Justice League: Tropes A-L
Due to the number of tropes present, Justice League
has been split into two pages. Tropes M-Z can be found here
This series provides examples of:
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- Adaptation Explanation Extrication/Adaptation Induced Plothole: Obsidian is seen in the background in many episodes of Unlimited, but as the son of Alan Scott, the original Golden Age Green Lantern, his birth is something of a mystery since his father apparently never existed in this continuity.
- Adaptational Badass - Notable examples include Aquaman (based more on his 90's counterpart from the comics) and the Ultimen (updated versions of Super Friends characters).
- The DCAU version of Aquaman manages the delicate task of turning him into an Adaptational Badass Anti-Hero without going too far into stereotypical Darker and Edgier territory. Even in Unlimited he's more of an ally than a member of the team, and there are moments when he's scarier than Batman.
Dr. Fate: "Solomon Grundy's grave is empty."
- Adaptive Ability: Amazo with his All Your Powers Combined.
- Adolf Hitler: Appears in cryonic storage several times in "The Savage Time," where he has been replaced as the leader of Nazi Germany by Vandal Savage. Lovingly referred to by Savage as "That Lunatic".
- Adult Fear: "The Enemy Below". Aquaman in a Death Trap is bad enough, but Aquaman and his baby in a Death Trap is a whole nother can of worms.
- Adventurer Archaeologist: Hawkman's secret identity, Carter Hall, seems to spend all his time either breaking into ancient tombs riddled with Death Traps, or stalking Hawkgirl.
- Affably Evil: Vandal Savage, the Ultra-Humanite, and even Lex Luthor on occasion.
- Affectionate Parody: The "Legends" two-parter of the original Justice League was this to Super Friends, at first. They had everything from the villains announcing their criminal intent to themed robberies, from the ice villain throwing a Hurricane of Puns at the Flash, who shot them right back to even the intended Audience Surrogate boy who was best friends with the Justice Guild.
- Affirmative Action Legacy: John Stewart was chosen over Hal Jordan precisely to avoid making every super-powered character on the show white, and Hawkgirl was chosen over Hawkman to avoid The Smurfette Principle by having another girl on the team besides Diana.
- Agony Beam: Darkseid's Agony Matrix. According to him:
Direct neural stimulation of pain receptors. All of them. Imagine the worst pain you've ever felt in your life, times a thousand. Now imagine that pain continuing forever
. Oh, that's right: you don't have to imagine.
- AI Is A Crap Shoot: Brainiac, the Manhunter robots.
- Alien Invasion: Numerous times.
- Alien Sky: The view from an alien moon is a plot point in "In Blackest Night".
- Aliens Speaking English: Green Lantern rings can translate languages, but even when no rings or telepathic Martians are around, English still seems to be the default language of the universe.
- All Germans Are Nazis: Averted. When Wonder Woman rescues a code-breaker from Nazi captivity in World War II she is surprised to discover that he is German himself, and he explains that not all Germans are like them.
- All Just a Dream: The episodes "Only A Dream" and "For The Man Who Has Everything".
- All Myths Are True: In "Secret Origins" Wonder Woman explains she is from Themyscira. When Hawkgirl says she thought it was just a legend, Diana assures her its as real as the ground they stand on.
- All There in the Manual: Boston Brandt (Deadman) had never appeared in the DCAU prior to his appearance in season three of Unlimited, but both he and Batman make reference to previously working together. This occurred in the comic tie-in to Batman: The Animated Series, which was considered canon with the aired DCAU.
- Allohistorical Allusion: Towards the end of "The Savage Time," the members of the German High Command are beginning to resent Vandal Savage's actions and position. When speaking about the previous Fuhrer, they admit that he was crazy, but at least he listened to his generals. In real life, one of the key reasons often given for the collapse of the German military was Hitler's refusal to accept advice or corrections from his military staff.
- Alpha Bitch: Stargirl... sort of. She is vain and fame seeking, has a large sense of entitlement, and mocks and belittles those around her to ease her own feelings, but means well beneath it all. She is well aware of how her actions look and recognizes that her words make her "petty."
- Alternate Company Equivalent: The roster of Dr. Fate's super-team seen in "Wake the Dead" is based on the original Defenders. Dr. Fate = Dr. Strange, Amazo = Silver Surfer, Hawkgirl = Nighthawk, Grundy = Hulk, and Aquaman = Namor.
- Ambiguously Gay: Invoked by Hawkgirl when she tries to talk The Flash into asking out Fire.
Hawkgirl: "I hear she's...y'know..."
Cut to Fire laughing and talking intimately with Ice.
- Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: The Amulet of First Magic, which gives Mordred the power to get rid of his mother and completely rid the world of all adults.
- Ancient Astronauts: The modern-day Thanagarians might be locked in a bloody, endless war with the horrific Gordanians, but eight thousand years ago they were a pretty benevolent people. When two law officers accidentally crashed in north-east Africa and began to be worshipped by the locals (In spite of their wishes), they used their advanced technology to bring water and food to the arid locale and created a peaceful society that covered much of the continent. It was such a nice place to live that neighboring countries would actually thank them for conquering their homes. Unfortunately, they had only educated their people to the level of tool users, not tool makers, so when they died their society collapsed in a generation.
- And I Must Scream:
- Chronos, trapped in a time loop of his wife screaming at him for all eternity.
- The people trapped with Roy in "Legends" count as well. Thirty years driving an ice cream truck around just to be background for a godlike entity's childish dream?
- Mordred who after being tricked into giving up his eternal youth is still immortal, but is thousands of years old physically and is now a drooling vegetable. Though whether his mother is able to reverse it, or if she would even want to, is left to interpretation.
- In the spin-off comics, with the help of Morgana, he is able to reverse it. But whether or not those comics are canon remains to be seen.
- And the Adventure Continues: Trope Namer
- And Then What?: When Bizarro appears in "Ultimatum" he is assisting Giganta in her efforts to break Gorilla Grodd out of jail. When Wonder Woman asks him why, he explains that he will do anything for Giganta, who he has fallen in love with, including breaking her boyfriend out of jail. When Wonder Woman asks him what he thinks will happen after Grodd is free, he freezes in confusion.
- And This Is for...: In "War World", Draaga gives such a speech while pounding on Mongul, citing his people, his honor, and justice.
- Animated Armor: The Annihilator, built by Hephaestus for Ares, the God of War.
- Antagonist in Mourning: Lex Luthor in "Hereafter".
- Anti-Climactic Unmasking: When Lex Luthor unmasks the Flash, all he can do is stare at the red-headed kid and admit that he has no idea who the heck it is.
- Anti-Climax: Captain Cold is very disappointed with how the fight against the Flash ended, since he was looking forward to bloody revenge and all he got was the sight of the Flash falling into a mirror. Of course, the episode was not over yet...
- Anti-Magic: Hawkgirl's mace, and Thanagarian technology in general, is designed to nullify magic.
- Anti-Villain: The Ultra-Humanite fixed a toy for orphans on Christmas, then willingly went back to jail. The only outright villainous thing he does in the whole series is help Lex break out of jail and fight the League, but he gives that up when he gets a better offer: money to public broadcasting.
- Anvilicious: In universe, even Superman finds Wind Dragon's impassioned speech about environmentalism to be too much.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Frequently used by characters, but deconstructed each and every time.
- The Flash was the first to explicitly point out the ridiculous nature of skepticism in their line of work since, as he points out to John Stewart, "we've both got a martian's phone number on our speed dial; I think I deserve the benefit of the doubt here."
- In "Shadow of the Hawk", where Batman describes the academic humiliation of Carter Hall after he began to believe that aliens visited Ancient Egypt, Shayera Hol "agrees" with him and points out that this proves Hall must be crazy, since we all know that there is no such things as aliens. Which she is.
- When Deadman mocks the idea of Gorilla City in "Dead Reckoning" Wonder Woman asks why he, as a ghost from the Himalayas possessing Superman's body, has a problem with this. Deadman concedes that she has a point.
- In Fearful Symmetry Green Arrow is skeptical of the Question's theory that Cadmus was behind an attack on them for asking Dr. Hamilton questions. Said attack occurred mere moments after they left the building he was in.
- Arc Welding: The long-running storylines of Justice League Unlimited were all connected back to second season episodes of Justice League itself, but were then pushed back even further into Superman: The Animated Series, with plot points springing directly from episodes of Superman that had aired eight years (And two series) before the current show. References are also made to episodes as far back as the beginning of Batman: The Animated Series, including "On Leather Wings", which was the very first entry in the DCAU.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Justice-Lord Batman drives home one of these to his regular universe counterpart, to the reason why he helped create a totalitarian state;
Batman: You grabbed power!
Lord Batman And with that power, we made a world where no eight-year-old boy will EVER lose his parents because of some punk with a gun.
Batman: *drops Batarang dejectedly* You win.
- This was such an armor-piercing question that the writers couldn't come up with a way to beat it. They had intended Batman to win... but after that, they couldn't think of a response. Wow.
- Batman turns it back on him later though, after stopping by a cafe and seeing a guy getting taken away by masked police for complaining about the bill:
Batman: They'd love it here, don't you think?
Lord Batman: Who?
Batman: Mom and Dad. They'd be so proud of you.
Lord Batman: ... Just drive.
- In the Unlimited second season finale, Braniac gets Superman with one of his nano-bot clones.
Superman: (pummeling his clone) I'm not like you! I'm NOTHING LIKE YOU!
Lord Superman: (transforms into Lex Luthor) Is this the part where you kill me? Come on. Use your heat vision. You know you want to.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: After taking over Tartarus and perusing Hades' Library, Faust lists off texts that "make the Necronomicon look like a children's book": the Lost Scrolls of Herculaneum, Merlin's juvenilia, Pierre Menard's Don Quixote!note
- Art Evolution:
- Superman was originally designed to be slightly bulkier than his Superman: The Animated Series incarnation, along with some additional lines on his face and a change in coloration. Negative fan response to the design (the lines made him look older/recovering from Kryptonite-tainted clams) led to them tweaking the design slightly by altering the face, making it resemble to the Superman: The Animated Series design, though the design still retained the bulk of the Season 1 design. Here is one image◊ of the first design used in Justice League, and here is an image◊ of the redesign for Season 2 and Justice League Unlimited.
- Wonder Woman also had a tweak◊ for Season 2 and Unlimited, losing the cheekbones she had in Season 1◊.
- Batman got a new design◊ for JL, combining the coloring of the original Batman: The Animated Series design◊, the general Year One-inspired look of The New Batman Adventures design◊, and the longer ears and heels of the Batman Beyond costume◊. Unlike Superman and Wonder Woman, Batman's design remained the same throughout this series.
- Flash got some minor tweaks to his design◊ for Justice League compared to his Superman: The Animated Series design◊, becoming velour-like and the circle around his logo changing from solid black to yellow.
- Lex Luthor also gained cheekbones and a softer brow◊, but otherwise his business suit remained the same as it did◊ on S: TAS.
