Skeletor is the most evil being and most dangerous threat on Eternia. His only goal is power, and to that end he will not rest until he possesses the secrets of Castle Grayskull, whereby he could become master of the universe. This places him in direct conflict with the only man powerful enough to stop him, He-Man.
The character was initially presented simply as an evil demon from another dimension, and in general his origins were not as important as his evil motives. However, the introduction of Hordak as Skeletor's former teacher provided a brief glimpse into a past. Near the end of the original Masters of the Universe franchise, it was hinted that Skeletor might have once been Keldor, the brother of He-Man's father, King Randor. The development of Skeletor's backstory as a dashing, ambitious villain played heavily into his characterization in the 2002 relaunch of the franchise.
Skeletor was one of only a handful of character that carried over to The New Adventures of He-Man brand, which sent He-Man to the far future to help the Galactic Guardians save the last of humanity from the Evil Mutants. Skeletor follows his enemy, and offers his services to the Mutants simply because he must rid the universe of He-Man.
Pre-Filmation series minicomicsThe first minicomics that accompanied the 1981-1983 line of Masters of the Universe toys present the earliest version of continuity and are fascinating for their many differences from the more widely-known continuity of the later Filmation cartoon and the later minicomics which complement it. For example, there is no royal court of Eternia, King Randor, Queen Marlena, or Prince Adam. Instead, He-Man is depicted as the scarcely-superhuman champion of a tribe of stone-age jungle-dwellers.
These very first minicomics, which are actually more like storybooks, with a single image per page footed by prose, state that Skeletor was originally an inhabitant of another dimension, populated with others of "his kind". During "The Great Wars", an ambiguous and intriguing concept which is largely ignored in later continuities (though the MYP "Great Unrest" may refer to a similar concept), 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.
However, as this first incarnation of the franchise's continuity was particularly short-lived, many questions about this version of Skeletor's origin are left unanswered, particularly as this original story remained vague about Skeletor's people. What was Skeletor's status amongst his own kind? Did they all look like him or was he the only one with a skull face? Were they all sorcerers? Did they all share his evil dreams of conquest? A panel from the first minicomic hints that they are just like Skeletor, but unfortunately does not show their faces. Of course this particular origin of Skeletor occurs in a different continuity from that of the better known animated series, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
Post-Filmation series minicomics
In the minicomics that followed the cancellation of the Filmation animated series, which can be seen as following on from the same continuity as the Filmation series, although there are still various contradictions, it is hinted that Skeletor is in fact Keldor, King Randor's long lost brother.This inference 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 the dimensional veil.
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.
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 heavy inference 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 is 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."
Filmation animated seriesSkeletor is, as the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull calls him, a demon from another dimension, Infinita. He is a cruel warlord who rules the dark side of Eternia from Snake Mountain with an iron fist. His title is Evil Lord of Destruction. He learned black magic from Hordak, the powerful warlord of Eternia's sister planet Etheria, of whom he was once the second-in-command. In the animated movie "The Secret of the Sword", it is revealed that Skeletor betrayed Hordak, who had abducted Princess Adora after his forces were defeated, by telling The Sorceress and Man-At-Arms the way to Hordak's secret base. Following the Horde's retreat, Skeletor set himself up in Snake Mountain, and in the episode Golden Disks of Knowledge it is revealed that Skeletor himself built Snake Mountain (which in the 2002 series was portrayed as originally being King Hiss's base of operations).
Skeletor's portrayal in the series is generally comical, as the show's writers were forced to use villains mainly for comic value to keep the show suitable for young children. While he had a genuinely sinister personality in the beginning, as the series progresses Skeletor is treated as more and more incompetent, often bordering on a pantomime villain. However, several episodes still show the greater extent of Skeletor's evil, such as "The Problem with Power" in which he tricks He-Man into thinking he has killed a man with his own power, knowing that He-Man will exile himself in shame for his mistake.
He was voiced by veteran voice actor Alan Oppenheimer.
1987 Live action Masters of the Universe film
In 1987, Cannon Films released a feature film version of Masters of the Universe. The role of Skeletor was played by acclaimed actor Frank Langella, who arguably gave the best performance in the film, and in the opinions of some fans, this was the best overall depiction of Skeletor. Famous voice artist and writer, Bryan Pyle tried but failed to procure the voice acting job of Skeletor originally, and eventually was forced to do sound effects and lesser voices on the show.
