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Comic Book / Fantastic Four

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The Fantastic Four are a classic Marvel Universe superhero team, consisting of:

The characters first appeared in "Fantastic Four" vol. 1 #1 (November, 1961), created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The four were connected even before the same Negative Space Wedgie gave them all their powers — Reed and Sue were sweethearts and eventually got married, Johnny is Sue's younger brother, Ben is Reed's best friend since college (as well as war buddy from World War II, until Comic-Book Time forced a Retcon) — and are as much a family (if occasionally a dysfunctional one) as a team. Reed is the World's Smartest Man, and his genius is often at least as useful as the powers he got from the accident. The royalty payments from all his inventions fund the Four's adventures, despite the fact that they never get implemented in the world around them, and lets them live in high style in the time between.

The Fantastic Four are at heart a team of scientists and explorers, and they build vehicles, devices and portals in their penthouse dwelling atop the Baxter Building. The adventures of the Fantastic Four have taken them across the world, across time, to the far depths of space, and the bowels of the earth. The FF have investigated, explored and mapped out more dimensions and alternate universes than you can fathom. In the course of their many adventures, the Four have faced a great assortment of rogues — the Mole Man, the Skrulls and the Kree, Dr. Victor von Doom, the Puppetmaster, the Molecule Man, the Red Ghost, the Trapster, the Frightful Four, Annihilus, among many others. Likewise, it was in the pages of the Four that the Marvel Universe and its greater world building was first fixed. The first appearances of Black Panther and Wakanda, The Inhumans of Attilan, and the Silver Surfer were in the pages of the Four. Their number one recurring enemy Doctor Doom has gone on to become the great Marvel-wide villain of the entire universe. The Fantastic Four as such both literally and figuratively founded the Marvel Universe as we know it. In the wake of the success of the Four, titles like Spider-Man, the X-Men, The Avengers followed. They also created many tropes; the FF were the first superheroes without a Secret Identity, the first super-team where the members fought each other as much as the villains, and the first place that Kirby Dots appeared, among others.

The Marvel Universe officially marks the beginning of Comic-Book Time to be the event that gave the Fantastic Four their powers. Multiple handbooks and reference guides insist that at best only 14 years have passed since then in the entire verse, and fourteen years will be all that ever passes in the Marvel Universe if editorial can continue getting away with it. The Timely era comics and events which transpired during World War II — the adventures of Captain America the original Human Torch, and Namor the Sub-Mariner — were famously welded into continuity in Fantastic Four #3-4 where Johnny Storm runs into an amnesiac hobo and gives him a shave only to reveal him to be Namor, reviving his memory and restoring him as an anti-hero/anti-villain.

The flagship title continues to be Fantastic Four but recently the series spun off another book FF, meaning Future Foundation. In addition, Marvel Two-in-One a team-up series featuring The Thing and other heroes ran regularly in The '70s and even when the the core title was cancelled between 2015-2018, this team-up title was revived by Chip Zdarsky as part of Marvel Legacy. Originally a temporary replacement for the regular Fantastic Four book, the Foundation is a scientific organization working for the betterment of mankind. The book features Reed and Sue's children, Franklin and Valeria; and notably includes Spider-Man and Doctor Doom as members. With the Marvel NOW! relaunch the new volume of the Future Foundation stars Scott Lang, She-Hulk, Medusa and Johnny Storm's current girlfriend, Darla Deering, while the main family is on an intergalactic vacation. The series ended in 2015 with issue #645. However some characters appeared in other titles separately. In the aftermath of Secret Wars (2015), Johnny Storm appeared in Uncanny Inhumans and Uncanny Avengers and the Thing joined the Guardians of the Galaxy. As for Reed and Sue Richards, they went off with their kids rebuilding The Multiverse, which was destroyed in the lead-up to Secret Wars. In 2017, Johnny and Ben reunited in Marvel 2-in-One and began searching for their missing family, leading into the team finally returning in 2018 after a three-year (real-time) absence. Future Foundation continues the adventures of the titular Foundation in the multiverse without them.

In 1999, Lee and Kirby's original run was ranked #31 in The Comics Journal's list of the Top 100 Comic Books of the 20th Century, honored alongside the works of such greats as Carl Barks, Al Capp, Charles M. Schulz and Bill Watterson. It was one of only a few mainstream superhero series to make the list (alongside Jack Cole's original run on Plastic Man, C. C. Beck and Otto Binder's original run on Captain Marvel and fellow Marvel trailblazer, The Amazing Spider-Man) and it was the highest ranked of any of them.

Notably, all four members of the team had been members of different factions of The Avengers at one point or another, with Reed and Sue being part of the original team, Ben being part of both the west coast team and the New Avengers, and Johnny being part of the Avengers Unity Squad.

Please note that this page covers the Fantastic Four comics only, for tropes pertaining to all Fantastic Four media, and a list of comic storylines and other works in the franchise, see the franchise page. For the title team, see Fantastic Four: The Fantastic Four.

Fantastic Four contain examples of:

  • Ability Mixing: The Super Skrull has all the powers held by the Fantastic Four at the time he was created, in addition to his natural shapeshifting abilities. While less experienced with his individual powers than the Four, and lacking the forcefield abilities which Sue later manifested, some writers have him make up for this by combining his abilities in unusual ways. E.g. he once combined Reed's stretchiness, Ben's Super-Toughness and Sue's invisibility to turn parts of his body into invisible Razor Floss.
  • Aborted Arc: There were hints that Kang the Conqueror, Doctor Doom and Reed Richards share a Tangled Family Tree, but the issue has not been addressed.
  • Absent-Minded Professor: Reed. Often extending as far as Ditzy Genius. Whenever there's a Broke Episode, Reed is usually the culprit.
