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Comic Book / Doom Patrol

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Robotman desperately attempts to make sense of this issue's plot.

Cliff: All I want is the answer to one simple question before I run screaming back to the bug-house: is this real or isn't it?
The Chief: Reality and unreality have no clear distinction in our present circumstances, Cliff.
The Doom Patrol, vol. 2 #21

In 1963, DC Comics published a book with a new kind of superhero team: the Doom Patrol. They were loners, misfits, mistrusted by the public, and led by a genius in a wheelchair. Despite obvious similarities, this team actually came out several months before X-Men was published by the distinguished competition, which has led to unproven accusations of plagiarism. The series was written by Arnold Drake (with an assist on the first issue by Bob Haney) and pencilled almost entirely by Bruno Premiani. The Patrol first appeared in My Greatest Adventure #80 (June, 1963) and continued appearing in subsequent issues. With #86 (March, 1964), the book was renamed after the team. While the X-Men eventually flourished in the 1970s, initial sales of Doom Patrol died down and the original series ended quickly when Drake decided to go out with a bang and kill them all off. The last issue was numbered #121 (September-October, 1968).


It didn't quite stick. Over a decade later, the team was relaunched, with all new characters reminiscent of the older ones... and it turned out Robotman survived because he was everyone's favorite anyway. The second version of the Patrol appeared in Showcase #94-96 (August-December, 1977), written by Paul Kupperberg. Sales were not good enough to get them a new title, but they went on to become regulars of the DC universe, receiving guest appearances in Kupperberg-written titles featuring Supergirl, the Teen Titans, and Superman.

Doom Patrol vol. 2 was launched in October, 1987, still written by Kupperberg. Eventually, most of the original team was revealed to have been resurrected in some way or alive all along, and the new book added a number of other characters which colored within the superhero lines and didn't quite set the world on fire. Then came Grant Morrison, who dedicated them more specifically to fighting "weird" crime and disasters. His first Story Arc, "Crawling from the Wreckage", built up the weirdness of the comic to extremes and delved into some adult subject matter. There were scissormen from imaginary worlds, the Brotherhood of Dada, the Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E and a friendly transgender street named, well... Danny the Street. Just in case you were wondering, he dresses like a boulevard. No, really. And then it got even weirder. He left and, with the switchover of the book to Vertigo Comics, Rachel Pollack, more well known as a tarot expert and prose fiction writer, took over. She had much the same approach, but the book did not retain its popularity and it got cancelled. The title ended with issue #87 (February, 1995).


Since then there have been a few subsequent revivals. John Arcudi wrote a series for twenty-two issues - the first few issues seemed like a typical "corporate superhero" reboot but this was actually a fake-out, and they rapidly got entangled in more typically "Doom Patrol" schemes involving characters from the previous series, corporate manipulation, a soul-stealing demon and Chinese sorcerer spirits. Unfortunately, due to the fake-out opening issues, the series shed regular readers, and was eventually cancelled. John Byrne did a Continuity Reboot that was straight superhero fare - ill-fated to begin with and downright ignored by other DC books of the time. It eventually ended with the Crisis Crossover Infinite Crisis, which undid most of Byrne's changes and restored the team's history. Byrne did finally manage to bring original member (the only one who had yet to return) Elasti-Girl Back from the Dead, though. After an appearance in the Teen Titans comic and Animated Series, their popularity resurged enough for them to get their own new series in 2009, written by Keith Giffen (of JLI fame) who was practically begging for the position. This time, the original team were employed as a policing force of sorts on Oolong Island, the haven for mad scientists from 52, and Giffen made it clear that (in typically weird Doom Patrol fashion) everything had happened to them. Even the contradictory stuff. It came to an end with Flashpoint and the subsequent New 52 relaunch.

As part of Gerard Way's Young Animal imprint at DC, a new ongoing title launched as the imprint's flagship book, written by Way himself. It also became apparent that, despite the major reboot a few years earlier, the Patrol's history was still intact, with Way's run picking up from elements of Giffen's.

The Doom Patrol featured prominently in the final season premiere of Teen Titans, since Titans member Beast Boy was a Doom Patrol alumnus, while the Brotherhood of Evil would become the antagonists for the rest of the season. The team got A Day in the Limelight in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, fighting Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man and General Zahl. They also got their own series of shorts on DC Nation which are almost verbatim adaptations of some of Drake's earliest stories.

A live action series based on the Doom Patrol premiered on DC Universe in 2019, as a spinoff of Titansnote . This version of the team features a classic lineup of Caulder, Robotman, Negative Man, and Elasi-Woman, but is primarily influenced by Morrison's run of the comic.

Tropes in this comic book:

  • A God Am I:
    • The team briefly encountered a dapper entity called "Red Jack" that insisted it was also God and created the universe. Since it was clearly insane almost nothing it said could be taken at face value, though, except for the fact that it needed pain to live.
    • The Candlemaker insists multiple times that he "created all of this" after being let out into the physical world.
    • Even the Chief gets in on it; after creating nanomachines, he says that now they have the technology to be like gods, though he admits it sounds over the top.
  • All Just a Dream: Used as a Framing Device during the Grant Morrison run to introduce an Affectionate Parody (Pastiche, really) of '60's Fantastic Four.
  • The Anti-God: Decreator, also known as Anti-God, the first shadow cast by God's light. Once awakened, it will unmake all existence. However, Crazy Jane points out that it's a reflection, a vibration... and therefore, can be interfered with like any other wave-form. With the help of Rebis and an occultist, they manage to set up a counter-vibration that almost completely cancels out the Unmaker so that it's now only unmaking the universe very, very slowly. One bit at a time...
