Composed (usually) of the heavy hitters of The DCU, the Justice League has been around in one form or another since The Silver Age of Comic Books, and doesn't show any sign of going away. The team debuted in The Brave and the Bold #28 (February-March, 1960), created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Mike Sekowsky. Just as DC rebooted several Golden Age characters with new Silver Age versions, the JLA is the same for the Golden Age Justice Society of America. Their appearances in three consecutive issues of The Brave and the Bold served as a trial run. The concept sold well and the team graduated to its first eponymous title by October, 1960.
The original lineup was Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter (commonly known as the "Big Seven", and considered the greatest heroes on Earth by pretty much the entire superhero community). Almost immediately (six issues later), the team started to gradually expand to include Green Arrow, the Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, the Phantom Stranger, Elongated Man, Red Tornado, Hawkgirl, Zatanna and, finally, Firestorm. After that, the group has repeatedly disassembled and reassembled, sometimes with drastic membership changes, including a revival of the original seven. Basically, every DC Comics superhero who didn't belong to another team (and a few who did) was a member at one time or another (and even Hawkeye!). And as the premier group of heroes in the DCU, when a cosmic crisis threatens, every superhero available becomes a temporary member of the JLA, such is the importance of the group.
After Grant Morrison and Mark Waid's revival, the originals are considered the "Big Seven", and cover the archetypes any superhero team should possess (classical superhero, dark vigilante, fantasy/mythological being, speedster, elemental hero, cosmic hero, psychic).
Originally, they were the local crime-fighting club, composed of the best of the best. They were effectively a "social club" for superheroes, where they could hang out with similar people (when not fighting evil). There was no set leader, though certain heroes (such as Superman, Batman or Martian Manhunter) often ended up taking leadership roles due to their popularity and skill. New members were chosen by voting, which might explain why several heroes that felt rather redundant were added to the roster. They had a series of special bases over the years, most notably a satellite headquarters in orbit above the Earth.
In the '80s, DC's editorial team noticed that they were being outsold by the Teen Titans and the X-Men, more action-oriented, character-driven teams. So, suddenly, Aquaman gave a big speech about how the team couldn't depend on heroes who were too busy to show up all the time and reformed the team with a bunch of second-stringers and a few new characters. They operated out of a warehouse in Detroit. For this reason, they were a little ineffectual during Crisis on Infinite Earths.
As a result of this, the team was retooled again in the '80s, becoming Justice League International (taking over the Global Guardians' role, and adding in some of the latter group's members) which then split into Justice League America and Justice League Europe, which later (after their membership grew huge) further split into the Justice League Task Force (a "superhero school" led by the Martian Manhunter), and Extreme Justice, which was led by the more proactive Captain Atom.
This approach fizzled after a few years, so DC took the team back to basics by reuniting the original Big Seven and giving them a lunar Watchtower base. The series was relaunched as JLA (1997) by Grant Morrison, who emphasized the team's role as the "gods" of the DCU, and had them only go up against the sort of tremendous, cosmic-level threats which befitted that stature. This new approach was such a hit that for several years pretty much all major events in the DCU revolved around the League, and countless miniseries and one-shots were spun off the new title. After Morrison left, succeeding writers (most notably Mark Waid) continued his approach.
The team has a long tradition of Crossovers with the Justice Society of America. Once labelled "Crisis on (Something)" fairly often; commonly takes place at a get-together (or at a Christmas/Thanksgiving dinner post-Crisis) attended by both teams, when suddenly a villain attacks. This stopped happening regularly around 1986 when Crisis on Infinite Earths ended the original DC Multiverse, though the tradition has popped up sporadically since then (1998's "Crisis Times Five", 2002's JSA/JLA: Virtue and Vice, 2007's "The Lightning Saga").
An animated television adaptation called Justice League aired from 2001 to 2006 on Cartoon Network and was produced by Warner Bros. Animation. The series is set in the DC Animated Universe and based on the classic "Big Seven", expanding into Heroes Unlimited after the first two seasons; the series' title was accordingly changed to Justice League Unlimited.
Here are the different incarnations of the Justice League of America so far:
- The Original Big Seven (Gardner Fox/Mike Sekowsky): Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash II (Barry Allen), Green Lantern II (Hal Jordan), Aquaman & Martian Manhunter, based inside a hollow mountain, the "Secret Sanctuary." Later members included Green Arrow, The Atom II (Ray Palmer), Black Canary II and Hawkman. Snapper Carr served as the team mascot, or as an honorary member, depending on who you ask.
- The Post-Crisis/Year One League (Mark Waid): Like most things in the DCU, this was retconned after Crisis on Infinite Earths. In this version of the team's history, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were no longer founding members of the League, but Black Canary II was. (Though it turned out that Superman and Batman later joined anyway, leaving Wonder Woman as the only true missing link.) Following the events of Infinite Crisis, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were restored as founding members; it's not entirely clear whether Black Canary remains as an eighth founder, or joined later as she did in the original continuity, though if that's the case she was apparently the very first recruit.
