- Alternative Character Interpretation:
- Perhaps the Flash acts as flippant and flirtatious and downright not serious as he does because he's fully aware that one day he may run fast enough that he'll vanish into the Speedforce. He knows that his power could eventually kill him — though the speedforce seems like a neat place for his kind to end up, and he probably knows that, too. He's keeping the "every moment counts" mentality: no sense in wasting time being angsty — you might run out of time to laugh and have fun. "Divided We Fall" supports this.
- Vandal Savage. His Heel-Face Turn in the Bad Future of "Hereafter", having had 30,000 years of solitude to regret his past actions, begs the very real question that Savage's villainy and attempts to take over the world might simply be because there is nothing left for him to occupy his endless existence with. Since (in the present) he's been around for 25,000 years already, he's probably been pretty much everywhere, seen pretty much everything, and done pretty much everything else worth doing.
- Angst? What Angst?: In the JLU episode "Epilogue". Terry takes the fact that Waller tried to have his parents killed surprisingly well. This may be due to the fact she didn't and thus has no reason to be as angry he would've had the plan gone through.
- Bizarro Episode: "This Little Piggy" is this for some fans.
- Broken Base:
- "Clash" created this for some fans. Some fans absolutely love the episode for the epic smack down between Superman and his old Fawcett Comics "rival" Captain Marvel and love it for depicting Superman being cynical, jaded and generally paranoid rather than the nice, affable boyscout he tends to be. Other fans absolutely hate the episode for rushing Superman's descent into jaded, cynical paranoia when the last time he'd been seen four episodes earlier he was still more or less himself and still sensible enough not to be suckered into such an obvious smear campaign trap.
- "Epilogue" also gets some of this: some fans love it and see it as the definitive end of the DCAU, while other fans hated it for being all about Batman's legacy, essentially feeling more like a lost episode of Batman Beyond and not a true finale to the actual Justice League/Unlimited series it was supposed to tie off (before it got renewed anyway).
- Additionally Epilogue also takes a lot of flak for revealing that Terry McGinnis was really the biological son of Bruce Wayne, the original Batman, all along, due to the machinations of Amanda Waller injecting the late Warren McGinnis with Bruce's DNA to override his genetics - thus explaining how a red headed man and brunette woman (Terry's Mother and Warren's ex-wife, Mary) produced two sons with black hair - and then trying to stage a similar tragedy to propel Terry down the path of the Dark Knight, which fate ultimately did for her anyway when her plans fizzled out and she abandoned the idea. After learning all this when he thought Bruce might have been manipulating him to his own ends and considered the damage that the cape and cowl did to his predecessor, Terry - who as an adult now looks a lot like Bruce in his prime albeit with a different hairstyle - ultimately decides to continue being Batman but on his own terms, such as not alienating those closest to him (such as his long time girlfriend Dana Tan). While some fans thought this was a genuinely interesting twist others saw it as a slap in the face to Terry and undermining the idea of passing on the torch, by basically saying that you can't be worthy of being Batman unless you are literally a blood relative.
- Crack Pairing: In the few fanfics that feature her, Supergirl's clone Galatea is paired up with Nightwing for reasons undefined.
- Some considered Batman and Wonder Woman's "relationship" to be this.
- For whatever reason Supergirl/Flash exists despite Kara deciding to stay in the future with Brainiac 5 and the fact that the two of them have rarely, if ever, interacted.
- Hawkgirl/Flash also has a bit of a following despite both characters saying that they view each other as siblings.
- Complete Monster:
- John Dee started off as a minor convict who only fantasized of killing the Justice League to make a name for himself among super villains, but after an experimental machine gives him ESP, Dee quickly decides to make his fantasy a reality. Becoming Doctor Destiny, his first action is to take revenge on the wife who left him while he was in prison. As she’s sleeping, Destiny goes into her dream and begins to torture her for hours. Eventually the nightmare causes her to have a cardiac arrest and die of terror. Destiny then invades the dreams of each member of the Justice League, trying to use their worst fears to kill them one-by-one. These nightmares include making Superman think he killed his friends with out of control super powers, and burying Hawkgirl alive.