- Darkseid was redesigned◊ to make him more Kirby-esque, making him slimmer and his face from craggily compared to his design◊ on S: TAS.
- The future Static's appearance◊ in the "The Once and Future Thing" gave him a trench coat like he wore in the present day, black jumpsuit and mask, and gray hair. His brief appearance◊ on Static's own show had him without the coat, his hair still black, his mask was gold, and his suit had having a black and blue lightning pattern.
- Art Major Biology:
- Allergies are not contagious, cannot be engineered and are not selective to gender. Allergens themselves are not harmful in any way, shape or form, the effects (The actual allergic reaction) are caused by a reaction of the body's own immune system. Even if they were, there is no way that they would have the same effect on all male humans, as well as martians and kryptonians. One could possibly argue that martians and earth creatures could potentially have similar gene structures (having evolved in the same star system, so there is the possibility of panspermia), but kryptonians are from another star system entirely. Although this should all be taken with a grain of salt due to the fact Aresia's plan involved mysticism as well as science.
- Grodd's plan in "Dead Reckoning" is to create a "Devolution Ray" to turn every human being in the planet into an ape. Humans did not evolve from (modern-day) apes, so even if we grant the premise that Grodd can undo evolution, it would have turned a human being into whatever common ancestor on the evolutionary path the two species share. And the beam also would've apparently devolved Superman (the humanoid alien who likely had an at least slightly different evolutionary path) and Diana (the magical animated sculpture) into apes. At least Luthor thinks it's a stupid idea.
- Art Shift: Grodd's story about Prince Jon in "To Another Shore", drawn in a more typical, realistic comic book style reminiscent of classic Viking Prince artist Joe Kubert.
- Assimilation Backfire: During Amazo's first appearance, he copies the powers of all the League's members while fighting them. Superman turns out to be a subversion; Amazo does inherit his weakness to kryptonite, much like Parasite, but surpasses it shortly afterward. Played straight when the Martian Manhunter submits at the end, as Amazo gains his telepathy, uses it to discover that Lex Luthor has been deceiving him, and basically calls off the conflict.
- A more minor example happens when he assimilates Flash's powers, which also apparently copies some of his personality as well... as he almost immediately begins hitting on Mercy.
- An Ass Kicking Christmas: The Christmas special where Green Lantern and Hawkgirl spend their holiday in an alien bar, asskicking.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever:
- Giganta is a recurring villain, created by Gorilla Grodd.
- Longshadow, a recreation of Apache Chief, appears in "Ultimatum" and the climax of the Cadmus arc.
- Atom-Smasher appears in numerous group shots of the expanded League, and has a personal fight scene in "Task Force X," but never gets any dialogue or backstory.
- Toyman and Luthor create giant robots at different points, Ray creates one in "Legends," the Chinese have one in the first episode of Unlimited... quite frankly, it's a show based on one of the most well-known superhero teams of all time, giant monsters and robots are par for the course.
- The Atoner: Hawkgirl. Before her, Etrigan.
- Ax-Crazy - Killer Frost.
- Back for the Dead: General Hardcastle, who has recently retired since Superman: The Animated Series is killed by Galatea.
- Dr. Milo, a minor villain from Batman The Animated Series, comes back to release from Cadmus custody, and be killed off by, Doomsday.
- Back for the Finale: J'onn J'onzz.
- Back from the Dead: Solomon Grundy (who Came Back Wrong— twice!) and Darkseid.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: In the final episode, Batman and Lex Luthor.
- Bad Guy Bar: In "Flash and Substance", Central City is shown to have a bar frequented by the various Flash rogues.
- Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Lord!Superman. In the comics, Doomsday killed Superman after already defeating the entirety of the Justice League of America, but Lord!Superman lobotomized him five minutes into the fight once it became apparent that his strength approached Superman's own.
- Bad Guys Play Pool: The Bad Guy Bar in "Flash and Substance" has a pool table constantly in use in the background. When the Flash convinces the Trickster to help him out, the pool table is destroyed.
- Badass: Pretty much everyone, but Aquaman is the most surprising iteration. In his first appearance in Superman: The Animated Series, Aquaman was portrayed as a mix of the angry-king version then current and the classic, optimistic character previously used in Super Friends, but by the time Justice League rolled around the depiction "matured" to the Peter David version of the character.
- Badass Boast: "No man escapes the Manhunters!" Well, up until now.
- Badass Grandpa: Several, such as the modern day Blackhawks and the leader of Skartaris. Wildcat, much like his comic counterpart, is still a trainer and compatriot of the new generation of heroes despite his advancing years.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Lex Luthor, when he is not wearing his military style fatigues, Institutional Apparel or Powered Armor. Lampshaded with "I had to get my power suit."
- Badass Longcoat: The Question.
- Badass Normal: Batman, of course, but also a fair number of Unlimited League members. The latter are spotlighted in "Patriot Act", and The Question sometimes seems to be the real star of the series.
- Bar Brawl: Hawkgirl seems to enjoy a good brawl, as she starts a fight (In anger) in "In Blackest Night" and starts another one (Just for fun) in "Comfort and Joy".
- Bare-Handed Blade Block: General Wade Eiling, after his transformation, catches Shining Knight's sword with one hand and throws him to the ground. It had previously been established that Shining Knight's sword was the one weapon present which could injure the General, after bullets, explosions and even Quantum Arrows did not even mark him.
- Bare Your Midriff: Supergirl, Shayera (in JLU), Fire, Huntress, Stargirl, Volcana, Kat's new outfit, the females at Skartaris.
- Barrier Warrior: The Green Lanterns, Sinestro, and Star Sapphire.
- Bash Brothers:
- Flash and Green Lantern were the most-often paired of the main team
- Vigilante and Shining Knight show up a surprising amount in Unlimited.
- Batman Cold Open: Numerous times, often as a way of sneaking in references and cameos of DCU heroes and villains that could not be fit into the regular episode.
- Batman-Gambit: In addition to the obvious, the Question pulls one on Galatea, and a sort of a weird helpful one on Huntress. Flash has the rare honor of successfully pulling off a Batman-Gambit against (Justice Lord) Batman.
- Batman Grabs a Gun: Superman attempts to lobotomize Doomsday in the "Doomsday Sanction," just as his Justice Lord counterpart did in "A Better World." Batman also literally grabs a gun while he was possessed and is clearly appalled when the ghost leaves his body.
- Battle Couple: Pretty much every Official Couple in the show.
- Battle in the Center of the Mind: "Only A Dream."
- Be Careful What You Wish For/Literal Genie: Hath-Set follows through on his loyalty to his Thanagarian pharaoh Katar-Hol with brutal efficiency, and when Katar discovers his wife and best friend are in love with each other, and in a blind rage offhand wishes they were dead, Hath-Set, who was eavesdropping, makes it so... to Katar's intense dismay.
- Beam-O-War: In "Only a Dream," John Stewart and Volcana square off against one another. Volcana seemed to be on the verge of overpowering John, but she was knocked down by Batman and John was able to gain the upper hand.
- Beautiful All Along:
- There was never any implication that she was actually ugly, but Hawkgirl wore her mask for every single scene in the first two seasons, never revealing what she really looked like and leading some fans to think that her mask was her face. When she and John Stewart finally admit that they have feelings for each other she points out that they are too different, not even the same species, and John says that all he sees are a man and a woman as he slowly takes off her mask. Beneath the mask she is a beautiful woman with long red hair and piercing green eyes.
- When the Question and Huntress team-up in "Double Date," she theorizes that he must be the ugliest person in the world in order to hide his face like he does. There was a brief glance at his unmasked face earlier in the series in "Fearful Symmetry," but "Flashpoint" has his dramatic unmasking. At that point he has been beaten so badly his face is almost unrecognizable as the same man and he sourly comments that Huntress was right, he is "the ugliest guy in the world." Huntress disagrees.
- Big Bad: Brainiac in the Cadmus Arc, though he ultimately fuses with Lex to acquire an imagination. The Legion of Doom Arc started out with Grodd, and then switched to Lex, but ultimately defaulted to Darkseid.
- Big Badass Battle Sequence: Five episodes involve the League, or their allies, taking part in what can only be described as a war given the number of enemies and scale of the fight.
- In "The Savage Time," the League is sent back to World War II and takes part in the struggle between the Allies and the Axis. They fight off fighter squadrons, armored battalions and even War Wheels.
- In "Maid of Honor," Wonder Woman and Batman stage what is, in essence, a full invasion of Kasnia. They wind up fighting the air force, infantry and tanks. All set to the marriage of Princess Audrey and Vandal Savage.
- "Hearts and Minds," opens with four Green Lanterns engaged against the entire military might of Despero, including dozens of his superpowered acolytes and an armada of battleships.
- "Starcrossed" climaxes with a fight between the League and thousands of fighters of the Thanagarian Expeditionary Force.
- "Destroyer," the final episode, has the expanded League and the Legion of Doom teaming up against a full-scale invasion of Earth by Darkseid and the forces of Apokolips.
- Big Damn Heroes: The entire point of the genre, let alone the series.
- The Big Damn Kiss: John and Shayera at the end of "Wild Cards".
- Big Eater: Flash is one due to Required Secondary Powers (Which really does not nearly account for how much energy he uses, but hey, it is comic book physics, we are used to it).
- Big in Japan: Supergirl; Green Lantern even calls her such word by word. If Japanese image sites are any indication, she is at minimum more popular than Superman IRL.
- Bilingual Bonus: The song that Batman is muttering at the end of "Just a Dream"? It is an ad-jingle parody of the old French song Frere Jacques (who, incidentally, tells about an asleep man...).
- Bittersweet Ending: "Ultimatum". The fact that Longshadow is not mentioned in any later episode makes it even sadder, but even that does not quite compare to the Justice League finale, "Starcrossed". You don't get much more bittersweet than those last few scenes. "... I love you too."
- Ultimatum is even sadder when you consider the Cadmus attack on the Watchtower. Despite how each of them had a personality, a life, and dreams... none of the clones live, and are then mass-produced as mindless shock troopers for an invasion of the Watchtower, almost certainly as suicide soldiers.
- The Blank - The Question.
- Blood Knight: Draaga, Doomsday.
- Bloodless Carnage: Played straight for most episodes, with occasional aversions (John Stewart did look pretty beaten after his fight with Hro Talak) or justifications (Captain Atom cannot bleed since he does not have blood).
- Boarding Pod: Seen in the season 2 finale. Each pod was loaded with cloned Ultimen, and had triple buzzsaws for cutting through the Watchtower's hull. But given that their goal was shooting down the Watchtower, the question has to be asked why they didn't just fire normal missiles.
- Body Horror: The ending of "Panic in the Sky."
- Body Surf: Eclipso.
- Body Wipe: The last episode ends with the League members running toward the camera in its final, trope naming "And the Adventure Continues" scene. It notably ends with Batman's logo, causing Batman to provide the Book Ends to the DCAU.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Hawkgirl, who loves fighting so much she uses a Bar Brawl as a holiday celebration. Maria Canals, her actress, explained that she personally felt stress-relieved when she was allowed to give Hawkgirl's war cry.
