The 10 Most Bizarre G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Episodes

By Jon Gutierrez in Cartoons, Daily Lists, Toys
Friday, December 11, 2009 at 8:00 am
cobra command polly.jpg
It's easy to remember as G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero as just a formula show - Cobra Commander comes up with a ridiculous plan (typically involving money, lasers, or in one episode - money-zappin' lasers), the Joes show up and kick some butt and then Cobra retreats. Easy, right? But in that framework, G.I. Joe managed to throw in some stuff that would've completely freaked out even the most battle-hardened of regular soldiers. Stuff like aliens, ghosts, robot sea serpents, time travel, robot clowns, melting clones and even your plain old vanilla-style robots. Yep, even though that sounds like a season of Venture Bros., all that stuff was presented straight-forwardly in G.I. Joe on a regular basis

And while all those things might sound alright by themselves, when you combine them together (and realize that the Transformers are also in there somewhere), then we've got one of the strangest cartoons of the '80s, if not ever. Here are the 10 best -- by which we mean craziest --  examples.

10) The Phantom Brigade

While fighting in Carpathia, Cobra Commander gets a gypsy (Romania's full of 'em) to summon three ghost soldiers for him: a Roman soldier, a World War I pilot and a female Mongolian, who, like all Mongolians, has arrows who can turn things to ice (how did they ever stop ruling Asia with those things?). Turns out the Joes have to pull a Nightmare on Elm Street and give the ghost's mementoes a decent burial to get them to chill the fuck out. In the end, an unnamed skeleton - you assume it's one of the ghosts, but at this point it could be General Patton for all we know - beats Cobra Commander into dropping the trinkets. And we're left with a beautiful image of the ghost pilot heading off into the sunset with his ghost girlfriend, presumably to have some largely transparent World War I ghost sex.

9) Primordial Plot
Sure Cobra has fleets of powerful weapons and vehicles at their disposal, what's the best way to rule the world? Clearly, it's to replicate Jurassic Park by cloning three dinosaurs and mind-control them to attack the Joes. Not thousands of dinosaurs. Not hundreds. Yep, their plan for world domination is to make three reptiles -  and they're not even gun-firing-or-armored reptiles - fight the other most heavily armed and technologically advanced armies in the world. Also, Destro has rocket gloves that let him fly. So there's that.

8) G.I. Joe and the Golden Fleece

If you thought G.I. Joe wasn't going to have the time travel episode that every 80's cartoon show had (hell, even the Smurfs had a couple of them!) you're dead wrong. What's the gimmick here? Well, first off there's a giant UFO, and most cartoons would simply build the episode around that. But not G.I. Joe, which has a stray laser shot send both Cobras and Joes back in time to ancient Greece where Sgt. Slaughter is mistaken for Hercules, the Tomahawk is mistaken for the Argonaut and the Baroness is mistaken for a Harpy (okay, that last one makes sense). Eventually, they get sent back to the present and the UFO flies off, again with nobody really caring about it. Yep, in the crazy world of the G.I. Joe universe, UFOs are considered boring as fuck even when they send people back in time.

7) Worlds Without End Parts 1 and 2
A team of Joes (conveniently containing red-shirt background characters Flash, Steeler and Clutch) get sent to a creepy alternate universe where Cobra won the war and all but six Joes were MIA and three of those were killed (they never say who got killed and how, but we're betting Bazooka died of friendly fire). Of course, the usual alternate reality clichés apply: national monuments are changed (the Lincoln monument becomes the Cobra Commander monument and Mount Rushmore is now Washington, Lincoln, Cobra Commander and Destro) and sexy outfits reign (Cobra female officers just wear shirts and bikini bottoms!). Oh, and one of Joes (probably Steeler, but who can tell those three apart), freaks out and thinks they're in hell. In the end, the three non-essential Joes stay behind to help a good Baroness and Destro fight a Cobra civil war. Who wins? The viewers, of course!

6) Cobra Claws Are Coming to Town
When the Joes do a charity toy drive for the local orphanage, Cobra comes up with the only logical plan to take advantage of the situation: Shrink themselves to toy size and donate themselves to infiltrate the Joe base and steal the Joe vehicles to destroy a local town. The townspeople go for it, even though it's clearly a bunch of Dreadnoks - we guess anyone riding a green motorcycle is a Joe in civilians eyes. Despite having to fight with Cobra weapons, the Joes end up winning solely because Polly the Parrot gets blown up to a hundred times his normal size (oddly, he becomes only twice as annoying.) This one really highlights the love/hate relationship between Shipwreck and Polly, Shipwreck clearly hates him and calls the giant parrot "his worst nightmare come true" -- although it's a nightmare he perpetually allows on his shoulder. Unsettling.
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