- Lord Orm attempted to kill his brother, Aquaman, steal his brother’s throne, and use an Atlantean super weapon to kill every surface-dweller on the planet. His worst act is the attempted murder of his infant nephew. Not only did he try to throw both his brother and nephew into a volcano, he purposefully arranged it so that Aquaman would be Forced to Watch as his son died.
- Mongul, the Evil Overlord of War World, who forced warriors to fight to the death in gladiatorial matches in order to take his people’s minds off his oppressing them. When Superman refuses to kill the former reigning champion, Draaga, Mongul threatens to destroy Draaga’s planet if Superman doesn’t allow Draaga to kill him in their next match. After his efforts were foiled, Mongul returned for revenge against Superman, using a plant called the Black Mercy to trap Superman in a perfect dream world. With Superman out of the picture, Mongul planned on turning Earth into a second War World. Superman was eventually able to free himself from the dream world, and then Mongul mocks him about the pain it must have caused him; it's one of the only occasions where Superman was temporarily enraged enough to use lethal force, until the others snapped him out of it.
Mongul: I created a prison you couldn't leave without giving up everything you ever wanted. (sneering) It must have been like tearing off your own arm.
- Crazy Awesome: This Conspiracy Theorist incarnation of The Question is easily the most popular version of the character.
- Ear Worm: Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Come to Jon's. Dine at Jon's to the tune of "Frère Jacques". Batman uses it to keep Dr. Destiny's powers at bay while closing in on him and eventually passes it onto him after being apprehended.
Dr. Destiny: What's that stupid song going through your mind?
Batman: It's what's keeping you out, Johnny.
- Ensemble Darkhorse: Of the Big 7, Flash. Of the recurring characters, Green Arrow, Vigilante and the Question.
- So much so that they wanted to give The Question his own animated series.
- Of the Big 7, Hawkgirl deserves special mention. Many viewers were unfamiliar with her character before this show, but she was so awesome and memorable that she quickly became a fan favorite.
- Amanda Waller, as voiced by CCH Pounder was regarded by some fans to be a highly well developed and interesting character who, as a mere human, outwitted and kept the league in check. She was already well known in the comics but the series version of her brought a new legion of fans.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Though this probably wasn't intentional, the first episode can fairly easily be seen as having a pro-nuclear weapons slant.
- Although in a universe where alien supergods regularly try to conquer the earth (not to mention all the ordinary alien threats that try to conquer regularly), having extremely powerful weapons (such as nukes) probably isn't a bad idea.
- Faux Symbolism: The Thanagarian generator in Starcrossed looks like a swastika.
- Fan-Preferred Couple: Batman and Wonder Woman, by a large margin.
- Throughout JLU, many fans were rooting for Green Lantern to get back together with Hawkgirl, and didn't like that he was in a relationship with Vixen.
- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The heavily lampshaded episode about the destruction of innocent species habitats during offshore drilling became this after the Gulf oil spill.
- Even a Not So "Funny Aneurysm" Moment in Epilogue with Ace and her literal aneurysm.
- While searching GL's apartment, the Flash has to fend off John Stewart's landlady and her mop, and his parting line is quite a bit harsh in hindsight:
Flash: If we ever need a replacement for Hawkgirl, we'll give you a call!
