Based on a toy line by Mattel, Filmation’s 1983 cartoon series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe tells an epic story of He-Man, a noble warrior fighting evil on a far-away planet Eternia – a world of sorcery and super-science.
Such tales are only as good as their villain, and He-Man’s nemesis Skeletor is as good (and as goofy) as they come, with a skull for a face and the body of a wrestler. Skeletor’s convoluted and contradictory history is told through comic books, in the original 1983 animated series, in the 1990 cartoon series The New Adventures of He-Man and in the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe reboot.
In a toy universe populated by characters with names like Butthead, Webstor, Dragstor, Negator, Fisto and Plundor, it wasn’t that hard to find silly and strange facts about our favorite skeletal menace. Therefore, we bring you Screen Rant’s list of 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Skeletor.
10. Skeletor Was Served by His Own Ghost
The mysterious villain Scare Glow was one of the last toys to be introduced in the Mattel’s original Masters of the Universe toy line. At the time, little was known about this being with the translucent body and glowing bones. An accompanying mini-comic explained only that Scare Glow is one of the most evil creatures from all of the time and space, summoned to Eternia by Skeletor’s dark magic.
Since the tagline ambiguously described Scare Glow as the “ghost of Skeletor,” fans assumed that Skeletor brings his own ghost from the future to serve him as a henchman. As villainous moves go, it doesn’t get any better than this! Unfortunately, years later Mattel party-pooped all over this awesome idea by explicitly stating that Scare Glow is the ghost of Karak Nul, some villain or other that nobody cares about.
9. Skeletor Used to Be a From Another Universe
During the release of the Mattel’s Masters of the Universe toy line in the early 1980s, individual action figures were often accompanied by short comics telling their origin story. Most of these stories are slightly different from those shown couple of years later in the Filmation’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon.
In these early mini-comics, Skeletor is a creature thrown to Eternia through a hole in a dimensional wall from another, evil universe. Skeletor wants to reopen this rift to his own dimension and bring in an army to invade and conquer Eternia. Little is known about Skeletor’s home world, but it is strongly suggested that all of its inhabitants are similar to him. Although this origin story was changed, all versions of the Skeletor origin story suggest that he spent time learning evil magic in a dark alternate dimension.
8. Skeletor Once Owned the Other Half of He-Man’s Power Sword
In the initial Masters of the Universe toy line, Skeletor is shown wielding a magical sword not unlike the one used by He-Man. This is no accident, as these two swords are actually two halves of one more powerful magical weapon. This weapon was deliberately split in two by Sorceress, ruler and keeper of Castle Grayskull.
In these early tales, Skeletor desires He-Man’s Power Sword. Combining it with his own weapon would give Skeletor the power necessary to unlock the gates of Castle Grayskull. Once inside, he could learn its mysteries and use them to open a portal to his own hellish reality. Millions of his kinsmen would then invade Eternia and conquer it in Skeletor’s name.
7. Skeletor is an Animal Lover
Skeletor never hesitates to betray his allies if it suits his plans. The New Adventures of He-Man show Skeletor ostensibly working with Flogg, leader of the Evil Mutants. However, there’s never any doubt that Skeletor hates the guy and is ready to stab him in the back at a moment’s notice. In the 2002 reboot of the animated series, Skeletor sends his own henchmen to certain death just to fool the heroes into a false sense of security.
But Skeletor is really fond of his pets. Throughout the 1983 cartoon series, Skeletor is accompanied by a purple panther, whom he creatively named Panthor. In The New Adventures of He-Man, Skeletor tames a savage alien mutt called – in another astonishing display of creativity – Grr. He also saves a wounded Manchine dog Relay from freezing to death. But this last one might’ve been a case of a holiday spirit.
6. Skeletor and the Holiday Spirit
He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special was originally broadcast in December of 1985. In it, a pair of Earth kids named Miguel and Alisha accidentally end up on Eternia. And because it’s just around Christmas time, the show’s characters learn something about the true meaning of the holidays… And that includes Skeletor.
Horde Prime, supreme leader of the Intergalactic Horde Empire, is convinced that the only thing that could topple him from power is the holiday spirit. He summons Skeletor and Hordak and orders them to capture Miguel and Alisha. Skeletor catches them first, but he crash-lands with them in the frozen wilderness. In an uncharacteristic show of kindness, Skeletor saves a Manchine puppy Relay, protects the kids and learns about Christmas, all the while trying to convince himself he’s still acting evil. Eventually, children are saved and returned home, while Skeletor is relieved to learn he only needs to act good once a year.
