Why Skeletor deserved to beat He-Man

Feature Jenny Morrill 3 Jul 2014 - 07:00

In cartoons, baddies always lose, and goodies always win. But why? It's just not fair. Jenny argues Skeletor should have won...

I’ve undergone a complete personality transplant since I was a kid. Growing up, I was always terrified of He-Man’s cackling arch nemesis Skeletor.

Come to think of it, I was a bit uneasy around skeletons in general. Luckily I was a bit dim too, and it never occurred to me that I had a skeleton inside my body. I hate to think how I would have reacted to that revelation.

I’ve grown a few IQ points since then (only two or three, but still), and I’ve come to accept the universal truth that skeletons are brilliant. Among my favourites are the swish, tie wearing dude on the Scotch video tapes advert who sings with the voice of Please Sir’s Derek Guyler, and the stars of the short lived BBC cartoon Funnybones, Big and Little. 

But surpassing even those guys, and taking his rightful place as the king of brilliant skeletons, is the sarcastic, sociopathic, inexplicably muscular Skeletor, with his impotent henchmen and his crap plans.

I love Skeletor. Whenever I watch He-Man as an adult (which is either far too much or nowhere near enough, depending on how awesome you are), there is always a small, idiot part of me that thinks Skeletor might win, and is disappointed when he doesn’t. It fails to get through to my brain that Skeletor will never win, no matter how many episodes I watch.

When I am president of the world, I will order every episode of He-Man to be remade with a proper ending, so I can watch Skeletor beat He-Man’s ass to kingdom come in many different ways.

Apart from loving Skeletor to the point where it’s slightly weird, which I will return to later, there are a few reasons I always want He-Man to lose. Firstly, He-Man is a self righteous do-gooder, and no one likes that. Doesn’t he ever get sick of helping idiots get out of mortal peril, which is usually their own fault? By doing this, he’s sending the message that it’s okay to be an idiot, because a man in a bra will come and bail you out every time.

‘Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t stick this fork into this plug socket today, because last time I did that my head fell off. Never mind, I’m sure He-Man will come along and sellotape it back on for me; he seems to enjoy doing that sort of thing. Come to think of it, I’m probably doing him a favour by giving him something to do.’

I could maybe put up with it if all He-Man did was rescue idiots. But he also interferes with things that are none of his business. He can’t get through half an hour without nagging some poor sap into being more like him. And if he can’t find anyone to nag, he takes it out on us, the poor viewers, at the end of the show. Every episode, instead of just watching sword fights and magic like we want to, the poor viewers are forced to sit through up to two minutes of bilge, telling us all what the moral of that episode’s story was.

Yawn. We know. Don’t kill people, don’t push old ladies over, don’t take videos back to the video shop without rewinding them first. Strangely enough, it’s okay to throw people over your head and then make rocks fall on them, but only if you’re He-Man.

Imagine a world where Skeletor regularly hands He-Man’s ass to him on a plate. We wouldn’t have to sit and listen to Skeletor crap on about ‘always doing your best’. He’d probably be all “Hey kids, have some beer! Nyeeeah ha ha!”

If Skeletor ruled Eternia, there would be no ‘moral of today’s story’. Skeletor would just replace it with footage of him making He-Man dance for him, while he drinks Bacardi Breezers. And why not? It’s a fine way to spend the day; it’s certainly better than running round trying to impress Teela, just because she has pretzels taped to her boobs.

Which brings me on to He-Man’s family, and those knuckle dragging colleagues he surrounds himself with. The Burger King, the Burger King’s simpering wife, Teela pretzel tits, and Tom Selleck. Brilliant. Well, I can sleep soundly in my bed knowing that these asswagons are in charge of Eternia. The one exception is the Sorceress, who is sort of cool, and does know that Prince Adam is He-Man. However, she loses points for being an agoraphobic, and making He-Man do things like go to the shop for a pint of milk when he has more important things to be getting on with.

