Justice League: Tropes M to Z
aka: Tropes M-Z
Due to the number of tropes present, Justice League
has been split into two pages. Tropes A To L can be found here
This series provides examples of:
open/close all folders
- Macross Missile Massacre: In "Panic in the Sky," they were transport vessels full of Super Soldiers sent to kill the League.
- Mafia Princess: Huntress was one of these—and did not know. She finds out the hard way.
- Magic Pants: Mandragora's pants alone among his clothes survive Black Canary's Canary Cry, thank God.
- Also used in the case of Eiling's monster form in "Patriot Act."
- Magic Versus Science: Tala and Luthor argue about this in "Alive."
- Magical Defibrillator: Hawkgirl's mace.
- Magicians Are Wizards: When Zatanna closes out her show, she tends to perform actual magic to give the audience a big finale. Instead of grabbing a rabbit, she pulled a member of the audience out of her hat.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: Black Canary's Canary Cry and Silver Banshee.
- Man Bites Man: When tied up in "Starcrossed," Wonder Woman bites the hand of the guard who is feeding her. After she told him that she would not bite him.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Lex Luthor, mostly.
- Maniac Monkeys: Gorilla Grodd (an ape, not a monkey, but it is the closest trope we have) is one of the primary villains that the League faces.
- Marshmallow Hell: Wonder Woman is carrying a shrunk-down Atom in her hands. She needs both of these to fight. Guess where she stuffs him?
- Mass Hypnosis: Joker tries this in "Wild Cards," though it is more of Mass Insanity.
- Master of All: The second appearance of A.M.A.Z.O. is this with a bullet, thanks to Power Copying turned Up to Eleven.
- 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.
- Meaningful Funeral: In "Hereafter." Of course, Superman comes back.
- Mechanical Evolution: A.M.A.Z.O.'s ability to evolve was so potent that, by his second appearance, he was already beyond being a machine.
- Mercy Kill: Hawkgirl putting the reanimated Grundy out of his misery (she even compares it to Old Yeller).
- Mercy Lead: Given to the villains in "Destroyer."
- Messiah Creep: Flash, again.
- Meteor Move: Go Superman!! Give it to that murdering bastard Darkseid!!
- Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Vandal Savage in "Hereafter."
- Mind Control: Grodd's signature move.
- Mind Over Manners: Martian Manhunter.
- Mind Rape
- Doctor Destiny gains the power to enter and twist peoples' dreams in "Only A Dream."
- In "Hearts and Minds," Despero is using the flame of Pytar to empower legions of soldiers, but instead decides to mentally rape Katma Tui and Hawkgirl into personal slaves.
- Gorilla Grodd, after he eschews Mind Control and just uses his Psychic Powers to cause debilitating pain in his enemies. He got those powers after the Flash had messed with his Mind Control helmet.
- 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.
- Minored In Ass Kicking: Batman, naturally.
- Mirror Universe: "A Better World"
- 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.
- Moment Killer:
- Monowheel Mayhem: Due to Vandal Savage's time-tampering, World War II is filled with Nazis War Wheels, mammoth war machines that overwhelm Allied tanks and infantry alike. The War Wheels are originally from the Blackhawk series, and the Blackhawks themselves appear to help defeat the Axis.
- Monster Clown: The original. Due to the Bat-embargo, however, he only appeared in two storylines.
- Monster Sob Story: Vandal Savage in "Hereafter."
- Monumental Battle: Most notably in "Destroyer" but also in some other episodes.
- 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.
- Mook Chivalry: When Captain Cold, Captain Boomerang, Mirror Master and the Trickster decide to kill the Flash once and for all, they each takes turns with their own death traps one at a time. Eventually, Captain Cold points out that taking turns is dumb, and they decide to jump him together.
- Monochrome Past:
- In "For The Man Who Has Everything," Batman has an extended flashback to the day his parents died. Everything is, naturally, in black and white.
- In "The Ties That Bind," Mr. Miracle's flashbacks to this time in the X-Pit are all tinted blue.
- "Patriot Act" opens with a scene showing the Spy Smasher stealing the Captain Nazi formula during World War II. The scene is in black and white, and also has different music and fight effects to emulate the style of film serials of the time.
- Morality Chain: Supergirl's Twin Telepathy with her clone Galatea was slowly causing Galatea to develop a conscience, making it harder for Galatea to work as a hit man.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Where to begin?
- Most Common Superpower: Lampshaded with Galatea, which makes sense since she is pretty much a villainous expy for Power Girl. Otherwise mostly averted, even with Wonder Woman, due to the art style used in the series.
- Most Definitely Not a Villain: "The Great Brain Robbery"
- Motive Decay:
- 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.
- Luthor and Grodd notwithstanding, most of the villains in the Legion of Doom in the final season suffer from this as few of them have any stated motives other than profit and "Wants to be able to commit crimes without being caught". This is understandable though since it would take up huge amounts of screentime to give them all separate motives.
- 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."
- Mr. Vice Guy: Booster Gold's character.
- Ms. Fanservice: Black Canary's character was the only reason Green Arrow stayed on with the League.At first, anyway.
- 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").
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Played straight once and subverted twice:
- 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.
