Series / Supergirl

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/0a462521e4acc9be306e1a943e88a9ee.jpg

"When I was a child, my planet, Krypton, was dying. I was sent to Earth to protect my cousin. But my pod got knocked off course and by the time I got here, my cousin had already grown up and become Superman. And so I hid my powers until recently, when an accident forced me to reveal myself to the world. To most people, I'm an assistant at CatCo Worldwide Media. But in secret, I work with my adoptive sister for the DEO to protect my city from alien life and anyone else that means to cause it harm. I am Supergirl."
Kara Danvers/Supergirl (season one opening narration)

Based on Supergirl by DC Comics, this is a superhero television series starring Melissa Benoist as the titular heroine. It is developed and executive produced by Greg Berlanti, Ali Adler and Andrew Kreisberg. The show premiered in October 2015 on CBS note , then moved to The CW for its second season, following budgetary issues.

The series focuses on Kara Zor-El, a Kryptonian who escaped from her dying planet as a teen, sent after her infant cousin Kal-El to take care of him. However, her ship was knocked off-course into The Phantom Zone, where Time Stands Still, and by the time she made it to Earth, Kal-El was already grown. She was adopted by the Danvers family and grew to adulthood alongside their daughter Alex. Twelve years after coming to Earth, Kara decides to use her powers to become a hero like her cousin.

Other characters include Cat Grant, the head of media conglomerate CatCo, whom Kara works for in her civilian guise; James Olsen, an art director for CatCo; Winn Schott, a programmer for CatCo and Kara's neighbor; and J'onn J'onzz, a benevolent Martian and director of the Department of Extra-Normal Operations, a secret government agency where Alex also works.

Originally conceived as separate from The CW's Arrowverse, the two realities were later confirmed as existing concurrently within a shared multiverse, and Grant Gustin's Flash eventually guest-starred on an episode of Supergirl. Kara took part in the 'verse's crossover event the following season, where the show's setting was officially designated as Earth-38, as a Mythology Gag about the year Superman was created.

Supergirl contains examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    A-F 
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Jimmy Olsen in this show is a Tall, Dark and Handsome Hunk named James Olsen instead of his normally nerdy, dorky little brother portrayal.
    • Hellgramite in the comics is much more obviously insectoid, with bug eyes, green skin and antennae. Here, they can camouflage themselves better, revealing part of their true form when they open their real mouths.
    • Livewire appears more feminine here than her ghoulish comic counterpart or the original "Joker-like" look from Superman: The Animated Series.
    • Mr. Mxyzptik has been historical depicted in the comics as a short, grey haired, balding imp. In Supergirl he's played by a relatively tall and handsome actor (oddly, he's still referred to as an imp in dialogue even though physically he doesn't resemble the description).
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Hank Henshaw, usually a Superman villain (the Cyborg Superman), is a good guy (which makes even more sense when we find out that he's really J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter.) Eventually averted, as it was eventually revealed the real Henshaw is indeed the Cyborg Superman and works for Cadmus, and J'onn had only assumed his identity after believing him dead.
    • The Toyman's son in the comics is the supervillain Dollmaker. Winn is portrayed as a genuinely good person. Somewhat justified, as Dollmaker has appeared both in Arrow and Gotham, once as a serial murderer and once as a Mad Doctor.
    • The entire planet of Daxam undergoes this. In the comics they're a race of Fantastic Racist Absolute Xenophobes so despicable that Sodom Yat, possibly the only decent modern Daxamite, refused to save them from Sinestro. Here they're more like obnoxious frat boys than space Nazis.
  • Adaptational Modesty:
    • This version of the Supergirl costume is a lot closer to the costume in which she was introduced in the comics, eschewing some of the costume designs that are more form fitting, revealing, or both. One of Kara's early costume designs is a close approximation of some of that, and Kara vehemently opposes that design.
    • Livewire doesn't wear her Leotard of Power costume that shows Absolute Cleavage. Instead, she's Not Wearing Tights (shirt, leather jacket, jeans).
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • In the comics, Jemm is a hero and a pacifist. In this show, he is a villain and a conqueror.
    • Vartox is a killer here, instead of the bombastic space king who has adventured with Superman and tried to woo Power Girl.
    • Red Tornado is still an android created by a scientist to fight the hero, but unlike the one from the comics, does not wind up becoming a good guy.
    • Siobhan Smythe is a heroic character in the comics and Kara's best friend. Her villainy in the show seems to come from being a Composite Character with Siobhan McDougal, the pre-Flashpoint Silver Banshee who was evil from the get go.
    • Jim Harper still works at Cadmus, but he's nothing like The Guardian, instead being a military man with Fantastic Racism who wants to dissect J'onn.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • On Earth, Kara is going by Kara Danvers instead of Linda Lee, Linda Lee Danvers or any other civilian names she used in the comics.
    • Cat Grant's son is named Carter Grant, rather than Adam Morgan; we later learn that she has another son named Adam Foster.
    • Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers, instead of Edna and Fred (pre-Crisis) or Sylvia and Fred (post-Crisis).
    • Toyman's son is usually named Anton, rather than being his junior as was Winn's case.
  • Adapted Out: The inaugural Crossover with The Flash confirms that Harrison Wells, Eobard Thawne, Cisco Ramon, Caitlin Snow, and S.T.A.R Labs as a whole all do not exist in this universe. While Cisco not existing certainly means that this universe doesn't have the superhero Vibe, the Supervillain Killer Frost can still appear via the Crystal Frost or/and Louise Lincoln versionsnote . As for other characters, it's confirmed that their superhero/villain identities do not exist, but whether or not they're just regular people here remains to be seen.
  • Adorkable: Kara herself, when in civilian guise. In Episode 4, "Livewire," this trope was mentioned by name, regarding Kara, by Shock Jock Leslie Willis - who may have represented internet haters.
  • Advertised Extra:
    • Women's wrestling websites gave a lot of press to Eve Torres appearing on the show. Her role as Maxima is only the first five minutes of one episode.
    • Floriana Lima is included on the series OBB starting Season 2, but she's mainly a Satellite Love Interest all season. Time will tell if this will continue.
  • Affirmative Action Girl: As noted below, Kara's adopted sibling in the comic is male. The series changes it to a female, adding a third woman to the main cast.
  • Age Lift:
    • Kara is usually in her teens when she becomes Supergirl, but on the show she starts out at the age of 24.
    • Jimmy Olsen is now a veteran professional instead of a young beginner. He's already more than a decade into his career (as is Superman), and has matured.
    • Kara's foster family gave birth to a son at the end of the Peter David run of Supergirl. Here, they have a daughter who is older (biologically if not chronologically) than Kara.
    • Ms. Martian is usually depicted as a teenager (at least in appearance). Here, she appears as a grown adult whose actress is only a few years younger than J'onn's.
    • In the comics, Cat's son Adam Morgan is just a boy. Here, Adam Foster is in his mid-twenties, though the show compensated by making him a Decomposite Character (see below).
    • In the comics, Lar Gand is physically in his late teens to mid-twenties and thinks of Superman as a surrogate brother of sorts. Here, he is old enough to be Superman's father, though like Adam above, the show compensated by making him a Decomposite Character (again, see below).
  • Alliterative Name: Inherits a couple from the comics, with appearances by Hank Henshaw and J'onn J'onzz.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Lucy Lane,when she's first introduced, and Lena Luthor.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Winn Schott has a one-sided crush on Kara, who only sees him as a friend.
  • Alternate Self: Averted. So far, this universe never share any characters with any of the established Arrowverse multiverse. The closest they share are the Dominators, the Thanagarians, and Mariah Carey (see Celebrity Paradox below).
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The White Martians, who gleefully committed genocide against the Green Martians and have come to Earth to take out the last survivor. except not only is Miss Martian a good White Martian as she usually is, but she also mentions the existence of other White Martians sympathetic to her ideals.
  • Anachronism Stew: When Jeremiah returns in Season 2, he comments that the last time Alex and Kara set the table was when their phones were taken away. The last time he would have seen them in a domestic setting would be no later than about 2003, when cell phones weren't very common outside of business usage, and most certainly not would have been the omnipresent distracting toy for the preteen Danvers that they are now.
