Truth and justice
Narrator: "Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!"
Onlookers: "Look up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!"
Narrator: "Yes, it's Superman, strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands; and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way."
Opening Narration, The Adventures of Superman
"I'm here to fight for truth, justice, and the American way."
"The Justice League was formed for two reasons—first, as an acknowledgment that no single individual, no matter how powerful, can solve all the world's problems alone. And second, to uphold the values of truth, liberty, and justice. That, uh, last one's even in the name."
Superman, Young Justice
"Here are two words. Truth and Justice. You couldn't have forgot all about them."
"Come on, big boy, it is for the cause of truth and justice. Now push me up against the wall."
Chloe Sullivan, Smallville, Bound
Live as one of them, Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you.... my only son.
Jor-El, Superman: The Movie
"Dreams save us. Dreams lift us up and transform us. And on my soul I swear... until my dream of a world where dignity, honor and justice becomes the reality we all share... I’ll never stop fighting. Ever."
Superman, What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?
"There were certain fundamentals, however, that he did not question — axioms at the bottom of his thoughts on any subject that approached his mind that there was a right and a wrong in the Universe, and that value judgment was not very difficult to make."
"There is a right and a wrong in this universe. And that distinction is not hard to make."
"Only the weak succumb to brutality."
"Nobody has the right to kill...not you...not Superman. Especially not Superman."
Superman, Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow?
"Do good to others and every man can be a Superman."
Superman's last message, Superman #149, 1961
“Even in the face of our deaths, the richness of our lives will be yours. All that I have, all that I have learned, everything I feel, all this and more I bequeath you, my son. You will carry me inside you all the days of your life. You will make my strength your own. See my life through your eyes as your life will be seen through mine. The son becomes the father, and the father, the son. This is all I can send you, Kal-El.”
Jor-El, Superman Returns novelization
Lara kissed Kal-El, her face, trembling with tears, hovered just above his. “I love you, and I’ve hardly had a chance to show you how much. Keep my thoughts alive in you, my wonderful, special boy.”
“Kal-El, my son, you are all that remains of a once-proud people,” Jor-El whispered, his voice breaking. “And in you Krypton’s glory will live on.”
Superman Returns novelization
"Show them their possibilities, but never choose their path for them. They must advance on their own, find their own way, make their own mistakes, conquer their fears and hatreds, and create their own history."
Jor-El A.I., Superman Returns novelization
"Believe in truth. Believe in justice. Believe in the hope for their greatness. And if, through your actions they yearn to be great, too, then you will have done far more for them by making all their burdens your own. Do not fear to help them where they need help, but do not impose yourself on them. Gods can become devils far too quickly. Reliance on your own powers will destroy them. Belief in your values will give them strength."
"We've lost their trust. The people are afraid of us. Power corrupts, after all, and who has more power than Superman!?"
"I'm NOT like you! I am NOTHING like you!"
Brainiac android version of Justice Lord Superman and Justice League Superman
I believe in second chances, I believe in redemption, but, mostly, I believe in my friends.
Superman, Justice League Unlimited episode "Wake the Dead"
"Clark, I... I think you're so amazing. You save peoples' lives and take zero credit. To me, you're more than just a hero— you're a superhero... No, I'm serious, Clark. If more humans were like you, the world would be a better place."
Chloe Sullivan, Smallville, Arrival
"Mom, if you could see anything, what would you do?"
"Learn to close my eyes."
Clark and Martha Kent, Smallville, X-Ray
"On this third planet from this star Sol, you'll be a god among men. They are a flawed race. Rule them with strength, my son. That is where your greatness lies."
Jor-El, Smallville, Rosetta
"I am Superman. I can do anything."
"You fight against Joker, against Two-Face, against Catwoman. But this... [Indicates Smallville] This is what I fight for."
Clark Kent: I heard a child say that he wanted to be in the Elite when he grows up, because it would be fun to kill bad guys. Fun to kill... People have to know that there's another way. They have to see that someone believes in humanity strongly enough to...
"That man won't quit as long as he can still draw a breath. None of my teammates will. Me? I've got a different problem. I feel like I live in a world made of cardboard... Always taking constant care not to break something... To break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control even for a moment, or someone could die. But you can take it, can't you, big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose and show you just how powerful I really am!" (knocks the wind out of Darkseid with an earth-shattering punch)
"It is a remarkable dichotomy. In many ways, Clark is the most human of us all. Then...he shoots fire from the skies, and it is difficult not to think of him as a god. And how fortunate we all are that it does not occur to him."