- Must Make Amends: Hawkgirl
- 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."
- My Eyes Are Up Here: Zatanna to B'wana Beast.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- Vandal Savage is a bit unhappy that he (accidentally) 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.
- My Grandson Myself: Vandal Savage poses as his own grandson during his Civilian Villain stage in "Maid of Honor."
- 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.
- Mythology Gag:
- In the comics, Vandal Savage first debuted as an adversary of the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott. John Stewart became the first to combat Savage in "The Savage Time". And the fact that Savage recalls Stewart being the toughest to kill in "Hereafter" is another little nod to his history with Green Lantern.
- In the episode "Paradise Lost:Part 1," Wonder Woman saves a little girl named Cassie and calls her little sister, a reference to Cassie Sandsmark, the current Wonder Girl.
- Martian Manhunter enjoys Oreos in "Comfort and Joy," which are his Trademark Favorite Food in the comics.
- 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 two-part "The Once And Future Thing" story:
- In "Part One: Weird Western Tales", Jonah Hex comments on the futuristic nature of the antagonists' gear; when Batman notes this, Hex remarks, "I've had an interesting life", a nod to a brief 1980s retooling of Hex as a time-displaced Mad Max Expy in a Crapsack World future.
- In "Part Two: Time, Warped", 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 West Batman series.
- Also in "Starcrossed", the name of the Thanagarian villain Hro Talak is an anagram of Katar Hol - the real name of Hawkman, Hawkgirl's Distaff Counterpart. A true Hawkman appeared in a much later episode.
- 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.
- In "Patriot Act", 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. In fact, how he goes about here is tied to Shazam villain Captain Nazi. 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).
- In the Project Cadmus arc of Unlimited, Supergirl's evil clone Galatea looks and dresses exactly like Power Girl, who's Supergirl's Alternate Universe doppelgänger in the comics.
- "Flash and Substance" references that Wally West is the third Flash in the comics, though he otherwise appears to be the only Flash in the series and the references themselves are never explained further. The Flash Museum has the helmet of the first Flash, Jay Garrick, on display. At work in a police lab, Wally mentions an unnamed uncle is "flying in" to see him. His uncle is Barry Allen, the second Flash, who had the same job. Furthermore, Wally's saying this to a blond guy who looks just like Barry Allen.
- "Maid of Honor" has Princess Aubrey promising that she won't tell anybody that Wonder Woman has "feet of clay." Wonder Woman replies, "You have no idea." For people who know that Wonder Woman was a clay statue brought to life by the gods, it's hilarious.
- Another "Comfort and Joy" one: someone◊ walking behind Green Lantern and Hawkgirl looks a lot like Swamp Thing.
- Nay-Theist: Hawkgirl, and Thanagarians in general, renounced Ichthultu and no longer bow down to any higher power. She believes in Ichthultu, though—enough to smash his brain in with her energy mace.
- Necktie Leash: Huntress likes to do this to The Question.
- Never Heard That One Before: In "The Greatest Story Never Told," Booster Gold tells the transporter technician to "Energize!", which is the command used in Star Trek. The technician in turn calls Booster a "doofus."
- Never Live It Down: In-Universe
- Flash still gets flak for his corporate endorsements as late as Unlimited season two.
- Shayera's role in the Thanagarian Invasion, which she is reminded of by others on a semi-frequent basis in Unlimited.
- Never Say "Die": Completely averted, as characters never shied away from talking bluntly about death or killing, and there's even an episode revolving around Superman's apparent death (complete with funeral). It's relatively rare for anyone to actually die though.
- Never Sleep Again: In "Only a Dream," Batman and the Martian Manhunter fight Doctor Destiny, a villain who can trap people within their dreams, and they have to try to stay awake to fight him.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- In the first episode, Superman's assistance in dismantling Earth's nuclear arsenal in pursuit of world peace removes the planet's defenses against the Imperium invasion.
- Hawkgirl in "Eclipsed" when she smashes the crystal, which turns the one-possession device into a multi-possession device. An Oh, Crap by the Flash follows as soon as he realized what she had done.
- Superman destroying Lexor city while fighting with Captain Marvel in "Clash."
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Blackhawk Island is protected by, among other things, Flying Robot Gunsharks. In "The Once And Future Thing, Part 1," Batman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman end up fighting cowboys who are riding on robot dinosaurs.
- No Body Left Behind: A couple of times most notably in "Destroyer."
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Harv Hickman in "A Knight of Shadows" used the Philosopher's Stone to wish for money and women. By the time the episode takes place, he is a magazine publisher (Flash reads it for the articles), owning a familiar-looking mansion complete with a Grotto. Some of his lines to Wonder Woman count as Getting Crap Past the Radar.
- 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 Guy Wants an Amazon: When Shayera and Mari are exercising in the League gym, Mari, while running on a treadmill, advises Shayera to go easy on the weight machine since men often do not enjoy the ripped, bulky look.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Frequently.
- No Immortal Inertia: Happens to Mordred in "Kid Stuff."