And Orco doesn’t count, because he’s about four years old and no one cares about him anyway.

I know everyone talks about this, but that’s because it’s important and needs talking about. He-Man’s entourage are idiots. Teela is by far the worst. Along with that girl from the BT advert, she is rapidly becoming my arch enemy. I’ll get to that in a minute.

He-Man’s parents, Derek and Mavis, are ignorant to an inconceivable degree. I realise that this is a handy cut out and keep plot device, but it annoys me every time I see it. EVERY SINGLE TIME. They don’t recognise their own son, even when all he’s done is strip down to his bra. That’s terrible parenting. I’m willing to make allowances for the fact that they probably employed a nanny to bath Prince Adam (and maybe still do), so they might not be that familiar with him in his naked form, but that shouldn’t mean they fail to recognise him entirely. After all, his face is still visible; it’s not like he wears a mask and a pink wig.

You know what I think? I think they do know Prince Adam is He-Man, they just choose to ignore this fact. Maybe there’s some sort of law in Eternia that states you have to pay extra tax if your son is He-Man? Although I’m not sure why that would be a thing, especially since Derek and Mavis probably make all the laws themselves.

I should probably point out for the sake of fairness that Queen Mavis might know He-Man’s true identity. In episode 85, ‘The Rainbow Warrior’, Mavis makes the following comment -

“Adam, a mother always knows her own son, and what he is capable of doing…”

However, she still loses for thinking this somehow makes her some sort of genius. And it doesn’t excuse Derek.

At the very least, Derek should wake up one morning and think ‘Hey, you know what? That He-Man looks a lot like our son Adam. I mean, I know it can’t possibly be our son or anything, for reasons. But they do look like they could be related. Mavis honey, is there anything you want to tell me?’ At the very, very least, the similarity between Prince Adam and He-Man should tip Derek off to the possibility that his wife might not have been completely faithful.

And then there's Teela. I hate her, mostly because she’s such a bitch to Prince Adam, who’s busy running around saving her ass every episode. Either she’s as stupid as Derek and Mavis, or she knows they’re the same person but enjoys keeping Prince Adam on his toes so he’ll continue trying to impress her. If I was Prince Adam, I’d have had the following outburst a long time ago -

‘That does it. I’m sick of being your lap monkey. YOU KNOW I’M HE-MAN, STOP PRETENDING YOU DON’T! I’m sick of running around in my bra to save your sorry ass, only to have to get dressed again so I can go out and fetch your coffee like in that stupid Nescafe Azera advert. Get your own coffee from now on! In fact, I’m a goddamn prince! Off with your head!’

Again, consider a world where Skeletor is in charge. He wouldn’t put up with Teela’s nonsense. He’d make her get her own damn coffee, and he’d make her pick him up six chicken nuggets and a newspaper while she was out. And she’d have to pay for them. Skeletor has more important badassery to be getting on with than doing errands for Teela. And if she sassed him, he’d just hit her with his big sheep’s head on a stick, or make her marry Beast Man.

Skeletor would instil some much needed discipline into the spindly cow - something her father, Man At Arms, should have done a long time ago. But her father has always been too busy being Tom Selleck to notice or care. Man At Arms sort of gets a pass because he knows Prince Adam is He-Man, although I do wonder if he would have figured it out had he not known. But Man At Arms gets a big fat fail for continuing to allow Teela to treat Prince Adam like crap.

Having said that, this could be a double trolling manoeuvre. It could be the case that Tom Selleck knows that Prince Adam is He-Man, and also knows that Teela doesn’t know that Prince Adam is He-Man, and deliberately doesn’t remedy this situation. He might get a kick out of watching Teela be horrible to Prince Adam, knowing that one day He-Man will turn round and slap her ass into next Tuesday. Failing that, he might just be waiting for Teela to find this out on her own, so she can spend the rest of her life regretting all the times she ruined her chances of marrying He-Man. Either way, Tom Selleck definitely hates his daughter, so I guess he does get a pass after all.

