Mega List of Voltron Characters from the 80’s
Oh Voltron: A show that combined the aesthetics of the Power Rangers, Transformers, and Thundercats all into one, it’s also a show that has irreparably impacted the lives of many kids growing up in the ’80s even if the only thing they remember is Voltron, the titular super robot itself. The franchise had about five animated reboots, a rumored live-action movie, a slew of comic series, and of course an array of Voltron toys that you can combine into one giant, even cooler Voltron toy. If you didn’t play with the Voltron lions and other Voltron toys as a kid, you missed out.
Each reboot of Voltron introduced its nuances and quirks into the show’s basic premise of big Voltron lions turn into an even bigger humanoid robot. To break down the characters, we focused on the characters from the original ‘80s show Voltron: Defender of the Universe and the characters from the most recent reboot, Voltron: Legendary Defender.
Voltron: Defender of the Universe (1984)
The ’80s run of Voltron was adapted from a Japanese mecha anime series called Beast King Golion. While the original Japanese series split the Voltron story into three arcs, the American series ran them all as one show. Here are the characters that persisted throughout the entire show.
The pilot of the Black Lion, Keith Kogane is the commanding officer of the Voltron Force. His leader status is conveyed by the fact that his lion makes up the head and torso of Voltron’s final form. Keith is quiet and introspective, spending most of his time thinking about his duties and responsibilities as a leader. This is because he was not the initial leader of the Voltron Force; at the very beginning of the series, he piloted the Red Lion, hence his red uniform. However, due to the old leader’s issues with addiction, Keith rose to the occasion and was made commanding officer. Near the end of the series, it’s revealed that Keith is of Arusian descent, conveniently intersecting with his interest in Princess Allura of Arus. Although he steps down from the team to serve Arus as its king, he takes dips back in to lead Team Voltron when the going gets tough.
The goofy second in command of Voltron, Lance pilots the Red Lion that forms the right arm of Voltron. He’s sarcastic, a little hot-headed, and the ace flyer of the team. He has a knack for being able to tell other’s lies and dishonest actions and is always willing to call Keith out on his more ridiculous commands. The comics add some more depth to Lance’s otherwise simple wise-guy routine, revealing him to be a childhood daredevil and drag racer turned criminal, if only because something petty he did while in the Navy. His stint with the Voltron Team is a result of his criminal record, as he was recruited as a way to avoid his five-year sentence in prison. Despite that heavy background, Lance remains the ever faithfully funny man of the team.
Pidge is the youngest, smartest, and smallest of the group; unfortunately, his high-pitched voice in the original series also makes him the most hated of the group as well. Pidge pilots the Green Lion that forms the left arm of Voltron. Coming from a tragic background of his home planet being nuked by Zarkon, Pidge bootstrapped his way through school through his skill in science and engineering. He is also surprisingly skilled at martial arts and utilizes his small stature and agility to his benefit. Perhaps due to his backstory, he is not afraid to speak his mind and heart, telling off anyone, including enemies—although the viewers might wish for him to pipe down.
The strong man of the group, Hunk pilots the Yellow Lion that forms Voltron’s left leg. He’s tough and a little grouchy, only revealing his soft side to children and puppies. Although he’s treated as well as a fat character can be in the ‘80s (i.e. not very), his bulk is mostly muscle. Hunk is also a mechanic with a background in engineering, the comics specifically featuring him as more of an anti-social, independent inventor. Hunk is also notable for having been confirmed as a character of color from the beginning; some series list him as being Samoan and some others have him as half-Japanese. Although his character doesn’t influence major plot points, it is undeniable that his presence influenced the kids who saw themselves reflected in him one way or another.
The most mysterious Norwegian man in perhaps all of American cartoon history, Sven was the original second in command of the Voltron Force, pilot of the Blue Lion, and even leader of the team. However, Sven’s character was designed for pain: he lost his leadership position due to an addiction to drugs, he lost his lion due to being badly injured early on in the series, and he lost his position on the team due to being captured by enemy Prince Lotor’s forces. His time as a prisoner badly affected him, driving him to the point of madness before he was rescued and leaving him with a kind of PTSD afterward. Like Keith, Sven is a quiet person, speaking only when he has something important to say. While Sven is no longer the official pilot of the Blue Lion, he sticks around the rest of the series to either hijack the Blue Lion to rescue his son, help the team out, or be an overall mysterious, badass Norwegian guy.
Ruler of the Kingdom of Arus, replacement pilot for the Blue Lion, and the object-of-many’s affection, Princess Allura of Arus is a breath of fresh air in the Boyz Only! club that is Team Voltron. Upon her father’s death, Allura inherited the commander in chief and head of state positions of Arus but, despite being sovereign of the Voltron Force, still defers to Keith’s strategies and operational demands. This deferment comes not from a weak will but from Allura’s wise beyond her years ruling abilities—although she is a little naive when it comes to romance. Allura also develops a telepathy-like ability to communicate with the Lions without being in the cockpit. Thus, despite being the only female character on Team Voltron, Allura can more than hold her own in her uber pink uniform.
The main antagonist of the original series, Lotor is loyal to his father, King Zarkon, until Allura comes onto the scene. His obsessive attraction to her causes him to plot a coup to overthrow his father and rule over the galaxy with her by his side. Luckily, his obsession is also his downfall, as the sight of her renders his typical sly, smooth, and smart qualities to deteriorate. His end is a little lackluster, as he is killed right after being made king, then revived into a super-strong mutant, before finally being killed off again for good.