Due to the film's PG rating, this Skeletor was given license to be much darker than his cartoon counterpart ever could. At one point he casually incinerates one of his henchmen as punishment for failing him. The film abandons the campy connotations of Skeletor and gives him some measure of depth, which had been absent before. A glimpse of this occurs when the villain tortures a captive He-Man. Leaning in close to the hero, he inquires "Tell me about the loneliness of Good, He-Man... Is it equal to the loneliness of Evil?"
Langella's Skeletor is clad in more regal-like attire than is traditionally seen. Rather than dark purple, he wears all black, and his costume is less scant, covering his entire body with a robe and a flowing cape.
This version of Skeletor is also able to achieve what his previous incarnations could not. He unlocks the powers of Grayskull and becomes a living god. As he receives ultimate power Skeletor makes a dramatic speech worthy of the culmination of his life's evil dreams.
Imbued with cosmic power, Skeletor transforms himself into his own concept of a god. He is clad in radiant, golden armor and crowned with an opulent, horned head piece, which partially resembles the brief glimpse given of the exterior of the cinematic version of Castle Grayskull. He discharges beams of pure energy from his eyes. During the fight between him and He-Man, his powerful staff is broken into two, causing Skeletor to lose his god-like powers as well turn back to normal, but he was not through yet with He-Man, as he pulled out a sword to kill the master of the universe, but is pushed off a watery cliff to his death by He-Man's sword. The movie contains a hidden ending, in a post end credits sequence Skeletor resurfaces from the water, with a green skull, surviving the fall and announces, "I'll be back". Despite this, a sequel to the movie has never been made.
The New Adventures of He-ManThe New Adventures series sees Skeletor with a new costume, an armored chest, cybernetic implants and a pink 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 future, 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 & 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 armor and helmet, based on the "Disks of Doom Skeletor" toy. Throughout the series, Skeletor concocts various schemes to destroy He-Man and conquer Primus. When Teela arrives in the future, she tells Skeletor Eternia has been peaceful since he left. Skeletor actually succeeds in conquering Primus after a clever scheme fooling Primus and its ruler, Master Sebrian, into thinking the Mutants want peace. Flogg is able to proclaim himself King of Primus and the Mutants seize control of the planet, with Skeletor in pursuit of He-Man and the growing rebellion against the Mutant invaders. The Mutants remain in control of the planet for some time; as Mara states in the episode "Skeletor's Victory", that she and He-Man have been in the wilderness for days. The Mutant invaders are eventually forced to flee Primus when the entire planet rises up against them and their Mothership is forcibly removed from the planet. Skeletor and Flogg's dominance over Primus and victory over the Primans lasts for a total of five episodes including "The Gift", "Skeletor's Victory", "He-Man in Exile", "The Seeds of Resistance" and "The Battle for Levitan".
Skeletor also has an admirer among the Mutants named Crita, an attractive and ruthlessly evil female who works aboard the Mothership. She and Skeletor become closer throughout the series, leading Skeletor to show flirtatious behavior toward her, even dancing with her. His advances are often interrupted by Flogg, who tends to become jealous because he is not being paid more attention. However, Skeletor shows in "Escape from Gaolotia" that he would be perfectly willing to destroy her if it suited him. Despite the events of that episode, Crita apparently forgives Skeletor, who arranges for her to be sent to Nekron to assist the evil Gleanon warriors in their war against the peaceful Mytes.Skeletor gets a second change in appearance when he loses his helmet in "The Tornadoes of Zil". From then on, he wears a small crown that reveals his bald forehead and long hair in the back of his head. This is based on the "Battle Blades Skeletor" figure, yet keeps a full-bone head instead of the blue flesh that the figure has on its forehead.
At the end of the series, Skeletor and the Mutants take part in the Galactic Games, where they fight the Galactic Guardians and He-Man. The Guardians win the games, but the organisers of the games capture them. During their imprisonment, Flogg finally decides to attack Primus with everything he has, including having the Gleanons, under Crita's leadership, assist them. Skeletor intends to have his final battle with He-Man, and sets up an ambush. The Mutants are able to conquer Primus once again, with the Galactic Guardians and He-Man absent, but the Guardians escape their captivity and return in the Starship Eternia. The Primans are once again able to defeat the Mutants, and Flogg, realizing he has finally lost, agrees to surrender all his forces. Skeletor flies into a rage, finally expressing his true opinion of Flogg. Flogg attempts to shoot Skeletor, but is stopped by Crita at the last moment. Skeletor then transports himself, Crita, He-Man and Mara to the ancient ruins of the Oasis on Primus and challenges He-Man to their final battle. Skeletor is caught off guard and Mara throws Crita into him, knocking the two off a cliff ledge and into a shuttle pod. He-Man is able to take Skeletor's staff after their battle and uses his power sword to trap Skeletor and Crita within the shuttle pod and exile them into space. Skeletor promises Crita he will return to destroy He-Man.
