Western Animation: Static Shock
is an animated series based on the Milestone Comics
. Created by Dwayne McDuffie
, it is one of the rare instances where a comic book's creator was also the main creative force behind the animated adaptation. The main character, Virgil Hawkins, is the son of a man who runs a youth center. When a bunch of experimental gas
explodes, it grants him and some other teenagers a wide variety of offbeat superpowers
(it also mutates various animals and at least one fungus). This event is later referred to as "the Big Bang" and the mutant metahumans
are known as "Bang Babies," as the Big Bang was the start of their new lives.
Virgil has been best friends with Richie Foley for years, although there is a friction when Richie's father is revealed as a racist. In the cartoon, it is later revealed that Richie is a Bang Baby as well; he's become a technical genius
and adopts the superhero moniker Gear.
Adam Evans, a.k.a. Rubberband Man, a shapeshifter who initially appeared as a villain, is another major character. During the course of the series, he reformed
and became a good guy, even dating Virgil's sister at one point. There were other villains and supporting heroes, some more interesting than others.
In later seasons, the show began to slide away from its original characteristics. Many later episodes focused on celebrity guest-stars and featured real-life athletes in primary roles, occasionally as super-heroes themselves. The show became less about gangs as time went on, regularly featuring Anvilicious aesops
. At the same time, almost all traces of gang warfare and other urban issues were dropped, in favor of having Static go up against random metahumans or teaming up with another superhero
There were a few crossovers
between Static Shock
and other DC Animated Universe
series, despite the fact that the original Milestone comics weren't set in the DCU
. Early episodes seemed to portray characters like Superman
to be fictional; in the second season, however, they had the two-parter "The Big Leagues", a crossover with Batman: The Animated Series
where the Joker comes to Dakota, with the Dark Knight soon on his heels. Later episodes also featured Superman
, the Justice League
, a separate appearance by Green Lantern
John Stewart, an episode based around a Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy team-up and even a trip to the future of Batman Beyond
, where Static meets his future self (now considered one of the most powerful heroes on the planet). Going the other way, Static himself (his future self, anyway) makes an appearance in the Justice League Unlimited
first season finale.
- Academy of Adventure: The accident that created the metahuman surge occurred in the midst of a fight between teenaged gangs; most the victims of the Bang were students at the same school as Virgil, and villains arose from the student body throughout the series.
- Action Girl: She-Bang.
- Adult Fear: Virgil's father, after discovering Virgil and Richie's secret identities, and realizing that they've been fighting dangerous superpowered criminals since the Big Bang incident. He manages to get over it, if only slightly.
- Adaptational Villainy: In the comics, Aquamaria was a member of the Blood Syndicate, a superhero team. Here, she's just one of Ebon's flunkies.
- Adorkable: If you don't believe Virgil and Richie are this, you haven't seen the show.
- All Up To You: Richie in "Gear".
- All Your Powers Combined: Omnifarious had no permanent powers, but he cracked the secret of the Bang Baby gas, allowing him to use small, specially configured doses to obtain any power he wanted for a short time. At least until he used all of them at once...
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: "Jimmy" and "Where the Rubber Meets the Road".
- Applied Phlebotinum
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
Static: Let's see, so far I have you [Ferret] down for robbery, vandalism and excessive cruelty to produce. Want to add anything else?
- Art Evolution: The first two seasons featured almost-painfully bright, solid colors and fairly traditional character designs. Starting with the third season, the artwork became more angular and the colors were toned down. Of course, this was prevalent in all of the DCAU as the styles converged.
- Artificial Human: She-Bang, again.
- Assimilation Backfire: The metahuman power parasite Leech was defeated with water after he absorbed Static's powers.
- Ax-Crazy: Shiv, he even told Joker that he is a big fan of his work; it does not help that he can literally turn his arms into axes.
- Bad Job, Worse Uniform: The original Burger Fool, in which Virgil himself worked for an episode.
- Bait-and-Switch Credits: Out of four seasons, the only one that's entirely accurate with the villains Static fights is Season 2 which has, in sequence, Kangor, Hotstreak, Puff and Ebon (all recurring, knowingly bad foes). The others are inconsistent in showing villains for different reasons:
- Season 1: Rubberband Man was only an antagonist for one episode, and even then, he just wanted credit for the beats that were stolen from him (he'd never resort to rob jewelry stores to get his way), while Dwayne attacks Static by himself instead of being persuaded by his jerkass stepbrother Aron.