  • Anti-Villain: The Brotherhood of Dada as led by Mr. Nobody believed they were genuinely making the world a better place by embracing insanity and strangeness, feeling a world without order or boundaries would be far less oppressive for the majority of the downtrodden, the abused, and the mentally ill. In their last appearance, Robotman ends up trying to save them when the government dispatches a team to kill them.
  • Anyone Can Die: Usually only at the end of one writer's run or the start of the next, but it's practically tradition to kill a few characters to clean the slate.
  • The Artifact:
    • Rita Farr and Beast Boy were dressing in the red-and-white costumes from their earliest Doom Patrol days for decades after the rest of the team retired them. It's all the more jarring since the loss of the outfits' "team uniform" status highlights how little relevance it has to either character as an individual. At least Beast Boy had one version featuring a paw print design.
    • Cliff Steele's struggles with his robotic body are becoming increasingly outdated as Technology Marches On; there's nothing really stopping him from becoming a Ridiculously Human Robot, especially in a universe with both Fantastic Science and Weird Science in play.
    • This got addressed a bit in Grant Morrison's run, where Cliff gets a replacement body that has the sense of taste and touch. (things go a bit odd when it decides to run around on its own afterwards and gets blown up).
  • Artificial Limbs: Cliff Steele, his entire body has been replaced with robotic parts.
  • Bad Future: It's implied that Doom Force takes place in one in which the Chief's global catastrophe occurred.
  • Back for the Dead:
    • Arani Desai, Negative Woman, Karma and Scott Fischer of the early-80s Kupperberg era showed up in the New 52 Forever Evil event purely to be killed by Johnny Quick and Atomica. It's later revealed in Justice League (2011) that Celsius and Tempest actually faked their deaths and have gone into hiding just to get away from Caulder, while Karma, Scott Fischer, and two unseen members called the Negative Twins are dead.
    • The Toy reappears 18 years after her initial few-panel appearance, only to immediately be killed by Mr. Somebody.
  • Banana Peel: The cover of ''Doom Patrol'' #34 showed a heavily armed gorilla (Monsieur Mallah) walking along the street pushing a baby carriage and about to slip on a banana peel.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Deconstructed and ignored with the Brain and Monsieur Mallah's relationship. While both are villains, the only thing that's ever really discussed is that they're gay, and rarely, if ever, does the fact that that the Brain is well, a human Brain in a Jar and Mallah is a(n albeit evolved) gorilla come up.
  • The Blank: The Fact and Yankee Doodle (both parodies of The Question).
  • Blessed with Suck / Cursed With Awesome:
    • The whole point of the original field team; each had a horrible disfigurement, or some other way in which their powers were supposedly as much a curse as a blessing. The problem is, this wasn't really true of Elasti-Girl; Word of God says this is the reason she was the only member of the original team not brought back for Morrison's run. (Later runs that include Rita now compensate by endowing her with Body Horror — her body melts like wax when she's not consciously shaping it).
    • Morrison's run actually made this a primary element, particularly surrounding how none of the team could function in society.
  • Blob Monster: The Keith Giffen series reveals Rita can degenerate into this. She's become so elastic that prolonged periods without seeing/picturing her original form (like while asleep) result in her becoming an amorphous mound of... stuff.
  • Book-Ends: When Cliff first meets Crazy Jane, it's raining, she's upset that her painting has been spoiled by the rain, and Cliff implores her to 'Come in out of the rain'. Later in the series, Crazy Jane is transported to (what seems to be) our reality, where Cliff finds her again on another rainy day, and says once again 'Come in out of the rain'
  • Brain in a Jar: Monsieur Mallah's partner, The Brain, of course. Cliff, too, as he's just a brain in a robot body. And by Pollack's run, Niles Caulder is reduced to a bad-tempered head on a tray. He gets better.
  • Brain Uploading: This happens to Cliff after his original brain is crushed by the Candlemaker.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The final arc of the 2009 series is "resolved" when Ambush Bug tells the villain of the arc that the book is being canceled to make room for Flashpoint tie-ins.
  • Breather Episode: Subverted. The arc that introduced Rhea Jones awakening from her coma had various side bits that were shaping up the final confrontation with the Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and Flex Mentallo, but the arc itself had the main team traveling in space when all this took place.
  • The Bus Came Back: Gerard Way's run has established that the entire history of the Doom Patrol prior to Flashpoint still happened, picking up where Keith Giffen's run ended and acknowledging most of Morrison's run, with no mention of the team's New 52 appearances.
  • Call-Back: The remains of the Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and the Ant Farm were briefly seen in the Pentagon during Rachel Pollack's run. They're referred to as "Mistakes of the past."
  • The Cameo:
    • Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and their then-sidekicks (three of the then-four Teen Titans) appear at the actual wedding of Steve Dayton and Rita Farr, which is possibly related to Beast Boy being a Guest Star in the Titans comics at around the same time. Steve's and Rita's Big Damn Kiss makes Wonder Woman swoon.
  • Canon Discontinuity: As far as Gerard Way's Doom Patrol is concerned, the team that appeared in the New 52-era Justice League don't count, and instead the series picks up an ambiguous amount of time after Giffen's series endednote . The Doom Patrol is relatively rare among DC titles in that it's never had a true reboot (except for John Byrne's, which rapidly got un-rebooted), and all the previous series "count" to some extent.
