[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Brainiac-Post_Retcon_279.jpg]]

->''"You've told me that ComicBook/LexLuthor is everything bad about humanity. Well Brainiac is everything bad about aliens."''
-->--ComicBook/{{Supergirl}}, ''Brainiac'' ([[NamesTheSame the story arc]])

Brainiac is a prominent member of Franchise/{{Superman}}s RoguesGallery and one of the most iconic villains in comic book history.

Created by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino, Brainiac debuted in July 1958 as a green-skinned alien with advanced technology who attacked an Earth spaceship and possessed a private collection of shrunken, stolen cities, including the Kryptonian city of Kandor, which Superman stole back and took back to his Fortress of Solitude. Notably, Superman never actually managed to defeat the alien and was completely outmatched by his DeflectorShields and [[YouFightLikeACow tirade of insults]], and this was the ''[[TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks Silver Age]]'' Superman, the same one who casually tugged chains of planets through space.

He returned to menace the superhero over the years, sometimes and often in a VillainTeamUp with ComicBook/LexLuthor. Due to legal issues, he was reimagined as a living supercomputer in humanoid form, the renegade agent of the Coluan race.

PostCrisis, he was reimagined again as an insane circus psychic named Milton Fine who believed he was possessed by an alien intelligence, though as that drew a fan backlash it was gradually implied that he might actually be ProperlyParanoid and he began taking on genuinely alien characteristics, such as green skin and more audacious plans. Eventually this was all [[RetCon retconned]] and he was reimagined ''again'' as an evil alien robot, then as time went on his exact origins and nature as either a robot, a pure alien or an [[NinjaZombiePirateRobot alien cyborg robot]] was DependingOnTheWriter. Once again, Superman receives (in different circumstances) a Kandor shrunk by Brainiac, this time apparently [[FantasticRacism a holding city for non-Kryptonian residents of Krypton,]] in the interest of keeping Superman the LastOfHisKind.

In adaptations such as ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'' and its sequel ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'', and later ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' and ''WesternAnimation/LegionOfSuperHeroes'', he was made into a living supercomputer with Kryptonian origins to create greater enmity with the Man of Steel. In the animated versions, Brainiac was given FightingAShadow qualities, the green-skinned humanoid being just one of many bodies used by the villain whose nature as a ''program'' means all of his technology is 'him' and he need only upload himself elsewhere upon physical "death." In the 2008 story arc ''[[NamesTheSame Brainiac]]'', this aspect of Brainiac became a CanonImmigrant and the various different versions Superman faced were [[TakeAThirdOption retconned]] into probes themselves, and the ''true'' Brainiac was once again made into a Coluan cyborg. Once ''again'' he possessed Kandor (the one Superman had was "revealed" to be a fake), which again was a city full of Kryptonians. Upon finding out Superman was a Kryptonian, Brainiac set out to kill him and Supergirl, as the existence of Kryptonians outside of his bioshell threatened his control over their technology.

Brainiac is a LegacyCharacter and there have been (or will be) at least 13 different incarnations of the character in the future, Brainiac 2 originally being a clone-son, though some of them are actually future, stronger versions of Brainiac himself. The most famous is the heroic Brainiac 5, TheSmartGuy of the ''ComicBook/LegionOfSuperheroes'' from the 31st century. In one StoryArc, the Brainiac 13 version from a BadFuture even fought Brainic 2.5, despite both being the same character. On most occasions, the ones who aren't actually Brainiac end up becoming the victim of his schemes.

Fun fact: Brainiac is not, as you might think, named after a popular slang word for "intellectual." It's the other way around: that particular piece of slang actually started with ''him'', and the writers of ''ComicBook/{{Superman}}'' are credited with coining it. So, yes, every time a bookish comic book fan gets mockingly called a "brainiac," his tormenters unknowingly pay tribute to DC Comics.

He is rumored to be the BigBad of the forthcoming live-action ''Justice League'' movie. Rao help us all.