Although The New Adventures series follows the continuity of the Filmation cartoon, Skeletor is quite a different character. He is a far more maniacal and insane 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 friendship with Crita, and works well with Flogg, Slush Head and the other Mutants as part of their team as well as having a pet named Grr. Though often showing a more relaxed attitude he shows that, when angered, 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. In an interview, Campbell Lane, the voice actor for Skeletor, claimed he based his portrayal of Skeletor around The Joker from Batman.
According to the episode Adam's Adventure, Skeletor is allergic to flowers.
Mike Young Productions animated series
In the new continuity of the 2002 animated series, Skeletor's original name is 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 whilst 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.
Skeletor was formerly a warlord known as Keldor who trained under Hordak. 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. Randor deflected it with his shield, and the acid splashed on Keldor's face.
Kronis called the retreat, and 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 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, the incident perhaps shattering whatever sanity he had left.
Trapped in the Dark Hemisphere by the Mystic Wall, Skeletor designed a machine that would smash it, but it needed the Coridite Crystal as a power source. When Mer-Man retrieved it, Skeletor destroyed the Mystic Wall, and returned to menacing Eternia.
Unlike this previous portrayals, Skeletor is not concerned with Castle Grayskull right away, until a giant fish-monster heads toward it and the Eternian warriors led by Man-At-Arms and He-Man stop it, 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. 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. 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. Although Serpos is defeated and restored to its Snake Mountain form. If season three of the series 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.
Some fans believe that the 2002 version of the character is the most competent version of Skeletor to date, although as before, he still never accomplishes any real victory; thus far, only the New Adventures version of Skeletor has been able to do that. While he is given many comedic moments, they seem merely to add to his air of villainy, instead of detracting from it. For instance, when he has a belt attached to him that weakens him when he has evil thoughts, it seems to be funny to see him be nice at first, but eventually it drives home his more homicidal tendencies, which become apparent at the end of the episode when he has the evil warriors strung up, telling them he is going to make them suffer for enjoying his "condition". When Evil-Lyn pleads for mercy he merely turns and says, "I... think not", before dunking them in lava.
In the cancelled 2002 show, Skeletor is portrayed somewhat as a bully towards his minions, 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. 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 either into a trap to get captured or to sets them up as decoys just to lull the Masters into a false sense of security. He even goes as far as replacing them with his 'Council of Evil.' Despite this, he is 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 a hatred against He-Man for standing in his way constantly. Furthermore, his maniacal laughter can perhaps indicate that he might have gone insane by the loss of his face, something that is mentioned in the Icons of Evil comics when Kronis, who later becomes the villain Trap-Jaw, mentions that Skeletor is no longer the leader he once followed. Finally, despite his evil, Skeletor has been known to "beg" when his life is in jeopardy, though this is usually a attempt to get the upper hand before attacking his "savior," which is seen on a few occasions to trick He-Man into dropping down his guard before attacking and/or escaping; The only being he seems to be attached to is his pet, Panthor.
Also, whereas in previous incarnations he is generally portrayed as being less powerful than He-Man, in this new version, Skeletor appears to be well matched.
As with all the Mike Young Productions series' characters, Skeletor's appearance is based on his figure from the Four Horsemen-designed toyline for 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, and may have been influenced by Skeletor's costume in the 1987 Masters of the Universe film. 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.
2008 Masters of the Universe Classics toyline
A line of toys that were debuted in 2008 to be sold exclusively on Mattel's collector website. Sculpted by the 4 Horsemen these toys are updated versions of everyone's favorite Masters characters. Although the MOTU Classics toyline, as yet, no supporting fiction, the toys' packaging do include short character biographies that merge elements from various different incarnations of the franchise as well as some newly-developed information to form a new, distinct "Classics" continuity. Skeletor's bio from his card back reads as follows:
Real Name: Keldor
Mortally wounded in battle with his half-brother(from the later minicomics) Captain Randor, Keldor turned to his dark-arts master Hordak to save his life. Merging Keldor with the extra-dimensional being Demo-Man (originally, the planned name for the Skeletor character) from Despondos, Keldor was forever changed into Skeletor, Overlord of Evil! He gathered together the greatest outcasts and evil warriors of Eternia in his quest to gain entry into Castle Grayskull and obtain what he believes is the universe’s ultimate power source.