  • And Starring:
  • Anti-Climax: Reactron is noted as being one villain who Superman could never actually beat whenever they fought before. At the end of his debut episode... Kara defeats him by simply resisting his blasts, getting close enough and ripping out his power source... something it apparently never occurred for the more experienced Superman to do.
  • Anvilicious: In-Universe, the news anchor in Manhunter who's talking about Hank revealing himself as Martian Manhunter really seems to be laying it on thick.
    Anchor: Who is this scary, powerful, and potentially dangerous monster?
  • Apocalypse Wow: The story starts with Krypton exploding right after the House of El launches Kal and Kara into space.
  • Appropriated Appellation: Cat dubs Kara Supergirl after her first big rescue.
  • Arc Number: As with any DC show, the number "52" pops up a lot. Specifically:
    • In "Blood Bonds", Maxwell Lord's room of mystery is room 52.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: General Astra forces Fort Rozz escapees to fight for her.
  • Artifact Title: Kara is way too old to be referred to as a "girl". She brings up to her boss in the pilot, who responds by saying there's nothing wrong with "girl".
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • In "Childish Things" Kara sets off the sprinkler system at a toy convention and uses her freeze breath to freeze the water into a wall of ice help protect the convention goers from a bunch of bombs the Villain of the Week had planted. Setting aside the concept of freeze breath (Kryptonian superpowers), generally speaking, a sprinkler system really shouldn't be able to put out water in a large enough quantity in a matter of seconds to make freezing it into a solid wall of ice a viable plan.
    • In "Fight or Flight" Kara tears the door off a car to use as a shield against Reactron's energy blasts. If the energy blasts are strong enough to hurt her, they should punch through an ordinary car door like it was wet toilet paper.
    • Also in "Fight or Flight" Kara makes a glove out of melted lead. Superstrength or not, it wouldn't flex like fabric.
  • As You Know: Cleverly skirted around in the show. Whenever an alien species is brought up by a character (usually, J'onn), another will cut them off to let them know they're familiar with the species (usually Kara), thereby averted the trope and doing some expository dialog.
  • Badass Boast: When interrogating James, Max Lord says "Human, alien, super...if you go up against me, you will lose."
  • Badass Gay:
    • Maggie Sawyer, a lesbian National City police officer who holds her own against an alien with fire powers in her debut episode.
    • Alex finds out she's gay during season 2. And, since she is already an Action Girl, she naturally qualifies for this trope.
  • Bait and Switch:
    • The Big Bad is only referred to as "the general" throughout the pilot, implying General Zod. It's actually Alura's Evil Twin sister Astra.
    • "In Human For a Day", Jemm threatens to reveal "Henshaw"'s true identity... as a coward.
    • For several episodes, we have seen "Hank"'s eyes glow red, and him displaying Super Strength, hinting that he might be Cyborg Superman, like in the comics. He's the Martian Manhunter. Slightly subverted in that the real Hank shows up later, having been transformed into Cyborg Superman.
  • Bare Your Midriff: The first costume Winn designs for Kara leaves her midriff bare. She refuses to go crimefighting in it, so she switches to her Minidress of Power.
    Kara: I wouldn't wear this to the beach!
  • Beam-O-War: Kara does this with her heat vision all the time, especially against other Kryptonians. For some reason the heat beams seem capable of interfering with each other and applying physical pressure against one another.
  • Beta Outfit: The pilot has Kara and Winn trying to make a proper outfit for Supergirl. Winn first makes her a skimpy hot pants outfit, which Kara immediately rejects. Then she goes for a Minidress of Power, and later finalizes it with the cape, boots, and Chest Insignia. Yet all those outfits still include the colors Superman uses.
  • Betty and Veronica: Winn (Betty) and James (Veronica) for Kara (Archie).
  • Beneath Notice: Clark Kenting is referenced regarding how Clark avoids people making the connection. Kara has even less to hide her identity, but Olsen says that Kara can rest assured Cat would not make the connection. He was wrong.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Alex is depicted as Kara's supportive, often very emotional sister (who gets quite weepy a number of times as she becomes more familiar with J'onn's circumstance), and often comes off a a very nice person. Unless you're a superpowered alien who's threatening her planet or Kara in which case she'll kill you at first opportunity, even if you're Kara's aunt.
  • Beware the Superman: J'onn says this was the motivation behind the creation of the Department of Extra-Normal Operations. He claims plenty of people distrust Superman, but aren't open about it.
  • Big Bad: A Kryptonian general tried and failed to conquer Krypton, and is now going after Earth. She's also Kara's aunt, Alura's twin sister, Astra.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Maxwell Lord is eventually established as a secondary antagonist, being obsessively anti-alien and seeing himself as above the law.
  • Big Eater: Kara loves food and regularly consumes tons of it. Not being human, her body doesn't react the same way to it, and she stays thin and fit. This comes in handy, when Barry, who needs to consume tons of food to maintain his Super Speed, wants to find a nice takeout place. Kara is happy to help.
  • Big Little Brother:
    • Kara is taller (5'8) than her adoptive sister Alex (5'6).
    • On the other hand, Superman, usually depicted as a Tall, Dark and Handsome man standing over 6 feet, is taller than his older cousin Kara.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead:
    • The Danvers family. Eliza is blonde, Jeremiah is brunette, and Alex is redhead.
    • The DEO Power Trio. Kara is blonde, J'onn (while disguised as Hank Henshaw) is brunette, and Alex is redhead.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: In episode 2 Alex teaches Kara to fight in a room lined with low-intensity "Kryptonite emitters," just enough to be Brought Down to Normal. Kara mostly brushes this off, but after losing a fight with her aunt, she admits she needs more training. Later in the first season, Kara is kicking Alex's ass in the K-room.
  • Call Back: In Season 1, Supergirl tells Winn that she visited Starhaven as a child and that it smelled like cinnamon. Late in Season 2, Winn remarks he studied Starhaven, learned to translate its writing, and that he heard it smelled like cinnamon.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: Seems to be a regular thing on this show through its first three episodes. Kara reveals her existence as Supergirl by rescuing a plane in regular street clothes. (Fortunately she gets her actual uniform later in the episode, but some can't help but think this is going to come back on her at some point). Immediately tells/shows Winn that she is Supergirl when she sees him at work the next day. Allows Cat Grant to video-record the interview she finally gives her as Supergirl, then gets annoyed at a set of tough questions from Cat and pouts about implying their sexism…by blurting away the fact that Superman is her cousin. Later, while she, James, and Winn are talking in their super office, James blurts out Clark's name in a sidebar conversation right in front of Winn—who overhears it and commences to silently marking about how Clark Kent is Superman. Predictably, Alex and J'onn at the DEO are getting tired of this.
    • When told of J'onn's secret, Kara asks why Alex and J'onn didn't tell her sooner, saying she can keep a secret. Alex and J'onn simultaneously say "no you can't."
    • Mon-El tells her she gives herself away when trying to tell a lie with a crinkle in her brow.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • General Astra.
    • In an interesting example, the setting—National City—itself is this.
  • Canon Immigrant:
  • Celebrity Paradox: It gets even more complicated when the show is introduced to The Multiverse, but more on that below.
  • Character Tic: In her civilian identity, Kara has a habit of knitting her forehead and cutting her eyes to the side when she's confused about something. And constantly adjusting her glasses.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Two major characters from season 1, Lucy Lane and Maxwell Lord, vanish without trace or explanation before the start of season 2. Averted with Cat Grant, whose departure is addressed on screen, with the actress returning for a farewell episode. Made even more blatant with Lucy as she'd become the head of the DEO as the first season reached its finale, but was nowhere to be found as season 2 began.
  • Clark Kenting:
    • Kara wears glasses, keeps her hair in a ponytail or braided when out of costume. She also attempts to have a more formal attitude while in costume, but seems to be naturally Adorkable and can't help herself.
    • This is discussed when she and James discuss Supergirl having an interview with Cat. Kara worries Cat will recognize her, but James assures Kara that Cat doesn't really see Kara as someone worth a lot of attention yet. James then says this is partly how Clark gets people not to notice that he looks like Superman. His human persona doesn't come across as standing out. The other part is, people just can't believe a superhero would be standing next to them in everyday life.
