Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It is never definitively established if Hawkman's theory about his and Hawkgirl's past lives in Ancient Egypt is true or not. The other characters are never truly convinced, and his beliefs might all be the result of damaged Thanagarian technology, but much of the story of their past lives does match their current relationships and characters.
Mean Character, Nice Actor: Victor Rivers had trouble voicing the character of Hro Talak in "Starcrossed" as he descends into violence over the course of the episode. In real life, Rivers is a speaker and activist fighting Domestic Abuse and found the scenes where he essentially beats Hawkgirl to be particularly difficult.
Ace of the Royal Flush Gang has the ability to make you insane just by looking at you, even when not in her physical presence. Simply seeing her on television can transfer her powers to you.
When J'onn J'onzz really needs to learn how to pilot a spaceship, he forces his way into Kragger's mind, whose Thanagarian physiology normally makes him immune to telepathy. It leaves Kragger catatonic immediately afterwards, and when he returns two seasons later, he is brain-damaged.
Mirror Self: In "A Better World," the Justice Lords are mirror versions of the Justice League. They show up again when Brainthor tries to stop the League from interfering in his ascension. Originally, there was no Flash Justice Lord, as he was killed in that universe; when Brainthor creates a fake Justice Lord mirror self, the copy's outfit is identical to that of Flash villain Reverse Flash.
Mission Control: J'onn functions as one in Unlimited; after he takes a sabbatical, the role is taken up by Mr. Terrific.
The Mole: Up until the finale of Justice League, Hawkgirl.
Mood Whiplash: "Hereafter," an otherwise very somber story about what everyone thinks was Superman's death, is quite literally interrupted by Lobo's brash and obnoxious entrance. Action scenes and scenes of Superman's wake are interspersed with the League's beleaguered attempts to deal with Lobo.
Sinestro appeared in Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League solely in pursuit of his vendetta against the Green Lantern Corps, and he only worked with other villains in pursuit of that goal. However, in Season 3 of Unlimited, he works for profit and world domination/saving alongside the Legion of Doom even when it has nothing to do with the Corps.
Bizarro in Superman: The Animated Series was a complicated character whose attempts to do good resulted in destruction because of crippling mental disabilities. In Unlimited, however, he transforms into his comic counterpart (one version of his comic counterpart, anyway) who simply has a bizarre tendency to reverse the intention of words and emotions, confusing "like" with "hate" and "good" with "bad." Although it's implied that Luthor manipulated him into this.
The Movie: There was a plan for a movie to bridge the change between Justice League and Unlimited, titled Justice League: World's Collide. Ultimately the movie never materialized, but according to the Word of God, the majority of its content was incorporated into Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Though the final production does not fit into the DCAU continuity, it addresses the expansion of the League's roster, the construction of a new, bigger Watchtower, and even where Wonder Woman got the Invisible Jet that she uses for the first time in "For the Man Who Has Everything."
Muggle Power: Addressed very directly with the story arc about the US government and Amanda Waller's distrust of the League.
Mundane Utility: John Stewart sometimes uses his power ring for minor everyday tasks that people use their regular arms and hands for, including picking up newspapers ("Legends") and to hold open elevator doors ("Task Force X").
In the episode "Metamorphosis," a squicky example occurs when an extremely Overprotective Dad (who loved his daughter maybe a bit too much) did not like Rex Mason, his daughter's fiancée. He attempted to have Mason killed, while also forwarding his research outside of standard safety protocols, and when that failed he pretended that the one who told him to do it was Green Lantern, Mason's old friend. He then shows Rex a photo of John Stewart and his fiancée embracing, which had been a brief hug to support her following Mason's accident but was taken out of context, and Rex then went after Green Lantern in a rage.
Subverted in "Hunter's Moon." When the Love Triangle between Shayera Hol, Mari and John Stewart begins to develop, the two women are ambushed by Thanagarian soldiers who want to put Hawkgirl on trial for war crimes. Vixen is captured and immediately offers to help the Thanagarians capture Shayera in exchange for her own freedom; she even points out that they want the same man as a reason for the Thanagarians to trust her. However, as soon as she gains their trust, she disables her guards and hijacks their ship in order to save herself and Shayera. The two women actually become good friends, despite the continuous friction of the tension between Shayera and John. When the triangle evolves into a Love Quadrilateral with the addition of Carter "Hawkman" Hall, who believes himself to be the reincarnated true love of Shayera, the trope is subverted again when the Shadow Thief offers him John's life. Hawkman, being the hero, refuses and frees Stewart so they can defeat the Shadow Thief together.
Musical Episode: "This Little Piggy," which featured songs performed by both Circe and Batman.
Mutual Envy: In the episode "Metamorphosis," John Stewart sees that his former Marine buddy, Rex Mason, has it nice:
John Stewart: I've never thought much about the choices I've made. Maybe if I'd taken the other road, I'd be where Mason is now. Rich, successful...
Hawkgirl: (wryly) And engaged to a beautiful woman?
After John promises Sapphire Stagg he'll bring Rex home safe
Sapphire Stagg: No wonder he always looked up to you.
John Stewart: (puzzled) Me? He's the one who had it made.
Sapphire Stagg: No. He watches you on the news all the time. He still misses it being in action, saving people's lives. I think he'd trade places with you in a minute.
John Stewart: Guess it's true about what they say about "the grass always being greener."
My Country, Right or Wrong: Captain Atom is manipulated into turning against the League and fighting Superman during the Cadmus arc by General Eiling. When Huntress mocks him, he simply replies "I've got my orders, Ma'am."
Vandal Savage is a bit unhappy that he destroyed the world and wiped out humanity.
Superman had a bit of this in "Clash" after he realized he'd been tricked into trashing Luthor's reconstruction benefit because he thought he saw a bomb down there and beat up poor Captain Marvel for nothing.
Myth Arc: The second season episode "A Better World" began a storyline that reached through the following two seasons. It was unintended by the producers; they were just trying to make a couple of good episodes and did not plan to continue the story past those episodes. The arc eventually (retroactively) was pushed back to the final episode of Superman's series, as his actions in that episode prompted much of the government involvement that was expanded when the U.S. government realized how much of a threat the expanded JL potentially posed to the population. Again, the entire thing was unintentional, but it fit together awfully well.
