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

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by Howie Decker @HowardTheDeck

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!

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