->''"You've told me that ComicBook/LexLuthor is everything bad about humanity. Well Brainiac is everything bad about aliens."''
-->--ComicBook/{{Supergirl}}, ''Comicbook/SupermanBrainiac'' ([[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 ''[[UsefulNotes/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.

He received a major overhaul in 1983, turning him into a SkeleBot with vastly greater abilities, but this version was wiped out by the ComicBook/CrisisOnInfiniteEarths only a few years later. Later versions do usually retain a version of his skull-shaped spaceship introduced in this period, however.

ComicBook/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.

!Comic Appearances:
[[AC:Notable Pre-Crisis comics]]
* "The Super-Duel in Space" (''Action Comics'' #242): Debut of Brainiac as a character
* ''Comicbook/WhateverHappenedToTheManOfTomorrow''
* ''ComicBook/CrisisOnInfiniteEarths''

[[AC:Notable ComicBook/PostCrisis comics]]
* ''Panic in the Sky''
* ''Comicbook/{{Justice}}''
* ''Comicbook/SupermanBrainiac''
* ''Comicbook/NewKrypton''
* ''Comicbook/SupermanDoomed''
* ''ComicBook/{{Convergence}}''

!Appearances in other media
* ''WesternAnimation/TheNewAdventuresOfSuperman'': Brainiac's first animated appearance. Here, he's an android built by Prof. Hecla of the planet Mega (a world devastated by atomic wars), sent to Earth to collect various species (including humans) to repopulate the planet.
* ''WesternAnimation/SuperFriends'': A member of the LegionOfDoom.
* ''Franchise/{{DCAU}}''
** ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries''
** ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague''
* ''WesternAnimation/LegionOfSuperHeroes''
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}''
* ''VideoGame/DCUniverseOnline''
* ''VideoGame/{{Injustice 2}}''

!The character provides examples of:

* AccentUponTheWrongSyllable: In the Comicbook/{{New 52}}, he calls his bottled cities "Kan-Dor" and "Met-Trop-Ol-Is".
* ActuallyADoombot: Geoff Johns invoked this in an issue of ''Action Comics'' where every single appearance by Brainiac in the Post-Crisis DCU, prior to Johns' [[Comicbook/SupermanBrainiac Superman: Brainiac]] storyline was actually a "Brainiac probe".
* 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.
* ArchnemesisDad: To his clone son, Brainiac 2 (Vril Dox II), his grandson, Lyrl Dox (Brainiac 3), and his great-great grandson, Brainiac 5 (Querl Dox). He's manipulated, fought against, and outright tried to murder all three at one point or another, and in turn, all of them have thwarted various schemes of his.
* 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: Jockeys with Luthor and Zod for the title of Superman's [[ArchEnemy 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 the BigBad of ''JLA: Earth-2'', establishing that no matter which universe you are in, Brainiac is at the top of the evil food chain. Outside of comics, he is the primary villain in ''VideoGame/Injustice2'', the MMO ''VideoGame/DCUniverseOnline'' and ''VideoGame/JusticeLeagueHeroes''.
* BrainComputerInterface: Brainiac is frequently portrayed as being wired into his ship via ports in his skull.
* 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.
* CategoryTraitor: Brainiac, when he was originally an organic Coluan named Vril Dox. He loyally serves the Computer Tyrants, thus being hated by his own people as a result.
* 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: A shtick of his. He collects 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 [[UsefulNotes/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 the BigBad, 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.
* EvilCannotComprehendGood: Brainiac can't understand what Superman sees in Earth, as its scientific and technological advances are nothing compared to Krypton's. He never considers less quantifiable qualities, like love or family.
* EvilGenius: Well, duh. Brainiac describes himself as a "twelfth-level intellect".
* EvilIsPetty: He is incredibly petty. In "Superman: Brainiac", right after Superman defeats him, he commands his ship to fire a missile at the Kent Farm. Superman ruined his home so he wants to destroy his. In other words, Brainiac attempts to murder an elderly couple who never did anything to him and he has never met because their foster son defeated him and humiliated.
* EvilerThanThou: Has come into conflict with Luthor, the Anti-Monitor, Zod, Imperiex, and numerous others over the course of his decades long career.
* {{Expy}}: In his first appearance, and for much of UsefulNotes/{{the Silver Age|of Comic Books}} he was just Lex Luthor (back when Lex was a standard MadScientist) but with green skin. This changed in UsefulNotes/{{the Bronze Age|OfComicBooks}}, when he became a skeletal robot (resembling the Franchise/{{Terminator}}) who aimed to end the universe.
* {{Faceship}}: Usually Brainiac's ship looks right like his skull.
* FightingAShadow: In the DCAU (and regular DCU continuity, post-''Superman: Brainiac''), he acts exclusively through probes and drones.
* FlyingSaucer: He used a distinctive purple one for most of his Pre-Crisis career. When he was revamped as a cosmic level threat in 1983, he started using a much creepier-looking skull-shaped ship.
* {{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: His goals and methods have varied a lot over the years, but he still usually fits this trope.
* 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:
** [[UsefulNotes/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.
** In ''Superman'' Volume 1 #338, Brainiac shoots his shrinking ray at Supergirl, but she deflects it back at him. Struck by his own ray, Brainiac begins to rapidly shrink, and he pleads with Kara to save him, but [[http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_pScx8BN4h3s/SQcs5LyKRiI/AAAAAAAABds/PkQTfwvrabE/s1600-h/superman+338+-08.jpg she coolly states that the enlarging ray has not enough energy left to save Superman, Kandor and him, so Brainiac is out of luck]] (note that Brainiac had previously shrunk both Superman and the city of Kandor). Even Superman begs her use the ray to save Brainiac, [[http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_pScx8BN4h3s/SQcsz6v8owI/AAAAAAAABdk/GD76xYl-w1g/s1600-h/superman+338+-09.jpg and she replies: "Cousin... NO!"]]
* HumanoidAliens: Sometimes, DependingOnTheWriter.
* YouKilledMyFather: 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 UsefulNotes/{{the Silver Age|of Comic Books}} 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 UsefulNotes/{{the Silver Age|of Comic Books}}, 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 the real Luthor returns the favor during the finale of ''ComicBook/TheBlackRing''.
* NighInvulnerability: His robotic bodies in UsefulNotes/{{the Silver Age|of Comic Books}}, [[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; meanwhile, the 60s Filmation series declared he was from the planet Mega.
* NotSoDifferent: From ComicBook/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 UsefulNotes/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.
* SecondaryColorNemesis: ''Is'' green, wears purple.
* ShrinkRay: Owner and creator of one of the earliest in sci-fi literature.
* SigilSpam: In some adaptations he puts his symbol on everything of his.
* 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.
* TragicVillain: His interpretation in the ''New 52''. [[spoiler:According to ''ComicBook/SupermanDoomed'', his homeworld and family were destroyed in an invasion from another dimension and Brainiac has been kidnapping species from across the universe to harvest their PsychicPowers in order to recreate his lost home and see his family again.]]
* [[TurnedAgainstTheirMasters Turned Against His Masters]]: Brainiac initially desired to destroy his masters, the Computer Tyrants of Colu after they executed him out of fear that Dox was smarter than them and might eventually overthrow them. Though they disintegrated him, his mind survived and reborn as Brainiac.
* 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 UsefulNotes/{{the Silver Age|of Comic Books}} 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.