Most episode titles are based on various DC Comic series, like "Brave and the Bold" and a clever one in "Wild Western Stories."
In "The Once And Future Thing," where members of the League go to the future and meet an older Batman, when the current Batman is warned that things in the future are different he asks his older self, "Are criminals still superstitious and cowardly?"
In "Starcrossed," Batman wears a diplomat disguise to infiltrate the Thanagarian warship. His disguise greatly resembles Alan Napier, who played Alfred in the Adam WestBatman series.
In "A Better World," Batman's password is the date of his first appearance in Detective Comics: 91939 (September, 1939).
In "Secret Society," Grodd's society (Himself/Sinestro/Shade/Giganta/Clayface/Killer Frost) charging toward the League in a balls-out glorious homage to the old Challenge of the Superfriends intro.
"Chaos at the Earth's Core" opened with several heroes fighting a giant turtle rampaging through Tokyo. The turtle itself is actually from an old Jimmy Olsen comic, which featured Jimmy turning into that giant turtle. Commentary on the DVD reveals that they chose not to go that exact route in order to avoid having to explain why the giant turtle turned into a naked Jimmy Olsen when it was defeated, but the turtle itself was left in as an homage.
In "Task Force X," Plastique is tended to by Captain Atom after she is injured and left behind by the rest of the team. In the comics, the two end up getting married.
In "Injustice For All," in the first fight between Lex's group and the League, a statue of Zan and Jayna is smashed.
In "Comfort and Joy," the cat that lives in the Kents' house is pretty clearly Streaky the Super-Cat. It has no powers, however.
When Wonder Woman needs to switch from civilian clothes to superhero outfit in "To Another Shore," she uses the transformation sequence from the 1970s Lynda Carter TV show.
General Eiling's giant mutated form is identical to the Shaggy Man body he transfers his mind into in the comics, although the character, method and storyline are completely different. The group of heroes at the parade in that episode were an amalgamated lineup of the Seven Soldiers of Victory.
Tom Turbine in "Legends" explains a vibration-based multiverse theory which is pretty close to how the pre-Crisis DC multiverse worked.
When Brainthor creates robot Justice Lords to distract the League, he's forced to create a new one for Flash (since Flash's death was what created the Justice Lords in the first place). The being he creates is nearly identical to Professor Zoom AKA The Reverse Flash.
"Ancient History" tells the story of Hawkman and Hawkgirl's original selves in Ancient Egypt. It is said that Teth Adam paid tribute to them. Teth Adam is the man who would become Black Adam in DC's mainstream continuity.
In "Alive," Cheetah and Bizarro are the ones to hook up Lex's machine in space, likely a callback to Wanted: The Superfriends, where the Legion rewired the JL satellite to make the world into slave clones of the two.
"Eclipsed" features a talk-show host named Gordon "Glorious" Godfrey. In the Fourth World of DC comics, Glorious Godfrey was one of the New Gods of Apokolips who served Darkseid, and in the miniseries Legends posed as a talk-show host on Earth named G. Gordon Godfrey.
Also from "Eclipsed": one of the possessed characters (as per another's sarcastic suggestion), in order to attract the JL, "puts on a gaudy costume and threatens to hurt a lot of people". He ends up looking exactly like the original comic book version of Eclipso (who has a very different origin and background).
No Gravity for You: When Lex Luthor and The Flash go through a "Freaky Friday" Flip, Mr. Terrific pulls this to try and stop Luthor. Lex figures out how to fly in the zero gravity, but Mr. Terrific uses that against him too. An interesting use of dueling brains by two of the smartest humans.
No One Could Survive That: Batman believes this of Darkseid in "Twilight," but Superman is more skeptical. Oddly for this trope, Darkseid does not survive. He gets better through. They learn from experience, though; when much is made about Darkseid having been stopped by the sacrifice of Luthor (of all people), there is the calm prediction, "They'll both be back."
In the first episode, Batman tosses a Batarang at someone he thinks is an ordinary mook, but is actually a White Martian in disguise. Instead of dodging out of the way or going intangible, the Martian just lets the Batarang bounce harmlessly off her forehead.
No Swastikas: In "The Savage Time," the words "Nazi" nor "Hitler" are never uttered, even though we see Hitler in a jar in one point. No swastikas are seen in flashbacks where they would be expected (one shot of Hitler speaking at a rally has a large backdrop German Eagle clutching an empty wreath, for instance). Later uses of the Vandal Savage symbol, however, are justified in that he replaced the swastika with his emblem after usurping Hitler. However, the effect is the same as if they had used swastikas, as his logo is essentially the S-rune of the SS on a white disc on a red background.
"The Savage Time" begins with most of the League returning from a mission in space. Green Lantern complains about how he had to use his ring to drag everybody else across the galaxy, and Flash consoles him with the fact that they at least won the battle, but what they actually did is never expounded upon.
In "The Great Brain Robbery," when Flash is trying to prove he is really Flash and not Lex Luthor:
Flash: Until he went off to the Marines, GL's nickname was...
Green Lantern: Stop! It's him! You promised never to repeat that story!
Of the "Not Blackmailed" variety, Task Force X is filled with criminals forced into service to the US government, led in the field by Colonel Flagg. At the end of the episode, Deadshot asks Flagg just what it is that Amanda Waller has on him which makes him such a loyal and determined lackey. Flagg explains that she doesn't have a thing on him; his loyalty is genuine.
Not Quite Flight: The Flash once improvised "flight" when falling to his death during "I Am Legion." By spinning his arms, he created a cushion of air, likening himself to a helicopter before comically falling to the ground.
Not the Fall That Kills You: Wonder Woman rescued Steve Trevor after he was forced to abandon the plane he was flying, and caught him with only a few feet to spare before he hit the ground. He showed absolutely no negative effects from his sudden deceleration.
Not What I Signed On For: Lex Luthor's reaction when he finds out what Grodd actually has planned for their Legion of Doom. Not because he felt it was too evil, but because turning the world into apes was really stupid.