This brings me onto an important point - if Skeletor found out that Prince Adam was He-Man, what would he do? Would he just go around throwing out spoilers at everyone? I bet he would, because no one sane would pass up the chance to point out how stupid everyone’s been. On the other hand, wouldn’t this just make Skeletor look as stupid as the rest of them?

Of course, this doesn’t matter, because Skeletor would get a pass, because I love him. I won’t get all arrogant and claim that he’s the best cartoon character ever, but he’s certainly my favourite. When He-Man first aired, a group of busybodies concerned citizens got together to have a moan in the NY Times. One of the concerned citizens, a school board director, is quoted as saying -

”The characters on ''He-Man'' are devoid of human characteristics - they have no emotions and no humor. They may lead children to idealize such qualities.”

Listen lady, that might be true for the likes of Teela, but it certainly does not apply to Skeletor. The world has never seen such a backsassing baddie. Speaking of Teela, one time she ran at Skeletor with a sword, and Skeletor just pushed her over. Good.

The reason Skeletor got to be the baddie in He-Man, while his rival Hordak was relegated to fighting girls on She-Ra, is because Skeletor can out-sass everyone. If Skeletor and Hordak were in a fight (which doesn’t happen nearly enough), Skeletor would just make personal remarks about Hordak’s appearance until Hordak was sorry. He treats his minions and his girlfriend the same way. Observe -

“You muscle bound buffoon!”
“Spider brain!”
“They should call you Wimp-Lash!”
“It’s the Sorceress you boob!”
(taps Trap Jaw’s head) “Just as I suspected - hollow!”
“I’ll turn you into a suitcase!”
“I have to be brilliant just to make up for them!”
“And don’t let me see your mangy hide round here again!”
“I could write a book about what you don’t know!”
“Honest men do an honest day’s work - or I destroy their village!”

The other thing I love about Skeletor is that he gets stuff done. He doesn’t stand around talking about how he’s going to kill people, thus giving his opponents time to sneak up behind him and defeat him; he just aims his sheep’s head on a stick and zaps the hell out of people. If the show followed any sort of logic, Skeletor would always win. Most of the time, the producers have to make Skeletor lose for ‘reasons’, just because they need He-Man alive to nag the kids into being good at the end of the episode, the stupid fun hating morons. So they have a random rock fall out of the sky onto Skeletor’s head, or one of his minions will have forgotten to do something like lock the back door.

This is why it would be good for everyone if Skeletor won -

- He-Man wouldn’t be able to nag everyone to death all the time, which means everyone could relax and have a beer.

- The Sorceress would be forced to confront her agoraphobia and go outside, since Skeletor would kick her ass out of Castle Grayskull.

- Teela wouldn’t be able to bully and friendzone Prince Adam any more, since Skeletor would have made her marry Beast Man.

- He-Man, freed from his obligations, would be able to take up previously neglected hobbies, such as crocheting and zumba.

- Skeletor would perform an hour of stand up comedy every night, in what used to be Derek and Mavis’ throne room. This would be televised for free.

- Man At Arms would be rid of his stupid daughter, and could replace her with someone cooler, like Evil-Lyn, or Kay Burley.

So remember, kids, in today’s article we learned why it’s not always best to be a boring do-gooder. We’ve learned why He-Man and his family are a bit lame, and that it’s not good to be lame. Sometimes you have to stand up for truth, justice and sarcasm, even if it makes you unpopular with the boring do-gooders. If you see your friend fall over in the playground, the best thing to do is not to help them up, but to point and laugh. It's what Skeletor would do.

Find more from Jenny at her website, World Of Crap.

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I couldn't agree more... GO Skeletor! Get a TV movie released where he finally wins

Prince Adam's parents WEREN'T named "Derek" and "Mavis", they were King Randor and Queen Marlena. It has been a long time since you've seen the show!

Best. Article. Ever. I want to marry you and have your babies



What's not to like?