    • Double Subverted when Cat eventually does figure out Supergirl's identity due to Kara's behavior, only going back to believing they're not the same person when she sees "Supergirl" and Kara in the same room together (Supergirl in this case being J'onn J'onzz shapeshifted to impersonate her). As Cat has no reason to suspect that Kara has an alien shapeshifter on call, she's forced to agree with Kara's claim that she's not Supergirl. Played for Laughs when she claims that they don't look anything alike anyway, a clear attempt to save face, as its implied she wasn't fooled.
    • Cat also pretty quickly figures out that Barry Allen is the Flash, although that's mostly due to his behavior, timing, and insistence on calling the new speedster "the Flash".
    • Kara tries to get Mon-El to preemptively do this just on the off-chance that he wants to be a superhero later. He is spectacularly bad at it.
  • Cliffhanger: The first season ends like this. Our heroes have saved the world and are celebrating, when suddenly a huge ball of fire appears and lands in the middle of the city. Kara and J'onn investigate: turns out the meteorite is actually another Kryptonian escape pod, carrying a Daxamite named Mon-El
  • Comfort Food:
    • Kara and Alex rely on pastries and pizza to get them through tough times.
    • J'onn has a hankering for Rolo chocolates. Alex gives him some (as well as some cookies) to make things easier for him when he's imprisoned by the DEO when his real identity is exposed.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Kara tries to convince Mon-El that he needs to do something good with his powers (which aren't as impressive as hers but are still better than normal), but he doesn't understand why he needs to do that.
  • Coming-Out Story: Alex realizes that she is gay in "Crossfire", and comes out to Kara in "Changing." In "Medusa", she tries to come out to her mom, except the latter already suspected. Several additional episodes address her coming out to different people.
  • Composite Character:
    • The Starter Villain in the first episode is named Vartox after a relatively obscure superhero who was a homage to Sean Connery in Zardoz. He also uses an axe like the Lumberjack, an extremely obscure villain who appeared in only one issue of Wonder Woman. Early reports said the villain would be the Lumberjack.
    • "Hank Henshaw" is actually the Martian Manhunter, who adopted Henshaw's identity in a broadly similar fashion to comicbook J'onn taking that of Detective John Jones. Hank Henshaw in comics is the real name of the cyborg Superman. He is also an african-american in charge of the D.E.O, a position typically filled by the Director Bones.
    • Siobhan Smythe takes two elements from the Silver Banshee. She shares the name of the New 52 version, who is Kara's friend, but she is confirmed to eventually become her enemy here, making her more similar to Siobhan MacDougal, the Silver Banshee of the original comics.
    • James Olsen takes on the mantle of Guadrian in Season 2. In the comics, Guardian is Jim Harper (who already appeared in the first season).
  • Computer Equals Monitor: Played straight when Jeremiah shoots the D.E.O. computer after copying all the files with a device attached... to the monitor.
  • Consolation Backfire: When Alex brings the holoprojector with Alura's message to Kara on it, Alura tells Kara that while she's going to get things wrong, she'll always end up doing the right thing. So the message itself is uplifting, but this is the first time in twelve years that Kara's seen or heard her mother. She ends up in tears as the message shuts off and for a moment she's just a little girl who wants her mom.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Cat Grant does this TWICE, along with Kara:
    • First, she encouraged Leslie Willis's behavior, until she started to bash Supergirl on the radio. Then, she suddenly turned on her and sent her to do weather reports in a chopper. During a bad storm, she almost died in an accident until Supergirl tried to save her, only for the two of them to be hit by lighting. Leslie was in a coma, but woke up with electrical powers, becoming Livewire and going after Cat.
    • Later, Cat hired Siobahn Smythe in an attempt to spite Kara for dumping her son. However, Siobahn proves to be too ambitious and tries to sell a story about Supergirl to the competition. Supergirl, under the influence of Red K, outs this to Cat, who fires and blacklists her. After a failed attempt at revenge, Siobahn suddenly acquires the power to shatter things with her scream. Becoming Silver Banshee, she teams up with Livewire to get payback on Kara and Cat.
  • Crossover:
  • Dangerously Short Skirt: Likely the reason they added tights to the costume, since this aspect is kept. It's also not a Magic Skirt, so during her fights the tights prove useful for avoiding a Panty Shot.
  • Dark Action Girl: Every female antagonist, though Astra is more of a Lady of War.
  • Decomposite Character:
    • Cat Grant's son in the comics, Adam Morgan, was split into half-brothers Carter Grant and Adam Foster. The former gets the canonical age while the latter gets the first name.
    • In the comics, Jim Harper is Guardian is Jim Harper. Here, the mantle is instead taken by James starting Season 2.
    • In the comics, Lar Gand is Mon-El's real name. In the show, they're respectively father and son.
  • Deconstruction:
    • James Olsen's role as Superman's constant sidekick gets this treatment. It turns out that constantly putting Superman first - and calling on Superman whenever a situation got sticky - really damaged his personal life.
    • A major theme in the show is the clash between Kara's idealism and the DEO's pragmatism, with plenty of What the Hell, Hero? moments on both sides. Like her cousin, Kara vows never to kill, whereas the DEO is a government agency and it's literally their job to decide when lethal force is necessary, in addition to making morally questionable decisions in the name of the greater good. They see Kara as naive, while she thinks their claim of doing "what needs to be done" is an excuse for taking the easy way out. The show is basically what happens when someone like Superman works with an organization like SHIELD.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Subverted. In "Myriad", Superman is initially off-world when Non activates the eponymous plan, but once he does return he falls under its effect as well, leaving only Kara and a few others free of its influence.
  • Defector from Decadence: M'gann is a White Martian, who was horrified at the genocide her people were committing against the Green Martians. She tried to help some Greens flee the camps and then ran away to Earth. She eventually goes back to Mars to try to find more like-minded Whites.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The series makes no effort to make the portrayal of the White Martians as A Nazi by Any Other Name and J'onn J'onzz as a Holocaust survivor subtle.
  • Doomed Hometown: Krypton, per the norm.
  • Dope Slap: Alex delivers one to Winn when he confesses that James is the Guardian.
  • The Dreaded:
    • An alien convict in the second episode wants nothing to do with going after Supergirl because of the other person who has that shield on their chest.
    • No one, repeat, no one, wants to screw around with a White Martian.
    • This appears to apply to the Dominators as well.
  • Due to the Dead: There is an empty office in the CatCo tower, because the actuarial that it formerly belonged died of a heart attack in it. No one wants to empty it out or make use of it because of that, so Winn decides to secretly set up Supergirl's Mission Control there. (Which makes it, in a roundabout way, a Haunted Headquarters.)
  • Dynamic Akimbo: Supergirl pulls this pose off once in a while.
  • Easily Forgiven: Midway through Season 1, Alex is forced to kill Astra to save J'onn's life. Hank insists on taking the blame for it, so Kara doesn't know her sister killed her relative. Sure enough, Kara becomes angry at J'onn and their relationship collapses. Ultimately, Alex confesses because she doesn't want to see J'onn lose Kara as a friend and ally. After a moment of shock, Kara forgives them both.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When ordering the release of all the DEO's Prisoners while mind controlling them, the villain specifies to free all of them EXCEPT the White Martian, viewing them as too horrible to release. Given the Other Aliens he's ordering the release of not to mention himself, that is really saying something.
  • Evil Plan: Astra and her followers are gunning for "Myriad" to happen, whatever that is.
  • Exact Words: An unintentional example in that Kara tells Winslow before revealing her secret that only three people "in her life" know what she's about to tell him, namely her alien origin (Alex, her mother, and Superman). She isn't aware at the time that her secret (origin + secret identity) is known by a lot more people (James, the DEO) or that her presence on Earth as a Kryptonian is known by yet another group (the escaped prisoners).
  • Expy:
    • Cat Grant is based on Miranda Priestley. In fact, the casting call actually stated outright that the role needed a Miranda-type character.
    • The Maxwell Lord of this series seems to be much more clearly based on Lex Luthor from the comics than on Maxwell Lord from the comics.
