Comicbook / Supergirl

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Baffled, Superman? Let me tell you my story, as my parents told it to me! When Krypton blew up, you were not the only one to escape alive...

Oh, dear God. Did my death mean anything? Did I help them save the world?
[beat]
No. I can't think that way. Even if all my death means is I've delayed theirs, I still have to save them.
Kara Zor-El, Convergence: Adventures of Superman

The Maid of Might. The Girl of Steel. The Last Daughter of Krypton.

Supergirl is a comicbook superheroine, originally created as a Distaff Counterpart of Superman, drawing inspiration from Mary Marvel (in fact one of Supergirl's co-creators, legendary comic artist Otto Binder also created Mary Marvel.) A short summary of her history both in and out of comics can be found here. Who is the Girl of Steel?

Though there have been other variations (see below) Supergirl is best known as Kara Zor-El, Superman's cousin from the planet Krypton. A fellow survivor of that planetary catastrophe, she arrived on Earth later than Kal-El. Far younger than her now-adult cousin, she oftentimes struggles with Earth's strange mores and being in the shadow of the world's greatest hero while growing into a compassionate and heroic young woman. Her role, especially in earlier comics, fluctuated between being a supporting character in Superman stories, occupying in the Superman mythos a similar niche to Robin in the Batman mythos and having her own largely unrelated stories.

In 1985 the original Supergirl was killed off in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover when DC Comics decided to return Superman to the status of Last of His Kind. For the next two decades various characters occupied the mantle before Kara Zor-El was restored to continuity. Over the years the various versions of Supergirl have held their own solo titles at several points.

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     #0) Super-Girl 

#0) "Super-Girl"

As a test, they released Superman #123 (August, 1958), a Jimmy Olsen story where he got three wishes. One wish was for a woman to keep Superman company, but though meaning well, this magical Super-Girl kept messing up her super-feats. Jimmy sadly wished her away when she sacrificed herself to save Superman from kryptonite, and was about to die anyway. (Note that in most later reprintings of this story, Super-Girl was intentionally miscolored to look different from Supergirl; originally, and as seen in DC Archives, she looks identical to Supergirl except that the skirt of her Mini Dress Of Power is rednote .)

     #1) Kara Zor-El 

#1) Kara Zor-El (Linda Lee Danvers)

The issue sold well and the DC powers that be decided that Supergirl's time had come. Thus was born Supergirl - a.k.a. Kara Zor-El, Kal-El's cousin. She first appeared in Action Comics #252 (May, 1959). At first, she was "Superman's secret weapon". As Linda Lee, an orphan at the Midvale Orphanage, she hid the existence of Supergirl from the world, secretly doing good and helping those in trouble.

Eventually, as the audience for good female characters increased, Superman judged her ready, and Supergirl was unleashed on the world. She was adopted and became Linda Lee Danvers; she gained her own Smallville-esque supporting cast, becoming an occasional member of the Legion of Super Heroes and love interest to popular LSH member Brainiac 5.

Very unsually for DC Comics (at the time) Kara's adventures in Action Comics were serialised from the early 1960s onwards rather than stand alone as was the general practice (including for Superman himself who she shared the comics with.) Supergirl's status quo gradually changed over the course of the decade and she aged at a slightly slower than real time rate, going from a cute 15 year old to a high school graduate and then on into a college student.

    #1.5) Power Girl 

#1.5) Power Girl

In the 1970s, a fateful decision was made: If Superman had a cousin on Earth-1, where Supergirl had long been established to live, why not one for the original Superman, Kal-L of Earth-2? Thus was Power Girl, aka Kara Zor-L of Earth-2, introduced (in All-Star Comics #58, Feb. 1976), with an origin much like Supergirl's, except for a Hand Wave to the effect that her capsule had taken much longer to reach Earth. Power Girl used a very different costume, an all-white one which highlighted her breasts, large even by comicbook standards. note  She was instantly inducted into the Justice Society of America and soon became a fan favorite. See more on her own page.

    The Crisis 

The Crisis

But as the 1970s and early 1980s came along, Supergirl fell out of fashion with comic fans. Several attempts to launch her into her own series failed spectacularly, and more alarming was the failure of her big budget live action film.