- The Satellite-Era League (Dennis O'Neil, Mike Friedrich, Len Wein, Gerry Conway, Steve Englehart): Basically everyone mentioned above plus Elongated Man, Hawkgirl I, Firestorm I (Ronnie Raymond/Martin Stein), Red Tornado II, and Zatanna. Also Elongated Man's wife, Sue Dibny, sort of. The Martian Manhunter was absent for most of this era when it was originally printed, but seems to have been retconned back in. Also had stretches where Green Arrow and/or Batman had quit the team, but overall, the lineup was quite stable by today's standards. There were several honorary members of whom only one - the Phantom Stranger - actively participated in their cases on a semi-regular basis. The name comes from their orbiting base, the JL Satellite, where they relocated to after their original base's location was revealed to the Joker.
- Justice League Detroit (Gerry Conway): Four established JLAers (Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man, and Zatanna), one previously-obscure character (Vixen), and three complete newcomers (Vibe, Gypsy, and Steel II - a Legacy Character of Commander Steel, not to be confused with John Henry Irons). As the name implies, this version was based in Detroit. Later on, Aquaman quit and Batman rejoined. Has its fans, but widely considered an Audience-Alienating Era.
- Justice League/Justice League International/Justice League America (Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis): Created after the events of the Legends Crisis Crossover. Officially, started with a (probably editorially mandated) lineup of Batman, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern IV (Guy Gardner), Black Canary II, Captain Marvel, Dr. Light III (Kimiyo Hoshi), Blue Beetle II (Ted Kord), Mr. Miracle (with his 'manager', Oberon), and Doctor Fate II, a lineup that showed off the possibilities of the new continuity by featuring characters previously from four different Earths. The writers had different ideas; Doctor Light never actually joined (until much later), Doctor Fate and Captain Marvel were gone within six issues, and the stories soon took on a generally humorous tone that did not, at first, sit well with some fans. Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Rocket Red #7 (Vladimir Mikoyan), Fire, and Ice were among the first of many to join as those same elements of humor quickly made the series a fan favorite. After the events of Invasion!, as well as the opening of Justice League Europe (see below), JLI was renamed "Justice League America" (no "of"). After Giffen and DeMatteis left the series following the "Breakdowns" arc, the series struggled along as writers such as Dan Jurgens, Dan Vado, and Gerard Jones tried to keep the book and its spin-offs afloat with little success.
- Justice League Europe (Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis): The Flash III (Wally West), Captain Atom, Rocket Red #4 (Dmitri Pushkin), Power Girl, Elongated Man, and Metamorpho (and Wonder Woman, who left after the first mission). Created after the Invasion! crossover. Subsequently joined by Crimson Fox, Green Lantern II (Hal Jordan), Dr. Light III (Kimiyo Hoshi) and Aquaman. Later renamed Justice League International, just to be confusing.
- Justice League Task Force (David Michelinie/Sal Velluto): Originally a rotating membership of whoever would be needed for a given mission. After Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!, reinvented as the League "school" with the Martian Manhunter, The Ray II (Ray Terrill), Triumph, Gypsy, and L-Ron in the body of Despero.
- The Justice League International was reformed in the 2010 bi-weekly series Justice League: Generation Lost in order to track down Max Lord. This version of the team featured Booster Gold (as team leader), Captain Atom, Fire, Ice, Blue Beetle III (Jaime Reyes), and a brand new Rocket Red (Gavril Ivanovich).
- The Post-Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! League (Gerard Jones): Wonder Woman, the Flash III (Wally West), Hawkman III (Katar Hol ... sort of), Fire, Icemaiden (Sigrid Nansen), Nuklon, Obsidian, Blue Devil. The most radical reinvention of the Giffen/DeMatteis League, Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! had all the teams disbanded, and Wonder Woman reinvent the League as a "superhero club", with an official membership of "anyone who's interested". Captain Atom decided the real Justice League ought to be better organized, but should have been careful what he wished for, because the result was...
- Extreme Justice (Dan Vado/Marc Campos): Captain Atom, Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond), Booster Gold, Blue Beetle II, Amazing Man II, Maxima. As if the "Extreme" in the name wasn't clue enough, this series was a massive Audience-Alienating Era, with art and page layouts that severely aped the worst of Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee's tendencies (overly muscular, unexpressive characters and "flip the comic sideways" pages) with a heavy emphasis on action over character dynamics.
- JLA (1997) (Grant Morrison/Howard Porter/Mark Waid/Joe Kelly/Doug Mahnke): Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash III (Wally West), Green Lantern V (Kyle Rayner), Aquaman, Martian Manhunter. In other words, the original seven (or rather, five of them and the then-current successors of the other two). Based on the Moon in a purpose-built monitoring platform dubbed the Watchtower. Later included Steel III, Plastic Man, Oracle, Big Barda, Orion, Zauriel, Huntress, and, temporarily, Wonder Woman's mother Hippolyta instead of Diana. Main focus was the core seven (occasionally plus Plastic Man), though. Largely had to do with the idea that because the JLA is so powerful, they should be fighting harder villains than just super-terrorists. Very fondly remembered, even by those who hate everything else Grant Morrison has ever done.