- No Medication for Me: The Trickster suffers from delusional episodes that are treated with regular medication; when he stops taking his medication, he relapses into villainous activity. He explains that he feels he no longer needs his medication, since he takes them when he is feeling "down." Flash points out to him that he is wearing his villain costume again, which the Trickster was not even aware of, and that it is important he turn himself in to the police and resume his medication. Trickster agrees after Flash promises to visit him and play darts (the soft kind).
- 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."
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup
- No Sell: Downpour versus Aquaman
King of the Seas, remember?
- 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.
- No Water Proofing In The Future: In "Injustice For All," Batman shorts out Lex Luthor's stasis field by spitting a mouthful of water into it.
- Noble Demon: Etrigan, literally. He's a "good" guy who happens to be a fire-breathing monster from Hell.
- Noodle Incident:
- "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!
Flash: I know. I was just messing with your head.
- Not Brainwashed:
- Grodd's accomplice in "The Brave and the Bold."
- 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 Growing Up Sucks: Mordred.
- 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 So Above It All: Martian Manhunter playing Brawlin' Bots with Flash.
- 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.
- Nothing Personal:
- When Hawkgirl says that her attacking Green Lantern was not personal, his only response is "keep telling yourself that."
- 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's first 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.
- Obligatory Joke: From "Dead Reckoning". The Trope Namer.
- Odd Friendship:
- 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.
- The titular characters of 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.
- Officer O'Hara: In "Legends."
- 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.
- Oh, Crap:
- 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.
- Old Shame: After the events of the Thanagarian Invasion, Shayera considers her original costume and even the name "Hawkgirl" to be this, changing into a new, more down-to-earth outfit and referring to herself only by her real name.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: In the climax of "The Once and Future Thing: Time Warped" when Chronos attempts to remake the Universe in his own image.
- 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.
- One-Winged Angel
- 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.
- Opponent Switch: The Original Seven opt to do this against the fake Justice Lords in "Divided We Fall" so as to avoid their respective Hannibal Lecture.
- Opt Out: Captain Marvel.
- Our Hero Is Dead: Superman in "Hereafter".
- Our Ghosts Are Different/Our Souls Are Different: Deadman and Gentleman Ghost.
- Our Wormholes Are Different: They not only provide Faster-Than-Light Travel (which the League does not share with the world), it also sucks nasty dark matter out of the Sun.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Solomon Grundy.
- 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.
- Out of Order: For American viewers...
- For Season 1, everything between "The Enemy Below" and "A Knight of Shadows" as Cartoon Network held off airing "Injustice for All" until later to tie-in into a video game based on it. While, this didn't really affect "Paraside Lost", "War World", and "War World", both "Fury" and "Legends" (the episodes before "A Knight of Shadows") held elements that were introdcued in "Injustice for All" (respectively the Injustice Gangnote and Luthor in the Powered Armor he gained in "Imjustice").
- Season 2, Everything between "A Better World" and "Starcrossed" has their airing order rearranged from their production order. "The Terror Beyond" and "Eclipsed" had their airing order swapped from their production order, as did "Hereafter" and "Secret Society", and "Comfort and Joy" and "Wild Cards". However, this doesn't really affect anything, even with Green Lantern and Hawkgirl's Relationship Upgrade in "Wild Cards" despite "Comfort and Joy" being the episode before it in production order, but airing after.
- 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.
- Papa Wolf: Never threaten Aquaman's kid.
- Parental Bonus: Many, see the Crap Past the Radar page and Mythology Gag.
- Parental Substitute:
- Wildcat helped train and mentor Black Canary when she was just getting started.
- Oberon to Mister Miracle.
- Galatea calls Dr. Hamilton "Daddy". Hamilton is visibly unnerved by the situation, since he is potentially sending her to her death.
- Perpetual Frowner: Ace's permanent frown is so pronounced it is funny.
- 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.
- Physical God:
- Ares, Hades and Darkseid and the New Gods.
- Future!Ace from the Royal Flush gang.
- 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.
- Pistol-Whipping: Of a sort. After they both run completely out of arrows in "Patriot Act", Green Arrow and Speedy charge at their enemy swinging their bows as blunt instruments. They are both effortlessly knocked down without actually hitting the enemy.
- Playing with Fire: Fire and Volcana.
- Poirot Speak: The Germans in "The Savage Time" speak English, even amongst themselves, but occasionally slip in a "Jawohl" and "Mein Fuhrer."
- Politically Incorrect Hero: Aquaman antagonizes Shayera Hol when they are playing chess, making sexist remarks regarding her skill as a warrior and worthiness as an opponent, but is really just trying to get a reaction out of her since she is in an emotional funk.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Mongul spends most of his fight with Wonder Woman making sexist cracks.
- Post Script Season:
- Most seasons ended on a pretty big note to avoid the same fate as Batman Beyond or Static.
- Season two of Unlimited wrapped up the Cadmus Myth Arc and ended with a Fully Absorbed Finale for Beyond, complete with a bookend for BTAS - and thus the entire DCAU. Then they got one more season.
- Post-Victory Collapse:
- Professor Hamilton in "Question Authority".
- "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?"
- Power Loss Makes You Strong: Green Lantern in "The Savage Time", Superman in "Hereafter", Supergirl in "Chaos at the Earth's Core".
- Power Nullifier: Used by Luthor on the Justice Lords.