Then came the Crisis on Infinite Earths. The powers that be decided that Supergirl was a symptom of the longstanding decline in the Superman franchise, which had made the books a poor seller for DC Comics. In order to try bringing back Superman's uniqueness, it was decided that Superman should be the only surviving Kryptonian. So in issue #7 of the Crisis (October, 1985), Supergirl made a Heroic Sacrifice to help stop the villain's plan. But then DC decided to do a full-on reboot of the Superman franchise, resulting in the now dead Supergirl being declared to have never existed. In a bit of major irony though, the copycat Power Girl survived and was given a new origin story, as the granddaughter of an Atlantean sorcerer sent through time to the present day.

    #2) Matrix 

#2) Matrix

Eventually, John Byrne decided to "cheat" his way around the "Superman: Last Son of Krypton For Real" edict to bring Supergirl back, in the form of "Matrix", a shape-shifting purple creature who just so happens to take Supergirl's form. The new version first appeared in Superman vol. 2 #16 (April, 1988). Hailing from a pocket universe where Superboy existed (in order to keep the Legion of Super-Heroes universe from collapsing from the removal of Superboy from canon) and all life was destroyed by escaped Phantom Zone villains, Supergirl followed Superman into the mainstream DC Universe and for a time, things were good even as Supergirl began dating the Post-Crisis Lex Luthor (who, granted, was pretending to be his own son).

    #3) Linda Danvers 

#3) Linda Danvers (Post-Crisis)

However, this Supergirl grew stale as well, and in a few years Peter David was called in to retool her. In Supergirl vol. 4 #1 (September, 1996), Matrix traveled to the town of Leesburg, and melded with a troubled girl named Linda Danvers, in a nice Call Back Mythology Gag to her pre-Crisis situation. The fusion of the two resulted in an "Earth-Born Angel", a holy being with powers of fire that would serve as the Myth Arc for her new series.

Eventually, the "angel" aspect and the "Linda" aspect separated, with Linda keeping some powers of her own. This came at the same time that Supergirl was introduced in Superman: The Animated Series, so in a bit of media property alignment, Linda was given the cartoon Supergirl's costume. In "Many Happy Returns", the final story arc of the series, Linda met the original Pre-Crisis Supergirl whose rocket somehow detoured to the Post-Crisis universe. David hoped to use the arc to kickstart a new series entitled Blond Justice, and while the story sold very well, the new series was not to be. Ultimately, Kara returned to her universe, and Linda retired from superheroing. Supergirl vol. 4 lasted 80 issues, ending in November, 2002. However, the success of "Many Happy Returns", suggested that there was interest in the original Supergirl...

    #4) Cir-El 

#4) Cir-El

But first, a new character showed up; the Darker and Edgier Cir-El, who claimed to be Clark and Lois Lane's daughter from the future. She first appeared in Superman the 10 Cent Adventure #1 (March, 2003). However, she was a very unpopular character, and in short order her claims were debunked and she vanished into the timestream.

     #5) Kara Zor-El (Post-Crisis) 

#5) Kara Zor-El (Post-Crisis)

At this point, Dan DiDio rose to power at DC Comics. As urban legends goes, DiDio freaked out when he accidentally discovered the current Supergirl's convoluted origin of pocket universes and "earth angels" and made one of his first edicts upon taking over DC Comics to be DC bringing back the real Supergirl. (The success of the aforementioned "Many Happy Returns" arc probably didn't hurt either). A new Kara Zor-El was introduced, having crash-landed onto Earth just in time to be (re)introduced into DC Universe canon in Superman/Batman #8 (May, 2004). In a twist, it was revealed that Kara was older than Kal-El when they lived together on Krypton, and had been sent into space in order to care for her baby cousin on Earth; her rocket, however, going off-course (in a re-appropriation of Power Girl's origin) had meant she arrived as a teenager when he was an adult.

