|Masters of the Universe character|
|First appearance||He-Man and the Power Sword (1981)|
|Created by||Mark Taylor|
|Portrayed by||Frank Langella|
|Family||King Randor (half-brother)|
Skeletor (//) is a fictional character and the main antagonist of the Masters of the Universe franchise created by Mattel, serving as the archenemy of the protagonist He-Man. He is typically depicted as a blue-skinned humanoid who wears a purple hood over his bare-bone skull. Skeletor is determined to gain the powers of Castle Grayskull and rule the planet Eternia, and the entire universe; however, the incompetence of his henchmen is always an impediment to achieving his ambitions.
Pre-Filmation minicomics ("savage Eternia")
The first minicomics that accompanied the 1981–1983 line of Masters of the Universe toys presented the earliest version of continuity and displayed many differences from the more widely known continuity of the later cartoon made by Filmation, and the later minicomics which complemented it. He-Man was depicted as the scarcely superhuman champion of a tribe of stone-age jungle-dwellers. There was no royal court of Eternia, King Randor, Queen Marlena, or Prince Adam yet.
These very first minicomics, which were actually more like storybooks, with a single image per page footed by prose, stated that Skeletor was originally an inhabitant of another dimension, populated with others of "his kind". During "The Great Wars", an ambiguous concept which is largely ignored in later continuities, a hole was opened in the dimensional wall and Skeletor was thrown from his world into Eternia. Significantly different from the lonelier and entirely self-serving Skeletor of later depictions, the villain's key motivation in this first story is to reopen the rift between his world and Eternia, thus allowing Skeletor's race to invade and conquer Eternia alongside him. This was the initially stated reason behind Skeletor's desire to obtain the powers of Castle Grayskull, not merely seeking power for its own sake as is generally the case in later depictions.
Filmation He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983)
In the 1980s cartoon series, Skeletor is a former pupil of Hordak, a high-ranking commander of the Evil Horde. When Hordak invaded Eternia and kidnapped one of the King and Queen's twin babies from the palace, Man-At-Arms and the Royal Guard captured his apprentice, Skeletor, and forced him to divulge the whereabouts of his master, who had retreated to his base of operations, Snake Mountain. When cornered, Hordak opened a random dimensional portal (later revealed to have led to Etheria) and leaped through with the baby Princess Adora in his possession. Skeletor remained on Eternia, raised an army of powerful minions of his own and took over as ruler of Snake Mountain. Skeletor's main goal is to conquer the mysterious fortress of Castle Grayskull, from which He-Man draws his powers. If he succeeds, Skeletor would be able to conquer not only Eternia, but the whole universe. At the same time, his other goal is to take revenge on Hordak and overthrow Horde Prime in his bid to conquer the universe.
Skeletor appeared in 71 of the 130 episodes of the 1980s He-Man cartoon (33 episodes in the first season, 38 in the second) and in 9 of the 93 episodes of the spin-off She-Ra: Princess of Power, for a total of 80 appearances, and also in The Secret of the Sword and A Christmas Special. He was voiced by Alan Oppenheimer in both series. While he was occasionally seen as a bumbling figure whose plans were always foiled by He-Man and his friends, his intentions to conquer Eternia were taken seriously by He-Man, and sometimes by She-Ra. He-Man regarded Skeletor as his arch-foe, and Skeletor's plans were sometimes ruined through the fault of his minions rather than by his own incompetence.
Post-Filmation series minicomics
In the later minicomics by Mattel it is hinted that Skeletor is in fact Keldor, King Randor's long-lost brother. This contradicts both earlier minicomics and cartoon series.
This implication occurs specifically in the 1986 minicomic entitled "The Search for Keldor", a story that involves Prince Adam and Randor searching for Randor's lost brother Keldor. When Skeletor learns of their quest, he muses that "they must never discover the secret of Keldor", as the truth will lead to his destruction.
In this story King Randor announces that Keldor disappeared years ago. "He thought to master magic; when his experiments went wrong and he was lost in a dimension beyond time!" One of the few elements of Skeletor's back story that remains consistent throughout the various continuities is that he had come to Eternia from another dimension.