- Bond One-Liner:
"Keep the change."
- Book Ends:
- Justice League begins and ends with alien invasions... both, unfortunately, involving direct assistance from resident superheroes. The first causes the formation of the League, while the second sees it lose a member.
- The ending of "Epilogue" has Batman flying past a flying police car, confusing the pilots. This mirrors the opening scene of the very first episode of Batman: The Animated Series, "On Leather Wings" (right down to the line spoken by the policeman - played both times by Kevin Conroy, no less - who notices Batman). The original plan was for this episode to be the finale for the series, only for another season to appear.
- Batman then got another book end in the true final episode for the DCAU, as when all the heroes rush out, the image fades to black by going into his logo.
- Bound And Gagged: Happens to Hippolyta in "Fury".
- Boxed Crook: Task Force X, which is a Mythology Gag of the Suicide Squad.
- Brainwashed: Despero was converting entire populations to his will using "The Flame of Pytar" in the season two episode "Hearts and Minds."
- Brainwashed and Crazy: The Flash in "The Brave and the Bold"
- Brainwashing For The Greater Good: How the Justice Lords dealt with their Rogues Gallery.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Stargirl. For extra points, her stepfather is her sidekick.
- Bread and Circuses: How Mongul controls his people in "War World".
- Breather Episode: Several lighthearted/more humorous episodes such as "Comfort and Joy", the Christmas Episode which almost plays out like a Warm And Fuzzy Fan Fic. With a Bar Brawl.
- Brick Joke:
- In "Wild Cards," the Joker finds an old woman who is still feeding a slot machine in Las Vegas, despite the rest of the city being abandoned after he seeded it with bombs. When he asks why she stayed behind, she explains that the machine has to pay out sooner or later. The final shot of the episode, after cutting away from Shayera and John kissing passionately, is that old woman hitting "Well, it's about time!"
- In "Dead Reckoning", Superman is talking about a fast food restaurant's milkshakes, which are very thick, when he gets possessed by Deadman. As soon as Deadman abandons him, Superman completes the punchline.
- Brought Down to Normal
- Green Lantern in "The Savage Time," where his ring runs out of energy, and "Hearts and Minds," where Despero affected his ability to use it.
- Superman in "Hereafter," where he loses all his abilities after being transported to a planet with a red sun. Not that it does anything to hinder his determination, or his awesomeness.
- Supergirl in "Chaos at the Earth's Core." She herself describes it as "half strength," but she lacks the ability to fly more than a few feet or lift a stone larger than herself, so her power is much closer to human-normal than "half" would imply.
- The Brute: Solomon Grundy, who is the dumb muscle for whichever supervillain has hired him this week.
- Bulletproof Human Shield: Superman purposefully stepped in front of a group of soldiers to shield them from a hail of bullets. Since he is Superman, it made more sense than many other human shields.
- Burial in Space: Given to the Viking Prince.
- Bus Full of Innocents: A bus full of nuns is about to collide with a truck full of dynamite in "Legends".
- Buy Them Off: In an episode where Batman was kidnapped by Luthor and his fellow villains, he not only manipulates half of the villains there to either turn against each other or help him in some way, for his final masterstroke he gets Ultra-Humanite to backstab Luthor... By promising him double what Luthor was paying.
- Call Back: When Batman sings "Am I Blue" in "This Little Piggy". The song made an earlier DCAU appearance in the DTV film Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero.
- Call Forward:
- Crime Boss Steven Mandragora's son Edgar appears at the end of "Double Date." Edgar would "later" appear in the Batman Beyond episode "Mind Games."
- Batman does not enjoy travelling via boom tube, referencing a line of Old!Bruce's in Batman Beyond.
- Amanda Waller mentions attempts to splice human and animal DNA. This "Splicing" would become popular with criminals in Batman Beyond.
- The Justice League trains with earlier models of Zeta from the Zeta Project.
- Came Back Wrong: Solomon Grundy. Twice. First as a zombie of a gangster, then as a mindless killing machine capable of going toe to toe with the likes of Superman and Amazo.
- The Cameo: Hal Jordan makes a brief appearance in Once and Future Thing when Chronos' messing with time causes him to get retconned into the JL in place of John Stewart.
- Canon Foreigner: The Ultimen (who were incarnations of the Canon Foreigners from Super Friends), Tsukuri, and Galatea. Yet all of them look strangely familiar...
- The Caper: Four normal humans, managed by the Clock King and under orders from Amanda Waller, make a raid on the Justice League headquarters to steal a suit of Animated Armor.
- Captain Ersatz:
- Captain Superhero: Captain Atom (Who actually held the rank of captain in the United States Air Force) and Captain Marvel.
- Car Fu: Question in "Destroyer", Lobo in "Hereafter" (by throwing the car), etc.
- Cassandra Truth:
Shayera: How'd you do that?
Wonder Woman: Magic lasso. Who knew?
Shayera: If you don't want to tell me, fine.
- Casting Gag: Casting Mark Hamill as The Trickster, a Flash foe who is essentially The Joker as Harmless Villain.
- Not quite- Mark Hamill played the role of the Trickster in the live action flash series, and the design of the Trickster is based on that outfit.
- Casual Danger Dialog: Between Batman and Superman in "Clash".
- Batman again in "Dark Heart," after ejecting from the Batplane and having his parachute destroyed.
Batman: Batman to all points. I could use some air support. Since I can't fly. At all.
[Beat, Batman continues to fall]
Batman: Now would be good.
- Cat Fight: Several Action Girls and Dark Action Girls are always willing to mix it up, with each other or their male counterparts. However the episode "Grudge Match" deserves special mention, as Roulette and Lex Luthor restart Metabrawl by playing this trope straight deliberately.
- Cat Girl:
- Catapult Nightmare: Supergirl throughout "Fearful Symmetry".
- Celibate Hero: Batman pretty much gives Wonder Woman an entire laundry list of reasons why they will not be dating. The best is probably, "You're a princess from a society of immortal warriors; I'm a rich kid with issues. Lots of issues."
- Censor Steam: Fire's fire. They had to do several redesigns to make sure her naughty bits were covered. Batman The Brave And The Bold later took a different approach.
- Chain of People - The Big Seven (less one) band together to help Flash escape the Speed Force.
- Chandler's Law: After Green Arrow, the Question and Supergirl were unable to get anything to genuinely prove that something was going on in Fearful Symmetry Cadmus conveniently sent teams of soldiers and robots to attack them which got them out of the rut they were stuck in.
- Character Development: Each of the Main 7 go through a little of this.
- Superman retains the same goals and desires from his own show, but his experiences with Cadmus teach him to go about his heroics in a manner that will not cause fear and distrust from those he wishes to help.
- Wonder Woman gains an appreciation for Man's World and men in general, and gradually learns to integrate into other societies while retaining her cultural identity as an Amazon.
- Batman begins to cooperate with other people and learns to appreciate friendship and camaraderie in addition to working partnerships. Unfortunately, he will inevitably become isolated and alone again in the future.
- Green Lantern learned to accept himself as a Lantern without fearing the loss of his own personal identity, but then became despondent again following the end of his relationship with Hawkgirl. He eventually becomes determined to live his own life no matter what, but retains conflicted thoughts and feelings for Hawkgirl.
- The Flash is initially the inexperienced comic relief. A number of times early on, he appears more interested in showing off and impressing women. However, over the course of the series, he learns to use his brain in a fight and not just his speed. He also develops into The Heart and "the conscience" of the team, becoming a far more selfless hero.
- Hawkgirl has the most profound and fundamental character shift. Starting as an aggressive, self-confident warrior she grows depressed and self-critical while suffering an identity and personality crisis during the shift to Unlimited. Ultimately, she accepts her place in Earth society, but as a much calmer and internally settled character that no longer identifies as "Hawkgirl" at all.
- Martian Manhunter slowly realizes the implications of what it means to be the Last Martian, doomed to be eternally alone on Earth, and simultaneously grows detached and unfeeling towards humanity at large. He finally leaves the League in order to find some connection to humanity and returns having made a personal life and honest emotional companionship on Earth.
- Characterization Marches On: Zatanna goes from being an extraordinarily skilled but decidedly mortal, realistic magician in Batman: The Animated Series to being an actually magical and very powerful wizard with in her appearances here, without much explanation.
- Charge Into Combat Cut: This takes place in the episode "Flash and Substance", when Batman Dual Wielding batarangs is about to face Captain Boomerang dual wielding boomerangs.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Several heroes who are ostensibly Badass Normals can punch dents into steel or craters into concrete.
- Chekhov's Gun: In "Hereafter", the assertion that Vandal Savage's Zero Generator is a "miniature sun". As soon as Superman gets near it, he regains his yellow sun-induced powers.
- The Chessmaster: Lex Luthor and Brainiac. Brainiac is mechanically better, balanced out by Lex's imagination and force of personality. They ultimately merge to combine the best (worst?) of both worlds.
- The Chosen Many: The Justice League itself, and the Green Lantern Corps.
- Christmas Episode: "Comfort and Joy," which has all the classic earmarks of a quality holiday episode: Visiting family, exchanging gifts, an actual aluminum Christmas tree, and... a Bar Brawl?!? Sure, why not. Also a case of Merry Christmas In Gotham.
- Civilian Villain: Lex Luthor, after being pardoned and while running for president.
- Civvie Spandex: Upon returning to the Justice League midway in the 3rd season, Hawkgirl ditched the helmet and traded her earlier outfit for something you might go jogging in.
- Clark Kenting: Noting that the Justice League, not their civilian identities, are fugitives in "Starcrossed", the entire team dons civvies in order to get around in plain sight, applying this trope to the maskless Green Lantern and Wonder Woman.
- Claustrophobia: Hawkgirl, who almost has a heart attack when Dr. Destiny invades her dreams and traps her in a coffin.
- Clock King: The man himself.
- Coat, Hat, Mask: The Question and the Crimson Avenger.
- Collective Groan:
- In the "Doomsday Sanction", after Batman informs the League that he has the Question on the case. After the groan he admits that the Question is wound a little too tight.
- In "Panic In the Sky", when the power went back on in the Watchtower, a group of heroes cheered right before the power went out again, causing them to groan.
- Colony Drop: Batman uses this to save the world in "Starcrossed", piloting the Watchtower out of orbit and into the Thanagarian hyperspace array before it could activate and cause an Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
- Combat Pragmatist:
- Devil Ray, when confronted by a sword-bearing monk who explains that entrance to Nanda Parbat must be earned, shoots the monk and keeps walking.
- Come with Me If You Want to Live: From Aquaman to Solomon Grundy in "The Terror Beyond."
- Comes Great Responsibility: John Stewart is a proponent of this:
"Think of the others like us. We all need to be held accountable, we have too much power not to be."