!The character provides examples of:

* AccentUponTheWrongSyllable: In the Comicbook/{{New 52}}, he calls his bottled cities "Kan-Dor" and "Met-Trop-Ol-Is".
* AIIsACrapshoot: In some versions, he's this. In others, he was [[RoboticPsychopath meant to turn out this way]].
* AliensAreBastards: Just read the page quote. It makes for a nice contrast with Superman's [[InnocentAliens innocent alien]]; as one internet fan once said, the reason Brainiac is such an enduring villain is that he's the alien Superman isn't.
* AlienInvasion: A ([[HiveMind sometimes literal]]) OneManArmy type.
* ArchEnemy: One of Superman's three chief foes, along with Lex Luthor and General Zod (Darkseid would qualify but he's more of a general DCU threat). After Luthor, he's probably the most iconic, the oldest, and easily one of the ones that Superman hates the most.
* AttackOfThe50FootWhatever: The Brainiac 13 incarnation.
* AssimilationPlot: Again, Brainiac 13, who tried this twice, first on Metropolis (probably as a prelude to Earth), and then, later, on [[ComicBook/OurWorldsAtWar the entire universe]].
* AwesomenessByAnalysis: To the point where he once downloaded all of Superman's memories and used them to create a program that would anticipate his every move. Generally speaking, Brainiac is a master at gathering information on his foes and then using it against them.
* BaldOfEvil: One of the only things about his appearance to remain consistent, whether alien, human, robot, or some mix of all of the above.
* BarrierWarrior: Brainiac always uses his DeflectorShields to maximum effect.
* BeardOfEvil: Sported one as Milton Fine.
* BigBad: Competes with Luthor and Zod for the title of Superman's Biggest Bad, and has been the mastermind behind countless story arcs in both Superman's own book and the DCU at large (where, alongside the likes of Luthor and Darkseid he's one of the biggest bads around). His antimatter counterpart served as TheBigBad of ''JLA: Earth-2'', establishing that no matter which universe you are in, Brainiac is at the top of the evil food chain.
* BrainInAJar: Post-Crisis Antimatter Brainiac was little more than a genetically-engineered, super-intelligent brain with a face grafted on. He was kept in storage in Ultraman's Flying Fortress, and used to run most of the Crime Syndicate's computers.
* TheChessmaster: Always. Brainiac plans well in advance, and is an expert at manipulating others into playing the roles he wants them to do.
* CharacterizationMarchesOn: With Creator/DCComics' retconitis, who Brainy is never seems to remain constant for more than a few years at a time. Today's galaxy-destroying Brainiac is definitely a ''far'' cry from the day-one incarnation, who was basically "Alien!Lex Luthor"--though his technological brilliance and obsession with collecting things has never gone away.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: He thinks nothing of disposing of his partners, subordinates, and cat's paws as soon as it's convenient to do so.
* ClassicVillain
* TheCollector: Of cities and knowledge.
* ConquerorFromTheFuture: Brainiacs 8 and 13.
* ControlFreak: Brainiac doesn't like any situation where he's not in control, often entering a VillainousBreakdown when things don't go his way.
* CreepyMonotone: Especially when he's voiced by Creator/CoreyBurton.
* {{Cyborg}}: His final Post-Crisis and New 52 versions are Coluan aliens enhanced by advanced cybernetics.
* DeflectorShields: Perhaps ''the'' IconicItem associated with the [[TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks Silver Age]] Brainiac was his force field belt, which even Superman couldn't break through. Most later versions of him have also possessed these in one form or another.
* DemonicPossession: Of Lex Luthor, Milton Fine, Lena Luthor, Doomsday, and various others across his lengthy career.
* DiscOneFinalBoss: In ''ComicBook/WhateverHappenedToTheManOfTomorrow'' where he appeared to be TheBigBad, but was actually a front for [[spoiler:Mxyptlk of all people]].
* TheDreaded: To ComicBook/{{Supergirl}}, who was on Krypton when Brainiac attacked and stole Kandor. The rest of the Kandorians are terrified of him as well, and General Zod views his failure to defeat the alien as his worst ever loss.