Since then Supergirl's basic identity in the DCU has held steady as Kara Zor-El. Confusion didn't end there though as her own named title was prone to retconning Kara's personal backstory on Krypton every three issues or so under a string of writers before finally settling down some 30 issues in. This roughly coincided with being brought into the extended New Krypton storyline, dealing with several hundred Kryptonians appearing on planet Earth led by Supergirl's parents. The book finally managed to become well regarded and is now a stable part of the Superman Family of comics. Supergirl also appeared in Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes, in which she was stuck a thousand years in the future with the Legion (having made the Time Travel trip during a Time Skip in her own book, and then getting Laser-Guided Amnesia before she returned). To top it off, 2009 saw a toony-style miniseries aimed at kids, called Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures In the 8th Grade, which was Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The original writer says he had plans to write sequels retelling her pre-Crisis story (her time in the Legion ''et al''), taking her up to the 12th Grade.

    #2.5) Power Girl (Post-Crisis) 

#2.5) Power Girl (Post-Crisis)

Meanwhile, Power Girl had gone through some changes as they tried to figure out what to do with her. Recruited for the Justice League Europe branch, Kara had her powers decreased (due to a deus ex machina lifesaving operation). She developed a new edgy, ultra-feminist attitude to let her serve as the resident shit-disturber on the JLE team (which was briefly retconned as being the result of allergies caused by diet sodas). She was made a businesswoman with her own computer company, mystically pregnant caused by her Atlantean grandpa, and most humiliatingly, was given a short-lived vulnerability to "natural, unprocessed materials" by Chris Claremont that was so silly and stupid that it was quickly dropped as soon as it was established.

Eventually, she found a home in the ongoing JSA series, and now that she was being focused on by a single writer, she started to gain some consistency. In the series, it was revealed that she wasn't Atlantean after all — but that left the question of what she was.

In the run-up to Infinite Crisis, the surprisingly simple answer was revealed: she was... Kara Zor-L, the cousin of the Superman of Earth-2. As the Earths were being merged, she had somehow fallen through a crack in time, emerging in the Post-Crisis universe unchanged, and the inconsistencies in her powers and origins since then had been side effects of the universe trying to fit her in. (Note: She is specifically from the Earth-2 that existed prior to Crisis of the Infinite Earths. A new Earth-2 that’s like the old one appeared after Infinite Crisis but it has its own Power Girl. Much to the original's dismay.)

Thus, both Supergirls have ended up right back where they started. See? It wasn't so complicated after all!

     #6) Kara Zor-El (New 52) and #3.5) Power Girl (New 52) 

#6 Kara Zor-El (New 52) and #3.5 Power Girl (New 52)

...Oh, what's that? DC rebooted their entire universe again in 2011, you say? Well, since Superman was rebooted this means Supergirl had to start from square one too. It's being kept simple this time: Supergirl is still Superman's cousin from Krypton who crashed to Earth much later and only remembers her cousin as a baby. Under the reboot Supergirl has experienced some personality shifts emphasizing she's an alien in contrast to her cousin.

Meanwhile, on Earth 2, Power Girl is also Superman's cousin from Krypton. Only she started her career there as Supergirl, her Superman is dead, and she's wound up stranded on the main Earth for several years. She's currently co-starring in Worlds' Finest with her best friend, Huntress (who, much like PG, started out as a sidekick in E2, having been Robin to her dad Batman). And in an interesting twist, both Karas do eventually meet and discover they have a strange bond due to their status as Alternate Universe counterparts of each other.

     Other Media Depictions of Supergirl 

Other media

A Supergirl film was released in 1984, starring Helen Slater as Supergirl. It flopped commercially as well as critically, but Slater's performance was well-received by Supergirl fans.

Superman: The Animated Series introduced its own version of Supergirl in 1998. This version was named Kara In-Ze and was rescued from the Kryptonian colony world of Argo. She wasn't actually a relative of Superman, beyond their being the same species, but she was adopted as his cousin and given a false civilian identity as Kara Kent. She was voiced by Nicholle Tom and would later appear in Justice League Unlimited. An evil clone of Supergirl named Galatea also appeared, whose costume, hairstyle and larger breasts were an obvious Shout-Out to Power Girl.

In 2007 Supergirl became a regular character on Smallville as Clark's cousin Kara from Krypton (played by Laura Vandervoort), using a variation of the origin where she is older than him and, as is typical in that series, Not Wearing Tights or using a code name. (There had earlier been a fake "Kara from Krypton" who turned out to be neither. It was a plan by an AI made in Jor-El's image, and from the way she was hitting on him, she wasn't supposed to be Clark's cousin unless Kryptonian social mores are very different from pretty much the same as modern human ones.)