- Seasons 3 and 4: One of the foes shown is legitimately evil, but he isn't a Static foe: that's Professor Menace, Soul Power's nemesis in "Blast from the Past", who only used his technology to appear younger.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Edwin Alva, Sr., who was completely disappointed with his son Edwin Jr, stated that he'd be better off with a statue due to what a failure Jr. is. Guess what he gets at the end of the episode.
- The B Grade:
- A classmate of Richie and Virgil was upset, and later became violently angry, when he got a 99 percent on a test instead of the usual one hundred. The reason? He had a single contraction.
- Richie gets one of these during the series finale. It's the first hint he's losing his Bang Baby super smarts.
- Big Bad: Ebon.
- Big Eater: Richie, and his future self shows what happens when you continue your habits as your metabolism lowers.
- Black Best Friend: Neatly inverted. Richie is the white best friend to a black protagonist, in a work where most of the major characters are black.
- Bloodless Carnage: Richie is accidentally shot in "Jimmy" and there is not even a single drop of blood. To the show's credit, it represented a gunshot wound as incredibly painful, and inflicting a wound that required surgery and significant recovery time. Unfortunately, the next episode negates that last point by showing a fully-recovered Richie.
- Brain Puppet Apocalypse: Blame it on Madelyn Spaulding.
- Breakout Character: Gear. Richie's popularity led to him getting promoted to hero in Season 3.
- Brought Down to Normal: Temporarily in the series finale. Almost every other Bang Baby seemed to lose their powers for good, though.
- Burger Fool: Trope namer.
- Cain and Abel: Ebon and Rubberband Man.
- Camera Spoofing
- Canon Immigrant: While Static did exist prior to the animated show, its popularity led his looks and uniform to change matching his TV appearance (at least for the first two seasons).
- Captain Ersatz: Soul Power, who was created because the show wasn't allowed to use Black Lightning. Sparky seems completely original, surprisingly.
- Chained Heat: Static and Hotstreak in "No Man's an Island". The "heat" part being literal.
- Chased Off into the Sunset: The episode "The Usual Suspect" ends with Virgil's sister, Sharon, chasing after him after one too many wisecracks.
- Clark Kenting:
- Both Static and Gear have masks to cover their faces, though in Gear's case, his helmet's visor appears see through for the viewers since it covers his completely as opposed to Static's Domino Mask.
- At one point, Ebon sees Virgil outside his costume. Talon points out that they have similar hairstyles. Ebon replies that lots of kids have that hairstyle.
- One episode static faces off against somebody with x-ray vision. They needed to look through the mask to see it was Virgil behind the mask.
- Comic Books Are Real
- Composite Character: Richie is a combination of Rick Stone (same appearance) and Frieda (secret keeper). Interestingly enough, Frieda appears here too, but as a Muggle, while the role of Virgil's love interest is passed over to Daisy.
- Compressed Vice
- Contagious Powers: It takes some time, but Richie has a delayed effect (that took two whole seasons) from the Bang Baby residue to become an inventing genius gadgeteer superhero, Gear.
- Cool Loser: Virtually every heroic character in the series.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Edwin Alva, Sr.
- Costume Copycat: Static, Rubberband Man, and Green Lantern.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: As revealed in the Superman crossover, Toyman is very genre savvy by giving Darcy's new biological body a kill gene in the event she back-stabs him again.
- Death by Secret Identity: Omnifarious is turned into a statue in the same episode in which he discovers Static's identity.
- The DCU
- Demoted to Extra: Frieda, especially in comparison to her role in the comic series. She starts the show as Virgil's primary love interest, and is actually the first "civilian" to speak to Static, but after Daisy is introduced, she quickly becomes superfluous to both the plot of the show and the relationships between the characters.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The show wasn't originally part of the DCAU despite being made by the same production team; some episodes in the first season refer to Superman and other DC heroes as fictional.
- Electric Joybuzzer:
- Electric Slide: Soul Power uses this a lot.
- Empathic Weapon: Gear's Backpack.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Ovid. Virgil was not happy when Sharon said it aloud.
"Sharon, my middle name is NEVER to be spoken aloud. You know that."
- Enemy Mine: Seen in "Romeo in the Mix" (Static + Hotstreak + Ebon + Talon trying to escape Leech) and "No Man's an Island" (Static and Hotstreak work together).
- Evil Redheads: Hotstreak, who also has blond highlights to keep with his fire motif.
- They have fun with it. ("Sooooooouuuul Power!")
- Slipstream is a less flattering example.
- Family-Friendly Firearms: Frequently played straight, but averted in both that Virgil's mother was killed by a regular gun, and in one episode about the dangers of gun violence.
- Fat Bastard: Slipstream. Even before finding out he was a Bang Baby, he was a prick.