- The Post-Infinite Crisis League (Brad Meltzer/Ed Benes/Dwayne McDuffie): Varied but seemed similar to the Satellite version, except they were now based in the Hall of Justice, as well as a new space-borne Watchtower. Started out with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern II/III (either Hal or John Stewart), Vixen, Black Canary II, Red Tornado II, Black Lightning, Red Arrow, and Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders); Geo-Force was often pictured as part of this lineup, but he never actually joined, he just played a minor part in their first story arc.
- The Post-Final Crisis League (James Robinson/Mark Bagley): Spinning out of Robinson's Justice League: Cry for Justice miniseries, the new team comprised Green Lantern II (Hal Jordan), the Atom II (Ray Palmer), Batman III (Dick Grayson), Mon-El, Donna Troy, Cyborg, Doctor Light III, Starfire, Congorilla, and the Guardian. Green Arrow, the main character in Cry For Justice, was a member for the first few issues, until certain events in Cry For Justice caught up with him.
- The Post-Blackest Night League (James Robinson/Mark Bagley): Robinson wasn't satisfied with the way his JLA was going; among other things he thought he had tried to put in too many characters. He reshuffled the roster and settled on Batman III (Dick Grayson), Supergirl, Donna Troy, Jade, Starman (Mikaal Thomas), Congorilla and Jesse Quick, thus making a somewhat rough second generation equivalent to the original team lineup.
- The New 52 League: This team was written by Geoff Johns and featured the Big Seven, only with Cyborg replacing Martian Manhunter (who was in Stormwatch instead); in addition to these seven, the team was later bolstered by Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond/Jason Rusch), Element Woman, and a new version of the Atom (Rhonda Pineda). Lex Luthor, Shazam, and Captain Cold joined the team after Forever Evil (2013).
- In addition, there was a new, separate Justice League International, written by Dan Jurgens, with Booster Gold as the team leader, Batman (Bruce Wayne), Green Lantern III (Guy Gardner), Fire, Ice, Vixen, Rocket Red, Godiva, and August General In Iron (a Chinese hero introduced in 52). Batwing, Blue Beetle III (Jaime Reyes) and the Olympian all joined over the course of the series.
- There was also the Justice League Dark, written by Peter Milligan, a team of supernatural heroes featuring John Constantine, Deadman, Madame Xanadu, Zatanna, and Shade, the Changing Man.
- With the cancellation of Justice League International, a new Justice League of America book was released in February 2013 by Geoff Johns and David Finch with an unexpected roster of Steve Trevor, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, the new Green Lantern (Simon Baz), Stargirl, Catwoman, Vibe, Green Arrow and Katana.
- Justice League of America then got replaced by Jeff Lemire's Justice League United, with Green Arrow, Stargirl, Martian Manhunter and Hawkman continuing from the previous title, with the addition of Animal Man, Adam and Alanna Strange, and Supergirl.
- The DC Rebirth League (Bryan Hitch/Christopher Priest): Once again featuring the New 52 Big Seven; however, the New 52 Superman was replaced by his pre-Flashpoint counterpart while Hal Jordan was replaced by dual Earth Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz. After Superman Reborn resolved Superman's situation, the Rebirth Superman returned to the League.
- Spinning out of the events of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad was Justice League of America (Rebirth), written by Steve Orlando. This team was formed by Batman (though he maintained membership in the core Justice League) and consisted of the aforementioned Batman, the Atom (Ryan Choi), Vixen, the Ray (Ray Terrill), Killer Frost (Caitlin Snow), Lobo and Black Canary (Dinah Lance), operating from the Secret Sanctuary.
- In Gene Luen Yang's New Super-Man, China formed its own League, the Justice League of China, comprised of the New Super-Man (Kenan Kong), Bat-Man (Baixi Wang), Wonder-Woman (Deilan Peng) and the Flash (Avery Ho), who eventually decided to go independent of the Chinese government. As a result, the series changed title to New Super-Man and the Justice League of China.
- The 2018 Justice League: No Justice mini-series sees the Justice League split and expand into four new teams to handle a devastating threat from space, as a prelude to the post-Dark Nights: Metal Leagues. Formed by Brainiac, these teams are:
- Team Mystery — Superman, Starfire, Sinestro, Martian Manhunter, Starro
- Team Entropy — Batman, Lobo, Lex Luthor, Deathstroke, Beast Boy
- Team Wonder — Wonder Woman, Raven, Zatanna, Dr. Fate, Etrigan the Demon
- Team Wisdom — Flash (Barry Allen), Atom (Ryan Choi), Robin (Damian Wayne), Cyborg, Harley Quinn
- The New Justice League - Spinning out of No Justice are three new Leagues, all operating out of the Hall of Justice:
- Justice League (Scott Snyder/Jorge Jiminez): The most iconic League rosters are combined to create a legendary line-up, comprised of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash (Barry Allen), Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Aquaman, Cyborg, and Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders).