The secondary antagonist, Zarkon is not the absolute ruler of the Drule Empire but still has a lot of autonomy in his role. His goal is to take over the universe and is willing to do whatever it takes to get there, even if it means pretending to redeem himself and join the good guys to use Lotor to take over the galaxy.
The only female character on the bad guys’ side, Haggar is responsible for creating all the monster Robeasts Zarkon uses. She also has dark, hypnotic magic, can become a quasar, and can manipulate her chemical element to revive Lotor and create a deadlier series of Robeasts. Unfortunately, despite her interesting powers, Haggar’s backstory boils down to having been a good and beautiful woman turned evil and hideous due to romantic affection. Not that exciting or revolutionary, but at least Haggar gave the audience a couple of good fight scenes.
Voltron: Legendary Defender (2016)
The most recent Voltron reboot was hosted on Netflix only, yet still was a hit series that launched comics, action figures, and other miscellaneous toys. Legendary Defender updated a ton of elements from the original story but still keeps the same basic few characters to maintain the integrity of the show.
Takashi “Shiro” Shirogane
Shiro is the Black Paladin, pilot of the Black Lion, and the Guardian Spirit of Sky. Essentially a remake of Sven’s character, Shiro is the decisive leader of the Voltron team who suffers immensely in comparison to the rest of the team. The beginning of the show starts with him having been captured by the Galra Empire and given a weaponized prosthetic right arm, and he is captured again during season 2. However, while Sven buckled under the intense pressure of the Drule Empire’s gaze, Shiro’s character is calmer and more in control of his traumas. That calm is a ruse, however; it turns out Shiro’s reclaimed body was that of a clone spying on team Voltron for Haggar, and his original soul is trapped inside of the Black Lion. The end of the series has Allura transferring his soul into the clone’s body, finally restoring the Shiro we know and love while completing his transformation by making his hair as white as his name.
Keith is the Red Paladin, pilot of the Red Lion, the Guardian Spirit of Fire, and for a couple of seasons the leader of Voltron and pilot of the Black Lion. Just as in the original series, Keith is quiet and contemplative; unlike the original series, this Keith has a hot temper perhaps stemming from his background of being an orphan constantly being abandoned, intentionally or not, by those he loves. Keith also discovers that he is not of fully human descent, but in this series, he is from the enemy’s side; half-Galra, Keith now has ties to the biggest undercover organization in the universe: the Blade of Marmora. This discovery further hones Keith’s protectiveness with stealth skills, allowing him to go back to Voltron to pilot the Black Lion and save Shiro from his unfortunate fate.
The Blue Paladin, pilot of the Blue Lion, the Guardian Spirit of Water, and temporary pilot of the Red Lion, Lance is still cocky, confident, and outgoing. His character has thankfully been given a sensitive side, however, and he longs for his family back on Earth. Lance matures throughout the series to become more tempered and serious but, as always, remains the sarcastic smart talker that uplifts the team’s spirits.
Katie “Pidge” Holt
Pidge is the Green Paladin, pilot of the Green Lion, the Guardian Spirit of Forest, and much more complex than her namesake. Trying to find her missing father and brother, Pidge attends the Garrison Academy disguised as a boy named Pidge Gunderson to try and hack her way into their location. Still intelligent and passionate about the wetware side of engineering, Pidge’s character in the new arc is a great update from the original ’80s Pidge that still maintains the integrity of the character.
The Yellow Paladin, pilot of the Yellow Lion, and Guardian Spirit of Land, Hunk is the gentle engineer of the crew. Fully the heart of the team, Hunk operates as the peacemaker and comforter for the rest of team Voltron’s stresses. He is also the most compassionate to those enslaved by Zarkon’s conquest of the universe. Hunk’s character is still mostly used for comic relief; however, this guy is still an absolute hunk!
The Crown Princess of Altea and the occasional Blue Paladin, Allura’s role is much the same in the reboot. Having to balance being a diligent ruler with the knowledge that she is one of the last of her kind, Allura puts her heart and soul into stopping Zarkon from destroying other civilizations the same way he destroyed her own—even at the cost of her own life.
Lord and Master of most of the known universe, Zarkon in this series is ruthless and possessive of the Lions of Voltron primarily because he was once the Black Paladin himself when still an ally of the Alteans. He is angered by his son’s betrayal but still killed by him.
Haggar is, in this timeline, is Zarkon’s wife, the primary advisor, the high priestess, and is also the leader of the druids. Still, a dangerous sorceress and mad scientist at heart, Haggar’s story is much less shallow in this series. Her main goal is to harvest planets of an energy called quintessence that contains immeasurable power. She is also revealed to be of Altean descent and, after taking a trip that lands her in the birthplace of Altean alchemy, is restored to her original form of Honerva. After finding out of her son Lotor’s death, Haggar destroys the Galra and sacrifices herself to restore reality.
Prince Lotor is the crown prince of the Galra who wants to use loyalty rather than fear to conquer planets. An expert combatant and cunning strategist, when Zarkon discovers his side operations Lotor is disowned and hunted. When he turns to Voltron as allies, he sparks an interesting, actually reciprocated attraction to Allura that is vanquished when Voltron discovers his colonies of Altean slaves being harvested for quintessence. Although he does defeat his father, Voltron defeats him, and Lotor dies in a rift for his crimes.
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