Here is the long-awaited Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Photo Story about She-Ra, He-Man’s long lost twin sister. To recap, last year I bought myself a Masters of the Universe Origins He-Man and Battlecat and then a Teela figure, because I couldn’t find my vintage figure. Gradually, they were joined by other Masters of the Universe Origins figures. I also started posing the action figures to re-enact scenes from the cartoons and my imagination and started posting the results first on Twitter and then here.
This is part 3 in a sub-series of posts called “Secrets of Eternia” about how much the entire Masters of the Universe franchise is driven by secrets. Part 1, where I discuss the secret identity of He-Man and part 2, where I discuss the origin of Teela, are here. You can check out all the Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Photo Stories here.
When Prince Adam was first introduced as He-Man’s alter-ego in 1982, he was or at least thought he was an only child. All that changed in the 1985 animated movie The Secret of the Sword (you can watch it here), where Adam learned that he had a twin sister he never knew about, a sister who shared his powers.
The real world reason for why Adam suddenly acquired a twin sister is that Mattel realised that forty percent of Masters of the Universe toys were selling to girls, which was unexpected for what had been designed as a boys’ toy line (there’s a video by a former Mattel employee about this here).
Personally, I wonder why toy manufacturers are always so surprised that girls like toys intended for boys and vice versa. Even if there are certain tendencies with regard to what toys girls and boys gravitate to (and we have no idea how much of this is inate and how much socially conditioned, since boys and girls are treated differently from birth on), gender is not a monolith. And I hate it that whenever you go to a toy store or on the website of a general toy retailer, you are greeted by “Boys” and “Girls” as categories rather than e.g. “vehicles”, “puzzles”, “boardgames”, “dolls”, “plush toys”, “action figures”, etc… Why not let kids play with whatever they like.
Besides, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, if you were a girl who enjoyed fantasy and science fiction and adventure stories, you were pretty much limited to the boy toy lines, because the girl lines just didn’t offer that sort of thing. She-Ra: Princess of Power and Jem did not appear until 1985/86. Before that, you had a choice between regular dolls, Barbie and similar fashion dolls and, from the early 1980s on, pastel-coloured cartoon characters like Strawberry Shortcake, The Care Bears or My Little Pony. And of course, you had unisex toy lines like Playmobil or Lego. Now the more girl-oriented toys could and did have plenty of exciting adventures – my dolls regularly went on space trips and had adventures on the high seas, complete with getting shipwrecked and attacked by pirates. I also reenacted Star Wars with my dolls. But toy lines like Star Wars or Masters of the Universe required less improvisation.
Never mind that a lot of girls, myself included, loved the Star Wars movies or the Masters of the Universe cartoons, even if the target audience were boys. In fact, I have no idea why people were surprised that so many girls liked Star Wars or Masters of the Universe, because both featured female characters who were not purely fainting damsels-in-distress, but were just as strong and smart and skilled as the male characters.
Furthermore, the original Masters of the Universe cartoon featured several great female characters. Teela was of course the most notable one, but there were also the Sorceress, Evil-Lyn, Queen Marlena and lots of female guest characters. Rewatching the Filmation cartoons as an adult, I’m struck by how many women there are. Compared to other toy tie-in cartoons of the era, which often had just two female characters, a good and a bad girl, this was quite remarkable.
The Filmation cartoons also subvert traditional gender roles a whole lot. Teela is stronger and faster than Adam, when he’s not He-Man, and she has the male-coded position of Captain of the Royal Guard and Prince Adam’s bodyguard. We also see Teela engaging in male-coded activities like fighting and competitive sports and Adam engaging in female-coded activities like cooking and baking a cake (though Teela bakes and cooks, too, because it is a useful skill, as she tells Orko). We see a young Adam nursing and bottlefeeding baby Cringer. And the most nurturing of the various parent figures in the cartoon (and highly deserving winner of the 2021 Jonathan and Martha Kent Fictional Parent of the Year Award) is a man and not just any man either, but a grizzled old soldier. The cartoons also gave us a female NASA astronaut at a time when Sally Ride was still training for her first spaceshuttle flight. They gave us a woman who gave up her child in order to pursue her career (and Duncan very much accepts that the Sorceress just isn’t suitable to be a mother and steps up to the plate and loves her anyway). They gave us a single father who somehow manages to combine child rearing and a demanding career. Both the original He-Man cartoon and the various reboots place a strong focus on found families. The Filmation cartoons even showed us men crying, as did Revelation. Man-at-Arms definitely sheds a manly tear or two at times as do Randor and even He-Man himself. And Mattel executives were honestly surprised that girls lapped up that story as much as boys did?
At any rate, once Mattel grasped that girls were buying forty percent of Masters of the Universe toys, they realised that they had an untapped potential for even more sales on their hands and decided to create more female characters. And this is why they decided to introduce Adora, Adam’s heretofore unknown twin sister, who wields the Sword of Protection and turns into She-Ra, the most powerful woman in the universe. Initially, She-Ra was just intended to be a new character and action figure in the Masters of the Universe series, but eventually she got her own spin-off cartoon She-Ra: Princess of Power as well as her own toy line, which was nice enough, but because it was managed by Mattel’s girls’ toys department and was more doll-like with rooted hair and fabric clothing, the She-Ra toysnever really meshed well with the existing Masters of the Universe toys.