- Comically Missing the Point: When the Joker seeds bombs throughout Las Vegas, he finds one old woman who is still feeding a slot machine when everybody else in the city has fled. When he asks her why she remains, she points out that the slot machine has to pay out sooner or later.
- The Comically Serious: Batman, usually. Martian Manhunter too.
- Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: A non-film example with the Martian Manhunter, who is only called "J'onn" or "the Martian" here.
- Commuting on a Bus: Flash in the first season of Unlimited. Voice-actor Michael Rosenbaum was unavailable for the role, so the Flash only appears in background and group shots without any lines throughout the entire season.
- Complaining About People Not Liking Hawkgirl: Hawkman keeps getting banned from the "I Hate Hawkgirl" websites because he is constantly flaming their members for their dislike of Hawkgirl.
- Composite Character:
- An example that works as such even in-universe, Loana, Superman's wife in his dream state during "For The Man Who Has Everything", is explicitly a combination of Lois Lane and Lana Lang. Appearance wise, she looks a lot like Lois (even having Dana Delany as her voice actress), but has red hair like Lana.
- Doomsday gets combined with the Kon-El version of Superboy, being a modified Superman clone created by Cadmus.
- Conflict Killer: In the climax of the Cadmus arc, when it looks like the Justice League and government might actually turn on each other and destroy the world, or that they might unite against Lex Luthor, Brainiac shows up and puts all previous rivalries on the back burner.
- Conqueror From The Future:
- Vandal Savage's gambit in "The Savage Time". Though to be fair he couldn't actually time-travel on his own... he could only send technology and messages to himself in the past.
- A more straight example comes from the episode "The Once and Future Thing", where a Wild West outlaw robs a time traveller, and bizarrely uses his access to time travel just to get a few future guns and robots with the express purpose of taking over a single podunk Western town in the middle of nowhere. The time traveller himself becomes another straight example, using his time travel powers to take over the far-future.
- Booster Gold is a complete inversion of this idea... he's a physically fit, but otherwise normal citizen from the future who uses relatively common technology from his time to travel back in time and become a superhero... specifically so that he can become rich and famous.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: "Twilight Of The Gods" demonstrates this trope in stages with the Brainiacs. When there was just one, it put up quite a fight against Superman, J'onn and Hawkgirl, requiring a vicious beatdown to destroy. Then there was several, and each put up considerably less of a fight. Then there were dozens, and the heroes were destroying at least one with each attack.
- Conspiracy Theorist: The Question.
- Contemporary Caveman: Vandal Savage of course.
- Continuity Nod:
- Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story: Hawkgirl's cover story of being teleported to earth by Zeta beams.
- Cool Car: The Question's Pontiac GTO. And he's VERY good at using it to kick butt.
- Cool Versus Awesome: The first half of "The Once and Future Thing" is absolutely made of this. Cowboys and superheroes versus outlaws, dinosaurs, and ROBOTS!
- Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: The Flash does this for one episode, which gets him chewed out by Batman.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Lex Luthor, Simon Stagg, Morgan Edge, etc.
- Courtroom Episode: Flash defends Green Lantern when he is accused of murder. "If the ring wasn't lit, you must acquit!"
- Cowboy Episode: The "Weird Western Tales" part of "The Once and Future Thing"
- Crazy-Prepared: Batman, after having Medusa brought up from Tartarus in order to provide information on the recently released Circe, gives Charon the required two pennies; in the DVD audio commentary, the producers feel it is only natural that Batman would happen to be carrying exactly two pennies in his utility belt, just in case he had to cross the River Styx.
- Batman also just happened have bombs of thermionic gas inside the Batwing, which helped to freeze a nano-replicator colony. He mentions that he needed to freeze the Gotham river once. Long story.
- Green Arrow reflects on this nature during a quite amusing moment in "To Another Shore";
Green Arrow: And Black Canary said a buzz-saw arrow was self indulgent.
- Crazy Survivalist: The Question. (Then again, he has been right before...)
- Creative Sterility: Lex Luthor accuses Brainiac of this. Brainiac agrees and they decide to combine their respective strengths for their mutual benefit.
- Create Your Own Villain: The darkest inversion of this trope is presented in "Epilogue", where Well-Intentioned Extremist Amanda Waller reveals to Terry McGinnis that when she noticed Bruce Wayne was getting too old to be the Batman, she decided to create her own hero by taking Bruce's DNA and overwriting Warren McGinnis's gametes with said DNA, meaning his child by Mary was genetically Bruce Wayne's; when Terry was 7 years old, Waller then commissioned an aging Phantasm to assassinate Terry's parents in his presence. Thankfully, the Phantasm decided to abort the operation.
- Creepy Monotone: Brainiac
- Crimefighting with Cash: Batman and Green Arrow (who started out as a virtual carbon-copy Expy of Batman by, interestingly, the same company).
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Flash has several of these throughout the series, mainly because he is frequently underestimated.
- Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: The entire league in "Starcrossed".
- Curb-Stomp Battle: In "Panic in the Sky" three clones of Wind Dragon are blowing away members of the League using their wind-based powers when Red Tornado steps in and blocks their three wind blasts with one of his own. After a quick struggle, all three of the clones are blown away. Double points considering Red Tornado only used one hand to do it. Of course, (at least in the comics) he is an actual air elemental - trying to fight him with wind is like, well...
Downpour: Yaaaahh!! (Splash!)
Aquaman: King of the seas, remember?
- Curse Cut Short: Frequently.
- Curtain Call: "Destroyer" ends with the entire League running down the stairs of the Hall of Justice/Metro Tower in a sort of Curtain Call.
- Custom Uniform: The first two appearances of the Green Lantern Corps feature a conspicuous absence of this trope, unlike the Corps' depiction in the comics. A few notable members are later given custom uniforms in later appearances.
- Cute Bruiser: Supergirl. Hawkgirl too.
- Did You Just Flip Off Icthultu: Yes, Hawkgirl did.
Icthultu: "Speak to me, child of Thanagar."
Hawkgirl: "Nothing to say. I've got a gesture for you, but my hands are tied."
- Did You Just Punch Out Ichthultu: "The Terror Beyond" (Not quite the Trope Namer but close enough).
- Disappears into Light: Darkseid and Luthor.
- Discriminate and Switch: The superheroes Fire and Ice have been close friends and partners for the entirety of their tenure in comics. This has, over time, given rise to a lot of romantic/sexual subtext between them and corresponding theories in the fandom. When they were added to the expanded roster of Justice League Unlimited The Flash began to nurse a not-so-subtle crush on Fire and Hawkgirl tried to prod him into action as best she knew how.
Shayera Hol (Hawkgirl): "You'd be wasting your time, anyway, I hear she's... yknow... Brazilian."
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: Part of Superman's worst nightmare. Lex Luthor experiences the trope played straight when he suddenly gains Super Strength, briefly surprising himself during his fight with The Question before he embraces it and proceeds with the No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
- Doesn't Like Guns: Batman, obviously, who refuses to take an offered gun on two separate occasions. Averted by other heroes, however, such as Vigilante whose main power seems to be "owns a pair of revolvers," though he's only ever shown hitting villains who are Immune to Bullets or vehicles. Green Lantern, who is a former marine, also has zero compunctions about using firearms and is possibly the only hero in the whole DCAU that succeeds in shooting someone in "The Savage Time".note
- Does Not Like Men: Aresia just wants to kill every man on Earth, which presumably would have led to an adaptation of another DC comic book...
- Does Not Like Shoes:
- Gypsy always goes around barefoot as to authenticate her gypsy attire. Aquagirl too from the Future Justice League Unlimited as seen in a flashback in "Epilogue".
- Villainous examples include Cheetah and Tala (extra points for going to the snowy regions of Nanda Parbat completely barefoot and barelegged). Another villainous example is the Ten from the second incarnation of the Royal Flush Gang (or third, Future Amanda Waller can't remember which). Like JLU Aquagirl, she just wears a one-piece swimsuit and nothing else. Unlike JLU Aquagirl, her powers have nothing to do with water.
- Domestic Abuse: The character of Hro Talak in "Starcrossed" gradually progressed to violence when the truth about Shayera's relationship with Green Lantern came out, something which was particularly difficult for Victor Rivers to voice since he is a leading crusader against domestic abuse.
- Don't Explain the Joke: The Joker, of all people, violates this trope in "Wild Cards".
- Don't Make Me Destroy You:
- When Captain Atom has his military commission reactivated by General Wade Eiling he ends up coming to blows with Superman who, after one of the most brutal fights in the series, emerges as the clear victor.
- When General Eiling has been transformed into a hulking monster and is rampaging through Metropolis he is left facing Shining Knight after he has already defeated several other heroes.
"Save yourself a hospital stay and stand down."
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: "Flash, stop heckling the supervillain!"
- Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Batman to Flash in "Paradise Lost" and the third part of "Starcrossed," too.
- Dope Slap: Green Lantern to Flash in "The Brave and the Bold".
- Double Entendre: "Yeah, you'd probably be wasting your time anyway. I hear she's... you know... Brazilian." See also Getting Crap Past the Radar.
- Dramatic Unmask:
- Hawkgirl had worn her mask for every scene in the first two seasons, never letting viewers know what she looked like, and some viewers were convinced that she did not wear a mask, that that was her natural appearance as a Thanagarian. In "Wild Cards", when she and Green Lantern finally admit their feelings, he slowly reaches forward and takes off her mask, revealing that the two of them are exactly what he said they were: A man and a woman in love.
- During the climax of the Cadmus story-arc, after he had taken a severe beating and was recuperating in the Watchtower medical bay, the Question has Huntress remove his mask for the first time.
- Dual Wielding: Several times in the series, including in "Secret Origins", Batman wields a pair of electrified knuckle duster weapons when fighting super powered foes. In "Dark Heart" he also duel wields a pair of what are either bat themed blade weapons or oversized batarangs in close combat with the alien spiders.
- Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: By Wonder Woman in "Starcrossed".
- Dying Declaration of Love: It takes being in the center of a massive explosion and having his heart stopped to finally convince John Stewart that there is no reason to wait or hide, and he confesses his feelings for Shayera, getting her to take off her mask for the first time and kiss.
- Dynamic Entry: Solomon Grundy enters a battle by attacking Superman from behind. Through a door.
- Dysfunction Junction: The original team: two Last Of Their Kind, The Exile, an orphan, an alien stranded on the other side of the galaxy from her homeworld, a Casanova Wannabe, and a man with a Jerkass Façade.
- Earth All Along: Superman in "Hereafter" is transported to a post-apocalyptic planet orbiting a red sun that he learns is Earth is the very distant future.
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom: In one episode, Green Lantern inadvertently destroys a planet with a stray blast from his power ring, through the planet's destruction is later revealed to have been an illusion. In a different episode, Mongul threatens to destroy a world full of innocent civilians with some kind of superlaser, but is stopped by the Justice League.