It is likely that Randor's statement about Keldor disappearing to another dimension is an attempt to reconcile Skeletor being He-Man's uncle with his Extra-Eternian origins. To find out what happened to Keldor, Randor and the Sorceress attempt to peer through a space-time rift that opens once every year.
Randor announces "I think I see Keldor... Or is it..." Before he can see anything else, Skeletor appears, determined to stop them from finding out any more. Although Skeletor is defeated, he is able to prevent Randor from discovering Keldor's fate as the rift once again closes for another year.
Skeletor's frantic effort to cover up what happened to Keldor, combined with the fact that Keldor vanished to another dimension when attempting to become a master sorcerer, is taken as a heavy implication that the two characters are indeed one and the same. Unfortunately, because the original MOTU toyline came to an end before the story could be resolved, it was never fully disclosed if this was officially intended to be the case.
Steven Grant, the writer-for-hire of the minicomic in question, stated in a he-man.org interview that "As far as I remember, Keldor was Skeletor... But, I don't think that was ever going to be revealed... I seem to remember it as one of those things Mattel came up with out of the blue... Slur Keldor and you end up with Skeletor... His back-story wasn't really worked out. Some sort of evil cosmic energies altered him. I think they were going for a Darth Vader thing, but it was a tack-on... The main idea was that if they found out Skeletor was Keldor, they'd be able to find out what had changed him and might find some way to reverse it."
In the new continuity of the 2002 animated series, Skeletor's original name was definitely Keldor; his appearance as such is shown and his exploits partially depicted. However, it seems unlikely that he is related to Randor in this continuity, as he has Skeletor's blue skin and some other slightly nonhuman features while he was still Keldor. In a he-man.org interview with one of producers of the 2002 series, it is revealed that Keldor is the half-brother of Randor; they have different mothers.
In the Masters of the Universe Classics toy line, further character development was introduced. This line has offered more in depth origins to the Masters of the Universe characters and a collaboration of all origins in attempt to create a new coherent continuity. According to their revised back story, Keldor is Randor's half-brother. Keldor's mother was a member of the Gar race and he was ousted from the royal castle due to his Gar heritage. He roamed Eternia for knowledge, eventually learning the Dark Arts from Hordak. He then sought to unite Eternia by ruling it himself and battle his own half-brother with his army of fellow misfits. After losing the battle and desperate to survive, he turned to his mentor Hordak who merged Keldor with an entity known as the Demo-Man. Together they formed Skeletor. Keldor also appears in the DC comics but was cursed by his father and became Skeletor.
Masters of the Universe (1987 film)
Frank Langella portrayed Skeletor in the 1987 live-action film. As this was a PG motion picture, this depiction of the character was far darker and more menacing than his comical animated counterpart, serving as both a competent and threatening antagonist to the heroes. During the course of the movie, Skeletor captures Castle Grayskull and imprisons the Sorceress after Evil-Lyn tricks Gwildor into giving her the Cosmic Key. He later absorbs the power of the Great Eye and transforms into a golden demonic god, but is ultimately thrown off a cliff into a vat of unknown substance by He-Man. In a post-credits scene, Skeletor emerges from the vat proclaiming, "I'll be back." This depiction of Skeletor is clad in more regal attire than traditional incarnations, wearing a black cloak and robe that covers his entire body. To prepare for the role, Langella asked his kids questions about Skeletor and watched the original series. His performance is highly regarded by fans and critics as being a high point in the film, and Langella himself has regarded Skeletor as one of his favorite roles in his entire career.
The New Adventures of He-Man (1990)
The New Adventures series sees Skeletor (voiced by Campbell Lane) with a new outfit, chest armour, cybernetic implants and a mauve cape. Skeletor fools the Galactic Guardians, Hydron and Flipshot, into thinking he is the force of good they need to save their home planet, Primus, when in fact they came looking for He-Man. Unable to decide who is good and who is evil, Skeletor and He-Man are both transported to the futuristic planet Primus, where Skeletor reveals his true evil nature to the Primans as the Mutants attack. Skeletor and the Mutant leader, Flogg, come to an agreement: Skeletor will help Flogg conquer Primus in return for Flogg's help in destroying He-Man. One of Flogg's terms is that he will remain in charge of the Mutants. Skeletor agrees, and is able to manipulate and control Flogg from behind the scenes, while making himself a force to be reckoned with among Primans and Mutants alike.