Unlike her brother, She-Ra did not appear in any of the later Masters of the Universe revival attempts, whether it’s the New Adventures of He-Man of the late 1980s, the 2002 cartoon, Masters of the Universe Revelation or the recent Netflix CGI show. Meanwhile, the 2018 She-Ra and the Princesses of Power cartoon largely followed the overall plot of the 1980s Filmation cartoon with one major difference: There was no He-Man, since the 2018 She-Ra did not have a twin brother. The reason why He-Man and She-Ra have not been seen together on screen for more than thirty-five years are rights issues. He-Man and She-Ra are considered separate brands owned by different companies, making crossovers extremely difficult. Oddly enough, this only affects She-Ra and her supporting cast – the antagonists Hordak and the Evil Horde can (and do) still appear in Masters of the Universe cartoons and did feature in both the 2002 series and were teased in Revelation. Toys are also unaffected, which is why most Masters of the Universe toylines of the past twenty years have featured She-Ra as well as Hordak and the Evil Horde, though She-Ra’s friends and comrades are much rarer.
The in-universe explanation for the revelation that He-Man had a heretofore unknown twin sister is that Randor and Marlena actually had twins, Adam and a little girl named Adora, both of whom were prophecied to be destined for greatness.
However, shortly after the twins were born, that cosmic never-do-well Hordak invaded Eternia. He heard about the cosmic wonder twins and decided that two strong warriors would be an excellent addition to the Evil Horde, so he planned to kidnap the babies and raise them to be loyal Horde warriors. Hordak also enlisted the aid of his occasional associate Skeletor (who had reasons of his own for wanting the young crown prince and princess of Eternia out of the way). Hordak and Skeletor did manage to sneak into the palace and the royal apartments and they did manage to overcome Queen Marlena, but then their kidnapping attempt was interrupted by the ever-heroic Man-at-Arms and his lover the Sorceress, so Hordak managed to snatch only one of the babies, Adora. Duncan and the Sorceress gave chase, but Hordak escaped through a portal to another dimension.
The kidnapping of Baby Adora is shown in The Secret of the Sword. Below, you’ll find my take. Instead of Skeletor proper, I used Keldor i.e. Skeletor before he had a skull-face (he was not born with a skull-face), because the change from Keldor (more on him another time) to Skeletor must have happened around this time.
“Who cares? Stealing the babies will royally piss off Randor and that’s good enough for me.”
“Can I eat the babies, boss?”
“No, we’re here to steal the babies, not eat them.”
“Can I eat just one? Cause they look so pink and tasty.”
“No, Mer-Man, we’re not eating babies today.”
“Halt! Put down the babies, fiends! You are under arrest.”
“Tell Randor that he will never see his precious children again, bwahaha.”
“Why is it making those sounds, Keldor? And what’s that smell?”
“Just shut up and take the baby!”
“Ahh, now it has sprayed me with some kind of stinking poisonous liquid!”
“Take the baby and go! Now!”
“Duncan, the portal! No!”
“Come on, Mer-Man, we’d best make our escape, while they’re otherwise occupied.”
“Grump, and I didn’t even get to eat one of those tasty looking babies.”
So Hordak escaped through an interdimensional portal with Baby Adora. The portal closed before Duncan could go after him. Worse, neither Duncan nor the Sorceress had any idea where the portal led. Baby Adora was lost forever… or so it seemed.
“Duncan, that thing still isn’t a rattle.”
“But Teela loves it, so maybe it will calm little Adam, too.”
“Our daughter, is she…?”
“Teela is safe, have no fear. I left a man to guard her.”
“Uhm, Sir, should I alert the King?”
“No, Lieutenant, that’s something I need to do myself. And I’ll have to explain to Randor and Marlena that I lost their daughter.”
“But you saved their son, my love. And Grayskull’s future champion.”
Meanwhile, here is a glimpse into Duncan’s home life around this time:
“All right, Corporal. Feed her every four hours and change her diapers at feeding time or when she cries. Bottles, baby formula and diapers are in the cabinet over there. If there’s an emergency, call me on the radio. Any questions?”
“Ahem, with all due respect, Sir, but I’m not sure if babysitting is part of my job description.”
“It is now, Corporal. Understood?”
Losing Baby Adora to Hordak left Randor and Marlena heartbroken. However, they still had a planet to rule not to mention another child that needed them, namely Adam. And so life went on and Randor and Marlena never spoke of their lost daughter again. Meanwhile, Adam, who had been only a baby, when his twin sister was stolen, grew up and never knew that he had ever had a sister at all.
As for why Adam was never told he had a sister, the intention was to spare him the pain of knowing he once had a twin sister and lost her. This is a noble motive, though once again it probably did more harm than good. Cause it must have been incredibly painful for Randor and Marlena to not only have lost a child, but to never even talk about her in front of Adam. Coincidentally, the fact that Randor and Marlena already lost one child also explains why particularly Randor puts so much pressure on Adam.
While life went on in Eternia, Adora was raised by Hordak and Shadow Weaver on Horde World and brainwashed into believing that everything the Horde did was good and right (which includes enslaving random people on planets conquered by the Horde) and that everybody who opposed the Horde was a rebel to be fought and destroyed. She grows up to become Force Captain Adora and Hordak’s right hand woman during his conquest of Ethiria.
