, it was felt that Stratos' beard brought Connery to mind.
    • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Buzz-Off's Queen Bee is pretty busty for an insect lady.
    • No Name Given: The Sorceress. What about in the sorceresses backstory episode? She is referred to as Teela-na
    • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Inverted for Orco, who was an archmage in his home dimension. Too bad magic works differently in He-Man's.
    • Notable Original Music: Music by the team of Shuki Levy and Haim Saban. Some of the music was recycled from The Mysterious Cities of Gold. There was a BGM album released.

    El universo ya está protegido
    por el Poder de Grayskull...
    ¡Con secretos poderes de este gran castillo
    He-man luchará hasta el final!

    Teniendo a su lado la magica espada
    y amigos que no fallaran,
    fuerzas malvadas querran liquidarlo
    y nunca descansaran!

      • Translation:

    The universe is now protected
    by the Power of Greyskull...
    With secret powers of this great castle
    He-man will fight to the end!

    Having by his side the magical sword
    and unfailing friends,
    evil forces will want to kill him
    and will never rest!

    • Not Blood Related: Teela and her adopted father Man-At-Arms.
    • Obviously Evil: Skeletor and his army in spades. So much so in fact that he even provides the trope picture.
    • Old Hero, New Pals: The New Adventures of He-Man. He-Man and Skeletor travel to planet Primus, where they join the Galactic Guardians and the Evil Mutants respectively. The Sorceress appears from time to time and there's one episode with Teela.
    • One-Man Army: King Miro regards He-Man as this the first time he ever sees him in action.
    • Only Six Body Types: This sums up every character's build in the show quite nicely.
    • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Orko in the Filmation series sometimes had an urban and/or Jersey accent.
      • Probably because he was voiced by Filmation producer Lou Scheimer himself, who was from Pittsburgh.
    • Overtook the Manga: Or, in this case, overtook the mini-comics.
      • Then again, Filmation's show wasn't really based on the mini-comics anyway.
    • Paper-Thin Disguise: Man-E-Faces. Also Faker, who looked exactly like Prince Adam—only blue.
      • It gets worse; in the Filmation cartoon they didn't make him blue.
        • Allegedly they intended to have him become blue in his next appearance... which never ended up happening. Funnily enough, virtually identical events transpired in the '02 show as well.
      • To be fair to Man-E-Faces, at least in the 2002 series, his faces aren't really a disguise, per se.
      • In the original, Adam/He-Man himself qualified too. His "secret identity" was "concealed" entirely by his wearing different clothes and having a different hairdo. How did nobody manage to notice that Adam looks exactly like He-Man? The 2002 series corrects this by making Adam get much larger and more muscular when he transforms into He-Man.
    • Petting Zoo People: Most non-human races of Eternia are this.
    • Plucky Comic Relief: Orko lives and breathes this trope.
    • Plucky Girl: Teela.
    • Popcultural Osmosis
    • The Power of Acting: Man-E-Faces once received three standing ovations for concurrent performances; suffice it to say, the guy's good.
    • Power Fist: Sort of with Fisto—yes, he's wearing a glove, but his hand really is that big.
    • Poor Man's Substitute: Serpenators are this to dragons. King Hss accuses He-Man of being one to King Grayskull, and he's kind of right despite the tropes used to describe him.
    • Psychological Torment Zone: The Valley of Winds.
    • Punny Name: Yeah...who doesn't have one?
    • Race Lift: In the 2002 series, 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.
    • The Rashomon: The Battle of the Quagmi Swamp in The New Adventures of He-Man. Flipshot, Hydron, Slushhead and Flogg each tell their own version of the story - their versions, of course, exaggerating their own role and aggrandizing themselves. Interestingly, we never get the real story and are forced to simply piece it together from the common elements in each tale.
    • Recycled in Space: The New Adventures of He-Man. To be perfectly fair, little more than He-Man and Skeletor themselves remained from the original series, and in both cases their appearances were altered quite a bit.
    • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Skeletor, at least in the 2002 series, and Count Marzo.
      • Tri-Klops has one red eye, one blue eye, and one yellow eye.
    • Red Oni, Blue Oni: He-Man and Skeletor, who wore red and blue and were on the sides of good and evil respectively.
    • The Renaissance Age of Animation
    • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Played completely straight with the cannibalistic, scheming, and downright evil snake-men. Also Whiplash, a crude bully considered an embarrassment and a traitor by the rest of his people.