I loved this article even to the point where it was a bit weird.
I was only saddened that, after the moral at the end, it didn't finish off with everyone laughing woodenly because Orco had said something foolish.

Always love the bad guys best

Just recently I've been thinking how cool it'd be to have had Skeletor team up with Mumm-Ra and have them kick Orco & Snarfs buttocks


Um, I think she is being humourous...I for one found it funny. Same with calling Man-at-Arms Tom Selleck. Made me LOL, actually, because
OMG, how did I never see that?!

Love this article, probably shouldn't have read it at work, so much barely concealed laughter everyone is now looking at me weirdly

Ummm, what the hell did I just read?

Don't get me wrong - it was brilliant, in a drunken-mental-patient kind-of-way.

A really great article. Anything that takes the piss out of the Saturday morning cartoons that we all watched is a lot of fun. This is why I love Harvey Birdman and The Venture Brothers.

Oh great, now I've got "Leg bone connected to the - hip bone" rattling round in my head. Curse you!

This has been the best ever article to read before I start work!

I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not, but now when I look at He-Man, I think Channing Tattum would be a good fit for a new live action film.

And for Skeletor I would have to go Sharlto Copley.

I would always have Sharlto Copley in any film.

Ah but you're forgetting the most important reason why everybody doesn't get that Prince Adam is He-Man. His magical transformation gives him a tan!! (And arguably makes him more ginger than blonde..)

Does make me wonder though if Prince Adam has to make excuses to get out of it anytime everyones wanting to go to the beach. Or maybe he carries on of those sun brolly type things everywhere he goes. Which I can just about see given how he plays up the old fashioned cliche of someone being a bit camp not being a tough guy. (I mean c'mon, he wears that pink waistcoat thing everywhere he goes. It's one step away from Clark Kent uses glasses to play on ignorant peoples assumptions that that would make you some kind of wimp!)

You argue your case with such passion, one cannot help but be impressed! A great article, it really made me smile and brought back some good memories - time to dust off the He Man DVDs (for I also know the guilty pleasure/shame of it all and I'm a 42 year old man who really should be into much more grown-up and sensible things!)

Great look back at He-Man. I think you may be right... Death to Derek and Mavis! And Weak-ass Teela.

Pretzels? I think you'll find they are croissants.

Mmmmmm. Croissants.

Sorry i'm with Jenny on this one definitely Pretzel tits

Definitely Croissants...

. ..

Not sure why it has now added this twice and won't let me delete it.

However it certainly adds a slightly sinister meaning to "See More"

Derek and Mavis is a Coronation Street reference...

skeletor would never drink bacardi breezers

Has anyone ever seen Skeletor from the New Adventures of He-Man back in the early 90s? Although the show had barely any resemblance to the original cartoon, Skeletor was fantastic in it. His character was rewritten so that he knew damn well that he was a cartoonish bad guy and you could tell that he loved being evil just for the fun of it. For most of the cartoon, he was forced to be a minion to another bad guy - which meant Skeletor just spent most of his time manoeuvring his boss to do exactly what Skeletor wanted him to do.

Right. More of a cuba libre guy.

How did adam have the time to be he man, with his build hed have to be working out non stop, unless by the power of greyskull was a euphemism of steroids, and was the reason skeletor had such a high voice because a skeleton he had no testicles


I'm surprised there's no mention of Grim Fandango. You /know/ that Manny Calvera is the Mexican Skeletor, don't you?

Isn't Queen Mavis from Earth in the story? So King Derek decided to share port with the sexy alien girl and maker her his queen... The dirty old bast...

The thing that always struck me - even as a kid - was Battle Cat/Cringer.

Ok, Adam and He-Man's idential looks are bad enough - but perhaps there could be another dude who looks like Adam. Lookalikes are ten-a-penny after all.

But who else just happened to own a large, green pather? Just the two identical dudes, that's who.

Always hated He-Man. Would have been delighted to see Man At Arms kick him into a volcano and take over.