Although the Question explained that his hatred of Lex Luthor was brobdingnagian, he points out that his actions are not personal, but just a necessary step to keep the League from turning on humanity.
Now I Know What to Name Him: Implied with Shayera at the end of "Ancient History", after John tells her about his meeting of Warhawk (their future son) and that even though he loves her he will not be destiny's puppet. She goes to Batman, sits down beside him and gently requests; "Tell me about my son".
Nuke 'em: General Wade Eiling'sfirst thought after he is told to fix the Doomsday situation is to drop a nuclear warhead on Doomsday and, by extension, Superman and San Baquero. Since Eiling planned to get to Superman eventually and had long wanted to stop drug smuggling from San Baquero, he considered it killing three birds with one stone.
Obfuscating Stupidity: The episodes "The Brave and the Bold", "Divided We Fall", and "Flash and Substance" shows that Flash only acts like a fool.
Romantic variation is shown with Huntress and the Question. The only common ground they seem to have is that other League members consider them both - for different reasons - to be a bit nuts.
Supergirl and Green Arrow bond in "Initiation," the first episode of Unlimited, and are frequently shown conversing and cooperating throughout the series. She and Green Lantern also spend a lot of screen-time together and banter freely and warmly, but they have a more traditional mentor/student role instead of partnership.
Hawkgirl and Solomon Grundy.
Vigilante is a stereotypical cowboy, Shining Knight is a medieval knight. In "Patriot Act", they were watching a movie together before a mission.
Official Couple: Several, including Superman/Lois, Green Arrow/Black Canary, Supergirl/Brainiac 5, and Question/Huntress, also Warhawk's existence implies John Stewart and Shayera, though at the end of the series they are no longer a couple. Word of God has stated they will get together eventually.
When Cronos throws Chucko into the Cretaceous period.
Chucko (to a T. Rex): You think I'm scared?! I'll be running this place in a we-
*looks up to see a meteor*
Green Lantern and Green Arrow, when Superman asks them the name of the "boy" who kept Supergirl in the future. He is named Brainiac. But it is a nice version of him. Seriously.
Lex Luthor and the Legion Of Doom travel halfway across the universe to find Brainiac, who Lex Luthor wants to fuse with to recover godlike power. They find the supposed essence of Brainiac in the cosmic dust and reconstitute him... only to find out it is NOT Brainiac, but DARKSEID.Mass "Oh, Crap!"!
Waller realizing that Luthor played her, immediately followed by Hamilton realizing Luthor's plan. He's stolen enough Cadmus tech to build himself a second, mindless A.M.A.Z.O., and then transfer his mind into it.
In "Grudge Match" after Black Canary and Huntress have worked to free Vixen and Hawkgirl from Roulette's mind control, the cage opens and in walks a brainwashed Wonder Woman.
Vixen: Does anyone have a plan?
Hawkgirl: Yeah, stay alive.
Huntress: Does anyone have a good plan?
In "Divided We Fall," when Luthor believes he killed the Flash he chuckles to himself before looking up to see that Superman is...displeased.
Oh My Gods!: Wonder Woman is a serial offender ("Great Hera!" "Hera, give me strength!"); it becomes a plot point in "The Terror Beyond".
Old Master: Named, appropriately enough, The Master. He was one of Batman's martial arts trainers and also serves as an advisor to the deceased Deadman.
One of Us: In-universe, Hawkman is a frequent browser of "I Hate Hawkgirl" websites where he is constantly banned for flaming the other members. Batman, when discussing Hawkman's activities, correctly uses the term "flame" to describe on-line hostility.
One Steve Limit: Averted, as both John Stewart and J'onn J'onzz regularly go by their real names, though the pronunciation is slightly different (J'onn is pronounced closer to the French Jean.) Flash sneaks in a gag about "the Two Johns" at one point.
The first to appear in the series would be Hades, who at first shows up looking like a regular guy in Greek-esque armor. Later, his face gets burned off and we see "his true face"; a grey-skinned, demonic-looking monster, with horns, an elongated jaw and multiple forked tongues.
At the climax of the Cadmus arc, Luthor is abducted by Brainiac, first becoming a monstrous human/mechanical chimera, then becoming a true union of flesh and steel when he unites with Brainiac for the final conflict with the Justice League.
Only in It for the Money: Batman is able to convince the Ultra-Humanite to double-cross the Injustice Gang by offering double what Lex Luthor was paying. Humanite then donates it to public broadcasting.
Out-of-Character Alert: Flash finally recognizes that the person they are speaking to is not Batman, despite the fact that they are obviously the same person, when he grabs a gun from a subordinate and wields it himself.
Outside-Context Villain: "Starcrossed" opens with the League patrolling Washington, D.C. because Batman has received a tip that terrorists are planning to attack a summit of world leaders. In the first scene they are instead attacked by a Gordanian spaceship and are rescued by the Thanagarians, who explain that Earth has now been dragged into their interstellar war.
Outside-the-Box Tactic: In the episode "Hawk and Dove", the Annihilator defeats entire armed factions by feeding off aggression and hostility. When Dove faces the machine and neither attacks it nor fights back in self defense, the machine shuts down.
Phantom Zone: A slightly ironic use, where Batman becomes disgruntled with Superman after he sends Doomsday into the literal Phantom Zone. The plot really isn't trying to cover up the fact Batman's anger is treating it as giving someone an actual death sentence.
Piano Drop: In "This Little Piggy", Zatanna attacks Circe with with a barrage of items (Chair, table, tablecloth) as Circe keeps trying to get out a "Who Dares?" exclamation. She caps it off with a piano, which finally gets Circe to stop trying to complete her line.
Piggybacking on Hitler: In "The Savage Time", Vandal Savage in the present builds a time machine and sends a laptop back to himself during World War II, containing future history and schematics for technology. Past-Vandal then joins the Nazis and rapidly rises through the ranks until he usurps Hitler himself, becoming the new Führer. Vandal Savage does not really care about Nazi ideals; he just wanted to use them to conquer the world for himself.