- Fate Worse Than Death:
- Speedwarp, after stealing a belt Static was using to speed himself up to match the villain's technology, ends up using it and becomes stuck at super slow speed. The last scene in the episode shows him trying to run from Static in slow motion.
- After gaining the ability to absorb matter, Heavyman, a.k.a. Dr. Koenig, ends up with such a dense mass that, in the end of the episode, he is unable to move at all.
- Five-Token Band: Any team is bound to be from different ethnicities or backgrounds. Pretty much the nature of the universe. Justified since urban areas tend to be pretty diverse.
- Flight of Romance: Static woos Frieda this way in the first episode. He later does the same thing with his later love interest, Daisy.
- Flowers for Algernon Syndrome: Richie goes through this in the final episode, as he starts to lose his super intelligence due to the Bang Baby cure. He gets better in the end.
- Flying Firepower: Static can use shock and awe and use his electricity powers to fly.
- Former Child Star: Replay. For bonus points, he was voiced by pre-Dr. Horrible/How I Met Your Mother Neil Patrick Harris, for whom the trope applied.
- Richie develops an awful lot of technologically advanced tools for Virgil to use early in the series. It's because he's slowly developing super intelligence.
- Richie's blood looking the same as Virgil's through a microscope implies that he is a Bang Baby as well.
- Future Badass: Static becomes one of the most powerful DC heroes in the future.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Virgil, through a Stealth Insult, essentially calls his sister a "bitch" twice.
- Girlish Pigtails: Sharon.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: A common side effect of the metahuman gas.
- Green Lantern Ring: Both literally and as a trope for several characters.
- Green Rocks: Big Bang gas.
- Guess Who I'm Dating: Rubberband Man and Sharon (though they seem to be in an on-again-off-again by "Bad Stretch").
- Hall of Mirrors
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Word Of God (a little over halfway down the page) explained that this was how they hinted at Richie's sexuality, by having him repeatedly make suggestive comments in order to cover up his urges.
- Heel-Face Turn:
- Rubberband Man was initially a villain who reformed and became a recurring hero who worked with Static.
- Bang Babies Nightingale and Brick betray Ebon when he tries to block out the sun.
- Talon in the series finale after she reverts back to her human form.
- Edwin Alva, Sr., after his son turns into stone, turns his efforts towards bringing him back and completely forgoes his agenda concerning Static.
- Hide Your Gays: Word of God said that Richie is gay, but the show never dealt with or revealed this fact.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Onyx and Puff, respectively.
- Hulk Speak: The monster in the episode "Tantrum". He's even an expy of Hulk, only purple instead of green.
- Humanshifting: Replikon a.k.a. Marvin does this best during "Duped".
- I Have Your Dad and Best Friend: Virgil's father in the episode "Kidnapped", and Richie/Gear several times, "Sons of the Fathers" and "Hoop Squad" being two episodes.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Briefly in the Justice League crossover, Static does this to Gear possessed by Braniac.
- I Let Daisy Watkins Get Sent to the Hospital: In "Consequences". Static at first tries going on a roaring rampage of revenge against Puff and Onyx for having done this to her, but Rubberband Man later reminds him that this only happened because he was showboating instead of worrying about her safety, adding to Static's it's all my fault.
- Improvised Weapon
- Ink-Suit Actor: The cameos of real life celebrities (Shaquille O'Neal, AJ McLean, Karl Malone,note , Li'l Romeo - who performed the show's theme from the third season onwards - and boy band B2K) plus Replikon, who was appropriately enough voiced by Coolio.
- In Space Everyone Can See Your Face: Gear's helmet. It protects his identity, despite the fact that the viewer can see his face perfectly through it.
- Inverse Law of Complexity to Power: The average villain of the week has a narrower power, while Static himself has lightning powers with lightning can do anything in full force. Two recurring villains have Darkness and Fire powers.
- Ironic Superhero Name: Static, ostensibly, refers to static electricity. It can also mean something fixed or stationary, lacking movement or vitality, or showing little change. Virgil is none of those things, in either the comics or TV series. In fact, the only time this was actually the case was when his powers first manifest, resulting in a severe case of static cling with his bed sheets.
- James Bondage: Richie, so, very, very much. That he escapes on his own is the only thing that maintains him being semi-badass.
- Jerkass: Primary mentions go to Specs and Trapper, who arrogantly believe that everybody is beneath them because "they're smarter". Also, Hotstreak.
- Jumped at the Call
- Let's You and Him Fight: Static vs. Terry McGinnis when he's flung forward in time.