  • Captain Ersatz: Willoughby Kipling is one for John Constantine, and the Decreatot/Anti-god one for the Great Evil Beast of Moore's Swamp Thing run.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: In one of the earliest scenes in Gerard Way's Doom Patrol, there's a murder of someone in a cape, a girl lying on the ground and a man in a suit holding a bloody brick that has the words "I'm so sorry!!!" written on it. Later on the scene is partially explained for Casey's origin - Danny the World tells her that he was then Danny the Brick and traveling the universe with Crazy Jane when someone ambushed them and used Danny as a weapon to murder someone. This scene reappears again to start off the Milk Wars, it turns out the victim was the God of Superheroes and he was murdered by Retco so that they can take the stories of the Trinity and corrupt them.
  • Comicbook Movies Dont Use Codenames: The original team were given their codenames by the press and didn't really care for their "freak names". The second Doom Patrol was much more of a superhero outfit and went back to using them, but from Morrison's run onwards, when they are less of a "team" and more just a group of misfits who stick together, they usually don't bother. Many of the later characters don't even have codenames.
  • Compensating for Something: Oh, dear God, the Codpiece!
  • Cope by Creating: In the Pollack run, Dorothy Spinner uses her psychic abilities to create lots of imaginary friends as a way of coping with her profound loneliness.
  • Creative Sterility: During the Morrison run, the Department of Defence kidnapped a young reality warper named Wally Sage to help them conceive of exotic means of weaponry. Unfortunately, after over a decade of exploitation, Wally ideas started to diminish with his own failing health, resulting in such underwhelmingly twisted creations such as bird skull-headed wraiths armed with toy boomerangs.
  • Crossover: The Kupperberg run made a habit of using Superman (naturally, since he was also writing for that title), featuring a crossover with him when Robotman accidentally got a hold of Metallo's spare parts, an adventure with Power Girl fighting the Lord of Chaos Pythia, and even got visited by Lex Luthor, who was trying to force the Patrol into a desperate position to make them his pawns.
  • Curbstomp Battle: The first time they fought the Brotherhood of Dada, Doom Patrol only had Cliff, Rebis and Jane in the field. Outnumbered and with no one matching the power of the Quiz or Sleepwalker's brute strength, the Patrol went down fast. Doom Patrol never did defeat the first Brotherhood of Dada as the latter had a Heel–Face Turn and helped save the world.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Played straight with Crazy Jane and Dorothy Spinner, with the former suffering sexual abuse so bad her mind fractured into sixty plus split personalities,note  and the latter was cruelly bullied because of her appearance and mentally traumatized by her first period.
    • Subverted in Rachel Pollack's run. In #83, the False Memory gave Coagula fake memories of being joint-raped by her "husband and his friend". Kate spends the rest of the issue trying to figure out when it happened until Dorothy manages to bring her back to her senses. Kate is outraged that the False Memory believed she was giving Kate's life more "meaning" by making her think she was sexually violated when she was a teenager.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Flash Forward is soon nicknamed Negative Man by his teammates for his icy temperament.
    • Likewise, Beast Boy. Yes, that Beast Boy. He made his debut here.
    • In Grant Morrison's stint as writer, Robotman.
  • Deconstruction: Despite the word being beloved of comics critics at the time, Grant Morrison (in Supergods) maintains his run was not a deconstruction of superhero comics. Rather, it was the most traditional superhero comic he'd done at the time, it simply proceeded from a different cultural background than most comics. Instead of coming from a background of Jack Kirby, Flash Gordon, The Shadow and Edgar Rice Burroughs, he started from Jorge Luis Borges, Post-Punk, Abbie Hoffman and William S. Burroughs, and wrote what he thought a superhero comic inspired by them would look like.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Celsius, who periodically showed that she had a human side despite her obsession with finding the Chief.
  • Demoted to Extra: Tends to happen to them. Often lampshaded at the end of their newest guest appearance in some other hero team's series.
  • Denser and Wackier: Than almost anything else in DC's entire library. They were billed as the "World's Strangest Heroes" for a reason. Morrison's run mostly averted this by being absurdist horror, but even its Lighter and Softer issues were so weird it made other Doom Patrol comics seem normal by comparison.
  • Derailing Love Interests: Of the non-Love Triangle variety. In Volume 5, writer Keith Giffen dismantles two Happily Married couples into a handful of divorcees via retcon: Steve Dayton and Rita Farr on the one hand and Mal Duncan and Karen Beecher on the other.
  • Disability Superpower: Everyone, basically. Morrison's run deliberately leaned into this.
    • Negative Man and Negative Woman are both radioactive and can never take off their bandages.
    • Robotman doesn't even have a real body anymore; he's just a brain in a can.
    • Zigzagged with Rita Farr, who suffered from Power Incontinence in her backstory but had a handle on things by the time the Patrol officially began; her newer, Darker and Edgier post-Infinite Crisis self is actually a Blob Monster trying to keep a human shape.
    • Downplayed with Beast Boy, who survived a fatal accident as a kid but is now stuck with unappealing green skin that caused him a fair bit of grief.