“Fabulous secret powers or not, I’m not changing its diapers.”
Some twenty years later:
“You have done well, Adora, and become a worthy member of the Horde. I am very proud of you.”
“And I am very proud of you, too, child.”
“Thank you, Mighty Hordak and Shadow Weaver. I live to serve the Horde.”
“I know, Adora. And therefore I name you Force Captain of the Horde.”
“Thank you, Mighty Hordak. It is an honour I hope to prove myself worthy of.”
“You can start by taking the troops to the village of Thaymor on the edge of the Whispering Woods, a hotbed of rebel activity.”
“Yes, Mighty Hordak.”
“Bzzzt, why is she getting a promotion and not me? It’s not fair. I’ve worked so hard to serve the Horde, but she’s Hordak’s favourite”
I don’t have an Adora figure, largely because there is none in a matching scale and type, so She-Ra has to play both roles in the photo story.
As a kid, I never really appreciated how fucked up Adora’s backstory really was, though I must have seen The Secret of the Sword, since I was familiar with the basic story. After all, Adora was stolen from her family and literally raised to be evil. When we first meet Adora in The Secret of the Sword, she is a villain – and apart from Catra the only human-looking Horde member. Pretty much the first thing Adora does on screen is shoot Adam – whom she doesn’t know is her brother – in the back with her blaster. And while the Filmation cartoon features Adora in her familiar red outfit and with long blonde hair as a Horde member, where she sticks out like a sore thumb, some of the later comics have gone further and gave us a full-on evil looking Adora with a buzz cut and a Hordak mask. The comics seem to have been quite a bit darker and have Evil Buzz Cut Adora lead an invasion of Eternia and kidnap Teela. I’ve even seen a comic panel of Evil Buzz Cut Adora slitting her brother’s throat (he gets better and forgives her).
What makes Adora’s backstory even more fucked up is that viewers of the original He-Man cartoon, i.e. pretty much everybody who watched The Secret of the Sword, know exactly what Adora was robbed of, because we see quite a lot of Adam’s life as Prince of Eternia. And even though his relationship with his father is strained on occasion, Adam otherwise has a really good life. His parents love him and he is close to his mother, even if his father is frequently disappointed in him. Adam has good friends in Teela, Cringer and Orko and a supportive mentor in Duncan. He is also extremely privileged, for while most of Eternia seems to be on a roughly medieval level of technology, Adam has Sky Sleds and Wind Raiders and all the tech Duncan can conjure up at his disposal. When he’s not out heroing, he gets to go on camping and fishing trips, reads his way through the palace library, has practice fights with Teela and takes naps in random parts of the palace. And whenever we see Adam, Teela, Orko and Cringer hanging out and having fun together, we know that if things had gone just a little bit differently, Adora would have been there with them.
We don’t see much of Adora’s upbringing, though she does say at one point that she hardly ever left the Fright Zone, likely to keep her from asking too many questions. And while there is no on-screen evidence that Hordak and Shadow Weaver were ever physically abusive (though considering how Hordak acts towards his subordinates like poor Mantenna, it’s likely), they did brainwash and gaslight her. The 2018 Netflix cartoon She-Ra and the Princesses of Power shows Adora and Catra being close friends before Adora sees the light (quite literally), But I don’t think Adora has any friends except maybe her horse Spirit before she joins the rebellion in the original series. In short, Adora’s life is the exact opposite of Adam’s, loveless and lonely.
By the standards of 1980s cartoons, this is very dark stuff indeed. That said, Adora’s story is also very hopeful, because it is the story of someone who manages to overcome a bad childhood and parent figures who gaslight her and who manages to free herself from their influence (with a little help) and becomes the good person and heroine she truly is inside. Plus, she gets a new set of family and friends who truly love and appreciate her. Particularly for kids from troubled family backgrounds, this narrative is extremely powerful.
Amazingly, neither Hordak nor Shadow Weaver have ever won the Darth Vader Parenthood Award, even though they are exactly the sort of terrible parent figures the award was created for. And Hordak and Shadow Weaver would certainly have been more deserving winners than the two soap opera characters Chase Gioberti and Hans Beimer, who did win in 1985 and 1986. Even though I really, really hated Hans Beimer. The reason for this oversight is that the Darth Vader Parenthood didn’t really become a thing until the late 1980s/early 1990s (and it started out as a joke), so when I compiled the full listing of winners – the first version was a handwritten piece of paper – the earliest awards were given retroactively. And at the time I was compiling the retroactive winners, both Falcon Crest and Lindenstraße were still running and my Mom was watching both religiously, so their characters were a lot more at the forefront of my mind than a villain from a cartoon I had enjoyed a lot, but which had gone off the air years before. Plus, Hans Beimer was probably at the peak of his awfulness around 1990, though he was a very different type of awful than the likes of Hordak (and unlike Hordak, he was never intended to be a villain – in fact, viewers were expected to like him. Ditto for Chase Gioberti). Still, Hordak is an excellent candidate for a Retro Darth Vader Parenthood Award somewhere down the line.
