As the title song always said, G.I. Joe 's purpose is to defend the world against Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world. They may have been ruthless and determined, but they sure as hell weren't smart. See these actual 14 ludicrously moronic plots for the G.I. Joe cartoon for proof.
1) Building an Elaborate Funhouse, "The Funhouse"
When Cobra captures five scientists and ransoms them for $60 billion, Joe quickly tracks down Cobra to a remote island. At the island, Cobra has constructed an elaborate funhouse full of traps like balloons filled with hallucinogenic gas, giant weapon-toting jack-in-the-boxes, and a roller coaster. Also, the whole island is rigged to explode. Not only is this ridiculously overelaborate, but even had it worked, it would have taken out seven Joes, max. Was the cost of building a snake-themed roller coast really worth the result of killing less than 10 enemy combatants?
2) Rigging a Mayoral Election, "Cobra's Candidate"
Cobra hires a bunch of thugs to attack mayoral candidate Robert Harper, seemingly on behalf of his opponent Whittier Greenway. In fact, Harper has hired Cobra to make himself seem sympathetic and make Greenway look like he hires street toughs to intimidate his opponents. Because this is Cobra, this plan eventually includes blowing up several buildings and destroying a pier holding a political rally, and of course it backfires. But even if it had succeeded, what the hell was a mayor going to do for Cobra anyways?
3) Annoying G.I. Joe via TV Show, "Twenty Questions"
The Joe team's war games are interrupted by the talk show Twenty Questions. I don't mean a special broadcast, I mean host Hector Ramirez shows up with a film crew and his producer Arnold, who claims Cobra is fictional and G.I. Joe doesn't do anything but steal taxpayer money, and wants to film an episode right there. After a bit of antagonism, the hotheaded Shipwreck leads them to a known Cobra base to prove they're real, where Cobra attacks and captured them. Eventually, it's revealed that Arnold the producer was the Baroness in disguise, who was basically just trying to make the Joes feel shitty. Wouldn't it have been infinitely better for Cobra not to attack Shipwreck and then later air the footage of Cobra seemingly not existing to the world?
4) Hiding Missiles in Fast Food Restaurants, "Rocket's Red Glare"
Honestly, as far as Cobra's plans to threaten the world go, hiding actual rockets in the logo of a national fast-food chain is pretty solid. But the Red Rocket chain wasn't pre-existing, it was something that Cobra had to create, plan, build, market, etc., through the shell company Extensive Enterprises. More bafflingly, Cobra franchised these restaurants to anybody, including G.I. Joe member Roadblock's aunt and uncle. And then Cobra had to hire a bunch of thugs to somehow reclaim the restaurants in order to launch the missiles. That's way too complicated, guys,
5) Destroying All Currency, "Money to Burn"
Cobra creates a device that destroys all the world's currency. This completely absurd, impossible device is somehow not the stupidest part of the plan; the stupidest part is that Cobra Commander thinks that people will trade their non-cash valuables, likely jewelry, to him for a new currency which is basically a new gold coin with his face on it. Ignoring the fact that even if people did somehow agree Cobra Bucks would be the new world currency, the loss of all that cash would completely destroy the economy and probably civilization, and Cobra would basically rule the world of Mad Max.
6) Destroying All Vegetation on Earth, "Flint's Vacation"
There's not much to say about this on. A clearly frustrated Cobra Commander says he has a missile that can destroy all plant life on Earth, ad if Earth doesn't surrender he's going to launch it. Since we need plant life for so many things — breathing comes to mind — this is definitely not one of Cobra's better thought-out plans.
7) Making Their Own TV Network, "The Wrong Stuff"
Cobra seizes all the world's satellites and replaces it with one if their own; the end result is that there is only one TV station available, called Cobra Network Television, which is hilariously redundant. Cobra spends god knows how much, time, money and effort making their programming, including sitcoms like "Father's No Beast," action shows like "The C-Team," and making new, pro-Cobra endings to classic movies. Since this is G.I. Joe, the mass populace instantly believes everything CNT tells them, and all companies switch advertising to Cobra, since they've got the only network on the air. Something tells me if Al Qaeda tried to pull this, it wouldn't go nearly so well.
8) Partnering with an Evil Egyptian God, "The Gods Below"
When an archaeologist discovers the lost tomb of the Egyptian god Osiris, Cobra Commander sends in his troops to find the hidden treasure. What they find is the actual Egyptian god Set (although why he's hanging out in his brother's tomb is unknown). The episode portrays Set as evil, sending a group of Joes to the Realm of the Dead. Obviously, Cobra Commander thinks he can work with this, although he shortsightedly only asks for the treasure of Osiris — not knowing that if he brings the treasure to the surface Set will somehow be able to rule the world. Allying with evil gods is always going to backfire on people, but even if Cobra Commander has assumed Set was more accurate to his mythology — in which he isn't evil as much as he is an occasional asshole — Set's main job as god is to fight Apep, the serpent of Chaos. Something tells me he wasn't going to work well with Cobra no matter what.
