Series: Birds of Prey

A very loose adaptation of a DC Comics series, Birds of Prey is a live-action TV series set in New Gotham and revolving around a pair of superheroes as They Fight Crime.

The series backstory is heavily influenced by the events of The Killing Joke, where the Joker shot and paralyzed Barbara Gordon. The series also had that Catwoman was killed in his sadistic crusade and something went down where the Joker was captured and soon after Batman left Gotham. The series focused on the crime-fighting escapades of Helena Kyle (Huntress, daughter of Batman and Catwoman, as per her pre-Crisis backstory), Dinah (daughter of Black Canary), and Barbara Gordon (Oracle, forced to give up being Batgirl after becoming paraplegic). Most of the series revolved around the emergence of Meta-Humans, people who have extraordinary abilities. Helena and Dinah themselves are meta-human, Helena having enhanced senses and cat-like agility and Dinah having growing telepathic/telekinetic powers.

The Big Bad was Harley Quinn, whose connection to the Joker was a rumor and she still operates as a mob leader while posing as a respectable psychiatrist. Alfred Pennyworth is maintaining Wayne Manor and offers the Girl Posse help and advice from time to time, with some hints that Batman/Bruce Wayne is still keeping tabs on them. The By-the-Book Cop Jesse Reese slowly starts to see the bigger picture of the Gotham underworld and finds himself attracted to Helena.

The series lasted from October, 2002 to February, 2003, for a total of 13 episodes in a single season. It was a modest success at first, riding the popularity of Smallville, but rapidly dropping ratings led to its cancellation. It did have enough lead time to actually resolve its Myth Arc.

The tropes for the original comic book series can be found here.