  • Action Girl: Invisible Woman, and there have been two female stand-ins for Ben Grimm: She-Hulk, and Sharon Ventura, who was transformed into a Distaff Counterpart of The Thing. Crystal of the Inhumans also once filled in for Sue. So did Medusa, Crystal's sister.
  • Action Mom: Invisible Woman, mother of two and still telekinetic butt-kicker supreme.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: In issue 518 of the 1998 series:
    Johnny: AAAUUGH! It's horrible! Make it invisible! Make it invisible!
    Sue: Then how is Ben supposed to hit it?
    Johnny: I was talking about Ben.
    Ben: You little...naw, wait, that wuz a good one.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The Super Skrull has all the powers of the Fantastic Four. When Marvel vs. Capcom 3 came out, the Super Skrull was on the roster as their gameplay equivalent.
  • Alliance of Alternates: The Interdimensional Council of Reeds, led by three versions of Reed Richards with Infinity Gauntlets. Earth-616's Reed quickly discovers that their For Science! attitude clashes with his own morality and sense of family.
  • Alliterative Name: Reed Richards and Susan Storm. In fact, Stan Lee has commented that he used this to help keep the names straight. Eventually, Sue's name would cease to be alliterative, although the hyphenate Sue Storm-Richards is sometimes used.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Jack Kirby originally reworked his old DC Comics Challengers of the Unknown to create the Four.
  • Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome: The Trope Namer, natch. A major part of Hickman's run is that while every other alternate Reed is awesome, it comes at the cost of being maladjusted, eventually leaving their families behind, something Reed is horrified by.
    • Chip Zdarsky introduced a little Alternate Universe Victor Von Doom Is Awesome in his Two-In-One run. One of the main reasons Reed let the world think he and Sue died in Secret Wars is that he believes (based on alternate universe experience) that Victor stands a better chance of becoming a hero if Reed isn't around. And subsequent developments back him up; Victor's heroic tenure as the Infamous Iron Man came to a crashing halt when the FF returned and he was soon back to his old tricks.
  • Alternate Universe: Many, many of them. The FF have the highest number of canon AU stories. And whenever they needed to be avoided from a crossover; their absence is usually handwaved with: "The FF are away in an alternate dimension..." At one point, it's even revealed that Reed Richards often holds trans dimensional conferences with numerous alternate versions of himself at the same time.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Benjamin Jacob Grimm, until it became canon a few years back; and he undertook a second Bar Mitzvah to commemorate the occasion of his 13th Anniversary of turning into The Thing. His very look is loosely inspired by the Jewish folktale of the Golem.
  • And You Were There: Ben does this at the end of the seminal comic book issue "Fantastic Four Annual 1998".
  • Appearance Angst: Ben Grimm, aka The Thing, has always struggled with how the mutation he sustained from the cosmic rays turned him into a hulking rock monster. On several occasions he's had the chance to do away with his mutations and live a normal life, only to become The Thing again because his friends need him.
  • Arch-Enemy: Doom and Reed, one of the most strongly It's Personal pair of nemeses in all of comics, although in practice the enmity extends to the rest of the team as well.
  • Artifact Title:
    • The original family of four — Reed, Sue, Johnny, Ben — enlarged with the arrival of the children — Franklin and Valeria. But they still call themselves the Fantastic Four.
    • At different times in the past, and different adaptations, the Four included in its roster (in replacement for the family) the likes of HERBIE, Kristoff von Doom, She-Hulk. This was especially noticeable at the end of the "Fantastic Five" Flash Forward series where the team expanded at the end to include eight members.
    • The Future Foundation or FF became a sub-franchise in part to address their expanding roster and in part to maintain the alliteration.
  • Artistic License – Physics: The Human Torch has been stated to be Immune to Bullets with the justification his heat melts the bullets before they hit him. Yeah, that's not how it works. A chunk of liquid metal hitting you at the speed of sound is not inherently more survivable than a chunk of solid metal hitting you at the speed of sound. Then there is the issue that for the bullet to melt during the fraction of a second it is near him, The Human Torch would have to be constantly at a temperature in excess of one million degrees celsius, which would cause all sorts of detrimental effects to his immediate surroundings.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • Reed Richards happens to be not only elastic, but the biggest nerd on Earth.
    • Ben Grimm is overlooked, but is almost as nerdy and smart as Reed. They don't let Book Dumb bruisers become test pilots and astronauts (in Real Life you have to have at least two Master's degrees or a PhD to be considered for space missions), and apparently Reed found him qualified to fly an experimental spacecraft. He also can follow Reed's Technobabble well enough to translate it into Layman's Terms. And while Ben enjoys drinking a brew and watching the game, it's also not uncommon to find him kicking back in an easy chair to read a good book.
  • The Bermuda Triangle: A recurring foe, Mole Man, has a home on Monster Island, which is suggested to be either somewhere in this region or off the coast of Japan, Depending on the Writer. The latter is a bit of a universal artifact, considering that back when Marvel held the license, it was probably made to be the Monster Island.
  • Berserk Button: They're a family, and harming any of them is a bad idea.
  • Blessed with Suck: The Thing, who has been permanently transformed into a superstrong but hideous rock monster.
  • Body Horror. Johnny getting revived by worms, after he died in the Negative Zone. EW!
  • Broke Episode: The first 12 issues of the Marvel Knights series.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: The Last Defenders, a group of heroes from one Bad Future recount to Johnny how they caught Galactus. Johnny is understandably dubious, since there's only six of them. Their Hulk mentions that there used to be a lot more of them.
  • Brooklyn Rage: The Thing. In a good-guy type of way.
