(Masters of the Universe) (part #1)
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was a 1983-1984 cartoon series on US TV.
The titular protagonist was a super strong, sword & sorcery, sci-fi, fantasy, barbarian with high moral character.
A spin off of this show, She-Ra Princess of Power, often included He-man and others from the original series.
He-man originated in mini-comics where he was depicted as a barbarian from an Eternian tribe. Filmation re-imagined the character in their animated series. Including two made-for-TV movies He-man and She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword and He-man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special.
He-man appeared in a single live-action movie starring Dolf Lundgren in 1987.
Several comic book series also exist about He-man. Including stories by DC and Marvel.
He-man has been revived many times since. In 1990 The New Adventures of He-man; and an attempt to relaunch the series in 2002 He-man and the Masters of the Universe.
Unless you’re familiar with He-man’s world, we suggest that you first read our Masters of the Universe world notes. It explains a lot of context.
Due to length — particularly on smartphones — He-Man’s entry is presented in two parts. The second part has his DC Heroes RPG stats and the discussions about these.
- Real Name: Adam.
- Known Relatives: King Randor (Father), Queen Marlena (Mother), Adora aka She-Ra (Twin Sister), Lady Edwina (Cousin), Jeremy (Cousin), King Stefen (Uncle), Prince Dal (Cousin), King Miro (Grand Father).
- Group Affiliation: The Royal Palace and the Heroic warriors.
- Base of Operations: The Royal Palace.
- Height: 6’2″ (1.88m). Weight: 240 lbs. (109 Kg.).
- Eyes: Blue (Black during the first season). Hair: Blond w/black eyebrows.
Powers & Abilities (part 1)
He-man is known as the most powerful man in the universe.
He is magically empowered by the ancient energies of Castle Grayskull.
His super-human strength is almost without equal.
He-man demonstrates “Class 100” strength. A few of his incredible strength feats include:
- Demolishing a 40 foot (12m) thick stone wall with a single punch.
- Destroying Collossor, a 36′ (11m) giant stone golem, with one punch.
- In the mines under Arcadia, He-man braced the entire city from collapse.
- Tossing the Gryphon, a giant lion-headed dragon, into space.
- Holding Horde Prime’s Flagship, called the most powerful warship in the universe, at the end of an unbreakable rope.
- Breaking free of a Phantonium-walled cell.
- Pushing a mountain several feet.
- Pushing one of Eternia’s moons out of orbit, then put it back!
The Power Sword and other equipment
He-man wields the Power Sword, a powerful artifact and conduit for the power of Castle Grayskull. The Sorceress called the Power Sword the most powerful weapon on Eternia.
The Power Sword is regularly used to deflect blasts or smash apart blockades.
In addition, the Sword of Ancients, an intelligent weapon, is the second most powerful weapon. When fused with the Power Sword it becomes more powerful than either (“Masks of Power”).
He-man also carries a bola and rope ending with a collapsible grapple hook.
His Coridite harness adds to his incredible strength.
He-man has pulled off some amazing stunts:
- Producing hurricane level blasts from his powerful lungs.
- Demonstrating the power of superspeed. Say, spinning to create a whirlwind, or to tunnel into the earth. Or running so fast he becomes a blur.
- Holding open a dimensional portal by blocking it with his own body.
- Reaching out with telepathy over huge distances, and even crossing dimensionsOther realms of existence that are not our universe.. However, this only seems to work with a few specific individuals.
With his amazing physique:
- He’s extremely durable but not invulnerable.
- He can run, even when not using Superspeed, as well as an Olympic level sprinter.
- He’s an excellent swimmer, able to hold his breath at great depths for extended periods of time.
He-man’s hand-to-hand combat training consists mostly of body-throws or when needed, a single power-punch.
Intelligence, deductive reasoning, and science
He-man’s deductive reasoning skills are more along the lines of the ’66 Batman. That is, figuring out the “who-did-it” – often with only a single clue.
Due to Adam’s royal education, he is knowledgeable in many areas such as science, technology and history.
He-man has convinced powerful personalities to change their ways. These are usually villains who don’t know He-man. If they listen to him, he convinces them they’d rather be friends. Even Daimar the Demon king reconsidered invading Eternia with his demon army.
