The He-Man and the Masters of the Universe TV show debuted in 1983, thanks to the combined efforts of Filmation and the toy company Mattel. Originally the characters were only toys, but the bold decision was made to try and make them a TV show. It worked and it was amazing. The TV series told the story of He-Man and his friends in the land of Eternia. They would go on epic adventures and do battle with the evil Skeletor.
Skeletor would become one of pop culture’s most iconic villains. Constantly questing after the power of Grayskull, there was little Skeletor wouldn’t do to achieve his ambitions. He-Man and company were always there to stop him, which only infuriated Skeletor more to the point where he lost any reason and created totally harebrained schemes. Though he was a villain, he was an entertaining and often goofy bad guy, falling prey to his foiled plans. With such a lengthy history, Skeletor’s past is convoluted and often contradicts itself. The comics, film, and multiple TV series all say different things about his origin. There is one thing forever constant with Skeletor: he’s a bad dude. Today at CBR we’re taking a look at 15 dark facts you likely don’t know about Skeletor.
HE LIKES CHRISTMAS
Skeletor is often depicted as a heartless monster that wants nothing more than to kill He-Man and possess the secrets of Castle Grayskull. There’s nothing he won’t do to achieve his goal and he won’t be swayed. There is one thing however that gives Skeletor pause: Christmas.
In December of 1985, He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special was broadcast for kids everywhere to see. The story featured a pair of kids who wind up on Eternia right around Christmas time. Shenanigans ensue, but everyone ultimately learns something about the true meaning of Christmas. Yes, even Skeletor is part of the festivities. At one point the powerful baddie Horde Prime orders Skeletor to kidnap the kids. Though Skeletor initially accepts, he eventually saves and protects them, all the while learning about Christmas. When the children return home, Skeletor is relieved he only needs to be good once a year.
HE WAS DEFEATED BY POLLEN
Skeletor is as imposing a villain as they come. With a wide range of magical powers, he rules over his throne in Snake Mountain with an iron fist. Wielding his trusty Havoc Stagg, he’s constantly scheming or constantly destroying and/or trying to destroy. In spite of the fear he seeds in all who hears his name, Skeletor can oftentimes be a goofy, and even comical, character. Many of his plans are truly ridiculous; when they backfire on him it’s pathetic and hilarious.
Yet it’s his relatively unknown weakness to pollen that does him very little favor here. In one of his many battles with He-Man, the muscle-bound hero used a flower transformation power and turned some of Skeletor’s monsters into flowers. At this point, Skeletor is defeated, moaning about how he’s lost thanks to his intense pollen allergy.
HE’S HE-MAN’S UNCLE
Having a villain be related to the hero is practically a time-honored tradition. Masters of the Universe didn’t mind borrowing from the widely used trope and adopted it for their purposes. Back in the mini-comics, Skeletor’s relationship to King Randor and He-Man had been hinted at. There’s one time where Randor tells a story to Adam about his long lost brother Keldor; they decide to go look for him.
Skeletor is none too amused and tries they stop their quest. Just before they can uncover where Keldor is, Skeletor thwarts their plan. Though Skeletor is eventually defeated, he was able to stop them from learning the truth. The entire truth would be revealed in the 2002 animated TV series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. There it was explained that Keldor was Randor’s half-brother and the uncle to He-Man.
HE WAS ACCUSED OF BEING AFFILIATED WITH THE DEVIL
Though Skeletor would live on to become one of pop culture’s most infamous fictional villains, not everyone was fond of the skull-faced baddie. In that respect, the ‘80s were a weird time. Things like Dungeons and Dragons and heavy metal records were weirdly thought to be associated with the devil. He-Man was not exempt from this persecution.
In Lou Scheimer book Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation, Filmation’s creator reminisced over receiving a letter from a parent accusing the animation studio of doing “Satanic things.” In the book, Scheimer claims he had absolutely no idea what the letter was actually about, as it seemed the writer was ranting. However, all that ranting seemed to be focused on Skeletor and the scepter he carried. Turns out, there was a group of folks who viewed the ram’s head atop Skeletor’s Havoc Staff to be one of the many symbols of Satan.
