Wonder Woman! All the world's been waiting for you And the power you possess In your satin tights Fighting for our rights And the old red, white and blue!
— Series theme
Wonder Woman is an American live-action TV series that originally aired from 1975 to 1979, based on the comic book superhero Wonder Woman. It starred Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman and Lyle Waggoner as Steve Trevor.The movie-length pilot episode and first season aired on ABC, and were set during World War II.From the second season, the series moved to CBS, was retitled The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, and the setting moved to the present day (ie. The Seventies). Wonder Woman, being an ageless Amazon, hadn't aged a day, while Lyle Waggoner switched to playing the remarkably familiar-looking Steve Trevor Jr.An unrelated failed Pilot Movie was broadcast about a year earlier, in 1974, starring Cathy Lee Crosby as a non-powered Wonder Woman in a very loose adaptation (verging on In Name Only). Even earlier, in the mid-1960s, William Dozier produced a five-minute Wonder Woman screen test which portrayed Diana as living with her mother.In 2011, David E. Kelley attempted to produce a pilot for a new Wonder Woman series starring Adrianne Palicki, best known for her role in Friday Night Lights, although the project was cancelled before the pilot had been completed. The unfinished pilot attracted poor reviews and has a page here.
Adaptation Distillation: The TV show simplified the comics (none of Wonder Woman's supervillains ever appeared, for example) but still had a charm of its own.
Advanced Ancient Acropolis: Paradise Island is an uncharted island within the Bermuda triangle. In 1942, the Amazons wear togas and use bows and arrows, but they had an invisible plane, a truth serum, and guns to use in her “Bullets and bracelets” challenge.
The Baroness: Baroness Paula Von Gunther, though given the child-friendly tone of the show they obviously couldn't show any of the less savory aspects of the trope. She did like tying people up, though.
The Champion: Invoked by Queen Hippolyta: The Amazon winner of a tournament will escort Steve Trevor to his country. Subverted because this is less for his safety that to preserve the Lady Land in Paradise Island.
Queen Hippolyta:For his safety - and ours. One of our young Amazon girls will escort him to his country, and then return to Paradise Island.
Princess Diana: '' But all the girls will want that task.
Queen Hippolyte: '' I know. To forestall any ill feelings, I have planned a tournament of athletic games, by which I alone will determine the strongest, nimblest, and most likely candidate for the assignment.
Princess Diana / Wonder Woman is the champion for Paradise Island, for Steve Trevor and for Liberty and Democracy while she stays in man’s world.
City of Spies: Going by this show, it would seem like half the population of Washington DC were Nazi double agents.
Clark Kenting: Almost always played straight as pulling her hair back and wearing big glasses fools everyone. However, it was notably averted in "Mind Stealers from Outer Space (Part 1)" when the Skrills, an alien race who steals minds to sell them into slavery, discovers easily Diana Prince's secret with only a slide projector:
Crowning Momentof Awesome: Two, actually. When she did "bullets and bracelets" against a machine gun. (In a theater, and she got a well-deserved hand.) Also, when she stopped a jet from taking off by holding onto its wing.
Cultural Posturing: Queen Hippolyta remembers that women were slaves for the Romans and the Greeks. After some thousands of years being an immortal, she is not fond of any culture in the patriarch world:
Queen Hippolyta:… We are stronger, wiser and more advanced than all those people in their jungles out there. Our civilization is perfection!
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Queen Hippolyta knows that Steve Trevor will be worshipped by the Amazons at Paradise Island. To avoid that, she plans to send one of the amazons with him to his own country. And then:
Princess Diana: '' But all the girls will want that task.
Queen Hippolyta: '' I know. To forestall any ill feelings, I have planned a tournament of athletic games, by which I alone will determine the strongest, nimblest, and most likely candidate for the assignment.
Princess Diana is denied access to the tournament, so she throws a tantrum and retires to the summer palace… only to participate in secret and win, to show her commitment and knowing that her mother will forgive her.
Distressed Dude: Steve Trevor is captured and/or knocked out almost every single episode.
