G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1985 TV series)

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This article is about the Sunbow/Marvel TV series. For the DiC TV series, see G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1989 TV series).
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
G.I. Joe Cartoon 1985 Title.jpg
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero first season title
Genre Military action-adventure
Created by Hasbro
Developed by Toei Animation
Voices of Michael Bell
Arthur Burghardt
Corey Burton
William Callaway
Brian Cummings
Dick Gautier
Ed Gilbert
Chris Latta
Morgan Lofting
Mary McDonald-Lewis
Bill Ratner
Bob Remus
B.J. Ward
Narrated by Jackson Beck
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 95 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Joe Bacal
David H. DePatie (1983 mini-series)
Margaret Loesch (1984 mini-series, Season 1 and 2)
Tom Griffin
Lee Gunther (Executive in Charge of Production)
Producer(s) Don Jurwich
Production company(s) Hasbro
Sunbow Productions
Marvel Productions
Distributor Claster Television
Original channel First-run syndication[1]
Original run September 12, 1983 (1983-09-12) – November 20, 1986 (1986-11-20)
Followed by G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1989 TV series)
G.I. Joe Extreme
Related shows G.I. Joe: Sigma 6

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is a half-hour American animated television series based on the successful toyline from Hasbro and the comic book series from Marvel Comics. The cartoon had its beginnings with two five-part mini-series in 1983 and 1984, then became a regular series that ran in syndication from 1985 to 1986.

Ron Friedman created the G.I. Joe animated series for television, and wrote all four miniseries.[2] The fourth mini-series was intended to be a feature film, but as noted subsequently was released as a television mini-series instead because of production difficulties.[3][4][5]


G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero[edit]

This five-part pilot mini-series was alternately aired under the title "The MASS Device" during the series' syndication. Destro and Cobra Commander use an experimental machine known as the MASS device, which has the ability to transport matter to any global location, using a powerful satellite to relay the teleportation beam. G.I. Joe must stop Cobra by creating a MASS Device of their own. But first, they must gather the three rare elements that power the device.

G.I. Joe: The Revenge of Cobra[edit]

Cobra has returned in force, armed with a new weapon created called the Weather Dominator, which is able to manipulate storm systems. In the beginning of the second mini-series, Cobra steals the power core for a new laser cannon the Joes were transporting to their headquarters and adds it to the Weather Dominator, giving it unlimited power. Damaged in battle, the device breaks into its three component pieces, which scatter across the world. The G.I. Joe team must recover the pieces before Cobra can reclaim them to rebuild the Weather Dominator.

G.I. Joe: The Pyramid of Darkness[edit]

The third mini-series installment of the G.I. Joe series originally debuted in its complete form during prime time and was later adapted to the more familiar five-part daily mini-series format for rebroadcast on syndicated television. The story centers on Cobra's attempts to build and maintain a new weapon, the Pyramid of Darkness, a weapon that neutralizes all electrical power in the Earth's Northern hemisphere. Four giant control cubes are to be placed at key locations around the globe. Once the Joes' orbiting space station is seized, the cubes are activated and the pyramid is complete. The Joes battle Cobra to destroy the pyramid and find the terrorist organization's secret headquarters.

G.I. Joe: Arise, Serpentor, Arise![edit]

The fourth mini-series deals with Dr. Mindbender being inspired by a strange dream to create a new leader for Cobra to replace Cobra Commander. Using genetic engineering, he intends to use the DNA of history's most ruthless historical figures to create the ultimate Cobra leader. The Joes race to the various locations to attempt to intercept the Cobra operatives. However, Cobra is successful in delivering the necessary genetic information to Mindbender. Having captured Sgt. Slaughter in the process, Mindbender decides to substitute Sarge's DNA for the DNA of Sun Tzu. However, Slaughter manages to prevent this, and Mindbender later remarks that without the military discipline that his creation would have inherited from Sun Tzu or Slaughter, his maniacal drive for conquest has no counterbalance. The resultant creation, Serpentor, takes control of Cobra and immediately sets out to seize Washington DC. Partly due to the lack of discipline exhibited by Serpentor, the Joes are able to thwart his bid for world domination. Upon his defeat, Serpentor intends to leave Cobra Commander for dead. However, Cobra Commander convinces Serpentor to spare his life, convincing him that he will make an excellent scapegoat for any of his failures. The GI Joe Team vows to continue to defend the world from the threat of Cobra even as their enemy now has a powerful new leader.

