The 50 Greatest G.I. Joe Characters of All Time

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by Howie Decker @HowardTheDeck

in G.I. Joe, Lists

10. Beach Head

Part of the solid Class of ’86 wave of G.I. Joe figures, Wayne Sneedan was a no-nonsense Ranger from Auburn, Alabama. Beach Head “doesn’t get angry, he gets even”. And sweaty.

 

9. General Hawk

Most diehards’ REAL G.I. Joe Commander. Devil’s Due was the first to explore past the surface of Hawk’s character; but Hawk’s stalwart, lantern-jawed hero routine managed to never be corny or unbelievable. – Mike

 

8. Shipwreck

All credit here goes to voice actor Neil Ross, whose portrayal in the Sunbow cartoon bore a legend from a character who’s been otherwise boring or ignored altogether. If Sunbow had spun Ross’s Shipwreck into his own show, I’d have watched. -Mike

Hear a great interview with Neil Ross (he even does Shipwreck!) on the Flag Points podcast.

 

7. Lady Jaye

Appeared in more individual G.I. Joe cartoons than any other character. Given an intriguing backstory by Sunbow and a prominent place in most comic runs.  Killed off by Devil’s Due, which was a leading reason why IDW pretended their run never existed. -Mike

As many nightmares as Shipwreck’s experience in “There’s No Place Like Springfield” gave me as a child, Lady Jaye’s night in Castle Destro provided a different type of adolescent subconscious response. -Howie

 

6. Stalker

Often the third wheel to the Snake Eyes and Scarlett butt-kicking machine, he’d be even higher on this list if there was a Stalker figure for the Sunbow cartoon to sell in 1985 and ’86.  Hugely important to the Hama-verse, pretty garden-variety everywhere else. -Mike

 

5. Scarlett 

Whether paired with Duke or Snake Eyes or on her own, the Joes’ lead diva made it cool to buy the girl action figures.  A literal knockout, she won a lot of girls into Joe-fandom, too. – Mike

It is said that Larry Hama based Scarlett on his wife, which would be great in a lot of ways, except when she “persuades” you to mow the lawn by waving a power crossbow at you. -Howie

 

4. Flint

Half of the most relatable couple in the G.I. Joe universe, and one of the more dynamic characters in Joe cartoon and comic history.  Coming back into his own now after being largely forgotten in the ’90s and early ’00s. -Mike

We’re very fortunate that G.I. Joe was big with kids in the 80s. Kids nowadays would have to do that relationship name-combiney thing and call Flint and Lady Jaye something like “Flady Jint” or “Lint”. -Howie

 

 

3. Roadblock 

One of the very few Joes who’s memorable in every property.  When he was “replaced” by Heavy Duty, longtime fans all but revolted.  Soon to be personified by The Rock, the biggest action star in the world.  Not a bad run for an enlisted man who’s not a romantic lead. -Mike

I just can’t wait for The Rock to break character in the middle of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, turn to the crowd and try to get #GoatFaceDestro or #KungPaoCobraBitch trending on Twitter. -Howie

Who wants a body massage?

 

2. Snow Job

This was the big surprise. Certainly one of the coolest action figures of all time, but the second greatest Joe of all time? Here’s how he landed the #2 spot:

Five of the thirteen panelists ranked Snow Job in their top 5, a feat matched only by Flint and the #1 Joe. He appeared on 10 of 13 lists overall, second only to Roadblock and the #1 Joe.

My guess is that if you grew up anywhere that saw winter snowfall, Snow Job will always hold a special place in your heart. Until 1985, Harlan Moore was the only figure that came with seasonal gear for those special outdoor missions. One of the reasons it’s hard to find vintage Snow Job figures in great shape today is that most kids took them out in the snow, which led to the screws rusting and such.

At the time, his figure’s accessories were second to none. He didn’t have a huge recurring role in the Sunbow universe, but his show scenes and ARAH comic panels were memorable enough to land him this spot.

 

1. Snake Eyes

It’s a man who can’t communicate with the world who finds solace in a wild animal tormented by that same world. They are both creatures who sacrifice for others, but walk alone- except for each other. I will buy anything with Snake Eyes & Timber. Best dynamic duo EVER. -Arune

Hama’s Hamlet.  The glory years of the Marvel Comics run had Snake Eyes’ often-glorious, often-heartbreaking origin story front and center. Sunbow was actually the property that treated him the worst- yet he was still the resourceful, awesome-fighting guy in the ninja suit.  No denying that he’s the straw that stirs the drink. – Mike

No surprise here. 1985 Snake Eyes was voted the Coolest Action Figure of All Time. He became the main character of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, to the extent that the title of the book was modified to include his name. Snakes was the one Joe whose hidden identity allowed for imagination and intrigue to propel the character’s popularity, in the same way as Darth Vader and Cobra Commander. Even non-Joe fans can identify Snake Eyes, as he and Cobra Commander are the franchise’s most transcendent stars. – Howie

 

Who is your favorite G.I. Joe of all time? Which character was ranked too high/low? Let us know in the comments!

And now check out the 50 Greatest Cobras of All Time!