- Power Perversion Potential: Implied.
- Power Trio: DC's "Big Three": Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Spotlighted in "For the Man Who Has Everything".
- Power Walk: Intro for Seasons One and Two featured this in sloooow mooooootiiiiioooonnn.
- Powered Armor: Worn by Luthor and Steel. S.T.R.I.P.E starts of as more of a Mini-Mecha before gradually becoming more like this in the final season.
- Present Peeking: Superman/Clark Kent's parents use lead foil which blocks his x-ray vision so he can't peek.
- President Evil: Lordverse Lex Luthor. Main universe Luthor runs as well, but has no actual interest in being president and only ran for the sake of ticking off Superman. It works quite well.
- 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.
- Professor Guinea Pig: Cheetah.
- Prophecy Twist: "Far From Home".
- Proud Warrior Race Girl: Hawkgirl. Also Draaga in "War World".
- Psychic Static: Batman humming "Frere Jacques" at Doctor Destiny.
- Psychopathic Manchild:
- Ray in "Legends". He would have been around fifty by the time of the events of the episode, but continued to live out his fantasies as a young teenager.
- Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat: When Zatanna is closing out her performance, she proclaims that she will pull a rabbit out of her hat. She grabs someone from the audience instead.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...:
- Happens to Superman during the prison break in "Starcrossed"; his cell was specifically designed to sap his powers, and he had not fully recovered yet.
- Happens rather humorously to Downpour against Aquaman in "Ultimatum". Downpour tried to crush Aquaman by turning into a tidal wave, which did nothing, followed by Aquaman backhanding him.
Aquaman: "King of the Sea, remember?"
- Punched Across the Room: A staple of the series as superpowered beings, and even some non-superpowered beings, toss people hither and yon.
- Puppeteer Parasite: Eclipso
- Put on a Bus:
- Putting on the Reich: "Hearts and Minds"
- Race Against the Clock: "Wild Cards," which takes place in Real Time as the League attempts to defuse several bombs that the Joker has placed throughout Las Vegas.
- Ragnarok-Proofing: The League's Space Base. Vandal Savage notes it did not fall out of orbit for quite close to 30,000 years, and after all that time and going through re-entry, some technology in it still works. "A marvel of engineering" indeed!
- Raised Hand of Survival: In "Maid of Honor", Vandal Savage emerges from the rubble of the Kaznian royal palace fist-first. In an unnerving Double Subversion, he is not exactly OK—the explosion has disfigured his body in a rather horrifying fashion—but his Complete Immortality keeps him alive and conscious, regardless.
- Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: By Flash.
- The Real Heroes: "Patriot Act".
- 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.
- When Lex and the Flash switch bodies, Lex tries to take advantage of it.
Lex: If nothing else, I can at least learn the Flash's secret identity. (takes mask off) I have no idea who this is.
- Reality Warper
- Really Gets Around: Tala. Luthor, Grodd, alludes to past history with Felix Faust (All apparently more power plays than anything else) and even manages to sneak in a quickie with The Flash.
- Really 700 Years Old: J'onn, Vandal Savage, Morgaine le Fey and her son, Mordred. Mordred ultimately loses his eternal youth in the episode "Kid Stuff" and ends up rapidly degrading to his true age.
- Real Men Wear Pink: "Double Date" opens with two of Mandragora's bodyguards discussing a recipe for scones.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- 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.
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.
- Red-Headed Hero:
- The Flash. When she sees it for the first time, Wonder Woman says that red hair suites him.
- Hawkgirl, the fiery, boisterous character.
- and The Question, without his mask.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Hawk and Dove, who are colored according to the philosophies they personify, but coincidentally embody many of the personality traits of this trope as well.
- Redemption Equals Death: Solomon Grundy.
- Reincarnation Romance: Between John Stewart and Hawkgirl... maybe.
- Relationship Upgrade: In "Wild Cards" in season two John and Shayera go from teammates who bicker and argue a lot to an Official Couple.
- Religion Is Magic: When Felix Faust begins wreaking havoc in Tartarus, only the magic-based heroes are affected.
- Remember the New Guy:
- 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".
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Villains Copperhead and Eclipso.
- Rescue Romance: The precise details are not revealed, but Big Barda mentions that she was a slave on Apokolips before Scott Free, her future husband, freed her from her brainwashing.
- Ret Canon:
- 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.
- Vixen's current 'superpowered Josephine Baker' look came to the comics from here.
- 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.
- Retro Universe: The well-loved episode "Legends".
- 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.
- Revenge Against Men: The plot of "Fury".
- Riding into the Sunset: "Starcrossed" (And, by proxy, Justice League) ends with Shayera Hol flying into the sunset as John Stewart watches.
- Right Behind Me: Batman about Wonder Woman in "The Once and Future Thing".
- Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: In "The Savage Time"
- Road Trip Episode: When the Flash buys a van in "Eclipsed", he says that he and Green Lantern should take a road trip "looking for America". Green Lantern dryly remarks that he will let Flash know as soon as his schedule clears up.
- Robot Buddy: Skeets to Booster Gold, also Brainiac in Superman's Krypton fantasy.