“Superman's greatest and most necessary failing . . . his inability to see himself as the inspiration he is.”
"The seas are sapphires, the fields and forests emeralds. The Himalayas gleam like diamonds. The strange blue world to which my father sent me.
If you knew how you are loved, not one of you would raise a hand in rage again."
Superman, JLA/Hitman #2
"I once thought I could protect the world by myself. But I was wrong. Working together, we saved the planet. And I believe that if we stay together, as a team, we would be a force that could truly work for the ideals of peace and justice."
Superman, Justice League episode "Secret Origins"
"You're right when you say we all come out of high school thinking we're going to save the world. And sometimes we do. And sometimes — sometimes we don't. So you don't think about saving the world. You think about saving just one person. Because sometimes, that's enough. All I know is that we have to try."
Superman, Superman: Grounded'
"Krypton bred me, but it was Earth that gave me all I am. All that matters. It was Krypton that made me Superman...but it is the Earth that makes me human!"
Superman, The Man of Steel #6
"Somewhere, in our darkest night, we made up the story of a man who will never let us down."
"I sat down for the 3:20 show, the film started, the music swelled–
–and the instant that giant S-shield boomed onto the screen bigger and brighter than I ever could have imagined it, I was transfixed. And when Superman took to the skies for the first time, in that moment I found the hero I'd needed. It didn't matter that he wasn't real. What mattered was that he cared about everyone in the world, without exception, without judgment."
"Lemme tell you the problem with America, okay? This could be the greatest place on Earth. It really could. You got all these different people comin' here to get away from oppression an' poverty. All lookin' for a better life. But what do they do? They hang on to all the things that got 'em into trouble in the first place. They wanna go on fightin' the same wars an' hatin' the same people they did in the old world. They all wanna be Italian or Greek, or Irish or Polish or Russian, or African or Vietnamese or Cambodian of whatever... so they hang onto alla that. They stick to their own kind, an' everyone stays suspicious of everyone else an' for what...? Culture? History? What the hell is that, a bunch of stuff your folks said you hadda believe in all your life? Does that make it real? But you, man. You showed 'em how it's done. You're the classic immigrant guy who comes to the States an' joins the meltin' pot. It's like you're sayin' — okay, I'm from planet Krypton or wherever, but that's all in the past. I'm startin' over. I'm American. What can I do to help?"
"You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
Jor-El, Man of Steel
Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is, there's the superhero and there's the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he's Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn't become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red "S", that's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears - the glasses, the business suit - that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent. He's weak... he's unsure of himself... he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race.
Bill, Kill Bill, discussing why he likes Superman.
I don't have to tell you that this comic sucks! This is NOT Superman! Superman is kind and decent! Superman saved the world from the anti-god, Mageddon! Superman beat Solaris the Tyrant Sun, and Brainiac, and yes, even Hitler in the golden age! Superman always followed his principles, even when the world told him not to! Superman even gave his life to save others, both in regular continuity, and in his excellent all-star series.
"Your doctor really did get held up, Regan. It's never as bad as it seems. You're much stronger than you think you are. Trust me."
Superman in All-Star Superman, taking time out of saving his own life after being poisoned to encourage a potential suicide that life really is worth living◊. Because he's Superman.
"If one of the unarguable criteria for literary greatness is recognition, consider this: In all of the history of literature, there are only five fictional creations known to every man, woman, and child on the planet. The urchin in Irkutsk may never have heard of Hamlet, the peon in Pernambuco may not know who Raskolnikov is; the widow in Jakarta may stare blankly at the mention of Don Quixote or Micawber or Jay Gatsby. But every man, woman, and child on the planet knows Mickey Mouse, Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Robin Hood... and Superman. He is more than the fanciful daydream of two Cleveland schoolboys. He is the 20th-century archetype of mankind at its finest. He is courage and humanity, steadfastness and decency, responsibility and ethic. He is our universal longing for perfection, for wisdom and power used in the service of the human race. Of all the literary creations of American fiction, Superman, after all these years, born of a 'dispensable, disreputable' genre, is the only one that seems certain to get Posterity's nod. And that is because, simply put, he is our highest aspirations in human form. "
"The point of Superman is that he's virtually omnipotent and has mishigass anyway... His conflict is rarely over not having enough power. It's over dilemmas. This is a character who, rather than growing less powerful as he ages, only grows more so. That was one of the aspects that attracted me to Mark Waid's notion of how to develop him for Kingdom Come. His growing conflict is not over power, but over right and wrong."