The question of Skeletor's head
The Hordak scene described above is the only depiction to date of a completely hoodless "classic"-style Skeletor. Thus, the MYP series' clarification of the nature of Skeletor's head as a magically floating skull with no visible connecting tissue, or even any exposed spinal column for that matter, is the first such explanation of how Skeletor's fleshy body actually connects to his skull. However, this "magical floating skull" version is not necessarily what was intended for previous depictions of the character, who may have had neck tissues which reached to the base of his skull before giving way to exposed bone in either a withered or grisly manner, which could explain the wearing of a concealing hood on an otherwise scantily-clad body.
In one episode of Filmation's series, titled "The Greatest Show on Eternia", Skeletor is seen unhooded in one scene in which he is shot into the air clinging to a giant firework, his hood being pushed back by air pressure exposing his skull. However, the hood is not pulled far back enough to reveal Skeletor's neck, or lack of one.
Interestingly the toy version of Skeletor in New Adventures, which was intended to be a continuation of the original 1980s toyline/Filmation cartoon continuity, does have visible flesh on his neck which even reaches up to cover the back of his head almost to the crown, as if having regrown. However, since the original Skeletor is rarely shown without his hood it is conceivable that this flesh had always been present and merely hidden. In the New Adventures cartoon however, Skeletor has a neck made from flesh, but his head is simply a skull, in later episodes his helmet is destroyed, revealing a bald skull with ragged hair emerging from it. The only apparent contradiction to this appears in the storybook-comic The Power of Point Dread/Danger at Castle Grayskull in which Skeletor's hood falls back but it still rests only just past his crown and thus is relatively inconclusive about the status of his neck. The two first "New Adventures" minicomics, The New Adventure and Skeletor's Journey briefly show the injured Skeletor without his cowl, the second showing him even with ears.
It is also noteworthy that although the Filmation, MYP cartoons, and all comic books have depicted Skeletor's visible skull as a uniform color of yellow or bone-white, both of the original 1980s and the initial 2002 toys of Skeletor actually feature a skull that is only yellow in the center of the face. These toys, which are after all what the surrounding media are all based upon, actually show the head colored green around the edges of the face, perhaps suggesting that the rest of the hooded skull might be green. Interestingly however, the New Adventures Skeletor's aforementioned flesh on the back of his head does not directly give way to the yellow bone, but rather has an intermediary area of green color. This could explain the green edges to the classic Skeletor toy's face and is entirely consistent with the above theory that he may have always had only his face devoid of flesh rather than his entire head, although it is unknown whether this was the original intent.
It has never been clarified as to what extent any version of Skeletor is supposed to have remaining fleshy matter in his head, and thus to what extent Skeletor retains normal biological functions, if any. All versions of Skeletor, apart from the 1987 film, depict him as having clearly empty eye sockets, sometimes with either permanently or intermittently visible glowing points of scarlet energy instead of actual biological eyes. However it has never been clarified whether he has a tongue and thus if he talks by magical means, because while it is possible to speak without lips, one still requires a tongue, or whether he needs to eat or drink. The last pilot episode of the MYP series doe however depict Skeletor enjoying some manner of warm drink. Although Skeletor can clearly hear, he has never been depicted as having ears. He does seem to have a sense of smell though, as he is shown in the 2002 MYP series attempting to block his nose when Stinkor appears before him to beg a boon, which has some logic as his skull would still have nasal passages permitting him to breathe, if he in fact still needs to.
Some fans have suggested that Skeletor may be an undead fantasy creature called a lich due to the fact that in the MYP version of the mythos, he died or came close to it, only to have his mortal body kept alive in an inhuman state by dark magic. In a similar fashion, certain powerful wizards/clerics in the popular role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons extend their existences via undeath (becoming liches) and such creatures share many physical appearance traits with Skeletor, as well as the magical aptitude. These liches are often seen drinking wine, sheerly for the pleasure of it, and they can also smell, though they fear no scent, nor need to drink or breathe
Skeletor's core personality remains the same throughout all incarnations, cruel and dominating with a hunger for power that fuels his ambition. Even sometimes calling King Randor names such as "You royal boob!"
Minor but notable differences can be found in the various Skeletors, such as The New Adventures of He-Man incarnation which was considerably more relaxed and laid back when compared to the Filmation or Mike Young ones. Often joking and taking his defeats with good mood, even having a "human" side to him in his genuine relationship with Crita and bonding with his pet Grr. Yet being just as cruel and power hungry as any other Skeletor.
