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Justice League / Tropes A to L

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Due to the number of tropes present, Justice League has been split into two pages. Tropes M To Z can be found here.

This series provides examples of:

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  • Absence of Evidence: In "Hereafter", Superman is apparently killed by Toyman's latest machine, but Bruce refuses to believe it and presents his theory to Alfred by saying the lack of evidence is what tipped him off. Toyman's weapon left no debris, so it didn't blow him up. It left no scorch marks, so it didn't incinerate him. It didn't even leave radiation, hence it didn't disintegrate him. Bats deduces that since Toyman is merely an obnoxious Mad Scientist, not a god, the Law of Conservation is still in effect and therefore Superman couldn't have just been destroyed. His conclusion: it teleported him somewhere. He is right - Superman was shunted forward in time, but the show leaves it up to the viewer whether or not Batman is simply in denial.
  • Absentee Actor: In Justice League, it would be common for one or two members of the Original Seven to sit out a mission.
  • Achilles' Heel:
    • Superman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter are five of the most powerful heroes on Earth in terms of raw power, yet all of them have very specific weaknesses that the Thanagarians exploit during their first battle in "Starcrossed":
      • Superman is instantly incapacitated when hit by a beam of concentrated kryptonite radiation.
      • The Flash is subjected to a gravity beam that intensifies the gravity pull around him, disabling his Super Speed.
      • Wonder Woman's bracelets can deflect most projectiles, but not electric blasts. Similarly, Martian Manhunter tries to abuse his ability to phase through physical attacks, but is caught off guard when the Thanagarians use stun prods to injure him while he is in his intangible state.
      • The Thanagarians are armed with shields that absorb green light and fire it back as beams of yellow energy, the one thing that Green Lantern's ring cannot counter.
    • In Unlimited, Amazo returns to Earth after absorbing the special powers of countless life forms across the galaxy. In his current state, he is essentially a Physical God, defeating the entirety of the expanded Justice League in the span of a few minutes. However, it's revealed in "Wake the Dead" that the one thing he is unable to replicate is magic. When he realizes that Solomon Grundy could drain his energy via chaos magic, Amazo panics and teleports to another galaxy, disappearing for the rest of the series.
  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: In "Only a Dream", Flash initially thinks that his run-in with Dr. Destiny is the result of "too many jalapeños." Unfortunately, he's wrong.
  • Actually, I Am Him: In "A Better World", after the League rescues Hawkgirl from the Justice Lord universe's Arkham Asylum, they are confronted by the military. Before anything can happen, the Justice Lords' Batman arrives and orders the soldiers to stand down, whilst he takes them away. The League assumed that he was their Batman, who had disguised himself with Lord Batman's costume in order to let them escape.
    Superman: You fooled them. Even I thought you were him.
    Lord Batman: I am 'him'.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The JLU version of For the Man Who Has Everything removes Robin and gives his awesome moments to Wonder Woman. It also makes Superman's dream happier and closer to what one might imagine his dreams would be (the changed focus of the dream also makes sense in terms of the contrast between the Pre-Crisis Superman of the comic — heavily steeped in his Kryptonian heritage, who always considered Superman/Kal-El his "true self" and Clark Kent a mere mask — and the Post-Crisis Superman of the cartoon — raised as a human who considers himself Clark Kent first).
  • Affectionate Parody: The "Legends" two-parter was a loving homage to the Golden Age of Comic Books, lampooning themed villains, kid sidekicks, assumed gender roles and social norms. It skewers what comics used to be like, but clearly shows how important they were.
  • Affirmative Action Legacy: John Stewart was chosen over Hal Jordan precisely to avoid making every super-powered character on the show white. Hawkgirl was chosen over Hawkman (and Aquaman, whom she replaces as a founding Leaguer) in order to have another girl on the team besides Diana to avoid The Smurfette Principle.
  • Agony Beam: Darkseid's Agony Matrix directly stimulates all of the target's pain receptors simultaneously. When Superman is subjected to it, he falls to the ground writhing in agony.
  • Agony of the Feet:
    • In one battle, Darkseid gains the upper hand and begins to stomp Superman's head into the ground. To counter this, Supes uses his eyebeams, through Darkseid's foot.
    • When three of the heroes find themselves stranded in The Wild West, they switch to less conspicuous local outfits taken from some mooks who'd tried to rob them:
      Wonder Woman: These shoes are killing me.
      Batman: You fight crime wearing high heels.
      Wonder Woman: High heels that fit!
    • Not even superheroines are safe from kids, as Stargirl found out when in Japan and attending a Supergirl convention. After she complains about the attention Kara is getting, a chubby little Fangirl goes over and kicks her in the shins for insulting the better-known heroine.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • Brainiac remains as this just as he was back in Superman: The Animated Series, where he has interpreted his programming to collect data as a directive to collect all information in the universe and then to destroy it.
    • The Manhunter robots, which were originally created by the Guardians before they were replaced by the Green Lanterns.
  • Aliens of London:
    • Maria Canals Barrera was cast as Hawkgirl partially because her Cuban accent would help her stand out from the other League members. In "Starcrossed", other Hispanic actors were cast for the primary Thanagarian roles in order to match Hawkgirl and give the impression of a consistent accent that would come from speaking a common language.