In the episode "Sword and Staff", Skeletor finds a powerful crystal on Moon Nordor and absorbs its power, making him more powerful and evil than ever before, and changing his appearance drastically, including a yellow face with red eyes, and different armour and helmet, based on the "Disks of Doom Skeletor" toy. Throughout the series, Skeletor concocts various schemes to destroy He-Man and conquer Primus.
Although The New Adventures series follows the continuity of the Filmation cartoon, Skeletor is quite a different character. He possesses a sarcastic sense of humor and often jokes and laughs, taking his own failures much better than in the previous series. He has a genuine relationship with Crita, a female mutant with purple skin. He even dances with her in one episode. He also works well with Flogg, Slush Head and the other Mutants as part of their team as well as having a pet named Gur. Though often displaying a more relaxed attitude, when enraged, he simply becomes a maniac and lashes out in anger at anyone around him. He is able to instill fear into Flogg despite being perfectly willing to take his orders when it suits his own purposes. Overall, the Skeletor in this series is portrayed as a far more competent and threatening character despite his often comedic lines.
The first toys for the "New Adventures" line, which was marketed simply as "He-Man", gave a different explanation for how He-Man and Skeletor ended up in the future via a mini-comic packed in with various figures, as well as actually providing a reason for the cybernetics Skeletor employed in the first few episodes of the "New Adventures" TV series. In this mini-comic, Skeletor also learned that He-Man and Prince Adam were the same being, only for Adam to become He-Man permanently. The energy output caused by this final change from prince to warrior was partly the reason for Skeletor's new cybernetic look when the character was forced to take drastic measures to treat wounds that would have otherwise been fatal without treatment.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002)
Skeletor appears in the 2002 TV series voiced by Brian Dobson, serving as the main antagonist of the first season and one of the three secondary antagonists (alongside Kobra Khan and Rattlor) of the second season. In this new version, it is shown that Skeletor was formerly a warlord named Keldor who had trained in the dark arts. Keldor was taught the ways of black magic by summoning Hordak, who was trapped in the dark dimension, Despondos. He gathered a small band of warriors to attack the Hall of Wisdom. They encountered resistance from Captain Randor and his officers; Keldor fought Randor personally, wielding two swords with astounding proficiency, but when Randor disarmed him, Keldor threw a vial of acid at him, but Randor deflected it with his shield, and the acid splashed back onto Keldor's face.
As Kronis (who later became Trap Jaw) called for a retreat, Evil-Lyn took Keldor to Hordak's sanctuary, where Keldor summoned Hordak to save his life. Keldor agreed to pay whatever price Hordak wished for his own life, and Hordak transformed him, stripping the damaged tissues from his skull and dubbing him Skeletor; Keldor's head had been completely stripped of soft tissues, leaving only a floating skull. When Keldor saw his new appearance, he laughed maniacally about it; the incident perhaps shattering whatever sanity he had left. Hordak can also apparently speak to Skeletor from Despondos through telepathy which also causes Skeletor great pain.
Trapped in the Dark Hemisphere by the Mystic Wall, Skeletor designed a machine that would destroy it, but it needed the Corodite Crystal as a power source. When Mer-Man retrieved it, Skeletor destroyed the Mystic Wall and returned to menacing Eternia.
Unlike his previous portrayals, Skeletor is not concerned with Castle Grayskull at first, until a giant fish-monster that had swallowed the remnants of the Corodite Crystal - thus making him hunger for power, heads toward Grayskull. The Eternian warriors, led by Man-At-Arms and He-Man, stop the monster, forcing Skeletor to ponder what could be in that ancient pile of stones worth dying for. At the time, the Heroic Warriors seem ready and willing to let Grayskull fall, and would likely have done so, if not for the urgings of Man-At-Arms, who had been swallowed whole by the monster. In the first season finale, Skeletor directly attacks it with his Council of Evil: himself, Count Marzo, Evilseed, the three evil Giants and Webstor. When King Hiss and the Snake Men are freed from the Void, Hiss imprisons Skeletor, having him devoured by a giant snake, but Skeletor escapes after the Masters defeat Hiss.
