A Marvel Comics cosmic Super Team, has had two prominent incarnations as listed below starting with the original. If you're looking for the Green Lantern supporting characters, those are the Guardians of the Universe.
See here for character sheets.
The Classic Guardians
- "Earth shall overcome!"
The Guardians of the Galaxy first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (January, 1969), created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan. They are a science fiction comic series set in the future, the 31st Century. An alien race known as the Badoon have conquered Earth in the year 3007 A.D., leading Vance Astrovik, a telekinetic astronaut from the 20th Century (preserved by 1,000 years in suspended animation) to gather a team of heroes, including the alien bowman Yondu, Jupiter-born astronaut Charlie-27, and Pluto-born scientist Martinex, to free Earth.
The team then disappeared for a few years, until in 1974 they reappeared in Marvel Two-in-One, followed by a storyline in The Defenders designed to see if readers were interested in seeing more of the cosmic quartet. After this, they became the headliners of Marvel Presents from its third issue onward. These stories were all written by Steve Gerber, until behind the scenes reasons meant he had to drop out mid-story. In his stead was Roger Stern, in some of his earliest work for Marvel.
And then, after two issues, Marvel Presents was cancelled with issue twelve. The Guardians proceeded to make guest appearances here and there, with their most notable storyline being a team-up with The Avengers during The Korvac Saga.
The characters vanished into limbo during the 1980s, but were revived and given their own book in 1990. Originally written and drawn by Jim Valentino (with only one fill-in artist, Mark Texiera, for a single issue), Valentino revived the book with continuity nods to existing Marvel characters: these included a new Phoenix, Wolverine's evil great-great-great-granddaughter Rancor and her army of evil mutants, a revived Church of the Universal Truth, "The Punisher" militia, Doctor Doom (whose brain was implanted into Wolverine's body), and Mephisto's daughter among other things. The series was popular, but ultimately around issue #28, Jim Valentino jumped ship to go found Image Comics after the other founders made a surprise offer to let Valentino come with them.
The book was then turned over to Michael Gallagher, who resolved Valentino's various storylines before introducing a new opponent derived from elements of another 1970s sci-fi book (Killraven) into the franchise, causing the Guardians to fight the last Martian, Ripjak. The series lasted for 62 issues (June, 1990-July, 1995). It also had its own spin-off mini-series: Galactic Guardians, which featured a lot of future versions of Marvel characters, including: Phoenix IX, the Spirit of Vengeance, Mainframe (The Vision) and Hollywood (Wonder Man).
They hadn't seen much use for a long time, before making the occasional appearances in the present day team's series and eventually a revival of the original team starred in a new series called Guardians 3000 launched in Fall of 2014. It only lasted about eight issues, before being cancelled at the start of Secret Wars. After that, some members of the team reappeared in Guardians of Infinity alongside their modern-day counterparts. While the movies focused on the modern-day version of the Guardians, Yondu appeared as Peter Quill's father figure, as a reference to being one of the team's predecessors. In Vol. 2, it's revealed that Yondu is a disgraced member of a group based on the original Guardians (though in the movies they never called themselves as such). At the end of the film this team decides to reunite.
The Modern Guardians
- "Feels like someone turned the symbolic homage up to eleven."
Years after the original comic ended, a new version, set in the mainstream 616 universe and in the present time, was created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning out of the main characters from their two Annihilation miniseries events. In it, a few of the protagonists who helped solve the troubles of those series decide that the universe can't take another, and so organize a team to proactively go out and lay the beatdown on whatever troubles threaten to destroy everything.
The new version first appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 #1 (July, 2008). Their book lasted for 25 issues (July, 2008-June, 2010), followed by The Thanos Imperative, which closed out the series. This was later succeeded by a vol. 3 in early 2013 as part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch, with Brian Michael Bendis writing and Steven McNiven on art.