    • Rich Idiot With No Day Job: Adam uses this "fake identity" along with Obfuscating Stupidity to keep his secret. Done a bit more believably in the newer series, where Adam and He-Man's appearances are drastically different instead of He-Man just being more tanned and having a different attitude.
    • Right-Hand Hottie: Evil-Lyn all the way.
    • Robo Speak: Roboto. He's a robot. Also Man-E-Faces' robot face.
    • Rogues Gallery: Skeletor and his army. Sometimes, there are episodes that featured villains that weren't part of the toyline, such as Evil Seed.
    • Samaritan Syndrome
    • Save the Villain: A lot of times.
    • Schizo-Tech
    • Sealed Evil in a Can: In the 2002 series, King Hiss and the Snake-Men. And Hordak.
    • She's Got Legs: Teela, Evil-Lyn, and the Sorceress.
    • Shipped in Shackles: In the 2002 series, Kobra Khan is shackled and muzzled when transported. The muzzle is left on in his prison cell due to his venom-spitting abilities.
    • Shout-Out: In the episode, The Origin of the Sorceress, it featured Morgoth the Terrible and Koduck Ungol as the previous Sorceress.
      • In the episode "The Remedy", the Tacktryl is basically a pink Warlock Come to think of it, that's actually more of a Palette Swap...
    • Sibling Yin-Yang: Man-At-Arms and Fisto to a certain degree.
    • Single Tear: He-Man sheds one when She-Ra vanishes into the sunset in He-Man and She-Ra: Secret of the Sword.
    • Skull for a Head: Skeletor
    • Smug Snake: Skeletor and almost every villain in the series.
      • King Hiss takes this to a literal extent.
    • The Smurfette Principle: Teela is the only girl on Team Good, and Evil-Lyn is the only one on Team Evil.
    • Spell My Name with an "S": Syclone, both literally and figuratively.
    • Spider Tank: The Spydor from the original toyline.
    • Spin-Off: She Ra Princess of Power
    • Split Personality: Cringer/Battle-Cat
      • Man-E-Faces has a human face, a robot face and a beast face, each with an accompanying personality. One episode of the 2002 series has him learning to accept the advantages of his beast personality and overcome the weakness he had with Beast Man's power over animals. In the original, the number of faces he had and their exact unique qualities was never specified.
      • In a comic story, he covers three guard shifts on a tower by changing face when tired. How the robot face got tired is a mystery, and when he switch to the beast face, Beast Man dominates him over a long distance.
    • Squeaky Eyes: Orko has these.
    • Stab the Sky
    • The Starscream: Evil-Lyn is pretty blatant about it. So was Awful Clawful in the original.
      • Also Kobra Khan in the 2002 series when pretending to align with Skeletor. He was completely loyal to King Hiss, however.
      • Tri-Klops in one episode of the 2002 series, "Roboto's Gambit". He builds an army of skeleton soldiers that multiply when destroyed, and sets out on his own to prove to Skeletor that they work. He then decides to just take the castle for himself. Of course, once He-Man smashes the remote that controlled them and Skeletor finds out about his plan, he's quick to get back in line.
    • Strong as They Need to Be: He-Man himself pretty much exemplifies the trope. He's exactly as strong as the plot needs him to be at any given moment. At one point his power is even specifically defined as this: his strength is exactly enough to accomplish whatever task he's attempting at the moment.
    • Suicide Mission: In "The Price of Power" Teela takes one of these to stop Skeletor from completing a dimensional gate that will bring through an army capable of conquering Eternia. Due to He-Man's unavailability, her chances of coming back alive are zero. Fortunately for her, He-Man turns up just in time to save her.
    • Superhero
    • Taken for Granite: Snake Face's power. It gets turned against him just one episode after his debut; the writers claim he had to be taken out quickly and permanently because his ability was too powerful.
    • Take Over the World: The goal of Skeletor and pretty much every villain is to take over Eternia.
    • Take That: The Christmas Special featured an appearance by new villains in the form of giant evil robots called the Monstroids, who have the ability to transform into aircraft. You can probably guess which competing toy line they were knocking off here.
      • And the toyline later included Dragstor, a villain who was also a car.
      • The toyline also included a Monstroid, but it was nothing like the ones from the special.
    • Talking Animal: Cringer/Battle Cat in the original series. Averted in the 2002 series.
    • Talking to Himself: In the 2002 series, Scott McNeil voiced Clawful, Mer-Man, Stratos, Ram Man, and Beast Man; an astonishing five regular characters. While in this series most of the cast voiced at least two people, that's still impressive.
      • And that's just at the start of the series. McNeil later voiced Kobra Khan.
    • Team Pet: Cringer/Battle Cat, especially in the '02 series where he can't talk and acts like any normal (though large) feline.
    • Techno Wizard: Man-At-Arms