Main series[edit]

Following the initial two mini-series, the regular series began airing on September 16, 1985 concurrently in line with the second season of The Transformers, debuting with a third five-part story, The Pyramid of Darkness. A public safety lesson was usually featured at the end of each episode, using G.I. Joe characters in brief scenarios to impart safety tips to children. These lessons gave birth to the catchphrase: "And knowing is half the battle".

In each episode's opening title sequence voice actor Jackson Beck states that, "G.I. Joe is the code name for America's daring, highly-trained, Special Mission force. Its purpose: To defend human freedom against Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world".

Because the cartoons were produced as a vehicle to sell the toys, each episode typically focused on a particular G.I. Joe character.[citation needed] The animated series was not directly tied to the comic book produced by Marvel Comics (due to the Sunbow Productions/Marvel Productions animated series based on Hasbro properties), although several concepts, such as the Oktober Guard, Springfield, and Serpentor were all featured in the comic book and the animated series.

Season 2[edit]

Season 2 featured former WWF and then-current AWA professional wrestler made cartoon hero Sgt. Slaughter, who first appeared in the five-part season-opener Arise, Serpentor, Arise!


Sunbow/Marvel's G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero series ended on November 20, 1986 after 95 episodes. Despite G.I. Joe '​s success, no other studio offered to produce a new season until 1989 when DiC took over.


Other G.I. Joe series[edit]

In 1989, DIC Entertainment produced a second G.I. Joe series, starting with a 5-part mini-series titled Operation: Dragonfire. A regular series was broadcast in 1990.

As in the past, newer characters (with action figures on sale at the time) took the spotlight from older and more established ones. As a result, most of the Sunbow series cast were retired in favor of new ones. Some, like General Hawk, Duke, Scarlett and Snake-Eyes, were retained as they also had new figures out, and were joined by new creations like Captain Grid-Iron, Ambush, Pathfinder, Bullet Proof and Sky Patrol. Likewise, Cobra Commander and Destro were joined by Cesspool, Metal-Head, Gnawgahyde and a new assortment of (colorful) Viper troops.

In the first few episodes, which served as a link to the old cartoon continuity, some Sunbow-era characters like Serpentor and Sgt. Slaughter did appear, briefly. Serpentor was written out, while Slaughter was eventually retired after a 1990-91 WWF storyline in which his wrestling character "turned traitor" during the first Gulf War; he was thus disassociated from the entire Joe franchise.

However, this Joe series was not long for syndication, as it only lasted 2 seasons and 44 episodes.

The next few years, various cartoon tie-ins to the G.I. Joe franchise were released but they had no bearing on the A Real American Hero mythology. Former Executive in Charge of Production Lee Gunther's new studio Gunther-Wahl Productions was contracted and created a new series titled G.I. Joe Extreme in 1996 featuring new characters and villains. As with the 1985 and 1990 series, this series was distributed by Claster Television. With the exception of a fleeting appearance by Cobra Commander, Hawk and Lady Jaye, the series jettisoned past Joe cartoon history and took on a new life of its own.


Main article: G.I. Joe: The Movie

G.I. Joe: The Movie was released direct-to-video on April 20, 1987. G.I. Joe: The Movie was intended as a theatrical release to be closely followed by The Transformers: The Movie. However, the G.I. Joe film encountered unexpected production delays which allowed the Transformers feature to be released first. Due to the poor box office performances of the Transformers film and the My Little Pony film, G.I. Joe: The Movie was relegated to direct-to-video status before later being split into a 5-part mini-series for television syndication.

1994 saw a direct-to-video release for Sgt. Savage and his Screaming Eagles.