  • Eye Beams: Supergirl and Astra's heat vision beams are blue, though Superman's are usually depicted as red in other media.
  • The Faceless: In Season 1, no actor was cast to play Superman, so the show used this trope to hide that fact. Kal-El is shown as a baby on Krypton, but as an adult his face is obscured and people talk about him instead of him showing up in person to them. He gives Kara his baby blanket for her to use as a cape, but through James instead of handing it over himself. In "Myriad" it looks like we'll finally get to see him properly, but then he falls under Non's mind control and disappears, so his face remained unseen until season two, when Tyler Hoechlin was cast as Kal-El.
  • Famed In-Story:
    • Not the main character, but her cousin certainly counts. Supergirl herself counts as the series progresses.
    • Kara recognizes James as a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer when she sees his picture of Big Blue.
  • Fantastic Racism: Several characters are distrustful of aliens including General Lane and the real Hank Henshaw.
    • The US government and military seem to have this view as well (or at least a faction within them), practically to For the Evulz levels.
    • Kara isn't immune to this herself. When Mon-El crashed to Earth, she at first wants to help, thinking he's Kryptonian. When she finds out he's from Daxaam, Krypton's long-time enemy planet, she immediately treats him as a hostile force. Their argument shows each planet has long blamed the other for starting their ancient war. Kara eventually realizes she's just as prejudiced as any human and has to accept Mon-El.
      • In the next episode, Mon-El admits she isn't entirely wrong about his planet's culture, and, in a later episode, he admits he forgot that his people owned slaves.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • J'onn's red eyes are an obvious one, but the fact that he helps the Danvers girls several times when he really doesn't need to (and when he could easily pretend he never could have helped them in the first place hint at him being Good All Along].
    • Early on in the series, J'onn explains that people fear Superman not because of what he does, but because of what he might do were he inclined to use his powers for evil. "Falling" gives us a chilling look at exactly what he was talking about when red Kryptonite strips Kara of her inhibitions and brings her negative thoughts to the surface. It's not pretty, to say the least.
    • Season 2 has had at least two references to Hamilton and an episode title "Star-Crossed", which would imply pretty heavily that his season will end in tragedy. Between his history in the comics and his being cast as Alexander Hamilton in his duel with Mxyzptlk as Aaron Burr, then the obvious implication is that Mon-El will either be killed or forced to be put away in the Phantom Zone to avoid dying, as they did in the comics.
  • Flying Brick: Supergirl, as she's a Kryptonian with the same powers as Superman. J'onn as well, being a Martian.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: "Who names a snake 'Fluffy'?"
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In "How Does She Do It?", some of the news headlines on the screens in Cat's office show that they're living in a much less dysfunctional America than our own, where people in power are taking police demilitarization seriously and actually prosecuting banking misdeeds.
  • Freudian Trio:
  • Friend of Masked Self: Kara uses that excuse with her sources.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: The "milder" version.
    Eliza: How could you do this, Alexandra?
    Kara: *whispers* She called her "Alexandra." This is gonna get ugly.

    G-L 
  • Gaining the Will to Kill: At several points during Season 1, Kara is told by several characters - including her own sister, Alex, and later Maxwell Lord, that she may have to break her "no kill" vow some day. There are several episodes in which Kara realizes this as well. In the season finale, she finally has to kill someone, namely her Kryptonian nemesis, Non, in order to literally save everyone on the planet. Perhaps due to this factor, if she has any remorse at doing so, it is not seen.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The first season consists of six main characters, divided into three for each gender (Kara, Alex and Cat are the females, James, Winn and J'onn are the males). Averted in Season 2 where the males outnumber the females 4-3note .
  • Gender Flip:
    • The biological child of Kara's foster family (at the end of the Peter David run of Supergirl at least) is male. Here, she's female and was given an Age Lift to be her older sister.
    • Dr. Emil Hamilton is changed to Dr. Amelia Hamilton.
  • Generation Xerox: When we meet Cat's mother, we see that they're almost exactly the same - only she doesn't have any of Cat's Pet the Dog moments.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The DEO may be looking out for Earth's security, but they make their first appearance by introducing Supergirl to kryptonite.
  • Greater Scope Villain: Project Cadmus is mentioned in "Manhunter", and Word of God says that it will play a much larger role in season 2.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Shows up a lot. Only Kara and Cat seem immune.
    • It's implied that one of the main reasons Alex has encouraged Kara to hide her abilities for so long is through lingering childhood jealousy that she's almost, but not quite, managed to get over (not to mention that their parents treated her as the Unfavorite).
    • In the first half-season, Winn is jealous of James, for being the object of Kara's affections despite already having a girlfriend.
    • Maxwell Lord sees people relying on Supergirl and not him, or themselves.
    • James has a few instances of this when Barry Allen shows up.
  • Head-in-the-Sand Management: The Kryptonian High Council knew about the impending destruction of the planet for over a year before it happened, but they apparently did nothing about it. This inaction led to Astra becoming a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • Hero Insurance: Kara ends up doing a lot of damage despite her efforts to help.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • Superman does exist in the show's universe and is already a well-known, seasoned superhero when Kara becomes Supergirl. She requests that he doesn't help so she can learn to be a hero herself. He does appear in the last two episodes, but is seen only from a distance in the former and we only see his unconscious feet in the latter. We see him in the flesh in Season 2.
    • Kara mentions masked heroes who are active in other cities during Episode 14, a subtle yet major Mythology Gag to the entire DC Universe.
    • The Flash doesn't exist on this Earth, but Barry Allen makes an appearance, when he accidentally travels to this Earth instead of another. Kara also doesn't recognize the names of other known DC Universe heroes/villains, such as Green Arrow, Black Canary, Firestorm, Atom, and Zoom. Of course, in this case, this "another story" is a separate TV show. The fact she doesn't know any of the names means either none of the other heroes she references in episode 14 are them, or they use different names.
    • In Season 2, Kara mentions a Vigilante Man that worked with Superman before. She doesn't say this character's name, but it's pretty damn obvious who this character is.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity:
    • Despite her best intentions, Supergirl has some... issues endearing herself to National City, since her work sometimes leads to collateral damage. Thankfully, she manages to fix this with the help of Winn and James.
    • In the episode "Red-Faced", since she constantly gets blamed for things that really aren't her fault. When she stops two idiotic road-raging drivers from crashing into a group of children, they blame her for damaging their cars (nevermind the kids they almost killed) and one of them takes a swing at her. When she twists the guy's wrist in a moment of anger, she gets all the bad press of using too much force rather than the good press for saving the kids. Then there's General Lane, who comes to National City with the military in tow to test the Red Tornado robot against Supergirl. She wins the fight, but he blames her for damaging it, and when it goes rogue and threatens to destroy the city, he blames her once again even though the whole thing was his idea. At least he gets called out somewhat.
    • Maxwell Lord seems to be deliberately invoking the trope in order to make people distrust and dislike Supergirl. When the two are alone, it becomes clear this isn't because Lord necessarily believes that Supergirl is untrustworthy or incompetent, but that he is doing this to make it harder for her to oppose him in the future.
    • Exposure to synthetic red kryptonite causes Kara to go on a rampage, leading to reams of bad publicity.
    • Guardian ends up seen as a murdering vigilante, after another costumed man starts killing the criminals he apprehends. He manages to clear his name by handing the vigilante over to the cops and saving his latest Asshole Victim.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Cat makes a crack that Kara, Winn, The Flash, and James look like the attractive, interracial cast of a CW show. Cue 2 months later and the series is now a CW show itself.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Oh Winn. Dude really needs better taste in women.
  • Human Alien: Kryptonians, of course, are superficially identical to humans. The DEO also monitors other aliens who generally range from this to Rubber-Forehead Alien.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: James sees Kara as this, to Cat Grant. Kara believes that Cat is plenty competent herself, though.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming:
    • Cat seems to have decided that nobody is allowed to publish anything nasty about Supergirl except for her. It's hard to tell how much this is because she actually respects Supergirl, and how much is because she intends to exploit Supergirl for the benefit of her media empire (and compete with the Daily Planet and their relationship with Superman).