  • The Bus Came Back: The Richards family and the Future Foundation were absent from the Marvel universe in the three years of publication after Secret Wars (2015). Then came Dan Slott's run.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Trapster, despite being one of their longest recurring villains, is almost always treated as this. He was once defeated by the Baxter Building's automated defences when the FF were out. The fact that he used to call himself "Paste-Pot Pete" doesn't help.
  • Canon Immigrant: Several robots based on HERBIE from The Fantastic Four (1978) have shown up from time to time.
  • Character Catchphrase: "IT'S CLOBBERIN' TIME!" "FLAME ON!!"
  • Chest Insignia: The "4" symbol is plastered on the chest of all of their uniforms.
  • Classical Elements Ensemble: Frequently lampshaded in discussions about the team. The Human Torch controls fire, the Thing is seemingly made of stone, Mr. Fantastic flows like water, and the Invisible Woman becomes invisible like air.
  • * Clock King: The Mad Thinker.
  • Comic-Book Time: Perhaps more visibly in force here than in any other comic. Franklin was born in 1968, and had yet to reach puberty for many decades of comics despite the fact that he really ought to be older than many, many Marvel Comics characters that are older than him despite having been born decades later. Best reflected in the fact that Kitty Pryde in one issue of Uncanny X-Men mused about offering to babysit Franklin to work off unwitting vandalism to the Fantastic Four's lab (It Makes Sense in Context). Going by her introduction year of 1980, and her stated age at the time of 13, she's actually only one year older than Franklin (to be 13 in 1980 meant she was born in 1967). However, as of Dan Slott's run (which began in 2018), Franklin has finally grown enough to be a teenager.
  • Competence Porn: Reed Richards is generally considered the most competent and effective leader and scientist in the entire universe and the Four's adventures generally are all about their adventures and inventing and exploring somehow always saving the day.
  • Dagwood Sandwich: Ben Grimm loves these.
  • Deadly Force Field: Sue Storm is the poster girl for Took a Level in Badass precisely because of this trope. In the original comics, she had a more passive role, often playing the Damsel in Distress. The writers gave her invisibility powers a force field aspect to make her more active and useful, other writers gave her more creative ways to use them, and now "lil Suzie" is one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe, period. Notably, she can deal out all four main manners of death this trope describes: cutting, crushing, popping, and internal blockage.
  • Deadly Training Area: Lots of the training areas that would be lethal for ordinary man (e.g Bens weights being 1,000 of tons). Is completely normal for the 4.
  • Deaf Composer: Alicia Masters is a blind sculptress. More impressive because she makes lifelike statues based purely on description.
  • Death Is Cheap: Happens quite often. Every one of the main four has been "dead" before at least once. And Franklin and Valeria at the start of Secret Wars 2015. Naturally, they all got better. Valeria has the record of staying dead the longest, 18 years in real life from her miscarriage's issue to her reintroduction into 616.
  • Deconstruction: The series as a whole, especially in the early days, lampshades and subverted common superhero tropes like secret identities, team unity and family issues, and even a secret base. Instead of a cave or fortress and masks, the team was out and proud.
  • Depending on the Writer: Reed's disposition varies from series to series. Sometimes he's nice but a bit unnecessarily gruff, sometimes he's a complete Jerkass, sometimes he's just absent minded.
  • Detachment Combat: The Fantasti-car separates into four smaller vehicles for each of its passengers.
  • Determinator: The Thing. The Champion declared him Earth's greatest hero, because even if he's not the most powerful, he will not yield.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The FF probably has more moments like this than anyone else in the Marvel Universe, but one of the most notable examples was when Sue killed (or at least disincorporated) a Celestial (thanks to some handy advice from Uatu).
  • Didn't See That Coming: The Mad Thinker's main flaw. Reed and Doom are occasional sufferers as well.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Considering that Reed had absolutely nothing to do with Doom's experiment failure or his injuries, Doom's grudge is completely unwarranted in the first place; but the sheer lengths that Doom goes to in his search for vengeance frequently go way beyond 'excessive'. What's amazing is Doctor Doom's quest for revenge is often as petty as it is insanely over the top. For instance, he's actually tried to break up Reed Richards' marriage as often as kill him.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Reed Richards used to smoke a pipe from time to time, before the dangers became more well-known.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: Doctor DOOM!
  • Draconic Humanoid: Dragon Man is an android built in the shape of one of these.
  • The Dreaded:
    Reed: So I said to them "I am Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, and I..."
    Susan: Go on.
    Reed: Actually, that's as far as I got. It was enough to send them running.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Franklin's special dreams.
  • Dressed Like a Dominatrix:
    • Invisible Woman's evil Sexier Alter Ego Malice wore a very skimpy black leather costume, a spiked collar, opera gloves with spiky bracelets, thigh-high high-heeled boots, a spiked gimp mask, and a cape.
    • Combining the two, in an Alternate Universe Sue Storm became Madame Hydra (Empress Hydra, to be exact). She rocked a green thigh-cut evening dress, a green choker, opera gloves, high-heeled boots, and a whip.
  • Egocentric Team Naming: Their team has the boastful name of Fantastic Four.
  • Elemental Baggage:
    • For Johnny's power source in creating flame. Occasionally justified by him feeling tired or very hungry after using extremely hot flames. And then there's the part about his body and his powers both needing oxygen to function. There have been times when he's been trapped in airtight spaces, causing him to pass out when his flame powers used up all the oxygen.
    • The Thing's rocky exterior makes him incredibly heavy, to the point where he has to use an elevator by himself to avoid overcoming the max lift weight and everything meant to accommodate him has to be built very large and reinforced.
  • Elite Four: The eponymous group are four humans that made a daring venture into space, where exposure to cosmic radiation gave them superpowers. Reed Richards, "Mister Fantastic," is the team leader and also The Smart Guy; Ben Grimm, "The Thing," is The Big Guy; Johnny Storm, "The Human Torch," is the Lovable Rogue / wildcard of the group; and Susan Richards, "The Invisible Woman," used to be a frequent Damsel in Distress, until John Byrne's run on the series promoted her to The Lancer.