The modern version of Guardians of the Galaxy (as well as the members of the group which consists of Peter Quill/Star Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Adam Warlock, and the Phyla-Vell version of Quasar) have made their first appearance out of the comics in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes in the episode "Michael Korvac" where they first showed up trying to capture a Kree Abductee named Michael Korvac for his crimes against the galaxy on Earth which led to their brief confrontation with the Avengers. After the Guardians introduced themselves and their reason of capturing Korvac, the Avengers decided to help them apprehend the mad-crazed cosmic being. Despite their best efforts, they were easily defeated by Michael until Corrina was able to help Korvac come to his senses which led to the latter's self-exile in the unknown reaches of cold space. Since Korvac's gone, Iron Man wanted the Guardians to tell them everything what other threats they encountered and known in the galaxy but Star-Lord prefers not to tell them, saying: "There are things out there in the universe you're better off not knowing about". Unfortunately, due to the cancellation of the series, the episode had never received a resolution.
A live-action Guardians of the Galaxy movie, set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was released in August 2014; with one sequel (Vol. 2) released in May 2017 and another (Vol. 3) released in May 2023. The Guardians have also made the rounds in several of Marvel's mid-2010s animated shows, including The Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes (as said above), Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Avengers Assemble; largely using the movie team for cross-promotion (except for the Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode, which predated the final movie cast and used a different selection of modern team members). The Guardians later received an animated series of their own in 2015.
Thanks in large part to the movie's promotion and eventual success, this incarnation has launched several spinoff comics; with solo titles for all five members of the movie team; the aforementioned revival of the original team as Guardians 3000; and Guardians Team-Up, which pairs the team with various Earth-bound Marvel characters. The Guardians are also part of the 2015 joint Bat Family Crossover The Black Vortex with the X-Men.
After Secret Wars, the Guardians title returned with an updated roster that swapped out Star-Lord and Gamora for Kitty Pryde (Peter's fiancee at the time), The Thing, and Agent Venom, but the former two eventually returned to the team. In 2017, the title was relaunched as All-New Guardians of the Galaxy, though it was retitled back to Guardians of The Galaxy midway through its run, and then essentially turned into Infinity Countdown ahead of the main Infinity Wars event in 2018.
After Infinity Wars (2018), the main Guardians title relaunched by Donny Cates with an all-new lineup comprised of Star-Lord, Groot, Moondragon, Phyla-Vell (the latter two are alternate universe versions of the still-deceased 616 members) and newcomers Beta Ray Bill and Lockjaw. This new team is the most substantial update to the Guardians’ personnel since the 2013 relaunch ahead of their 2014 movie. Tropes specific to this series can be found in Guardians of the Galaxy (2019). Then, at the end of the year, they got relaunched again by Al Ewing. Tropes for that series can be found here.
Following the conclusion of the Ewing era in September 2021, the Guardians' book went on hiatus for over a year and half — at least until the lead-up to the premiere of the third MCU film in Spring 2023. Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing will be the creative custodians of the upcoming relaunch.
See the franchise page for more details on the adaptations
Guardians of The Tropes:
- Aliens Are Bastards: Aliens killed Earth's heroes and took over the galaxy for a time as the backstory for the series. Which alien race is responsible depends on the retcon.
- All for Nothing: Vance Astrovik volunteers to be sent on a mission to Centauri IV, which is a thousand year-long journey. He has to be sealed inside a special suit to prevent him dying of old age on the way there, and cryogenically frozen, with the occasional while spent making sure the ship's still on course. He Goes Mad From The Isolation, but his Mutant powers kick in as a result. ... and when he finally gets there, it turns out mankind figured out how to go faster than light a few centuries after he left, making his entire mission superfluous. And then, a few months after he's unfrozen, the Badoon appear and try to wipe out mankind, and do a damn thorough job of it, making Vance one of the last humans alive.
- All Your Powers Combined: They once fought Composite, an Inhuman selectively bred by Loki to have all the powers of the classic Inhuman royal family (Black Bolt, Medusa, Gorgon, Triton, and Karnak). He combined their looks as well◊, making him a green-skinned Fish Person with orange hair, giant silver epaulets, hooves, and a loincloth — a true Fashion-Victim Villain.