- Growing the Beard: This trope is expressly discussed in the Season 2 DVD. The producers felt that season one of Justice League was a competent production, improving as it progressed, but that it was in season two that the show became what they always wanted it to be. Many of the changes came about from their own disapproval and from listening to fan complaints. Bruce Timm explained that much of Season 1 was just trying to get the series started and they ended up rushing things where they should have taken more time. Among other items discussed:
- They made a policy decision to avoid "Super-wimp", which had a much larger effect on the first season than they had realized (of course, the irony of this particular fan complaint is that Superman had some very questionable power ups and power downs in his previous solo series, and with them some very questionable fights - which then becomes even more ironic when one realizes that Superman has a history of wonky power levels Depending on the Writer). They also wanted to increase the scale of the stories with larger backgrounds, more character models animated in critical scenes, bigger stakes, a visceral sense of physical contact and added emotional conflict even between the heroes. The rationale was "the show doesn't necessarily have to be dark, but it has to be intense" in order to make sure viewers were engrossed.
- They reintroduced a lot of the continuity from BTAS and STAS, and some Call Forwards to Batman Beyond, that had not been included in season one. Originally they wanted JL to stand on its own merits, but understood fans are generally watching the show to see their favorite characters.
- They began laying the groundwork for many future story arcs, while the first season had episodes largely self-contained. In particular, many hints about Hawkgirl's history would come to a head on "Starcrossed," the season finale.
- Bruce Timm said that he was often spurred on by Mel Brooks's advice to Ring the Bell; if a scene seemed like it might be too much and you were having second thoughts, do it anyway and make it bigger. It was the official mantra of the production team that "Good enough isn't good enough." The animators had specific instructions to work until a scene was good enough and then make it better.
- This happened again during the relaunch of the series as Justice League Unlimited. The first season was more shaky with the writers getting used to the new half-hour format, greatest emphasis being put on Characters of the Day instead of the core 7, and the fan-favorites Hawkgirl and Flash being Put On The Bus. The second half of the first season rectified this; Flash and Hawkgirl were back full-time, the series focused on a continuous storyline instead of self-contained episodes, and the writing and characterization got better.
- Harsher in Hindsight:
- Batman dodging Darkseid's Omega Beams. It didn't go so well in the comics.
- When Wally is almost taken by the Speed Force but is saved by his friends. It didn't turn out as well for his Young Justice counterpart.
- In Part 1 of "The Savage Time", an alternate-universe Batman leads a resistance to fight a regime, and is helped by the other members of the League. Same thing happens in Injustice: Gods Among Us, except some of those League members are leading the regime.
- In Part 2 of "Hearts and Minds", John Stewart complains to Hawkgirl that Katma, his old instructor, still thinks of him as a raw recruit. Hawkgirl calmly notes that "we tend to cling to images from when we knew them best, forgetting that they do change". This comes off a bit harder to take after Shayera's own ordeal with this in "Starcrossed",
- Heartwarming In Hindsight: In "To Another Shore", Diana is concerned of J'onn being cooped up at the Watchtower for two years and advised him to take some time off. At the end of the episode, J'onn decided to go on leave from the League for some soul-searching and ended up having a relationship with someone as seen in the Grand Finale. In a Season 9 episode of Smallville, J'onn is the one who concerned of Chloe being isolated in the Watchtower note after her husband's death in the Season 8 finale. Chloe grows out of it thanks to Clark and Oliver, who ended up having a relationship with her as well.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- This dialogue between Speedy and Green Arrow, in light of Young Justice.
Green Arrow: You wanted Superman? Now you've got—
[pauses to let the two teleport in.]
G.A.: [flat, disappointed] ...the Crimson Avenger and my ex-sidekick.
G.A.: Speedy, we gotta do this now?
- Also from that episode, many people noticed similarities with the heroes (and villain) featured and the cast of The Avengers: STRIPE = Iron Man, Stargirl = Captain America, Vigilante = Black Widow, Shining Knight = The Mighty Thor, Green Arrow = Hawkeye and General Eiling = Hulk.
- In "The Savage Time" Vandal Savage's plan to attack America with giant bombers is basically the same as Red Skull's plan in Captain America: The First Avenger.
- In "The Enemy Below", both the human doctor trying to treat Aquaman and the doctor in Atlantis who gives him his hook hand sound suspiciously like Jeffrey Combs. Moreso after Combs actually joined the cast later on.