  • Enemy Mine: Happens a lot with major antagonists for Reed such as with Doctor Doom and Galactus. Notable when Reed's daughter Valeria brokered a deal with Doom. Doom will work with the Future Foundation to bring down a group of amoral alternate Reed Richards. In exchange they would heal his super-intelligence crippling brain damage. Doom upon being restored gathers a summit of the FF's most intelligent enemies to work on strategies to kill the Reeds. At the Foundation's headquarters.
  • Evil Counterpart: Quite a few -
    • The Frightful Four, with varying line-ups, but almost always including the Wizard as Reed's particular counterpart. Most recent line-ups have also included Hydro-Man as a counterpart to Johnny.
    • Kl'rt the Super-Skrull has the powers of all four members of the Fantastic Four. Originally purely a villain but has often found himself in Enemy Mine situations with assorted Marvel characters.
    • The U-Foes have a similar origin, line-up and powers, but are criminals. They have also never fought the Fantastic Four, being primarily Hulk villains. They are probably best known as the guys Volstagg fought at the start of Siege.
  • Faux Action Girl: The Invisible Girl, originally; though she slowly got better over time, it wasn't until the John Byrne run in the 1980s that she toughened up into a real Action Girl.
  • Female Fighter, Male Handler: In an out-of-continuity comic, Invisible Woman briefly joined S.H.I.E.L.D., due to feeling underappreciated in her own team. She turned out to be quite a badass superspy, what with her invisibility powers and force fields and whatnot. Her handler was Nick Fury himself.
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition: The Sub-Mariner's rivalry with the first Human Torch carries over into his characterization in this series, where he's a proud, stoic monarch who serves as a frequent dramatic foil to the compassionate, fun-loving daredevil Johnny Storm.
  • Flaming Emblem: Johnny often creates fire in the shape of the "4" logo, usually as a flare for the rest of the team to come to his aid. Sometimes, he does it on covers and other promotional material as well.
  • Flying Firepower:
    • Johnny Storm has flight and Playing with Fire, with a side order of Wreathed in Flames.
    • The android Dragon Man can fly and breathe fire.
    • Nova, Johnny girlfriend. Though Richie does qualify for this trope as well) also had this power set, before becoming a Herald of Galactus.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Susan is the responsible to Johnny's foolish.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: The Fantastic Four Roast from February 1982 was a one-shot all-humor issue where virtually the entire Marvel universe shows up at a fete for the FF to give some good-natured ribbing to them. It was written and laid out by Fred Hembeck with finishes and inks by many of the staff. It has the splash page title "When Titans Chuckle!"
  • Frequently-Broken Unbreakable Vow: The Watcher, who does some acting from time to time.
  • Friendly Enemy:
    • Johnny and Spider-Man have a friendly rivalry with each other; so do Ben and Wolverine. Encounters of the two duos are common in crossovers.
    • To say nothing of the rivalry between The Thing and The Hulk, which is born of equal parts hatred, admiration, and respect. Whenever they meet they refer to each other almost exclusively as "Grimm" and "Banner."
  • Game of Nerds: Reed Richards makes the occasional baseball analogy. Heck, Ben had a baseball-nerd moment as well: he once realized he was in a slightly-different parallel universe when he read a newspaper and found that the local sports trivia didn't match the stats he'd carried around in his head.
  • Genius Bruiser/Gentle Giant: The ever-lovin', blue-eyed Thing, Ben Grimm, although his smarts are usually overshadowed by super-genius Reed. Ben lampshades this as he assembles a cosmic ray device, musing that he's watched Reed long enough to play Mad Scientist himself. There is also the fact that Grimm was a highly qualified test pilot before he became The Thing; no mean feat brain-wise.
    • The idea of The Thing being simultaneously physically strong, ugly, and smart was seen as revolutionary in comics.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Good smoking. Reed and Ben were both smokers for decades in the comics, Reed smoking a dignified pipe, Ben smoking thick cigars. They were both clear heroes and their smoking reflected that (Reed's made him look wise and paternal, Ben's made him look good-natured and friendly). They both were forced to quit when Marvel issued a blanket ban on smoking in its comics.
  • Goo-Goo-Godlike:
    • Franklin Richards, who at the age of... uh... we'll get back to you on that is already capable of throwing down with Celestials, or even creating miniature universes.
    • Also, Infant Terrible, a Silver Age alien antagonist.
  • Group-Identifying Feature: The team is easily identifiable by their bright blue uniforms and the "4" insignia on their chests.
  • Guile Hero:
    • Invisible Woman should be portrayed as this. She shamed Ben Grimm into piloting the ship during the first issue. She was also told to distract many of the Silver Age male supervillains. After Psycho Man temporarily turned her into Malice she used her knowledge of Reed and Psycho Man's personalities to track him down and take revenge on him. When Dr. Doom stole the power cosmic from the Silver Surfer, she tricked him into flying into outer space when he couldn't. During the Civil War, she spied on Reed. As any real chessmaster/manipulative bastard/guile hero would tell you, the greatest achievements in theses tropes is to make certain that your opponents don't realize you are a social expert.
    • Valeria Richards is this too, especially when written by Jonathan Hickman. She seems to have inherited her dad's smarts - and her mom's wits.
  • Happily Married: Reed and Sue, most of the time.
  • A Hero to His Hometown: Doctor Doom, Gladiator and Mole Man all have good reasons to be hated by the outside world, yet are loved by their citizens
  • Heroic Spirit: Thing saves the world once just from showing how he wouldn't give up.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Johnny generally acts like a teenager on hormonal overdrive, but he's generally portrayed as a skilled mechanic at the very least, and a competent planner at his best.