- Easily Forgiven: Averted, as Hawkgirl is not forgiven by certain League members or the general public for being The Mole; when she returns to save the day after her recuperation with Dr. Fate she is heckled by an angry mob, and later episodes reveal that there are several hundred "I Hate Hawkgirl" websites. Even Superman is distrusted and feared by former friends and allies for the events of "Legacy", which occurred several years (and two TV series) prior to this series.
- Eldritch Abomination:
- Icthultu (who was a rather transparent Captain Ersatz of Cthulhu).
- The Dark Heart. It apparently warps the very nature of reality, as every close-up has the screen distorted and visibly pulsing, while the surface of the creature itself does not appear to move at all.
- Emperor Scientist: Chronos becomes one via Time Travel.
- Enemy Civil War: On Apokolips after Darkseid's death, and also between the Grodd and Luthor factions of the Legion of Doom.
- Enemy Mine:
- In order to defeat the Justice Lords, the League cuts a deal with Lex Luthor.
- Kalibak quotes the actual "Enemy of my enemy is my friend" maxim when Mr. Miracle, Big Barda, and the Flash rescue him on Apokolips.
- The Legion of Doom go to the Justice League after accidentally reviving Darkseid.
- Engineered Public Confession: What sends Luthor to prison for the first time.
- Et Tu, Hawkgirl?: Happens in the episode, "Starcrossed", when it's revealed that she had been spying on the League for the Thanagarians.
- Evasive Fight Thread Episode
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Steven Mandragora, for being a world class sleaze and murdering sociopath, appears to be a truly loving and dedicated father.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- In "In Blackest Night", Kanjar Ro claims that this is why he, a pirate, comes forward as a witness at John Stewart's trial when he is accused of destroying a planet. He was lying, though; he was helping to frame John for the crime.
- In "Fury," Star Sapphire turns against Aresia once she learns the full extent of her plans. She is evil, not gendercidal. Except she is, and actively looks forward to a world without men. She was just luring Diana and Hawkgirl to Aresia so that they could be invited to join them.
- In "The Savage Time", Vandal Savage manipulates history and creates a fascist dystopia with himself as supreme leader, by taking over the Third Reich and putting Hitler on ice. Part of the reason he gives for doing so is because even he thinks that the world should be spared from having to suffer under that "raving lunatic".
- Everyone Can See It: Before John and Shayera ever admit their feelings Flash is teasing them that they are acting like an old married couple and, when Hro Talak enters the scene in "Starcrossed", Batman and J'onn each spontaneously approach John to give him advice and consolation. The Joker himself actually comments on the tension between them, wondering if they have a history behind the scenes. Ironically, when they finally become a couple it was the Flash who had no idea they were involved, despite being the first one to comment on it.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Gorilla Grodd, Ultra-Humanite, and Gorilla City. And the brief but very fun shout-out to J. L. Apes in an otherwise rather sad episode centered on Deadman. (Ape!Luthor is, of course, entirely devoid of fur.)
- Evil Albino: Mandragora, the not-Wonder Twins after their Face-Heel Turn
- Evil Costume Switch: Happens when the original seven well, six, really turn into the Justice Lords in an Alternate Universe.
- Evil Me Scares Me: The Justice Lords
- Evil Plan: Constantly. Parodied with Grodd's "master plan".
- Evil Sorcerer: Circe, Felix Faust, and Tala.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Darkseid, Despero, etc. Phil Lamarr even lampshades it in some DVD commentary.
- Evil Twin:
- Expecting Someone Taller: In "Starcrossed": Hro Talak, after hearing about John Stewart from Hawkgirl, is surprised he is not taller.
- Hro Talak is not quite Katar Hol, but his name is an anagram and he was also given a past relationship with Hawkgirl.
- Galatea is not exactly Power Girl, but she wears a similar costume, which one scene made identical with the addition of a red "towel" hanging over her shoulder, and shares the background of "not exactly Supergirl, but close."
- See also Dr. Fate's Alternate Company Equivalent version of the Defenders.
- In the same episode, the screaming minions that the heroes fight in Ithuclu's world are clearly based on Marvel's Mindless Ones.
- The Justice Lords from "A Better World" were heavily inspired by The Authority, which the producers had begun to read between seasons one and two, and one idea they had was to see what the world would be like if the League ever tried to emulate their tactics.
- When Brainthor summons up robot versions of the Justice Lords to distract the League, he has to create a new one for Flash (since Flash of that universe died before they became the Lords). The costume he gives Flash is identical to the costume of famed Flash Villain Professor Zoom, The Reverse-Flash.
- The giant turtle that attacks Japan in "Chaos at the Earth's Core" is an expy of Gamera, as well as being a Mythology Gag to Jimmy Olsen's comic book.
- Ace is one to Tamara. Both are young girls with black hair and powerful psychic abilities and were use by shady organization and are also associated with a Batman.
- The Justice Guild of America is one of the Justice Society; the plan to was to actually use the JSA, but DC didn't care for the idea of the characters being portrayed as vaguely racist and sexist.
- Wade Eiling becomes an Expy of The Hulk by using the Captain Nazi serum. He's more articulate but possibly even more dangerous due to being a Principles Zealot.
- Fake Memories: The Ultimen are implanted with this.
- Fake-Out Make-Out: Between Batman and Wonder Woman in "Starcrossed".
- Fake Static: When Amanda Waller tries to order Galatea to abort her attack on the Watchtower she claims that she cannot understand the transmission, then says that it was a wrong number.
- Fan Disservice: Black Canary's sonic scream ripping the clothes off Steven Mandragora. A world of no.
- Fantastic Fragility: The flaw in Hephaestus's armor.
- Farmer's Daughter: Galatea (and, by extension, Supergirl) is described as "blonde hair, blue eyes, real farmers daughter type."
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: In "War World" it appears that Green Lantern's ring lets him do this.
- Fearful Symmetry: Supergirl vs. Galatea in the episode "Fearful Symmetry".
- Fictional Counterpart: In "A Knight of Shadows" Flash and Wonder Woman visit the house of Harv Hickman, a Hugh Heffner expy who publishes Playboy.
- Fiery Redhead: Hawkgirl, and (quite literally) Volcana.
- Final Battle: In the Grand Finale.
- Finger Poke of Doom: Superman, because of just how strong he is, once defeated the villain with a literal flick of his finger. Provides the page image.
- Finger Twitching Revival: Subverted with Galatea.
- Finish Dialogue in Unison: Happens in "Patriot Act" (Shining Knight: "Even thought that ogre was—" All: "Morgan Le Fey.") and "Far From Home" (Brainy and Supergirl: "A quantum tunneling RF transponder!")
- Finish Him! - In War World. Superman, of course, refuses.
- First Name Basis:
- Starting in Unlimited, most of the characters hardly addressed each other using their superhero identities, often opting to use their real names instead ("Diana", "Shayera", "John", "J'onn", "Wally"). Superman and Batman were the characters most often referred to by their superhero names, but they would occasionally address each other personally.
- The Question was the only person in the series to ever call Huntress "Helena" until Black Canary does so during their reconciliation in "Grudge Match".
- Five-Bad Band: The Royal Flush Gang from "Wild Cards".
- Five-Man Band:
Dr. Fate's "Totally Not The Defenders" in "The Terror Beyond," adding Amazo in "Raise The Dead"
- Flame War: Carter Hall apparently gets involved in this over Hawkgirl proving his Stalker with a Crush status.
- Flash Step: Superman to Darkseid in "Destroyer".
- Flipping the Bird:
"Speak to me, child of Thanagar." Hawkgirl:
"Nothing to say. I've got a gesture
for you, but my hands are tied."
- Fly-at-the-Camera Ending: The last episode ends with Batman running into the screen.
- For the Evulz: Famously played with when Flash ends up in Luthor's body.
Doctor Polaris: You gonna wash your hands?
Luthor!Flash: No... 'cause I'm evil.'
- Forced Prize Fight: In "Grudge Match".
- Foreshadowing: Commentary on the DVD release of Justice League reveals that the producers intended to have Hawkgirl be a spy from the beginning of Season Two. As such, throughout the season there are plenty of hints that supported that plot point, including contradictory backstories, behavior and evidence that they had something to hide. As a lucky break, "The Brave and the Bold" (a season one episode) also had a scene that only helps with the foreshadow.
- Forging Scene: Superman, finding himself thousands of years in the future against giant mutant animals and without his powers, forges a blade using road flares, a sledge hammer, and a metal rod. It was pretty epic.
- Forgotten Phlebotinum:
- The disempowerment gun used in "A Better World" is never seen again for the rest of the show. While it is unclear whether it would work on other super powered individuals, what is clear is that it works on the original seven Leaguers (well, except Batman), so it is strange that Cadmus or Luthor do not even reference it.
- In "Wake the Dead", Amazo is forced to flee after Solomon Grundy uses chaos magic to absorb his cosmic attack. Dr. Fate later tells Hawkgirl that only she can defeat Grundy because her mace is made of Nth metal. It is too bad the writers and Dr. Fate forgot that Amazo can easily replicate her mace... and use it to better effect...
- Heck, Nth Metal in general was Forgotten Phlebotinum. There were plenty of Thanagarian weapons left around after the invasion, but no one thinks of outfitting the army or the League with the stuff in case they have to fight against magic users or gods... which they do. A lot.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The second half of "Wild Cards" revolves around Ace, whose Mind Rape powers work even through the television and is attacking the viewing audience.
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: "The Great Brain Robbery".
- Free-Range Children: "Patriot Act" gives the trope a minor deconstruction when Vigilante asks a group of children where their parents are and the kids explain that they all ran off after the monster appeared, apparently leaving all their children behind to be killed. However, even at the end of the episode, after the monster is defeated and the police and rescue workers are cleaning up, the same kids are still running around without supervision.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- In "Starcrossed, Part 3", during the climactic final fight there is a single "white frame" inserted into a shot of Shayera being shocked by an Nth-metal weapon.
- Nightwing, who could not appear as a character due to the "Bat Embargo," had a brief cameo skulking atop a building in Bludhaven, which in the comics is "his" city after he stopped being Robin.
- If you look at all of the lobotomized inmates at the Other Dimension Arkham, you will notice that Arnold Wesker isn't lobotomized but Scarface is. For those who don't get it, Wesker is the human... and Scarface is a ventriloquist dummy. That Wesker has on his hand.
- In "Kid Stuff" there is also a couple of black-and-white reversal frames when Superboy fires his heat vision.
- Friendly Enemy:
- Flash and the Ultra-Humanite. They agree to a Christmas truce and, afterwards, the Ultra-Humanite helps Flash deliver a toy to orphans before peacefully allowing himself to be taken to jail. In jail, Flash gives him an aluminum Christmas tree, just like the one he had when he was a child.
- Flash and Trickster. Flash manages to convince the Trickster to go back on his medication, turn himself into the police, and tell the Flash where the other villains are. In return, Flash promises to visit him and play darts (The soft kind).
- Friendship Moment: Numerous.
- From a Single Cell: Brainiac.
- From My Own Personal Garden: In the episode "Hereafter", after Superman realizes the futility of fighting Vandal Savage, the latter invites the former to lunch. Food's great because he has had 30,000 years to rediscover the principles of agriculture.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Dr Destiny. Literally.