Despite owing his life to Hordak, Skeletor destroys Hordak's sanctuary to prevent him from returning. Skeletor did not want to hold up his end of the bargain and free Hordak from Despondos because he wanted Eternia for himself. At the end of the second season, King Hiss revives Serpos, the Serpent God, who had been transformed into Snake Mountain by the Elders; Skeletor and his minions were inside the mountain at that time, though Serpos is defeated and restored to its Snake Mountain form. If a third season of the series had been produced, it would have seen Skeletor and He-Man dealing with the Horde invasion and the powerful Hordak, who it was said Skeletor would eventually have defeated. This season would have also shown Skeletor's part in the kidnapping of He-Man's twin sister, She-Ra, and sending her to Hordak to be raised.
In the show, Skeletor is again portrayed as a bully towards his minions but with an even more malicious edge, using his powerful abilities to threaten his followers or to silence them. He also constantly blames his followers for their defeats at the hands of the Masters, and rules through a policy of fear, which makes him somewhat different compared to King Hiss. Many episodes end with him either punishing or torturing his minions for their failures. Also like previous versions, he is shown to possess almost no loyalty towards his followers as demonstrated in the last episodes of the first season, where he sends his own Evil Warriors into a trap to get captured just to lull the Masters into a false sense of security. He even goes as far as replacing them with his 'Council of Evil'. He is further shown to be power-mad and unwilling to share the spoils of war; as demonstrated when he tells Count Marzo when questioned if they will gain anything from Castle Grayskull, that he will give them a reward if he feels like doing so.
In the beginning of the first season he demonstrates a deep-rooted hatred towards King Randor for his part in destroying his face and making him what he is now; though he also attributes that to Evil-Lyn for saving him. This gradually shifts towards hatred against He-Man for standing in his way constantly. Furthermore, his maniacal laughter can perhaps indicate that he might have become insane by the loss of his face, something that is mentioned in the Icons of Evil comics when Trap-Jaw, mentions that Skeletor is no longer the leader he once followed. Finally, despite his evil, Skeletor has been known to grovel when his life is in jeopardy, though this is usually an attempt to get the upper hand before betraying his savior, which is seen on a few occasions to trick He-Man into dropping his guard before attacking and escaping.
As with all the Mike Young Productions series' characters, Skeletor's appearance is based on his figure from the Four Horsemen-designed toyline which the cartoon was produced to promote. Skeletor is the character that received perhaps the least-extensive redesign from his original toy/cartoon version. However, when this new design was then translated into animated form, MYP's artists usually gave him a voluminous cape; something which neither the new toy, nor the original incarnation of the character ever wore. The cape is typically adorned in situations where Skeletor chose to employ powerful magical feats. Skeletor is still commonly seen without his cape in the 2002 series while at rest or in combat situations not requiring extensive use of magic. When a later convention-exclusive figure of Keldor was made using the existing Skeletor body, a removable cloth cape was included. As the figure came with three swappable heads including his Keldor face; his burning, acid-splashed visage; and his final Skeletor head, this figure could thus be configured into a "show-accurate" caped Skeletor.
Another note is that his eyes appear, glowing red, in his sockets whenever he becomes enraged or demonstrates his magic powers. When Hiss was going to turn him to stone he proclaims his eyes are closed but Evil-Lyn proclaims he has no eyes.
The 2002 version of Skeletor is generally regarded as competent, although unlike the New Adventures version, was unable to accomplish any real victory.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2012)
Skeletor is disappointed that Beast Man failed yet discovered that Adam is not without skill. Their attempt to wipe his memory completely failed to erase his instinctive understanding of battle. Skeletor shows Beast Man mercy, but warns that his troublesome nephew must die if he doesn't stay within these boundaries. When Skeletor sends words to his allies that Adam must be prevented from learning who he really is, the first to take action is Trap Jaw and his riders who ambush Adam in the desert.