- "Fearful Symmetry" and "Question Authority" feature two actors who have played Ratchet: Robert Foxworth and Jeffrey Combs.
- Batman's disarming of the nuke in "The Doomsday Sanction" is extremely similar to the climax of The Dark Knight Rises, down to escaping by ejection, though in the former case everyone knew he lived.
- The producers of the show said they tried to make Aquaman an "underwater Conan". Then in 2014, Jason Momoa was cast as the sea king in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. When his first official picture◊ for the movie came out, his design is closely similar to his DCAU counterpart which is also based from his 90's outfit minus the Hook Hand.
- In The Flash (2014), Grodd gets his revenge on Clancy Brown, who plays General Eiling in that series.
- In "In Blackest Night", Kurtwood Smith voiced the prosecutor and at one point, questions Kanjar Ro. In Green Lantern: First Flight, Smith voiced Kanjar Ro himself.
- HSQ: "A Better World" Part 1, especially the teaser.
- Idiot Plot: "In Blackest Night" relies entirely on no one checking to see if a destroyed planet is, well, destroyed. Everyone thinks it's gone, but it turns out to be a holographic projection. Meaning no one went to the planet to look for survivors (or to loot), no one received any radio signals, or noticed any thermal or gravitational differences. On the bright side, Superman gets to be the one who solves the mystery for once, an honor that usually went to Batman.
- The Hyperspace Bypass that the Thanagarians want to build. It turns out using it will destroy Earth, just so the Thanagarians can wipe out the Gordanians. Not once do they stop to consider that maybe asking the Justice League to contribute their manpower in the war would be much more favorable for everyone involved.
- Informed Wrongness: The Doomsday Sanction ends with Superman & the rest of the Justice League, sans injured Batman, sentencing Doomsday to the Phantom Zone since they have a strict No Killing policy, and later on the injured Batman chews Superman and Wonder Woman - and by extension the rest of the League's founders - for doing this, saying that they were playing judge, jury and executioner themselves instead of letting the law handle it. Now earlier Batman had been having a chat with Amanda Waller that hit closer to home than he initially realized, but the problem with this is... Doomsday is a really big, really strong and really destructive monster who was on the rampage and clearly could not be contained by conventional methods, it's not like they tossed an ordinary criminal in there for shoplifting.
- Inferred Holocaust:
- "Kids' Stuff" is a relatively lighthearted episode at first glance. A bratty little kid gets rid of all adults, and four members of the League are turned into kids so they can go and return the world to normal. Good guys win, everyone's fine. Except for the fact that every adult on the planet was gone for at least a few hours, if not days. How many toddlers, especially those in undeveloped regions, ended up dying without supervision? How many newborns and babies starved to death? And what the heck happened to all the pregnant women and their children, especially those in labor at the time of the incident? Driverless cars (some with kids as passengers), planes falling out of the sky?
- In "Only a Dream", Superman would have killed hundreds of people besides the three seen if it hadn't been, well...
- Magnificent Bastard: Lex Luthor is the daddy of them all.
- Darkseid gives him a run for his money however. In "Twilight", the old bastard pulls off a positively brilliant Evil Plan, Playing Both Sides in the conflict between Superman and Brainiac. He does it in a way that forces both of them to acknowledge that they need his help (or need to help him), even though both distrust and fully expect (or know) that he will betray them. By the end, he's incapacitated Superman and has Brainiac under his control and about to have all of his plans come to fruition. The only thing that stops him is a last minute Big Damn Heroes moment by Wonder Woman, Batman, and Orion. Had they been another minute late, Darkseid would have won.
Brainiac: You betrayed me.