Prince Adam is royalty, and is being groomed to wear his father’s crown. As the heir apparent, Adam is often sent on diplomatic missions and performs well in that function.
Adam retains his telepathic contact with the Sorceress.
He has been trained by Teela, the Captain of the Guard, in arms, gymnastics, survival skills, and vehicles.
He-man’s steed is an armored giant green tiger called Battle-Cat. Yeah, he’s pretty cool. Battle-Cat has his own article.
Powers & Abilities (part 2)
He-man also does some odd, cartoony things.
Magic of the 1980s (part 1)
Sometimes, He-man can repair broken buildings and items simply by touching them.
He-man once saw a “Slo-Toe”, an Eternian beast of burden, pulling a two-wheel cart. The chain broke, and the cart became a run-away.
After stopping the cart, He-man touched the two ends of the chain together and they magically repaired. He then quipped: “There ya go fella, good as new” (“Evil Lyn’s Plot”).
He-man also pressed a broken drive-shaft together, adding: “Better than new” (“The Energy Beast”).
A meteor crashed into a huge stone building causing it to topple. But He-man caught the structure. When he righted it the cracks that had formed vanished and the building was whole again. “I think we’ve got everything straightened out here, let’s head back to the palace” (“Dree Elle’s Return”).
This is probably better explained as poor — or genre-driven — writing rather than adding powers to He-man. This was ignored in other episodes. An example is when He-man couldn’t hold back a crumbling stone structure (“The Problem with Power”).
Magic of the 1980s (part 2)
He-man sometimes is able to act as though he has the Flight Power. There are few examples of this.
Once a giant’s fist thrust up from a crack in the ground. He-man leapt atop and began pushing it back down into the ground. “I’d hate to see the rest of this guy” (“Dree Elle’s Return”).
Later, with the moon push. He-man braced himself against the Wind Raider. A good push should have sent the Wind Raider flying but it remained stationary (“Jacob and the Widgets”).
Then in outer space he stopped his own momentum alone (“Assault on the Hive”).
He-man will occasionally do something sciency, and explain how it works as he does it. Even if those things would be very unlikely to work in the real world.
Here are some examples:
- He-man grabbed two giant feathers and flew using his arm strength (“Valley of Power”).
- Dark clouds rolled in bringing a terrible storm with it. He-man took his sword and dragged it through the sand in a circle. He’d guessed there must be caves under him. “I’m setting a trap for the storm”.
As the storm clouds came by he flipped the circular earth up, hinged at the center, and deflected the storm clouds down underground (“Book of the ancients”).
- Rubbing his hands on the desert sand at super speed, He-man quickly created a large sheet of glass (“Temple of the Sun”).
- Fires had engulfed the Palace. He-man said, “Let’s rain on Skeletor’s parade”.
He held up the Power Sword and said, “By the Power of Grayskull”. The sword gradually became white hot, then he tipped it into a fountain to cause steam. As a cloud of steam was forming he pointed the sword at it and the familiar energy blasts forth, causing rain (“The Secret of Grayskull”).
- Young Ricky says that crawlers, Eternian snakes, can hear high pitched frequencies people can’t. He-man stucked his sword in the ground and smacked it to make a sound similar to a tuning fork.
Then he sayd he’ll adjust the frequency. Placing his hands on either side of the sword the frequency changes driving off the crawlers (“To save the creatures”).
- For all his scientific knowledge, He-man doesn’t know about photosynthesis. But the Sorceress does (“The eye of the beholder”).
Prince Adam is the son of the Eternian King Randor and Queen Marlena of Earth.
When Adam was only an infant his father’s kingdom was attacked by the dimensional conquerors, the Horde. His twin sister, Adora, was kidnapped by their leader Hordak.
To spare Adam any pain, The Sorceress of Grayskull used her magic to wipe all knowledge of Adora and the Horde from his memory.
When Adam was a young boy, Man-At-Arms made a device called an animal-caller.
Adam tested it on a camping trip. There, he saved an injured green tiger cub from a saber-cat. Adam patched him up and took him home. Man-At-Arms did surgery, saving the tiger’s life.
