The 1980s could be classified as the decade of the “inevitable crescendo”. We dutifully watched every Hulk Hogan match, cringing with every bump he took, just knowing at some point he was going to have enough, “Hulk up”, and make an amazing comeback to win the match.
We also knew if we watched an episode of Knight Rider we’d get a dazzling display of K.I.T.T.’s abilities at precisely the right time to foil the bad guys. When it came to Voltron, they only formed the big guy when all other options were exhausted, creating an (albeit predictable) climactic moment every episode.
The same went for the Masters of the Universe. Whatever trouble came Prince Adam’s way, we knew every episode he’d pull out that Power Sword, utter those awkward-in-retrospect words, and turn into He-Man.
For the most part, the transformations were warranted. Whether Skeletor’s minions had him in a bad spot, one of his friends was in trouble, or the well-being of all of Eternia hung in the balance, when Adam pulled the sword it seemed to make sense. For the most part.
I have to admit, if “fabulous secret powers” were revealed to me, and I had access to the Power Sword, I’d get pretty bored of my “normal” life too. I’m not judging Adam; I know I’d find every opportunity in the world to make that transformation and have some fun being the most powerful man in the universe. That said, come on, Adam – act like you’ve been there before.
Here are ten times Prince Adam decided to turn into He-Man where it might not have been completely necessary.
10. Clean-Up Duty
In “The Rarest Gift of All”, Adam transforms into He-Man to help Man-At-Arms put out a small workshop fire, because obviously the palace got rid of all their fire extinguishers the day fabulous secret powers were revealed to Prince Adam.
After blowing out the fire, he ends up in the kitchen helping Teela clean up a cake batter mess, which is somewhat comparable to having Brainiac balance your checking account.
9. Why Wait Until It’s Too Late?
In “Masks of Power”, Adam, Man-At-Arms and Orko embark on the least formal archaeological expedition ever. The three casually saunter up to an ancient complex to “discover it’s hidden powerful secrets” because SCIENCE.
When they encounter trouble in the form of a man and woman who decided they want to serve Skeletor and are demonstrating so by also attempting to discover the ruin’s “hidden powerful secrets”, but have been possessed by two ancient spirits (still with me?), Adam makes the climactic last-second transformation into He-Man. He fights off the evil spirits and saves Man-At-Arms and Orko.
So why was this transformation unnecessary? Adam should have been He-Man the whole time. Man-At-Arms and Orko were the only ones with him on this remote expedition. They happen to be two of the only three people who know Adam’s secret. Why on Eternia would they go into such an unknown and dangerous site with Prince Adam, when he could just already be He-Man in case something went wrong?
8. Cockblocking Orko
In “Dawn of Dragoon”, a girl version of Orko named Dree Elle appears and starts hollerin’ some crazy “Trolla’s in trouble, we need Orko the Great” noise. Apparently back on Trolla (Orko’s homeworld) he was a super-powerful magician called “Orko the Great”. Orko starts spittin’ mad game at this lady, and heroically answers her plea to come back and save Trolla.
The two Trollans leave, and instead of letting Orko handle his business, Prince Adam insists that no situation could ever be resolved without his involvement and decides to go after them. He goes to great lengths to overshadow Orko – the portal to Trolla is too small, so he goes to see the Sorceress who shrinks him down so he’s able to go show Trolla who’s the baddest m-f’er in the universe.
Once He-Man unnecessarily arrives on Trolla, all he does is fight a half-man, half-dragon dude who ends up deciding he wants to be a good guy after all. Orko had it under control, but He-Man just couldn’t let someone else have the limelight.
On a side note, there is an interesting plot point in this episode. The villain’s scheme involved imprisoning life forms and attaching them to a “megacore”, which “drains their energy” to power itself. Masters of the Universe writer Robby London basically created The Matrix 16 years before the movie premiered.
7. Your Sister Can Handle Herself
After a lifelong separation from her parents, Adora reunites with her family in the She-Ra: Princess of Power episode “Battle for Bright Moon”. Their reunion is brief, however, as Skeletor (acting on behalf of his former teacher Hordak), infiltrates the palace disguised as a baker (where’s that action figure, Mattel?)
The massive cake he baked is actually Hordak in disguise, and with Kobra Khan & Beast Man’s help they abduct Adora and take her back to Snake Mountain. Adam transforms into He-Man to go rescue her. His intentions were genuine, albeit thoroughly unnecessary.