In 2003, Reel FX Creative Studio produced a cartoon based on A Real American Hero. Although it was only a direct-to-video CGI movie, G.I. Joe: Spy Troops managed to spawn a second movie, G.I. Joe: Valor vs. Venom, in 2004. Any planned follow-ups, however, have been shelved to make way for Hasbro's latest incarnation in the G.I. Joe universe, G.I. Joe: Sigma 6. Although Sigma 6 is superficially connected to A Real American Hero, its continuity is self-contained and Hasbro is not expected to return to A Real American Hero.



  • Wally Burr - Voice Director
  • Junichi Hayama - In between Animation
  • Don Jurwich - Voice Director
  • Bruce Timm - Model Design (Season 1)

VHS and DVD releases[edit]

In the 1980s, various episodes were released on VHS by Family Home Entertainment.

In 2003-2004, Rhino Entertainment began releasing G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero on DVD in Region 1. They released the original mini-series in 2003 followed by Season 1 in 2 volume sets in 2004. The first half of Season 2 was released in late 2004 but the remaining episodes were never released. These DVD sets have since gone out of print as Rhino lost the distribution rights.[6]

In 2008, Hasbro reacquired the worldwide distribution rights to the Sunbow library which includes G.I. Joe.[7] During 2008 and 2009, Hasbro released five gift packs of cartoon-inspired action figures, each including a DVD.[8][9] The first four sets included the four miniseries, and the fifth an assortment of Sunbow series episodes.[10]

In March 2009, Shout! Factory acquired the rights to re-release G.I. Joe on DVD in Region 1 with Vivendi Entertainment. They have subsequently released Season 1 in 3 volume sets. On July 22, 2009, they released G.I. Joe - A Real American Hero: Complete Collector's Set, a 17-disc boxset featuring all 95 episodes and extensive bonus features including archival Hasbro toy commercials and a collectible 60-page book.[11] The second and final season was released on April 27, 2010.[12]

In 2011 Shout! Factory announced plans to release the second series (DiC Series) on DVD in 2012. The first season of the second series was released January 10, 2012[13] The second season was released July 10, 2012.[14]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1, Part 1 22 July 14, 2009
Season 1, Part 2 21 November 3, 2009
Season 1, Part 3 22 February 2, 2010
Season 2 30 April 27, 2010
Series 2, Season 1 24 January 10, 2012
Series 2, Season 2 20 July 10, 2012


In January 2009, IGN ranked G.I. Joe as number 19 in their Top 100 Animated Series.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Top 100 animated series". IGN. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  2. ^ "G.I. Joe-The Original Mini-Series". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2010-08-14. 
  3. ^ "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero - The Complete Series (Collector's Set) DVD Review". IGN.com. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  4. ^ "G.I. Joe" Season 1.1: High-Speed, Low-Drag 1980s Idiocy". Toonzone. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  5. ^ "G.I. Joe The Complete Collection". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  6. ^ "Going Retro". The Home Media Magazine. Retrieved 2010-10-22. 
  7. ^ "Transformers DVD news: Hasbro reacquired rights to Sunbow Properties". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  8. ^ David Lambert (2008-02-23). "G.I. Joe - New DVDs of Joe Cartoons Coming, But Only As Toy Pack-Ins". TV Shows On DVD.com. 
  9. ^ "New Info On All 5 G.I.Joe DVD Battle Sets Revealed". Toy news International. 2008-06-20. 
  10. ^ "G.I.Joe "Best Of 80's Episodes" DVD Entertainment Pack". Toy news International. 2008-09-12. 
  11. ^ "Shout! Factory Store". Shout! Factory Store. 1996-12-04. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  12. ^ "G.I. Joe DVD news: G.I. Joe - A Real American Hero: Season 2 Info & Art". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  13. ^ "G.I. Joe DVD news: Press Release for G.I. Joe - Series 2, Season 1". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  14. ^ "G.I. Joe - Series 2: Season 2 DVD Information". TVShowsOnDVD.com. 2012-10-07. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 

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