- Leitmotif: Every character with powers, at least
- Lighter and Softer: In the original comics, the "Big Bang" was not an accident, but an attempt by the authorities to spray gang members with a radioactive marker to track them down; it gave them superpowers instead. To give credit where credit is due, the show did keep the circumstances as a gang war between rivals, and Virgil was given an actual gun instead of a laser gun.
- Lightning Can Do Anything: Static electricity, actually.
- Limited Wardrobe: Static and Richie do change shirts from time to time, but Hotstreak and the other villains who wear casual clothes while terrorizing the public seem to be attached to their look.
- L Is for Dyslexia: Rubberband Man in "When the Rubber Meets the Road".
- Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: Averted with She-Bang, played straight virtually every other time.
- Love Makes You Crazy: Eddie Felson, a.k.a. Speedwarp, who stole a time-manipulating device just so he could have all the time in the world with Daisy.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: Most of the members of Ebon's gang have these.
- Mad Scientist
- Master of Delusion: Almost every major character.
- Mass Super-Empowering Event: The Big Bang was responsible for most, but not all, metahumans in the series.
- Missing Mom: Virgil's mother in the animated series, which also has quite a bit of emotional baggage on him.
- Mundane Utility:
- Named After Somebody Famous: Static is named after two Roman poets, Virgil and Ovid.
- Never Found the Body: Ebon and Hotstreak, combined or otherwise.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Madelyn returns in Season 4 with her mind control powers replaced with telekinesis, as a result of Static frying her brain before.
- Not Using the Z Word: "Attack of the Living Brain Puppets". Then again, it's not like anyone is dead there.
- Oh, Crap: When Hotstreak thinks in "A League of Their Own" that Static's with them he panics. (Batman's past experiences with Static are why the League need him and break up the fight he's in with the Meta-Breed).
- Old Superhero: Soul Power.
- Overclocking Attack: "A League of Their Own".
- Overprotective Dad: Mr. Hawkins.
- Personality Powers: Hotstreak has anger issues; Boom is loud and obnoxious. Surprisingly rare in the series, though; most Bang Babies' powers don't mirror their personalities.
- Power Incontinence: All Static's electricity is released in an EMP if he gets wet while charged up. There was also one time that his powers fluctuated wildly due to interference from a solar flare.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Shiv. The only time we see him acting solo, he decides to rob a toy store, for every kind of obvious reasons.
- Reality Warper: One of the "villains", a kid who uses his powers to shapeshift rubbish into tasty junk food and makes a fountain spew cherry soda.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Hotstreak and, oddly, the Joker.
- Retired Badass: Soul Power.
- Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: lampshaded in "Flashback".
- Rogues Gallery:
- An Ice Person: Permafrost (only for the Christmas episode, and even then she was not evil).
- Blow You Away: Slipstream.
- Breath Weapon: Puff.
- Combat Tentacles: Chainlink (and Dule, who was his victim).
- Combo Platter Powers: Omnifarious (this one was Hoist by His Own Petard).
- Liquid Assets: Leech.
- Living Shadow: Ebon (much possibly Static's archenemy).
- Make Me Wanna Shout: Talon, Boom.
- Making a Splash: Aquamaria.
- Me's a Crowd: Replay.
- Mind over Matter: Madelyn, the second time.
- People Puppets: Madelyn, the first time.
- Playing with Fire: Hotstreak.
- Rubber Man: Rubberband Man (he had a Heel-Face Turn later).
- Super Strength: Hyde, Onyx, Monster, and Tantrum.
- The Nose Knows: Ferret.
- Terrible Trio: Run, Jump, and (very briefly) Richie as Push.
- Rollerblade Good: Gear.
- Running Gag: The superpowered characters (usually Static and Gear) are frequently knocked/thrown into dumpsters during fights. Lampshaded by Gear.
Gear: Dumpster. Why is it always a dumpster?
- Scary Black Man: Ebon plays this astoundingly straight: deep voice, and his name means "black" (because he has control over shadows). He usually appears pitch-black (except for a grey vest, glowing eyes, and a light purple glow around the edges, as if facing away from a faint light).
- Secret Keeper: Richie, before becoming Gear. Virgil's dad at the end of the series, though deep down he always knew.
- Sequel Hook: Despite being the series finale, it was left open how many Bang Babies may have been repowered by the end of the episode, or if Ebon and Hotstreak had really met their end or if they could still be a threat.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: "Flashback".
- Shapeshifter Showdown: "Bad Stretch".
- Shock and Awe
- When brainstorming nicknames for Richie's tech-suit identity: "How 'bout Hardware?" "I think it's taken."