"Only a Dream" had Batman, who'd been awake for three days straight before having to face Dr. Destiny, a villain who can creep into a sleeping person's dreams, must take measures to keep himself awake even longer: a triple-strength coffee, a broken windshield which gives him a rush of cool air to keep him awake, and Frere Jacques playing in his mind. Once Dr. Destiny is defeated through accidentally sedating himself, Batman is seen asleep at the Watchtower Sickbay, snoring.
Power Creep, Power Seep: In his own series, a tough enough Mook could give Batman trouble (or at least slow him down). Here, he can land kicks on Darkseid - okay, it does not really do anything, but still. In-Universe, gradual power creep is shown in "Only a Dream" to be Superman's greatest nightmare. He keeps getting bigger and stronger and is unable to control his powers. Used as a great Mythology Gag, no less: "I started with no power at all, and I kept getting more. What if it never stops?"
Princeling Rivalry: Aquaman is the strong first born betrayed by his scheming younger half brother Orm/Ocean Master. Orm chains Aquaman and his newborn son to the side of a cliff that's falling into magma. Aquaman gets one arm free and uses it to chop of his other hand so he can get out in time, and then goes to attack Orm directly.
Real Time: The majority of "Wild Cards" takes place in real time, with a Ticking Clock on screen keeping track.
Reality Ensues: It turns out carrying a chunk of radioactive rock in your pocket will not only fend off a Kryptonian, but also give you cancer. Batman at least had the good sense to store his chunk in a lead-shielded compartment in his utility belt.
The Mirror Universe Luthor gives one to that dimension's Superman at the beginning of a "A Better World", pointing out that he could have stopped Luthor years ago if only he had killed him. This version of Superman takes him up on the suggestion.
Captain Marvel gives one to the Original Seven in "Clash" (particularly Superman) over their recent actions.
Captain Marvel: My whole life, I've looked up to the League. You were my heroes. Every one of you. (to Superman) And you, you were more than a hero. I idolized you. I wanted to be you. Whenever I was out there, facing down the bad guys, I'd think, "What would Superman do?" Now I know… I believe in fair play. I believe in taking people at their word and giving them the benefit of the doubt. Back home, I've come up against my share of pretty nasty bad guys, but I never had to act the way they did to win a fight. I always found another way. I guess I'm saying I like being a hero. A symbol. And that's why... I'm quitting the Justice League. You don't act like heroes anymore.
Hawkgirl had never shown up anywhere onscreen in the DCAU continuity prior to her first appearance in the three-part premiere episode "Secret Origins," but the other main characters evidently already knew who she was.
John Stewart, the Green Lantern, also counts, though his example isn't as obvious because the Green Lantern Corps and their various members had already been shown in the earlier Superman: The Animated Series episode "In Brightest Day".
Not long after the series premiered, in comics canon John Stewart returned to being an active Green Lantern with his haircut and costume from the series and joined the JLA. While the comics have yet to shave him bald and give him a beard ala the JLU seasons, his Mirror Universe counterpart, Power Ring, sports a similar look and John joked about it with Black Lightning (who is currently bald) when he replaced Hal Jordan in the post-Infinite Crisis version of the League.
Retraux Flashback: "Patriot Act" opens with a scene of the Spy Smasher stealing the Captain Nazi formula during World War II. Not only was it in black-and-white, but they used different music and fight effects from the rest of the series in order to emulate film serials of the time.
The Reveal: From "Starcrossed" Hawkgirl has been spying on Earth and the League all along for the Thanagarians, who are planning to destroy the Earth as part of their war with the Gordanians.
Revealing Coverup: In "Fearful Symmetry" it was Cadmus sending soldiers and robots to attack Green Arrow, the Question and Supergirl that hinted to them that they should investigate the general who had commissioned those robots when the three had just run into a dead end.
Sacrificial Planet: The first episode of the cartoon displays an invasion of aliens coming to Earth. These aliens previously had taken Mars, leaving the Martian Manhunter as the sole survivor, who comes to Earth to warn the planet and help form the Justice League to fight them off.
The Greek pantheon received a general re-writing to fit the good/evil dichotomy of the story (See Hijacked by Jesus). When Circe appears in "This Little Piggy" she is repeatedly referred to as a "Goddess." In The Odyssey, the actual Circe, though powerful, was merely a human witch with a penchance for turning people into animals.
The series takes many liberties with Arthurian legend, introducing Morgan Le Fay as an antagonist of the League and tying Etrigan's origin into the fall of Camelot. Most of the changes, however, were first made in the comics before being adapted into the show.
Salt and Pepper: Reversed. Green Lantern is the straight man, while Flash is the goofball.
Superman: I'm fine. Very glad to be home... Flash? Flash:[sniff] Something in my eyes. Green Lantern: Yeah, tears. It's OK, man. We all feel the same way.
Save This Person, Save the World: In Unlimited the Flash explicitly points out that since his death was what caused the Justice Lords to go rogue, if everybody just concentrates on keeping him alive then there is no chance of the League overthrowing the government.
Maria Canals (Hawkgirl's Actress) "I have this war cry that I love when I get to do. It relieves a lot of stress when I do it."
Supergirl, believe it or not. When she loses most of her abilities in "Chaos at the Earth's Core" Green Lantern tells her to stay back out of the fight, but she picks up a sword and literally leaps into battle, screaming at the top of her lungs before Lantern can even finish the sentence.
Screw Destiny: When John tells Shayera about their future son, Rex Stewart (aka Warhawk) he also tells her that although he still loves her, he "won't be destiny's puppet" and will be staying with Vixen. However...
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In "Wild Cards," when Superman points out that he will be killed along with the heroes if he stays until the bomb goes off, King turns and flees the fight.
Superman was the first character to reveal his identity to another member of the League during the show. In "Comfort and Joy" he brings J'onn J'onzz home with him for Christmas, introducing him to his parents and including him in his life as 'Clark.'
In "Starcrossed," when the League is on the run they realize that they can easily blend in with the populace.