    • Ben is a very intelligent ex-fighter pilot. On his worst days, he's needy, pessimistic, and pushy; on his best, he is braver than Captain America.
    • Sue is the most powerful member of her team and on her best day the Team Mom, but she's got self-esteem issues and doubts Reed's devotion to her and to the family.
    • Reed's brilliant, he's rich, he's famous, he's got a great family and the name of every other superhero on his rolodex, and he's even easy on the eyes, but every so often he admits his deep guilt over causing the accident that made the Fantastic Four in the first place - even guilt over what happened to Victor Von Doom, even though he didn't have a damn thing to do with it.
  • Honorary Uncle:
    • Ben Grimm, to Franklin and Val. Much more than honorary as Ben is also Franklin's godfather and the closest thing Reed has to family (before Sue and Johnny came into his life). And Ben always refers to Franklin and Valeria as "nephew" and "niece"; it's likely all four have forgotten they're not related by blood.
    • Valeria also tends to address Doctor Doom as "Uncle Doom", which he appears to actually like.
    • Spider-Man sometimes takes this role for Franklin. Notably when he consoled Franklin after Johnny Storm's death. In a Video Will he left behind, one of Johnny's reasons for asking Spider-Man to take his place in the team line-up was because he knew Franklin would be thrilled.
  • I Gave My Word: Doom.
  • Kirby Dots: Made their first appearance in the comic.
    • Ben and Johnny tend to ham it up when they're bickering, particularly Johnny's fire-based pranks, Ben's threats that he hardly ever follows through with, and his endless fire-based insults (match-head, flame-brain, etc.)
  • Last-Minute Baby Naming: Franklin went nameless for a while after being born, until he was named after the deceased Franklin Storm.
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • The Thing seems to be on a permanent last-name basis with Bruce Banner (possibly having to do with his main rival being Bruce's alter-ego, and when he gets sufficiently pissed at Reed he'll start referring to him exclusively as "Richards".
    • See also Doom, whose cries of "RICHARRDSSSSSSSSSSSS!" are almost as well-known as his talking about himself in the third person.
  • Layman's Terms: Ben usually dumbs down the complex explanations Reed Richards comes up with for the people around him. When Reed starts speaking too Star-Trek even for him, it's also Ben who normally snaps at him to "Speak English, Stretcho!"
  • Legacy Character: The Human Torch is loosely based on the Golden Age Human Torch.
  • Legend Fades to Myth: In one arc, they come across a town suffering from Decade Inside Second Outside; inside the town the Fantastic Four are considered legendary heroes (even more so than in Earth-616 Real Life) and the inhabitants are quite upset when they find out about what they're really like.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Thing is just as agile and well-trained in martial arts as he was before his transformation, lots of people forget that. Woe on them.
    • To quote Ben himself from an issue of Marvel Knights 4:
      Here's a little-known fact people sometimes forget - for someone my size, I can move a lot faster than I should be able to.
  • Lower Half Reveal: One issue has The Trapster (also known as Paste Pot Pete) gain access to the Baxter Building through the roof. After blundering his way around the upper floors, not doing much damage, he encounters a receptionist at her desk and attempts to take her hostage. To Pete's great surprise, the receptionist judo throws him overhead and onto the floor. Pete's last thought before losing consciousness is that he was beaten by a dumb broad. An overhead view reveals the "broad" only appears human from the waist up; from there down, she's entirely mechanized and physically attached to the workstation. Pete was beaten by a robot, part of Reed's security system.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: The Puppet Master (an evil villain) and Alicia Masters have met this trope for years.
  • Mama Bear: Sue to the rest of the team, especially to Franklin and Valeria.
  • Marrying the Mark: In a plot to destroy the Fantastic Four, the Skrulls sent Lyja to impersonate Alicia Masters. She got close to Johnny Storm and ended up falling in love with him for real before marrying him. This event has since become a Running Gag in the Fantastic Four books ("remember that time Johnny married a Skrull?")
  • Master of Disguise: Mr. Fantastic has infrequently used his stretching powers to assume a different face.
  • May–December Romance: Downplayed. Sue met Reed when he was 19 and she was 12, getting a crush on him at first sight. Thankfully, they got together much later in life.
  • Meta Fiction: The Fantastic Four: True Story miniseries involves the four exploring the Ideaverse after everyone becomes inexplicably adverse to fiction. The ideaverse is a metaphysical plane where all fictional characters reside, where inhabitants are shaped by the perceptions of readers and readers are shaped by them once there. The problem turned out to be an author recalling Nightmare enough to recount him as a novel. Thus rendered as a fictional character, he becomes like an invasive species and creates an army of monsters pushing further into older stories corrupting the whole thing inside out. The four are perceived by Dante Alighieri as American comic book superheroes to their surprise.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Dr. Doom, to Reed, as explained above.
  • Monster Modesty: Even though the Thing has been horrified by his monstrous appearance, he often runs around in blue short-pants and nothing else.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Doom never actually finished his doctorate, but he sounds scarier with a "Doctor" in front of his name. Reed Richards, who finished several doctorates, chooses to go by Mr. Fantastic.
  • Most Common Superpower: For a time during the mid-90s, the Invisible Woman wore a skimpy costume with a cut-out "4" on her cleavage. This was before writers and editors realized that they didn't have to dress Sue up in a slinky costume to make her sexy — she was already a MILF.
  • Mr. Exposition: In their early appearances the Inhumans come across as an entire race of these. This is partly because they have to speak for their mute by choice leader Black Bolt, and partly because they would appear Once per Episode as part of a story arc and have to recap everything for casual readers.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: A recurring joke about the characters is that they'll go into space or another universe for picnics, or for coffee.