    • Crazy Jane is an exaggerated take — she has dozens of multiple personalities, and every single one of them has their own superpower.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The "Empire of Chairs" issue included imagery of Crazy Jane being ambushed by the horrific Keysmiths, creatures with keys sticking out of their blank faces, for the sake of "unlocking" her. With the already phallic imagery of the keys protruding from their faces and the scenes of a large group of Keysmiths surrounding Jane while they (it is said) insert their keys into her, the whole thing comes across as if Jane is being gang raped. Given Jane's origin story (similar to the real-life Truddi Chase) this is nightmarish.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: The would-be cosmos destroyers in the Cult of the Unwritten book were led by the Archons of Nurnheim —- i.e. a couple of Punch And Judy puppets.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Kate was killed in flashback by Dorothy, accidentally in the Arcudi series. Nudge and Grunt are killed and run away respectively in the first issue of the Giffen series, with poor Nudge getting Killed Mid-Sentence. Note that this is practically a Doom Patrol tradition - if the outgoing writer doesn't Kill 'Em All, the incoming writer will often do this.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Red Jack attempts to marry a comatose Rhea Jones. Cliff practically quotes this trope when he points this out.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Captain Zahl forces a Sadistic Choice on the Patrol—save their own skins, or save a dinky fishing village off the coast of Maine with a population of only thirteen people, a sacrifice that's not likely to be remembered. The Patrol grins and makes their choice:
    The Patrol: Fire away!
  • Dysfunction Junction: Practically every version of the Doom Patrol is this trope.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Many, the three most notable probably being the Decreator (a giant bloodshot eye in the sky rapidly unmaking all of existence), the Telephone Avatar (something that has haunted the telephone system for decades and is so horrible the dead are afraid of it) and the Candlemaker.
  • Eldritch Location:
    • Danny the Street is a benevolent and pleasant version of this, in fact possibly the most well-adjusted member of any incarnation of the Doom Patrol.
    • The Pentagon (yes, really), which is filled with all kinds of messed up and horrific things that are only barely understood by the Department of Defense themselves, if at all.
  • "End of the World" Special: This seems to be what happens at the end of Morrison's run, with Danny the Street expanding to become the magical Danny the World for Cliff and Jane.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • The original Doom Patrol was forced into this situation with the Brotherhood of Evil on more than one occasion, usually to avert the erasure of all existence or some other problem that would make world conquest by the Brotherhood kind of moot.
    • Both Brotherhood of Dada arcs ended up this way, with the second one especially emphasizing that they really didn't have to be enemies at all.
  • Episode Discussion Scene: Doom Patrol #121 (the Kill 'Em All issue) featured one with the writers.
  • Face–Heel Turn: "D" or The Disappointment used to be a superhero called Haxxalon the Star Archer, but the cancelation of his comicbook right before he was to be married to the love of his life, Starlene, turned him into a deicidal Yandere obsessed with bringing about the matrimonial story that never was.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Darren Jones likes to believe he's a normal guy living a 1950s sitcom esque life with his wife in the suburbs, complete with a Laugh Track built into his house. This is the first indicator that he's a dangerously insane and hypocritical idiot obsessed with stomping out anything considered to be a "Quirk", using a knock-off version of the Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. to hunt down strange things and destroy them. Both issues he's in rapidly point out how disturbing Darren is despite how "normal" he insists he is. He engages in such activities as eating "skinless stew" (which appears to be made from blood and bugs), gouged his wife's eyes out and made her wear googly eyes, planned to use something called "love worms" on her when she pointed out that they themselves are strange, and his boss seems to have a lava lamp for a head.
  • Fanservice:
  • Foil: Morrison's and Pollack's versions of the Doom Patrol come across as contrasts to one another.
    • The majority of Morrison's team spent most of their time dealing with their respective anxieties and traumas, feeling they didn't belong in the world and that life was miserable. The ongoing story focused on Jane dealing with her sexual abuse, Rebis' identity issues concerning Larry Trainor and Eleanor Poole's lives, Cliff's ongoing depression and angst about his body, Dorothy Spinner's alienation and traumatic childhood, and the Chief's megalomania.
    • Pollack's version of the team introduced new members who, despite suffering trauma like Morrison's team, were far better adjusted and at peace with themselves. Kate was a transwoman who suffered abuse from her peers when she was younger but found a community who accepted her as an adult, and George and Marion are completely in love with each other and refuse to let losing their bodies and the torture they endured from the builders stop them from living life.
    • The team as a whole can be considered a contrast to DC's most famous team. The Justice League, self-appointed ambassadors of mankind, are mostly comprised of gorgeous people with amazing powers who are admired by the public; the Doom Patrol consists of freakish misfits feared by society, with relatively few having any impressive abilities.
  • The Fantastic Faux: The original iteration was a rather obvious homage to the Fantastic Four, with Robot Man having super-strength and a freakish appearance, Elasti-Girl having stretching abilities, Mr. Negative having energy powers, and the Chief having super-intelligence, and with the exception of the Chief, all their powers came from freak accidents (later retconned as having been caused by the Chief himself.)
  • Follow the Leader: At one time the Patrol acted as a school... for young mutants. The Doom Patrol premiered just three months before the X-Men, but too close to be a clear case of copy-catting. Besides, Arnold Drake was in no position to throw stones - there are also some very clear parallels between the original Doom Patrol and the Fantastic Four. (A team of three men and one woman, one of whom is a genius, one is stretchy, one of whom has a flight power and one of whom is stuck in a super-strong, unwanted orange body. For bonus points, both teams feature a character who's a revamp of an unrelated Golden Age character.) They have also shared writers; Arnold Drake, Grant Morrison and John Byrne have all written for both teams.
  • Fluffy Tamer: An early issues showed Rita in her giantess form cuddling lions and tigers at the local zoo like they were housecats. Little wonder she was so good raising a child who can shapeshift into any creature he can think of.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The fake Men From N.O.W.H.E.R.E. can only speak in sentences that are acronyms for "N.O.W.H.E.R.E.".
