When you have to come up with a cartoon series based around a line of toys, it is often difficult to build a cohesive universe around said toys. In the case of the He-Man cartoon series, Masters of Universe, the writers really had their work cut out for them. In other shows like G.I. Joe and Transformers, there was at least some rhyme and reason to the new characters added to the series. In the case of Mattel’s He-Man line of figures, creators seemed to throw ideas out at random.
The only consistent thing was that the figures were mostly all just re-worked molds of the original figures. “Hey, there’s He-Man’s body with a bee head! Hey, there’s He-Man’s body with a crab head!” and so on. Then, the writers would have to work these bizarre figures into the TV series. Along the way, the show also had its own original characters, some of whom were just as (if not more) ridiculous than the action figure characters Mattel foisted upon creators. Here, we will take a look at the 15 most useless characters from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and what made them so absolutely ridiculous!
We should almost not include Fisto on this list. Look, there is just a simple joy of having a character named “Fisto” whose main power is that he has a giant fist. His inclusion in a million-dollar media franchise is so hilarious, it circumnavigates its own pure uselessness and revels in its bizarre nature. And for that, we salute Fisto.
However, once you get past the amazing name, Fisto is essentially a useless character in the Masters of the Universe series. He is introduced in “Fisto’s Forest,” where we learn that he was once a supervillain until He-Man basically told him to stop being a bad guy. He just changed one day and became a good guy. Characterizations were never Fisto’s strong suit. He then barely appeared in the series otherwise. Still, we’ll always have that amazing name and visual presence!
This is a controversial pick here, since Orko is one of the most famous characters from the He-Man series. He is also one of only a handful of characters to star in the series throughout its run, the others being Teela, Man-At-Arms and He-Man himself. However, Orko is also one of the most annoying characters in the series!
The whole concept behind the character is that he doesn’t know what he is doing! He is a powerful magician, but his spells never turn out the way that he wants. The above featured image is the perfect example of a standard Orko pose, him feeling bad for himself because he screwed up another spell. Sure he’s a nice guy, but he is so darn incompetent that it is a wonder He-Man continues to hang out with him. He’s like the Steve Urkel of cartoon characters.
One of the problems with having a cartoon series designed to promote a line of toys is that the toy line often keeps going even after the TV series finishes production, so there are those characters who end up falling into limbo. One of those characters is the bizarre Rio Blast, a guy whose body is filled with lasers. He never got to appear on the television series.
That was the direction Snout-Spout was heading in before he was lucky enough to make a couple of appearances on the He-Man follow-up series, She-Ra (He-Man’s sister). However, in the case of Snout-Spout, his extra appearances didn’t do much good for him as they are little more than cameos. He’s effectively just some dude with a messed-up metal elephant face… which admittedly might be enough for some.
Generally speaking, Skeletor’s plans against He-Man are often so dumb that they are sometimes more sad than anything else. That is why the events of “Quest for He-Man” are such a shock. Skeletor successfully devised a complicated plan that resulted in He-Man caught in a trap, his memory erased and then chucked into another dimension!
Once there, He-Man encountered Plundor, a giant evil bunny rabbit who has ruined the natural resources of his planet. He-Man, like most other 1980s cartoons, had to do little PSAs each episode to keep the government off its back. Guess which episode had a moral lesson about ecology? Plundor put all of the energy of the planet into a magic liquid that He-Man later explodes over the place while riding a giant rocket. Yeah… He-Man was all about phallic symbols.
We all make fun of Fisto, and we should, because he is an absurd character. However, for all of Fisto’s absurdity as a character, at least he wasn’t a big racist stereotype. After all, Fisto transcends labels. That was not so much the case for Jitsu, the character who was designed as, in effect, the evil version of Fisto. The difference between the two characters is that Jitsu was designed like an offensive Asian caricature.
You could tell that the creators of the He-Man cartoon series were a bit disturbed by the presence of the character, as well, as Jitsu barely showed up in the series. When he did, it was mostly in the background and he was not even named, and with with good reason. His original character name was Chopper. Get it, like a karate chop? Yikes.
10. CRACKERS THE CLOWN
On many television series, hitting 100 episodes is cause for celebration. In fact, the 100th episode is often used to do some sort of special anniversary celebration. In the case of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, the 100th episode wasn’t just not a celebration, it was possibly one of the worst episodes of the series period!
The episode, “The Greatest Show on Eternia,” involves the absurd concept of Crackers the Clown bringing the circus to Eternia, which irritates Skeletor a great deal, to the point where Skeletor kidnaps Crackers and tries to hijack the circus so that they will put on a private show for Skeletor. Crackers is so annoying that you are almost rooting for Skeletor to just keep him. Orko has a number of scenes with Crackers and even he comes off looking like a normal guy by comparison!
Few characters symbolized the problem with basing a cartoon series on a line of toys quite as much as Tri-Klops. You see, the way cartoons work when they’re based on a toy line is that the creators are always forced to work in the newest figures into the story. The company behind the cartoon wants the newer product spotlighted, not the older stuff, so they write them in and out of the cartoon. Heck, Hasbro had pretty much its entire first line of Transformers characters killed off in Transformers: The Movie due to this concept.