While Hordak was eagerly competing for the Darth Vader Parenthood Award, only to lose out to Hans Bloody Beimer (which sadly did not lead to the Evil Horde invading Lindenstraße, more’s the pity), the Sorceress never stopped looking for Adora. And some twenty years later, the Sword of Protection, which had always been intended for Adora when she came of age, suddenly begins to glow and leads the Sorceress to one of the interdimensional portals inside Castle Grayskull.
Here’s my take on that scene. And yes, in The Secret of the Sword, the Sorceress lies in her bed all alone – it is a kids cartoon, after all – but we all know that she had company, whenever Duncan could sneak away.
“No, Duncan, the Sword of Protection… it is glowing and it’s pointing at this portal.”
“The Sword is glowing?! You mean…?”
“Yes, after all these years, Princess Adora has been found.”
“No, Duncan, this is a job for He-Man.”
“You’re right. Adora is He-Man’s sister, after all. And maybe he can succeed where I failed.”
“You didn’t fail, my love. You saved Prince Adam, so he could grow up to become He-Man and save Adora.”
So the Sorceress summons Adam and tells him to pass through the portal and find someone wherever the portal leads. This would of course have been the perfect moment for the Sorceress to come clean and tell Adam the truth about his long lost twin sister. However, inexplicably the Sorceress says nothing except that Adam must find someone on the far side of the portal and that the Sword of Protection will point him to this person. And while it’s understandable why Adam was not told that he had a sister before, there is really no justification for not telling him now.
“So let me get this straight, Sorceress? You want me to go through that portal, but you won’t tell me where it leads, to find someone, but you won’t tell me who, using this sword which looks almost like mine as a guide, but you won’t tell me why? Cause that’s not very helpful at all.”
“Oh please, hurry, Prince Adam. It is of utmost importance that you find her.”
“Her? Okay, that narrows it down to fifty percent of the population. But some more information like – say – a name would still be great.”
“How about this? If you succeed, your father and mother will be very proud of you. And Duncan will be proud of you. And I as well.”
“Damn, Sorceress, you really know how to grab a man by the feels.”
So Adam and Cringer go through the portal and promptly get involved with the Evil Horde and the Etherian rebellion, when Adam decides to teach some bullying Horde Troopers a lesson. And yes, he does this as Adam, not as He-Man. Though he does transform into He-Man by the time he first faces off against Adora – whom he still has no idea is his sister at this point in time, though the Sword of Protection does in fact tell him that Adora is the person he is supposed to find – and the rest of the Evil Horde. Adora wins this first encounter by shooting He-Man with her blaster. He-Man is taken prisoner, while Adora winds up with the Sword of Protection.
“Okay, the sword led me to this village, so maybe that means that the one I am seeking is here. Soldiers, I’d better hide.”
“People of Thaymor, you are all under arrest for resisting the Horde. Troopers, Mosquitor, see to it that the prisoners are loaded into the transport and taken to the slave mines.”
“Yes, Force Captain.”
“Faster, prisoners, or you’ll feel my sting, bzzzt!”
“I’m not entirely sure what is going on here, but those robots and their leader are bullying the villagers and I hate bullies. Time for He-Man to teach them some manners.”
“A rebel! Mosquitor, Troopers, get him!”
“So who’s first? You? All right then.”
“Bzzt, feel my sting, rebel. I shall drain you dry.”
“You got to catch me first.” SLAM.
“Never mind. We can recapture them later. Get the rebel!”
“A robot. You know, at home I fight machines like you as a training exercise before breakfast.”
“Indeed, it is. And you, rebel, are under arrest in the name of the Evil Horde.”
“Sorry, but I’ve got a mission to fulfil. And while I normally don’t fight women, I’ll make an exception for… Oh, shit, the sword is glowing brighter. It’s you! You’re the one I’m looking for.”
“Is that so, rebel?”
“Mosquitor, Trooper, get the rebel loaded up for transport to the Fright Zone. I’m sure Hordak will want to interrogate him in person.”
“Yes, Force Captain.”
“Hmm, he dropped his sword and it’s glowing. Let’s see. Amazing. This weapon feels strangely right in my hand, almost as if it were made for me. I’d better take it along to the Fright Zone as well.”
Later, at the Fright Zone:
“Save your strength, rebel. Even you cannot break these magical chains.”
“And you are?”
“I am Hordak, vice-roy of Etheria on behalf of the Horde Prime, ruler of the mighty Horde Empire, and these are my minions, the Evil Horde.”
“This sword… there is something about it. It glows when I touch it and that stranger… there’s something about him, too.”
“Put that thing down, Adora. It’s icky and you don’t know where it’s been.”
“As you wish, Shadow Weaver.”
“Bzzt, boss, can I suck him dry? Cause I can smell all that juicy lifeforce.”
“No, Mosquitor, first he’ll tell us everything he knows about the rebellion and then you can suck him dry.”
“You’re out of luck then, cause I only just got here and know nothing about any rebellion. Though I wouldn’t tell you anyway.”
“Then you will be tortured until you talk, rebel. But first, I shall leave you to contemplate your fate.”
“This sword you carry intrigues me, stranger. It feels so right in my hand, almost as if it were made for me.”
“I initially thought it was.”
“And now you no longer do?”
“I was tasked with delivering this sword to a great warrior who serves the forces of good. But you serve the forces of evil.”
“Evil? It’s you who serve evil, rebel. I serve the Horde, the rightful rulers of Etheria.”