- Justice League Dark (James Tynion IV): The supernatural branch is reopened with Wonder Woman leading a team comprised of John Constantine, Dr. Fate, Detective Chimp, Swamp Thing, Zatanna and Man-Bat.
- Justice League Odyssey (Josh Williamson/Stjepan Sejic): A new space-faring team led by Cyborg comprised of Green Lantern (Jessica Cruz), Starfire, Azrael (Jean-Paul Valley) and... Darkseid?!
- Darkseid turned out to be trying to recreate the New Gods, and brainwashed Starfire, Azrael and Cyborg. Jessica was left for dead, but rescued by Orion. She conscripts him, Blackfire, and Dex-Starr (a feline Red Lantern) to the Justice League. They're later joined by a new hero, Gamma Knife.
- This era also sees a new incarnation of the Titans operating out of the Hall as well, serving partly as the League's "AAA farm team".
- The Future State Leagues:
- Justice League (Joshua Williamson/Robson Rocha/Daniel Henriques): Comprised of Legacy Characters, the lineup consists of Superman (Jonathan Samuel Kent), Batman (Tim Fox), Wonder Woman (Yara Flor), Green Lantern (Jo Mullein), Aquawoman (Andy Curry), and the Flash (Jess Chambers of Earth-11).
- Justice League Dark (Ram V/Marcio Takara): A mix of new and old members, including John Constantine, Etrigan the Demon (possessing Detective Chimp), Madame Xanadu, Zatanna, and Ragman.
- The Infinite Frontier Justice League - (Brian Michael Bendis/David Marquez) Spinning out of the events of both Dark Nights: Death Metal and DC Future State, the "New Justice" line up gets adjusted with Superman, Batman, Hawkgirl and Aquaman being joined by Green Arrow, Black Canary, Queen Hippolyta, Naomi and... Black Adam?!
- The Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths Justice League - Following the death of the previous team, Superman (Jon Kent) recruits a new team comprised of Supergirl, Frankenstein's Monster, Killer Frost, Harley Quinn, Dr. Light (Kimiyo Hoshi), Booster Gold, Blue Beetle II (Ted Kord), Blue Beetle III (Jaime Reyes) and Robin V (Damian Wayne)
DC even has a Funny Animal counterpart of the Justice League: the "Just'a Lotta Animals" of Earth-C-Minus, a parallel Earth that's a funny-animal counterpart of the mainstream DCU. The core roster of the "JLA" consists of:
- Super-Squirrel (a squirrel, counterpart of Superman)
- The Batmouse (a mouse, counterpart of Batman)
- Wonder Wabbit (a rabbit, counterpart of Wonder Woman)
- Green Lambkin (a male sheep, counterpart of the Silver Age Green Lantern)
- The Crash (a turtle, counterpart of the Silver Age Flash)
- Aquaduck (a duck, counterpart of Aquaman)
Other members included: Hawkmoose; Green Sparrow; Stacked Canary; the Martian Anteater; the Item (the Atom; an elephant); Zap-Panda (Zatanna); and Elongator (the Elongated Man; an alligator).
General trope examples:
This series contains examples of:
- Alternate Company Equivalent: The Avengers.
- America Is Still a Colony: In one issue of Grant Morrison's JLA, a probability-altering villain twisted time so America never revolted, and a King George was on the throne. Amongst other things, the Capitol Building changes to look kind of like a larger version of the Houses of Parliament.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Batman and Hawkman are the most prolific but we also have Hawkwoman, Animal Man, Vixen, Black Canary, and Red Robin.
- This is also prevalent in enemies they have fought: Black Manta, Gorilla Grodd, Starro, etc.
- Armed Females, Unarmed Males: The main Flying Bricks are Superman, Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman. The former two have a vast array of powers and don't use weapons. Wonder Woman, while still similarly powerful, has a relatively limited powerset and makes use of weapons in battle, namely her atom-shaving sword and magic lasso. Diana is also a hero based on Greek mythology which often had heroes who used enchanted weapons and items.
- Artifact Title: Partly. The Justice League of America tackles worldwide, universal, and even multiversal threats. The of America portion of the title was finally dropped when the book was relaunched after Legends, with the series starting off as Justice League before morphing into Justice League International after the first few issues. Since then, the of America has been restored and dropped again several times, before the New 52 relaunch changed the title back to Justice League.
- It should also be noted that the League has had a number of members who aren't American such as Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter and Vixen.
- Audience-Alienating Era:
- Invoked in-universe. During Morrison's run, Triumph's return is loaded with characters mocking him for his duration on the team, citing that it was loaded with "losers and also-rans" and the villains they fought were just terrorists and space maniacs. Triumph spends most of his time saying it's not fair that the current League got the glory, the better headquarters, and the better villains.
- Likewise, when Robinson's tenure on the League ended before the reboot, he made a dig against everyone who believed his run to be an Audience-Alienating Era.