Skeletor mused at how he had previously worked so hard to capture Adam's sword thinking that it was the source of He-Man's power. Skeletor now knows that the sword is merely a conduit to the powers of Castle Grayskull. His dinner guest is a catatonic Sorceress of Castle Grayskull as he tries to get her to give him the knowledge of accessing the powers of Castle Grayskull. When Adam and Teela are on a ship at sea, Skeletor sends word to Mer-Man to dispose of "Prince" Adam.
Skeletor is getting annoyed at the fact that none of his allies have successfully killed Adam. He can't leave Castle Grayskull to do the job himself or else he won't get back in. Even with all the torture he has caused the Sorceress of the castle, he worries that she is the key to unlocking the castle's power.
Evil-Lyn reports the misplacement of her prisoners Adam and Teela to Skeletor. When she points out that the bird Zoar caused Adam to fall and discover the means of escape, Skeletor realizes that the Sorceress of Grayskull has been undermining him. Angrily, he bursts into her cell and demands to know where in his mind she was hiding. She reveals that she hid in plain sight within a pleasant memory....moments he rarely revisits. Grabbing her by the neck, he explains that he does not need her to get at Grayskull's power and snaps it dropping her limp body to the floor.
At Castle Grayskull, Skeletor has been informed by Beast Man that He-Man will be coming for him now that he has regained his memories, and wants to prepare Castle Grayskull for a siege. Skeletor tells Beast Man to do so if it brings him comfort. He then engages in a conversation with a head that has been advising him throughout the series, and eventually throws it through the window in a fit of rage. At Castle Grayskull, the preparations for the expected attack are complete. Skeletor, Beast Man. and Evil-Lyn overlook the battlefield in front of the castle, and await He-Man's arrival. Skeletor magically removes Evil-Lyn's mouth when she continues to speak even after he has ordered her to be silent.
He-Man tells Teela that he believes Skeletor is dead, then is seen calling himself a liar under his breath. Skeletor is revealed to have survived the fall into the chasm, but his skull is now cracked and broken, with his lower jaw appearing to be absent. Skeletor finds himself faced with the head that he threw out of the castle earlier, and it is revealed that this is some sort of minion that encourages Skeletor to not accept defeat. The final frames reveal that an unknown enemy that wishes Skeletor dead, but is not yet prepared to see it happen, has been manipulating Skeletor throughout the entire saga.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation
Skeletor eventually discovered that Castle Grayskull was just a shell, and that its sole purpose was to guard the Orb of Power. The Lord of Destruction used the Shaping Staff to disguise himself as one of his henchmen, Spikor and together with Evil-Lyn, disguised as Clawful, pretended to have been captured by He-Man (in reality the robot Faker). This deception managed to dupe the Sorceress long enough for the Evil Warriors to enter Grayskull, after which Skeletor ordered the rest of his forces to launch a full-scale attack on the castle, in order to engage the Heroic Warriors and Royal Guards who were bound to come to Grayskull's defense.
Quickly gaining access to the very heart of Grayskull, Skeletor defeated the powerful Nature God Moss Man and maneuvered He-Man into stabbing him with his mighty sword in such a way that the sword would penetrate the Orb of Power as well and open it as if it were a key. Skeletor struck the orb with his own Havoc Staff afterwards, cracking it and releasing the magic power that created Eternia and the very universe.
The Sorceress knew that this meant the end of all existence, but was able to freeze time for a short period so that she could confer with He-Man and Teela. He-Man attempted to absorb the magical energy of the Orb with his Sword of Power, which split in two. When this happened, his noble steed Battle Cat transformed back into Cringer and He-Man reverted back to Prince Adam. Skeletor attempted to grab the two halves of the sword for himself, and both he and Adam were obliterated in the explosion caused by the magical impact. The only thing which remained was the top of Skeletor's Havoc Staff.
Only a tiny sliver of Skeletor's essence survived the explosion, and took refugee in Evil-Lyn's wand staff without her knowledge. Teela went on a quest to recover the two halves of the Sword of Power and reforge them into one. Evil-Lyn, carrying her wand, and her protector Beast Man were among the warriors who joined Teela. In the Eternian afterlife, Preternia, they were reunited with Adam, who gave up his everlasting reward to return to the land of the living so he could call upon the power of Grayskull and restore magic to the entire universe. When magic returned, Skeletor was finally able to reform himself, and stabbed Adam in the back before he could transform into He-Man. Skeletor took the Sword of Power afterwards, asked Evil-Lyn and Beast Man to join him at his side, and took the power of Grayskull for himself, becoming Skelegod.