  • Genius Cripple / Evil Cripple:
    • The Chief — he is stuck in a wheelchair, but still orchestrates the creation of the Doom Patrol.
    • Also the Brain (who can't even move on his own in some incarnations) and General Immortus (who is immortal, but not unaging).
  • Genius Loci: Danny the Street is a sentient transgender street. (Imagine gun shops with pink curtains in the front windows, and fire hydrants that are painted yellow because bright crimson would be too gauche...)
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: How Cliff starts Morrison's run, both in the sense that most of his friends are dead or comatose, but also that his robot body limits him to sight and sound — he literally bashes down a cement barricade with his head to demonstrate how this doesn't hurt but is driving him insane.
    • Also how Mr. Nobody gained his powers.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: What happened to the Telephone Avatar. All we're told of what the Candlemaker did to it is that several inhuman screams were heard, and it is then seen strung up by the neck with its own wires. Given this is a creature the dead itself are afraid of, it's better we're not shown just what the Candlemaker had to do to kill it for good.
  • Grandfather Clause: It's been decades since Robotman's beefy body and Lantern Jaw of Justice were even remotely close to what a "futuristic robot" looked like, but his design is far too iconic for anyone to consider changing significantly. Robotman's destroyed original body itself is also rather obsolete as a plot-device on the grounds of DC's surplus of magic and super science.
  • Happily Adopted: Garfield ends up adopted by Rita (Elasti-Girl) and Steve (Mento). And while his relationship with Steve is sometimes troubled by Steve's copious mental health issues, Gar loves Rita dearly and even got into acting to follow in her footsteps.
  • Happily Married:
    • Rita and Steve had this briefly in the sixties but have suffered repeated Happy Ending Overrides.
      • Despite a rocky start, they did end up happily married until Rita died with the rest of the patrol, which made her The Lost Lenore (Steve Dayton would later die in the pages of Deathstroke).
      • John Byrne's series revamp in Volume 4 restored Rita to life but erased her history, which was undone by the Cosmic Retcon in Infinite Crisis to restore both Rita and Steve Dayton to a living married couple.
      • However, in Volume 5, Keith Giffen dropped a nuclear bomb on their relationship by retconning Steve Dayton into a wicked pervert abusing his Power Perversion Potential and having Rita put him in traction by hurling him into the distance. They divorced and went un-followed up on until Flashpoint brought an end to the post-crisis universe.
      • Currently they seem to be suffering a Continuity Snarl. Rita Farr appears in the pages of Doom Patrol Vol. 6, while in the pages of Titans: Burning Rage, Steve Dayton's wife Rita has passed away.
    • Bumblebee and Vox (former members of the Titans who joined the Patrol during the events of One Year Later) had been married happily since the 1980s, but are revealed in Doom Patrol Volume 5 to have divorced off screen.
    • Averted with Larry, Eleanor, and the Negative Entity. While all sharing Rebis' body and mind, their internal dialogue shows both deep anger and happiness.
    • George and Marion (the Bandage People) really are as happy as they seem with each other.
  • The Heart: In original series, Elasti-Girl. The only reason the team worked was because of her.
  • Hermaphrodite: Rebis is literally a merging of a man and a woman.
  • He's Back: As of Issue 11 of Giffen's run, Mr. Nobody, now evolved in terms of his philosophy, and calling himself Mr. Somebody.
  • Hollywood Cyborg: Cliff Steele.
  • Iconic Outfit:
    • One of the villains has an iconic form. The Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man is nearly always depicted with his partial Tyrannosaurus Rex morph from the cover of his main issue.
    • Robotman's dark civilian wear from the Grant Morrison run.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Kate considers herself a lesbian, until she begins to fall for Cliff.
  • Imaginary Friend: Subverted in that Dorothy Spinner's imaginary friends are made real by her mind. Brutally real, as evidenced by the Candlemaker.
  • Indy Ploy: The heroes have to rely on the Indy ploy fairly regularly. Even the most Crazy-Prepared hero can't anticipate some of this weirdness.
  • Insufferable Genius:
    • The Chief tends to explain as little as possible, and be pretty smug about it when his plans work.
    • Mento falls here, too, especially if he's in one of his less-than-sane periods.
  • Intangible Man: Negative Man (later Rebis) can make their "negative spirit" leave their body and do things. Except it can't leave for more than a minute, or else they will die.
  • Kill 'Em All: Almost every version of the Doom Patrol ends with almost all of the main team dead, in a coma, etc., as a way to make room for the next writer to do what they want. (Grant Morrison did not do this, however. Aside from the Chief, who had died already, everyone just walked into the sunset, so to speak.) And if they don't, the next writer will often do it themselves.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Candlemaker, who, even in light of the many instances of mass character death and a truly wild Rogues Gallery, remains one of series' most horrific villains ever.
  • Knights and Knaves: The expansion of Orqwith can only be stopped by the solution to one of these puzzles.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The fact that the Chief was responsible for the original Doom Patrol's accidents has been a major part of every series after the original revelation. Good luck reading any other Doom Patrol issue without learning that.
  • Legion of Doom: The Brotherhood of Evil (Mallah, Madame Rouge and the Brain) recruit General Immortus, Garguax and his plastic army into an expanded organization, in a Wham Episode of the original series.