- Author Tract: James Robinson's run is rife with his views on other characters, such as Vixen being referred to as a pathetic knock-off of Animal Man. This culminates in the final issue before the New 52 reboot where he has various League members tear into some of the stuff mentioned about the reboot, including Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing again and the no-show of Donna Troy.
- Badass Crew: THE most Badass Crew in the DC Universe.
- Bar Brawl: In Justice League United #5, four Leaguers -Green Arrow, Supergirl, Stargirl and Animal Man- barge in Block-C20, a derelict space station turned into a bar for bounty hunters who take exception to the presence of several Earth heroes. Chaos ensues.
- Bar Full of Aliens: Block-C20 in Justice League United #5, a derelict space station turned into a bar for bounty hunters.
- Bookends: The Morrison era title was set up with a prequel miniseries featuring Doctor Destiny. Its And the Adventure Continues epilogue has the League racing off to face Doctor Destiny again.
- Bound and Gagged: Leaguers reliant on their voices when using their powers, such as Zatanna and Black Canary, are occasionally bound and gagged by their enemies. Notably, Amazo uses Zatanna's own powers to temporarily remove her mouth and, later uses a Green Lantern's abilities to create an immovable energy gag for Zatanna rendering her useless for much of the battle.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Invoked by Guy Gardner's response to a French General's request for help in "Wonder Woman and Justice League America".Guy: It sounds like you want us to do your job for you. It figures, you being French and all.
- Clone by Conversion: The first villains that the League ever faced off against, in Silver Age continuity (though it wasn't the first story about them published) were seven alien warlords who chose Earth as their battlegrounds for a winner-take-all free-for-all. They each varied wildly in appearance and abilities, except for one: they each could turn any animals, humans (or super-humans) they focused on into loyal, miniature Mook versions of themselves. Thankfully, this also had No Ontological Inertia, so when the aliens were defeated everyone turned back to normal none the worse for wear (it was the silver age, after all).
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In Gardner Fox's stories, the Martian Manhunter was utilized as a stand-in for Superman due to Mort Weisinger insisting that the latter have limited use. After this limitation was appealed, Fox had gradually less use of J'onn. It didn't help that under Fox, J'onn's Martian powers were severely underutilized (only being used nine times throughout Fox's reign as JLA writer). J'onn was finally dropped from the series when his comic was cancelled.
- Continuity Reboot:
- The Justice League originally started out as a full continuity reboot of the Justice Society of America. Editor Julius Schwartz changed the word "Society" into the word "League" because he thought the word "Society" sounded too much like a quiet club name. The original continuity of the Justice Society was shown to have taken place in an alternate universe which was given the name Earth-Two.
- After the reboot of the DC Universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Justice League actually continued onwards with its then in-progress storylines albeit with considerable changes to the history of the team.
- New 52 was a full reboot of the Justice League; the first Justice League arc after the reboot was a flashback to how the team was originally formed and the early adventures of the team.
- Countrystan: Superpower, rookie hero Antaeus attempts to liberate the country of Vudistan (an obvious stand-in for Kurdistan) which has been trying to break away from the nation of Kirai, which is ruled by a Saddam Hussein expy named Gosner Mehtan.
- Covert Group: A covert ops group with technology-based powers working for the U.S. government tries to eliminate the world's superhumans.
- The crossover with The Avengers is the most famous but the team has also crossed over with the X-Men during All Access, a sequel to Marvel Vs. DC. They also had a crossover with the WildCATS before Wildstorm went to DC. A 2017 crossover with Boom! Studios unites the team with the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
- The aforementioned crossover with the Avengers resulted in Hawkeye becoming the first Marvel hero to become an honorary member of the Justice League after saving both teams alongside The Flash.
- The annual crossover with the Justice Society of America from 1963 up until Crisis on Infinite Earths.
- James Robinson's run had a crossover with Society during Brightest Day.
- April of 2021 will see a miniseries where (a version of) the League meets the cast of RWBY.
- Crossover Finale: The original volume ended with a Legends crossover, the JLI era effectively ended with a Bat Family Crossover called "Breakdowns," and the 1990s JLA era was basically written out with Identity Crisis. Big status quo changes tend to force a reboot of the JLA, really.
- Defector from Paradise: We have the League Member and veritable Angel of the Lord, Zauriel. He left Heaven because he fell in love with a mortal woman when acting as her guardian angel. It's a bit of subversion considering that Zauriel was actually kicked out of Heaven after expressing his desire to leave to his superiors, the King-Angels. After he was allowed permission to live in Heaven as he did before, he adamantly decided to live on Earth instead.
- Demoted to Extra: In the early adventures, Superman and Batman had limited roles due to Mort Weisinger and Jack Schiff, the editors of their respective comics at the time, not wanting to risk overexposure of the characters. In early 1962, when circulation of the JLA comic was beginning to die down, JLA editor Julius Schwartz and DC publisher Jack Liebowitz agreed that they need to give both characters more involving roles, on the basis that they belonged to DC Comics and not Weisinger and Schiff. This pattern would reoccur throughout the team's history, with Martian Manhunter often being viewed as the most disposable member of original Big 7 (such as when he was not included in Brad Meltzer's relaunch of the title). It was ultimately taken to its logical conclusion in the New 52, with Martian Manhunter's spot as a founder taken by Cyborg in the team's rebooted origin story.