Thus, since Tri-Klops was one of the first villains in the toy line, he was quickly abandoned for newer figures and got to last the entire series as just a useless bumbling fool in the background. He didn’t even get to be a main bumbling fool like some of his peers, such as Beast-Man!
The boom in cartoon series in the 1980s that were basically half hour ads for toys led to a whole pile of attempts to create the next fad. He-Man, after all, was seemingly just thrown together out of nowhere and it became one of the biggest properties in the world, so it only stood to reason that perhaps some other property could do the same.
The sorts of ideas that were being thrown around at the time is perhaps best exemplified by the Manchines, introduced in the He-Man/She-Ra Christmas Special. They were basically Smurfs that could transform. Transforming Smurfs? You could practically hear the cash registers ring! Sadly, this combo turned out to go together about as well as peppermint and orange juice (we’re saying it worked poorly, just in case you’re a freak who likes to drink peppermint orange juice).
7. COUNT MARZO
There are not many supervillains in the world of Masters of the Universe who are quite as creepy as Count Marzo. That’s saying a lot, considering the main villain in the series is literally a walking skeleton! The thing that makes Marzo stand out is that his modus operandi is to pick on kids. Yep, while a number of villains in Eternia will often run into kids in the course of their villainy, Marzo specifically targets children as his main deal.
Marzo shows up in “The Eternia Flower,” which is literally all about Marzo getting little kids hooked on drugs. Of course, we’re talking about a black weed called the Eternia Flower rather than explicitly drugs, but the metaphor is about as obvious as it can get and it is extremely disturbing to watch a guy just get kids hooked on drugs all episode long.
In the fall of 1983, the world finally learned the answer to the question, “Are we willing to build an entire series just around the idea that we all think that that kid, Emmanuel Lewis, who stars in all of the commercials, is cute?” The answer was a resounding yes and so an annoying TV series named Webster was launched that lasted a shocking four seasons.
In the fall of 1984, we got a similarly annoying character, only this one was named Webstor with an O, which we presume stood for “O man, this guy is pretty darn useless.” He didn’t even have actual spider powers (the 2002 He-Man series smartly altered him so that he did). He just had a grappling hook. He was less stupid than the first season villains, but that’s not saying a whole lot.
You know how Orko is the comic relief of the show? You know how he is annoying, but at least he means well? Well, for all of the fans who were already sick of Orko’s nonsense, we got to meet Yukkers, the younger brother of Orko’s girlfriend, Dree Elle. Yukkers is just as annoying as you would think a minature version of Orko would be, but he has the added bonus of also being a little jerk!
In his debut episode, he accidentally sneezes on the powerful magic device, the Horn of Evil, and almost destroys Eternia in the process. Yes, that’s right, everyone almost lost their lives because the dumb little brother of Orko’s girlfriend sneezed into a magical Horn! Perhaps their strategy was to make us all like Orko in comparison?
4. BUZZ OFF
As we have mentioned a few times already, the world of Eternia made little sense, mostly because the creators of the television series constantly had to work in new figures that did not seem to have any logical role in the greater Eternia set-up. What are you supposed to do, for instance, when the toy company says, “Here’s a giant bee guy — oh, and he’s a spy.”
That was the high concept for Buzz-Off, a giant bee person who is somehow supposed to be a great spy despite sticking out like a sore thumb. On the cartoon show, he had a really annoying voice and, most famously, in the one episode of the series devoted to him, he barely appears in the episode — He-Man has to help Buzz-Off’s people, so the episode is mostly He-Man helping other bee people.
Another character who got short shrift in the cartoon due to the action figure being developed late in the life of the series was Two-Bad. The original concept for the character was a clever one. He was going to be two creatures merged into one body, with one head being a good guy and the other head being a bad guy; they would then have to constantly fight for control. However, Mattel had a pretty strict “He’s either a good guy or a bad guy” rule, so Two-Bad was made just a bad guy.
Here is how generic Two-Bad is. His biggest appearance in the TV series was as a last minute fill-in, so Two-Bad just split the dialogue originally given to Beast-Man and Trap-Jaw, so he did not even have his own personality when he debuted!
Beast-Man is an interesting character because he has two different things going for him. On the one hand, he is one of the only bad guys who debuted in the original toy line to make it through the whole series while never becoming sidelined (the fate of most of the early villains and even a good chunk of the early heroes). On the other hand, he made it through it all while being the incompetent sidekick to Skeletor the entire way!
It seems that the big issue was that the show creators had to make sure to tame the character down to make him appropriate for kids and their answer was essentially to make him a moron. He definitely was not very threatening as he kept getting pushed around all series long.
1. THE WIDGETS
While each of the characters on this list has been annoying and/or incompetent at one point or another in their Masters of the Universe career, nothing quite matches the history of the Widgets, who managed to be useless in every appearance they made throughout the series without ever seeming to give anything back to the rest of Eternia.
They’re an incompetent group of hobbit-like creatures who are always getting into trouble and needing He-Man to bail them out; often the trouble is hilariously easy to see coming ahead of time but they’re just too stupid to keep themselves from screwing things up and making He-Man save them (the main Widget, Squich, is particularly naive). They’re not even cute! They really have no place on the series.
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