  • Mundane Utility: Given the domestic feel of their comics, this also happens a lot - most obviously, Reed using his stretching powers to use multiple workstations at once.
  • My Greatest Failure: Reed feels responsible for what happened to the others, particularly Ben.
  • Mysterious Parent: Nathaniel Richards has had a very interesting life. Helping to found S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't even the least of the things he's done (which includes no small amount of time-travel).
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Ben Grimm, Victor Von Doom.
  • "Near and Dear" Baby Naming: Franklin Benjamin Richards (who is Reed and Sue's child) is this crossed over with Dead Guy Junior; he's partially named after Sue's dead mother, and partially from Reed and Sue's living teammate Ben Grimm.
  • Negatives as a Positive: Benjamin Grimm, aka The Thing, is a well known Determinator. He'll also be the first to tell his foes he's simply too ugly and stupid to know when to quit.
  • The Nicknamer:
    • Ben. Some of his nicknames include "Stretcho" for Reed, "Bic-head" and "Matchstick" for Johnny, "Suzie-Q" for Susan, "Jade-Jaws" for Hulk, etc.
    • Reed consistently refers to Ben as "Old Friend".
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Reed's skin is virtually impervious to laceration or punctures unless he willfully relaxes his reflexive control over small areas of his body. In that case, scalpels and ordinary needles can penetrate his skin.
    • Due to the great malleability and elasticity of his molecular structure, Reed is able to absorb the impact of any type of man-made ballistic projectile by deforming his body along the path of the projectile's trajectory at the point of initial impact. He can also contain explosions by enveloping them and allowing their force to expand him.
  • Nominal Hero: Though they obviously got better, they got off to an extremely rocky start. The first issue starts with Sue, Johnny and Ben causing mass destruction just by making their way across town in answer to Reed's distress signal, with Johnny actually getting in a dog fight with the air force along the way. Ben and Johnny also couldn't seem to go five minutes without trying to beat each other senseless in the early years, while Sue was famously prone to getting captured. As for Reed, he managed to lose all the team's money on the stock market, and of course the entire story kicked off with him pushing through with a space mission absolutely everyone advised him against and it ending in disaster. Suffice to say, they all had a lot of growing up to do.
  • Noodle Incident: In the 2018 relaunch, it's idly revealed that Iceman became a member of the Fantastic Four. Though the editor's note says that it's a story for another time, all that's known about it is that it was a spur of the moment thing and that Johnny considers it "non-canon".
  • The Notable Numeral: The eponymous heroes and their enemies The Frightful Four, headed by the Wizard.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Reed is an expert in several fields, including biochemistry, human and alien biology, chemistry, communications, computers, electronics, energy generation, electrical, mechanical and aerospace engineering, extra-dimensional travel, holography, mutations, all levels of physics, robotics, space travel, spectral analysis, synthetic polymers, time travel, transportation. And several more.
  • One Extra Member: Not normally but for short periods of time or in alternate universes. This is occasionally lampshaded, such as in the Fantastic Five stories of Marvel Comics 2 which at one point had the team with six official members and a good number of their children (And Ben's ex) as acting members.
  • The One Who Made It Out: Ben Grimm is a former member of the Yancy Street Gang, and they resent him for forgetting his roots.
  • Oppressive Immigration Enforcement: Traditionally, the border guards of Latveria are portrayed as arrogant and suspicious of outsiders. The comic book tie-in to the computer game "Doctor Doom's Revenge!" also suggests they aren't above a bit of illegal seizure, as a group of guards is shown confiscating a man's collection of CDs with the excuse that the CDs are "decadent" despite it being clear they're simply taking the CDs because they want them. Alas, they're so pleased with their haul they fail to notice the man was actually helping Spider-Man and Captain America sneak into Latveria.
  • Pals with Jesus: All four are friends with Uatu The Watcher, one of the most powerful beings of this universe. Even better: Galactus, a freakin' embodiment of a cosmic force, has said that the Fantastic Four are the only beings in the Universe that he can call his friends. In fact, in one issue we see an older version of Franklin promise Galactus that he'd be with him at the end of the universe. They share a moment floating above the Earth.
  • Personality Powers:
    • Justified Trope via Retcon when it's revealed that their powers were, in fact, based on their personalities, as Reed gave them their powers during a Timey-Wimey Ball.
    • Especially noticeable with the hot-headed Human Torch and the solid and stubborn Thing.
    • Also originally Sue was a shy, almost invisible to people woman and Reed had an elastic mind.
    • In "What if the Fantastic Four had different super powers?" (What If? v1 #6), Johnny became a robot due to his being a skilled mechanic, Ben became a Winged Humanoid with dragon-like wings for his passion about flying (on jets), Sue had elastic powers being a very conciliatory woman and Reed became a bodiless brain because of his peerless intelligence.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Ben and Sue.
  • The Power of Family: The Fantastic Four, designated as Marvel's First Family. They bicker, squabble and tease each other (mainly between the Thing and the Human Torch) but at the end of the day their bond as a superhero team/family unit allows them to overcome any bad guy they face.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Reed Richards can stretch any part of his body — and yes, it has come up in subtext that this is why he and Sue are so Happily Married.
  • Power Trio: Reed, Ben and Sue. Later, during John Byrne's run, also Ben, Johnny and Alicia (carried over into the MC-2 universe with Ben, Johnny and Lyja).
  • President Evil: Doctor Doom, who seized control of the Ruritania-esque Eastern European nation of Latveria.
  • Promotion to Parent: After Susan and Johnny's father, Franklin Storm, turned to gambling and ended up being sent to prison for manslaughter, Sue was responsible for raising Johnny. To the point where Johnny has stated that he doesn't even remember his mother, and believes his father to be dead.