- Alternate History: When they go back in time to team up with The Avengers, they change Major Victory's history, making their future an alternate timeline. The Earth-616 version of Vance Astrovik goes on to become Justice of the New Warriors. Incidentally, this makes him the only person to be an Avenger twice as two separate people rather than just having one person with multiple identities. They've even technically met in JLA vs. Avengers, although we don't see them talking to each other. And for some reason, they have slightly different powers and even different hair colours.
- Anime Hair: Rancor, being Wolverine's descendant, has inherited his hairstyle, albeit taken up to eleven.
- Artificial Limbs: Yondu, after Interface from Force uses his power to transmute matter to turn Yondu's hand to gas. Yondu gets a replacement, and still managed to remain an archer despite missing a hand.
- Ascended Extra: The whole freaking team. From a one-off story in Marvel Super-Heroes, they didn't reappear for several years after, when Steve Gerber took a liking to them and gave them several appearances in Defenders.
- As You Know: In Super-Heroes #16, Drang tells Vance Astro he's the only human left on Earth not fitted with a "psyche-disk". He then proceeds to force Vance to recount his origin, even though Drang already knows who he is.
- Ax-Crazy: Yondu tends to go ax crazy at the drop of a hat. This concept has been quietly dropped in his modern depictions, though he's still pretty ruthless.
- Bad Future: By and large averted, but the late 20th and 21st century sucked, what with economic and environmental devastation, a world war that that ended with Canada being wiped off the map, the Martian invasion killing off most of Earth's heroes, and the Badoon invasion of the 31st century dramatically reducing mankind's numbers and turning Earth into a crapsack world.
- Beast Man: The first issue of the 90s series has the team saving a planet of dog-people from the Stark.
- Beehive Hairdo: Mindscan appears to have one. It's actually a wig to cover her oversized, lumpy skull.
- Big Bad: Usually the Badoon, but if not them then it's Michael Korvac.
- Big Damn Heroes: The Ancient One and Kruugarr save the Guardians from Korvac in this fashion.
- Body Surf: Korvac manages to cheat his first death by doing this, throughout multiple eras of history. It takes four tries for the Guardians to finally catch him.
- But Now I Must Go: Starhawk, immediately after being separated from Aleta, takes off. In the middle of a fight with the Stark. It's so he can get Fire-Lord's attention, but he doesn't bother explaining these things ahead of time.
- Casual Time Travel: The team can hop back and forth between the 30th and 20th century easy.
- Cat Girl: Talon is a Cat Boy. He's also an inhuman, a sorcerer, and a Keet.
- Catchphrase: "Earth shall overcome!"
- Clingy Costume: As an astronaut, in order to survive a thousand-year experimental sublight journey to Alpha Centauri, Vance Astro was put inside a copper-lined uniform for the loooooong journey. If it is ever pierced in any way, he will suddenly age a thousand years.
- Colonized Solar System: The series is set in a distant future where humanity had colonized every world in the solar system (except Mars. Too many bad memories), resulting in some pretty odd evolutionary offshoots of the species. In the team we had a crystalline man from Pluto, a Heavyworlder from Jupiter, and a flaming girl from Mercury.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: When the Stark attack the Guardians, they have a harder time fighting them than the scout that attacked the team only the issue before.
- Cool Spaceship: The Guardians get around in The Captain America. Except when it's being shot out of the sky. Then it was replaced with the Freedom's Lady. Which also got shot out of the sky. Then they replaced it with a stolen Stark ship, The Captain America II.
- Crapsack World: It's a Marvel Comic. The 30th century is pretty awful.
- Crossover: The 90s series had The Korvac Quest, spread through the annuals of Fantastic Four, Thor, Silver Surfer and Guardians, as the team tracks Korvac's attempt to cheat death across time.
- Cute Monster Girl: Despite her ridiculous hair and bad temper, Rancor is actually good-looking when she takes her mask off and stops snarling.
- Cyborg: Michael Korvac, one of the more dangerous enemies of the Guardians, had his legs removed by his Badoon overseers and replaced by a computer bank.
- Deadpan Snarker: Charlie gets very snarky when Starhawk's around.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Stakar's response when Martinex points out marrying your adopted sister and having kids with her is pretty messed up.