J'onn: [The Thanagarians] are looking for the Justice League. Without our costumes, we are merely ordinary citizens. Wally: Hold on a second here. What about the whole "secret identity" thing? I mean, I trust you guys, but I'm not sure I'm ready to— Batman: (impatiently) Wally West. Clark Kent. (yanks off his own mask) Bruce Wayne. Flash: (muttering) Show-off...
J'onn J'onzz had criminal Steven Mandragora moved from his hideout and placed in protective custody, but withheld that information from the Huntress to see if she would attempt to kill him for the murder of her parents. She tries to and is kicked out of the League for being willing to cross that line.
Shining Knight retells a story of one time when his lord, King Arthur, ordered him to lay waste to a village. Shining Knight believed that Arthur could never be so heartless and refused the order, willing to turn in his sword in shame if it turned out that he was wrong, but Arthur in turn thanked him for his actions.
In "For the Man Who Has Everything," Mongul tries to accuse Superman of falsifying their previous encounter, calling Batman's description of Superman humiliating Mongul a "jaundiced account". In "War World", Superman had humiliated Mongul, and Mongul only ever held his own when he was blackmailing Superman into deliberately losing the fight.
In the series finale "Destroyer", Darkseid pulls this, erroneously recalling that last time they met ("Twilight"), Superman could barely hold his own against him. The truth was that in "Twilight", Superman fought him much closer to a draw or victory and would have killed him, had not Batman dragged him away through a boom tube.
Sensor Character: J'onn J'onzz often fulfills this role, thanks to his telepathic abilities.
Sex Face Turn: Batman seduces Cheetah when he is being held prisoner by the Injustice Guild, and she is subsequently torn when Luthor plans to destroy the Watchtower. Ultimately, the Justice League receive a warning about the bomb and are able to survive, and Solomon Grundy drags Cheetah off-screen to punish her for her betrayal. It was not her, but the Ultra-Humanite who warned the League.
Shaped Like Itself: Galatea's kryptonite is boredom. Actually, her kryptonite is kryptonite, but that is hardly relevant to the conversation.
Shapeshifter Default Form: Acknowledged and played with by J'onn. His "superhero" form is merely a slightly more humanoid version of his true martian form; it allows him to have some bit of identity without having to look too human. However, this also led to a minor production error, which the producers admitted on the DVD commentary: In "A Better World" the Justice Lord J'onn J'onzz is shot by a power-disrupting beam and instantly loses the dragon-shape he had changed into. However, instead of reverting back to his actual Martian form, he returns to his Justice Lord costume and shape that he adopted to fit in with the rest of his team. The commentary reveals this just slipped by and was not noticed until the episode had already been completed.
Shapeshifter Showdown: In "Secret Society", between the Martian Manhunter and Clayface. The Martian wins... by turning into Clayface.
Sheathe Your Sword: Wonder Woman, Hawk, and Dove face an unstoppable magical robot that feeds on aggression. Dove beats it by... not fighting, or rather by getting analogues of North and South Korea to stop fighting.
In "Injustice For All" after Batman beat him up the Joker used Daffy Duck's catchphrase of "YOU'RE despicable!"
In the episode "Legends", the giant robot at the beginning was explicitly modeled on the Eva's from Neon Genesis Evangelion.
In the World War II battles of "The Savage Time", Superman flies directly through a German plane and emerges from the inevitable explosion covered head to toe in flames - which makes him a dead ringer for the Marvel Universe's original, Nazi-fighting Human Torch. An unidentified Allied solider later in the episode is shown injured and clutching his eye in reference to Nick Fury. In the same episode, the Flash heckles the Nazis by yelling "Over here, Colonel Klink!"
In "Only a Dream", Batman relates the story of Odysseus and the cyclops Polyphemus from The Odyssey after Green Lantern dismisses John Dee as "a nobody".
In "Eclipsed" G. Gordon Godfrey reads an anti-superhero diatribe from a book titled "Innocents Seduced." by "Dr. Fredrick". This is a riff on "The Seduction of the Innocent" by Dr. Fredrick Wertham, an infamous book about the negative effects of superhero comics on children.
In "A Better World", the Flash deduces that he is the conscience of the team when he learns that it was his death that caused the Justice Lords to overthrow the government. John Stewart then calls him "Jiminy."
In "The Greatest Story Never Told", Booster Gold tells the transporter technician to "Energize!", which is the command from Star Trek (The technician calls him a doofus). When Skeets later emerges from of a black hole, he proclaims "My God, it was full of stars...", a line from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In "Question Authority", the Question refers to his hatred for Lex Luthor as being "brobdingnagian". In Gulliver's Travels, Brobdingnag was a country inhabited by giant humans, and the term "brobdingnagian" has come to refer to things as being very large.
When the Flash runs so fast he nearly enters the Speed Force in "Divided We Fall", the rapid montage of the world as he runs around it is reminiscent of Mike Jittlov's The Wizard of Speed and Time, another story about a speedster.
In "Epilogue," the Royal Flush Gang features a Jack that is also a samurai, and his normal human form looks likePhil LaMarr, who voiced the title character in Samurai Jack. Ten looked like Bo Derek's character in the movie "10". The Queen turned out to be a male in normal form, and both forms resemble the deceased actor/performer/drag Harris Glenn Milstead, a.k.a. Divine. invoked
The giant flying turtle that attacks Japan in "Chaos at the Earth's Core" is both a Mythology Gag and a shout out to Gamera.
"Patriot Act" features Vigilante and Shining Knight discussing the film Dirty Harry.
The final two episodes of JLU, "Alive" and "Destroyer" are references to the titles of two KISS albums. Darkseid's outfit is also a direct reference to Gene Simmon's on the cover of Destroyer. In the episodes themselves, Captain Steel mimic Captain America by flinging a Parademon's shield.
The poem Wonder Woman recites at the end of 'To Another Shore' is part of 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
In "The Balance", Diana has a lovely painting of a woman on a bull on the wall of her Watchtower quarters. Those with a background in Greek history will recognize it as a fragment of a bull-jumping mural from the ancient ruins on Minos.
