He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that age has done little to weather the appeal of this classic cartoon, and the show's positive messages about issues like self-confidence, responsibility, and trust are both woven into the storyline and discussed directly by the characters at the show's end. Older kids might snicker over the show's dated style (especially He-Man's mullet-like hairdo), but youngsters will overlook it in light of the action and adventure. In its time, He-Man was controversial because of its use of hand-to-hand combat, but by today's standards, the violence is pretty tame, and the characters often opt for nonviolent methods (trapping, pushing, dodging) rather than weaponry or fighting.
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What's the Story?
When Eternia's Prince Adam holds up his sword and claims the power of Castle Greyskull, he unlocks his alter ego, He-Man (voiced by John Erwin), "the most powerful man in the universe." With the castle at the heart of his impressive power, he must protect it from the likes of his nemesis, Skeletor (Alan Oppenheim), and his legion of tyrants. Only a handful of friends -- including The Sorceress (Linda Gray), Man-At-Arms (Openheim again), and his faithful Battle Cat -- know the identity of He-Man's alter ego, and they are his constant companions in his efforts to ward off Skeletor's onslaughts.
Is It Any Good?
HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE was a cartoon sensation during its two-year run in the 1980s, and young kids everywhere felt a rush of excitement when Adam held that sword up high to harness its power. For parents, though, it was a mixed bag, offering kids positive life lessons contrasting with what was then more violence than usual for a kids' cartoon. In addition to his famous sword and a variety of other objects he uses as weapons, He-Man engages his enemies in hand-to-hand battles, which wasn't common practice in kids' programming when it aired originally.
Today, however, parents' worries over the show's violence are much less concerning when compared that of modern cartoons. In reality, parents who look closely will see that He-Man often opts out of violent measures when some quick thinking or a cleverly designed trap will work just as well to neutralize a threat. That, coupled with the show's reinforcement of strong messages makes it a viable option for impressionable youngsters who want to feel like they're watching a big-kid show.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about heroes. What does it mean to be a hero? How can different people be heroes in different ways? Who is a hero to you? Why?
What did the characters learn in the show? What struggles did they have to overcome? Can you relate to what they go through? When have you had to overcome a difficult situation?
How does this show compare to more modern ones you see today? How is the animation different? Are the characters obviously different? Do these differences affect your enjoyment of the show?
- Premiere date: September 5, 1983
- Cast: Alan Oppenheim, John Erwin, Linda Gray
- Networks: qubo, Syndicated
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Superheroes, Adventures
- Character Strengths: Courage, Integrity
- TV rating: TV-Y7
- Last updated: February 4, 2023
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