This is a classic article even by Den Of Geek standards. Going to get a double re-tweet!

This article basically sums up the entire career of WWE's John Cena.

Technically, Faker from Robot Chicken already defeated Skeletor & He-Man!

Coronation Street references go a bit over my head, I don't remember much about that show aside from its melancholy theme song. I know Craig Charles currently has a character on that show...

"I don't really know"

Article posted at 07:00 - so hungover from the night before or early starter?

Of course, every word is true.

"Speaking of Teela, one time she ran at Skeletor with a sword, and Skeletor just pushed her over. Good."
That quote made me laugh out loud. Brilliant dissection of the social politics within He-Man, and I agree, Skeletor will always have won in my mind, purely by being himself.
Another thing that made me laugh out loud was the NY Times article itself. I had no idea there was a Rambo cartoon! I need to find that.

This article is either glorious or soon to be entered into evidence to have Jenny sectioned.

Also, no mention of Ram-Man or Fisto? I'm curious as to what you think a victorious Skeletor would do with them.

Best article on denofgeek.

The Battle Cat/Cringer thing always bothered me as well.

Best article I have read in quite some time. For some reason I've always rooted for the bad guys whether they and their henchmen were a genuine threat or complete incompetents.

Skeletor had most of my sympathy though. The guy was always pretty convincing. If only his minons weren't so thick. I'd imagine he'd be far less entertaining if if he didn't have to put them down though.

More like this please. It really made my morning.

"The Burger King, the Burger King’s simpering wife, Teela pretzel tits, and Tom Selleck. Brilliant. Well, I can sleep soundly in my bed knowing that these asswagons are in charge of Eternia" This made me lol ....awesome stuff :)

I always wanted the villains to win in a lot of the 80's cartoons. Particularly Cobra from G.I. Joe. Between "infinite supply of troops with futuristic weapons" and "a handful of boring, less-well equipped try-hards" who would you pick? It felt like watching a clan of hillbillies trying to take on Dr. Doom's forces.

Thats NO defense for not sussing that her calling them Derek and Mavis was intended to be humourous. You're a tad dim matey

This article is awesome :)
I loved He man and wanted to marry him when i was little.

Skeletor did have the better Snake Mountain (toy) castle, He-mans only had a trap door... probably worth a ton of money now.

I got immediately that the tone of the article was facetious, but I didn't get where she got "Derek" and "Mavis" from, not being a Coronation Street viewer. Oh that's rich; I'm being called dim by somebody called "Liverpiggy"---how about I turn you into sausages, you lonely internet troll?

Listen you hear budwuddy. I am not now or have I ever been a troll. I despise them with every sinue in my bodyĺ You sound like you're mad alright Mike, mad as a blooming hatter. As for my screen name. I happen to be a Liverpool supporter. So as names go its quite nifty... You had to go full assault didnt you? Cretin

Yeah, that's it; keep firing away those insults at your keyboard in the safe anonymity of cyberspace that you wouldn't have the cojones to say to my face. And you started this fray with your "You're a tad dim matey" remark, come say that to me in person; you haven't seen me go "full assault" yet; dickhead!!!!

I had Snake Mountain and my cousin broke it whilst setting it up for Xmas, something he still denys to this day.

I hope you called him a "nincompoop" in your best Skeletor voice!

He-Man never did have the same appeal as Skeletor, who was by far the better character. As for baddies winning, I guess you could say that the only one who truely won was Megatron, he actually managed to kill Prime (with the help of that prick Hot-Rod!)

No, no, I totally get this! I always WANTED The Hodded Claw to finally capture Penelope Pitstop. Then shoot her dead.

HAHAHA...Kay Burley IS Evil-Lyn...why have I never noticed??

YES:).. and the coyote to finally catch that bloody annoying roadrunner!

Skeletor was voiced by a Luck Dragon.

Skeletor wins.

And Tom to bite jerry's face off. Also, I wanted Elmer Fudd to blow away Bugs Bunny, the smug, annoying git.