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real/Pro Wrestling Episode: The Thing, as well as several other super strong characters are a part of a superhuman wrestling federation called Unlimited Class Championship Wrestling.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Often, when Sue Storm is holding a forcefield against a particularly strong opponent.
  • Retool:
    • The title was relaunched as "FF" following Johnny's death, with the team retiring the Fantastic Four name and uniforms out of respect, renaming themselves the Future Foundation and donning black and white uniforms, having Spider-Man join, the addition of Reed's time traveling deadbeat dad and Doctor Doom coming along for the ride thanks to a deal Valeria made with him.
    • And then with the return of Johnny about a year later, "Fantastic Four" was relaunched and the team began using the name with redesigned FF uniforms; whilst the "FF" series began focusing on Franklin, Val & the rest of the kids at the Baxter Building.
    • With Marvel NOW!, in "Fantastic Four" the Richards family took an intergalactic vacation for a year, whilst in "FF" Scott Lang, She-Hulk, Medusa and Johnny Storm's most recent girlfriend, Darla Deering, were recruited to serve as the heads of the Future Foundation & the Fantastic Four in the absence of the Richards family.
  • Revealing Cover Up: After the team returns home from a lengthy adventure, Reed takes one look around and deduces that Franklin and Valeria had five parties while they were away. When an incredulous Sue points out that the entire building is absolutely spotless, Reed answers that it's precisely because the building has been cleaned down to the molecular level repeatedly that he knows they were up to something — nobody, let alone children would ever be that thorough unless they were trying to hide something.
  • Romantic False Lead: Namor, Depending on the Writer.
  • Sacrificial Planet:
    • The planet-eating Galactus came to Earth a few times to devour it after spending centuries feeding on other planets without much trouble.
    • Galactus's opposite number Abraxas was introduced as having destroyed a number of parallel Earths before heading to the "main" one.
  • Science Hero's Babe Assistant: Sue was basically this for Dr. Reed Richards. While not the only non-scientist on the team, she existed primarily to need rescuing and be ignored by Reed in favor of whatever experiment he was obsessed with at that moment. This was before taking so many levels in badass she's now one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Reed might likely be the Trope Codifier.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Sue Storm's relationship with Reed Richards.
  • Sixth Ranger: The Fantastic Four has frequently throughout the years have had other heroes fill-in whenever one of the core members were temporarily Put on a Bus. In a few notable instances:
    • Black Panther and Storm took over Reed and Sue's spots on the team for a brief spell post-Civil War, and this was long after T'Challa formerly bankrolled some of the Four's operations in the past
    • She-Hulk is one of the most recurring supporting allies the FF has had, first joining to replace a depowered Thing, and later coming on as additional muscle.
    • Spider-Man's close relationship with the Fantastic Four has had him serve as this multiple times well before being inducted into the group proper as the Future Foundation. He would later lead a modified incarnation of the team (simply referred to as the "New Fantastic Four") comprised of himself, the Hulk, Wolverine and Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch)*, which in turn saw some of their successors and counterparts (like X-23, Amadeus Cho, Gwen Stacy and Robbie Reyes) form their own variants for certain occasions.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Johnny's love for cars goes beyond the superficial aspect of things, and he's actually a competent mechanic who was able to overhaul a car's transmission as a teenager. He has also helped Reed build countless of vehicles, including the Fantasti-car.
  • Snooty Haute Cuisine: When Doctor Doom is shown dining, it is always an elegant meal with multiple dishes and goblets of wine, served on expense cutlery with his servants hovering in the background. If he's invited his enemies to dinner, expect it to get taken up to eleven.
  • Spike Shooter: Thorn, a member of the Salem Seven, is able to do this, with the added benefit that his spines are Made of Explodium.
  • Status Quo Is God:
    • The Thing gets turned into a human about once every few years, but always gets turned back, usually because he needs to help someone out. It's something of a running gag. Sometimes when it happens he actively tries to regain his powers as he feels useless and naked without them.
      • In one story arc, Reed tried to remove Ben's mutation and add it to his own elasticity, but Ben refused to let him. "You're you an' I'm me, an' that's the cosmic plan."
    • Johnny dying a year before the FF's 50th anniversary. Yeaaaah, that'll stick. Then becomes a subversion when instead of simply coming back to life he ends up in the Negative Zone leading a Five-Man Band to overthrow Annihilus and gains control over the Annihilation Wave. Took a Level in Badass indeed.
    • Any time one or more of the core four members leave the team, they will come back eventually.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Franklin is a major case of having this, which is why he can never be allowed to permanently grow up in-story. He also keeps having his powers nerfed after doing anything sufficiently cool. This is because his full power is well beyond most characters who are considered gods; perhaps the only Earthling who compares to him is Scarlet Witch (who also has her powers reined in by something or other most of the time.)
  • Stranded Invader:
    • After the FF defeated a group of Skrulls, Reed gave them the option of returning to their homeworld in defeat, which would be a guaranteed death for failure, or take the form of terrestrial animals and have their memories erased so they'd forget being Skrulls. They were transformed into cows. This had unintended consequences later, as the Skrull-cows intermingled with other cows, creating hybrids, and were also put in the milking line and some sent straight to the slaughterhouse, where they entered the national food supply.
    • The Silver Surfer came to Earth as a herald of his master Galactus, who intended to devour the planet. After Sue Storm convinces him to change sides, he turns against Galactus, who punishes the Surfer by making him unable to leave Earth. It took several years before this situaltion changed.
  • Stripperiffic: Unusual for a comic series in that the team's main female member only rarely falls under this trope, preferring a modest blue bodysuit identical to the ones Reed and Johnny wear, but it does happen - like when she wore this costume for a few years in the 1990s. The change was widely panned by fans and removed.