- The Dividual: Starhawk and Aleta, on account of their sharing a physical space. She wasn't even considered a full member of the team for years.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: A story set during the team's earliest days shows Major Victory wigging out when Charlie accidentally makes an insensitive comment, and apologising for it, about being stuck in his space-suit.
- Earth That Used to Be Better: Mankind kind of ruined Earth in the 1980s, due to runaway aerosol use (seriously), and Canada got blown up. Things were improving a little when the Martians showed up.
- Enfant Terrible: A baby Korvac, possessed by the essence of his future self, graphically kills his own father within seconds of being born.
- Entitled to Have You: Yondu pulled an extreme circumstances on Photon, thinking they were the last two of their species, in the 1990s Guardians of the Galaxy. It didn't go well. (Jim Valentino meant to eventually get them together, but it never panned out.)
- Exposed Extraterrestrials: Martinex is a crystalline transhuman from the planet Pluto. His body is composed entirely of crystal, and he never wears clothes.
- Fantastic Racism:
- Nikki believes Reptiles Are Abhorrent, thanks to the Badoon near-annihilating her people when she was seven. This somehow extends to the disguised Skrull Replica before anyone suspects she might not be human.
- Racial strife between, at least, Jovians and Pluvians is alluded to briefly in the team's first appearance, but this was dropped in later comics and never mentioned again. After the Badoon were defeated, the unaltered humans of Earth were seen to mistreat Charlie and Martinex for their inhuman appearances; this partially motivated the reformation of the team and their return to the stars.
- The reason the Badoon want to kill every other life-form.
- And even in the 30th century, the poor Inhumans still get shafted. Mankind has colonised the Moon, and the Inhumans are forced to live on a reservation, with their movements constantly watched. And then the Badoon came a'calling...
- Fiery Redhead: Nikki. Slight Aversion in that she's not quite a redhead so much as that being from the planet Mercury, the pores on her head are exhaust ports for a high, constant body heat. The result? Actual constant fire that looks like hair.
- Flaming Hair: Firelord, and Nikki. According to "The Handbook Of The Marvel Universe", Nikki's hair only looks like flame. Though some artists didn't seem to realize that. Following a sequence in the comic where she was swimming and clearly shown as bald, the letters page said the Handbook was in error.
- Feudal Future: In the 25th century, mankind went a bit feudal again, with the "techno-barons" and the reinstitution of serfdom. This lasted until the serfs got fed up and revolted.
- Future Imperfect: For understandable reasons, Vance's 80s pop culture references fly right over everyone else's heads, but sometimes even more casual stuff, like mentioning football, gets blank looks as well.
- Gang of Hats: The Punishers. Three guesses what that hat is, and the first two don't count.
- Genetic Adaptation: The secondary members of the team were former humans bio-engineered to survive the harsh conditions of the other planets of the Solar System.
- Go-Go Enslavement: In their guest appearance in Marvel Two-In One, there's a recurring character who serves the Badoon. Since this was the 70s, she says she was made a slave but the story doesn't and cannot explicitly state what kind.... but her skimpy leotard outfit gives a pretty big hint it's not working in the scullery.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: Starhawk has a Groundhog Day Life.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Starhawk is the son of Quasar and Her, making him half human, half orange-skinned Artificial Being.
- Heavyworlder: Charlie-27, like all of Jupiter's inhabitants.
- Hope Spot: At the end of Super-Heroes #18, the four heroes escape Earth, heading in the direction of New New York, one of the last human colonies left. They get there to find the Badoon have beaten there, and the entire place is burning to the ground.
- Human Popsicle: Vance Astro spent 1,000 years in suspended animation for a slower-than-light trip to Alpha Centauri... only to find that Earthmen had invented hyperdrive and beaten him there by several centuries.note As a bonus bummer, the long time he spent in the tube has damaged his body so that he needed a full-body life-support suit to survive.
- I Just Knew: Starhawk (Stakar, not Aleta): Starhawk's Catchphrase was 'Accept the word of One Who Knows.' What he would tell Martinex later is that Stakar was not a precognitive; he was fated to go back in time, and his disembodied consciousness inhabit his infant body to start all over again.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: One of the last things Vance Astro did before leaving Earth was phone his girlfriend and tell her to move on, so he wouldn't have to angst about her pining over him for the rest of her life.