- Fully Absorbed Finale: The controversial episode "Epilogue", a finale for Batman Beyond. It was originally intended as the JLU series finale, after the originally planned finale "Starcrossed," but the series was renewed again.
- Fun with Acronyms: The Binary Fusion Generator.
- Funbag Airbag: NEARLY happens to Flash with Fire in "I Am Legion" when Fire tries to get his attention. Flash turns and his face was a mere few inches away from her breasts before slowly looking up. Followed by Distracted by the Sexy when Fire tries to chat with him.
- Funny Background Event: In "Better World", Lord!Superman lobotomizes whatever villains he defeats and does not kill with his heat vision, leaving two burn marks on the victim's forehead. When the League heads to Arkham Asylum, all of the villains have these burn marks... but if you look closely, the Ventriloquist hasn't been lobotomized. Scarface, however, has.
- Fur Bikini: Worn by some of the inhabitants of Skartaris.
- Fusion Dance: Brainthor/Luthoriac.
- Gaining The Will To Kill: An episode involves an Alternate Universe version of the League called the Justice Lords. At the beginning, we see a flashback showing Superman make this decision and killing Lex Luthor at Luthor's goading. After that the League has no problem killing (or lobotomising) criminals, justifying it as the greater good.
- Galactic Conqueror: Mongul and Darkseid, both with a bit of President Evil mixed in.
- Gendercide: In "Fury", an Amazon, Aresia, with a serious bent against the male gender decides to release a disease into the atmosphere that nearly kills off all of the men on the planet. This includes the male members of the Justice League (even Superman and the Martian Manhunter are affected, despite not being human, and Solomon Grundy, who is The Undead. It's implied magic is involved). It's up to Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl to save the day (of course, this includes fighting against an all-female alliance of villains). Which unfortunately raises the question of where the superheroines that we see in "Unlimited," were at the time…
- General Ripper: General Eiling, and earlier General Hardcastle.
- Genius Ditz: The Flash. Despite his goofy behavior throughout the series, it's revealed in one episode that he works in forensics, analyzing crime scene evidence.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Has its own page.
- The Ghost: Plastic Man couldn't actually appear in the show due to rights issues, but he is referred to in a few episodes. Most notably, in "The Greatest Story Never Told", Elongated Man is relegated to crowd-control duty with Booster Gold, and is told this is because Plastic Man is already engaged in the main battle, and "We don't need two stretchy guys."
- Gilded Cage: Lois in the Justice Lords universe. Cronos's wife in the second part of "The Once and Future Thing."
- Girl's Night Out Episode: "Fury," and later on "Grudge Match."
- Giving Radio to the Romans: "The Savage Time"
- Gladiator Games: In "War World".
- Gladiator Revolt: Also in "War World".
- Glamour Failure: In "Legends," after Roy is exposed as a psychic mutant who reconstructed a giant illusion of his dimension from before a nuclear war destroyed everything, all just so he could go on adventures with his favorite heroes, he reverts to his true form.
- Glory Hound:
- Booster Gold, one of the most iconic iterations of the trope, appears.
- Stargirl is a minor example. Altruism guides most of her actions, but she does want the recognition and adoration that she feels her heroics deserve.
- Go-Go Enslavement: Katma Tui is subjected to this by Despero.
- Go Through Me:
Shining Knight: "Do your worst, I'll not let you harm another."
- A God Am I:
- Vandal Savage, when faced with the looming specter of his own defeat, proclaims that gods do not grovel.
- Darkseid returns in season two of Justice League.
Super or not, you are merely a man. Whereas I am a god.
- Gonna Need More X: Batman in "Twilight".
- The Good Captain: Captain Marvel, Captain Atom,
Captain Boomerang, etc.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop:
- Captain Atom and Supergirl in "Initiation"
Captain Atom: What are we up against?
Supergirl: He asked you a question!
Don't answer them! That's classified informa- *Supergirl does Neck Lift
I just about had it with you guys! You've got to the count of five. One... four
... *Eyes glow
Captain Atom: I'd speak up if I were you.
- In the case of Bruce Wayne of today and Bruce Wayne of the future; Bad Cop/Worse Cop.
Static: Batman playing "Good Cop". Never thought I'd see the day.
Green Lantern: Eh. Everything's relative.
- Good Is Not Dumb: In "Flash and Substance," Orion asks why Central City would honor a buffoon like the Flash, "who makes bad jokes, who concerns himself with pitiful men like the Trickster." But the Flash is anything but dumb—he is able to handle the Trickster without throwing a single punch. In fact, he convinces the Trickster to happily turn himself in to the police.
- Good Is Old-Fashioned: General Wade Eiling accuses Shining Knight of being a relic after the Knight continues to rush at the General, even after already losing his weapon and being viciously beaten, to protect the locals and innocent bystanders.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Heavily implied in "The Great Brain Robbery". Hawkgirl's apparently particularly good at causing men to not be... restful... also.
- Gory Discretion Shot: When Aquaman cuts his hand off it only shows his face before cutting to the next scene.
- Goshdang It To Heck:
- Hell can only be uttered backwards apparently.
- Superman doesn't trust Lex flippin' Luthor.
- Grand Finale: Three separate mini-arcs were intended as the final finale of the series, but the show kept getting renewed so they had to do it all again the next season. The first was "Starcrossed (Parts 1, 2 and 3)", then "Panic in the Sky" and "Divided We Fall," and finally the real Grand Finale: "Alive" and "Destroyer".
- Grand Romantic Gesture: Superman takes Lois for a picnic... atop a suspension bridge.
- Gratuitous Disco Sequence: Mirror Master's discotheque of doom in "Flash And Substance".
- Gravity Master: Vandal Savage, offscreen (and even then, only 'sort of') in "Hereafter". He kills the entire League with it, but also terminally destabilises the Solar System and wipes out humanity by accident.
- The Greatest Story Never Told: Trope Namer.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Stargirl, when she sees how popular Supergirl is.
- Green-Eyed Redhead:
- Shayera Hol is fiery and green all over.
- Poison Ivy, as seen in the only episode she appears: "A Better World".
- Green Eyes:
- A requisite part of the above-mentioned trope for Shayera Hol.
- John Stewart has inhuman bright green eyes, which the producers explained was because he had been a Green Lantern for so long that the energy had become a part of him. When the ring is depowered, his eyes return to normal.
- Green Lantern Ring: Obviously...
- Also somewhat shows up with Sinestro's power ring and Star Sapphire's head-jewel-thing.
- Gunboat Diplomacy: Batman to Amanda Waller
Mine are bigger than yours...
- Guns Akimbo: Vigilante wields a pair of revolvers as his standard weapons. Lex Luthor also wields a pair of handguns in "Destroyer", even going so far as to offer his spare to Batman when Batman has exhausted his supply of batarangs.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: This is a stance held by many of the non-human people of Earth, including the Gorillas of Gorilla City and the people of Atlantis. Both change their tune somewhat after the Justice League helps them fight internal enemies, but Aresia (An Amazon) goes to her death believing all men are bastards, despite the fact that she learns a man gave up his life so that she could live. J'onn had an emotional breakdown when he tried a massive psychic scan of a city, frustrated over human pettiness. This became a bit of a Character Development as he learns that the only friends he has are part of the league and if he was going to live among humanity, he has to learn to like at least some of them.
- Humiliation Conga: Wonder Woman being turned into a pig - and Batman having to keep it under wraps - in This Little Piggy certainly counts.
- Humongous Mecha:
- The first large mech fought was controlled by Lex Luthor, and explicitly modeled on Neon Genesis Evangelion, in the first season episode "Legends."
- Toyman had a heavily armed Transformer-bot in "Hereafter".
- There was a truly massive mech in "Initiation".
- Humorless Aliens: Martian Manhunter seems to respond to Flash's attempts at humor with either confusion or disdain.
- Hurl It into the Sun: Flash's suggestion for getting rid of a giant alien machine. (Inspired by a Usenet discussion of an earlier episode, in which the poster wondered why Green Lantern hadn't done just that. Writer Dwayne McDuffie responded that the animated GL's ring wasn't that powerful: "Although it does suggest a really interesting spin-off, where every week GL throws whoever is attacking into the sun.")
- Also when Grundy came back Hawkgirl comments on Amazo doing the same, "before Golden Boy teleports him into the sun..."
- Hurricane of Puns: The Silver Age villains in "Legends" love doing this. Even the Flash gets in on it when fighting one of them.
- Hypocrite: Cadmus. They do have a point that the Justice League is a potentially dangerous organization. But they often go out of their way to straight up attack them, instead of preparing for their possible betrayal. They're afraid of the Justice League crossing the line and creating huge problems, when they themselves have already done so.
- The reason they say they're better? They obey the government and aren't a bunch of loose cannons. And when the BFG fires on Earth, what do they do? Wait a while, and then put a loose cannon in charge of an army to kill the entire Justice League, without waiting for government approval.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: This is the subject of the famous "World of Cardboard" Speech, where Superman sees that he doesn't need to hold his power back against Darkseid.
- I Choose to Stay: Supergirl in "Far From Home"
- I Got You Covered: Frequently.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Yes, Luthor is still in there, but he likes it in there.
- I Like Those Odds: In "Starcrossed, Part 3", Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern are heading straight for the Thanagarian mothership (and the dozens of smaller ships around it).
Wonder Woman: Pretty bad odds.
Superman: Yeah, they don't stand a chance.
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog:
Captain Atom: "I'm pretty sure there's something I have to do someplace."
- Instant Flight, Just Add Spinning: The Flash used his arms as a helicopter.
- I Read It for the Articles: Flash explains that he purchases a magazine Playboy by commenting that he reads it for the articles.
- I See Dead People: After a fashion. After Brainiac is destroyed in the Unlimited season 2 finale, Luthor can still see his "ghost", and they have conversations, but to everyone else it looks like Luthor is talking to an imaginary friend. We never learn whether or not he truly can see Brainiac, especially since he lost him after Darkseid was free.
- I Take Offense to That Last One: "The Brave And The Bold".
Gorilla Grodd: Humans are slow, ugly, immoral, and have an unpleasant body odor!
Flash: Hey, who are you calling slow?
- Somewhat justified- Flash's attention would be towards the one most affecting him, and given his power set of Super Speed...
- I'm Cold... So Cold...: Flash after being Thrown Out the Airlock.
- I'm Standing Right Here:
Aquaman (to Hawkgirl): Such scintillating repartee. I get better conversation from the android.
Amazo: You are aware I'm in the room.
- Wonder Woman confirming that Batman had, indeed, tap-danced in the conversational minefield in the opening moments of "The Once And Future Thing":
Batman (to Green Lantern): I don't have time to pursue a relationship; my work is too important to allow any distractions. Diana's a remarkable woman, she's a valued friend, she's—*shot pans around to show his face, brow raised followed by a wince as it pulls back to show*—standing right behind me, isn't she?