The Langella incarnation was very much an evil overlord, preferring to have his minions deal with He-Man. This version showed emotions not seen in any other Skeletor, such as an poetic portion in his banter with the hero regarding loneliness.
The Filmation Skeletor showed perhaps the greatest extent of cruelty, often wreaking havoc for the sake of havoc rather than conquest. Taking great delight in tormenting his eternal nemesis whenever the opportunity presented itself, such as the devious scheme to trick He-Man into thinking he had killed an innocent man that almost broke the hero's spirit completely.
Powers and abilities
Skeletor possesses an array of mystic powers that seem to vary depending on the whims of the particular writer using him at the time, however all portray him as an extremely powerful sorcerer with control over a vast range of dark magical powers. He also possesses considerable scientific skill, and is shown to have skill in creating various machines and devices in the Filmation and New Adventures animated series. A notable skill present in the Filmation was Skeletor's ability to instantly transport himself back to Snake Mountain, usually by saying "I'm going back to Snake Mountain"
He is usually armed with a magical weapon called the Havoc Staff; a long pole crowned with a small replica of a ram's skull and a crystal ball embedded within. 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. Sometimes Skeletor displays 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 and even his eye sockets. In the 2002 series, his innate powers seem much more limited; though his abilities, when in conjunction with his Havoc Staff seem nearly unlimited 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 displays many other skills, such as the ability to teleport himself and others over vast distances, send telepathic commands to his minions, open gateways between dimensions or perform remote viewing. He has also shown himself to be a gifted swordsman. As a master of the mystic arts he is also privy to much secret knowledge about the universe.
Though mainly a sorcerer Skeletor is more than capable of physical combat, and has above average physical strength, as proven in numerous encounters with He-Man.
Despite his occasional bungling actions and personality, all versions portray Skeletor as being extremely cunning and intelligent but with a sense of hubris that invariably leads to his downfall.
Also, some toy versions of Skeletor have been featured in media, showing him with new abilities:
- Battle Armor Skeletor: Skeletor wears a protective battle armor. He is seen wearing it in some UK comics by London Editions.
- Dragon Blaster Skeletor: Featured in the 1984 minicomic "Skeletor's Dragon". In addition to Skeletor's powers depicted above, he has some energy-draining chains and is aided by a little dragon who can spray a sleeping mist from its mouth.
- Terror Claws Skeletor: This version of Skeletor has claw gloves known as the terror claws. Strangely, Skeletor wears his "original" costume in all the minicomics which use the terror claws, including the Terror Claws Skeletor minicomic "The Terror Claws Strike!". In the only minicomic that shows him wearing the "terror claws" costume, "The Cosmic Key", he does not use the terror claws.
- "New Adventures" Skeletor: The Skeletor figure featured in "The New Adventures of He-Man". In the minicomics, Skeletor uses that costume after becoming a cyborg. In the TV version, he is only wearing a different costume than the "original".
- Disk of Doom Skeletor: The second "New Adventures" Skeletor version. This version first appears in the episode "Sword and Staff" and becomes the regular version of Skeletor for most of the series. This Skeletor version wears a skull-shaped chest armor and a white helmet. The figure came with a disk launcher, but in the series Skeletor continued using the Havoc Staff.
- Battle Blades Skeletor: Mostly the same as Disks of Doom Skeletor, except for lacking a helmet, which is replaced by a very small crown and some hair at the back of the head. Skeletor loses his helmet in the episode "The Tornadoes of Zil" and remains this way til the end of the New Adventures series.
- Battle Sounds Skeletor: This figure was made as a "talking" Skeletor figure for the 2002 toyline. In the TV episode "Skywar", Skeletor transforms into his "Battle Sounds" version after eating Ambrosia, a miraculous food made by the Andreenids, Buzz-Off's people. As Battle Sounds Skeletor, he is stronger and more powerful.
- Samurai Skeletor: With the power of the Legacy Stones, Skeletor transforms into his samurai version in the episode "The Mystery of Anwat Gar". This Skeletor wears samurai armor, is stronger and, fittingly, has samurai weapons.
- Battle Armor Skeletor: Skeletor dons a battle armor. In the episode "Of Machines and Men", a being called Sortech sends the battle armor to Skeletor. This is the 2003 Battle Armor Skeletor figure, and must not be confused with the 1983 Skeletor figure with the same name.