      • It turns out to be more of the former, since Cat encourages Supergirl to soldier on and win back the public's faith in her after Supergirl (affected by Red-K at the time) literally tries to find out if "Cats" really do land on their feet.
    • She also belittles and abuses Kara all the time, but refuses to allow anyone else to do so.
  • Idiot Ball: Everyone was holding it in "Homecoming", where Mon-El is initially the only one of the cast to be at all suspicious of Jeremiah's extremely convenient rescue from Cadmus. He eventually convinces Winn and Kara...only for Alex to immediately turn on Kara and accuse her of only going along with Mon-El's accusations because they're dating.
  • invoked I Knew It: Kara's reaction in "Medusa", after Barry and Cisco come through from Earth 1, as Cisco's portal has appeared briefly only to wink away twice before. She has recognized the similarity between it and the portal that opened when she threw Barry at superspeed during their last meeting.
  • Immune to Bullets: Kara and Clark, of course. Clark even complains once, when a bank robber empties his clip into Clark's chest and then tries to punch him, that it doesn't make sense to try to punch someone who can't be hurt by bullets. Surprisingly, Mon-El is not, despite his Super Strength, although that appears to have more to do with bullets being made of lead than with them moving fast. Apparently, lead poisoning is a Weaksauce Weakness for Daxamites.
  • Informed Ability: Alex says that Kara is immune to zits, and once a fragment of metal is removed from the axe wound she gets from Vartox, it heals in seconds, but she somehow has a single pockmark on her otherwise-flawless face, just above the beginning of her left eyebrow. It's pretty noticeable in the close-up shots. In-universe, it's possible Kara had it as a child before she came to Earth, but it wasn't visible on 13-year old Kara because she had bangs.note 
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • All of Kara's Love Interests are humans. Justified since it was believed that her cousin, Kal-El, was the only other surviving Kryptonian. Even with the reveal that there are other survivors working for Astra, they're all evil, so not exactly topping the list for eligible love interests. Plus one of them is her uncle.
    • Per the norm, Clark and Lois are an item in this universe, so they also count.
    • Non, a now-dead Kryptonian (and Kara's Evil Uncle-in-law), and Indigo, a Coluan, were previously a couple.
    • Also a possible brewing romance between Kara and Mon-El (a Daxamite), although they appear to be from related species (there may have been previous examples of this trope between Krypton and Daxam due to the planets' proximity).
    • Wynn starts dating a girl from Starhaven. After their first one-night stand, she's surprised that he called her again, figuring that he's one of those humans, who likes to sleep with alien girls but not actually date them. Wynn points out that he doesn't have a problem dating aliens. He just doesn't want to rush into relationships, having been burned in the past.
  • It's Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Everyone pronounces Kara's name "Car-uh" except for Cat Grant, who pronounces it "Care-uh." This may be to emphasize a difference in pronunciation ahead of a similarly-named Marvel heroine due to debut in theaters. Occasionally, Cat even pronounces Kara's name as "Kira", which is even less accurate. In-universe, this is probably meant to show that Cat pays so little attention to her employees that she has called her assistant by the wrong name for years. In the season finale, Cat finally gets it right.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: She could be a bit more diplomatic about it, but quite a few of Cat's opinions regarding how her company reports the news, and what they should be giving priority to, are actually journalistically sound.
    • When Kara submits a highly opinionated article about a new "alien detection device" her boss, Snapper Carr, tells her to rewrite it because he asked to write a news story, not an opinion piece.
  • The Judge: Alura was Krypton's highest judge, being responsible for the incarceration of most of the inmates in Fort Rozz, including her own sister.
  • Kryptonite Factor: The DEO reveal early on they have access to actual Kryptonite based tech, and that general knowledge of it as a Kryptonian weakness is limited. They use it to subdue Supergirl, and J'onn uses a Kryptonite knife against Astra. Kara can also be hurt by other alien materials. Apparently, Superman and J'onn had a falling out due to the fact that DEO has been stockpiling kryptonite for use against evil Kryptonians. They finally reconcile, after J'onn hands the stockpile over to Superman. Apparently, L-Corp has some synthetic Kryptonite, but it's very unstable and has a tendency to blow up.
  • Last Episode, New Character:
    • Played With regarding Mon-El. He landed on Earth during the Season 1 finale and after Kara opens his pod, the scene (and season) ends. He isn't properly seen until the following season's premiere and his proper introduction doesn't happen until the third episode.
    • General Zod is set to debut in the Season 2 finale.
  • Last of His Kind: J'onn appears to be the last Green Martian, after his race has been exterminated by the White Martians. He later meets M'gann, a female Green Martian, who turns out to be a White Martian pretending to be Green. Mon-El appears to be the last Daxamite, after his planet was bombarded with debris from the exploding Krypton (Daxam and Krypton were in the same system). He only escaped because there happened to be a Kryptonian ship nearby from a diplomatic mission. According to Kara, Daxam is a wasteland now.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: At times, Kara gets into bad situations because she rarely comes up with a plan before heading off somewhere. In The Flash crossover, Barry insists on a plan, when going after Livewire, but Kara tells him they'll wing it. Barry still makes sure to circle the building before entering it. Later, Kara admits she should've listened to him, as they had to bail, when the Livewire/Silver Banshee team-up proved too strong for them. Ironically, this used to be Barry's hat, until Oliver explained to him the need to plan ahead.
  • Leitmotif: The music for the heroic moments uses a four to six note motif.
  • Lighter and Softer: The show is produced by the same team behind Arrow and The Flash, is notably less serious than either one of those shows, with the prospect of superheroics being treated in a very fun and free-spirited fashion, without as much major emotional baggage that the other two shows have had to deal with. In much the same way, it's also less serious than the last live-action iteration of the Superman mythos, Man of Steel.
    • The Freeze-Frame Bonus mentioned below gives us an In-Universe justification for the tone, as well - while hardly utopian, the reality Supergirl occurs in appears to be a good one.
    • That said, it's lighter and softer with teeth, as the DEO - especially Kara's sister - often use deadly force to bring down villains (a heartbreaking example when Alex is forced to kill Astra) and a couple of episodes have addressed whether Kara is capable of doing the same if necessary.
  • Likes Older Women: Technically, any male character who pines for Kara who wasn't born before 1966 are this since the only reason she looks that young is because she was stuck in the Phantom Zone for quite some time. The only exception is Mon-El, who is actually older than Kara by more or less fifteen years but was stuck in the Phantom Zone much longer than her.

    M-R 
  • Made of Indestructium: After Kara goes through multiple capes in the pilot, Superman has James deliver the swaddle blanket he was wrapped in when he was delivered from Krypton to her so she can use that instead. Like everything from Krypton, it's invulnerable to anything from Earth.
  • Male Gaze: The scene where Kara fine-tunes her costume shows her wearing the more revealing costumes from the comics. Ultimately, her costume is actually less revealing than some of the day-to-day outfits Kara wears to work.
  • The Masquerade: This is actually used as the reason why Kara is discouraged from being Supergirl. The DEO is waging a secret fight against the alien prisoners who escaped from the Phantom Zone. With Kara out in the open, they are worried the prisoners would start something of a Lensman Arms Race that would increase civilian casualties.
  • May–December Romance: Technically in account of certain characters being stuck in the Phantom Zone which resulted in their aging being stalled.
    • Kara is chronologically more or less two decades older than both James and Adam. The inverse happens with Mon-El, who is more or less fifteen years older than her but was stuck in the Phantom Zone far longer. Speaking of which...
    • Mon-El, who was linked to both Eve and Kara. Chronologically, he is more or less three decades older than Eve and more or less fifteen years older than Kara.
  • Mayfly-December Romance: Any human character who ends up in a relationship with Kara is subject to this, as Kryptonians age much slower than humans (possibly not at all) under a yellow sun. Clark and Lois are stated to be in a relationship, so this would apply to them as well.
  • The Men in Black: The Department of Extra-Normal Operations, where Alex and Henshaw work. Supergirl helps them against such extra-normal threats.
  • Meta Twist: Unlike the trend in Greg Berlanti's other DC shows (Arrow, Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow), an entire season goes by without any major good guys dying or betraying the team.