- An Ice Person - Ice is a heroic example and Killer Frost a villainous one.
- An Ice Suit: Killer Frost.
- Idiot Ball:
- It's amazing how often Martian Manhunter just forgets that he can become completely intangible and read minds.
- Batman of all people apparently got a hold of it for a bit in "Darkheart" after he's forced to eject from the Batwing and his parachute is destroyed. As awesome as his dive may have looked, in a situation like that the absolute last thing you'd want to do, if you're trying to survive, is make yourself more aerodynamic and go hurtling at the ground even faster. Made more absurd since we see that he does spread out his arms, legs, and cape to slow his falls… all the time. There's even a scene in "Hereafter" where he does it after his plane is destroyed and he's bailing out.
- Superman had this as well in "Clash". He's smart enough to realize that Luthor's up to something. The thought that getting Superman to look like a paranoid Jerkass was the "something" apparently never occurs to him, and Superman clutches the Idiot Ball so tightly that he starts a pointless fight with Captain Marvel and makes himself look even worse than Luthor had hoped he would.
- If I Wanted You Dead...: Said by the hero during the climax of the Justice League/Cadmus conflict in "Panic in the Sky." After the former Cadmus headquarters is destroyed by the Justice League Watchtower Batman points out that the League has been monitoring Cadmus for months and knew they had already moved their headquarters. When Waller then suggests that it was a warning shot Batman tells her "Don't be dense." If the League had wanted to attack Cadmus they would have attacked Cadmus, not what is now an abandoned and empty warehouse.
- Implausible Deniability: After Galatea claims she cannot hear Amanda Waller's orders she turns to Supergirl and says that the call (in space, directed to her earpiece that she just crushed between her fingertips) was a wrong number.
- Important Haircut: John Stewart during Unlimited. Previously, Justice Lord GL.
- Impossible Hourglass Figure: Pretty much the entire female cast, except the younger ones like Supergirl. It is a standard part of Bruce Timm's drawing style.
- In-Series Nickname: The Leaguers abbreviate each others' codenames a lot. Huntress calls Question "Q," Green Arrow calls Vigilante "Vig," Batman is "Bats," Superman is "Supes," Mr. Terrific is "T," Green Lantern and Green Arrow are "GL" and "GA..."
- In Spite of a Nail: In the alternate reality of "The Savage Time," the Allies lost World War II and the world is dominated by Vandal Savage, but Bruce Wayne's parents were still killed when he was eight years old.
- In Their Own Image: Lord Chronos' desperate endgame in "The Once and Future Thing"
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness:
- The Flash. DVD commentary reveals that they had him die in the alternate reality of "A Better World" because they simply could not conceive of anything that would cause him to become a Knight Templar.
- Superman is not an example; it is directly discussed in "A Better World," where Lord!Superman is unable to be talked down from his Knight Templar ways. League!Superman explains that he has felt the same urges and compulsions himself, and he knows just how hard they are to resist. If he was ever put into that same position, he knows himself well enough to admit that he would break, too. There's precedent, as well - in the Superman: The Animated Series episode where Lois Lane ended up in an alternate timeline where she had died, Superman went totalitarian there as well.
- Captain Marvel. Some of it is childhood naiveté, but part of his pureness is his ability to retain such naiveté, even when everybody around him has become jaded and cynical.
- Incredible Shrinking Man: The Atom
- Incredibly Lame Pun: In "Wild Cards," when the Flash briefly defeats King by wrapping him up in fake mummy bandages, he comments that it "wraps [him] up." Though the wrappings mean that King's subsequent comment is muffled and unintelligible, the Flash still apologises, saying it was the only quip he could think of.
- Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Milo in "The Doomsday Sanction".
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Trickster, mentioned above. Also Copperhead gradually becomes one after his first appearance.
- Informed Attractiveness:
- When Batman and Wonder Woman travel to New Genesis Wonder Woman is awe-struck by its splendor and magnificence, never having seen anything like it before. The floating city itself is... okay. It is not bad, it is a technological marvel unequaled in real life, but it is also a rather generic "future city" that has been seen in fiction countless times before and is overshadowed by many of the fantastic locations seen elsewhere in Justice League.
- To a degree, Atlantis suffers from this as well- parts of it look like some of the more out-there architecture of Metropolis (which New Genesis also looks like).
- Ink-Suit Actor:
- Amanda Waller is basically CCH Pounder with a slightly different skin tone and weight gain.
- Prior to his transformation, General Eiling resembles J.K. Simmons with the mustache he sports as J. Jonah Jameson.
- Mark Hamill as the Trickster, who is drawn to look like the Trickster on the Flash TV series, who was also played by Hamill.
- Innocent Bigots: The Justice Guild in "Legends" — telling Green Lantern he's "a credit to his people", asking Hawkgirl to bake cookies...
- Innocuously Important Episode:
- "A Better World" turns out to be the motivation for the formation of Project Cadmus, the main villains for the first two seasons of Unlimited. It also motivates Batman's slow withdrawal from the rest of the league and causes the increasing conflict within both league members and Superman internally with himself. In many ways, it is the single most important pair of episodes in the entire series, eclipsing even the Thangarian and Apokaleptian invasions.
- However, some of the seeds for things like "Catalyst," and those were seeded throughout the previous series as well, such as when Superman was hijacked by Darkseid (Professor Hamilton says that this was when he started to have his own fears about superhumans). However, "A Better World," was definitely the Catalyst.
- "Twilight (of the Gods)", in which the League fights Brainiac and Darkseid, seems like a one-off like most of the rest of the early seasons. Then, in the two-part series finale, Luthor has a vision of the Brainiac station seen in "Twilight" and when he finds it and tries to resurrect Brainiac he brings back Darkseid instead.
- Instant Fan Club: Supergirl has one of these in Japan, with one Cosplay Otaku Girl even attacking a jealous Stargirl who was badmouthing her.
- Institutional Apparel: Lex Luthor wears prison grays in "Injustice For All" but changes to orange fatigues in "I am Legion".
- Intellectual Animal: Gorilla Grodd and the other denizens of Gorilla City.
- Interspecies Romance:
- Between John Stewart and Hawkgirl and, it is implied, also between John Stewart and Katma Tui.
- The relationship between Superman and Lois Lane appears in a few small, but important, scenes.
- Grodd and Tala had a sexual relationship, which even people within the show find unsettling.
- Grodd and Giganta is an... unusual example, as Giganta was once an ape... but now looks human... but has super powers... so it's not entirely clear what, exactly, she is.
- Bizzaro was in love with Giganta, but it's pretty clear it was unrequited.
- J'onn and his unnamed human companion, who he refers to as his wife, in the finale.
- Supergirl (Kryptonian) and Brainiac 5 (Coluan).
- There's sexual tension between Wonder Woman and Batman, which is another unclear example, as while Bruce is undoubtedly human, Diana is an artificial life form made of clay and magic.
- Carter Hall and Hawkgirl... but that's another rather confusing example. Is Carter an insane human or reincarnated Thanagarian?
- Inverse Law of Sharpness and Accuracy: Vigilante and Shining Knight, armed with pistols and a sword respectively, are up against people they could actually hurt with them in "Task Force X," and thus never manage to make contact with their weapons. They do, however, do quite well when it comes to their fists and lassos.
- Invisible President:
- He gets a small cameo towards the end of season two of Unlimited as the crisis approaches its climax, but the president's face is never seen and he is never named, only referred to as "Mr. President."
- The Justice Lords president does get some face time, and is pretty obviously an expy of George W. Bush, kowtowing to Superman by saying "elections are traditional, kind of like Thanksgiving".
- Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted in "For the Man Who Has Everything" and "Double Date". Wonder Woman and Black Canary injure their hands punching Mongul and Steve Mandragora, respectively.
- Ironic Echo: in "Twilight," Superman opens his fight against Darkseid with a Badass Boast ending in "let's go." Three seasons later, in "Destroyer," Darkseid echoes the line (and one-ups the Badass Boast) before attacking Supes.
- Irony: Given that we never find out the fate of the King of Kaznia in "Maid of Honour", he most likely perished when the rail-gun was redirected to destroy the castle instead of Paris. Why is this ironic? Because it means that Batman of all people, may have just accidentally killed Princess Audrey's father with a big honking space-gun!
- Is This Thing Still On?: Happens to Linda Park in "Flash and Substance". Hilariously.
- It Gets Easier: In "A Better World", The Flash states that killing him, a close friend whose parallel universe death was the motivation for his Face-Heel Turn in the first place, would be a line Lord!Superman would never cross. Lord!Superman shrugs and says that he has done many things he once thought were over a line; one more will not hurt.
- It Has Been an Honor: Batman in "Starcrossed".
- It Only Works Once: In his first appearance, the Shadow Thief can be disabled with bright lights. In his second appearance, he advises against trying this tactic, since it hasn't worked "in months".
- It's a Long Story - Superman after returning from the Bad Future in "Hereafter".
- It's Not You, It's My Enemies:
- It's What I Do: Darkseid in "Twilight".
- It Was Here, I Swear: The Cadmus facility which grew and managed the Ultimen was disassembled and moved after they discovered the truth, and when they returned to destroy it they only found empty offices.
- Jabba Table Manners: Displayed by Villainous Glutton Steven Mandagora.
- Jaw Drop: You would, too, if you watched an entire planet get obliterated before your eyes in a matter of nanoseconds. And you would do it again when you have been shown it was still there all along and you have been royally had.
- Jerk Ass:
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Batman
Amanda Waller: For all that fierce exterior I've never met anyone who cared as deeply about his fellow man as Bruce Wayne.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope:
- The Justice Lords of "A Better World" all did it following their Flash's death, an event that eventually led to every member shrugging off Thou Shalt Not Kill and taking over the planet by force, but Superman was the one who really went full-tilt.
- After a history of friendship and cooperation with Superman and Supergirl, Emil Hamilton begins to question the trustworthiness and good intentions of superheroes after Superman is brainwashed and forced to attack Earth. Does he withhold his help or begin to surreptitiously gather evidence against the heroes in order to take time to examine his fears and determine if they are justified? No, he begins to clone, kidnap, torture and kill them as part of a government conspiracy. Way to go Emil. He has been out of the eye of the camera for several years by the time we see him again in "Unlimited," so he could have done just that... and then did what he did anyway.
- Just Friends: Batman's description of his and Diana's relationship. Zatanna does not buy it for a second.
- Just Ignore It: "Hawk and Dove".
- Just in Time:
- Just Plane Wrong: The Green Guardsman tries to pop the villains' blimp with an arrow created by his power ring. Later Flash brings down the blimp by puncturing it. See this trope's page for why it shouldn't work, though since it's all a mentally-generated image, it makes sense that things in that world would react the way the average person would expect them to, not the way they would in real life.