- Rocket Punch: S.T.R.I.P.E. has one.
- Rogues Gallery: Flash's Rogues Gallery, in particular, makes a memorable appearance.
- Round Table Shot: For both the League and Cadmus in "The Doomsday Sanction".
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens
- Rubber Man: Elongated Man and Plastic Man.
- Running Gag: In "The Greatest Story Never Told", several characters mistook Booster Gold for the Green Lantern, even lampshaded at the end of the episode.
- Ruritania: Kasnia.
- 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.
- Sadly Mythtaken:
- 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.
- Sand In My Eyes: Nicely subverted after Superman comes back from the dead.
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.
- Scenery Censor: Happens to Lex Luthor in "Divided We Fall".
- Screaming Warrior:
Maria Canals Barrera
(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.
- Sdrawkcab Alias: Greek deity Ares passes himself off as 'Mister Sera'.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: "Secret Origins", "Paradise Lost", "Secret Society".
- Seen It All:
- The Kents had a notable moment when J'onn came to visit for Christmas.
J'onn: Hello... My name is J'onn. I am a Martian.
Jonathan Kent: Well come on in, we're no strangers to aliens in this house.
- Jonah Hex, in a Mythology Gag to his comic self, easily recognizes the JL as time travelers. "I've had an interestin' life."
- Secret Identity:
- 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...
- Secret Test of Character:
- 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.
- Seinfeldian Conversation: In "Patriot Act", Shining Knight and Vigilante spend an elevator ride talking about Dirty Harry. Vigilante is a fan of the film and Clint Eastwood, but Shining Knight believes that his refusal to play by the rules besmirches himself and his profession.
- Self-Serving Memory:
- 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.
- Series Fauxnale: "Starcrossed" and "Divided We Fall" / "Epilogue" in particular.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: In "Hereafter", Superman is sent back to the day of his disappearance by Vandal Savage to avert a Bad Future where Savage disrupts the entire solar system's gravity and wipes out mankind. The lead-up to this scheme involved the death of a scientist named Ray Palmer, so that's a bonus, too.
- 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.
- Sexy Discretion Shot: When Shayera and John finally admit their feelings to each other they kiss passionately, and the scene cuts to an old woman hitting "Jackpot!" on a slot machine.
- Sexy Walk: Circe during her "Lulu's Back In Town" montage. Well, she is Circe after all.
- Shadow Archetype: Shadow Thief to Hawkman.
- Shadow Discretion Shot: Mandragora killing The Huntress' parents in a flashback.
- The Shangri-La: Nanda Parbat.
- 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 Guilt Trip: The drones in "Divided We Fall."
- 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.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Hawkgirl, or as Green Lantern put it;
- She-Fu: In their conflict in "Double Date", Huntress uses handstands, spins, and high kicks, while Black Canary fights like a real-world well-trained martial artist and wins hands-down.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Batman, about Wonder Woman. Zatanna wasn't too sure about this though, considering he said the same thing about herself as well.
- Ship Tease: Between Batman and Wonder Woman in "The Brave and the Bold" and other episodes.
- Shipper on Deck: The Joker wonders aloud whether there is something going on between Hawkgirl and Green Lantern... then declares "Not on my show!"
- Shoot the Dog:
- Hawkgirl and Grundy play the trope painfully straight, and the trope namer was even referenced.
- The Question attempts to avert a Bad Future by killing Lex Luthor so that Superman will not find himself pushed into doing it. It backfires spectacularly.
- Shoot The Fuel Tank: Vigilante shoots the gas tank of his own motorcycle after he drove it right at the General. It does explode, but it has no effect.
- Shooting Gallery
- Shooting Superman: Way too many to count, but one of the best actually comes from Aquaman, of all people.
Aquaman: King of the Seas, remember?
- In "Secret Origins", Senator Carter was part of the mission to Mars, referencing John Carter of Mars. The plot of the episode as a whole is a Whole Plot Reference to H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, including a General Wells.
- 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."
- The two-part episode "The Terror Beyond" is an extended homage to the Marvel Comics team The Defenders. Doctor Fate stands in for Doctor Strange, Solomon Grundy for the Hulk, Hawkgirl for Nighthawk, and Aquaman for Namor. Grundy even refers to Hawkgirl as "Bird Nose", Hulk's nickname for Nighthawk. The villain this team fights? An octopus-headed god known as "Ichulthu". The same team returns in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Wake the Dead", with A.M.A.Z.O. now added to the group as a stand-in for the Silver Surfer.
- In "Wild Cards", the Joker buys airtime under the name of 'Gwynplaine Entertainment'. Batman gets the reference, but nobody else in the show does. Later in the episode, the Joker remarked that "they would have gotten away with it, too, were it not for me meddling with the kids!"
- The Thanagarians' ultimate goal in "Starcrossed" was to blow up the Earth to make a hyperspace bypass, which is how every incarnation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy begins.
- The exterior of Luthor's mansion, as seen in "The Return" is based on Charles Foster Kane's mansion in◊ Citizen Kane. Later, Luthor mentions Heisdenberg Compensators, which are frequently-mentioned devices in Star Trek.