  • "L" Is for "Dyslexia": Inflicted by a big Government Conspiracy on a whistleblower who's writing (or, rather, trying to write) an exposé. All his typewritten pages contain gibberish.
  • Losing Your Head: The Chief spends Rachel Pollack's series as a head on a tray of ice.
  • Magic Floppy Disk: Cliff's whole personality and memories apparently fit in a couple of floppies.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: A non-romantic example with Terry None in Gerard Way's volume. She just shows up at Casey Brinke's apartment one day, does a tap dance for her birthday because she thought Casey looked sad on the subway, and accidentally blows up Casey's asshole roommate before moving in with her. Though after Lotion makes himself scarce, Casey decides to have sex with Terry in the meantime.
  • Mary Sue: Invoked in-universe with Alice Debries aka "The Breeze" of the Brotherhood of Nada. She was so good at everything that everyone got bored of her. Incidentally, she's never had it hard and there's nothing that doesn't come easy to her.
  • Menstrual Menace: Dorothy Spinner's first menstruation causes her imaginary friends to try to force her to wear "red, bloody shoes." The comparisons to The Wizard of Oz are all intentional, too.
  • Mindlink Mates: Coagula and Robotman after they share a body during "The Teiresias War."
  • Mind Screw: Although the Doom Patrol were always considered weird, this really came to a head with all of Grant Morrison's and Rachel Pollack's runs. Much later, Gerard Way's run made a return to their unfiltered strangeness.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands:
    • Crazy Jane. Justified in that she has 64 separate personalities with 64 separate powers. Not all the personalities are nice, either.
    • One of the Doom Patrol's enemies, The Quiz, also has "Every power you haven't thought of," literally, so in order to fight her, people have to constantly think of and/or shout out a long list of all known superpowers. Unfortunately nobody can ever think of every superpower, so the Quiz has yet to be defeated in a conventional battle (that we get to see) note 
  • Nightmare Fuel: An in-universe invoked use of this trope appears during the "Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E." arc. The officials who run the Ant Farm project create the aforementioned Men by collecting the husks of the newly dead. They're then traumatized by being read to from Lucy Clifford's "Anyhow Stories," which is apparently the one thing out there terrifying enough to shatter whatever willpower the dead might still have.
  • Non-Human Non-Binary: Rebis, the Fusion Dance of Negative Man (Larry Trainor), Dr. Eleanor Poole, and the genderless Negative Spirit, who refers to themselves in the plural.
  • Not Himself: Mr. Somebody's philosophy is completely the opposite of Mr. Nobody's, to the point that some fans believe that he wasn't the same person at all, though due to that run being Cut Short, the truth about Mr. Somebody was never revealed.
  • Only Sane Man: During the ordeal with the Fox and the Crow, there was an elderly woman staying with the Fox's geriatric army constantly trying to get her friends to understand the Fox was using them and that this whole situation was insane. She later tries the same thing with Cliff when he ends up joining the Fox, but again her protests fall on deaf ears.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The Doom Patrol is normally on the side of Good Chaos and opposed to (kind of) Evil Chaos (the Brotherhood of Dada) and Evil Order (the Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E.) However, when the Brotherhood of Dada returned, though, the Doom Patrol didn't try to stop them.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: In one issue, Larry figured out that the putty-like Madame Rouge was impersonating the Chief when "he" called Rita Elasti-Girl — "the Chief would NEVER call Rita by that freak name!"
  • Parental Incest: The more traumatic part of Crazy Jane's origin.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: The Beard Hunter is an emotionally stunted and repressed gay man with an intense hatred of facial hair, lives with his mother, has only a stuffed dog for companionship, and seems to have some very warped sexual fetishes.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Every incarnation, but most notably Fever, Kid Slick, Freak, and Fast Forward ("Negative Man II"), who were relatively normal but faced difficulty working as a team.
  • Rape as Backstory: Crazy Jane was sexually abused twice in her lifetime by two different men. Her father, when she was 5 years old and before her personalities manifested (at which point she was still Kay Challis). And again years later, after the Miranda personality took over. Miranda was attacked and raped by a homeless man in a church on Easter, which resulted in Miranda's death and the emergence of the other personalities.
  • Reality Warper: Dorothy Spinner. She has little control of her abilities and they terrify her. Later the Danny the Street can do the same as he evolves into Danny the World and Dannyland.
  • Retcon: All over the damn place, and several tend to go with a heaping helping of Same Character, but Different.
    • After famously dying at the end of the original title, Paul Kupperberg's work with the team undid the demise of The Chief, Negative Man, and Robotman. (Not Elasti-girl, alas).
    • One of the wilder, and more famous, examples is the recontextualization of the group's origin by Grant Morrison at the end of his run, when it turns out the Chief has been Evil All Along and not only caused the accidents that turned them into "freaks' in the first place but engineered their deaths at the end of their first comic series. This revelation was of a piece with Morrison's radically different take on the Chief who was cold and manipulative, rather than the kindly and heroic figure he was originally depicted as.
    • Rachel Pollack's run introduced a character called the False Memory, who tries to implement a number of retcons to get into the team. Mostly, she hangs around Cliff and keeps granting him memories of adventures he had with Crazy Jane that never happened. George and Marion are kept idle with nostalgia-fueled memories of cookouts with George Bush Sr. and John F. Kennedy, while the Chief keeps his distance and Kate is traumatized by memories of being gang-raped. The retcons only exist within the characters' memories, which are removed thanks to Dorothy actively rejecting them because her mind is fragile enough as is.