The tiger was such a scaredy cat, afraid of his own shadow, but he stuck to Adam like a bur. The tiger cub grew to be such a coward that other children, including Teela, called him a “Cringer”. Adam decided Cringer was a fine name for his new friend.
Near this time, the Sorceress contacted Adam telepathically with a veiled message about Adam and Cringer’s future together.
During the season of storms, Prince Adam — still a pre-teen — and Cringer — a young tiger — got lost in the tar swamps.
A storm rolled in and was pouring down on them. These storms caused a temporary mystic doorway to open between Eternia and Trolla, a planet residing in a different astral zone.
In that instance, Orko, a powerful Trollan magician, was pulled from his world and stranded on Eternia. Orko heard a cry for help and rescued Adam and Cringer.
The Royal family named Orko a hero and adopted him as a member of their royal court.
A special destiny
He-man’s coming was foretold by legend. The details of Adam becoming He-man are not revealed in the series, but indirectly known via dialogue.
As a boy, Adam already knew the Sorceress of Grayskull. The mystical Spirit of Grayskull with the Sorceress then sought an individual who represented the best in humanity. Someone of good moral character, intelligent, and would put the needs of Eternians before his own.
Adam was summoned to Grayskull and presented with the Sword of Power. He promised to adhere to the principles set before him and accepted his calling.
I shall be…. that hero!
At that time, Adam’s secret is known only to a few individuals – the Sorceress, Orko, and Man-At-Arms. Once Adam became He-man he swore to uphold that which was right and to protect the innocent. He also kept his dual identity secret, even from Cringer.
Cringer would learn of Prince Adam’s secret and he too would become a powerful force for good.
It happened around the discovery of ruins believed to be over 1,000 years old. Man-At-Arms was asked to lead an archaeological expedition. Cringer would not be left behind.
After some investigation and some tampering with an ancient door, a powerful creature called the Gedge escaped. The Gedge was impervious to all attacks.
Adam made the transformation to He-man but was observed by Cringer. When He-man turned, the power shot forth from his blade. Cringer was transformed into the mighty Battlecat for the first time.
He-man recalled the Sorceress’ words to him about Cringer. He-man and Battlecat lead the Gedge back to the ruins it had escaped from. This gave Man-At-Arms the opportunity to collapse the roof on it, trapping it once more.
Friends and enemies
In his many adventures, He-man was joined by heroic warriors. These included Ram-Man, Stratos, and Fisto.
Skeletor, Hordak’s old apprentice, became He-man’s nemesis, taking up the banner of evil. He summoned his own group of villainous warriors. The likes of Beast-man, Trapjaw, and Evil-Lyn.
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
After many years, Prince Adam was contacted by the Sorceress and again summoned to Castle Grayskull.
A sword similar to his own had opened a door that had never before been opened. The sorceress asked him to enter and find someone on the other side. This sword was meant for that person. Adam was unsure but did as asked.
The door lead him to a new world, Etheria, ruled by the evil Horde.
Adam found, to his surprise, his lost twin sister Adora. The Sword of Protection transformed her into the Princess of Power, She-Ra!
Adam eventually returned to Eternia but Adora remained on Etheria to fight the Horde.
She-Ra and He-man have traveled between their worlds visiting each other often. Besides She-Ra, a few others on Etheria know He-man’s secret. Among them are Light Hope and Loo-Kee.
He-Man is heavily muscled with deeply bronzed skin. His voice is powerful and echoing.
Both He-man and Prince Adam sport a “Prince Valiant ” haircut.
He-man wears a harness with a red iron cross of coridite at its center. Plus the barbarian style fur and leather trunks and boots.
In contrast, Prince Adam wears lavender, pink, and white. He has a similar build to He-man but with less tan and lighter hair.
A pacifist possessing good judgement and driven by a sense of justice.
He-man’s strength is incredible but if you ask him, this is not his greatest asset when battling evil. It is his morality, virtue, intellect, and courage that aid him best. These things come from striving to be and do good.
He-man tries hard not to hurt others regardless of their motives. Even when Skeletor endangers himself, He-man comes to his aid.
He-man does not use his sword in the manner for which a sword is designed. He doesn’t harm others with it.
Being trained by Man-at-arms, He-man often uses his knowledge of science and technology to solve problems.