- Karma Houdini - Villainess Killer Frost, easily one of the few supervillains in the DCAU in it For the Evulz (she likes killing people with ice powers. That sums her up), kills left and right, freezes the very people who sided with her in the Luthor/Grodd scuffle alive, and still manages to survive all the way to the end, never even being arrested. The worst she ever got was when J'onn forced her to use her ice powers to stop an avalanche that endangered people.
- Kick the Dog: Mongul does this to Superman in "For The Man Who Has Everything".
- Kid from the Future/Luke, You Are My Father: Rex Stewart aka Warhawk, previously established in Batman Beyond.
- Kill 'em All: A ton of supervillains get killed off in "Alive!"
- Killed Off for Real: Heroes in the show invariably turn out to be Not Quite Dead, as one would expect on a superhero cartoon, but villains die surprisingly frequently. Bystanders and sympathetic bit characters are ambiguously or explicitly killed off from time to time, to keep the villains appropriately threatening.
- Killer Yo-Yo: Used by Toyman to defeat Killer Frost in "Alive".
- King Arthur: Arthurian legend is mentioned and featured in three episodes, two of which involve his foe Morgaine le Fae and her role in the fall of Camelot, and the third features a retelling of his relationship with Sir Justin (Shining Knight), one of his vassals.
- King Incognito: Villainous example. When Grodd's secret society broke in the headquarters of Crime Lord Morgan Edge, Edge tried to escape by disguising himself as a servant but it failed because he forgot to put on shoes that weren't too fancy for a servant.
- Kirk Summation: Supergirl to Galatea
- Kiss-Kiss-Slap: Big Barda is constantly at odds with her husband, Mister Miracle, over his increasingly dangerous Houdini-esque escape tricks
Barda (elated): Scott! I thought you were dead!
Barda (angry): You insufferable showboat! (lifts off feet) I thought you were dead!
- Klingon Promotion: Luthor takes over the Legion of Doom by shooting Grodd and placing himself at the head of the table.
- Kneel Before Zod: Luthor to Grodd in "Alive".
- Knight in Shining Armor: Shining Knight.
- Knight Templar: The Justice Lords in "A Better World" and several Cadmus residents, particularly Wade Eiling.
- Kryptonite Factor: Kryptonite itself has a lasting impact throughout the series.
- Kryptonite Ring: Batman carries around a piece of Kryptonite in the event that Superman ever goes rogue, and Superman is aware and glad that he does so.
- Lex Luthor carried around a chunk of Kryptonite as well, for anti-Superman purposes. Unfortunately, as was previously established in the Batman/Superman team up movie, Kryptonite can affect humans as well... it just works much, much slower, as an otherwise normal, highly radioactive object. His having cancer because of said poisoning is a major plot point in the series.
- Lady in Red: Roulette.
- Lady Land: Themiscyra.
- Lame Comeback: Flash has a number of these.
Flash (to a hologram of Mirror Master): "Oh yeah well... you're not really all there!"
- Lampshade Hanging: All the time, but one of the most direct ones was in the episode "Hereafter", when Wonder Woman stopped a lightning attack with her metal wrist bracers.
Flash: "There are so many reasons why that shouldn't have worked."
- La Résistance: The alternate Batman runs one in "The Savage Time."
- Large Ham: Despero, Despero, Despero.
Despero: "GOOOOO! THE CONQUEST BEGINS NNNOOOOWWW! EMBLAZON MY WORD AND WILL ACROSS THE COSMOS!"
- Most of the really big villains tend to have this quality, to a greater or lesser degree, which makes the ultimate Big Bad, Darkseid, much more imposing because he doesn't act this way.
- Laser-Guided Karma: In the season two premiere "Twilight of the Gods" Darkseid comes to the Justice League for help against Brainiac, which brings up some old wounds for Superman, who is understandably still steaming mad at Darkseid for what the evil bastard did to him in the previous series and is more than happy to let Brainiac ruin Darkseid's twisted little world. Batman chastises Superman in the most aggressive and condescending way imaginable (after rattling off what Darkseid did to Superman he says "Cry me a river..." followed by "get over it") in order to get the plot rolling forward and get everyone to Apokolips while Batman and Wonder Woman are off on New Genesis. Batman takes it up to eleven by continuing to talk trash about Superman behind his back well into the second episode, making snide, nasty remarks about Superman's leadership abilities ("Next time I let Superman take charge just hit me real hard") and even calling him an idiot when he realizes that Superman has broken away from the team to battle Darkseid before going to fetch him before the planet blows up. When Batman finally does catch up to him, having the gall to play the concerned reasonable friend after what a jerk he's been, Superman coldly backhands him right into the wall. Later on when Batman tries to apologize without really apologizing Superman, who was ultimately right about not trusting Darkseid (as usual) just throws it back in his face by coldly saying "You know something Bruce? You're Not Always Right." A rare instance of the Dark Knight being left with mud on his face.
- Laser Guided Tykebomb: This version of Doomsday, a mutated clone of Superman whose creators conditioned him to hate the original. Interestingly, the original Doomsday was created on the Planet Krypton in its distant past (in the Comics,) so in both of these continuities, he's Kryptonian.
- Last-Second Word Swap: In the episode "Far From Home", when Supergirl was about to leave to attempt to stop the Legion of Superheroes, Brainiac 5 nearly said that he loves her, but swapped "love" for "lied to" at the last moment.
- Lawful Stupid, Chaotic Stupid: Parodied in "The Great Brain Robbery." 'Lex Luthor' is so evil that he does not wash his hands!
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "Wild Cards", Joker's 22:51 time limit is an obvious reference to the runtime of a half-hour television program, although the episode itself is double-length.
- Left Hanging: There are a number of plot threads left dangling. Including Green Lantern, Vixen, and Hawkgirl's Love Triangle and the result of General Eiling' vendetta against Superman.
- Legion of Doom: The Injustice Gang and both Secret Societies. The name "Legion of Doom" was not allowed to be spoken within the show, but the producers have revealed that they consider the organization in season three of Unlimited to be the actual Legion.
- Leitmotif: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow all have their own musical motifs (Batman and Superman retain their melody motifs from their respective solo shows). Green Arrow even hums his own theme while swinging forth into battle at one point. Even the Blackhawks have their own theme in "The Savage Time," and it is their real song. One of the classic comic teams from Golden Age, the Blackhawks had plenty of supplemental material released including, at one point, a song book. Though the music itself was composed by Lolita Ritmanis for this episode, she composed it to match the lyrics from the original Blackhawk Theme. An Easter Egg on the DVD plays the song as a music video, featuring it in its entirety over the aerial dogfight of the episode (It is quite epic).
- Even A.M.A.Z.O. got one in his introduction episode that played whenever he assimilates any of the heroes' powers.
- Leotard of Power: All over the place, though most often seen, of course, on Wonder Woman.
- Let Me at Him!: Green Arrow lunges against the government agents interviewing Steven Mandragora when Mandragora continuously insults Black Canary, who is there with Arrow as special security. Arrow ends up pleading with them to leave him alone with Mandragora for just five minutes. Ultimately, Canary ends up smacking him one... and nearly breaks her hand in the process!
- Let's Get Dangerous: It is probably good to remember that Flash, as carefree and goofy as he is, can make you explode just by touching you.
- "The Great Brain Robbery," had Lex Luthor in Flash's body... and showed just how terrifying an Evil Flash could be.
- Let's You and Him Fight: Occasionally, including the Metamorpho episode and also in "The Terror Beyond". Deconstructed in "Clash".
- Life or Limb Decision: For Aquaman.
- Lighthearted Rematch: In "Grudge Match".
- Lightning Bruiser: Steven Mandragora. The guy is HUGE, but he moves just as fast as Black Canary when she attacks him. Foreshadowed earlier in the episode when, after she punches him, states that there's no fat, only muscle.
- Like an Old Married Couple: The Flash points out that Green Lantern and Hawkgirl are bickering like an old married couple
- Like Brother and Sister: Flash and Hawkgirl.
- Living Prop: Many superheroes introduced during Unlimited (who, in the comics, belonged to teams ranging from the JSA to JL Detroit) never progressed beyond this.
- Living Shadow: Shadow Thief.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: from the third season on, the Justice League has over three dozen members.
- Logic Bomb: Bizarro is assisting Giganta because he has fallen in love with her, and in "Ultimatum" he is helping her break Gorilla Grodd out of jail. When Wonder Woman asks him what will happen to his relationship with Giganta after they have rescued her boyfriend, Bizarro freezes in confusion.
- Lost World: Skartaris and Themiscyra.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: The Black Mercy in "For The Man Who has Everything".
- Loud of War: The Question once successfully tortured a man with the use of crappy, overproduced pop music.
- For added fun, he's later heard singing the same song softly as he is breaking into a secure facility!
- Love Cannot Overcome: No matter how hard she tries positive, upbeat Wonder Woman can't get grumpy, antisocial Batman to settle down with her.
- Love Triangle: Green Lantern and Hawkgirl get romantically involved right before it comes out that Hawkgirl is a Thanagarian spy and engaged to another man. Although he does not quite lose his feelings for her, he does take up with Vixen before going into the future and learning that he has a son by Hawkgirl. Meanwhile, Hawkgirl picks up a stalker in Hawkman who believes (with more than a little justification) that he and Hawkgirl are reincarnations of Thanagarian lovers from ancient Egypt. Late in the series, it comes out that Green Lantern is (supposedly) also a reincarnation of one of the Egyptian Thanagarians' human friends who was having an affair with Hawkgirl's preincarnation which ended in the tragic death of all three of them. The series ends with Green Lantern and Vixen together, but with unresolved feelings between John and Shayera and the knowledge that they will somehow rekindle their relationship sometime before Batman Beyond.
- Loving a Shadow:
Hawkman: "We are the reincarnations of Katar and Chayera Hol, and I love you."
Hawkgirl: "You can't love me, Carter. You don't even know me."
- Wonder Woman's infatuation with Batman could be seen as this - is she really in love with Batman, warts and all, or is she merely in love with the idea of him and in love with the idea of being the light to his darkness?
- Lower Deck Episode: The Unlimited portion of the series focuses heavily on lesser-known members DC Comics, with many minor and supporting heroes receiving their own episodes throughout its three seasons. The episode "Patriot Day" starred seven of these characters, none with super powers, including such obscure ones as Speedy, S.T.R.I.P.E., the Crimson Avenger, and the Shining Knight.
- Lowest Cosmic Denominator: God makes no appearances in the show and gets no explicit references, but when Hawkgirl is in Tartarus the demons mistake her for an angel and flee when she makes reference to "the boss." Greek deities, however, are fair game.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: For Batman Beyond via "Epilogue." Hades also pulls this on Wonder Woman, only to have her shut him down by basically saying "Who cares?".
- Luxury Prison Suite: Enjoyed by the Ultra-Humanite and Lex Luthor (Although it might be a bit much to say Luthor enjoyed it). In the parallel world of "A Better World", Lois Lane is living in a lavishly furnished apartment, dating Superman and eating gazpacho... and she cannot leave the premises, have visitors, make phone calls or even write a letter. A gilded cage, indeed.