The 8 G.I. Joes Most Frequently Left In the Box

For any young boy coming of age in the late 1980s there was one primary source for both patriotic fervor and unmitigated violence, and that was G.I. Joe. Yes, there was nothing quite like the Joes to inspire a love for one's nation, instill a strong moral compass, or sometimes just provoke an ineffective but passionate child fistfight over who gets be Snake Eyes this round. Before the cartoon, there was only one G.I. Joe.

That was his name. His first name was G.I., his last name was Joe, and his middle name was Fuck You for Asking, Commie. He was just one guy, and he was out there to swim the vast greatness of that puddle in your backyard, traverse the lonely tundra of your picnic table, climb the mammoth peaks of your dog, and shoot the god damn bad guy who, due to a slight oversight by Hasbro, did not have a toy yet, and was thus relegated to whatever you had in front of you at the time. Sometimes he was a Ken doll. More often he was just your sister.

But being only one guy, you only had to buy one toy. They got your popsicle-sticky five dollar allowance, and that was that. Then the '80s rolled around, and greed was good again, so they started putting out a new G.I. Joe character for every single task. Some jobs were awesome, like Blowtorch, the flamethrower operator, whose 9 to 5 was the non-stop burning of motherfuckers. And some, well, some were just there to punch a clock. Like...


When somebody says they want to "play doctor" with their G.I. Joes, you assume they're talking about block sanding the vest off of a Scarlet figure (because, though they're only eight years old and don't fully understand sex yet, they do understand that it's best done with redheads.) But then they pull out Lifeline, G.I. Joe's Field Medic, and you realize they're not white belt perverts; they just tragically missed the 'action' part of "action figures."

"I'm not joining this fight!"

Not only is Lifeline the healer character, meaning that he cleans up after battles instead of winning them, but he's also a pacifist. Nobody in the G.I. Joe world is going to respect a stance on non-violent resistance, not even the original artists: Check his very own package art, and you'll see Lifeline depicted as holding a pistol. That's the designers themselves saying "fuck your precious 'beliefs' Lifeline, you're packing some god damn heat -- no kid is shelling out five bucks for a figure that comes with a box of medical supplies and 'a sense of inner peace."


Airtight was the G.I. Joe's hostile environment cleanup expert, and he was a particularly disappointing gift to receive as a child: On first impression, all you see is a guy in a bitchin' helmet holding some gigantic gun. It's only when you rip open his box all excited, then flip it over to read his card that you slowly come to realize he does not spew toxic acid on his enemies (that's probably a substantially more awesome Cobra figure); Airtight is just the guy you call to cordon off the area afterward to make sure nobody steps in it.

"Don't forget to wash your hands! Lather, rinse, repeat, DIE!"

But wait, what about that giant-ass rifle? Really take a good look at the barrel up there. That's right: Motherfucker put a trigger guard on a vacuum cleaner.


Tollbooth was the driver for the Joe's Bridge Layer vehicle, which had just enough moving parts to seem awesome for a week, but then spent the next eight years in your little brother's closet when you realized its primary battlefield role was "support." Tollbooth himself came equipped with a hammer and a hat, because nothing ignites a young boy's imagination like workplace safety.

"This is a hardhat only zone! OSHA will have my ass...if I don't blow yours away first!"

He made appearances in such famous episodes as "Captives of Cobra," whose title implied that when he did encounter the enemy, they easily captured him. Presumably because they didn't want to pay the two bucks fifty to use the turnpike.


Shipwreck seems impossible to dismiss, if only because he was a main character that the cartoon used extensively. Whether they were rapelling into an active volcano or fighting B.A.T.s on the moon, G.I. Joe always had a seat set aside for the loud and proud sailor and his terrifying battle parrot.


But look at the other Joes: Each one has a very specific specialty. There are characters that only drive one vehicle, only use one weapon, or only do one thing well - hell, Muskrat basically just climbed trees like a boss - to the point that you start to suspect G.I. Joe is a squadron of battle-ready autistic savants. But not Shipwreck. Shipwreck didn't drive anything, he didn't specialize in anything, and he didn't do anything well. He was literally just a sailor, and when you get right down to it, that's not exactly a thrilling job; Shipwreck had the uncanny ability to know what a 'jib' was, and specialized in "knots" and "not being ashamed of his sexuality."

Recommended For Your Pleasure

Robert Brockway

  • Rss

More by Robert Brockway:

See More
To turn on reply notifications, click here


The Cracked Podcast

Choosing to "Like" Cracked has no side effects, so what's the worst that could happen?

The Weekly Hit List

Sit back... Relax... We'll do all the work.
Get a weekly update on the best at Cracked. Subscribe now!