The 2010 direct-to-video animated movie Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is an Animated Adaptation of the 2004 story that introduces the post-Crisis Kara Zor-El. She was voiced by Summer Glau. Kara also appeared in 2013's Superman Unbound, another direct-to-video cartoon adapting the 2008 Brainiac arc in the Superman titles. She was voiced by Molly Quinn.

Supergirl starred alongside Wonder Girl (Donna Troy) and Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) in the DC Nation shorts Super Best Friends Forever by Lauren Faust.

Most recently, a Supergirl TV series starring Melissa Benoist as Kara premiered on CBS in the fall of 2015.

Supergirl is one of the main characters in the DC Superhero Girls line of superheroine dolls and in the DC Superhero Girls web-cartoon.


This character provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Being a member of the Super-family, she can mix it up just as well as Kal-El, sometimes even better.
  • All Girls Like Ponies: Kara's pony Comet could fly! He was secretly a cursed centaur.
  • And Here He Comes Now: Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #20 features a conversation about how uneasy Supergirl makes everyone. Unfortunately, Supergirl has superhearing. Dream Boy attempts to warn everyone else but is ignored for long enough that this overlaps with Right Behind Me.
  • And I Must Scream: In the New 52, after capturing Kara, Tycho held her in a stasis beam near from a chunk of kryptonite. She was in incredible pain but she couldn't scream or even move.
    Kara: Kryptonyte. a radioactive element lethal to the touch. Just being close to it — like I'm being held now — can be fatal. I'm screaming, but no sound comes out. I'm crying, but there are no tears. My skin is burning off, but there are no flames. All there is... All I am now... is the pain.
  • Arch-Enemy: In the Silver Age Kara's Arch-Enemy was evil Kandorian scientist Lesla-Lar who specialised in stealing powers and/or bodies and tried to replace Kara with herself more than once (she was also Genre Savvy enough to decide she should kill Lex Luthor after milking their villainous partnership for as much as possible). Post-Crisis it was Superwoman (Lucy Lane). In the New 52 it is evil billionaire Simon Tycho.
  • Badass Adorable: While she may be one of the strongest beings in the galaxy, she is very much a teenager with her own hangups.
  • Badass Cape: All Supergirls have always worn a flowing cape.
  • Bare Your Midriff: The Justice League, Peter David (which are basically the same outfit) and modern (pre-New 52) versions.
  • Bash Brothers: Or Bash Cousins or whatever. With Superman, natch.
  • The Berserker: During her Red Lantern phase, she genuinely enjoyed finding evil jerkasses and pummelling them.
    Kara: The Red Ring on my fist chose me. It made me part of a team. We seek out injustice and we punch it in the teeth. And it feels good.
  • Between My Legs: The first post-Crisis Super Girl, aka Matrix, was introduced with this, which also served to hide her face.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: She's nice and compassionate most of the time, but driving her mad is downright suicidal.
  • Blackmail: In the New 52 issues, Tycho tried to blackmail Kara: he'd give her pod's crystal back in exchange for a drop of her blood. It was a bad, bad idea...
  • Blackmail Backfire: In the New 52, Tycho tried to blackmail Kara. She blew his space station up and retrieved her pod's crystal.
  • Blue Is Heroic: Most of the time she wears a blue super-hero costume.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": All of her costumes -but her Red Lantern uniform- have the S-shield symbol.
  • Bullying a Dragon: It's worrying how many people thinks that it's a good idea annoying a Kryptonian:
    • In the New 52, Tycho has seen what Supergirl is capable of... and he tries to capture her, blackmail her, hit her... and it never ends up well for him.
    • Later on, Lobo spends a long while pissing her off until she blew up and pummelled him.
  • Cape Wings: Linda/Matrix as the Earth Angel of Fire.
  • Character Development: Kara often undergoes some kind of character development:
    • Pre-Crisis Kara goes from being a naive teenager who idolized her cousin to a young woman who was determined to be her own person and figure out what kind of life she wanted to lead.
    • Post-Crisis Kara was characterized as a whiny, fickle, immature brat who didn't deserve to wear the S-shield for a while until she decided that she needed to stop being a jerk and truly change. From that point on, she started to mature. Later on, it was explained that her weird behavior, her mood swings, her contradictory memories, her inability to focus on what she was doing... was due to kryptonite poisoning.