- In "This Little Piggy", when Zatanna is trying to grab a rabbit in her hat, she calls out for "Bugs." Later in the episode, Circe is crushed by a flung piano and her feet, which are sticking out from under the piano, go flat and roll up under the piano.
- 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 Gullivers 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 like Phil La Marr, 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.
- 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.
- In "Dead Reckoning", Superman, currently possessed by Deadman, says when he, Batman and Wonder Woman are transported to Africa, "You know, when they beam down on that TV show, they never miss."
- "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.
- The commentary for "The Return" mentions two.
- Shown Their Work:
- 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.
- "Shut Up" Kiss: Steve Trevor plants one on Wonder Woman, and she returns the favor later in the episode.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Flash to a robotic duplicate attempting a Hannibal Lecture on him.
- Sinister Silhouettes: Aforementioned V-Formation Team Shot in the first series opening had them silhouetted.
- Sizeshifter: The Atom, who shrinks, and Atom-Smasher, Giganta and Longshadow, who grow.
- Sleep Cute:
- A platonic — but adorable — one with Hawkgirl and The Flash in "Only A Dream".
- John and Shayera have a more intimate one after a Bar Brawl.
- Smart People Know Latin: Batman and Green Arrow exchange Latin proverbs to demonstrate their intelligent rivalry.
- 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.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent:
- Snowball Fight:
- 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.
- Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Wonder Woman objects to the wedding of Princess Audrey and Vandal Savage. Strenuously. With a tank.
- The Spock: Martian Manhunter.
- The Spook: The Imperium Horde are this.
J'onn: Where they came from, no one knew.
- Spot of Tea: In "Starcrossed, Part 3", Alfred points to their ability to now enjoy a nice pot of a tea as evidence that things turned out all right in the end.
- Spotting the Thread: Batman notices that Clayface is in disguise when he overdoes his acting... yo.
- Stage Magician: Zatanna is a primary guest star in "This Little Piggy," where she is introduced performing her act on stage.
- Stage Mom: Morgaine le Fay.
- Stalker with a Crush: Hawkman
- Standard Female Grab Area: Played straight.
- Stating the Simple Solution:
- 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.
- Stationary Wings: Hawkgirl and the rest of the Thanagarians. The ancient Thanagarians used to wear artificial wings and hover via an anti-gravity device, but they have since bio-engineered organic wings into their species.
- Statuesque Stunner:
- 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.
- Story Arc: Unlimited had two.
- 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.
- String Theory: The Question has one.
- Stupid Evil: Parodied in "The Great Brain Robbery." 'Lex Luthor' is so evil that he does not wash his hands!
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler
- 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.
- Stupid Sacrifice:
- In The Savage Time, Steve Trevor plans to sacrifice himself to delay a group of German soldiers so Wonder Woman can escape, and when she tries to explain to him that there is no need for such an action he interrupts her before she can finish. Thankfully, she stops him anyway and defeats the soldiers herself.
- 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.
- Super Rug Pull: Darkseid tries this on Superman.
- Super Serum: The Captain Nazi serum which turned Eiling into a hulking monster.
- Super Soldier: The whole point of Cadmus and its offspring, and the serum referenced above.
- Superhero Speciation: Lampshaded when John Stewart sends Elongated Man on crowd control during an epic battle. Stewart explicitly states that they already had Plastic Man there as a fighter and "We don't need two stretchy guys."
- Superhuman Trafficking: by Roulette.
- Superpower Lottery: The Martian Manhunter, Superman, A.M.A.Z.O.
- Survivor Guilt: Vandal Savage in "Hereafter". All 30,000 years of it.
- Swiss Army Weapon: Hawkgirl's Energy Mace.
- Sword of Damocles:
- 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 John and Shayera dead with a pool of red... poisoned wine.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Hawkgirl for Solomon Grundy.
- Take My Hand:
- In "The Enemy Below," Aquaman's brother extends his hand to Aquaman and asks to be pulled up from the ledge. Aquaman grabs his trident back from his brother and lets him fall to his death.
- 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 Anvilicious Superman 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.
- The Team Normal: Batman
- Technical Pacifist: Every single member of the league. While do take a lot of liberties with the law, trying to murder someone is considered grounds for expulsion.
- Technicolor Fire: Fire's green er, fire.
- Telepathy: For Martian Manhunter, it causes more drama than any other power. And he has a bunch, so...
- Teleportation Sickness: Using Boom Tubes always makes Batman sick.
- Teleporters and Transporters: In Unlimited.
- Tell Me About My Father: Inverted as Shayera asks Batman about her son.
- 10-Minute Retirement: Hawkgirl and later Martian Manhunter.
- That Man Is Dead: In "Wake the Dead", Shayera Hol remarks that she is not, and never really was, "Hawkgirl". When other characters refer to her as such in later episodes she stresses that she told them not to call her that anymore.
- 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.
- Thememobile: The Batmobile, obviously. Parodied with the Flashmobile, a souped-up shaggin' wagon The Flash bought with the money he made shilling for an energy bar company.
- 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.
- They Do: The Hawkgirl/Green Lantern relationship was hinted at throughout the first two seasons with their constant bickering and fighting, and after John nearly dies in "Wild Cards" in season two the two finally confess their feelings to one another and kiss.