I don't even get why a dual identity was needed in the first place. Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, they live in the modern US. They need some time out of the spotlight, occasional distance from the cops, and a way to avoid lawsuits from ungrateful civilians (see Incredibles, The). But Adam is the ****ing prince. His DAD is the law of the land. He can do what he wants. And since He-Man's friends and loved ones are ALWAYS the target of Skeletor's plot, the secret identity is keeping no one safe.

i always think he-man and his gang of stooges are the usurpers. The show is really about the badly outgunned resistance to Prince Adam and his schizo alter ego--and what's up with making that heroic??? Dude has issues and is most likely evil, and if not, still needs some institutionalization, which is all skeletor goes for-- he always tries to capture, not kill. Who is the real hero?

Who is more likely to be the rightful owner of Castle GreySkull, blondie boy, or Skeletor? It seems pretty no brainer to me.

why can't we all get along in poking some fun at he-man in a good natured way. oh, wait. the internet.

megalomania. messiah complex. multiple personality disorder and atrocious Hair disorder. they wanted us to root for the wrong side.

there can never be a perfect he-man movie because we will never see Jack Palance play Skeletor and save the studio a bundle on make up while at it.

By the Power of Grayskull, you've opened my eyes! Life is too short and fleeting to be engaging in flamewars over an 80s children's cartoon. There's enough hostility and hatred in this world without our adding to it in this comments section. I'm willing to lay down my arms in favor of more worthwhile pursuits. Now if you'll excuse, I'm going to go write some Deadpool slash fiction...

i feel most relieved. I try and reserve my vitriol for something truly ugly i hate in the world. or at least things antithetical to my whims. Slash fiction frightens me(no sarcasm), but luckily there is much real estate open on the internet, and i just avoid foraging over those particular meadows. cartoon funning, however, does add to my otherwise sparsely filled friday night. I would like to see more delighted and irreverent articles/discussions on DoG about cartoons. especially if we could reach all the way to the seventies or sixties too. Those Damn Robonic Stooges, or The Super-Globe-Trotters could use a good volley of comments. People still care about Hong Kong Phooey, why not the CB Bears?

oh my, i seem to be up to my eyeballs in (much needed, but not helping, unless you count seeing the music)cold medications and babbling. I really should find a different internet identity for late night babble that i might want to be distanced from in the harsh light of day.

our kind of peeples.

isn't Harvey Birdman a serious legal drama? I mean, I give a damn about the problems facing the great Hanna-Barbera unwashed.

unless he was gearing up for karaoke.

och, your like the same dude who whinges about Clark's glasses, or the fact that superman never shows up in, say, Paris, or Moscow, unless Kent is covering a story there. I mean, it's just a giant green panther with a mean temper. Who even pays attention to these things, anyways? ;D

hell, let Sylvester finally get that smug little tweety bird too! man i hate that bird.

I did always feel sorry for Elmer. He didn't seem like a bad guy. Certainly not one that called down the wrath of a Trickster God in the form of Bugs.

i sure loved Meg foster and her cruel ice eyes in that utter fun live adaption. Surely she could have made He-Man want to lose.

I always felt that they all knew who he was, but just played along to keep him happy.

I'll have some of whatever Jenny's smoking......

but Cobra's troops were thr Star Wars Storm Trooopers of cartoons:can't shoot straight.

Skeletor did have the best put-downs of any 80's cartoon villain.

On the other hand, He-Man made what is probably the greatest put-down of any character in any cartoon, when he turned to Skeletor and said "You're a LOSER Skeletor, always have" (can't remember the episode).


Looking back it's strange how any parent could have complained about He-Man. That was the one show that went out of its way to avoid senseless violence.

He-Man was practically a Quaker in his ethos.

When I was a kid I always thought Man-At-Arms was the coolest because he used to f*ck The Sorceress back in the day — smile

"Asswagon" just became my new insult of choice for the week.

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