- In the Superman crossover episode, "Toys in the Hood", Static fights a bunch of clown robots created by Toyman, prompting him to quip "Man, this Clown Posse really IS Insane".
- In the first episode, when Virgil is trying on potential outfits, one of them is that of Black Vulcan. Richie dismisses it as looking like a battery commercial.
- In "Big Leagues", Static imitates Star Trek's Captain Kirk when using the Bat Wing to locate Batman and Robin
Static: "Computer. Engage. Autopilot. Find Batman and. Robin."
- Speedwarp's name is Eddie Felson - "Fast" Eddie Felson.
- Sidekick Glass Ceiling: Richie, played straight and then subverted. When he first gained the Green Lantern Ring style powers and lost them, and later when he gained super intelligence.
- Stalker with a Crush: Speedwarp on Daisy. He used his power to trap her in still-time so he can have her all to himself. It ends up backfiring on him.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: "Hard as Nails": Static pulls this on Nails...and Batman. The former was even looking right into his face when he did it.
Batman: The kid's got style.
- Super Empowering
- Super Serum / Psycho Serum
- Talking to the Dead
- Taken for Granite: Omnifarious. And it's an extremely cruel irony; Omnifarius became said villain because his father, the corrupt corporate executive, cared more about his company than his son. And how does he prove this?
- Technopath: Gear and possibly Tech.
- Teens Are Monsters:
- Although there is the implication later that the Bang Baby juice causes some of the monster behavior. Both Aqua Maria and Talon seemed much nicer after they were depowered.
- The Knights Who Say Squee: Static meets John Stewart, his hero on multiple levels.
- Thicker Than Water
- This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Gear says this word-for-word in the episode "Wet and Wild." Static says in response that he has to get in line.
- This Loser Is You: Averted. Virgil and Richie are teenage comic book geeks, almost a personification of the intended target audience, but manage to make their quirks and foibles work.
- Those Two Bad Guys:
- Specs and Trapper.
- Puff and Onyx.
- Token White: Maybe, maybe not. Richie is by far the most prominent of all white characters in a very diverse cast, but he is not the only one present. Frieda, the original love interest of Virgil, was white, as were other characters who popped up throughout the series.
- Took a Level in Badass: Canonically, Static becomes one of the most powerful heroes in the DCU as a mature adult.
- Totally Whack
- Trick Bomb: Gear made a shock bomb that Static could use if he ran out of juice, and a net bomb that shot a net out when it hit something.
- Very Special Episode: Several. The most prominent ones focused on racism, guns, dyslexia, drugs addiction, and poverty.
- The comics dealt with these issues a lot as well, partly because the publisher, Milestone Comics' main focus was adding more diversity to superhero comics, so it makes sense that the cartoon would have these.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Static and Rubberband Man's interactions are in this vein.
- Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Lampshaded by the opening, which actually shows Virgil waking up, going to school, fighting some villains... and barely making it on time for class.
- Walk Into Camera Obstruction:
- "The Usual Suspect", where Marcus attempts to beat up Virgil.
Marcus: "I'm gonna knock you into a whole new ZIP code."
- "Attack of the Living Brain Puppets" at the very end where Virgil and Richie pretend to be hypnotized and Virgil's yellow shirt fills the screen
- Walk Through The Camera:
- "Romeo in the Mix" has it close to the end, where the police take the Leech away. "We'll take him downtown with the others."
- "Bad Stretch" with Carmendillo screaming and saying, "Gotta hide, gotta hide!"
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Edwin Alva, Jr.
- Specs and Trapper too, though they're not Alva's sons.
- Wham Line: "You can drop the act, Virgil."
- What Happened to the Mouse?: It was never revealed what happened to Wade from the first episode.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Richie felt this way when they first realized he was getting smarter.
- Whole Episode Flashback: Both the first and last episodes of the first season, as well as the last episode of the second.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Implied to be the case with some Bang Babies, though only blatantly said in a few situations as many of the Bang Babies are either implied to have been the way they were even before the Big Bang, or are acting out of desperation.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Many of the kids who gained powers from the Big Bang gas had serious emotional problems. Justified in that the majority of those exposed to the Big Bang were either gangbangers or any other people who you'd reasonably expect to be in such a crummy part of town.
- "Yes"/"No" Answer Interpretation: A sunspot is messing with Static's powers, but unfortunately, he has to deal with Hotstreak. He tries to trick Hotstreak into thinking that the sunspot has made him even more powerful, but the ruse falters. Static gives Hotstreak a chance to surrender, which he just laughs at. Static mutters that he'll take that as a no. Hotstreak responds "Wrong. This is a no!" and starts hurling fireballs at Static.