- Third-Person Person: Flash does this when he tries to prove that he is Most Definitely Lex Luthor.
- This Is Not a Drill: Played Straight.
- This Is the Part Where...: Lex Luthor in "Divided We Fall".
- This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Mostly averted, except for "The Terror Beyond" where Wonder Woman and Aquaman fight in the water during a Poor Communication Kills moment, allowing Aquaman to win.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill:
- 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.
- Wonder Woman came dangerously close to crossing this line when Toyman supposedly killed Superman in Hereafter. Flash had to talk her down and remind her that it's not what Superman would do.
- 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.
- Thrown Out the Airlock
- The Flash in "Maid Of Honor".
- Gorilla Grodd in "Alive".
- The Thunderdome: "War World".
- Time Stands Still: The Flash's nightmare in "Only a Dream".
- Time Travel Romance
- For Supergirl in "Far From Home".
- Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor in "The Savage Time." In this case they even meet up years later in the present-day.
- Timeline-Altering MacGuffin: Vandal Savage's laptop in "The Savage Time".
- Timm Style: Naturally, since character designs were done by Bruce Timm.
- Tinman Typist: Brainiac in the episode "Twilight." Said keyboard is even built into his own arm!
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Big Barda and Mr. Miracle, one of the original pairs, appear in the second season of Unlimited.
- Title Drop: In "Wild Cards," the Joker refers to the Royal Flush Gang, who are dressed as playing cards, as 'wild cards.'
- To Absent Friends: "Hereafter".
- Token Minority: John Stewart was chosen from 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.
- Tome of Eldritch Lore: The classic example is given a Shout-Out in "The Balance":
Felix Faust: listing the contents of Hades' library to Wonder Woman
"... dark tomes that make the Necronomicon look like a children's book
- Took a Level in Badass: Lex Luthor gains Super Strength, surprising even himself, and proceeds to give The Question a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
- Too Powerful to Live: A.M.A.Z.O., who gains the powers of the entire League (And then some), but who is consequently sidelined from the main story.
- Torture Technician
- When Vandal Savage captures J'onn J'onzz in "The Savage Time," he has Josef get him to talk.
- Dr. Moon in "Question Authority", who is assigned the task of getting information from the Question.
- Translation Convention: All the Germans in "The Savage Time" speak English with the exception of the occasional "Jawohl" and "Mein Fuhrer", even when speaking to one another.
- Trash the Set:
- 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.
- Trick-and-Follow Ploy:
- 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".
- Trust-Building Blunder: In "Secret Society".
- Trust Password: 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...
Flash: I know. I was just messing with your head.
- 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.
- Turned Against Their Masters: The Manhunters.
- Twin Telepathy: In Supergirl's dreams, she relives the memories of her evil clone Galatea.
- Underwear of Power: Too many examples to list, just look at the page image.
- Unfinished Business: Deadman.
- 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.
- Unobtainium: Nth Metal.
- 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.
- V-Formation Team Shot:
- 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.
- Vain Sorceress: Circe, Morgaine Le Fay.
- Vapor Trail: In "Fury", fallen power lines ignite a trail of spilled fuel leading to a downed helicopter.
- Vertigo Effect: On The Question when he attempts to assassinate Lex Luthor to prevent the Bad Future.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: In "Hearts and Minds" when Katma Tui takes her Ring and places it somewhere around the crotch of her Stripperiffic Go-Go Enslavement outfit, and do not forget about when Wonder Woman shoves a shrunk down Atom between her breasts to free up her hands.
- Villain Episode: "Alive", "Taskforce X"
- Villain Song: Circe singing "Lulu's back in town" in "This Little Piggy".
- Villain Team-Up: A number of times.
- Villainous Glutton: Steven Mandragora. One would assume he is fat (just look at this picture◊), but it turns out that that is all muscle, to the point where Black Canary punched him as hard as she could and hurt her hand.
- Violence Is the Only Option: Particularly in "The Terror Beyond". Inverted in "Hawk and Dove" where pacifism is the only option.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Flash and Hawkgirl.
- Voice of the Legion: The Brainiac/Luthor fusion.
- 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.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting
- J'onn J'onzz can transform into any shape he desires, along with becoming intangible and invisible.
- Shifter and Downpour of the Ultimen can transform into any animal or form of water (Respectively), based upon the Wonder Twins of Superfriends.
- Was It All a Lie?: Green Lantern asks this of Hawkgirl at the end of "Starcrossed."
- 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.
- Welcome Episode: "Initiation".
- Well-Intentioned Extremist
- Amanda Waller.
- The Justice Lords too. Batman sums it up well:
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.
- WHAM Episode:
- "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.
- WHAM Line:
- 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".
- What Does This Button Do?: Flash in "Starcrossed".
- "What Do They Fear?" Episode: "Only a Dream".
- What Measure Is a Non-Human? and What Measure Is a Mook?: Rather uncomfortably applied.
- What the Heck Is an Aglet?: According to The Question, the answer is something truly sinister.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- 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.
