Western Animation / The New Adventures of Superman


The New Adventures of Superman was a series of six-minute animated Superman adventures produced by Filmation between 1966 and 1970. The 68 segments appeared as part of three different programs during that time.

The first TV series produced by Filmation Associates, The New Adventures of Superman was extremely popular in its Saturday morning time slot and, despite having obviously been developed for young children, employed the services of several DC comic book writers including George Kashdan. Many of the character designs (later based upon the artwork of Superman artist Curt Swan in the show's third season) stayed true to their comic book counterparts; iconic shirt-rip shots and related transformations from Clark Kent into Superman were incorporated into almost every episode, and such lines as "Up, up, and away!" and "This is a job for Superman!" were also borrowed from comics and the original Superman radio show. Due to a limited production budget, stock animation was often re-used for certain shots of Superman flying (or switching identities from Clark Kent into the Man of Steel), while character movement was often kept at a minimum.

Producer Lou Scheimer also recruited Bud Collyer and Joan Alexander, veterans from the Superman radio show and the Superman Theatrical Cartoons, for the voices of Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane respectively. Jackson Beck, who had been the narrator and the voice of Perry White on the radio show, reprised those same roles for the cartoon version, while Jack Grimes, who had played Jimmy Olsen in its later years, took that part here as well. For this series, Collyer returned to the same vocal technique he'd perfected on the radio show to play the Man of Steel. While in the identity of Clark Kent, Collyer would keep his voice lighter while projecting a sense of weakness. But when the mild-mannered reporter would change into his true identity of Superman, Collyer's voice would deepen dramatically into a heroic baritone. Alexander departed after the first season and was replaced by Julie Bennett in later seasons.

Not directly related to the live action television series Lois and Clark, billed as The New Adventures of Superman outside the USA.

The New Adventures of Superman contains examples of:

  • Artistic License – Astronomy: "Rain of Iron". A villain bounces iron balls off an asteroid and back to specific targets on Earth.
  • Artistic License – Biology: An Artistic License – Paleontology example - The title creatures in "Prehistoric Pterodactyls". Where to begin...
  • Artistic License – Physics: Several examples.
  • Aside Glance: Superman and Superboy turned and looked at the camera (usually winking as well) at the end of almost every episode.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Titano in "The Chimp Who Made It Big".
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: The title creatures in "Prehistoric Pterodactyls" and Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane in "The Robot of Riga".
  • Bound and Gagged: Lois Lane twice, Jimmy Olsen once.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Clark Kent winked at the audience at the end of every episode.
  • Bridal Carry: Superman lifts Lois and Jimmy under the knees and back when rescuing them.
  • Bus Full of Innocents: In "The Wisp of Wickedness", the possessed hat causes a crane driver to attempt to drop a school bus into a metal crusher.
  • Came from the Sky: The title creature in "The Iron Eater".
  • Captain Obvious: The narrator, who will solemnly intone that Superman is punching the monster as the screen shows Superman punching the monster. No one can do anything without the narrator informing you that they are doing it while you are watching them do it.
  • Chained to a Railway: In "Luminians on the Loose", Luthor leaves Jimmy Olsen on the tracks where the express is scheduled to come shortly.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In "Can a Luthor Change His Spots?", Jimmy grimaces at the taste of the water in the water coolers that the supposedly reformed Luthor set up. Later, when Superman is looking for the rockets that Luthor set up to launch the Daily Planet building into space, he remembers what Jimmy said about the water tasting odd. Sure enough, that's where the rockets are.
  • Clothes Make the Maniac: In "The Wisp Of Wickedness", a possessed hat causes anyone who dons it to commit evil acts.
  • Conveniently Close Planet: In "Rain of Iron" an asteroid is (a) close enough to Earth for a villain to bounce iron balls off of it and (b) stands still in space instead of orbiting around the Sun.
  • Conveyor Belt-O-Doom: In "The Mysterious Mr Mist", Mr Mist attempts to feed Perry White into a buzz saw on his farm.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Somebody was finally doing it in "Can a Luthor Change his Spots?". Too bad he didn't find it big enough for a real Heel–Face Turn.
  • Dug Too Deep: In "The Fire Phantom", a living flame from Earth's core makes its way to the surface through an old abandoned coal-mine near Metropolis and sets off a mammoth forest fire.
  • Enemy Mine: "Luminians on the Loose". Superman and Lex Luthor team up to stop the title creatures.
  • Energy Absorption: "The Pernicious Parasite" provides a classic example of Phlebotinum Overload: Superman deals with the Parasite by letting him absorb his nigh-infinite powers until he simply explodes, fatally. Deliberately arranging for an enemy's death was seriously Out of Character for the Man of Steel.
  • Energy Being: In "The Wisp Of Wickedness", a demon becomes a small ball of energy due to a lab accident.
  • Engineered Public Confession: "The Prankster". Superman tricks the title character into a Caught on Tape confession.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Warlock is a male witch, who derives his black-magic power from a ruby on the end of his cane.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: "Luthor's Lethal Laser" and "Luminians on the Loose".
  • Giant Spider: Jimmy is menaced by an oversized spider in one episode.
  • Harmless Freezing: Two pterodactyls in "Prehistoric Pterodactyls".
  • The Hat Makes the Man: See Clothes Make the Maniac above.
  • I Have Your Wife: In "The Invisible Raiders", the Sorcerer and his men kidnap Jimmy to manipulate Superman.
  • Heel–Face Mole: Lex Luthor in "Can a Luthor Change His Spots?"
  • Hoist By His Own Petard: In "The Electro-Magnetic Monster", Superman uses the Deimosians' own electromagnetic device against their ship to defeat them.
  • Hypno Trinket: See Clothes Make the Maniac above.
  • Jet Pack: In the Superboy episode "The Revolt of Robotville", the robots that capture Clark Kent and Lana Lang and later rob a steel foundry use jet packs to fly.
  • Just Between You and Me: "The Saboteurs". The villain tells Lois Lane and Clark Kent his plan after he captures them.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: In "The Warlock's Revenge", the Warlock wants to borrow his sister's magical ruby to use its powers to exact revenge on Superman but she refuses because she's sure that the Warlock will fail again and Superman will destroy the ruby. The Warlock just takes the ruby by force and it leads to Superman eventually proving her right.
  • Lumber Mill Mayhem: In "The Mysterious Mr Mist", Mr Mist uses a Conveyor Belt-O-Doom to attempt to feed Perry White into a buzz saw on his farm.
  • Meaningful Name. In "The Team of Terror" the villainess is named Satana.
  • Murderous Mannequin: "The Mysterious Mr. Mist". A disembodied spirit possesses a mannequin and tries to drag Lois Lane back to his kingdom Beneath the Earth.
  • Never Say "Die": Played Straight in several episodes, but averted in "The Invisible Raiders", the Sorcerer tells Superman not to trail them "or you will never see the boy [Jimmy] alive again."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In "Can a Luthor Change his Spots?", Jimmy Olsen was so sure the answer was "no" he followed Luthor until he arrived at a bank, where Luthor was using a device to easily open a vault door. Jumping to the conclusion Luthor was trying to rob the bank, Jimmy snatched the device, broke it and closed the door before Luthor had the chance to explain there were two people inside the vault and, unless the invention is fixed (or Superman returns from a far away rescue) on time, they'll suffocate to death.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: In "Luminians on the Loose", Luthor leaves Jimmy Olsen on the tracks where the express is scheduled to come shortly, a bomb under his shoulder (which will detonate if he takes the pressure off the button). His plan is that when Superman (of course) tries to rescue his young friend, the bomb will explode, destroying the bridge. Unfortunately, Superman's keen hearing picks up Luthor gloating about it, and he finds another option.
  • Not My Driver: In "Luthor Strikes Again". After Jimmy Olsen gets into a cab, steel plates slide up covering the windows, trapping him inside. It turns out to be a trap set by Lex Luthor.
  • Officer O'Hara: One appears in the episode "The Cage of Glass".
  • Opening Narration
  • People Zoo: In "The Robot of Riga" the Rigans kidnap Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane to put them in one.
  • Phlebotinum Overload: In "The Pernicious Parasite" , Superman deals with the Parasite by letting him absorb his nigh-infinite powers until he simply explodes, fatally.
  • Properly Paranoid: In "Can a Luthor Change His Spots?", everyone else thinks the answer could be "yes." Jimmy Olsen thinks it's "no." He's right.
  • Put Their Heads Together: Superman uses this on thugs in "The Deadly Super-Doll" and "The Deadly Icebergs".
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In the episodes "The Team of Terror" and "The Japanese Sandman". In "The Japanese Sandman", the titular monster (who commits evil acts in return for a black pearl) has red eyes.
  • Reverse Polarity: Reversing the polarity of an electric charge transfers the powers of the episode's villain (and some other guy) back to Superman... after they got them from him through an electric shock. Also an example of Now Do It Again Backwards.
  • Scary Scarecrows: A scarecrow is one of the forms inhabited by the eponymous villain in "The Mysterious Mr Mist".
  • Sdrawkcab Alias: Lex Luthor in "Luthor Strikes Again".
  • Security Cling: Lois Lane grabs onto Jimmy Olsen when Lex Luthor is aiming a laser at them.
  • Shark Pool: "Luthor's Loco Looking Glass". Lex Luthor puts Jimmy Olsen in a Death Trap involving a sliding floor over a pool of sharks.
  • Ship Tease: At the end of "The Robots of Riga", Clark asks Lois what she's doing that afternoon. She flirtily asks if he's asking her on a drive through the country.
  • Shrink Ray: Brainiac uses one in multiple episodes, and his master Dr. Hekla does so in one episode.
  • Stripping the Scarecrow: In "The Mysterious Mr. Mist" a mist-like being creates human bodies for itself by inhabiting clothing. One of the first sets of clothing it occupies comes from a scarecrow.
  • Stock Phrases
    • Follow That Car: In "Can a Luthor Change His Spots?", when Lex Luthor hops into a cab, Jimmy Olsen (who's following him) gets into another cab and tells the driver "Follow that cab!"
    • That's an Order!
  • Subverted Suspicion Aesop: "Can a Luthor Change His Spots?" No, no matter how convincing it looks.
  • Three Shorts: Two Superman cartoons bookend the middle feature, The Adventures Of Superboy. Bob Hastings (Commissioner Gordon on Batman: The Animated Series) voices young Clark Kent/Superboy.
  • Time Bomb: Lex Luthor uses one in "APE Strikes Again".
  • Voodoo Doll: The Sorcerer uses one on Superman in "The Deadly Super-Doll".
  • Weapons That Suck: In "The Mysterious Mr Mist", Superman uses an ordinary vacuum cleaner to suck up Mr Mist. However, Mist manages to escape while Superman is busy rescuing Lois.
  • When Trees Attack: In "The Tree Man of Arbora", a tree being brought to life near a meteor crater consumes enormous quantities of water.