- Depending on the Writer: A cross-title one, with Batman in the New 52 run. Geoff Johns has him angrily tell Steve Trevor that the concurrently running Justice League International is a joke, and tells him either he shuts them down or Bats will... as opposed to his portrayal in JLI itself, where Bats has no opposition to the team.
- Evil Counterpart: The Crime Syndicate (or Society) of America, though most iterations of them tend to just consist of counterparts of the Big Seven.
- Exact Words: In "For Sale — the Justice League!" (Vol. 1 No. 8), villain of the issue Pete Ricketts has the league under his control, and forbids them to use their own emergency signals in case Superman and Batman come back from their own mission. He didn't say not to use each other's signals, though.
- Face of the Band: Discussed in the Morrison run, with Triumph lamenting the way the public seems to only care about the A-list members of the team. During Christopher Priest's run, Simon Baz expressed a similar attitude, claiming that despite the team's large roster, the core membership of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash are the only ones who actually matter to most people.
- Flanderization: The Justice League in general occasionally suffers this problem. The heroes in their own books have multi-faceted personalities, while Justice League in the hands of sloppy writers reduces them to their most stereotypical natures, such as Batman being completely unfeeling and methodical, or Superman's "boy scout" persona. This is in part because each character was originally The Hero in their own titles. They weren't developed with a group dynamic in mind so some of their key character development has also come from them playing off of each other in the team books.
- Virtually the entire Morrison run, as well as the prequel miniseries Midsummer's Nightmare, sets up the final arc's plot point that the League gives all of humanity superpowers to stop Mageddon.
- In the New 52 origin story, Superman is abducted by Parademons and taken to Apokolips, where Desaad mentions Darkseid is also looking for his daughter, a plot point that wouldn't become relevant for several more years.
- Genre Shift: Under Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, the Justice League shifted from a standard superhero series to an action-comedy.
- Gigantic Moon: The larger moon is justified in one story arc of Justice League; The Heroes pull the moon into Earth's atmosphere as a mechanism to defeat an Alien Invasion.
- Giver of Lame Names: According to the New 52 run, the team just narrowly avoided Barry Allen's first choice of name, the Super Seven.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Since the New 52 (and, in-universe, even before) a few beings qualify.
- Darkseid, the first villain the Justice League faced, has been conquering the multiverse, and is responsible for the invasion and subsequent destruction of Earth-2.
- The Anti-Monitor, an even more dangerous being, who made the Crime Syndicate flee to escape their world (Earth-3) after he destroyed it. He is going to kill Darkseid and is in league with his daughter.
- Brainiac, easily number #3 on this list, his true form is a giant artificial entity, capturing cities from different timelines and universes before their destruction. Vril Dox's Brainiac is just one of his pawns.
- The Empty Hand, a sinister entity that led the Gentry to the invasion of the Multiverse, while it works on a way to destroy all existence forever. Probably qualifies as the villain with the greatest scope.
- High-Tech Heaven: Zauriel is a bonafide Angel from Heaven who has knowledge and access to some of Heaven's advanced magical technology, when they're not using conventional swords and shields for traditional aesthetics. As revealed during Zauriel's trips to Heaven, the Heavenly Host/the Pax Dei is exceedingly high tech, boasting a collection of dangerous super-tech such as interdimensional war ships with divine energy blasters and shields, teleporters, telepathic cruisers, and devices that can construct universes.
- I'm Crying, but I Don't Know Why: In the Morrison run, after their attempt to conquer Earth fails when they are found vulnerable to fire, the fifty White Martians face the Martian Manhunter. At the end, the narrator tells us of a man that, every morning just after awakening, feels like he once had incredible power that is forever lost. This feeling of loss and frustration is shared by fifty other humans scattered across the Earth, and is so big, he wants to cry. But he doesn't, because he is an adult and has no time for such nonsense. So he smiles, goes out and begins his working day as a fireman.
- Kavorka Man: Dale Gunn, a bald, middle-aged, unpowered mechanic who inexplicably had both Zatanna and Vixen after him in the Detroit era.
- Legion of Doom: The Justice League has faced several groups of evil counterparts over the years, including the Injustice Gang/Injustice League, the Secret Society of Super Villains, the Crime Syndicate of America, and of course, the Trope Namers themselves.
- Loophole Abuse: In an old Christmas issue from The '70s, the Guardians of the Universe barred John Stewart from using his power ring to fix up a dilapidated slum. After the Key blew up the neighborhood with a bomb (with its inhabitants having been evacuated by the League), John used the carnage as an opportunity to replace the destroyed buildings with newer, cleaner and safer copies.
- Magic Fire: The superheroine Fire can control mystical green fire.