* EncyclopaedicKnowledge: Considering how many civilizations he's stolen knowledge from, it is not surprising that he possesses this.
* EvilGenius
* EvilerThanThou: Has come into conflict with Luthor, the Antimonitor, Zod, Imperiex, and numerous others over the course of his decades long career.
* {{Expy}}: In his first appearance, and for much of the SilverAge he was just a more competent alien!Luthor. This changed in UsefulNotes/{{the Bronze Age|ofcomicbooks}}, when he became a skeletal robot who aimed to end the universe.
* FightingAShadow: In the DCAU (and regular DCU continuity, post-''Superman: Brainiac''), he acts exclusively through probes and drones.
* {{Foil}}: A cold, distant, remote alien with evil designs on earth? He's everything that people like Luthor think Superman is like.
* FromASingleCell: If a single line of Brainiac's code survives, he can usually come back. Now that he's been retconned into being an organic being, we'll have to see if this is still the case.
* FusionDance: With Luthor in ''ComicBook/WhateverHappenedToTheManOfTomorrow''. This was given a ShoutOut in ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague: Unlimited'', though it was far more willing in that version.
* FutureMeScaresMe: In ''Superman: Y2K'', Brainiac 13 comes from the future and hijacks Brainiac 2.5.
* GalacticConqueror
* GeniusBruiser: Even in his true form, he's roughly the equal of Superman and backs it up with far superior intelligence. When he possessed Doomsday, this became literally true as he was a genius in the hulking form of one of the physically strongest beings in the universe.
* GoMadFromTheRevelation: During the 80's, he believed there was a being called the "Master Programmer" conspiring to destroy Brainiac by sending his "angel of death", which is Superman.
* AGodAmI: In UsefulNotes/TheBronzeAgeOfComicBooks and in ''JLA: Earth-2'' where his Antimatter Universe counterpart tried to become an "Nth Level Intellect". Defied in ''New Krypton'' when he states "Gods do not exist, Lex Luthor".
* GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe: Brainiacs 4 and 8. And the ''Toys/AmeComiGirls'' version.
* HiveMind: Brainiac 13 forced this on the citizens of Metropolis. Also, the RetCon that Superman has been FightingAShadow invokes this to an extent.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: [[TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks Silver Age]] Brainiac finally met defeat when Superman disregarded his own ThouShaltNotKill rule, and hurled his ship into the path of the villain's own shrink ray.
* HumanoidAliens: Sometimes, DependingOnTheWriter.
* [[spoiler: [[YouKilledMyFather I Killed Your Father]]]]: Did this to Jonathan Kent when beaten in ''Brainiac''. [[BewareTheNiceOnes Superman]] was pissed.
* IHaveManyNames: In the Comicbook/{{New 52}}, each civilization that adopted him assigned him a different name.
* IngestingKnowledge: Nearly every version of Brainiac has had this ability, usually by interfacing with computers.
* JokerImmunity: Even before the FightingAShadow retcon, he always came back, no matter how thoroughly his previous incarnation was destroyed. ''ComicBook/DCOneMillion'' revealed that a version of him had survived into the 853rd century.
* KillerRobot: In the SilverAge and [[UsefulNotes/TheBronzeAgeOfComicBooks Bronze Age]] when he was a murderous android. The ModernAge saw him possess numerous robotic bodies before it they were retconned into being probes under the control of the actual alien.
* LackOfEmpathy: More like lack of any general emotion, making him all the more creepier.
* LegacyCharacter: There have been ''at least'' 13 Brainiacs, roughly speaking each more powerful and advanced than the last, with 13 being so powerful he can conquer the Earth just by showing up and later very nearly [[ComicBook/OurWorldsAtWar destroyed and remade the entire universe.]] However, while the likes of 5 and 8 are distinct characters, quite often the different Braniacs' are just upgraded versions of the villain himself.