When it comes to Orko, Cringer, or children He-man/Prince Adam are eager to teach them right from wrong. He’s quick to point out when their actions or imminent actions would cause harm.
Though He-man is a great judge of character he never judges a book by its cover. He will always give the benefit of the doubt before passing judgement. He-man is also all about second chances.
The Sorceress said He-man never revealed to Teela that the Sorceress was actually her mother (“He-man: The greatest adventures of all”).
Adam sells himself as an irresponsible pampered prince. This has been a hard role for him to accept.
To keep He-man’s true identity a secret he must act the fun-loving noble. His father and his friend Teela are often disappointed in him because of this.
However, he is actually quite the opposite. Adam is honest and respectful of others and an astute politician.
In stark contrast to King Randor, his mother never gets upset with him over his apparent goofiness. At least once, Marlena hinted that she knows his secret.
Lastly, He-man and Adam know of each other and aren’t as different in personalities as Cringer and Battle-Cat. They are kind and friendly, ready to help those in need.
“By the power of Grayskull !”
Teela: “But where’s Prince Adam ?”
He-Man: “Don’t worry, he’s safe.”
“Any life, even an evil one, is worth saving.”
“A person doesn’t need super powers to be a hero. All he needs is bravery.”
“Missed, [insert derogative name] !” (e.g. dragon-breath, fur-face, bone-head, etc.).
“The only real power comes from inside, Skeletor. From courage, honor, and other things you wouldn’t understand.”
(After his Wind Raider was shot down, he went down into a hard crash landing)
Teela: “He-man, are you alright ?”
He-man: “Just mussed my hair.”
“By the power of Grayskull, I command the jaw-bridge open !”
Prince Adam: “You know as Adam, I may act like a goof every now and then but that’s only to keep my secret. Besides, I’d never really do anything to make my father ashamed of me.”
Man-At-Arms: “Hmmm, I hope he knows that.”
Garn: “But why should we help our enemies ? They should be punished !”
He-man: “It’s not our job to punish those who are evil, that’s what the laws and courts of Eternia are for. I believe all life is precious. Just as I spared your life, help me spare theirs.”
(Unable to break Shikote’s restraints)
“Must be magical.”
“Being a good leader takes a lot of responsibility but you must also be responsible when you follow a leader. Don’t do something wrong or dangerous because someone tells you to. Think before you act. We can’t all be leaders but we can all choose what is right and wrong for ourselves.”
“Let’s go cat !”
Prince Adam: “I have a friend who might be of some help.”
DC Universe Adaptation
(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).
He-man has appeared in the DC Universe a few times. DC Comics Presents #47 was a crossover with Superman.
Then again in 2013, a mini-series, DC Universe vs. The Masters of the Universe had the Justice League and many of DC’s mystical community confront He-man and his heroic warriors.
NPC Usage Suggestion
He-man’s original concept was that of a generic every-hero. He’s supposed to have the ability to easily fit any background within the sci-fi/fantasy genres. He may look like a barbarian but He-man is knowledgeable about modern sciences and of futuristic technology.
Adam’s transformation into He-man is contingent on Castle Grayskull. But he’s shown he can transform even while in different dimensions.
Having said that, He-man as a super-hero should be no problem. I imagine he’d be in a densely populated area where he could do the most good.
His Alter-ego wouldn’t be a Prince but that of a university student, a young diplomatic aide, pilot, or whatever. As He-man he fights against the forces of evil.
I’d love to see him fighting alongside DC’s best.
Continued in part #2!
The second part has the RPG stats, and various discussions of same.
Source of Character: Filmation Presents 1983/1984 animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, the 1985 movie The Secret of the Sword, the 1985 movie He-man and She-Ra Christmas Special, the 1986 Skeletor’s Revenge, the 1985-1987 animated series She-Ra Princess of Power. He-man/Prince Adam voiced by John Erwin.
Helper(s): Animals File on W.org, Wikipedia, he-man.wikia.com, IMDB, Jason Roe, Peter Piispanen (Heroic genre rule), Roy Cowan, William Chamberlin, Adam Fuqua, Darci, Jobe, Nico (for his Moon moving mathematics!), Sébastien Andrivet, Lora Roe.
Writeup completed on the 8th of December, 2018.