In the World War II episodes, it is clear that the artists took the effort to study genuine artifacts of the war (such as the lovingly-rendered Messerschmitts and Shermans) to get the look right, rather than make "good-enough" versions. This shows even in the less glamorous vehicles (the Opel Blitzes and Dodge 6x6 trucks) that most people who are not rivet counters would not pay attention to.
Smart People Play Chess: "Wake the Dead" features Hawkgirl, A.M.A.Z.O. and Aquaman playing chess against one another. It is used to establish that Hawkgirl is in a psychological funk, as Aquaman cannot elicit any kind of emotional reaction from her despite his provocations, and she loses their game despite previously being able to defeat Batman. A.M.A.Z.O. defeats Aquaman at their game, but says that Aquaman is improving.
Smug Super: Gorilla Grodd is the most arrogant character of the series, who frequently exposits at length about his own intelligence and the inferiority of everybody around him.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Wonder Woman and Batman's invasion of Kasnia, complete with engaging enemy jets, infantry, and tanks, is accompanied by the reverent wedding ceremony of Princess Audrey and Vandal Savage.
In "Injustice For All," Batman is captured and restrained. Joker tells Luthor that they should kill him right away, but Luthor refuses. To which The Joker responds, "And they say I'm crazy".
In "Secret Society", after most of the JL has been captured, Clayface argues with Grodd that they should just kill the heroes immediately. Lampshaded by Clayface who, as a former actor, is very familiar with what happens when the villain takes their time in killing the hero. Hilariously, though, this is actually the Martian Manhunter passing off as Clayface, masterfully playing his role.
Big Barda, the page image, appears in season two of Unlimited.
Fire, the object of Flash's not-so-subtle affections, is the tallest one on the team when she, he, and Hawkgirl go to Blackhawk Island.
Stop Worshipping Me: The previous incarnations of Hawkgirl and Hawkman were Thanagarian police officers stranded on Earth before human civilization arose. They founded the first human state (in Ancient Egypt) and, despite their sincerest efforts to avoid it, were worshiped as gods in return.
Straw Feminist: Aresia, an orphan raised by the Amazons, took their distrust of men to the ultimate extreme by releasing a deadly allergen to kill all males on the planet. Even after learning that it was a man who saved her life and helped her reach the safety of Themyscira, she still claimed that the good deed of one could not atone for the sins of the others.
Vandal Savage's time travel activities end up equipping Nazi legions with War Wheels, machines the size of buildings that overwhelm any Allied tanks or infantry they come up against.
In Unlimited it is revealed that the Nazis were experimenting with a Super Serum, creating the "Captain Nazi" program to turn regular soldiers into unstoppable monsters. Fortunately, Spy Smasher was able to destroy the laboratory and take the only existing sample of the formula back to the USA.
In Starcrossed, Batman decide to stay behind in the Watchtower to guide it until the last second towards its target. Which is heroic and all, except they could probably have controlled it remotely. Or let the Martian Manhunter do the job, since he's both competent enough to pilot the Watchtower and able to get out of it alive without much trouble.
Vandal Savage uses his marriage into the Kasnian Royal Family to install a Rail Gun into the International Space Station and, as he now has "the ultimate high ground," declares himself ruler of the world.
CADMUS fears that the League itself will become a hanging Sword, particularly with their Binary Fusion Generator pointing down at the world; the original story is namechecked as LexCorp Damocles-class missiles are used to attack the League when Amanda Waller feels they have crossed the line. Waller and compatriots were partially inspired by the actions of the Justice Lords, who did take control.
Symbolic Blood: The end of the flashback in "Ancient History" shows past-incarnation Jon and Shayera dead with a pool of red... poisoned wine.
At the end of "Divided We Fall," after Flash has vanished into the Speed Force Shayera asks him to take her hand as she tries to pull him back. Ultimately, she and the rest of the League grab his arm and pull him out of the Speed Force, but a close-up reveals that Flash never did grab Shayera's hand..
Take That: When the League first forms, Flash scoffs at being "a bunch of Super Friends." In the same episode, one plot point consists of a massive dig at Reeve's AnviliciousSuperman IV— Superman is manipulated into disarming the world's nuclear weapons by an alien in disguise so that his species can invade the Earth.
Taking You with Me: Simultaneous example. In "Chaos at the Earth's Core", Metallo is in the process of killing Supergirl with his kryptonite power source when she pries out his power source using a knife. Metallo will die when his reserve power runs out, but he notes that the kryptonite is still killing Supergirl regardless. Unfortunately for Metallo, Stargirl arrives to save Supergirl.
Talk to the Fist: In Unlimited Ep. 6, Circe is performing at the Amphitheatre. Zatanna starts magically chucking furniture at her during her "acceptance" speech.
Theme Naming: Trickster notes how most of the Flash's Rogue's are Captains, and complains that they would probably treat him with more respect if he were a captain. Of course, Mirror Master is also outside the pattern and gets plenty of respect, so maybe there are other reasons.
Theme Tune: Both Justice League and Justice League Unlimited have their own. When the League travels to the wild west, a country-tinged version of their original theme plays as they ride into action.
Theme Tune Cameo: Green Arrow sings a bit from the leitmotif that serves as his personal theme tune when he rides down a zipline and kicks a mook in the face.
Then Let Me Be Evil: Though John Dee had occasional fantasies of power and vengeance on the Justice League, when "Only a Dream" began he was a well-behaved prison inmate who even the guards liked and believed should be released. However, his parole is turned down again, his wife leaves him, and then the prison erupts in a full scale riot. From all indications he really was a rehabilitated convict, but when the system would not even give him a chance he decided to go whole-hog and cut loose.
There Are No Therapists: Averted, as both Martian Manhunter and Dr. Fate serve as official therapists to the League and its members. Wildcat, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, and A.M.A.Z.O. are all shown under their care at one time or another.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: In part two of "Once and Future Thing," Lord Chronos sends his turncoat henchman Chucko to the age of the dinosaurs... just before the world-shattering meteor impact... at ground zero. Resulting in an understated "Oh, phooey.'' from said clown.
Chronos: "Do you know what killed the dinosaurs? Well, Chucko does."