* {{Lust}}: For knowledge. Brainiac wants to control all the information in the universe, and is prepared to slaughter billions to keep that information secret.
* MadScientist: Particularly during the SilverAge, when he was essentially an alien Luthor. To this day he retains many elements of this as a builder of robots, spaceships, and his own cyborg body parts.
* TheManBehindTheMonsters: The most recent version of Brainiac has been revealed to a biological Coluan scientist and conqueror who has been fighting Superman for years using his robotic probes and psychic powers.
* ManipulativeBastard: Oddly, some of his most successful manipulations are [[TimeyWimeyBall against]] [[LegacyCharacter himself]], but he has still played several characters like pianos over his career, including highly intelligent ones like Superman and Lex Luthor.
* MyBrainIsBig: Bronze Age Brainiac had a huge brain case (despite [[SkeleBot9000 obviously being a robot]]). DependingOnTheArtist, the Milton Fine version of Brainiac also had a distended brain.
* {{Nanomachines}}: One of the weapons in his arsenal.
* NeckSnap: Brainiac does this to an android replica of Luthor during ''ComicBook/NewKrypton'', and has the real Luthor return the favour during the finale of ''ComicBook/TheBlackRing''.
* NighInvulnerability: His robotic bodies in the SilverAge, [[UsefulNotes/TheBronzeAgeOfComicBooks Bronze Age]], and ModernAge typically possessed some version of this, as does his Coluan self following the events of ''Brainiac''.
* NinjaZombiePirateRobot: DependingOnTheWriter and the adaptation, Brainiac is either a regular MadScientist who happens to be an alien; a living alien computer; an evil psychic circus performer who's either AxCrazy or [[DemonicPossession possessed by an alien intelligence]]; a MadScientist alien ''cyborg''; an evil alien ''robot''; a colony of nanomachines; and quite often and recently [[NinjaPirateRobotZombie all of the above]]. Also, in the mainstream comics, he's always a Coluan, but in the Franchise/{{DCAU}} and ''Series/{{Smallville}}'', Brainiac is a Kryptonian artificial intelligence.
* NotSoDifferent: From LexLuthor, something which neither of them would care to admit in the Post-Crisis world.
* OmnicidalManiac: Post-Crisis his Antimatter counterpart took this UpToEleven, attempting to annihilate both the matter and antimatter universes. Since they were, at the time, the only two universes in existence, this would have resulted in the destruction of all creation everywhere.
* OrganicTechnology: Prior to 2008's ''Brainiac'' storyline and the retcon within, the Post-Crisis Brainiac was normally portrayed as a classic robot. Accordingly, his Antimatter Universe counterpart was a genetically engineered organic "syntellect", essentially a supremely-intelligent, vat-grown mind/computer.
* PlanetLooters: His main gig is bottling up cities and shrinking them. His reasons have varied and normally, the planets he loots aren't so lucky.
* PlutoIsExpendable: In ''Our Worlds at War'', he converts Pluto into a PlanetSpaceship. It's later destroyed when he gets defeated.
* PsychicPowers: When possessing Milton Fine, and to a degree even now.
* PsychoElectro: Sometimes. As Brainiac 13, he jacked the entire Metropolis powergrid and attempted to electrocute Superman to death with it.
* ReallySevenHundredYearsOld: He was around when Krypton was still in one piece; this makes him several thousand years old at least.
* RetCanon: These days, as of the Comicbook/{{New 52}}, he's much like the ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'' version, which is also what most other adaptations' Brainiacs are based on. Apparently he still got started on Colu, but he ''also'' was the Kryptonian AI, and exists in many places under many names (including Earth, as [[spoiler: the Internet]].)
* RobotMaster: The Modern Age version of Brainiac was retconned into being an organic alien behind a horde of robotic probes.
* RoboticPsychopath: In TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks and UsefulNotes/TheBronzeAgeOfComicBooks, though it was more emphasized in some stories than in others. He was also one for much of the Modern Age, before being retconned into being the alien behind the robots. Several adaptations, including ''Superman The Animated Series'' and ''Smallville'' would adapt the original, Post-Crisis version, making him fully robotic.