HE’S A VICTIM OF RACISM
While Skeletor is undoubtedly an irredeemable figure by now, it probably didn’t help that he was a victim of racism early on. In recent Masters of the Universe stories it’s been revealed that Skeletor, who once went by Keldor, was the brother of Randor. Though Skeletor was next in line for the throne, his father passed him up and the title was bestowed on Randor. Why? Because of the color of his skin.
Apparently the ruler of Eternia wasn’t pleased to have a relative who possessed blue skin and didn’t think Keldor was right for the throne because of it. This fact alone is definitely one of the darker aspects of Skeletor’s past. When your own father hates you because of the color of your skin, there’s no way you come out of that without being a bit psychologically unhinged.
HE MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE A NECK
As villains go, Skeletor ranks near the top. This is in part because of how he looks. Ghastly and downright terrifying, he makes for a super cool antagonist to He-Man. He sports a pretty original appearance, what with a skull that sometimes seems to float above his body without any connecting neck tissue. In the original cartoon, he wore a hood and it appeared that his head didn’t touch his body.
Though there are alternate versions of Skeletor with the villain having his hood drawn back and you can see there’s a neck missing, other iterations reveal a thin sliver of yellow flesh jutting out from underneath his cloak. It’s a subject that’s’ never been properly explained. Regardless, it’s pretty awful to live one’s life without a neck; probably explains Skeletor’s general crabbiness.
HE TRICKED HE-MAN INTO KILLING SUPERMAN
Crossovers are not exactly uncommon in comic books, especially where popular characters are concerned. Superman and He-Man are two of the strongest heroes in superhero fiction, so it seems only natural they’d be paired together at one point. In DC Comics Presents #46, Skeletor mind-controls Superman into fighting He-Man.
Then, in the out-of-canon series DC Universe Vs. Masters Of The Universe, the Justice League fights He-Man and his allies. During it all Skeletor masterminds a plan to kill He-Man. That plan involves mind-controlling the Man of Steel, yet again, into doing his dirty work for him. The battle between two of comic books’ strongest beings is brutal and the fight comes to an end when He-Man stabs Superman right through the chest with his magic-based power sword, killing him.
HE HAD ACID THROWN ON HIS FACE
One aspect of Skeletor’s history that remained a mystery for awhile was the origin of his ghastly face. In the 2002 animated He-Man and the Masters of the Universe reboot, we finally saw how the grisly affair played out. Before he was Skeletor, he was Keldor. During a failed attack on the Hall of Wisdom, Keldor faces Captain Randor in a one-to-one battle. About to lose, Keldor takes a vial of acid at and throws it Randor.
The hero deflects it with his shield and the acid rebounds and hits Keldor right in the face, nearly killing him. Keldor would’ve died too if not for Evil-Lyn taking his body to the altar of Hordak where Keldor bargains for his life. Hordak saves him, but not before peeling all the soft tissue from his face. Unsurprisingly, the newly baptized Skeletor becomes more unhinged than ever before.
HE MADE HIS GHOST HIS SERVANT
Nearly every He-Man and the Masters of the Universe character came from the toy line. The villainous and enigmatic Scare Glow was not an exception to the rule. He was, however, one of the last toys to be produced by Mattel. Not much was known about the mysterious translucent creature, except for the information provided by an accompanying mini-comic.
In the comic Scare Glow’s origin was explored. Apparently, he was one of the worst and most evil creatures from all of time and space and was summoned to Eternia by Skeletor. For an extended period, many fans believed Scare Glow was Skeletor’s ghost, since he was literally described as the “ghost of Skeletor”, and the idea of Skeletor enslaving his future self was pretty awesome. Alas, Mattel would dispel the notion years later by revealing Scare Glow was the ghost of Karak Nul.
Quite possibly one of the worst things about being a paramount supervillain is the general sense of loneliness. People don’t like you, but why should they when you’ve tried to murder them all? Still, even bad guys like Skeletor have feelings that want to be acknowledged. Being a horrific-looking ghoulish wizard with a thirst for murder isn’t going to attract many people. The folks who are close to Skeletor he considers inferior and doesn’t care about them.