  • Mid-Season Twist: In the seventh episode, "Human for a Day," "Hank Henshaw"—after multiple episodes demonstrating suspicious behavior, with both Alex and Kara concluding he must be up to no good—is revealed to be the benevolent J'onn J'onzz, and is sincerely looking out for the girls' best interests.
  • Mistaken for Gay:
    • Winn thinks Kara is trying to tell him she's gay when she reveals her secret identity. (This takes on an Ironic Echo in season 2.)
    • Leslie "Livewire" Willis accuses her of having a "Sapphic vibe", although that's more just a slur than an actual mistake.
    • When Astra sees a framed photograph of Alex and Kara in Kara's apartment, she tells Alex that "I knew there was more to you and my niece." Alex has to explain that Kara is her adoptive sister.
  • Mugging the Monster: In "Luthors", two prison guards Leeroy Jenkins Metallo, made more egregious by them knowing how powerful he is.
  • The Multiverse: The Arrowverse is confirmed to exist in an Alternate Universe, with Barry Allen even crossing-over (and this series' Supergirl being glimpsed briefly in an episode of The Flash). So far, locations shared by both universes are Central City, Opal City, Kasnia, and Corto Maltese (and all the other Real Life countries). For the planets, of course Earth, the Dominions and Thanagar. It's unclear if these Thanagarans plan on invading Earth in the future like their Earth 1 counterparts. If so, the existence of other aliens on Earth might prevent that. So far, there is yet any Alternate Self of any Earth-1 or The Flash (1990) character to appear here, and Earth-1's Team Flash are confirmed non-existent here. Still, a number of celebrities are shared by the two earths.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Kara uses her heat vision to reheat the coffee she bought for Cat.
    • At Thanksgiving dinner, Eliza asks Kara to use it on the turkey as her oven wasn't quite hot enough to finish cooking the bird. The subsequent conversation reveals that the Danvers had Kara do that sort of thing all the time when she was staying with them.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: M'Gann isn't like the other White Martians and has fled Mars after the Green Martian genocide and her attempt to save some of them. On Earth, she pretends to be a Green Martian. She's fond of J'onn but doesn't want him discovering her secret.
  • Mythology Gag: Has its own page.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: For the episode "For the Girl Who Has Everything", Kal-El's appearance in Kara's Black Mercy-induced dream should have been accompanied with John Williams-esque music.
  • Never My Fault: Sam Lane, in spades. He blames Supergirl and the DEO when the former damages the Red Tornado and it activates programming that sends it out of control. Sam Lane, or Dr. Morrow under his command, created Red Tornado. What, did they think it would never ever get damaged.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Some of the promos for episodes were (obviously deliberately) playing with fans' emotions. When what seemed like it would happen did not, sometimes it was met with relief, sometimes it was met with disappointment.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: When Siobahn discovered her powers, Winn wanted to help. So, he took her to the DEO base. Unfortunately,that was where Livewire was being held. Siobahn heard her rants about Cat and Supergirl, and after a while, decided to have a partner in her revenge spree. She didn't need to look far.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: "Henshaw" distrusts aliens in general, regardless of their intentions. However, he will work with Supergirl to bring in dangerous alien criminals. He's actually a shapeshifting alien with a similar background to Kara's who took Henshaw's place so he could reform the DEO from the inside; the real Henshaw was genuinely hostile toward innocent aliens, and the impostor Henshaw uses this as part of a subterfuge.
  • Non-Powered Costumed Hero: James becomes one, after Wynn makes him a suit, calling himself Guardian. After finding out about him (but still not knowing that it's James due to Wynn lead-lining the suit), Kara is skeptical about non-powered heroes, claiming her cousin had to deal with someone like that. Another costumed vigilante appears later, who actually kills criminals the Guardian merely captures. It turns out he's an ex-soldier, whose wife was murdered, and the killer ending up going free on a technicality. He starts hunting down other criminals, who have gotten off on technicalities.
  • Not His Sled: "Hank"'s eyes glow red in some episodes, and he displaying Super Strength, hinting that he might be Cyborg Superman, like in the comics. He's actually the Martian Manhunter. In season two, the real Hank Henshaw appears, having been turned into Cyborg Superman by Cadmus.
  • Older Than They Look: Kara is biologically 13 when she lands on Earth, but is older in real time since her ship took a detour in the Phantom Zone for twenty-four years. Hence her baby cousin who was launched into space at the same time is already an adult when she arrives.
  • Only Known By His Nickname:
  • Open Secret: By the end of Season 1 it almost appears there are fewer people who don't know that Kara is Supergirl.
    • When the series begins, the DEO is a top-secret organization based out of a bunker in the desert. Come season 2, its activities have become more publicly known and its base is relocated to an office tower in the middle of the city.
    • A tavern for aliens is introduced as a recurring social location in season 2. Although Supergirl wears her Kara Danvers identity there, and J'onn likewise continues to mask his true self, there is otherwise little effort made to hide any secret identities.
  • Out of Order: Episode 4 was delayed a week due to the terrorists attacks in Paris. Episode 5 aired in its place, resulting in a bit of Continuity Lockout as the storyline was thrown out of kilter.
  • Planar Shockwave: Krypton’s destruction generates one, responsible for knocking Kara’s ship off course and into the Phantom Zone. Season 2 reveal it also rendered the surface of its neighboring planet, Daxam, uninhabitable.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Vartox says that on his planet women bow before men. He also says that fighting Superman would be an honor, while Supergirl is just exercise.
  • Posthumous Character: Jeremiah Danvers died sometime before the start of the series working for the DEO. He sacrificed himself to save J'onn J'onzz from the original Hank Henshaw and more zealous members of the DEO. However, it is later revealed that Jeremiah isn't dead after all and is instead involved somehow with the top-secret Project Cadmus.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Several supporting characters are originally Superman's and adapted to the setting.
    • Jimmy Olsen and Catherine Grant are part of the staff of the Daily Planet. Here, James and Cat both used to be at the Daily Planet before moving elsewhere, and James still has a history with Superman.
    • Winslow Schott is the real name of the supervillain Toyman. The series later establishes that Winn is Toyman's son.
    • Hank Henshaw is the real name of the supervillain Cyborg Superman. It is possible it still is, as the Henshaw running the DEO is actually J'onn J'onnz. The real Henshaw died years ago]].
  • Protagonist Title: Go figure.
  • Race Lift: James Olsen is played by African-American actor Mehcad Brooks.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • When Cat is hesitant to publish a story about Supergirl going rogue, Siobhan goes behind her back and tries to sell it to the Daily Planet. Perry White, as a man of integrity, tells Cat, who proceeds to roast Siobhan for her unprofessional behaviour, rip apart her image of herself as an Intrepid Reporter and promptly fire her.
    • When Cat reveals that she knows Kara is Supergirl. Considering Kara is Cat's assistant and the two work closely together five days a week, it didn't take long for Cat to notice the changes in Kara's behavior: disappearing whenever Supergirl appears, only getting sick and breaking her arm when Supergirl was absent, doing/hearing things in her mundane job that are flatly impossible, and, of course, hiding her identity behind a flimsy pair of glasses and a ponytail. It also serves as a Deconstruction of the Secret Identity trope, since the things Cat spells out are all Superman staples which have somehow tricked his colleagues, and her tone of voice chides Kara for insulting her intelligence.
    • In the same vein, Cat quickly figures out that Kara's new cousin/friend/something Barry Allen is actually the new speedster. As for the clues, she cites that they appeared at the same time, Barry keeps insisting on calling the new hero "the Flash" (a nickname Cat finds ridiculous), and that he's super-nice, which either means he's a superhero or a Mormon. She then tells Kara that she can spot extraordinary hiding behind the mundane with the snap of a finger, causing Kara to panic for a moment, until Cat just tells her to go handle one of her chores.
    • When Kara tried to move the oil tanker by using her hands on the bow, she causes the tank to rupture due to the stress. Later, when she and Superman rescue the space-plane, they take positions on both ends of it to minimize the chance of it happening again.