Live-action Masters of the Universe reboot film
Skeletor is planned to appear in the upcoming live-action Masters of the Universe reboot adaptation on Netflix.
Powers and abilities
Skeletor is a borderline competent sorcerer with control over a vast range of dark magical powers, such as the ability to teleport himself and others over vast distances, send telepathic commands to his minions, grow plants, hypnotize, cast illusions, reflect magic, project freezing rays, and open gateways between dimensions. He also possesses considerable scientific skill, and is shown to have skill in creating various machines and devices in both the Filmation and New Adventures animated series. The 2002 series also shows him as a highly skilled swordsman, wielding dual swords and taking on multiple opponents.
He is usually armed with a magical weapon called the Havoc Staff, a long sceptre crowned with a ram's skull—sometimes depicted with an embedded crystal ball. He can discharge bolts of mystic force from the head of the Staff, or use it as a focus for more powerful forms of magic such as the theft of dreams. Skeletor has also displayed the ability to discharge energy from his own body, as is seen in the 1987 film where he casts lightning from his hands and in the original animated series where he projects energy from his fingertips. In the 2002 series, his innate powers seem much more limited; though his abilities, when in conjunction with his Havoc Staff seem nearly unmitigated in scope and highly potent in raw power.
In the early mini-comics, Skeletor sometimes possesses one half of the Power Sword. From this weapon he could also project magical energies. He also performed remote viewing via crystal ball. He has also shown himself to be a gifted swordsman. As a master of the occult arts, he is also privy to much secret knowledge about the universe.
All versions portray Skeletor as being extremely cunning and intelligent. He is also very strong, although his strength is no match for He-Man's. He has few weaknesses, aside from his inability to control his anger, and on occasion his overconfidence can also be his undoing.
Despite his generally callous attitude towards his henchmen and others, Skeletor displays a certain degree of affinity towards animals. Skeletor's most constant animal companion is Panthor.
Panthor is Skeletor's evil feline companion, a giant purple panther who serves as an evil counterpart to Battle Cat. Panthor is portrayed as Skeletor's pet, being at the right of his throne. However, unlike He-Man's Battle Cat, Panthor only appears in a handful of stories in the original series. While his role is similarly limited in the 2002 series, he is more prominent in the episodes in which he appears compared to his appearances in the earlier series.
In He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special, Skeletor also shows some affinity towards Relay, a partly-robotic dog who is a part of the Manchines. When shot down by Hordak late into the special, Skeletor is at first ready to leave Relay behind on a snowy mountain top but decides to carry Relay with him when he can't bear to listen to his whimpering. Although Skeletor appears annoyed by Relay licking his face, he refuses to let Miguel or Alisha carry the creature.
In The New Adventures of He-Man, Skeletor becomes friends with a small mutant creature named Grr. After intimidating Grr to submission, he pets it and decides he likes it because the creature is apparently as vicious as he.
- Skeletor appeared in a Streets commercial advertising branded ice cream of the franchise in Australia in 1985, with Australian voice actor Keith Scott voicing him.
- Skeletor was featured in a series of ads for Honda, voiced by Jeff Bennett.
- Skeletor also appeared dancing in television advertisements for Moneysupermarket.com in March 2017.
- Skeletor made an appearance in a GEICO commercial in September 2017, voiced by Bill Lobley.
Skeletor was the inspiration for the 2019 self-help book What Would Skeletor Do? Diabolical Ways to Master the Universe by Robb Pearlman. He also makes a cameo appearance alongside He-Man in the 2022 film Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers with Alan Oppenheimer reprising his role.
- Szkieletor, a structure in Kraków, Poland, nicknamed after Skeletor (using the Polish version of the name)
- Ōgon Bat
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- Price, Joe (May 20, 2022). "Listen to Post Malone's Theme Song for New 'Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers' Movie". Complex Networks. Retrieved May 20, 2022.