There Was a Door: Frequently. In "Injustice For All" Hawkgirl smashes through the door and is followed by the Flash, then Superman smashes a hole through the wall next to the already-made hole where the door was, and then Green Lantern and Wonder Woman smash another hole through a window, next to the already-existing hole in the wall which is itself next to the already-existing hole where the door once was.
Despite the trope's general presence and frequent mention, this commandment apparently does not apply to Nazis. Everyone (aside from Batman) is shown performing clearly lethal actions in "The Savage Time", including ripping engines off troop transport planes in the middle of the Atlantic.
Wildcat gives up underground metahuman boxing events when he realizes that if he keeps this up he will in all likelihood kill someone, and is really off-put by the prospect.
After Lex Luthor laughs at Flash's apparent death, Superman explains how he is different from the Justice Lords dimension version of himself:
Superman: I'm not the man who killed President Luthor. Right now I wish to Heaven that I was, but I'm not.
Supergirl does not follow this policy. Though generally averse to killing when possible, and she is disturbed when she dreams that she might have been killing indiscriminately and without remorse in "Fearful Symmetry", in "Chaos at the Earth's Core" she takes up a sword without reservation and cuts her way through the final battle when she no longer has her powers to resolve the situation non-lethally.
Throwaway Country: San Baquero, a volcanic island nation in the Caribbean Sea that is, according to General Wade Eiling, the source of much drug smuggling into the USA. It is destroyed in "The Doomsday Sanction" when the volcano erupts, assisted by a near-explosion from a nuclear warhead.
Token Minority: John Stewart was chosen to be the Green Lantern for this series instead of the more popular Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner. The creators have confirmed that part of this decision was to prevent the team from being solely composed of white people and aliens.
In "Starcrossed", the finale to Justice League, the Watchtower is destroyed.
In the final episode, fittingly titled "Destroyer," the Daily Planet office building is damaged. Darkseid picks up the giant stone globe on top of the building and hurls it through the roof, attempting to crush Superman. The whole building collapses.
Batman tricks Harley into returning to the Joker's secret headquarters in the middle of the Royal Flush Gang's assault on Las Vegas. He does this a lot, actually, because the Joker immediately chews Harley on falling for the trick.
He also planted a tracking device on Lex Luthor in Injustice For All (the Joker found it).
The Thanagarians use that trick with Hawkgirl, but it backfires (the heroes prepare an ambush).
Trick Arrow: Used by Green Arrow and his ex-partner, Speedy.
Tripod Terror: Used in the pilot. In-joke provided by "General Wells".
Truth in Television: In "A Knight of Shadows", the Hugh Hefner Expy refers to a statue he describes as "Greek." Wonder Woman corrects him, insisting that it is in fact a Roman copy. In real life, many of our surviving ancient "Greek" statues are in fact very good marble Roman copies of the bronze Greek originals.
Try Not to Die: Huntress, Black Canary, Vixen, and Hawkgirl against one enemy? Easy, right? Make that foe Wonder Woman and really, all they can do is try to stay alive.
Universal Driver's License: Subverted. "Starcrossed, Part 3" has the League plan to fly using a Thanagarian shuttle, and it cuts to J'onn J'onzz sitting in the pilot seat. After a brief pause, he states that he has absolutely no idea how to fly that craft.
Unknown Rival: John Dee was just one of Lex Luthor's Faceless Goons, who was busted by the Justice League for guarding a shipment of stolen weapons and has been stewing in prison and dreaming of his revenge ever since. When he gains superpowers and escapes, the Leaguers are all baffled as to why he wants to destroy them, since they do not remember arresting him at all.
Unmoving Plaid: Why neither Zatanna nor Black Canary wore fishnets. Damn it.
Unpaused: In the episode featuring Deadman, Superman gets possessed midsentence while talking about a restaurant in Smallville where "the milkshakes are so thick..." When he regains control of his body, Supe's first words are "... you have to eat them with a spoon! (Beat) Why am I in Africa?"
Unreliable Expositor: The origins of Cadmus and Doomsday as explained by Amanda Waller and Professor Milo do not exactly match the shown events or each other's stories.
Unresolved Sexual Tension: Green Lantern and Hawkgirl (and later, Batman and Wonder Woman) put the "UST" in "Justice". And Black Canary and Green Arrow at first, but they eventually resolve theirs.
Unwitting Pawn: In the first episode, Superman assists in the dismantling of the Earth's nuclear arsenal to support world peace. Unbeknownst to him, the US congressman which spearheaded the initiative was actually setting up the planet for invasion by the Imperium.
The former Trope Namer, the title sequence for Justice League and Unlimited had the League pose in the classic formation. The original opening had them in silhouette, the second opening had them fully lit.
The Thanagarian Strike Force in "Starcrossed, Part 3" enter Wayne Manor and then take a brief moment to pose.
Voices Are Mental: Averted. During "The Great Brain Robbery" Michael Rosenbaum continued to voice Flash's body and Clancy Brown continued to voice Luthor's body despite the characters' mind getting switched. However, Brown would read Luthor-as-Flash's lines for Rosenbaum to imitate and vice-versa. DVD commentary says the producers were quite excited at this prospect, primarily as a Shout-Out to Michael Rosenbaum's role as Luthor in Smallville, but the episode eventually had very little dialogue for Luthor-as-Flash, with most of the attention on Flash-as-Luthor.
Wave Motion Gun: Watchtower II's Binary Fusion Generator cannon, which proved to be way more trouble than it was worth. It was almost, but not quite, a Wave-Motion Tuning Fork - although the blast itself came from a barrel, the barrel emerged from the base of the station splitting open... and then the barrel itself split open on either side of the muzzle.
We Are as Mayflies: Martian Manhunter is already over a thousand years old, and he came to realize that he will likely outlive many of his current human friends so he had better learn to like humanity.
Justice Lord Batman: I didn't forget! I just chose peace and security instead.
Justice League Batman: You grabbed power!
Justice Lord Batman: And with that power, we've made a world where no eight year old boy will ever lose his parents because of some punk with a gun!
We Work Well Together: The heroes who would form the League joined together in the first episode in order to repel an alien invasion. Afterwards, Superman advanced the idea of forming an official, long-lasting partnership in order to respond to any threats too large to face individually.