- Magic is Feminine: Wonder Woman is either a demigoddess or a magic statue brought to life by the gods, Zatanna is a trained sorceress and Vixen wears a magic amulet that grants her the power to copy the abilities of animals. These women are the most prominent female members of the Justice League (along with Black Canary who is a metahuman martial artist) and the most consistent mystic characters of the team. While Aquaman does wield a magic trident, he is normally the sole male mystic character of the League.
- Make Some Noise: Vibe has the power to project sonic shock waves from his hands that can shatter concrete and steel. Later versions of his character turned it into straight-up manipulation of vibrations, allowing him to start earthquakes that can level mountains and even mess with the fabric of reality.
- Misplaced Retribution: The second arc of Geoff Johns' New 52 run has the League being attacked by a man named Graves, who blames them for a horrific disease he and his family caught during Darkseid's invasion, which killed them.
- Mother Nature: She decides to Kill All Humans with a Natural Disaster Cascade in #100.
- Myopic Conqueror: One arc sees the Crime Syndicate of Amerika conquer their Earth. Unable to cope with a lack of any real heroes, they turn their attentions towards the planet Qward in order to start a new war for them to fight.
- Natural Disaster Cascade: In #100, Mother Nature decides to create a series of disasters specifically to wipe humans out because of humans' warring.
- Noodle Incident: The New 52 run mentions that the Martian Manhunter did join the team at some point in their early years, but for whatever reason attacked them, wiped their minds and left, because... because, apparently.
- No One Could Survive That!: A rather clever example in Grant Morrison's run; Batman's plane is shot down and the villains decide not to check the burning wreckage because he must surely be dead. This is the first clue to Batman—and clever readers—that they're White Martians, who are vulnerable to fire.
- Oh, Crap!: So many, so many examples. A memorable one happens in Justice League United when the team runs into a band of bounty hunters. Kara is giddy because she has to punch them. Animal Man... is not giddy. At all.Green Arrow: Sardath said this space station was a bit rough... be ready for anything. Supergirl, I hear voices through that door, can you see through it with your X-Ray vision?
Supergirl: Oh... This is going to be fun!
Green Arrow: Hmmm... What is it, Supergirl? A few alien thugs?
Supergirl: (smiling) No. Much better than that... Bounty hunters. Lots of them.
Animal Man: ... Oh Crapballs.
- Old Shame: More than once in-universe characters have thrown pall on the JLI days.
- Once More, with Clarity!: The Free Comic Book Day issue for 2012 has not-yet-introduced Green Lantern Simon Baz attacking Batman amidst an all out brawl between the Justice League, the Justice League of America, and Justice League Dark, with Mera thrown into the mix. Trinity War shows how they got there (and that Mera is actually J'onn).
- Out-of-Genre Experience: "Panic from a Blackmail Box", from JLA Vol. 1 #62, is essentially a crime drama with the JLA shoehorned in.
- The Paragons: There are many superhero teams in the DCU... but there's them, and there's The League. They are the greatest, most powerful and most admirable of them all. A hero making it into the Justice League basically graduated into hanging with the big boys.
- Phantom Zone: Grant Morrison's JLA introduces the Still Zone, where the League battle the White Martians and, later, Prometheus. According to these stories, the Still Zone (or, as Prometheus call it, the Ghost Zone), which the White Martians use in place of Hyperspace, is both the Phantom Zone and (according to the angel Zauriel) Limbo...and probably also the Stasis Zone that was at the time standing in for the Phantom Zone in M'Onel's origin and the Buffer Zone that Bgzltians phase into. A subsequent story adds Epoch's "timeless void" and DC One Million's "tesseract space" to the list. And then Morrison's The Multiversity reveals that the Phantom Zone is actually The Underworld.
- Planetary Relocation: Earth is transported to be part of a massive DNA-like mechanical structure, along with various other planets across the universe. Those behind it, the Quantum Mechanics, are doing so because they are trying to create an afterlife for themselves and are analyzing the various cultures of the planets to get a model for it.
- Plot Tailored to the Party: A staple of the Gardner Fox era, and lampshaded in Steve Engelhart's run in an issue where Aquaman, the Atom, and Elongated Man reflect on the way they seem to be in the League entirely for those moments where only their powers can contribute.
- Popularity Polynomial: By 1965, Superman, Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman were enjoying high sales in their main comics, so they became prominent in JLA stories, while Wonder Woman and the Atom would occasionally participate and Green Arrow, the Martian Manhunter, and Aquaman were frequently absent due to the low sales of their own comics. Then Bat-Mania happened, and Batman became the main attraction.
- The Hall of Justice. It first appeared in the Super Friends cartoon, then it was incorporated into the DCU as an HQ for the League.
- While the League had fought teams of villains before, the name "Legion of Doom" also originated in Super Friends.
- Retool: In a rather transparent attempt to cash in on the popularity of the Teen Titans and X-Men, the ill-fated Justice League Detroit ditched most of the A-listers in favor of a younger cast of lesser known heroes.