- What Were You Thinking?: Hawkgirl once chewed out Fire for dropping Flash into the sea after Flash told her to do it so she could help Hawkgirl, reminding Fire that Flash can't fly. Fire feebly responded that she figured she could trust a founding member of the Justice League to have a plan, not knowing that Flash didn't have one. Fortunately, Flash was able to think of something in the nick of time. Hawkgirl immediately switched targets to Flash and furiously ordered him to never scare her like that again.
- 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.
- Who Dares?: Circe asks this after Zatanna interrupts her concert with a couple of tables to the face. Well, she tries to ask, anyway.
: Insolent trickster! You dare to strike—! (*chair*) You dare to stri—! (*another table*) You dare to strike—!
) QUIT IT!
) Oh no.
- Who Shot JFK?: "There was a magic bullet... it was forged by Illuminati mystics to prevent us from learning the truth!"
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Vandal Savage gained immortality by sleeping next to a magical meteor — in Ice Age Europe. He is still ticking.
- 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.
- Who Watches the Watchmen?:
- Cadmus was formed to provide the US Government with viable defenses in the event that the superpowered beings of Earth ever turned against the government.
- Discussed between Batman and Green Arrow, in the original Latin. It serves to imply that Green Arrow was brought into the League to be their watcher.
- Whole Plot Reference: "Secret Origins," the three-part pilot episode, is based on The War of the Worlds. Both are about alien invaders from Mars who want to sap the world's resources, both feature tripod crafts that level major cities, and when things seem the aliens have won, they are shown to be easily defeated due to a Weaksauce Weakness set up as a Chekhov's Gun in the first act. There is even a General Wells.
- 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.
- Will Not Be A Victim: The Flash at the end of the fourth season.
- Will They or Won't They?: John Stewart and Hawkgirl spent the first two seasons arguing and bickering so much that Flash compared them to an old married couple. In "Wild Cards", near the end of season two, They Do. Batman and Wonder Woman had a much more subdued relationship, with a few subtle hints of attraction, but never any real progress (Except that one time she was a pig).
- 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 Dilemma: In "Wild Cards".
- 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.
- With My Hands Tied: Wonder Woman's escape in "Starcrossed".
- 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.
- Worf Had the Flu: Martian Manhunter's mysterious illness in "War World".
- Working with the Ex: John Stewart and Hawkgirl are ex-lovers.
- World of Badass: Well of course, especially in Unlimited.
- "World of Cardboard" Speech: The Trope Namer. And a subversion — the opponent changes tactics, and effortlessly takes down the speaker.
- World of Ham: The world of the Justice Guild in "Legends" qualifies as this, although it is mostly a recreation of a world destroyed by a nuclear war with its survivors trapped in it.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Superman might not (At least, not when the girl points it out), but Wonder Woman has no problems with it.
- Would Hit a Girl: Everybody else. And Superman, as well, when no one is pointing it out.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: In "Chaos at the Earth's Core", Supergirl is legitimately weakened by Metallo's Kryptonite, but she exaggerates how much she is affected (Brandishing, but then being unable to support, a sword) so that he will approach her and not notice her secretly picking up a knife which she uses to carve out his Kryptonite power source.
- 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.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Batman Beyond originally took place in the year 2039, being referred to as taking place 40 years after the end of Batman: The Animated Series (1999). Later on, the creators of the show announced that the show takes place 50 years after the end of Justice League Unlimited (2006), meaning that would place the date at 2056 instead. However, the characters make explicit references to events that happened in the previous series as being no more than 40 years. Certain sources even give Terry McGinnis a birthdate of 2023. And now, the 2010 Batman Beyond comic series once again confirms the date as being 2039 and thus only 40 years passing.
- Wrong Wire: "Wild Cards".
- Xanatos Gambit:
- 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.
- You Are a Credit to Your Race: The Streak to Green Lantern in "Legends".
- You're Insane!:
- Occurs as an Insult Backfire in "Hereafter":
The Earth belongs to the cockroaches now… Oh, and me. Superman:
. Vandal Savage:
. 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
- Another one, in "Injustice For All"
[To Luthor] You're crazy! The Joker:
[Bursts into the room
] And what's wrong with that? It's done wonders
- You Are Not Alone: When the entire core team drags Flash out of the speedforce.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Word of God has stated that John and Shayera will eventually end up together in spite of the former's Screw Destiny statement. Batman Beyond being canonical to the DCAU also makes it certain this will be the case.
- You Do NOT Want To Know: In "The Enemy Below". Batman's line? The one you do not want to know? The one Superman did not want to know? By Word of God, it is: "I know where you live, Floyd."
- You Got Spunk:
: "Speak to me, child of Thanagar." Hawkgirl:
"Nothing to say. I've got a gesture
for you, but my hands are tied." Icthultu:
"How I've missed your people's spirit."
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Hades does a variation of this to Felix Faust after being released.
- You Talk Too Much: Martian Manhunter towards Lobo in "Hereafter", right before a punch.
- You Watch Too Much X: Green Lantern to Flash in "The Brave and the Bold".
- You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You
- 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).
- Your Worst Nightmare: Dr. Destiny subjects most of the league to this. We do not get to see Batman's, but when Destiny taunts him with the prospect, he sneers, "You have no idea what my nightmares are like."
- 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.