He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is a sword and sorcery and Sci-Fi based media franchise developed by Mattel. The franchise began with the release of the Masters of the Universe toy lines in 1981 and has since gone on to produce other media such as animated television series, newspaper comic strips, comic book series, live-action movies, books, magazines, and video games. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe franchise proved to be a commercial success as the media released in the franchise were all well received, especially the action figures and toy lines.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe media franchise are based on the conflict of its two main characters: He-Man, the most powerful man in the world, and his adversary, Skeletor, the evil skull-faced sorcerer.
There have been numerous distinct versions and storylines from various media in the franchise, but the basic summary of them all is that “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe media franchise are based on the old-fashioned moral tale of good versus evil,” and as always, the good prevails.
Presenting the Top Ten Characters from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
We will be focusing our list on characters from only two media. First, we will pull characters from the Masters of the Universe mini comics. To promote sales of their new He-Man toy line, Mattel began producing mini comics to pack with the action figures. Altogether, 49 distinct comics were issued from 1981 to 1987. The mini comics also served as the first storyline created to animate the action figures.
Secondly, we looked at Filmation’s He-Man and Masters of the Universe cartoon series, which became the most popular incarnation of the media franchise. The show was on screen from 1983 to 1985. It also consists of 130 episodes over two seasons.
10. Mer Man
Mer Man has appeared across the majority of all the Masters of the Universe media franchise. In the animated series, Alan Oppenheimer provided the voice for Mer Man. He was the paramount ruler of every creature that resides beneath the seas of Eternia, not just his race of amphibious humanoids. Though a king on his own, Mer Man was one of the loyal subjects of Skeletor and a member of the Evil Warriors. Mer Man also can breathe both on land and in water. Then, he can control a sizable number of aquatic animals too.
This is a tightly contended spot between Evil-Lyn and the Sorceress of Castle Greyskull. Evil-Lyn edged out the Sorceress because of her finesse and swagger. Anything this character does, be rest assured, is elegant in execution.
In the Filmation’s animated television series, Linda Gary provided the voice for Evil-Lyn. She was an intelligent, fearless, and very skilled sorceress. However, the series never explored nor explained her origin. Evil-Lyn was a member of the Evil Warriors, although she sometimes also worked on her evil schemes. She would also occasionally act as a freelancer for other evil individuals.
Meanwhile, the mini-comics depicted Evil-Lyn as an evil counterpart to Teela. In contrast, Evil-Lyn rivaled the Sorceress of Castle Greyskull in the animated television series.
8. Beast Man
John Egan voiced the Beast Man character in the Filmation cartoon series. In the mini-comic, Beast Man was the closest and most loyal follower of Skeletor and one of the original members of the then small band Evil Warriors. However, as the characters grew, Beast Man’s status grew to become the second-in-command to Skeletor. He can call out most of the wild creatures of Eternia to support his master’s evil scheme.
In Filmation’s animated television series, the Beast Man character was quite like his mini-comic counterpart. However, the main difference was that the cartoon toned down Beast Man’s actions to meet the children’s viewing standards. He also had a hidden desire to overthrow his master.
Man-E-Faces is a member of the Heroic Warriors. This character stood out with his large metal head with a screen-like opening where his many faces appear.
In the mini-comics, Man-E-Faces was an actor abducted by the evil Skeletor and forced to drink a poisonous potion that turned him into a vicious monster that Skeletor uses to attack people. The Sorceress of Castle Greyskull stepped in, cured Man-E-Faces, and returned him to his human form. Unfortunately, his salvation was short-lived as Skeletor turned him back to the monster. The struggle between his human form and monster form created the third persona in the form of a robot. After Man-E-Faces’ rescue from the grasp of Skeletor, his three forms had become permanent parts of his character.
Meanwhile, the Filmation animated television series portrayed Man-E-Faces as an actor who uses his numerous faces for role-playing rather than a cursing giving him many faces. He also possessed more than just three faces. Here, Lou Scheimer provided the voice for him.
Orko is a fan favorite and a popular character in Filmation’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe animated series. Filmation created Orko as a source of comic relief for the animated television show, with Lou Scheimer voicing him.