* RubberForeheadAliens: In the stories where he's an actual Coluan, he basically looks human, just with green skin and no hair.
* ShrinkRay: Owner and creator of one of the earliest in sci-fi literature.
* SkeleBot9000: Brainiac became skeletal in UsefulNotes/{{the Bronze Age|of Comic Books}}, and in some Elseworlds stories, after experiencing a rebirth and absorbing all the knowledge the universe had to offer. His probes in ''Brainiac'' and ''New Krypton'' reference this.
* SmugSnake: Sometimes. Brainiac is an incredibly competent [[TheChessmaster Chessmaster]] (at times even better than Luthor), but is arrogant, and has great difficulty innovating or dealing with the unexpected. How well he handles this depends on the the writer.
* SoreLoser: Brainiac would sooner blow up the planet than admit defeat.
* SuperIntelligence: One of his few consistent powers, whether he's a machine, an alien, or something else completely. A "12th level intellect", Brainiac may well be the most intelligent being in the DC Universe. He's certainly capable of storing and processing trillions of minds worth of information in his data banks and Coluan brain.
* SuperStrength: His robotic bodies have inevitably possessed this to one degree or another. The current version is an organic Coluan cyborg who can nevertheless mimic the powers of Kryptonians and other races, most notably, their strength.
* SuperiorSpecies: Sees Coluans as superior to all other beings, and himself as superior to his fellow Coluans.
* {{Technopath}}: One of his few consistent powers. Brainiac can inhabit and control most forms of technology, enabling him to assemble new bodies for himself with ease, and allowing him to arm himself more and more effectively. It also makes using any sort of technology against him an iffy proposition at best.
* TimeTravel: Brainiacs' 5, 8 and 13 have all traveled to the present from their respective futures for varying reasons, invariably involving the original.
* VillainTeamUp: All the time with Luthor in the Silver and Bronze Ages, to the point where Luthor genuinely seemed to consider the robot a friend. This was entirely one-sided, as Brainiac's possession of Luthor in ''ComicBook/WhateverHappenedToTheManOfTomorrow'' would go on to demonstrate.
* VillainousBreakdown: He's prone to doing this when he loses control of a situation, experiencing a spectacular one at the conclusion of ''Brainiac''.
* VillainousFriendship: A Type III with Luthor during the SilverAge and [[UsefulNotes/TheBronzeAgeOfComicBooks Bronze Age]]. Luthor seemed to respect and like Brainiac, but Brainiac was only too willing to betray Luthor, stealing his body in ''ComicBook/WhateverHappenedToTheManOfTomorrow''.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: The ''New 52'' has tried to recreate Brainiac as one of these, out to save the universe from destruction by invaders from the 5th dimension. Whether this will stick, no one knows.
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman: Even before he found out he was FightingAShadow, Superman had generally shown a willingness to destroy/kill Brainiac in spite of his ThouShaltNotKill rule.
* WritingAroundTrademarks: A truly bizarre example - Edmund Berkely started selling a primitive rotary switch-based computer called the Brainiac a year before the character debuted in the comics, and when he expressed concern that the character would create confusion over the brand identity, DC actually retconned him into a computer rather than changing his name.
** His name was inspired by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC a different computer]] anyway, so it's a bit less bizarre (or possibly more).
* YouKilledMyFather: Killed Jonathan Kent in ''Brainiac'', as revenge for Superman's defeat of him.
* YouMonster: Has been on the receiving end of this from Supergirl, Superman, and even Luthor.
* YoureInsane: Numerous characters have called him out on his madness.

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