- Lady Land:
- The homeworld of the Badoon, because the genders can't get along at all. The only time they mingle is when they need to breed, and even then it's not remotely voluntary on either side.
- Planet Stark is a Matriarchy where men are second-class citizens at best. Some male Stark aren't even given names, having to earn them.
- Last of His Kind: The premise starts here; the Badoon have attacked, and the four originals are survivors of their worlds. Later on, they're joined by Nikki, who is also the last of her kind. Yondu, from Centauri IV in the Alpha Centauri system, eventually discovers that a large number of his people survived and saves them from Galactus.
- Late to the Tragedy: The first story begins with Charlie-27 touching down at his base after a long trip out in space, to find absolutely no-one around. He then learns the Badoon have conquered and enslaved humanity, and did so two months ago.
- Legacy Character:
- Major Victory for Captain America, amongst others.
- Rancor is a villain legacy for Wolverine.
- Let's You and Him Fight:
- How the first four met. Charlie and Martinex were running from the Badoon, and bump into Vance and Yondu, who are running the other way. Panicking, they each assume the other party is working with them and fight.
- Gets a Lampshade Hanging when the team travels back to the 90s. Starhawk has them teleport into the Fantastic Four's reception, rather than Reed Richard's main lab, because otherwise they'll get into a pointless fight. Since they don't, nobody fights, and Reed instead helps them. Starhawk notes it happens to them a lot.
- Lighter and Softer: The mission statement of the 90s series, surrounded by the grimness of 90s comic books, was to be a throwback to Bronze or Silver Age style stories.
- Mama Bear: Aleta is incredibly pissed off at Stakar for the death of their children (since he could've known about it or tried to prevent it). And yet Mainframe expects her to forgive him just like that.
- Mind Probe: The Badoon Mind Probe, which is incredibly painful, and serves as a convenient tool for delivering exposition.
- Mutant: Most of the Mutants took for the stars centuries back. Vance Astro happened to miss that particular bus.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Marshach, a friend of the Silver Surfer's in the 26th century, has this reaction when he uses his Reality Warper powers to try and kill the Guardians (who are trying to remove that power from him, since it belongs to Korvac).
- Narrating the Obvious: Given the time the first series was made, it's a given.
- Navel-Deep Neckline: Very popular in the future — used by the women and some of the men.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Centuries back, Tony Stark launched all his Iron Man technology into space in an attempt to stop the Martians getting it. It crashed landed on an alien planet, and was found by the locals, who eventually figured out how to use it, and became galactic conquerors.
- Not So Omniscient After All: Starhawk is the One Who Knows, so when he doesn't know, he tends to react poorly.
- Oh, My Gods!: Charlie and Marty tend to swear by Harkov, the guy who discovered faster-than-light travel.
- Old Master: The Ancient One, or as he used to be known, Doctor Stephen Strange.
- Only the Chosen May Wield: The shield of Captain America, which is guarded by Mainframe (formerly known as the Vision), who tests the Guardians to see who should wield it. Major Victory eventually gets it.
- Hollywood, formerly known as Wonder Man, initially objects to the idea of Major Victory wielding the shield, but he soon comes around.
- Only You Can Repopulate My Race: Yondu, to Photon. Unfortunately, Photon's an atheist and Yondu is sworn to murder any of his kind who are. Although it was she who was trying to kill him. No one ended up killing anyone, although he caught her off-guard and badly hurt her at one point. (Valentino intended them to eventually get together, but it never panned out.)
- Our Zombies Are Different: The Zoms, henchmen of the Badoon are created using cybernetic implants.
- Planet of Hats: The Stark are Proud Warrior Race Guys and Planet Looters.
- Playing with Fire: Firelord, Martinex, and Nikki (Nikki, who was in a relationship with Charlie-27 at one point, and had to immerse herself in water to cool down enough so they could touch).