In the live-action He-Man film, Skeletor finally acknowledges the sense of despair he constantly feels, saying, “Tell me about the loneliness of the good, He-Man. Is it equal to the loneliness of evil?” This highlighted the distance Skeletor felt from others, having grown so far removed from the rest of existence. In some crazy roundabout way, Skeletor realizes the one person who understands him the most is his most hated foe, He-Man.
TRIED TO KILL HIS TEACHER
If you’re going to spend all your time trying to kill He-Man, then you should probably prepare arduously for such a task. That’s exactly what Skeletor did when he decided to learn under the equally evil Hordak. Truth be told, it never works out when an evil teacher instructs an even more evil student. Suffice to say Skeletor and Hordak had a complicated relationship, especially since they tried to murder one another.
Hordak, who relied primarily on combining magic and science to deadly effect, trained Skeletor. Although the former was trapped in an alternate dimension, it worked; at least until Hordak wanted to be freed. Skeletor refused and decided to let his teacher waste away. Hordak eventually broke out and returned with a vengeance, trying to destroy not only He-Man, but Skeletor too.
HE WAS EATEN BY A SNAKE
There is a wide range of bad guys roaming around in Eternia. Though some like Skeletor to get all the attention, he’s definitely not the worst thing out there. With Skeletor’s ego, it’s difficult for him to acknowledge the concept that there’s always someone bigger and stronger than you. In this case, that someone is a giant snake. Known as King Hiss, the massive snake used magic that far outclasses anything Skeletor was capable of, to battle the early inhabitants of Eternia.
Despite his might, he lost and was sealed in the Void. When King Hiss returned, he saw something of an ally in Skeletor. That kinship was short-lived as the two villains found themselves at odds with one another. While Skeletor could only gripe and hurl insults, Hiss had a giant snake eat Skeletor. That’s a defeat for the history books.
HE’S FROM ANOTHER DIMENSION
When Mattel released their Masters of the Universe toy line in the early ‘80s, they also supplied each individual action figure with short comics. These comics told the origin of the respective hero or villain. These comic book stories were a bit different than the tales shown in the Filmation’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon.
With regards to Skeletor, the comics stated he was a creature thrown to Eternia by way of a rip in a dimensional wall from another evil universe. Though there isn’t much known about Skeletor’s home world, it’s theorized everyone there looks like him. His being from another universe contradicted more accepted origins; how could he be He-Man’s uncle if he wasn’t from Eternia. Either way, every version of Skeletor includes him spending time in that other dimension to learn dark magic.
HIS PEOPLE KILLED THE ORIGINAL KING GRAYSKULL
While King Miro, the father of Skeletor and He-Man’s father Randor, might have been horribly racist, the origins for his distaste of people with blue skin went back a while. According to the 2002 cartoon reboot the toy line, Keldor is inexplicably one of the Gar. They are an ancient blue-skinned race that once assassinated the original King Grayskull. Because of this, anyone sharing similar characteristics were reviled by all of Eternia.
How Keldor is a Gar and then somehow the brother of Randor and son of King Miro is something of a mystery; especially since they aren’t blue at all. On some level, the whys and hows of Keldor’s blueness almost don’t matter. He was blamed for an atrocity he wasn’t even alive for. On account of this hatred felt towards him, it’s easy to realize the pieces that would ultimately come together to create Skeletor.
HE ALMOST KILLED THE THUNDERCATS
In the 2016 mini-series He-Man/Thundercats, the Masters of the Universe team paired up with the Thundercats. Of course their union is brought on by the Thundercats villain Mumm-Ra trying to steal He-Man’s sword; the blade rivals Lion-O’s Sword of Omens. When Mumm-Ra traces the sword to Eternia, he also catches the attention of Skeletor. Though they hate each other, the two most evil beings in the universe decide to team-up.
Taking every opportunity they can to betray the other, they finally put aside their differences to do some damage. Mumm-Ra inhabits Skeletor’s body and Skeletor does his best to kill the Thundercats, and nearly succeeds. He slices one of Lion-O’s eyes right out while Mumm-Ra stabs Adam/He-Man through the chest. The heroes barely survive, only defeating the evil duo by combining the powers of their respective swords.
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