Doing It for the Art: Carter sometimes did her own stunts because it allowed better closeups of the action. In one memorable scene she hung from the bottom of a helicopter as it took off; she later stated that the producers were... less than pleased when they found out.
Everything's Better with Spinning: The famous spin-change was proposed by Carter; the producers were nervous about having Wonder Woman simply take off her clothes every episode.
Fanservice/Ms. Fanservice/Parent Service: Carter herself, of course. And it only got better as time went on; in the second season the costume was tweaked to flatter her bust a bit more (she was never fond of the "bullet bra" pictured above), and her civilian clothes were sexier than the bulky military uniform she wore in the first season.
Debra Winger as Wonder Girl.
Fish out of Water: Especially in the first season, Wonder Woman didn't entirely know how the world outside Paradise Island worked, and did things like reading books on slang so she could blend in better.
Heel-Face Turn: Wonder Woman often tried to reform bad guys rather than defeat them, and sometimes she would succeed.
Hidden Elf Village: Paradise Island is an uncharted island within the devil’s triangle. Queen Hippolyta had decided to hide Paradise Island from the world: In the pilot, she claims that no one in the last thousand years has ever found it. She also claims that any amazon who leaves the island may lose her immortality and become a mortal again.
Hot Librarian: Diana Prince poses as one more than once. And while not actually a librarian, Diana has something of the general aesthetic in the 1970s.
Identical Grandson: After disappearing from "man's world" after World War II ended, Diana meets Steve Trevor Jr. in the first episode of the second season, "The Return of Wonder Woman", a Setting Update in 1977 (which was then the present day). At first, she is confused, thinking he hadn’t aged, but given she is an immortal amazon warrior, Queen Hippolyta explains the concept of "sons" to her.
IKEA Weaponry: The old sniper-rifle-in-a-briefcase in "Time Bomb."
Indy Ploy: In "Light-Fingered Lady," Diana poses as a thief to infiltrate a gang of criminals. They say she can earn their trust by stealing some plans they need. She uses her powers as Wonder Woman to complete this theft, but is caught doing so by one of the criminals, who was following her to make sure she was who she said she was. Thinking fast, Wonder Woman tells him she is on the trail of her criminal alter-ego, and when he won't tell her where she is, she locks him in a closet. Then she goes back to her street clothes and frees him, and the fact that she completed her mission even while Wonder Woman was supposedly after her convinces most of the group she's legitimate.
In Name Only: The Cathy Lee Crosby Pilot Movie featured a non-powered blond Wonder Woman in a track suit. While it does mention Diana's Amazon home and invisible plane, it generally plays more like a superspy knockoff of The Avengers than a superhero story.
Innocent Fanservice Girl: It never occurs to Wonder Woman that she is basically wearing a strapless bathing suit everywhere she goes (well, except in water), or that there is anything wrong with this.
Karma Houdini: Happens a lot. If someone is participating in a crime and seems to not really want to do it, or better yet does anything to thwart the rest of the criminals, they will never be punished at the end for the crimes they committed.
Also some villains escaped: Marion Mariposa in Screaming Javelins, Count Cagliostro in Diana's Disappearing Act, Bleaker in The girl from Ilandia and... Harlow Gault's brain in Gault's Brain
Keep Circulating the Tapes: The first TV pilot movie, starring Cathy Lee Crosby and Ricardo Montalban (as the bad guy), is mostly forgotten today. It was once released on VHS, and didn't make it to DVD until 2012.
Knockout Gas: Season 1 episode "Judgment from Outer Space (Part 1)": Wonder Woman is taken down by knockout gas.
Lightning Bruiser: Her super-strength was obvious (notably when she stopped a tank in its tracks). Her super-speed was implied by feats like catching a bazooka shell in her hand, and her tendency to run rather than use a car when she needed to get somewhere quickly.
In "Death in Disguise," she runs forty-seven miles in less than four minutes.