    • Kara's editor, Snapper Carr, is often seen applying real-world journalistic rules and procedures when dealing with her and other reporters, including terminology that trained journalists would recognize, and insisting on proper grammar and spelling.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: J'onn, after a while. Lucy, when she takes over the DEO. Finally, the President of the US, seeing as how she pardons J'onn and reappoints him as head of the DEO.
  • Red Herring: "Hank Henshaw" is occasionally seen with glowing red eyes, is stronger than he looks, and can defuse a complicated electronic bomb just by sticking his hand in it. All hints to him being a cyborg, like his comics counterpart, right? Not so much... Subverted later, when the real Henshaw shows up as Cyborg Superman.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Kara noticeably can't manipulate heavy items without causing damage from her grip strength, and she has to take inertia and gravity into account. Her first rescue helping a plane make a soft landing, and a 90 degree roll, she had minor punctures into the fuselage. When she tries to pull an oil tanker away from the dock by the nose, she ends up tearing the front. Later she gets an ambulance out of a traffic jam, but makes sure to lift it in a way that won't risk further injuring the patient inside.
  • Ret Canon: Elements from the show is incorporated in the Supergirl (Rebirth) comics, specifically the inclusion of National City, the names used by Kara's adoptive parents being that of their show versions, and her biological mother Alura being a Composite Character with Astra (there, Alura is a high-ranking Kryptonian military officer like her twin rather than a judge).
  • Revenge by Proxy: The former inmates of Fort Rozz would like nothing better than to kill Supergirl in order to get revenge on Alura, their judge and jailer. Lillian also has a grudge against Supergirl as proxy for Superman, who her son Lex in jail.
  • Ripped from the Headlines
    • "Hostile Takeover" features a corporate hack on CatCo and putting Cat in trouble with the media and the board of directors, taken from the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack the previous year and the ongoing problems that lead to co-chair Amy Pascal stepping down.
    • "Solitude" involves Indigo hacking into a cheating website, not unlike the Ashley Madison case.
  • Rogues-Gallery Transplant: Most of the villains are traditionally Superman's enemies. An odd exception is Reactron, who is a Supergirl villain in the comics, but here is described as a recurring foe of Superman's who targets Supergirl to get at her cousin.
  • Rubber-Forehead Alien: Many of the criminals released from Fort Rozz appear to be of this type. Vartox, for example, looks human but for the ridges running across his bald head, which he covers with a trucker cap in his guise as a tanker truck driver.
  • Running Gag: Cat Grant consistently mispronouncing her employees' names. So far she's been unable or unwilling to get the names of Kara and Winn right.

    S-Y 
  • Sarcastic Confession: When Kara is asked by a waitress how she stays so thin despite eating so many sticky buns, she responds, "I'm an alien."
  • Secret Keeper:
    • The Danvers family know of Kara's alien origin and powers. Later, Alex, Winn, James, and the DEO know who Supergirl is. Superman has known of both all along, since he brought her to live with the Danvers family. Cat Grant figures it out in "Hostile Takeover".
    • Barry Allen also knows of her identity, and vice versa. Then again, they normally live in different universes, so who cares? Later on, Kara also becomes aware of the identities of Team Arrow, the rest of Team Flash, and the Legends (minus Rip). In return, they know her identity.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: James Olsen is revealed to be this because Superman asked him to keep an eye on his cousin in National City. The DEO was likewise aware of who she was, and specifically recruited/accepted Alex because of their relationship.
  • Sequel Hook: Max Lord seems to have gotten his hands on yet another piece of alien technology the Omegahedron, given to him by General Lane.
  • She's Got Legs: Both Kara/Supergirl and Cat remind you of this. Constantly.
  • Ship Sinking: A number of scenes in Season 1 are devoted to establishing a Foe Yay relationship between Alex Danvers and Maxwell Lord. Two torpedoes in Season 2 sink this ship: Lord falling victim to Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, and Alex coming out as gay and entering a romance with Maggie.
  • Shooting Superman:
    • Naturally. The second episode of season two has a truly ridiculous case where two ordinary criminals open fire on Supergirl and Superman. When this does nothing, one of them tries to punch Superman, which goes as well as you'd expect.
      Superman: See, now, if the bullets don't work, right...why the punching? Never understood that.
    • Averted with Mon-El. While he is nearly as strong and fast as Kara and has her level of endurance, Daxamites are extremely allergic to lead, which kinda makes him a poor superhero in a world, where guns are the most common weapons. In fact, if a bullet is not removed immediately, he has a good chance of dying from lead poisoning within minutes (making him way more vulnerable to bullets than mere humans). One would think that DEO would build him a bulletproof suit or something.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The DEO uses the same call signs as those established for the similar organization UNIT in Doctor Who, "Greyhound" and "Trap One."
    • Lynda Carter, who played the title character in Wonder Woman, plays President Olivia Marsdin in "Welcome to Earth". In the episode, Supergirl puts out a fire by spinning around very fast, similar to how Carter changed into Wonder Woman on the series. Marsdin also mentions her "other jet"note  to Supergirl.
    • The two alien thugs picking on a wimpy guy in a Wretched Hive in "Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk". At least one of them didn't brag he had the death sentence on twelve planets.
      • In the same episode, Mxyzptlk uses his magic to threaten a trio of robbers with their own guns, referencing a similar move by Magneto in the first X-Men film. Lampshaded, in that Mxy mentions he "saw it in a movie once".
  • Sibling Rivalry: Alex reveals she was always jealous of Kara coming to stay with the Danvers as Alex was no longer the star of the family. She was thus happy when Kara hid her abilities, with Kara accusing Alex of undermining her attempts to become a hero just to feel better about herself. Despite that, the two do still share a bond, if now strained.
    • Implied between Lucy and Lois. Lucy even bonds with Cat when she criticises her sister.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: People who by default assume Supergirl and other refugee aliens are by default malicious are portrayed as antagonists who go out of their way to express their cynicism, and usually act as if their cynical notions are by default right.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Cat's attitude towards Lois Lane is one of extreme competitiveness and utter disdain, with hardly an episode where Cat doesn't have something nasty to say about Lois. It remains to be seen whether it's reciprocated.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: The old conflict between Kryptonians (Snobs) and Daxamites (Slobs). When Mon-El shows up, he and Kara argue about their respective people; Kara claims that Daxamites are all hard-partying, violent slackers, while Mon-El responds that all Kryptonians are arrogant, self-righteous elitists. Both of them eventually admit to being unfairly prejudiced.
    Mon-El: A girl from Krypton and a boy from Daxam. Who would've thought?
    Kara: Why? Because you come from a planet of partiers?
    Mon-El: No, because you come from a planet of snobs.
  • Smart People Play Chess: In "Luthors", we see a young Lex playing chess against his mother before his younger sister is introduced. By the end of the episode, we see Lena playing chess against Lex and winning, implying she might actually be smarter than all the other Luthors.
  • Starter Villain: Vartox, a Politically Incorrect Villain who spouts misogyny.
  • Statuesque Stunner:
    • Kara stands 5'8 (taller in boots or heels) and a number of people (Winn and James most notably) find her attractive.
    • On paper, Leslie Willis. She is good looking and is half an inch taller than Kara to boot, but her Jerkass behavior puts her more on Tall, Dark and Snarky territory.
  • Stereo Fibbing: Barry is everyone's cousin! Honest!
  • Superman Stays out of Gotham: Kara doesn't want people (and especially villains) thinking that Superman will come running to bail her out every time she gets into trouble so Clark ends up promising not to intervene in National City's affairs. The practical side is that Kara states that supervillains will view National City as an easy target if she's seen as a pushover.
    • Averted as of Season 2, with Supes and Kara not only teaming up for the entire premiere episode, but him also deciding to stick around for a while.
  • Super Senses: Supergirl has them like her cousin. Used mundanely to detect when her boss is arriving before anyone else does.
  • Super Speed: Supergirl, naturally, as well as her more famous cousin. Any other Kryptonian on Earth. Barry from Earth-1 and, by extension, any other speedster in The Multiverse (Reverse-Flash, Zoom/Black Flash, Jay Garrick, Velocity, the Rival, Kid Flash, Jesse Quick, and Savitar). Mon-El has speed as well, being a Daxamite.