“The Horde conquered this world against the will of its people.”
“Only because they would not see the light willingly and bow to the might of the Horde.”
“You enslave people.”
“Only criminals and miscreants.”
“You tried to enslave that entire village, including the children.”
“Because they’re all rebels. Including the children.”
“You people literally call yourselves the Evil Horde.”
“Only because the Mighty Horde, the Villainous Horde and the All-Conquering Horde were already trademarked.”
“That’s not very convincing.”
“Forget it, rebel. I’m not listening to you. You’re just trying to trick me.”
“I… I have spent most of my life here in the Fright Zone, training. I haven’t actually seen a lot of Etheria. Hordak and Shadow Weaver always say that it’s too dangerous out there with all of those rebels causing trouble, that I should stay in the Fright Zone, where it’s safe.”
“Have you never considered that maybe Hordak and Shadow Weaver just don’t want you to see what the Horde is really doing to the people of Etheria?”
“Hordak and Shadow Weaver would never lie to me. They took me in and raised me after my real parents abandoned me. They were like a father and mother to me.”
“If you’re so sure that Hordak and Shadow Weaver are telling the truth, then why don’t you go out and see for yourself what Etheria is like under the rule of the Horde? Or are you afraid?”
“I’m not afraid of anything.”
“Then you will go and see for yourself how the Horde is treating the people of Etheria.?”
“I… I will think about it. And I shall take this sword. Good-bye, stranger.”
“I guess you can’t remove those chains first? No? Well, it was worth a try.”
In The Secret of the Sword, Kowl, the intelligent flying critter that accompanies Bow, eventually frees He-Man by switching off the force field that keeps him chained. Since I don’t possess a Kowl and he always looked as if he had wandered in from a Strawberry Shortcake cartoon or something like that anyway, I shall skip that part.
Menawhile, contact with the Sword of Protection, combined with He-Man’s essential goodness and powers of persuasion as well as witnessing Horde Troopers abusing Etherian slaves, all help to break through Adora’s conditioning and make her start questioning the Horde. This initial attempt to break free is supressed by Shadow Weaver, but the cracks in Adora’s conditioning are there.
“I’ve been taking a trip, travelling Etheria to see for myself how the Horde is governing the planet.”
“Uh, Shadow Weaver, I don’t think I like where this is going.”
“Let me handle her, Hordak.”
“And Adora, my sweet, what did you find? Surely you saw for yourself that the Horde is a just and lawful ruler and that there is no justification for rebel discontent.”
“No, I found that the rebels are right. The Horde is evil, cruel and unjust. The people hate us and with good cause.”
“Uh-oh, I told you this was going to be a problem.”
“Let me deal with this, Hordak. Somehow, the spell I put on Adora has weakened and it has something to do with that sword.”
“This stranger, this He-Man was right. The Horde is evil. I don’t know why I never saw this before, but now I have and…”
“The stranger was lying to you, Adora, my dear. It’s what rebels do. And now give me that sword. I told you not to touch it.”
“No, I can trust He-Man. I… I feel it deep inside of me.”
“Come on, Adora, didn’t I tell you that it is perfectly natural for a young person to feel certain… urges and encouraged you to explore those urges with fellow Horde members.”
“That’s not it. I don’t feel about this He-Man like I feel about Catra. It’s different. But I’m leaving the Horde and joining the rebellion and I’m going to ask Catra to come with me.”
“Shadow Weaver, do something!”
“Get away from me, Shadow Weaver, or I swear I will…”
“And that’s quite enough out of you, young lady.”
“Let go off me, artichoke of evil!”
“Do you not trust me, Adora. Was I not like a mother to you?”
“You’re not my mother. You….”
“I don’t like this, Shadow Weaver. First this He-Man shows up and then Adora turns against us. What is going on here?”
“I don’t know, Hordak, but I will find out. As for Adora, have you forgotten who she really is?”
“Of course not. After all, I was the one who brought her to Etheria to serve the Horde.”
“Ahem, far be it from me to interrupt this fascinating conversation, but what about my payment?”
“Get lost, artichoke face!”
Adam still has no idea who Adora really is, but he does sneak back into the Fright Zone, hoping to persuade her to turn against Hordak. Since Adora is under Shadow Weaver’s spell once more, this does not go as planned:
“You? But Hordak said you had escaped. What are you doing here? If you’re going to sabotage the Fright Zone, I’ll…
“Please, Adora, just listen to me to me for a moment. There’s no need to raise the alarm.”
“What do you want?”
“The last time we met, I asked you to go out and see for yourself how the Horde rules Etheria. Did you do it?”
“I… Yes. At least, I think so.”
“So now you know that the Horde is evil?”
“Yes, I… I know that you’re a lying rebel spy and traitor and that you’re under arrest.”
“Okay, so that did not go as planned.”
“Sorry, Adora, just let me take out the trash and then we can continue our conversation.”
“Force Captain Adora, stop the rebel!”
“Adora, put down that sword and stop him!”
“Oh no, not again….”
“Bzzzt, can I suck him dry, boss, pretty please?”
“All in due time, Mosquitor.”
“Welcome back, rebel. Though it won’t be a long reunion, because Mosquitor here will sap every last shred of energy out of your body.”