"Starcrossed", the finale to Justice League. It is revealed that Harkgirl has been a mole the entire time, spying on humanity and the League for the Thanagarians. Her and John Stewart's relationship ends, the Watchtower is destroyed, and the League is reformed into the more powerful (and more feared) Unlimited form.
"Question Authority" in season two of Unlimited. The Question learns about the events of "A Better World" and decides that the same events will ultimately unfold in this reality as well. In order to prevent such destruction, he decides to kill Lex Luthor so that Superman will never be driven to such an extreme. The Question's beating at Luthor's hands leads to direct conflict between the League and Cadmus, and ultimately to the reveal of Brainiac having taken control of Luthor.
From "A Better World": "I'm great." Superman's complete lack of regret over killing President Luthor indicates that he has decided to no longer feel guilt or restrain himself from the use of his powers.
" Rich boy" in "Ultimatum". It demonstrates not just that Amanda Waller knows Batman's secret identity, but is the first indication that Cadmus knows more about the League than the League does about them, that the organization is of a much larger scale than previously suspected, and that it might be able to do actual damage to the League. This secret becomes a key factor in the plot of "Epilogue".
Captain Marvel chews out the Original Seven before resigning from the Justice League for their paranoia and arrogance.
Played for laughs in the finale, where the villains, having just helped saved Earth, protest the League being so quick to arrest them after everything's back to normal. Batman decides to cut them a break and give them a Mercy Lead.
When All You Have Is a Hammer: Hawkgirl's initial stratagem for dealing with any given problem is to hit it really hard with her mace. If that fails, Plan B is to hit it with the mace... but harder.
White Man's Burden: The equivalent was Katar Hol's motivation to conquer ancient Egypt and then the rest of Earth—it's his and Chayera's responsibility to bring the peace and stability of Thanagarian rule to the "savage" world.
Actually, in most of his appearances, Vandal Savage is generally an example of Living Forever Is Awesome; even if his scheme of the moment fails, he's still got all the time in the world to try again, and the experience and wealth accumulated from countless normal lifetimes at his disposal. It's not until part 2 of "Hereafter", when he is seen in the far distant future as the last surviving human due to his own actions, that Who Wants to Live Forever? really applies.
Wicked Cultured: The Ultra-Humanite appreciates classical opera and the works of Tchaikovsky. He betrays Lex Luthor for a higher payday, then gives the money away in a donation to public broadcasting. He exposits on the importance of literacy amongst children and agrees to a Christmas truce with the Flash in order to give a present to orphans, which he has modified to play a recording he made of The Nutcracker. Throughout the series, everything he does is motivated by an appreciation of fine art and culture.
Winged Humanoid: Thanagarians. Flashbacks in the final season portrayed ancient Thanagarians with golden, metallic-looking wings instead of the apparently-natural wings of the current-day. Word of God explained that Thanagarians were originally Human Aliens with mechanical wings (like their counterparts from the original comics) and at some point in the interim they used bioengineering to give themselves organic wings.
Wire Fu: Not literally, since the show is animated and no special effects are used, but in "Dead Reckoning" the monks of Nanda Parbat are animated in their fight scene as if they were using wires to assist their movements. This is animated in a distinctly different style than the other characters who are able to fly or jump over great distances through their superpowers.
The Worf Effect: Used often. Commentary released on the DVD's reveals that the producers played the trope perfectly straight, they would have villains injure Superman to display how powerful they were, but that they did not realise at the time how often they were doing it, or the detriment to the show. When they started the second season of Justice League they made a policy decision to stop this particular tactic; it was only resurrected in "The Return" where, instead of defeating Superman, the Android defeated the entire League in order to show how powerful it was.
Wrecked Weapon: In the final duel between Travis Morgan and Demos in "Chaos at the Earth's Core", Morgan cleaves Demos' sword in two after trapping it against the stone stairs they are dueling upon.
Wrestler in All of Us: In "For the Man Who Has Everything" Wonder Woman gives Mongul a full on German suplex. Solomon Grundy gives Superman a standard vertical suplex in "The Terror Beyond". In "The Cat and the Canary" Atomic Skull gives Wildcat a cage assisted back suplex. Upon recovering, Wildcat, a trained boxer and martial artist, responds with a clothesline. A few other pro-wrestling moves show up throughout the series as well.
In the episode "Wild Cards": If The Justice League succeeds they have created a media storm that Joker can high-jack to make Ace drive a few million people incurably insane. Joker wins. If the Justice League fails they get blown up alongside large amounts of Las Vegas and the ensuing media storm will provide Joker even more victims for Ace. Joker wins.
In "Clash": Luthor sets up a situation where either Superman will humiliate himself and the League by destroying Luthor's prototype fusion generator...or he won't and Luthor will get great free P.R. himself as a philanthropist and inventor.
Vandal Savage: The Earth belongs to the cockroaches now… Oh, and me. Superman: You're insane. Vandal Savage: ... True. But that doesn't mean I'm not good company. Say, you want to come over to my house? Superman: ... Vandal Savage: Like you've got something better to do.
Another one, in "Injustice For All"
Solomon Grundy: [To Luthor] You're crazy! The Joker: [Bursts into the room] And what's wrong with that? It's done wonders for me!
Your Cheating Heart: John Dee's wife comes to visit him in prison only to inform him that she is leaving him for another man (who is already living in their house with her). This triggers his Start of Darkness, causing him to become Doctor Destiny.
Your Mind Makes It Real: When Martian Manhunter is trying to extract information from a captive's mind in "Starcrossed", the injuries inflicted by the mind's defenses also appear on his physical body, including his cape. As a shapeshifter, his "normal" appearance, even his uniform, is a creation of his mind and it can change at his will; when his mental self-image is being clawed by birds, his mind creates the slashes on his body (See also Body Horror).
Zerg Rush: The staff aboard the Watchtower in Unlimited are normal humans without either power or special skills and never even established as having basic combat training, but when the station is boarded in "Panic in the Sky" and a large group is cornered by a large dinosaur they look at each other and then charge at it en masse.