- Memetic Mutation:
- Moral Event Horizon: Some - if not all - of the many things that the Justice Lords (counterparts of the League) did in "A Better World". Lord Green Lantern when attacking League Lantern attempted to stab in League Lantern's neck for his first move. Not trying to disarm him or to knock him out. He chose to go immediately for the kill. Also, when Lord Wonder Woman knocks League Batman down, she picks up a building rubble to straight away attempt to kill the latter. From the DVD commentary, the writers did that on purpose so that it showed that the Justice Lords while having good intentions, they ultimately are truly heroes turned villains who deserve to be defeated.
- In the same episode, Lord Superman had Flash by the neck with Flash trying to appeal to any remaining good in him. Also, the Flash in their world had been killed and his death was one of the main reasons why they all became such cynical Knight Templars. However, Lord Superman, referring to moral lines he never thought he'd cross, coolly told him that "one more won't hurt", that this universe's Flash's death was just another means to an end. This contrasts him with the more-redeemable Lord Batman, who's visibly horrified when he thinks Flash's heart has stopped.
- The true Start of Darkness is probably when Superman kills Lex Luthor, who was elected president. However, it's ambiguous since Luthor was about to hit the Big Red Button, probably to start a nuclear war. Afterwards, even Batman says that Supes made the right decision.
- John Dee in the episode "Only A Dream", where he "operated" on his wife in her dreams, torturing her until she died of fright, shortly after he had found out that she was planning to leave him for another man.
- Orm tried to kill his brother's infant son.
- Luthor crossed it by killing Tala. He had to pay the price for it when Darkseid came along. Granted, Lex Luthor is not as worse as Darkseid, but this was by far the most despicable and heinous thing he's ever done.
- Paranoia Fuel: Dr. Destiny. All you have to do is go to sleep, and he can find you and kill you.
- If you're lucky he'll just kill you.
- Replacement Scrappy: Vixen got some hate for replacing Hawkgirl as Green Lantern's Love Interest.
- Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: John Stewart was initially greeted with disdain from fans, who either instead wanted the more well-known Hal Jordan or (in a follow-up to "In Brightest Day") Kyle Rayner. Not helping was the creators admitting to adding him to the roster solely because of the color of his skin - making him look like merely a Token Minority. However, over the course of Season 1, Stewart received a good deal of Character Development - becoming a well-rounded character and a fan favorite, to the point that he started getting some more face time in the comics. Years after the show finished, you can find people utterly convinced that John Stewart is the Green Lantern & DC are being racist by "changing" Green Lantern into a white guy for the 2011 film & any video game appearances, despite Stewart being the fourth human Lantern introduced in the comics.
- Aquaman was also helped by the DCAU, although some of the heavy lifting to rescue him from the Scrappy heap had already been done in comics continuity. The DCAU version was Darker and Edgier in all the right ways - one of the few characters that could plausibly appear as a hero or a villain.
- Superman didn't go over very well in the first season, thanks to suffering severely from The Worf Effect. It also didn't help that Tim Daly wasn't doing the voice anymore, and there was a distinct lack of follow-up to the way Superman: The Animated Series ended, making the show feel less connected to the DCAU. This was rectified in season 2 with the return of Darkseid fully bringing back memories of what he did to Superman last time, also allowing George Newbern to grow more into the role as Superman gets more emotional in the face of his old nemesis.
- Retroactive Recognition: Superman's son in the dream world apparently grew up to become Peeta Mellark.
- Romantic Plot Tumor: Quite a few, depending on the fan - Batman/Wonder Woman (Loving a Shadow) and Supergirl/Brainiac 5 (both Strangled by the Red String).
- Ron the Death Eater: Superman got this treatment in JLU's second season, particularly during the Cadmus arc. While there were some legitimate criticisms of him becoming more jaded, angry, and eager to jump to conclusions, some fans got so overzealous as to make him out to be the bad guy for every little thing. The most notorious example was when he teamed up with Huntress to rescue The Question from Cadmus where Captain Atom initiated a fight with him by throwing the first punch to prevent him from rescuing Question. Just for defending himself (not to mention trying to prevent his teammates from getting captured - and the fact that he didn't even want to fight Captain Atom), Superman somehow morphed into evil incarnate for some fans.