    • New 52 Kara was a teen ball of anger and abandonment issues who felt trapped in a strange land where she didn't fit in and longed for returning to Krypton. After the "Red Daughter of Krypton" and "Crucible Academy" arcs she's accepted that Earth is her new home and she's calmer and more controlled.
  • City of Adventure / Aliens in Cardiff: Linda Danvers' hometown of Leesburg, VA.
  • Clark Kenting: In order from bad to better.
    • New 52's Kara doesn't use any extras.
    • The Linda/Matrix gestalt didn't use any extras
    • Pre-Flashpoint Kara and Cosmic Adventure Kara version follow her cousin sample by using glasses.
    • For most of her Pre-Crisis life, Kara used a brown wig to hide her blonde hair.
    • The animated Supergirl of the DCAU uses both wig and glasses.
  • Cloning Blues: A notable Bronze Age story involved Kara getting an Evil Clone who was then depowered and just wanted to live a normal life. Kara promised to help her establish a new identity for herself.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: In issue 23 of the New 52, Cyborg Superman creates robot replicas of people from Supergirl's memories to fight her. This includes everyone she's met in her series; friend and foe, hero and villain.
  • Costume Evolution: Her outfit started as a blue mini dress with a red cape and boots. Changes over the years include making the skirt red, making the suit a two-piece, changing the skirt with shorts, and adding gold edging.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Peter David gave this quality to the Linda Danvers Supergirl and it has since passed over to future incarnations of the character.
  • Depending on the Artist: Much more than her Spear Counterpart cousin, the size of her skirt can vary frequently, how big her breasts can be, to how old she actually looks.
  • Distaff Counterpart: To Superman, obviously. She even provides the page's trope image.
  • Domed Hometown: Argo City.
  • Dye or Die: Pre-Crisis Kara used a device to dye her hair brown instantly.
  • Dynamic Character: As noted above Supergirl was one of the first DC characters to avert the Static Character format going from a naive teenager to a smart young woman looking to make her mark on the world, gaining a family and friends of her own. Notably Superman (who was a constant presence in her earlier stories) slowly faded away from her narrative as Supergirl grew into her own character.
  • Enemy Without: Thanks to black kryptonite. She managed to pull herself back together.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: When Tycho tries to blackmail Kara in New 52 Supergirl issue 4, she shoots her heat vision at the floor. He mocks her aim... until he's warned that her eye beams blasted the space station's central core.
    Tycho: Ha! Nice shot! Might want to work on your aim, though.
    Assistant: Mr. Tycho! She wasn't firing at you! She was aiming for the central core!
    Tycho: But that's impossible! How could she possibly—?
    Kara: (thinking) I don't need to speak their language to know that I guessed right.
  • Famous Last Words:
    Supergirl: Thank heaven... the worlds have a chance to live. Y-you're crying... please don't. You taught me to be brave... and I was... I... I love you so much for what you are. For how... good you are...
  • Fanservice Pack: She started out in a modest Mini Dress Of Power. She eventually had costume changes with varying levels of fanservice, with the one from Adventure Comics #409 being particularly stripperiffic. Here's a look at the different costumes she had over the years.
    • Scaled back in the New 52. Her outfit is a Leotard of Power and while she shows quite a bit of leg right up to the pelvic bones, her overall appearance has been downplayed for a more teenage girl look.
  • Flying Brick: Supergirl has all the same powers as Superman.
  • Flying Firepower: She's a flying brick with heat vision.
  • Forceful Kiss: At the last panel of Supergirl's second book, her old crush Dick Malverne appeared, grasped her chin and kissed her all of sudden.
  • Gendered Outfit: Trope image, and quite possibly the Trope Codifier. Every outfit Supergirl has worn has, in some way, been tailored to her femininity. While the Minidress of Power is the most frequent (and obvious) change, she's also had a low neckline, short shorts, an exposed midriff, a leotard, high heels and various combinations thereof. Her costume can basically always be summed up as "what if Superman was a teenage girl".note 
  • Genius Bruiser: Her official power list includes "Genius-Level Intellect". And in fact she's considered a genius by Kryptonian standards. Obviously most writers forgot about this.
  • Girl Next Door: Kara/Linda's personality in the Silver Age.
  • Girly Bruiser: She's got Super Strength and boobs to match.