 Images: YOJOE.com | deviantart.com | comicvine.com | gijoe.wikia.com | behindthevoiceactors.com

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Lamar the Revenger December 11, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Great list!! Glad the Lady Jaye/Flint punch out picture made it! And as Gung-Ho would say: “Oh, look at you and your different colored hats!”

Reply

Howie Decker December 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Thanks Lamar! It’s funny, I had such a hard time not making every individual write up somehow reference the Fensler Film PSAs. I had to get a couple in there (Mutt, Roadblock), but I easily could have done it for so many others. Thanks for commenting!

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Will December 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I demand to know the judges behind this! Make their identities known!!!

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Howie Decker December 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Finally fixed link!

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Engineernerd December 12, 2012 at 6:53 am

I will fess up.

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James December 12, 2012 at 10:16 am

I’m just gonna go ahead and leave a comment on this page before I leave it and go on to #40-1. BRAVO. Brilliantly executed, planned, and great list of panelists!

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Bravo December 12, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Pretty sure Sgt. Slaughter/Robert Remus’s contract with Hasbro had ended by the Gulf War.

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Howie Decker December 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm

The Gulf War started in August of 1990 and this figure was still on the market: http://www.yojoe.com/action/89/sgtslaughter4.shtml

They made another Sgt. Slaughter figure in 06 and 2 more in 2010. If his contract was up, that didn’t stop Hasbro from cranking out figures once the heel angle was done with WWF/WWE.

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Justin December 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm

I see what you did there.

Awesome job putting the list together! I approve. 🙂

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Howie Decker December 13, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Couldn’t have done it without you- thanks again! It was fun! Cobra should be out early next week.

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J May 10, 2013 at 1:29 am

#1 Spot should be: William “Refrigerator” Perry, “breakin’ the Cobra line!”

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Maurice Mitchell August 26, 2013 at 10:14 pm

I’m surprised Sgt. Slaughter didn’t make it higher, but Lamar is right Lady Jaye/Flint are inspired choices.

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Howard Decker August 27, 2013 at 4:48 pm

I think Sarge wore out his welcome quickly with the older fans and with non-WWF fans. He was comically unbeatable. Yeah LJ is definitely top 10 for me.

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Howard Decker August 27, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Who would your top 5 be?

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Maurice Mitchell August 27, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Definitely Fridge for his goofy football hammer. Lady J and Destro in that order.

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Joel August 27, 2013 at 10:40 pm

1- William “Refrigerator” Perry
2- Sgt. Slaughter
3- Roddy Piper (appeared as figure only)
4- Clutch
5- The baseball uniform guy

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Howard Decker August 28, 2013 at 1:00 am

Hardball!

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Walls April 15, 2014 at 12:17 am

Shipwreck is a top 10 worldwide. In other languages with other voices. So its a great character not just for Neil Ross (Sorry my english)

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Tbonejones July 3, 2014 at 5:43 pm

They need to take more guys and update them like they did with ripcored like more depth to them.

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Jackie Jormpjomp August 5, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Snake Eyes. All that matters is Snake Eyes is number one. In the comics he was one of the most interesting characters brought to life. Mute, scarred, dressed in black, tragic origin story, he could have easily been a villain, but those (at the time) groundbreaking pieces of his character actually made him more complex and mysterious while remaining noble. He was a secondary character in the cartoons (and all but forgotten in the animated 80s film) but in print he remains a very cool badass.

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Rick Dominguez June 8, 2015 at 8:06 pm

Love this list. I was hoping to see my all time favorite JOE. His name was Salvo.
Don’t know anything about his background, all I know is he was one bad ass motha.

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Loose Cannon August 12, 2015 at 2:54 pm

List is a little suspect, Snow Job #2? More like 30. I’m glad it opened up to all forms of GIJoe, but most of those outside the original COmic and Cartoons shouldn’t place in the top 50 IMO.

Here is a link to HISSTANK members voting on the same thing.

http://www.hisstank.com/forum/g-i-joe-general-discussion/407881-who-261st-greatest-g-i-joe-character-all-time.html

It should be (Give or take a few spots):
1. Snake-Eyes
2. Flint
3. Duke
4. Scarlett
5. Roadblock
6. Lady-Jaye
7. Shipwreck
8. Stalker
9. Beachhead
10. Gung-Ho
11. Hawk
12. Sgt. Slaughter
13. Rock’n’Roll
14. Lt. Falcon
15. Tunnel-Rat
16. Spirit
17. Wild-Bill
18. Outback
19. Dusty
20. Lowlight
21. Chuckles
22. Cover-Girl

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Tait June 30, 2016 at 6:38 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with Snake Eyes being number 1. If a series, animated movie, or live action movie messes up Snake Eyes they are surely doomed. I’ve seen Snake Eyes steal the show on shows fans don’t like and I don’t hear them complaining about Snake Eyes or Storm Shadow.

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HERNAN November 17, 2016 at 12:03 pm

This list looks like the 50 worst G.I. Joe of History!

Of course I am a Cobra fan! 🙂

I will not order them by number, I’ll just keep these. The others are crap.

Blowtorch
Shockwave
Recondo
Flash
Rock ‘n Roll
Torpedo
Alpine
Jinx
Spirit
Stalker
Scarlett
Flint
Snake Eyes

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