“The rebel is strong, bzzt. What a feast it will be.”
“You’re going to leave the rebel to Mosquitor? No.”
“Do you have any objections, Force Captain?”
“Shadow Weaver, do something!”
“Yes, Mighty Hordak.”
“Listen to me, Adora. This rebel is evil and our enemy, so it’s only right to let Mosquitor drain him. Or do you have any objections?”
“No.. no objections, Mighty Hordak.”
“You are strong, rebel, bzzt. There’s so much delicious power in you that we will be here all night.”
“Careful, Mosquitor, or do you want to overeat?”
“Shut up, Adora. Hordak left the rebel to me to play with. If you have any objections, take it up with him.”
“I… I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Hordak and Mosquitor are right. The rebel is our enemy. Draining his lifeforce will aid the Horde and must be done. Yet… somehow what we’re doing to him feels wrong. It feels… evil.”
“What’s that voice? It sounds as if it’s coming from the sword.”
“Listen to me, Adora. The time has come for you to shake off the enchantment that has made you a slave of the Horde and seek your destiny. Let your heart guide you on your way.”
“Who are you? What do you want from me?”
“I want you to fulfil your destiny and become the champion of light and good that you were always meant to be. But first, I need you to save this man.”
“The rebel? But I… I can’t. He is an enemy of the Horde.”
“Great. Now she’s gone completely nuts and started talking to her sword, bzzt. Maybe Hordak will promote me to Force Captain now. Especially once I’ve absorbed all the tasty lifeforce from this rebel.”
“My… my brother…?”
“When you were but a baby, the Horde stole you from your real family, Adora. You had a mother once and a father and a twin brother.”
“I don’t understand. I don’t understand any of this. Though it feels right somehow.”
“You must hurry, Adora. There’s no time to lose. Your brother needs your help. And now speak after me: For the Honour of Grayskull…”
“Just say it.”
“Oh shit! What’s happening now?”
“Who are you? Where’s Adora? Wait till I tell Hordak, bzzzzz….”
“Ugh, what’s happening?”
“What’s it look like? I’m rescuing you.”
“Uhm, thank you. Can you give me my sword?”
“Of course. Here.”
“I… I’m Adora and this is going to sound weird, but I think I’m your sister.”
“You’re right. This is weird, cause I never had a sister.”
“I never thought I had a brother either. But when the voice from the sword told me you were my brother, I just knew it was the truth.”
“Voice from the sword? What voice?”
“A woman’s voice. She told me you were my brother and that you needed help and that I should say ‘By the Honour of Grayskull’. Then there was a huge lightshow and I turned into… well, into this. Like I said, it’s all very weird.”
“My sympathies. I also freaked out the first time I turned into He-Man.”
“So you believe me?”
“I’m not sure what to believe, but I know who can tell us more. But first, there’s still Hordak to deal with.”
“Right. Let’s go and get him!”
“See, boss? I… bzzt… told you Adora had gone mad and turned against us.”
“Shadow Weaver, do something!”
“I… I can’t.”
“That won’t work anymore. I know the truth now. I know that you stole me from my real family, monsters, and raised me to be like you, evil.”
“Well yes, we did – sort of – but look what I gave you. After all, you were just a pink, squishy, ugly, wailing little thing when I found you and now you’re a Force Captain in the Horde. You should be grateful to me.”
“Grateful? You stole me from my family, from the people who loved me.”
“Now you’ve really pissed her off, Hordak.”
“Sorry, but you’ll have to go through me first, if you want Adora.”
“Be reasonable, Adora. We were good to you, were we not? Even if we theoretically took you from your biological parents.”
“You kidnapped me and used your magic to brainwash me, so excuse me for not feeling very reasonable right now.”
Once Hordak and Shadow Weaver are defeated… for now… He-Man and She-Ra finally return to Eternia to get some answers from the Sorceress.
“Yes, but we have questions.”
“And all shall be told, so listen…”
A long explanation later…
“So let me get this straight, Sorceress. You, my parents and Duncan all knew that I had a twin sister, yet none of you ever thought to tell me?”
“Because we wanted to spare you the pain of knowing you’d lost her, Adam.”
“So your name is Adam?
“You didn’t think I was really called He-Man, did you? That’s just my nom de guerre.”
“I’ll need one as well, will I?”
“Definitely. Anyway, Sorceress, when you finally located Adora and sent me to Etheria to find her, why didn’t you tell me then that I was looking for my sister? Cause it might have been useful to know that beforehand.”
“Because it was not yet time to reveal that secret.”
“Is she always like that?”
“So mysterious, you mean? More or less.”
“And that is…?”
“Hugging my long lost sister.”
“I… I’m not sure, Adam. Do you think they’ll like me?”
“Like you? They’ll love you, Adora. I promise.”
“But I… I used to be evil. I used to work for the Horde. I used to enslave and hurt people. How can anybody like me after that?”
“That wasn’t you, Adora. That was Hordak and Shadow Weaver manipulating you. You were a victim of the Horde, as much as the people they enslaved. And now come and meet the family. Everything will be fine. I promise.”
Since I have neither a King Randor nor a Queen Marlena figure, you’ll have to imagine Adora’s reunion with her parents. But of course, there are some other members and quasi-members of the Eternian royal family to introduce to Adora.