"In a larger sense, what appeals to me most about Superman is that his actions are a continual validation of a basic, childlike moral code that, right or wrong, wise or naive, I hold dear: Doing the right thing is its own reward."
"The whole point of Superman, as originally created, was to be the ally of those who had no other allies. It put that magnitude of power, the most powerful guy in the world, in the service of those who had no hope, no chance."
"The great thing about Batman and Superman, in truth, is that they are literally transcendent. They are better than most of the stories they are in."
"I got my morals more from Superman than I ever did from my teachers and peers. Because Superman wasn’t real — he was incorruptible. You were seeing morals in their pure form. You don’t see Superman secretly going out behind the back and lying and killing, which, of course, most real-life heroes tend to be doing."
"You can see how he changed on the surface. But at the core of it all, I think Superman has remained the same - a character with incredible powers but almost superhuman humility and restraint."
Hogarth Hughes: (as the Giant flies toward the missle; speaking in the Giant's mind) "You are who you choose to be."
The Iron Giant: Superman!
"Years ago, back when the world was on the brink of war, we sent a message into space. An equation that was more emotional than mathematical. An equation that added up to more than the sum of its parts–nonsensical, but aspirational. An equation that called out, and said ‘Help us be better’. We should never have turned to the stars for guidance. If there is an answer, it’s here on Earth with us. For years, I thought Superman was trying to be the answer to that infernal equation. And I hated him for it. But I see now what his actions say–There is no answer. Figure it out yourself. How to be better. As he is trying to do…And perhaps, now, at the end, I can admit that in being the farthest thing from an answer to that equation…he might have been the closest we’ll come to one."
Lex Luthor, Superman Unchained #9
"Superman is what I can do. Clark is who I am."
Clark Kent, Lois and Clark ("Tempus Fugitive")
General Zod: "He cares. He actually cares for these Earth people."
Ursa: "Like pets?"
General Zod: "I suppose so."
Ursa: "Sentimental idiot!"
Doctor Doom: “Philosophically we are much alike! You and I are the mightiest beings on this planet! I choose to exert my power to impose my will upon the world—you choose not to! And yet, even that choice does, indeed, affect the lives of every man, woman and child on Earth—condemning them, in fact, to poverty, disease, famine... and to the hideous suffering they inflict upon one another! You cannot escape it, Superman! You dictate the fate of mankind... one way or the other!”
Superman: “I know! But... what can I do? Seize power and try to remake the world into a utopia? That would put me in a class with men like Hitler... and you!”
"Despite his powers, he is a minority of one in a teeming world of billions! A stranger in a strange land! What does Superman mean to you down there? Do they secretly resent him? Fear him? Hate him? For the first time in many years—I feel that I'm alone—alone!"
"There's not much time, son! Listen carefully to my last words! No one on Earth has your amazing super-powers and... you must always use them to do good! You must uphold law and order, and those in need, and save lives! Good luck, my son, and goodbye..."
Pa Kent's dying words, Superman #146 by Otto Binder, 1961
Pa Kent: "Not much time! Nurse, please leave us alone! No one on Earth has powers equal to yours, Clark! You've used them well as Superboy! But there may be even greater need for your powers when you're a man! You must use them wisely!-- For good!''
Clark: "I will, Pa... I swear it!"
Pa Kent: "Good, son... Never forget... your vow..."
Clark: "He— He's gone! I'm the mightiest being on Earth... yet all my super-powers couldn't save him!"
A retelling of the same event in The Origin of Superman by E. Nelson Bridwell, 1973
George Taylor: "Reports have been streaming in that a fellow with gigantic strength named Superman actually exists. I'm making it your steady assignment to cover these reports. Think you can handle it, Kent?"
Clark: "Listen, Chief, if I can't find out anything about this Superman, no one can!
"You needn't be afraid of me. I won't harm you."
Superman's first words to Lois, after rescuing her from some goons, Action Comics #1
"Listen up, folks. Call me what you want, but I will never be a champion of Nazism! I will not be anyone's symbol of hate, racial prejudice and genocide! I am an American! Like all true Americans, I must strive to be a champion of tolerance and diversity—justice and kindness! That's what being an American — a human being — means! Shame on you if you think otherwise!"
Superman to a bunch of American Nazi sympathizers who assumed the newly debuted "superman" was on their side, Superman: The Man of Steel #80 by Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove, 1998