- Of course, the simple fact that he'd been acting like more of a Jerkass up to that point, as seen in Clash against Captain Marvel, didn't help his case when he came to blows with Captain Atom, whom he was forced to beat to a pulp when Atom refused to give up.
- Strangled by the Red String: John Stewart and Vixen. Vixen had previously only made a handful of silent cameo appearances, but without any buildup or reference to it, she and John are already in a serious relationship by her first speaking role.
- Poor Supergirl - she meets a guy in the future, has a few lines with him, and is suddenly so in love that she abandons all she knows and cares about by staying in the far future.
- Braniac-5 is hit pretty hard by this too. He's barely spoken to her, has only known her for a few minutes, and suddenly he's agreeing with Green Arrow's suggestion that he's fallen for Supergirl.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Gordon Godfrey. Readers of the New Gods mythos know that his name is the alias of Darkseid's servant Glorious Godfrey (he actually refers to his real name several times in the show), but instead of being Apokaliptian, he's simply an unscrupulous TV show host fishing for ratings by spreading propaganda against the Justice League.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: In the Season One finale, "Savage Time," history is changed so that the Nazis won World War II. The Justice League is protected from changes to the timestream and granted Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory, except for Batman. Said Batman's altered counterpart is busy kicking tail and leading a resistance against the Nazis, which does in fact involve frequent use of guns. Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon, Tim Drake and Cassandra Cain were not only shown in a cameo, but also confirmed in to exist in that universe as part of Batman's movement by Word of God. Great first ten minutes, right? Well, the League minus Batman goes through a timetunnel to World War II and attempt return things to normal. Batman remains behind in the future, reasoning that if they fail he can still fight the Nazis, but he can't go because the Resistance needs him.
- Captain Marvel only appears in a single episode, which ends with him getting disillusioned by the League. It would've been interesting to see him return especially with the latter revelation that Lex was pulling the puppet strings. This one has more to do with red tape, as the creative team had been wanting to use Captain Marvel since they were working on Superman: The Animated Series, and would've had him again if they could. Just getting him in that one episode required them fighting tooth and nail for it.
- Superman's descent into cynical paranoia during the Cadmus arc suffered a bit from not having more episodes that showed him gradually losing it, opting instead to shoehorn the bulk of his Sanity Slippage into one episode (Clash).
- The real story of "Legends" is that the world Flash, Hawkgirl, and Green Lantern stumble into is a Stepford Suburbia created by a Psychopathic Manchild Reality Warper keeping all of its inhabitants trapped. Unfortunately this takes a back seat for most of the two-parter to Flash, Hawkgirl, Green Lantern, and the Justice Guild fighting a Legion of Doom Expy, with John spending only a couple of minutes investigating the town.
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: Parodied in "Comfort and Joy." Flash stumbles on Ultra Humanite trashing a museum filled with destroyed sculptures. Humanite reveals that the museum was already like this and he was destroying it out of his hatred for this trope.
The Flash: Wow.... Somebody sure did a number on this place.
Ultra-Humanite: Actually, I hadn't even started. (begins firing his gun around the museum) Do you believe the horrendous amount of public funding spent on this so-called art?! It's garbage, an affront to any decent human aesthetic!
- What an Idiot:
- Blowing up an asteriod in the middle of analysis.
- General Eiling in "Patriot Act" shouldn't have used something from a project called "Captain Nazi".
- Toyman gloating after "killing" Superman instead of targeting other members of the League or fleeing in "Hereafter".
- Cadmus thought it was a good idea to trust Lex Luthor. Batman even calls Amanda Waller out on it.
- Superman for letting himself get suckered into such an obvious smear campaign trap in Clash.
- The Woobie: Ace of the Royal Flush Gang. Poor, poor Ace...