  • God Test: During Peter David's run, with the "angel" version of the character, she meets a little boy who claims to be a god, come to speak to her. She asks for proof, and he asks what sort of miracle would prove anything in an age of superheroes who can fly, transmute elements, etc.; so she's just going to have to take it on faith.
  • Grand Theft Me: Insect Queen did this to Lana Lang in the fifth volume of Supergirl.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Exemplifies this often (personality-wise) although as Linda, she wore a brunette wig.
  • Happily Adopted: Pre-Crisis, by Fred and Edna Danvers.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Linda Lee eventually gets adopted, becoming Linda Danvers.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Her death in Crisis on Infinite Earths saved the Multiverse and was one of the big comic book deaths at that time.
  • He's Back:
    • Kara wanted to give up being Supergirl after the destruction of New Krypton in the fifth volume, but she donned her Supergirl costume again to save Metropolis from Bizarrogirl.
    • At the end of the New 52 "Red Daughter of Krypton" arc, Kara becomes again Supergirl, and decides to return to Earth and protect the planet.
  • Hoist Hero Over Head: In the New 52, Kara does this to a living Kryptonian suit before hurling it into the Sun.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: In the New 52, Kara once essentially did this to herself to try to get rid of a Red Lantern ring without it killing her. It worked.
  • I Know You Arein Theresomewhere Fight: In Supergirl vol. 5 issue 50, Insect Queen took over Lana Lang's body. While Kara beat her up, she tried to reach out to Lana.
    Kara: Lana, if you can hear me— SAY something! Lana! I KNOW you're IN there! Let her body Go, you insect FREAK! Get OUT!
  • Incurable Cough of Death: In the "New Krypton" arc, Lana Lang often coughed or vomited blood. Later on, Kara found out that Lana had been keeping her illness from her.
  • Intimate Marks: As per her Gendered Outfit, her "S" symbol is typically placed right over her breasts. Unlike most examples of the trope, though, she's fully covered. But Most Common Superpower doesn't make that count for much. Her Seventies costume, however, exploited the trope outright with a low neckline.
  • Jailbait: Depending on the Artist. This was used as a criticism of her post-2003 character's treatment as many artists emphasized her sexiness despite the fact she was only sixteen.
  • Incest Is Relative: The infamous ACTION COMICS #289 where Superman reveals that he's saddened that Kryptonian law forbids first cousins from marrying because he wishes he could find a girl like Kara. Rather than an idle, albeit creepy, thought about his sixteen-year-old cousin, this turns out to be a plot point. Supergirl proceeds to use a computer to find a girl who looks and acts like her as an adult named Luma Lynai in another galaxy. Superman and Luma hit it off but sadly, she couldn't exist under a yellow sun. Luma would get referenced several times thereafter as the one who got away. Discussed here. Any implications of romance between the Superman and Kara Zor-El version of Supergirl, however, was completely averted after the Silver Age.
    • Peter David would make fun of this issue in Many Happy Returns where the Pre-Crisis Superman does marry Linda Danvers a.k.a the second Post-Crisis Supergirl. Superman, of course, knew she wasn't his cousin the entire time due to his super senses.
  • Kangaroo Court: Zigzagged in the post-Crisis "New Krypton" arc. When Kara brings Reactron to Kryptonian justice, Alura coldly informs him that he'll be judged, found guilty and executed. However she intends to put him on trial rather than lynching him, unlike a lot of Kryptonians. However during a preliminary hearing a judge questions the trial's legality since Reactron hasn't been extradited lawfully, and Alura dismisses his concerns. However, when a lynch mob breaks into the building, she protects Reactron.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Streaky the Super-Cat, in fact. He got powers in a lab accident. Yes, he was a cat who could shove the planet out of orbit if he liked; just repeat the MST3K Mantra and enjoy it for the Silver Age fun it was.
  • Kissing Cousins: See Incest Is Relative above.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: On on again off again member of the team.
  • Leotard of Power: Post the Flashpoint reboot for the DC Universe. Although other versions of Supergirl had used it before.
  • Magic Skirt: Some artists draw it so short, but so short that you will need a massive Willing Suspension of Disbelief to accept something so short not allowing Panty Shots free of charge. Gary Frank, one of these artists, may be the only one to regularly show the leotard underneath.
  • Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex: Kara has this trouble whenever she hooks up with someone since even her weakest versions can crush steel.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": When Kara gets a Red Lantern Ring in "Red Daughter Of Krypton, everyone'' stare at her with "Oh, GOD, She's going to kill us all NOW!" horrified expressions.
  • Mini Dress Of Power: Her Iconic Outfit.
  • Missing Mom: She always losts her parents. In some universes, twice.
  • Modesty Shorts: Used more recently as an alternative to her Skirt.
  • Most Common Superpower: She's considerably smaller than most heroines, but is still a bit above average than a lot of real life women. Power Girl, on the other hand...
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Being a temperamental Kryptonian teenager, sometimes she's flipped out and trampled villains which tried her patience until she ran out of it:
    • Most famously, she trashed the Anti-Monitor even though he was killing her.
    • In New 52 Supergirl issue 28 she pummelled Lobo until he stopped moving and talking. Not an easy feat.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Supergirl goes forth and back with this, only Kara has been given a few continuities where she actually grew up to be a young womannote , other Supergirls never went past their late teens. This is more prevalent when Power Girl exists in the given continuity, having Supergirl as an adult woman would basically negate Karen's character, as she serves as the adult life for a Distaff Counterpart of Superman.
    • The Pre-Crisis Kara is interesting in that she actually aged only a little slower than real time early on; she was 15 when she first appeared in 1959 and graduated high school in 1964, presumably making her about 18 and went on to graduate college in turn in 1971. She spent the 1970s as a young woman in her early 20's before being retconned back to a 19 year old college student towards the end of the Bronze Age.
  • Oh My Gods!: Kara invokes Rao's name frequently: "Praise Rao", "Sweet Rao"...
  • Opposite-Sex Clone: In a Pre-Crisis story she was cloned. And her clone was a boy called himself Superlad.
  • Pietà Plagiarism:
    • The famous cover image of Crisis on Infinite Earths when she dies.
    • In the Post-Crisis "New Krypton" arc Kara holds her dying father's body while he dies.
  • Pink Product Ploy: A clothing line.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Along with Dick Grayson, the original Kara was allowed to grow up, even if it took thirty years. She started out as a cute little teenybopper, and became a beautiful young woman. There's a huge Tear Jerker in "Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow?,'' when time-travelling young Kara asks Superman if she grows up to be pretty. This is after Kara's own death, and Supes can't tell her that; but he does tell her, as they pass a statue of her adult self in the Fortress, "You grew up beautiful, Kara."
  • Positive Discrimination: With her reintroduction in the Superman/Batman series, many efforts were made suggest that Kara was possibly a greater Flying Brick than her cousin. Many stories written soon after her introduction as Supergirl had other heroes saying that she might be faster than Superman, might be stronger than Superman, etc. Overall, characters seemed to believe Kara would eventually surpass Clark in all parameters. Later these cheap compliments and expectations simply vanished, and the more traditional "as strong as Superman, but maybe slightly less so because she's smaller" interpretation again prevailed.
    • In the lengthy 1959 story arc about Supergirl's secret apprenticeship and training, Kara had a power outage. Then she briefly got everything back — along with invulnerability to Green Kryptonite. (Mr. Mxyzptlk was responsible.) Superman seriously regarded her as superior to him, and wondered if he should become her assistant.
    • In her Post-Crisis reintroduction, she seemed stronger than Clark for a while, but it proves to be because Clark's long since gotten used to holding himself back in a world of cardboard, while Kara hadn't yet.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: In New 52 Supergirl issue 28, after Kara shots Lobo's ship down:
    Lobo: Bloody Nass! That ship was custom built! The things I did just to pay for it...!
    Kara: Don't worry... You'll pay for them ALL.
  • Primary-Color Champion: Most of her costumes are blue, red and yellow.
  • Punished for Sympathy: When Kara was being held in stasis near from a kryptonite rock, one of the employees of Tycho released her. His boss got him killed.