- Revenge Before Reason: In the New 52 run, an author named David Graves and his family are infected by an incurable disease, simply because they were near an opening Boom Tube. The illness kills Graves' family, which he blames on the Justice League. So he decides to go get superpowers and attack them for this.
- Rod And Reel Repurposed: In Justice League of America v1 #6, the League investigate a series of apparently impossible museum thefts which turn to have been carried out by an expert fisherman casting a line through the museum window and "catching" valuable artifacts.
- Rogues Gallery: Not only do the individual Rogues Galleries of the members antagonize them, but the team itself has its own unique rogues gallery, including Starro, Amazo and Despero.
- Sacrificial Planet: The various Justice League'' "Crisis" team-ups with the Justice Society occasionally used Earth-2 as a Sacrificial Planet in much the same way; at least two of the crossovers involved the temporary destruction of Earth-2 by some cosmic menace. Luckily, though, Status Quo Is God and the Reset Button kicked in by the end.
- Sealed Evil in a Six Pack: At one point, they trapped Doomsday within four teleporters on the moon, being unable to fully think enough to attempt an escape.
- Shout-Out: Grant Morrison's JLA:
- The Smurfette Principle: When the Justice League Of America started in 1960, Wonder Woman was the only female member, and though not necessarily the weakest, was certainly the most resembling. At least the early Gardner Fox stories treated her like the other members, and not like Faux Action Girl, though she soon became the secretary at the JLA's meetings, taking minutes and so on. It took almost a decade before Black Canary became the second female member (and that was only after Wonder Woman had resigned; it would take several more years before there was more than one woman on the team).
To add insult to injury, the JLA rejected a female member prior to letting Black Canary in: Hawkgirl was specifically disallowed, initially because the bylaws required they only let in one new member at a time, and they had just let in Hawkman. Later, she was kept out because her powers duplicated Hawkman's, so she brought nothing new to the table. Hawkman, of course, only has flight and scientific/detective skills (usually), thus is made completely redundant by Superman and Batman, but nobody moved to kick Hawkman out on these grounds. Hawkgirl was finally allowed in in the 70s, when the writers caught up with the sexual revolution.
- Spiritual Successor: Of the Justice Society of America.
- Starfish Alien: Starro is a Trope Codifier.
- Super Cell Reception: The Super Buddies are sent by Booster Gold to 'the deepest, darkest pits of Hell! (muahahaha!)' and are able to call their headquarters. It's lampshaded when Max Lord immediately demands to know what service they have.
- Take That!:
- The Grant Morrison era takes a few shots at the '90s Anti-Hero archetype, most notably with the Hyperclan, the Ultramarines and with the formerly harmless and benevolent QWSP becoming a supervillain because he saw that Aquaman had become superficially darker and grittier and decided to go along with it.
- Additionally, Morrison also goes after what he sees as previous Dork Ages or poor creative choices. Plastic Man makes fun of the Elongated Man on several occasions, Batman snidely dismisses the Gerard Jones-era League when they move into the satellite and a number of the characters from the Task Force spinoff of that period return as antagonists in a later arc, and the final issue ends with Doctor Destiny scheming to "de-imagine Detroit" (referencing the "Detroit League" mentioned above). Interestingly, the arc featuring the Task Force characters seemed to take a shot at the fans as well, with Triumph railing about the unfair way he and his teammates were treated due to the simple crime of not being as popular as the A-listers.
- The main antagonist of Christopher Priest's run was a parody of obsessed fanboys who refuse to accept change in their comics, with the character even parroting common criticisms of modern comics.
- Thinking Out Loud: Lampshaded in JLA Vol 1 #9 when The Key captures the Justice League and starts monologuing to himself.I've finally done it. The Justice League are mine. Their thoughts belong to The Key. And with their help, I shall open new doors onto a new universe! Oh, and make a note of an interesting side effect of my expanding consciousness. I can't stop talking to myself
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Most of the team members have this policy on an individual level, but it isn't a rule for the team. The modern Wonder Woman doesn't adhere to it, and the Green Lanterns were been permitted to use deadly force by their own superiors after Sinestro Corps War. Superman is one of the strictest about adhering to this personally, but as he's explained, he has no right to hold other heroes to the same standard. During her time with the League, Huntress' disregard for human life often caused her to butt heads with her teammates, and ultimately led to her being fired.
- Token Minority: The main reason why Cyborg was retconned into being a founding member of the team; prior to this, the team would usually have maybe one non-white human member in any given line-up (such as Steel in the Morrison years and the John Stewart Green Lantern in later runs). Notable exceptions would include the Detroit-era League and Brad Meltzer's run.
- West Coast Team: There was a Justice League International, a Justice League Europe, a Justice Black Ops group, and even an Antarctic League among many others (the page description has a fuller list). Interestingly enough, at the time it first launched, the Justice League International actually was the main team, but was rebranded Justice League America after the Justice League Europe was formed, with the JL Europe eventually renaming themselves the JL International.
- The Worf Effect: Whenever they appear outside of their own book, the Justice League will often get taken down by the bad guy just to show the seriousness of the situation.