Birds of Prey provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Mom: The original Black Canary. Also Barbara in a Team Mom kind of way.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Following in the vein of Batman Returns and Batman: The Animated Series, Selina Kyle is blonde, instead of having black hair.
    • In the original, unaired pilot, Sherilyn Fenn as Harley Quinn retained her dark hair color, as opposed to the blonde. In the series proper, Mia Sara as Harley was still blonde.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Dinah Drake Lance becomes Carolyn Lance. Likewise, her daughter Dinah uses her adoptive surname Redmond instead of Lance.
    • Helena Wayne goes by Helena Kyle.
  • Adaptation Species Change:
    • The show depicted both Huntress and Catwoman as Metahumans.
    • The original Black Canary as well. In the comics, she is a Badass Normal and it is her daughter Dinah, the second Black Canary, who possesses the Canary Cry.
    • Likewise, The Joker is shown emitting lightning from his hand, though whether it's an actual power or simply a gadget was never stated.
  • Age Lift: In most stories, the Huntress note  and (the 2nd) Black Canary are usually of the same age. Here, Dinah is still in her teens while Helena is in her early to mid twenties.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us/Storming the Castle: In the finale, Harley and her Mooks take control of the clock tower. The heroes then have to assault their own base to stop her.
  • Avenging the Villain: Harley Quinn's main drive is to avenge her Mr. J.
  • Badass Longcoat: Huntress, occasionally. Dinah in the finale.
  • Badass Normal: Barbara, as both Oracle and Batgirl.
  • Batman Cold Open: Several episodes open like this.
  • Bat Signal: Of course.
  • Best Served Cold: Harley's been planning revenge ever since the Joker was defeated.
  • Big Bad: Harley Quinn.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Dinah, Helena and Barbara respectively.
  • Blondes Are Evil: Harley Quinn.
  • Bruce Wayne Held Hostage
  • The Cameo: In an early episode, The Joker is voiced in flashback by Mark Hamill.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Barbara's career as a physically active crime fighter came to a scratching halt thanks to The Joker. Subverted after she creates a device that enables her to walk again for a short period of time, but donning the tech is treated as a Dangerous Forbidden Technique.
  • Civvie Spandex / Coat, Hat, Mask / Not Wearing Tights: Huntress's outfits could be interpreted in several ways.
  • Clock Tower: Serves as the Power Trio's base.
  • Cleavage Window / Absolute Cleavage / Impossibly-Low Neckline: Ashley Scott's... assets... get put to good use.
  • Coconut Superpowers, though almost every metahuman gets at least one flashy use of their otherwise practical power
    • The Power Trio has very inexpensive powers — Huntress fights really well, Dinah touches things and winces to create Flashback sequences, and Oracle is smart and has a big computer.
      • Huntress' most expensive powers consist of a Stock Footage eye effect and some wirework.
      • Dinah's telekinesis is explained as being very premature, justifying why she rarely causes a spectacle.
      • Barbara's most impressive bit of tech that can compensate for her spinal cord damage, allowing her to walk. This is a brace with a blinking light, which was used a grand total of once.
      • The original Black Canary also is very barebones in terms of how she is depicted, more or less simply as a kickass fighter.
    • Clayface and his son get their powers revamped because their comicverse and animated powers would be too expensive, especially since they appeared near the end, when it was clear the show would not continue. Clayface is not shown doing any extensive re-forming but only turns into other humans and needs to use mundane weapons to do battle though it only took him a very small crack in his cell for him to be able to pull a jailbreak — something comic Clayface probably couldn't have done. We of course don't see him do it. Meanwhile, his son can turn his victims into clay (harmlessly immobilizing them at first, but he then gets an upgraded version of the formula that lets him shatter victims). In the comics, that's based on a Clayface successor whose "claythings", as both the show and comic incarnations call them, actually become very mobile minions.
  • Code Name: Oracle/Batgirl; Huntress; Black Canary (referring to Dinah's mother only; Dinah herself is never really referred to as Black Canary, despite initial publicity for the series suggesting otherwise).
  • Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: In relation to the above, Dinah was never called Black Canary in the show despite the promotional materials doing so.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique/Hour of Power: Barbara develops a technology that enables her to walk again. However, the technology only enables her to walk for a short period of time, and the more she uses it, the more it makes her condition worse.
  • Dating Catwoman: Inverted, Helena operates as an Anti-Hero sometimes verging on Sociopathic Hero and finds herself attracted to the good cop Reese.
    • The romance between Batman and Catwoman is a major aspect of the backstory, given that Huntress is their daughter, and is referenced in the opening credits.
  • Death by Origin Story: In the backstory, Catwoman is dead and Batman is gone. And in the episode where the original Black Canary appears, she dies.
  • Differently Powered Individual: Metahumans.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Past tense, in universe — Harley went from being Joker's lover to being the new mob boss of New Gotham.
  • Doom Doors: The clock tower's secret entrance use this.
  • Dutch Angle: In villain lairs, much like the original Batman series, but more briefly and subtly.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Helena as of episode 10.
  • The Fashionista: Helena by her own admission.
  • Forced Prize Fight: The "Gladiatrix" episode
  • Gender Flip: Darkstrike was basically a male Huntress. This was even Lampshaded.
  • Handicapped Badass: Barbara/Oracle, in the beginning.
  • Heroic Bastard: Helena never knew who her father is until her mother's death.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: The few people that know about Huntress think she's a criminal.