After the inevitable villains-working-together doublecross, Hordak is cut out of the deal and sent packing. Adora turns into She-Ra and tears through Skeletor and his henchmen like Anakin Skywalker at a Tusken Raider picnic. By the time He-Man arrives, She-Ra greets him with a casual “sorry you missed all the fun”.
6. A Giant Misunderstanding
In the final episode of season one, Adam, Man-At-Arms and Orko go looking for some orange weed that Duncan needs “for one of his experiments”. After they split up, the group grows concerned as Orko is late returning. A gentle giant returns a safe Orko to his friends, along with a huge bag of the softweed they were searching for.
Their original goal was to grab the weed and be out of there in 15 minutes. At this point they are way behind schedule. Everyone in their group is safe and accounted for, so they should probably just head on back to the palace now, right? Nope. Adam decides (based on absolutely no supporting evidence) that the giant is either evil or in trouble, which also roughly translates to “I’m gonna go whip me some giant ass on this day”. He transforms and the hunt for the innocuous giant is on.
5. Showing off for the Ladies
In the season 1 episode “A Friend in Need”, Teela is visited by her old friend Ileena, who promptly becomes addicted to what can only be described as Eternia’s liquid version of heroin. Prince Adam happens to call Teela on the comm-link just as she and Ileena get caught in the middle of an active geyser field (being controlled by the evil wizard Jarvan).
Instead of moving away from the four giant holes spewing hot water straight into the air, Teela clumsily walks into a wall of steam. Back at the palace, Adam pulls the sword and turns into He-Man, thus doubling his response time (since He-Man can only travel to the scene via Battle Cat, whereas Adam could have taken any of the much speedier air-based vehicles from the palace).
Even Eternia’s first responders could have gotten to the scene quicker than He-Man, but Adam decided it was too ripe an opportunity to throw rocks from 30 feet away onto the geyser openings, saving the day and impressing the ladies.
4. Like Mother, Like Daughter
In the opening scene of “Teela’s Quest”, Man-At-Arms is fielding questions from his adopted daughter about her real parents. Man-At-Arms won’t spill the deets, so Teela decides to go see the Oracle for answers. After she leaves the palace, Adam gets wind of her plans and declares the Crystal Sea (where the Oracle resides) too dangerous for her to go alone.
Adam turns into He-Man and chases her down, which was totally unnecessary because she had already dispatched the first group of shadow beasts she encountered. Sure, later she got herself in a pinch with Mer-Man and a mighty sea demon, but the Sorceress wouldn’t have let anything happen to her, since she’s her real mom [spoiler alert].
3. He-Man the I.T. Guy
In “Day of the Machines”, Skeletor sends a cute little virus named “Byte” into the Royal computer system. Adam turns into He-Man to solve the problem, because the best way to get rid of a virus is to smash your computer with a sword.
While He-Man was certainly helpful in containing all of the ancillary machines that the virus turned rogue, they’d have been better off addressing the virus (or “electronic demon” as Teela called it) itself. In a Zoolander-esque moment of ineptitude, He-Man actually utters the question: “How do we get inside the computer to fight it?”
2. Use the Force, Adam
The episode titled “Trouble in Arcadia”, opens with He-Man appearing to be in some sort of peril. He’s crouched in battle position in the woods of Eternia, his head on a swivel. He’s got a shield on his arm that we haven’t seen before- it activates and powers down at the press of a button.
As rocks pelt He-Man from all directions, he uses the shield to defend himself from the unseen attacker… who was Man-At-Arms.
Did Duncan go rogue? No, he was just having He-Man test the latest tech out of Eternia’s R&D Deptartment, the “force shield”. Thing is, Adam didn’t need to change into He-Man to see if a shield could hold up against a bunch of flying rocks. Why did they even need a person to hold it? Why not just set it up on the business end of a firing squad and shoot whatever you want at it? Lasers, rocks, hell, you could even have Ram Man take a run at it.
1. He-Man vs. a Tablecloth
In “The Return of Orko’s Uncle”, an evil wizard named Azrog travels from another dimension and appears unexpectedly at the palace. He threatens Adam, Teela and Orko with his magical finger blasts (the same ones that Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, and every other magic-equipped person in Eternia has). As always, Adam makes a big show about leaving, saying he “has an appointment to get to” (seriously, why didn’t he ever just ‘slip away’?). He turns into He-Man, but by the time he gets back, Orko has neutralized the wizard with a tablecloth.
After He-Man shows up, the wizard does manage to free himself from the confines of the tablecloth and escape out of a window, meaning He-Man had absolutely no impact on the situation whatsoever.