  • Super Family Team: One of the first and longest lasting in comics.
  • Super Hero: The earliest Marvel ones.
  • Superpower Lottery: Franklin Richards, the omnipotent toddler.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: She-Hulk was a member of the team for a while when the Thing went solo. Having the same powers let her fill the role effectively. Earlier, Luke Cage had filled in for Ben for a few issues during a period when Ben was depowered.
  • Team Mom: Sue.
  • Teen Genius: Reed already had doctorates when he was twenty. Valeria, his and Sue's daughter, is currently building rooms that are Bigger on the Inside. At the age of four.
    • What do you expect from the daughter of Doom and Reed (long story).
  • Tulpa: An alternative and fantastical origin story for Doctor Doom had Mr. Fantastic create him as one of these.
  • Two-Timing with the Bestie: Alicia Masters, a blind sculptress, had been in love with Ben Grimm aka The Thing for years, with her love often a source of strength for Ben in reminding him that there was at least one person outside of the FF who saw the human inside the monstrous exterior. However, the 80s had Johnny Storm aka Human Torch and Alicia grow closer, with them marrying in the FF's 300th issue. Johnny and Alicia getting together was naturally the source of some tension between Ben and Johnny, and proved so unpopular with the fanbase that roughly 50 issues later it was revealed the "Alicia" Johnny had married was the Skrull spy Lyja while the real Alicia was rescued and picked up her romance with Ben.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Susan, once deemed to have a next to useless power of becoming invisible, to nowadays where she is one of the most powerful superheroes in all of the Marvel Universe, along with the forceful personality guaranteed to mess up even Doctor Doom's day. Oh, and she's got kids. There's a reason why she's the page image for this trope.
  • True Companions: Spider-Man is one of the most trusted allies and friends of the Four. After the Torch's supposed death, Spidey temporarily became a member of the Future Foundation.
  • Unique Moment Ruined: This is how Doctor Doom chooses to see the accident that scarred his face when he and Reed were at college together—his basic argument is that Reed sabotaged an experiment of Victor's that would have otherwise been a great success. Of course, he conveniently chooses to forget that the whole thing happened because Reed saw a mistake in Victor's calculations and adjusted it, only for the prideful Victor to rebuff him and change it back, leading to the face-scarring explosion.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Johnny and Ben, and Johnny and Spidey whenever they team up.
  • The Von Trope Family: Doctor Doom's real name is Victor Von Doom. Reed and Sue's daughter Valeria could also fit here, since in one alternate future she was Doctor Doom's daughter, but Sue was still her mom.
  • Weirdness Magnet: The Four tend to meet or attract various aliens, interdimensional beings... whether intentional, or by accident.
  • What Have I Become?: Ben Grimm had this come up a lot in the early years, but by this point now he's pretty much over it, although he has his good days and his bad days. The "bad days" that happen to him are usually caused by someone (most of the time a kid or kids) who're not used to seeing him up close get freaked out. Sometimes accompanied with a scream like "Mommy! It's a monster!" or some variation thereof, and he gets reminded of his hideous appearance. The real reason for this, however, is because True Art Is Angsty and writers sometimes want to do wangsty stories centered around him. For long-term fans who've followed FF stories through the years, it's getting a bit old.
  • What If?: Marvel's What If? comic line does have stories of these kinds about the Fantastic Four, but most interesting is What If? Vol. 2 #11, which told four stories about the team all having the same power. These stories are designated in the Marvel Encyclopedia Vol. 6 as Earth-9031 (all flaming), Earth-9032 (all stretchy), Earth-9033 (all monsters), and Earth-9034 (all with invisibility powers).
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Susan used to have only invisibility in the early stories until Lee and Kirby realized that it was next to useless compared to the male members' powers. As a result, they gave Susan her force field powers, but it was only later under John Byrne's period that she learned to really make it a kick ass power set, using it with a new aggressiveness in battle. Since then, different writers have her being considered not only the most powerful member of the team, but one of the most powerful heroes, period. To give an example, she's used those forcefields to knock out the Hulk. It's further implied that if Sue didn't adhere to the rule of heroes not killing their enemies she could easily defeat most of her opponents by simply generating force field bubbles in their bodies and/or vital organs and making said force fields expand.
    • In Enemy Of The State, Wolverine admits she's the only one of the four that scares him. Sue actually demonstrates how dirty she can fight if she wants to, by turning his retinas invisible, thus blinding him, then wrapping force fields around his lungs and threatening to crush them. That Wolvie was under HYDRA's mind-control at the time didn't stop her from subverting the "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight to hell and back, and she even hammers this in with something along the lines of: "I don't care who's controlling you, you come into my home, threaten my children, did you think I'd go easy on you?"
  • When I Was Your Age...: Regularly muttered by The Thing.
  • Who You Gonna Call?: When Earth faces world ending threats, the Four is usually the first resource the authorities call upon to stop them.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: The overall ethos of the Fantastic Four is that the universe(s), the multi-verse(s) and the many other crazy places visited by the Four was awesome, or at least it is awesome to them. The famous moment when Reed Richards enters the Negative Zone cements this:
    Reed Richards: I've done it! I'm drifting into a world of limitless dimensions! It's the Crossroads of Infinity — The junction to everywhere!
  • Worthy Opponents: Ben Grimm and the Hulk to each other. Banner himself has said that if Hulk ever really cut loose, Ben would probably be the only hero on Earth with even a chance of slowing "ol' Jade-Jaws" down.
  • World's Smartest Man: Reed Richards is usually recognized as the smartest man in the Marvel Universe. While this has shuffled a little over the years, Reed is undoubtebly within the top five smartest characters in Marvel as a whole.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Galactus. He even provides the image for this trope's page.

Alternative Title(s): The Fantastic Four