You can't conquer the final frontier unless you can cut an imposing figure. That's why so many science fiction and fantasy characters rock the awesome shoulderpads. Or, as we call them, "swagger pinnacles." Here are science fiction/fantasy's most astounding shoulderpads.
Seriously, shoulderpads are coming back in the fashion world, and science fiction is a major influence. So it's important to look into the roots of this trend!
Additional reporting by Katharine Trendacosta.
Orion, from Jack Kirby's Fourth World. A costume redesign gave him some pretty amazing shoulderpads, with which to challenge his evil father, Darkseid. Via Newsarama's excellent article on Fourth World fashion.
Barda's boobtastic costume redesign features some pretty amazing shoulder pads. Also from the Newsarama article.
No roundup of epic shoulderpads would be complete with Judge Dredd. He carries the entire fate of Mega-City One on his shoulders.
There's a reason why they call it the Megazord.
Shredder, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villain, represents for the giant shoulders.
And here's Shredder's live-action incarnation, with his truly amazing shoulderpads on display. He got that name because he operated the paper shredder at his office temp job, but then he melted it down and mounted it on his shoulders.
Still the greatest bad movie of all time, Battlefield Earth.
Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man — Sly Stallone is probably annoyed that he doesn't get to rock the awesome shoulderpads this time.
Golbez from Final Fantasy IV
Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII
Does anybody know what anime series this is from? I found it in this hilarious rant about the rising trend of shoulderpads.
The original Iron Monger from the comics. Via the TVTropes page on Shoulderpads
Avon from Blake's 7. This was right around the time he stopped chewing the scenery and went straight for the bulkheads with his massive jaws of overacting.
Pretty much everyone in the 1980 Flash Gordon has epic shoulderpads.
Including Princess Aura
And, of course, Ming the Merciless himself!
Farrah Fawcett from Saturn 3
Shinzon from Star Trek: Nemesis, showing what Picard would have been like if he'd been prematurely bald at a much younger age and had been forced to wear a dozen crushed tribbles on his shoulders
Proof that the Romulan love of shoulderpads existed long before Shinzon, and apparently Shinzon was just the ultimate step in a long process of shoulder fortification
Adria in Stargate SG-1
Rachael in Blade Runner
Aunty Entity in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.
Dolph Lundgren as He-Man in Masters of the Universe.
And last but not least... Cable! Thanks to Graeme for the tip!