    • John Byrne's run dismissed the entire Doom Patrol history and rebooted the series to start all over again with the original cast of the Chief, Robotman, Negative Man and Elasti-Girl (who had been killed off in the original series and never resurrected).
    • Geoff Johns, in an issue of Teen Titans, had the rebooted Doom Patrol regaining all their memories of their previous continuities so that all versions of the Doom Patrol (including Byrne's and Pollack's) were no longer Exiled from Continuity, although it was now unclear how Elasti-Girl and the Chief could be alive.
    • Johns' Teen Titans run later provided a flashback in which the Chief saved Elasti-Girl by regrowing her from a surviving cells after the explosion. Then Keith Giffen's Doom Patrol series included another flashback showing the moment where Robotman was reunited with the restored Elasti-Girl. However, Giffen's run was cancelled before he could explain how the Chief had come back to life after his death in the Pollack run.
    • Gerard Way's run re-establishes the previous Doom Patrol series as having happened, and implicitly throws aside their New 52 -era Justice League appearances.
  • Rubber Man: Elasti-Girl. Also their enemy, Madame Rouge.
  • Same Character, but Different:
    • Grant Morrison's take on the Doom Patrol regulars, Chief, Robotman, and Negative Man. The Chief was newly depicted as an uncaring, murderous figure (compared to the original, who loved and cherished his team), while Robotman became a cynical everyman rather than the boisterous bruiser he started as. Negative Man was perhaps the most transformed of the three of them, being revamped into the tripartite figure of Rebis
    • Steve Dayton was retconned by Keith Giffen into being a nasty pervert and Stalker with a Crush who was abusing Rita in her sleep.
  • Serial Escalation: Especially Grant Morrison's run.
  • Shown Their Work: Crazy Jane doesn't just have 64 distinct personalities, but as with real world cases of multiple personalities, they're all shallow and have specialized niches. Most directly visible when Jane, who's developing romantic and sexual feelings for Cliff, tries to prepare him for her Scarlet Harlot personality's attempt to seduce him... only for the Harlot to almost immediately taunt and reject Cliff, who's physically incapable of having sex with her. Similarly, Black Annis, representing Jane's anger at men for her rapes, finds herself actually liking Cliff for the same reason the Harlot dismisses him.
  • Signature Sound Effect: Negative Man's distinctive "crackle". Drake and Premiani often represented radio waves, Drake's Applied Phlebotinum of choice, with "CRZZZZZZ".
  • Signs of the End Times:
    • As reality begins to merge with Orqwith -
    • In Barcelona, when the Cult of the Unwritten Book starts to summon the Decreator -
      • A bus full of teenagers was possessed by the Unquiet Face and driven through the Corridor of Hallucinations
      • The Needle Children, who cannot be seen through glass, laid pointless siege to an old folks' home in the suburbs.
      • At 11:30, there was an outbreak of spirit skywriting which continued for an hour and a half.
      • At midnight the word 'harmony' disappeared from the vocabulary of everyone in the city.
      • At 12:30, the Embryo Stains invaded the marrow of a nightclub owner and forced him to compose terrifying poetry.
      • Everything blue became temporarily invisible.
      • The rain forgot how to fall.
    • When Flex Mentallo tried to turn the Pentagon into a circle
      • People saw God, and thought he looked 'kind of shifty'.
  • Singing Telegram: Terry None first meets Casey Brinke while delivering a singing telegram.
  • Sizeshifter: Rita Farr, alias Elasti-Girl.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Elasti-Girl was the only woman in the original team.
  • Social Darwinist: The Chief turns out to be one of these by the end of Morrison's run.
  • Something Person:
    • The original team was made up of these: Robotman, Elasti-Girl, Negative Man and later Negative Woman. As time when on, though, Cliff (who hated being called Robotman anyway, since he wasn't technically a robot) just went by his real name.
    • Not just Cliff; Rita and Larry despised their noms de guerre too. Larry always referred to Negative Man as a separate entity, giving him orders (maybe Crazy Jane wasn't the only one with multiple personality issues?).
    • As mentioned above, this went so far as being an Out-of-Character Alert. Typically, the only one regularly called by a codename was The Chief. Otherwise, they were Cliff, Rita and Larry.
  • Split Personality:
    • Crazy Jane has 64 of them.
    • And yeah, Larry, Eleanor and the Negative Spirit do go through a bit of the same when they turn into Rebis. One scene shows him reading When Rabbit Howls.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • Elasti-Girl is given this trait in a team-up story with The Flash. We're told that since she used to be a glamorous movie star, being turned into a "super-powered freak" was especially hard on her, and she smiles constantly in order to "look pretty" and keep others from being afraid of her. She has no idea that it actually has the complete opposite effect. This isn't brought up again in any other DP story; Word of God says that it took place during the team's early days (post-Byrne reboot) when Rita was still getting used to her new life.
      • Which causes continuity problems of its' own, given that the story in question dealt with the Flash going to the Doom Patrol for help with his children's powers- who didn't show up in continuity until after Byrne's run on Doom Patrol was over.
  • Suicidal Sadistic Choice: The first incarnation ended with one. Their archenemy General Zahl gave the Patrol the choice of nuking their location or nuking a small fishing village in Maine, a sacrifice that wouldn't be remembered. The Patrol's answer? "Fire away, Zahl!"
  • Summon Bigger Fish: The Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. arc culminates in the summoning of the Telephone Avatar, a horrific being said to have enslaved the dead and the telephone system ever since its creation. The only way it could be beaten was for Dorothy to let out the Candlemaker to kill it for her and save her friends. After that, the Candlemaker becomes increasingly more insistent that Dorothy let him out for good.