  • Rage Breaking Point: After spending several arcs feeling angry, confused, lonely and betrayed by everyone, New 52 Kara fights Lobo in Supergirl #28, and the Czarnian taunts her and mocks her to the point that she explodes and beats him up brutally. She becomes so furious that she turns into a Red Lantern.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: If her eyes begin glowing red... don't bother with running because she will catch you. Fall to your knees and beg.
  • Red Is Heroic: She wears red most of the time. Her Red Lantern uniform was red and black.
  • Ret Canon:
    • Supergirl's 80's costume (the one with the headband) was originally designed for the live-action movie. It was dropped from the movie at the last minute, but by then, it was too late for the comics to ditch it.
    • Also, the white T-shirt costume from Superman: The Animated Series. It's explained in-story that Linda fashioned it from things she found in a costume shop, after Matrix (who wore a classic version of the costume) was forced to leave her.
  • Retcon: Her backstory has been re-written more often the Blue Boy Scout himself. It can look like a tangled mess.
  • Ret Gone: For a long while, Kara Zor-El was retconned out of existence by the Crisis on Infinite Earths - until a storyline with the Linda Danvers Supergirl had pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Kara entering the Post-Crisis timestream by accident. Later, a Post-Crisis Kara was reintroduced, replacing Linda. Finally, the events of Convergence undid the death of the original Supergirl.
  • Shooting Superman: Of course, this is done to Supergirl the whole time. Of course, it never works. Kara lampshades it in The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl issue 12.
    Supergirl: I hate thinking of the fortune in ammunition thugs like you have wasted on me over the years!
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Kara's different incarnations usually go after nice, reliable guys. In the New 52, after meeting Red Hood, Kara states that she doesn't want bad boys like him, but someone normal and dependable.
  • Story Arc: Unusually for DC characters in the early Silver Age (especially Superman himself) Supergirl stories were regularly two or three (or rarely longer) story arcs rather than just stand alone stories.
  • Superheroes Wear Capes: She usually wears a cape just like Superman.
  • Teach Me How To Fight: Pre-Crisis Kara was trained by Superman. Post-Crisis/Pre-New 52 Kara was trained chiefly by Wonder Woman.
  • 10-Minute Retirement:
    • Kara did quit several times in the fifth volume when her super-hero life got too hard or she deemed herself to be a failure after the destruction of New Krypton.
    • In the sixth volume Kara gave up being Supergirl when she became a Red Lantern.
  • Thigh-High Boots: Some of her costumes such like her New 52 incarnation's outfit, her Red Lantern uniform or her Rebirth suit include knee-length red boots.
  • Trauma Congaline: Not only is Krypton destroyed but Supergirl survives on Argo City but then it's destroyed. So she's orphaned twice in most continuities. In the Post-Crisis continuity her parents survived Krypton and Argo City's destruction only to die on New Krypton. Which was subsequently destroyed. In other words, she has lost her home planet three times.
  • Underestimating Badassery: In the New 52, Kara constantly meets people who think she's nothing but an easily manipulable, stupid little girl... even if they're aware of her Kryptonian heritage. She always shows them she isn't a pushover.
  • Unstoppable Rage: In spite of being a very nice, kind person, she has occasionally gone on a rampage:
    • In the Crisis on Infinite Earths, when the Anti-Monitor threatened with killing Superman, she went berserker.
    • In the beginning of the Red Daughter Of Krypton arc, Lobo taunted her until she blew up and pummelled him.
  • We Used to Be Friends:
    • In the post-Crisis storyline "New Krypton" she broke up with her childhood friend Thara Ak-Var when she believed she aided and abetted her murderer's father. Later on, they reconciled after a fashion, but their friendship was still strained.
    • In the New 52 series, Kara befriended Siobhan Smythe "Silver Banshee" shortly after arriving in Earth. However she broke it off when she thought Siobhan was using her.
  • Wham Line: "We've... we've had a casualty."
  • World of Muscle Men: In older issues of Super Girl and similar "girlie" comics, the men in the super heroine's lives will often be so built, their muscles appear under sweaters. The reasons for this can vary.
  • World's Strongest Man: Kara is a contender for strongest woman in the DCU, being, powerwise, a female Superman.
  • Your Cheating Heart: In a pre-Crisis issue, she found out that her then-boyfriend Dale was cheating on her. When she chewed him out, he was completely unapologetic about his actions.


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