Orko was an extraterrestrial wizard from Trolla whom a cosmic storm accidentally transported to Eternia. Luckily, he arrived right in time to save the young Prince Adam and his pet cat from a tiger cub. As a reward for saving the Prince, the King appointed Orko as the Royal Entertainer. Although a powerful wizard on his home planet, Orko’s magic regularly malfunctioned or backfired, much to the amusement of the viewers. Orko also enjoyed picking on and disturbing Duncan, the Man-At-Arms.
5. Cringer (Battle Cat)
Cringer is the lazy, dimwitted, and cowardly pet cat of Prince Adam, who Alan Oppenheimer voiced in the cartoon. Filmation created Cringer as a talking pet cat that also provides comic relief to the show. Although loyal to Prince Adam, all Cringer does is eat, sleep, and complain. Whenever Prince Adam transforms into He-Man, he uses the same power from the power sword to transform Cringer into the mighty and fierce Battle Cat. Once transformed into Battle Cat, He-Man rides him into battle.
In the mini-comic, Battle Cat was a wild beast that answers He-Man whenever he calls out. Battle Cat serves as He-Man’s steed to battle and sometimes fights alongside him.
Linda Gary provided the voice for Teela in the He-Man and Masters of the Universe animated television series. Here, she was a Captain in the Palace Royal Guard and was responsible for protecting Prince Adam and his training. Teela was also the daughter of the Sorceress of Castle Greyskull, who could not raise her alone after her father’s demise. Thus, the Sorceress begged Duncan, the Man-At-Arms, to raise her as his daughter.
In the mini-comic, Teela (Tee-La) was a clone of a warrior goddess created by Skeletor. Man-At Arms eventually rescued and raised her to become a warrior goddess.
3. Man-At-Arms (Duncan)
According to the Filmation animated television series, Man-At-Arms is a title given to Duncan, a soldier, an inventor, and Prince Adam’s mentor. He also became Teela’s foster father after agreeing with the Sorceress to raise her as his daughter. Alan Oppenheimer provided the voice for Duncan in the series. Duncan’s role as the Man-At-Arms is to provide the soldiers of Eternia with new sophisticated weapons. In addition, he advised the government on police and military affairs.
In the mini-comics, Man-At-Arms was part of the tribe of experts of all weapons. He also raised Teela after her creation as a goddess clone.
Skeletor is the primary villain of the whole Masters of the Universe media franchise. In most media, he is the main source of evil with powerful magic, even when his origins differ.
In the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe animated television series, Alan Oppenheimer voiced Skeletor, a former student of Hordak, a powerful warlord on the planet Etheria. By revealing the location of his secret lair to He-Man and the Heroic Warriors, Skeletor betrayed his former master and set off on his own. Skeletor then came to Eternia intending to learn the secrets of Castle Greyskull, which holds power to become the Master of the Universe.
The mini comic portrays Skeletor as an extraterrestrial from another dimension full of his kind. After the Great War left Eternia devastated, a dimensional portal opened which inadvertently threw out Skeletor into Eternia. Upon realizing that Eternia was far better than his home world, Skeletor sought to reopen the portal and invite his people to invade and conquer Eternia.
He-Man is the main protagonist of the Masters of the Universe media franchise. Across all media, he is a force for good and a capable adversary to Skeletor and his band of Evil Warriors. Still, different media give him distinct origin tales.
In the Filmation animated television series, where John Erwin provided his voice, He-Man was the alter ego of Prince Adam, the son of King Randor, and Queen Mariena, the rulers of Eternia. The Sorceress bestowed Prince Adam with the ability to transforms into He-Man by holding up his power sword and chanting an incantation. He keeps his dual identity secret to protect his family, with only a handful of his inner circle knowing his secret.
In the mini-series, He-Man was a barbarian from an Eternian tribe, with the planet recovering from the Great War; the Sorceress of Castle Greyskull provides He-Man with enchanted weapons and sends him out to defend the Castle of Greyskull from the evil Skeletor.
Did your favorite characters make it onto our list? Between Mattel’s toy line and the media that spawned from it, there is no shortage of great characters. Let us know who your favorite characters from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe were.
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About the author
Author: Chris Ingledue
Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!