  • Super Strength: Many aliens are much stronger than humans, for some unexplained reason.
  • Supporting Leader: Both Cat Grant and J'onn J'onzz are the highest authority figures of the institutions that Kara works for/with.
  • Synthetic Plague: Kara is shocked to discover that her father created one to kill any non-Kryptonian. Project Cadmus modifies it to exclude humans as well.
  • Take That!: Supergirl is repeatedly criticized for the collateral damage she causes while saving people, which may be a Take That directed towards critics of Man of Steel. (Though thus far none of the damage she inflicts is depicted as involving fatalities.)
    Snapper Carr: One misattributed quote and you've got a fascist in the White House.
  • Tall, Dark and Handsome: James Olsen (6'4), Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman (6'), and Jeremiah Danvers (5'11 1/2). There also the 6'2 Barry Allen who Crossover.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Due to "Henshaw"'s apparent xenophobia, he and Kara do not particularly like each other. However, they will work together to stop alien criminals. This changes completely when "Henshaw" is revealed to the the Martian Manhunter. However, there is still some tension between the two when Kara thinks J'onn killed her aunt, Astra, when in fact he lied to prevent Alex from becoming a pariah. Once Kara finds the truth, all is forgiven.
    • Neither J'onn nor, later, Lucy Lane, particularly approve of non-DEO types, particularly Winn and James, hanging about their supposedly secret base. By season 2, J'onn doesn't seem to care anymore.
    • Superman and Martian Manhunter aren't particularly fans of each other, due to the fact that the latter, in typical Batman-fashion, willingly keeps kryptonite on hand to use against Kryptonian threats. They reconcile, after J'onn decides to hand over the entire stockpile to him.
  • 10-Minute Retirement:
    • Kara gets her ass kicked when fighting Vartox and is later told that her stay in the Phantom Zone released him and many other prisoners held there. This makes Kara think she doesn't deserve to be a hero. Alex then plays a message from Alura Zor-El to tell Kara to never let doubt stop her.
    • For part of "Human for a Day," Kara is afraid that she may be forced to retire due to her powers not coming back.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Not least when Kara goes into action to save the plane.
  • The Three Faces of Eve: Meta-example. The three actress who played Supergirl and their characters;
  • Three-Point Landing: Kara does one briefly when she demonstrates her flight to Winn.
  • Town Girls: Out of the three female mains in season 1, we have short-haired pantsuit wearing DEO agent Alex (butch), glamorous fashionable newspaper editor Cat (femme) and Adorkable superhero Kara (neither).
  • Trailers Always Lie: The promos for the Season 2 opener prominently had Winn asking Superman how he shaved. This line was never in the episode.
  • Trapped in Another World:
    • Justified by the survivng Krytonians as their home planet is now gone.
    • The escaped prisoners of Fort Rozz are this by default. Reasons being their planet also gone like Krypton, don't have the means to get back home, or their own people don't want them home since most of them are criminals.
    • J'onn J'onnz is a refugee on Earth after his home planet is conquered by the race who wiped out his.
    • Barry Allen finds himself stuck in this part of The Multiverse while experimenting with the Reverse-Flash's tachyon device. At the end of the episode, however, he uses the same trick he used to send Eobard Thawne into the future by having Kara throw him into a breach.
  • Triang Relations: Winn likes Kara, who likes James, who likes Lucy Lane. Kara also agreed to go on a date with Adam Foster. Winn also liked Siobhan before she turned evil.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In the pilot, Kara saves a plane from crashing. A reporter harps on the damage done to a bridge in the process, even though no one was hurt and the plane probably would have crashed into a building or something without her help.
  • Unreliable Narrator: J'onnz tells Kara that when her ship broke free of the Phantom Zone, it somehow pulled Fort Rozz out along with it. However, the flashback seen by the audience clearly shows that the fortress's thrusters activated on their own and followed her out. Whether the discrepancy was intentional on his part remains to be seen. "Solitude" clears up the issue. Indigo/Brainiac 8 revealed she had activated Kara's ship and used it as a guide to navigate Fort Rozz out of the Phantom Zone.
  • The Unreveal: We never do learn what Cat called Lois Lane in "Hostile Takeover" (several hundred times), but apparently she's called her a lot worse... to her face.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Kara heavily relies on her superpowers to win any fight. So when a guy nearly as strong fights her for the first time, she loses badly. After another Curb-Stomp Battle at the hands of her Aunt Astra in episode 2, she asks Alex to continue their hand-to-hand combat training until she's just as good as Alex is. Later episodes show continued improvement in hand-to-hand combat, and when she fights the escaped prisoner in "Livewire" she's begun incorporating her powers other than pure strength. By "Hostile Takeover" she can go toe-to-toe with Alex while powered down.
  • Up, Up and Away!: Kara assumes this position the whole time, usually both hands extended and curled into fists.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Daxamites may get super powers on Earth, just like Kryptonians, but an "allergy" to lead means they're extremely vulnerable to the most common weapons on Earth. Even getting shot in a non-vital area can kill them, if the bullet is not removed quickly.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Kara's biological father created a Synthetic Plague that targets any non-Kryptonian. Given that Krypton has been involved in wars with other races and has been invaded several times (including by the Dominators), it kinda makes sense, especially since they weren't superpowered on their home planet.
  • Wham Episode: "The Darkest Place". The original Hank Henshaw is Not Quite Dead and Cyborg Superman, Jeremiah Danvers is Not Quite Dead and helps Kara escape Cadmus, and the Project Director finally reveals her name: Lillian Luthor. To a lesser degree in the same episode, J'onn finds out M'Gann's true race and finds out he's turning into a White Martian himself.
  • Wham Shot: A Dominator, one of more feared alien species, bows and scrapes deferentially to Mon-El, indicating he's not who he claims to be.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Season 1 ends with a Sequel Hook of General Lane giving Maxwell Lord the Omegahedron. In Season 2, none of them are anywhere to be seen.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: James calls out Kara for locking up Maxwell Lord in a DEO prison without due process. However, he doesn't seem to mind the fact that the DEO does the same to several alien prisoners regularly.
  • When She Smiles: Cat is usually snarking or smirking at other characters. But after Supergirl tells her that she's an inspiration, Cat smiles sincerely at her - and it's lovely.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: In classic DC fashion, the location of National City in the US is never specified. However, the sunny climate, the proximity to a desert, its seaport and the fact that it's within a few hours' drive of Ojai and 500 miles from an unspecified spot in the Nevada desert would all indicate that National City is a stand in for Los Angeles.note  Or, at least, somewhere on the California coast between San Jose and San Diego.note  It gets even more complicated in season 2 when the production moves from Los Angeles to Vancouver, B.C.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Given, since The Hero is female. There are a number of female villains, though.
  • Wretched Hive: Well, a dive bar, anyway. Basically a refuge for aliens hiding on Earth. Not all of them are law-abiding, though.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The pilot fudges the dates a bit. Krypton is said to have exploded twenty-four years ago. But Kara spends those twenty-four years in space before landing on Earth, then she becomes Supergirl twelve years later. So Krypton should have exploded thirty-six years ago.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: During the Arrowverse crossover, Rory refused to call Kara "Supergirl", instead insisting on calling her "Skirt". When he's rendered helpless by the Dominators, he weakly pleads, "Supergirl, help..."
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Krypton exploding makes it impossible for Kara to return to her home planet.
    • Season 2 introduces Daxam as a neighboring planet in the same solar system as Krypton. As a result of the latter's explosion, Daxam is an irradiated wasteland.
  • You Know the One: The trailer and pilot go out of their way to avoid calling Superman "Superman", except once in the full version of the opening voiceover. "Kal-El" is said a few times and "the Man of Steel" once. The characters mostly say "your/my cousin", "the big guy", "he/him", etc. Thankfully, they've dropped that by the second episode. He's still referred to more than a few times as Kara's cousin, usually when referring to him as a person instead of as a public figure. But it's partially justified: no one outside of his family knows the name "Kal-El", and she can't refer to him as "Clark" for obvious reasons.

"Earth doesn't just have one hero... now it has me. Now it has Supergirl."

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/Supergirl2015