  • Superhero Team Uniform: The original Doom Patrol originally wore all-green uniforms before they started wearing the more recognizable red and white uniforms. During the Kupperburg run, the team wore uniforms with more variety in color. The Morrison run dispensed with uniforms entirely.
  • Superpower Lottery: The Quiz has "every superpower you haven't thought of." She's basically able to do whatever she wants as long as you aren't thinking about it.
  • Surreal Symbolic Heads
    • Several of Dorothy's imaginary friends and enemies take this form, particularly Damn All's family - his own is a newspaper with multiple eyes, Darling-Come-Home has a portrait of a light bulb, and Flying Robert has the head of a balloon.
    • There are also several examples in the Cult of the Unwritten Book. The Weeping Blades are flayed, beheaded corpses with the heads of blades, and the assassin group Fear the Sky all have the heads of celestial objects.
  • Take That!: Towards the end of his run, Morrison put out a one-shot Doom Patrol special entitled "Doom Force". It highlighted every trope of the Liefeldian Dark Age had to offer, from the artistic failings to the horrible characters. It ended with one member of Young Blood Doom Force dead, and the remaining members declaring him a creep, walking away in an Everybody Laughs Ending.
  • That Man Is Dead:
    • Rebis, who is a combination of Larry Trainor and a nurse. Cliff still refers to him/her as "Larry", even though Rebis denies being Larry Trainor anymore.
    • Roughly played with in the Giffen series, which reveals Larry's been dead since the accident that turned him into Negative Man. Since then, it's been the N-Man entity in a variety of clones. Maybe. Because the N-Man isn't sure he's not Larry either. Or something. The whole thing is sorta fuzzy, and even Larry (or "Larry") isn't certain anymore.
  • Token Evil Teammate: The Brotherhood of Nada seems even less malevolent than their Dada predecessors with the very notable exception of the Brutalist who feeds on the pain and misfortune of others by beating them to death.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The Cliff we've known for the first few issues of Arcudi's run isn't actually the real one at all. He's one of Dorothy's imaginary friends.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: The False Memory in Pollack's run. She started out as just one of the many personas belonging to the chameleon-like Identity Addict. When she came back in #83, she spends her time walking around giving people fake memories, eventually trying to insert herself in the Doom Patrol by manipulating their memories to her favor, such as making Coagula think she was raped as a teenager by her husband. Only Dorothy rejects the fake memories immediately and manages to snap her teammates back to their senses.
  • Transgender: Coagula, who's also the first trans superhero.
  • Transvestite: Danny the Street (his male-geared stores, like gun shops, are covered in pink lace and the like), and a number of people who live on him. Overlaps with Wholesome Crossdresser as Danny is possibly the kindest, nicest fellow in the entire DCU.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The original team, with Robotman and Negative Man as the two guys and Elasti-Girl as the girl.
  • Unbuilt Trope: The original team - a group of superheroes (with the exception of Elasti-girl) whose powers don't just set them apart from society, but are actually severely detrimental to their health, and are nothing that any of them are proud of. They're not just rubber forehead mutants who have superpowers and maybe one distinguishing feature or two but otherwise look normal, they're all actually deformed. In addition, the team's kindly, wheelchair bound leader is actually a Manipulative Bastard responsible for all of their current conditions, and they end up all getting killed off to save one tiny fishing town from a powerless, disabled old man from a war that ended decades ago. Sounds like a Deconstruction of the X-Men, right? Except it actually came out a few months earlier than the esteemed competition.
  • Unholy Matrimony: The Brain and Monsieur Mallah are a couple. Okay, so The Brain is a Brain in a Jar evil genius and Monsieur Mallah is a Communist gorilla, and they're leading the Patrol's enemies. It doesn't mean that they aren't a devoted, loving pair.
  • The Unreveal: While Jane has 64 personalities, each with their own powers, most of those personalities and powers aren't revealed. Especially notable is that the "power" exhibited by Driver 8, the ability to navigate through Jane's mind and handle her other personalities, is a psychological mechanism, not a power at all.
  • Up to Eleven: Relative to the rest of the DC universe, the Doom Patrol and their foes step into this territory frequently.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: In the original run, Cliff, Larry, Steve, and Gar. They all fought with each other like crazy but did care for each other. (Well... Cliff and Larry cared for each other and eventually for Gar. Steve... not quite so much.)
  • Welcome to the Real World: It is heavily implied that the final issue of Grant Morrison's run takes place in the real world. Aside from the fact that this world apparently has no superheroes, it also has the same colour scheme as the last issue of Morrison's Animal Man, which explicitly takes place in "our" world. (Unless the Animal Man story was just a peyote trip.)
  • Wham Episode: Issue 57, "The Nature of the Catastrophe", in which the Chief explains that he was responsible for the entire original Patrol's tragic backstories and has been controlling every major plot beat they've gone through since. He is then decapitated by the Candlemaker, who then goes on to destroy Cliff's brain.
  • What Have I Become?: Most of the leads experience this at one point or another after their transformations.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Steve Dayton and Rita Far back in the sixties for a few issues is about as soap-operatic as it gets in the early Doom Patrol. At one point Rita actually leaves Steve standing at the altar. Later on, They Do.
  • Word-Salad Horror: Grant Morrison's run was completely full of this. Word salads are used as magical spells, as utterances from mad demonic creatures like the Scissormen, and so on.


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