9) Stealing a Machine That Makes Women Pretty, "Glamour Girls"
A cosmetics tycoon named Ms. Veil has created the Beauty Transference Device, which somehow takes good looks out of women and can bestow it upon others. When Dr. Mindbender tells Cobra Commander of the device, even C.C. can't fathom why the hell Cobra would want it. But Serpentor thinks women from around the world will pay Cobra to look prettier (again, please imagine Al Qaeda trying this: "Hey ladies, do we have an opportunity for you!"). The Joes destroy the machine before Cobra gets their hands on it, and Madame Veil's face is hideously scarred and disfigured. Sweet justice!
10) Holding an Evil Telethon, "Cobrathon"
A terrorist organization holding a telethon is very possibly the stupidest idea Cora has ever, ever conceived of; and the fact that it actually works in the insane, logic-free world of G.I. Joe doesn't change this. Dr. Mindbender creates a computer virus that can literally make computers explode, but he needs some money to… do… something with it, because the show is very adamant that the virus has been completed. So Cobra holds a telethon to raise the money — as well as a profit, because Cobra is absurd — banking that criminals would happily donate their money if Cobra promises to destroy the computers and files of Interpol and Scotland Yard and other law organization. In the world of G.I. Joe, they do, to the tune of $5 billion, at which point Cobra is supposed to send out the virus — only for computer whiz G.I. Joe member Mainframe to make a new virus that sends Cobra's virus back to its own computer, destroying the virus. The question of what TV network allowed Cobra to host a telethon on behalf of international terrorism is never answered.
11) Giving Certain Joes Promotions, "The Most Dangerous Thing in the World"
Cobra infiltrates the Department of Defense's computers and, given this unprecedented opportunity to wreak havoc on their longtime foes, decides to promote G.I. Joe members Lifeline, Dial Tone and Shipwreck to colonel. Somehow, despite the fact that Duke has always been the Joe's commander after General Hawk, this somehow throws the Joes into complete disarray and they fail to stop even a simple Cobra attack on a nearby research lab. The problem is immediately fixed when General Hawk returns from a NATO meeting and takes charge.
12) Shooting a Nightclub Into Space, "Joe's Night Out"
Cobra wants to steal a special nitrogen fuel engine created by one Dr. Melaney. Rather than attack his lab, kidnap him from his home, or one of a hundred simpler ways of achieving this goal, they build a special nightclub, somehow trick Melaney into coming to the nightclub with his engine, and then shoot the nightclub into space because it was also a rocket in disguise. Cobra then threatens to blow up the nightclub if the scientist doesn't give the engine to them, despite the fact that it's also in the nightclub and would also be destroyed. Question: Did Cobra really need to shoot the nightclub into space? Couldn't they have threatened to blow it up while it was on Earth? Just sayin'.
13) Infiltrating Joe HQ with Robotic Rats, "Into Your Tent I Will Silently Creep"
Anytime Cobra manages to infiltrate G.I. Joe's base it's an accomplishment, which is why the time Cobra shrunk themselves and hid in a bunch of Christmas presents given to the Joe Toys for Tots program isn't on this list (their plan succeeded, they just botched it afterwards). But again, Cobra Commander squandered this opportunity by sending robotic rats into Joe HQ and telling them to steal… well, anything. Not documents, not things of importance, just… shit they saw. I guess it's possible that the rats would have eventually found something worthwhile, but by the time Joe caught on Cobra has managed to seize a hairdryer, a disk containing a calculator, a computer game, and a tape of country music. It would have probably been better to upgrade the robo-rats a bit before bothering to send them in.
14) Destroying the Ozone Layer, "The Nozone Conspiracy"
Have learning nothing from their plan to destroy all vegetation on earth, Cobra eventually decides to take care of that pesky ozone layer instead. Note: They don't threaten to destroy the ozone layer, they simply try to destroy it because they think they'll be able to sell special Cobra-band extra-strength sunscreen to humans, never realizing even wearing SPF 1,000,000 humanity would be reduced to piles of melting radioactive goo. Oh, and Cobra's big plan to destroy the ozone? Stealing a shit-ton of aerosol shaving cream bottles. They're going to have their trained terrorist army sit around and have a shaving cream fight or something. Even if that wasn't stupid — and it is, because the thing in aerosol cans that hurt the ozone layer, chlorofluorocarbons, were banned in 1979, years before this episode aired — this is so embarrassing that Cobra should have desperately tried to figure out another plan anyways.