Mathematician's Answer: In "Spaced Out," Diana throws a thug into a pool, then quickly changes to Wonder Woman, interrogates him with her golden lasso, and makes him forget the conversation. A little later the thug runs into his boss, who's shocked to see him soaking wet.
Most Common Superpower: Until the television series, Wonder Woman as portrayed in the comics as a slim, athletic figure. And then Lynda Carter filled out the costume (and then some!) on this show. Ever since, the comics portray her as the (second) bustiest, curviest superheroine in the DC Universe.
Fausta the Nazi Wonder Woman may have been even bigger, though far more covered.
Proud Scholar Race Guy / Perfect Pacifist People: In this incarnation, Paradise Island’s amazons are this. In contrast with the Proud Warrior Race Guys from the comics, the amazons were overpowered by the Nazis in “The Feminum Mystique”. However, the Amazons easily overpower the Nazis once Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl came back to liberate the Isle.
Reluctant Warrior: Partly as a result of Executive Meddling. The producers didn't want Wonder Woman to be too violent, thinking that it would alienate viewers, which is why you're more likely to see her tossing a thug into a pile of cardboard boxes than punching him in the face. Also see Heel-Face Turn above.
Retool: Besides the update to the 1970s at the beginning of the second season, there was a planned retool that showed up in one episode of the third season (which should have been the season finale but was shown out of order). Diana was transferred to the Los Angeles branch of the IADC, with a new boss and supporting cast. The show never got a fourth season, so that was all we got.
Series Continuity Error: The pilot establishes that Paradise Island, in 1942, is a Hidden Elf Village of amazons who had never seen a man in a thousand years. Princess Diana is elected The Champion to travel to man’s world. She is the first amazon to leave Paradise Island in a thousand years. However, in the third season episode Diana's Disappearing Act, Cagliostro claims that Wonder Woman has stopped all his lineage plans since the original Cagliostro (born in the 18th century) and in Screaming Javelins, Diana remembers to have meet Napoleon Bonaparte, implying not only that she was in Europe those years, but that she was already doing her superhero job.
At the pilot and the first episodes, Wonder Woman uses spinning to change clothes into her costume. Later episodes show how she changes by spinning with Audible Sharpness and Power Glow. At the “Feminum Mystique part I”, Wonder Girl remembers Queen Hypolita teaching Wonder Woman how to change his clothes with Audible Sharpness and Power Glow before leaving Paradise Island.
Setting Update: The first episode of the Second Season, "The Return of Wonder Woman": Wonder Woman dissapeared when World War II ended, but another plane incident at Paradise Island forces her to return to man's world, by which time it's now:
The Seventies: The first episode of the second season was at 1977, which was the present day at the time.
Sidekick: Wonder Girl serves this role to Wonder Woman.
She's Got Legs: And how. Completely unavoidable given the context of the series and that costume, but while the camera rarely lingers too long on her legs, the directors did seem to try and work in full-length shots of Wonder Woman whenever possible, and there is one episode where W.W. is shown strung up and her legs dominate the shot throughout.
Ship Tease: Diana and Steve would occasionally have a "moment" in the first season. They backed off from this in subsequent seasons (possibly nervous about the obvious 16-year age gap between Carter and Waggoner) to the point of making Steve Diana's boss so they wouldn't be working directly together anymore.
Stunt Double: Fairly easy to spot, even from behind; the stunt doubles did not have Carter's wasp waist.
Stupid Jetpack Hitler: While not extreme, they did have very advanced animal training and plastic surgery. They would have become this had they captured the feminum mine.
Supernormal Bindings: Subverted in one episode when after being caught by Nazis, she's wrapped in chains that had survived being tested by teams of elephants. For a while she just sits there as they monologue, but when the time comes she breaks the chains easily.
Undercover as Lovers: In "I Do, I Do", Diana and Christian Harrison pose as newlyweds because they suspect someone has been manipulating the wives of high government officials to gain information, and Christian works in the White House.
Undercover Model: Diana Prince went undercover as a beauty pageant contestant, although Steve didn't think she was pretty enough to pull it off...