5. Skeletor Has a Special Lady Friend (and She Isn’t Evil-Lyn)
In The New Adventures of He-Man, Galactic Guardians from the planet Primus come to Eternia looking for a hero to help them defend their home world from the evil Mutants of Denebria. Skeletor manages to trick them into thinking that a person with a skull for a face is actually a good guy so they transport both him and He-Man into the future. Once there, Skeletor quickly finds a job working for Flogg, leader of the Mutants.
These changes seem to suit Skeletor fine, because in this series he’s far more relaxed than in the 1983 Masters of the Universe cartoon. Skeletor jokes often and even accepts his defeats with grace. He also meets Crita, an attractive and ruthless female villain working for the Mutants. Over time, Skeletor and Crita start flirting with each other and even dance together on one occasion. Skeletor being Skeletor though, he’s still perfectly willing to let Crita die to save his own skin. Crita forgives him though. After all, what’s a little betrayal among friends?
4. Skeletor Began by Working for Hordak
For someone looking up to Skeletor as a paragon of evil, it comes as a disappointment to learn that our favorite skeletal sorcerer wasn’t always the villain he is today. In fact, Skeletor began his career in evil as an apprentice to Hordak, the main villain from that other Masters of the Universe cartoon – She-Ra: Princess of Power.
As we learn in the 1985 animated movie He-Man and She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword, Skeletor eventually rose to Hordak’s second-in-comand – a Darth Vader to Hordak’s Emperor, if you will. When Hordak’s forces attacked Eternia, Skeletor did what Skeletor does best and betrayed Hordak by telling the Sorceress and Man-at-Arms the secret location of Hordak’s base, which was in Snake Mountain. After Hordak’s forces withdrew from Eternia, Skeletor took Snake Mountain for himself and became an evil overlord. Which brings us to the fact that…
3. Skeletor Is a Squatter
As evil headquarters go, Skeletor’s Snake Mountain is pretty awesome: it’s a giant stone snake wrapped around an entire mountain, with a perpetual lightning storm above. A skull-shaped castle would have made a lot more sense for a skull-faced villain, but Castle Grayskull is already taken by a woman dressed as a bird.
In early stories, Skeletor himself creates Snake Mountain using his powerful dark magic. However, the 2002 Masters of the Universe cartoon tells another, hilariously humiliating story. In it, Skeletor and his cronies move into a deserted evil castle, saving themselves the trouble of building their own base of operation. But trouble does ensue when King Hiss of the Snake Men – the original owner of the palace – returns after millennia of imprisonment. Unhappy with squatters in his royal palace, Hiss defeats Skeletor with ease. Only the fact that the heroes later defeat King Hiss allows Skeletor to escape with his life, if not his pride.
2. Skeletor’s True Identity
The Cancellation of the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon in 1984 didn’t end the story of Skeletor. Released in 1986, mini-comic The Search for Keldor tells a tale of a power-hungry sorcerer Keldor who – it is hinted – turns into Skeletor during his dark wanderings through time and space. Keldor is a long-lost brother to Randor, king of Eternia and He-Man’s father. Skeletor as He-Man’s uncle isn’t quite the twist on the level of Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker’s father, but it is nevertheless an interesting development.
Published by DC Comics in 2012, Masters of the Universe: The Origin Of Skeletor goes one step further. In it, we learn that Keldor is actually a first-born son to King Miro, old ruler of Eternia. But after King Miro chooses his younger son Randor as a heir to the throne over him, Keldor grows embittered and turns to evil. Small wonder there: despite all of his scholarly and military achievements, Keldor loses the throne because he is a “half-breed.” Skeletor is quite literally a victim of racism!
1. The Secret of the Skeletor’s Skull
So if Skeletor – aka Keldor – is related to He-Man and King Randor, how come he looks like a freaking monster? In the 2002 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe reboot, Keldor is gruesomely disfigured during the failed attack on the Hall of Wisdom. Keldor faces Captain Randor in a one-to-one battle. Realizing he’s losing, Keldor throws a vial of acid at Randor, who successfully deflects it with his shield. The acid splashes on Keldor’s face and nearly kills him.
It is young Evil-Lyn who saves Keldor’s life. She takes his body to the altar of Hordak where Keldor offers Hordak whatever he wants in exchange for his life. Hordak saves him, but not before stripping his face of soft tissues. Not surprisingly, Skeletor then becomes even more evil and grows bitter at Evil-Lyn. It is unclear does Skeletor still has scarred tissue covering the back half of his head or is his entire head just a magical floating skull. First possibility sounds horrible. The second one… not so much.
What are your favorite Masters of the Universe villain stories? Share them with us in the comments!