She-Ra: “Princess of Power” … That’s what they called the sister of one of the most popular characters amongst children of the 1980s, He-Man.
She was one of the first characters of her kind outside of comic book characters like Wonder Woman – a beautiful woman with the strength of a thousand men – and she was incredibly popular as a result. With her levels of popularity, you’d expect most people to know all there is to know about her, right? Well, as a matter of fact, there’s actually a lot more to She-Ra than meets the eye.
She-Ra debuted in 1985 in her own titular animated television series, before getting a toy line of her own and various other forms of merchandise that made her even more prominent. But what is there to know about her that isn’t common knowledge?
This article will take you through a list of little-known facts about the heroine. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about She-Ra:
10. Toy Stores Didn’t Know If She Was For Boys Or Girls
When She-Ra was released as a toy and with an entire accompanying toy line, there was a problem – toy companies didn’t know where the hell they should display the toys in their stores!
The characters came from a television series that was a spin-off of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe – one of the more popular franchises among boys in the 1980s – and had characters that boys loved, like Hordak, Leech and Grizzlor. But while those bad guys were released as part of the Masters of the Universe toy line, She-Ra and her allies were given their own line of toys that were far more similar to the likes of Barbie! This caused problems in terms of where they were put on display.
9. She Was Meant To Be In The Masters Of The Universe Movie
She-Ra appeared alongside her brother He-Man on numerous occasions in various cartoons and animated crossover movies (The Secret of the Sword and He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special, for example), but she very nearly appeared alongside him in a live action production as well.
1987’s Masters of the Universe movie was awful. Dolph Lundgren stank as He-Man and the tone of the whole thing was nothing like the franchise the kids who flocked to see it loved. But it could have been improved somewhat had She-Ra appeared in it. Director Gary Goddard eventually decided to focus on He-Man for the first movie, although no more would end up being made (and with good reason).
8. Her Skirt Never Flew Up
In the animated television series She-Ra: Princess of Power, the titular character was all-action. She ran, she jumped, she somersaulted and she fought – but never once did her ridiculously skimpy skirt fly up to reveal her underwear.
Lou Scheimer – one of the men behind She-Ra’s creation (as well as the creation of Masters of the Universe and all related characters) – specifically asked the show’s animation coordinator, Dori Littell-Herrick, to make sure the lead character’s modesty was kept intact at all times. Of course, this should have gone without saying, given that the show’s target audience were children below the age of 10.
7. Her Toy’s Headdress Was Also A Mask
The She-Ra action figure came with a golden accessory with a shiny sticker on it that could be bestowed upon her head. Most children who owned the toy put in on the figure in a certain way – a way that essentially presented it as a pretty headdress – but it was actually a dual-purpose accessory.
The item could be placed on the figure in two different ways – the second of which meant putting it on “upside down” in order for it to be used as a mask. That’s right; your She-Ra action figure could wander around “in disguise,” as well as in a beautiful headdress. Who knew?!
6. She Helped Sales Of Barbie Dolls
There’s such a thing as a “flanker” line in the world of toys. A flanker line is a toy line designed to support another toy line that may be struggling – and in the case of the She-Ra toy line, it helped to support Barbie, which was another Mattel product.
Former Mattel director Janice Varney-Hamlin told He-Man.org that “Barbie sales had flattened out at the time, so introducing a competitive fashion doll line that we owned should expand the size of the entire category and allow the Barbie business to grow.” Subsequently, in 1986, after surviving a battering from rival Jem and the Holograms, Barbie posted $350 million in sales.
5. Her Fans Know Her As “The Xena Of The 80s”
Between 1995 and 2001, a television series aired – starring Lucy Lawless in the titular role – about a once-power-hungry warlord who was shown the error of her ways by Hercules and later repented and renounced her old life as an evil warrior.
That warlord was Xena, who became the titular warrior princess of the show Xena: Warrior Princess. Fans of She-Ra saw similarities between Xena and their favourite Filmation character from the 1980s and, as a result, a certain die-hard section of She-Ra’s fans now call her the “Xena of the 1980s” (although, it has to be said, there are actually far more differences between the two characters than there are similarities!)
4. A British Thief Was Named After Her
So, as it turns out, She-Ra was such a popular character in the 1980s that people were actually named after her! Unfortunately, in this particular case, one of those people went on to be a criminal.
In 2014, She-Ra Batey (pictured above), a cashier at a Morrisons supermarket in the United Kingdom, was arrested for stealing around £3450 (about $5000) from her employers so she could afford to take a holiday in Mexico. Batey, who was 26 at the time and was therefore born in the late 1980s when She-Ra was popular, pled guilty to the crime and was ordered to pay restitution.
3. She Has Become A Gay Icon
According to Filmation’s Erika Scheimer, who is the daughter of Filmation’s president and the co-creator of She-Ra, Lou Scheimer, She-Ra has become a major gay icon in recent years, thanks in no small part to the fact that there were some subversive references made in the series by writers (her male sidekick Bow appeared in a dress, for example).
Scheimer also says the She-Ra animated feature theme song, “I Have the Power” (which, for the record, can be heard in the video embedded above), has been played at several gay weddings, as it has become an iconic aural symbol of gay empowerment in recent years.
2. Her Show Was Heavily Influenced By Star Wars
Although the comparison isn’t obvious upon first glance, the Star Wars films – most notably Star Wars: Episode IV: Return of the Jedi – were very strong influences behind the She-Ra cartoon. And the more you actually think about it, the more obvious that influence becomes.
She-Ra: Princess of Power focused on a “Great Rebellion” fighting to free Etheria from the clutches of the evil Horde. Princess Adora is Prince Adam’s long-lost twin sister, separated from Adam when she was kidnapped by Hordak as a baby. Adora serves Hordak as the Captain of the Evil Horde sides with the Great Rebellion when she learns the truth about her past. It totally parallels the whole Luke and Leia story.
1. Her Original Name Was She-Ro
In the book Creating the Filmation Generation, Lou Scheimer has claimed that the first suggestion for She-Ra’s name was “She-Ro.” This would have reflected the original name of her brother, He-Man, which was actually “He-Ro.”
However, Scheimer eventually decided that the name didn’t sound feminine enough. It was writer Lawrence G. DiTillio who then came up with the name “She-Ra.” However, he did so thinking it was in reference to the Egyptian word for “god” – “Ra” – but “Ra” actually means “sun” in the ancient Egyptian language and not the word god. It is the name of the ancient sun god as a result.