“Hello, Adora. It’s so nice to meet you. By the way, is it me or do you smell a little of cat?”
However, not everybody is all that pleased that there is a new girl on Eternia…
In the palace garden:
“And I’m so happy to be finally back with my real family. Oh, Adam, I’m so glad that we found each other again.”
“Me, too, Sis. Me, too.”
“Adora? By the ancients!”
“Adora, this is Duncan, my friend, mentor and our royal Man-at-Arms.”
“Hello, Man-at-Arms. It’s so wonderful to meet Adam’s friends.”
“Call me Duncan. After all, I’ve known you since were a baby. And I’m so sorry that I could not save you from the Horde.”
“That’s all right. Adam found me and brought me back.”
“You too, Dad? Just wonderful. Why is everybody so taken with Adam’s latest arm candy anyway? She’s not that wonderful. Okay, so she’s blonde and beautiful and… by Zoar, he’s not going to marry that one, is he? No, not even Adam would be that stupid. What if she’s Evil-Lyn is disguise and Skeletor is planning an invasion of the palace? Does no one care about palace security around here except me?”
“But Prince Adam said it was okay, Captain.”
“Prince Adam does not get to decide who is allowed into the palace…”
“Actually, he is the Prince, so…”
“Security is my job. Is that understood, Corporal?”
“I have no interest in meeting your latest girlfriend, Adam.”
“Okay, now that was weird.”
“Of course not. After all, I gave my word.”
“Great. Cause Teela is jumping to conclusions… again. Anyway, I’d better go and talk to her. Sigh, why do I have a reputation as a womaniser anyway? I never do anything and it’s not my fault that those silly giggling noblewomen won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. After all, I can hardly go all He-Man on them, can I?”
“Go away, Adam! I want to be alone. And I’m sure whatshername is eagerly awaiting your return.”
“Listen, Teela, it’s not what you think. She’s my sister.”
“Don’t play me for stupid, Adam. You don’t have a sister.”
“Well, apparently I do now.”
“Look, Teela, this is all very confusing for me as well. But apparently, I once had a twin sister. But when we were both babies, she was kidnapped by an outfit calling themselves the Evil Horde and taken to another dimension. Ask your father or the Sorceress, if you don’t believe me. They’ll tell you it’s the truth.”
“And that girl is…?”
“Yes, that’s my sister Adora. I found her and brought her back.”
“And you really had no idea you had a sister?”
“Not until today, when the Sorceress told me to go through a portal to find her.”
“But that’s terrible. To know that you had a sister all those years and that she was stolen from you. And then I come and go ballistic on you and…. I’m sorry.”
“It’s all right, Teela. And now come on. You want to meet her, don’t you?”
“Let me guess, Duncan, they’re not just friends, are they?”
“Sigh. No one quite knows just what they are. Including Adam and Teela themselves.”
“It’s so wonderful to meet you, Teela. I hope we can be friends as well.”
“I… I’d like that. I think. I don’t have a lot of friends, women friends I mean.”
“I never had a lot of friends either, when I grew up in the Fright Zone. I mean, there was Catra and I really miss her, but she wants to stay with the Horde… sniff”
“However, I’m not just Adam’s friend, I’m also his bodyguard and Captain of the Royal Guard. And I am responsible for Adam’s combat training – which he keeps missing – and for yours as well, Princess Adora.”
“Careful, Teela. Don’t scare her off!”
“Combat training sounds great. Back at the Fright Zone, I was considered one of the best hand to hand fighters of the Horde.”
“I look forward to putting your fighting skills to the test.”
“Oh no, what have I wrought?”
“It was for his own good, to spare him the pain of knowing that he had a sister once and lost her.”
“It was still wrong. Adam would have deserved to know the truth. You and your damned secrets!”
“I gave my word, Teela.”
“That’s always your excuse, isn’t it? That you gave your word. Don’t you realise that you keep hurting people with your damned secrets? What else are you not telling us?”
“She’s certainly spirited. Well done, brother. I like her.”
“Uhm, we’re not… I mean, we’re just friends. Very good friends.”
“Well, if you’re not interested, I certainly would.”
Beyond a few scenes in The Secret of the Sword, we never really see Teela and Adora interacting, because while He-Man visited his sister on Etheria quite frequently, he rarely brought his supporting cast along. And because the He-Man cartoon ended shortly after the She-Ra cartoon started, there were no crossovers in the reverse direction either.
Nonetheless, I like to think that Teela and Adora would quickly have become friends. Especially since Teela doesn’t really have any female friends except for Andra, who doesn’t come along until Revelation. And talking of which, I would love to see Teela, Adora and Andra having a girls’ night out.
So let’s take a look at the friendship between Teela and Adora that the cartoons did not give us:
“The fact that Adora actually enjoys those practice fights with Teela is one of the unexpected benefits of having a twin sister. Cause if Adora keeps Teela busy, she’s not constantly bothering me with her fight training.”
“Oh, must we…? Cause I just remembered that I need to feed Cringer and…”
“Adam, just because you can turn into He-Man doesn’t mean you can neglect your fighting skills.”
“If those girls are you, ladies? Very much.”
“Come on, lad, humor Teela or you’ll never hear the end of it.”
Later, in Duncan’s workshop:
“All because I love him. After all, Adam must be able to defend himself, when Skeletor’s forces attack.”