- Plot Archaeology: Super-Heroes #18 has Charlie-27 trying to find a way to rescue his family, shipped off to a Badoon labor camp, before the dangerous conditions there kill them. The next time the Guardians reappear, it's several years later, and the fate of Charlie's family goes unmentioned, until the final issue of their run on Marvel Presents, where it's confirmed Charlie didn't manage to save them in time.
- Poor Communication Kills: Rather than explain to the Silver Surfer that an old friend of his is possessed by Korvac's power, the team instantly demand to remove it without explaining why. Cue a fight between them and an angry Silver Surfer.
- Power Copying: The Protege can permanently duplicate any powers and skills he sees, all the way up to the Cosmic Entity level. He's also a child. This quickly leads to A God Am I.
- The Purge: The Badoon killed any human they had no use for, reducing mankind's number down to fifty million.
- Purple Is Powerful: Major Victory's first outfit, the molecular shell keeping him from dying, was solid purple.
- Random Teleportation: Running from the Badoon, Charlie reaches a teleportation pad, and sets it to random, not knowing where he'll turn up but reasons anywhere will do. Two hours later, he rematerializes on Pluto.
- Robot Maid: In Super-Heroes #18, there's a store on Pluto advertising robot servants for hire. Martinex sets them on the Badoon patrol as a distraction so he and Charlie can escape.
- Secret Test of Character: Mainframe gives the team one of these to see whether they're worthy enough to wield Captain America's shield. Aleta and Nikki fail theirs, Aleta because she won't forgive Stakar for the death of their children, Nikki because her Fantastic Racism lead her to try and murder Scanner the Snark.
- Sharing a Body: Starhawk and Aleta, from their first appearance. They were adopted siblings who encountered a device that made them share the same physical space, so only one of them could manifest at a time. They made the most of it by getting married. Everything seemed okay until Aleta started falling for Vance... and their children were killed
- Slasher Smile: Rancor was responsible for pulling off some positively terrifying ones whenever she wasn't snarling or frowning.
- Starter Villain: Drang, the Badoon warlord in charge of Earth in the 31st century, is the villain for the first two stories featuring the Guardians, before getting defeated thanks to help from a time travelling Captain America, the Thing and Sharon Carter.
- Suddenly Ethnicity: Martinex is revealed at one point to be of African descent.
- Swiss-Army Superpower: The Silver Surfer has acquired Quasar's Quantum Bands.
- That Man Is Dead: Mainframe is very insistent that he's not the Vision any more.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Averted in several instances, unlike most of Marvel's heroes the Guardians aren't big on this one. In one instance, Nikki tries to kill Scanner outright.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: Time is unchangeable, which is why Starhawk is stuck in his "Groundhog Day" Loop. Time travel also creates alternate timelines, such as when Vance Astro went back in time and prevented his younger self from going into space without erasing himself from existence.
- Transhuman: Martinex, Charlie-27, and Nikki are all from races of humans genetically modified to live on Pluto, Jupiter, and Mercury respectively. Also Transhuman Aliens.
- Harkovium, the mineral that allows ships to travel faster than light, named after the man who discovered it.
- At least one version of Vance Astro's outfit is made out of adamantium.
- The metal Yondu's yaka arrow is made of, which is only found on Alpha Centauri 4.
- Villain Respect: Drang spared Vance Astro during the Badoon invasion because he was impressed by him and wanted Vance to join them.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Replica (a Skrull)
- The Watcher: Uatu's still alive, still watching, still telling us he's the Watcher and that he's sworn never to interfere, and so forth.
- What Other Galaxies?: The Guardians of the Galaxy do this just by name alone, both original and modern since their remit is protecting the entire universe (whenever they can). Enforced because "Guardians of the Universe" was already taken by Green Lantern.
- Worthy Opponent: The one who sent Captain America's shield into space? Doctor Doom, out of respect for the good captain and to stop the Badoon from getting their hands on it.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Starhawk is in a stable time loop. He has tried fighting it, but due to Marvel's rules of time travel, it just creates alternate realities while his life continues repeating.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Stark planned to do this to the Badoon, once they were done controlling them.