    • Temporary Blindness: Happens to He-Man and Ram-Man in "Not so Blind". Fortunately, a boy who's already blind leads them to safety.
    • Ten-Minute Retirement: He-Man goes through this in "The Price of Power" thanks to a Batman Gambit by Skeletor designed to make him think he had accidentally killed someone in order to get him to defeat himself and thereby give up. Unfortunately for Skeletor, not only did Orko overhear the plan but he also underestimated Orko's magical ingenuity in escaping Skeletor's prison. As a result, He-Man came back in a Big Damn Heroes way.
    • That Man Is Dead: Keldor died when he got a face full of acid. Skeletor was born shortly afterwards. Figuratively speaking, of course. Among Skeletor's minions, Trap-Jaw (whose original identity of Kronis was abandoned after he became a cyborg) and Stinkor (who changed his name after becoming a formidable force for evil) arguably count, as well.
    • That's No Moon: Snake Mountain is really alive but frozen in place -- until King Hiss sets it free.
    • Theme Naming
    • Theme Tune Roll Call
    • Title Theme Tune: Opening theme just has "He-Man!"
    • Took a Level in Badass: There was once a He-Man villain known as Stinkor, a skunk-man who had the power of smelling so horribly he had to use a respirator to keep himself from being knocked out. You would think this is a useless or stupid ability, but the 2002 reboot shows just how deadly this can be.
    • Transformation Sequence: Adam to He-Man.
    • Transformation Trinket: The Sword of Power. Curiously, Skeletor wields a nearly identical sword in the toyline, which could merge with He-Man's sword and the two were known collectively as the Power Sword when merged, but it lacks this little ability. Skeletor's sword appears only in the children's books and occasionally the mini-comics, and is outright ignored in the cartoon. He did seem to have a duplicate version of the blade in Masters of the Universe, however, but it's so dark it's almost impossible to see if it really is supposed to be the 'dark half' of the Power Sword (referred to as The Sword of Grayskull in the film) or not.
    • Translator Microbes: Orko's "Translator Spell" is one of the only spells he can cast that actually works as intended.
    • Treasure Chest Cavity: Orko.
    • Underwear of Power: All the guys, though He-Man is the only one not to use the "Underwear on the Outside" variety.
    • Undying Loyalty: Cringer may be a scaredy cat, but he always stands by Adam - even when faced with all of Skeletor's Evil Warriors and the Council of Evil.
    • Unwilling Suspension
    • Use Your Head: Ram-Man: "Duuuuuh, good door! Soooo-lid!" Ram Man, as you might expect, loves to rush at things headfirst. Mekaneck also likes to land a good headbutt when he gets the opportunity. The New Adventures of He-Man's unfortunately named Butthead was essentially an evil Ram Man.
    • Walking Shirtless Scene: He-Man and most of the male characters on the show.
    • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Meckanek's extendable neck, with Lampshade Hanging on it in the 2002 series. Mekanek's power is even more pathetic if you know the original toyline, because included therein was Extendar, who could extend his entire body outward, making Mekanek redundant. Rattlor has powers similar to Meckanek's, but they're much better suited to a Snake Man. Additionally, the toyline only character Blast-Atak is a robot who can explode—why go through the trouble of building a sophisticated robot if it's just to have it blow itself up? Snout Spout, meanwhile, could... fire water out of his snout. Stinkor also gets ribbed for the power of "smelling like, really, like, really really bad"—but it's a lot more effective than you might think.
    • 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, that version would always have enough strength necessary to complete any given task he just needed to apply it correctly.
    • Whip It Good: Whiplash, as his name implies, is very fond of using his long tail as a whip, but he also has an actual handheld whip that mimics its appearance somewhat (though he uses it less often). Beast Man uses a whip—but rarely as a weapon. Rather, he uses it to tame animals. Two-Badd also uses a whip in one episode.
    • White-Haired Pretty Girl: Evil-Lyn, though she rarely takes off her helmet to display it.
    • Who's Laughing Now?: In one episode of the 2002 series, 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.
    • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Ram-Man is afraid of the dark.
      • This pretty much sums up everyone's feelings in the 2002 series Snake-Man season.
      • Orko is also afraid of dragons in another episode. But to quote the recurring line of the episode, "Who isn't?"
    • World Half Full: Eternia wouldn't be that bad to live in, but it's still full of crazy things like a malevolent force of nature that hates people for eating plants, even though people need to do so to live.
    • Worthy Opponent: Teela and Evil-Lyn in the Enemy Mine episode "The Witch and the Warrior".