  • I Am Not My Father: Huntress has little to no love for her father. That said, she still protects Gotham in his absence.
    • Also Reese's attitude toward his father Hawke.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Huntress.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Dinah/Black Canary
  • In a Single Bound: Huntress, as well as Harley Quinn and Oracle in the final episode.
  • In Name Only: Lady Shiva is nothing like her comic book counterpart. In the comics, she's one of the absolute best martial artists in the entire DC Universe, one of the deadliest assassins on the planet, and the mother to Cassandra Cain (who, along with Shiva, is one of the few people capable of beating Batman in a one-on-one fight). In the series, she's a petty thief, who wants revenge upon Batgirl for the accidental death of her sister, a former classmate of Helena Kyle and can barely hold her own against Barbara Gordon (whilst in her prime) or Huntress. Oh, and strangely enough for this series, she wears a mask. Dinah also has none of the powers of the classic Black Canary character, though her mother shows up and does have the Sonic Scream.
  • In the Blood: Huntress is constantly fighting between the influence of her superhero father and supervillain mother.
  • I Owe You My Life: Dinah gets involved with the group after Helena saves her from a Near-Rape Experience.
  • I Work Alone: Huntress.
  • Left the Background Music On: In the pilot, Helena turns off a radio when investigating a home, turning off the background music with it.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: For Al Hawke.
  • Meta Origin: Several characters, including who were normal humans in the comics, including Catwoman and Helena.
  • Mission Control / Voice with an Internet Connection: Barbara/Oracle.
  • Monster Clown: Guess who?
  • Monster of the Week: The Metahuman freak of the week.
  • Mythology Gag: At least once per episode, given the premise.
    • In the first episode, Mark Hamill, who voices The Joker in most modern-day animated Batman productions, gets to overdub the uncredited actor (Roger Stoneburner) glimpsed playing the villain.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Dinah starts out in the series with limited telepathy, which she can use by touch or via dreams. She displays mild telekinetic abilities midway through the season, but not anything she can control. Then in the final fight of the last episode, she is able to project telekinetic force blasts (which knock mooks flying across a room) with complete control over them and no explanation as to where they came from.
  • No Ending: Avoided. After the cancellation was announced, the producers were allowed to film a final episode that wrapped up the storyline.
  • No Flow in CGI: Helena's Badass Longcoat looks great in person, but in the Stock Footage shots of her rapidly traversing the rooftops of Gotham it moves with the elegance of a steel plate.
  • Nom de Mom: Even after discovering who her father really is, Helena still uses her late mother's surname.
  • The Nth Doctor: Al Hawke was played by Stephen McHattie in his debut in "Sons of the Mother" and the episode ends with him badly burned. "Nature of the Beast", he's played by Mitch Pileggi and it's explained he got plastic surgery.
  • The One Guy: Alfred is the only male member of the team.
  • Parental Abandonment: Helena, with her mother dying and her father suffering a Heroic BSOD,
  • Pet Homosexual: Dinah's gay best friend Gabby.
  • Powers in the First Episode
  • Promotion to Parent: Barbara to Helena, and later Dinah.
  • Rapid Aging: Guy, in "Three Birds and a Baby". It's suggested that he's the son of the Joker and Harley Quinn, though the reason for his "symptoms" is not given beyond a simple Hand Wave.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Harley Quinn is commonly dressed in a black trouser and red a top.
  • Secret Identity: All three of the Birds of Prey. That is if you consider, not bothering to wear a mask or any kind of disguise whilst letting people see your face a secret. Huntress explicitly states she has a secret identity, yet she is shown working in a bar, then fighting crime with only a change of wardrobe. No mask, glasses, change in hair coloring, change in skin tones, change of voice, no Clark Kenting at all. Whether Huntress has a secret identity if she doesn't wear a mask was actually discussed by the characters at one point. Alfred weighs in and neatly summarizes the issues in a way that leaves the others unsure whether he just insulted Huntress or complimented her. (Something Oracle says is a "British thing".)
  • Secret Keeper: Alfred, of course. Also Reese after "Reunion" and Wade after "Feat of Clay".
  • Shout-Out: During the pilot episode, Oracle mentions that meteor showers are a likely source of metahuman abilities.
  • Shower Scene: Barbara in the pilot before The Joker guns her down.
  • Sitting on the Roof: Once per Episode, usually Barbara and Helena.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye:
    • Huntress to Reese all the freaking time.
    • Even Alfred does this to Reese at one point, prompting him to say in exasperation:
    "Come on, not another one."
  • Stealth Pun: The character Cassius, who is the successor and son of Batman villain Clayface. Cassius Clay is the birth name of Muhammad Ali, arguably the most famous professional boxer ever.
  • Sugar and Ice Personality: Helena/Huntress
  • Superhero: Of course.
  • Superhero Origin: The pilot features Huntress's and Dinah's takes the first several episodes.
  • Supervillain: Harley Quinn, Clayface, Joker (past tense), et cetera.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Every. Single. Week.
  • The Three Faces of Eve: Helena is the seductress, Barbara is the wife and Dinah is the child.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: One problem of the show wasit never adressed what on earth happened to Batman, Wayne Tech, Commissioner Gordon, The Joker and the rest of Batman's Rogues Gallery.
  • White Shirt of Death: A variant. Barbara was wearing a white bathrobe when The Joker gunned her down, complete with a scene showing her bleeding badly.
  • Woman in Black: Helena, Barbara as Batgirl, Lady Shiva and Dinah in the finale.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Given that the show focuses on an Amazon Brigade, this is inevitable.
  • You Killed My Father: Lady Shiva hates Barbara/Batgirl after the latter accidentally killed her younger sister.