- And I Must Scream: This is pretty much how the Fraternity of Raptors tortured Robert Rider. After years of torture and sensory deprivation, they finally gave him a choice, join them and inflict his rage and suffering on others, or finally experience the sweet release of death. By that point, both choices were equally likely possibilities.
- Anyone Can Die: The Kree homeworld of Hala experiences one during the events of The Black Vortex.
- Archnemesis Dad: Star-Lord and his father.
- Back for the Finale: The final issue of Vol 5 has every member from the 2008 team make a reappearance to help fight the Universal Church of Truth, except for Jack Flag (who was dead).
- Back from the Dead: Star-Lord and Drax the Destroyer reappear in Avengers Assemble Volume 2 with absolutely no explanation as to how they came back to life since the The Thanos Imperative. It wasn't until the Original Sin tie-in we got an explanation.
- It's later revealed that Peter made a deal with Thanos for a truce for both of them to get out of the Cancerverse, though Drax's reappearance still remains unexplained. Although Drax's existence being restored by his creator when Thanos returned to life does have precedence.
- Badass Family: In the 100th Anniversary special, Rocket Raccoon is accompanied by his 3 sons, Uno, Duo, and Trey (whom he insists are just his nephews). They are just as nimble and combat ready as their father while remaining as cute as a button.
- Bash Brothers: Gamora and Angela are Smash Sisters.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: How Nova's brother Robbie ends up defecting to the Fraternity of Raptors. The Raptors locked him in an isolation helmet which completely destroyed his sense of time making minutes seem like years. This compounded with the fact that he didn't realize his brother was killed/trapped in the Cancerverse for several years made him feel abandoned by his family and allies. When given a final choice between dying with honor as a Nova denerian, or opposing his brother as a Raptor, Robbie chose the later and took on the mantle of Taloner/Talon-R.
- Broad Strokes: The relaunch by Brian Michael Bendis and posterior works decided to do this in regards to Star-Lord's convoluted origin. Up until 2012, at least three diffrent origins existed for Star-Lord, so Bendis decided to redo everything taking the most important parts of the previous origins to make an updated and more appropriate version that would become the official canon origin for 616 Peter Quill, while the others would become alternate universes. Later, several bits from the other 70s stories were taken and incorporated to the origins and the regular series as well.
- Catchphrase: Come vol 3, Rocket has the tendency to shout variants on "Blam! I murdered you!" in the midst of battle, which some of his teammates find disturbing.
- Clothes Make the Superman: The 2013 Guardians of the Galaxy series ends up revealing the truth about the symbiotes: they were created to essentially be super suits to help turn people into the perfect hero. Something went wrong, turning them into what they are now. Venom's current host, Flash Thompson, ended up returning it back to its homeworld, cured it of its problems and, in gratitude, permanently chose Flash as a host.
- Cool Starship: They have had two cool ships and a mobile, time-travelling space station. And currently live in the severed head of a robot alien.
- Cultural Posturing: King J'son of Spartax (or Spartoi) spends a lot of his time going on about how humans are dumb and stupid and ugly and etc. His son is half-human. Actually gets to a point in Infinity when J-Son starts getting angry about humans being brought into a war planning session, telling them they'll only be useful if they need cannon fodder. The Supreme Intelligence pipes up by comparing Earth's success rate against the Kree Empire to that of Spartax. Humanity's success rate is much higher - essentially as close as the Supreme Intelligence gets to "dude, just shut up."
- Disguised Hostage Gambit: In one issue dealing with the aftermath of Civil War II, Gamora is captured by Alpha Flight. It's later discovered that the "Gamora" in custody is actually a female Alpha Flight agent that Gamora had gagged, switched clothes with, and painted up to resemble her.Gladiator: This is not Gamora. Gamora's skin is a completely different hue.
- Dramatic Space Drifting: In Issue 8 from Volume 5, frozen dead bodies of Nova Corps were shown in a panel after the Universal Church of Truth mind controlled them into removing their helmets and exposing them to vacuum.
- Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Peter Quill's father, Emperor J'Son of Spartax, argues for the destruction of Earth for this very reason. He points out that in a short span of a single generation, humans have managed to defeat Thanos, the Phoenix Force and even Galactus, all on multiple occasions, each of whom had been responsible for the destruction of countless other worlds. He then suggests that should humans ever leave Earth and begin visiting other worlds, it would lead to untold cosmic disasters.