“You know that he can change into He-Man and just smash the crap out of Skeletor and his Evil Warriors, don’t you?”
“But what if he is separated from his sword or can’t transform in time? No, Adam needs the training. Cause I’m not going to lose him again.”
“Talking of which, when you and my brother do… well, you know what, does he do it as He-Man or Adam?”
“Adam. He says turning into He-Man is too dangerous, because he might accidentally hurt me. Now I don’t think he would ever hurt me, but Adam is… well, he worried about being loved and appreciated as Adam, not He-Man.”
“But you do love him as Adam, don’t you?”
“Of course. He-Man is very impressive, a great warrior and hero, but Adam is my best friend and the one I love, the one I’ve always loved. So what about you? She-Ra or Adora?”
“Adora all the way. In fact, I only date people who like Adora, too, not just She-Ra. It’s… well, just like Adam I want to be loved for myself, not for She-Ra. Take Bow, for example. He’s cute and funny, a great archer, skilled musician and asset to the Great Rebellion. But he’s only pining for She-Ra and treats Adora strictly as a friend. Catra, on the other hand, liked me as Adora, long before I ever became She-Ra. If only I could convince her to leave Hordak and join the Rebellion… And then there’s Sea Hawk, who’s handsome and dashing and loves Adora as she is and views She-Ra just as a friend and comrade-in-arms.”
“You should tell them, you know? That you’re She-ra.”
“All of them. I know you want to protect them, but if you’re not telling them the truth about yourself, all you’ll do is hurt them. Trust me, I know.”
This brings me to another point. Because the toys and cartoons were aimed at kids, Masters of the Universe characters, both heroes and villains, tend to be monogamous and only have a single love interest, if they have one at all. Randor has Marlena, Duncan has the Sorceress, Orko has Dree-Elle (who really needs an action figure), Skeletor has Evil-Lyn (though their relationship is dysfunctional), Hordak has Shadow Weaver (another dysfunctional relationship), Stratos has Hawke, Queen Angella has King Micah. And Fisto has Ram-Man, though that’s only my head canon.
Okay, so Adam ends up in a love triangle with himself in his relationship with Teela, but since Adam and He-Man are the same person, it’s still a monogamous relationship. One episode features a young wizard who had a crush on Teela, while She-Ra’s ally Frosta has a crush on He-Man, but both crushes are unrequited.
Adora/She-Ra is the big exception here, for not only does she have three different love interests across the original Filmation cartoon series from the 1980s and the 2018 Netflix cartoon, she’s also canonically bisexual. In the 1980s cartoon, Adora’s love interests are her friend, fellow rebel and crack archer Bow and the lightsabre wielding pirate and occasional rebel sympathiser Sea Hawk.
As a kid, I always preferred Sea Hawk to Bow and my adult self feels the same. After all, Sea Hawk had a solar-powered pirate ship and a lightsabre and was simply very cool. Plus, Sea Hawk actually was in love with Adora, not She-Ra. Sea Hawk and Adora also kiss on screen, something that Adam and Teela still haven’t done. There’s even – which surprised the heck out of me, when I rewatched the cartoons as an adult – a hint that Adora and Sea Hawk are having sex – unless you believe that Sea Hawk bunks with his first mate Sven, whenever She-Ra is a guest aboard his pirate ship.
As for Bow, rewatching some episodes of the 1980s She-Ra cartoon as an adult, it seems to me as if Adora mainly views Bow as a good and dependable friend. There’s no real hint of any romantic relationship between them, though Bow does seem to have a crush on She-Ra. In fact, I always expected that Bow would end up with Glimmer eventually.
The 2018 She-Ra and the Princesses of Power cartoon finally gave Adora a new love interest in the form of Catra, her former friend and comrade in the Evil Horde as well as successor as Force Captain. And yes, they do kiss on screen, which so shocked and confused a Republican politician that he named She-Ra and the Princesses of Power as one example of Disney trying to corrupt kids by showing them that LGBTQ people exist. The irony is of course that while Disney owns almost everything else in the universe, it does not actually own either He-Man or She-Ra.
So yes, She-Ra is canonically bisexual. And in fact, Evil Buzz Cut Adora predates the 2018 cartoon by several years and not only does she not look very straight, she also makes advances towards the captured Teela. So yup, Adora is bi. Live with it.
My She-Ra figure always looks as if she’s flirting, whenever she is not pointing her sword at someone, so She-Ra is always something of a flirt in my photo stories. Alas, none of her three canonical love interests are currently available at the right scale. There was an announcement that Mattel was making a Catra figure this fall, but she is in the wrong scale as well, so my poor She-Ra will have to remain single for now. Unless she suddenly clicks with someone who isn’t one of her canonical love interests. After all, that’s how Fisto and Ram-Man came to be a couple, too.
Anyway, that’s it for the (very long) story of She-Ra, He-Man’s long lost twin sister. There will definitely be more toy photo stories coming, including the fourth and final instalment of the “Secrets of Eternia” subseries, where I’ll take a look at another long-lost (well, sort of) member of the Eternian royal family and his not-so-secret identity.
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters, I just bought some toys, took photos of them and wrote little scenes to go with those photos. All characters are copyright and trademark their respective owners.