One of the defining features of toy line-oriented franchise is that there is no shortage of visually appealing characters. A vast number of behavioral archetypes and appearance combinations ensure a steady supply of characters, targeted to bolster sales numbers while ignoring the quality of the writing behind them. Similarly, one of Mattel’s most popular toy line IPs, Masters of the Universe set in the fantasy-adventure genre, boasts a significant number of key figures which have gone through little to no change since their first appearance during the 80s.
With the advent of OTT, a number of franchises have received a new opportunity to unlock their potential, and Netflix’s Masters of the Universe, released in 2021, proved the storytelling prospects of He-Man lore when makers aren’t afraid to take risks. Despite being hit with seemingly divisive reactions, the series served its purpose of rejuvenating the fandom, and as a result, the follow-up animated series Masters of the Universe: Revolution has been released as a testament to its success. For newer fans, getting hooked right in to the lore might come off as a daunting task if they are unfamiliar with the sheer number of established characters. To help them keep track of at least the major characters who play an integral role in the series, we have decided to come up with this guide, where we list down the major players and briefly discuss their distinctive traits.
Prince Adam/He-Man And Cringer/Battlecat
The magical planet of Eternia rests at the center of Masters of the Universe lore, and King Randor and Queen Marlene are the benevolent rulers of the land. Their son, Prince Adam, a noble and courageous warrior, received the mystical Sword of Power from the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull, a fortress that is known as the center of knowledge and magic in the universe. By invoking the powers of the fortress, Adam was able to transform into the mighty He-Man, an invincible hulking warrior also known as the strongest being in the universe.
Cringer is the talking pet tiger of Prince Adam, who generally displays a timid disposition but is protective of his friend nonetheless. When Adam invokes the power of Grayskull, Cringer gets imbued by it as well and turns into the fierce, mighty Battlecat. Riding his ever-faithful steed, Battlecat, He-Man protects Eternia and Grayskull from evil threats.
Keldor/Skeletor And Evil-Lyn
As the prime antagonist of He-Man lore, Skeletor, the interdimensional demon revels in being Prince Adam’s nemesis, as his insatiable quest for power time and again threatens the safety of Eternia. Skeletor is hell-bent on learning the mystical secrets of Grayskull and gaining the power for himself, which he was able to do for a brief period of time during Masters of the Universe: Revelations. Operating from the depths of Snake Mountain, Skeletor formulates malevolent schemes along with his monstrous accomplices.
In the recent series and during the end portion of the original run, Skeletor’s past was explored, as it was revealed that before turning into a demonic being, he was Keldor, the first-born son of King Miro and Gar royalty, Saryn. Due to his Gar heritage, Keldor was shunned from his birthright of becoming King of Eternia at a young age and was raised in Saryn’s homeland, Anwat Gar. In his absence, his stepbrother Randor became the King of Eternia, which means Prince Adam is actually Skeletor’s nephew. Later, the evil intergalactic warlord Hordak invaded and plundered Anwat Gar and took Keldor as his apprentice. Skeletor will eventually obtain the Ha’vok Staff from Hordak, which corrupts his mind and appearance, and the dark Ha’vok magic will turn him into the demonic being now known as Skeletor.
The powerful evil sorceress, Evil-Lyn, is Skeletor’s trusted accomplice, and harnessing the powerful Ka serpent magic, she is more than capable of holding her own. Lyn’s unwavering support for Skeletor’s machinations stems from her secret love and admiration for the megalomaniac, and out of all the villainous characters presented in the series, she is the most complex figure—shown to have redeeming qualities over time. Eventually, Lyn quits her diabolical ways and strives to undo the damage she has wrought as Skeletor’s associate, and her road to redemption is one of the highlights of the recently concluded series.
Sorceress, Teela, And Man-At-Arms
Teela Na is the powerful sorceress of Castle Grayskull and is one of the successors of the first sorceress, Queen Veena. Entrusted with the protection of the mystical fortress, Sorceress wields the Staff of Zoar and assists Prince Adam in his encounters. Teela Na’s responsibilities as Sorceress barred her from maternal duties to her daughter, Teela, and she was forced to give her up during infancy to Man-At-Arms.
The ever-trustworthy and wise Duncan is the present Man-at-Arms, who is a multitalented individual with skills as an inventor, weapon master, and war general all at once. He raised Teela as his own child and trained her in various forms of combat, up until the point when Teela was destined to become the next Man-at-Arms.
Trained by her adoptive father, Duncan, Teela was entrusted to protect Adam as the captain of the Royal Guard. However, soon enough, she discovered her true parentage and, after some soul-searching, was prepared to take on the mantle of Sorceress from her mother. Teela is easily one of the most important and unique characters in the lore, and both the Netflix series have emphasized this fact through her strong presence in the narrative. In the latest series, Teela is able to wield three powerful schools of magic at once, becoming possibly the strongest being in the universe as she was able to restore Preternia, the heaven itself.
Hordak, Horde Empire, And Horde Prime
The intergalactic warlord Hordak serves as the overarching antagonist of the series, and as he razes across the galaxy, conquering thousands of worlds and dynasties using the might of his vile Horde fleet, his empire continues to grow. Hordak is also responsible for turning Keldor into Skeletor in an attempt to make him his puppet, and he uses him to take control of Eternia. In the Netflix iteration, Hordak’s exploits are much more technology-based, and his accomplice, Motherboard, exemplifies that aspect through her actions.
However, Hordak is not the prime controller of the Horde Empire and is actually second-in-command to the nefarious Horde Prime, the tyrannical dark despot who is feared across the universe. The character has appeared predominantly in She-Ra stories and will serve as the prime antagonist in Netflix’s upcoming continuation of Masters of the Universe.
Friends And Enemies
Aside from the key figures, a host of characters siding with or against Adam and Eternia have made their presence felt. Among them, Granamyr, the legendary wise, honorable dragon, the last of his kind, is one of the most compelling characters. Scare Glow, the evil controlled by Subternia (Hell), is an ancient evil whose pact with King Grayskull resulted in the creation of the Sword of Power in the first place. Orko, the powerful Trollan mage, is one of Adam’s best buddies and often serves the role of comic relief. Ram-Man, Stratos, Buzz-Off, Clamp Champ, and Fisto are a few of Eternia’s noble warriors who assist Adam in his everlasting battle against Skeletor. On the other hand, Trap Jaw, Tri-Klops, Kobra Khan, Beast Man, and Mer-Man are the ones who side with Skeletor’s evil forces. Outside the binaries of good and evil lie the cosmic enforcers, who, as their title suggests, seek to strike a universal balance between opposing forces.
So far, Netflix’s adaptation of Masters of the Universe has done a splendid job of exploring its mythos but left the bold approach of redefining it halfway through due to strong backlash. Hopefully, a sensible acceptance by the series fans will allow the story to find a new direction, as adaptability is the key to finding relevance at the end.