- He later tears strips off Gladiator during The Trial of Jean Grey, because of his boneheaded decision to kidnap Teen Jean, pointing out - perfectly accurately - that first, she is quite obviously a frightened teenage girl, not the Dark Phoenix, second, if she really was the Dark Phoenix, the knowledge that the Shi'ar killed her entire family would set her off and mean that she would kill everyone present, including Gladiator, and third, her friends will come after and they will tear through armies to get her back, because that's what humans (particularly mutants) have historically done. He is right on every count, with the O5, Kitty, X-23 and the Guardians of the Galaxy promptly taking on the entire Imperial Guard to get her back.
- Elective Monarchy: After Spartax rebelled against Emperor J'Son they elected his illegitimate son Star-Lord the new Emperor, and impeached him after Hala the Accuser and Yotat the Destroyer attacked on his watch.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: The classic Guardians in Volume 3 #14, who find themselves replaying their fight against the Badoon over and over thanks to something in the past, and decide to travel back and put a stop to it. A similar phenomenon motivates Starhawk's journeys back in time in Volume 2; in that case, it turns out to be the events of War of Kings opening the way to the Cancerverse.
- Hand on Womb: Star-Lord's mother Meredith Quill does this when she realizes that she's pregnant just after his father J'Son leaves Earth.
- I'm Having Soul Pains: Gamora experiences something similar in the 2017 series, attributing it to when her soul was briefly contained inside the Soul Gem. This kicks off her personal hunt for the Infinity Gems.
- Let's Split Up, Gang!: In the second issue of Volume 3, cut off from any and all back up, the team elects to just each destroy a ship apiece.
- Lousy Lovers Are Losers: During Bendis' run, Tony Stark has a one-night-stand with Gamora. While we never learn the details, it's clear from the post-coital scene that she was incredibly disappointed while he was mortified (it's implied she made him climax before her clothes were even out). This is surprising given he's known as The Casanova back on Earth, implying she was too much for a normal human like him to handle. Nevertheless, things because awkward between the two ever since, with him feeling incredibly ashamed of his poor performance.
- Negative Space Wedgie: Age of Ultron spawns a few, including the one that brings Angela over from her dimension.
- Mars Needs Women: Gender-flipped in the first issue of Vol. 4, when a Humanoid Alien princess who looks just about alien enough to make Peter Quill uncomfortable, tries to seduce him. She claims that this is for pragmatic political reasons, because a union between the two of them would strengthen the dwindling Spartax empire, but from her body language, it's obvious that she's just making excuses for being horny.
- The Reveal:
- All-New Guardians #9 reveals both that Groot is stuck as a sapling because the Gardener killed and siphoned the life energy from him, leaving very little energy remaining in the splinter Rocket recovered and that Mojo has recording devices secretly attached to Rocket from his last visit to the Mojoverse.
- All-New #11 reveals that Talonar is actually Nova's missing brother Robbie.
- Series Continuity Error: All-New Guardians of the Galaxy gets a couple of details about The Thanos Imperative wrong, such as claiming the Nova Corps had lots of people fighting the Cancerverse. At the time, the Corps consisted of Richard Rider, his brother, an old veteran and a handful of rookies, operating out of a beaten-up old spaceship.
- Space Base:
- Duggan's and Cates' runs had them headquartered in Star-Lord's ship as their job required them to be more mobile and they no longer had access to Knowwhere's teleporter.
- In Ewing's run, their headquarters is on Rocket Raccoon's homeworld of Halfworld, mostly because at the time Rocket and later Gamora were patients at the facility for both medical treatments and therapy.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: IGN summed up Bendis's handling of the team as "the Iron Man and Rocket Raccoon show."
- Superheroes in Space: In both incarnations, the heroes mainly stay off-world.
- Wolverine Publicity: Marvel seems to be trying to raise Rocket Raccoon to this status.
- Iron Man being added to the team in the Marvel NOW! series is probably a case of this.