    • J'onn J'onnz is voiced by Carl Lumbly who sports a Jamaican accent.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Green Lantern rings can translate languages, but even when no rings or telepathic Martians are around, English still seems to be the default language of the universe.
  • All for Nothing: For Cadmus the events of "Task Force X", in which Task Force X stole the Annihilator, becomes this after the following episode, "The Balance", when Felix Faust takes control of it, leading to it's destruction at Wonder Woman's hands.
  • All of Them: In "Patriot Act", when Speedy asks Green Arrow how many League members General Eiling has managed to defeat, Green Arrow responds "that would be all of them".
  • All There in the Manual: Boston Brand (Deadman) had never appeared in the DCAU prior to his appearance in season three of Unlimited, but both he and Batman make reference to previously working together. This occurred in the comic tie-in to Batman: The Animated Series, which was considered canon with the aired DCAU.
  • Allohistorical Allusion: Towards the end of "The Savage Time", the members of the German High Command are beginning to resent Vandal Savage's actions and position. When speaking about the previous Fuhrer, they admit that he was crazy, but at least he listened to his generals. In real life, one of the key reasons often given for the collapse of the German military was Hitler's refusal to accept advice or corrections from his military staff.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: The roster of Dr. Fate's super-team seen in "Wake the Dead" is based on the original Defenders. Dr. Fate = Dr. Strange, A.M.A.Z.O. = Silver Surfer, Hawkgirl = Nighthawk, Solomon Grundy = Hulk and Aquaman = Namor.
  • Alternate Universe: The show had several — the retro-styled world of the Justice Guild, the dark dystopia of the Justice Lords, the Vandal Savage-ruled world created through time travel, and others.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Minor villain Tsukuri could be read as a butch lesbian, especially since her final line of dialogue heavily implied that she was attracted to Aresia.
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: The Amulet of First Magic, which gives Mordred the power to get rid of his mother and completely rid the world of all adults.
  • Ancient Astronauts: When two Thanagarian law officers accidentally crashed in north-east Africa eight thousand years ago, they used their advanced technology to bring water and food to the arid locale and created a peaceful society that covered much of the continent. It was such a nice place to live that neighboring countries would actually thank them for conquering their homes. Unfortunately, they had only educated their people to the level of tool users, not tool makers, so when they died their society collapsed in a generation.
  • And Call Him "George"!:
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Doctor Destiny in "Only a Dream", stabs himself with a high-powered sedative while fighting Batman, sending him into a catatonic state with "Brother John" playing on loop in his head. He seems to have recovered later though, as he's seen in a crowd shot in "I Am Legion" (though, being a cameo, it's unclear whether that's really John Dee or a successor).
    • Chronos in "The Once and Future Thing" gets trapped in a time loop of his wife screaming at him for all eternity.
    • In "Legends", the people who populate the city and are used as props in Ray's fantasy. One points out that forty years driving an ice cream truck around just to be background for a godlike entity's childish dream is horrible enough for any Hell.
    • At the end of "Kid Stuff", Mordred. After being tricked into giving up his eternal youth, he rapidly ages to his proper chronological age and is now a drooling vegetable.
  • And Show It to You: Thematically speaking. It is not literally a heart, but in "Chaos at the Earth's Core" Supergirl uses a dagger to carve out Metallo's Kryptonite power source.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The Trope Namer, after Wonder Woman's final line that concludes the series.
  • And Then What?:
    • When Bizarro appears in "Ultimatum", he is assisting Giganta in her efforts to break Gorilla Grodd out of jail. When Wonder Woman asks him why, he explains that he has fallen in love with her. When Wonder Woman asks him what he thinks will happen after they have broken her boyfriend out of jail, he freezes in confusion.
    • Vandal Savage experiences this in "Hereafter" after he's effectively wiped humanity from the Earth, and is now alone in the distant future.
  • And This Is for...: In "War World", Draaga gives such a speech while pounding on Mongul, citing his people, his honor, and justice.
  • Animated Armor: The Annihilator, built by Hephaestus for Ares, is a magic suit of armor that comes to life and starts destroying everything in its vicinity when exposed to violence and anger.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Lex Luthor attends Superman's funeral in "Hereafter" and embraces Lois, claiming he will miss him too.
  • Anti-Climactic Unmasking: When Lex Luthor unmasks the Flash, all he can do is stare at the red-headed kid and admit that he has no idea who the heck it is.
  • Anti-Climax: Captain Cold is very disappointed with how the fight against the Flash ended, since he was looking forward to bloody revenge and all he got was the sight of the Flash falling into a mirror. Of course, the episode was not over yet...
  • Anti-Magic: Hawkgirl's mace, and Thanagarian technology in general, is designed to nullify magic.
  • Anti-Villain: The Ultra-Humanite fixed a toy for orphans on Christmas, then willingly went back to jail. The only outright villainous thing he does in the whole series is help Lex break out of jail and fight the League, but he gives that up when he gets a better offer: money for public broadcasting.
  • Anvilicious: In universe, even Superman finds Wind Dragon's impassioned speech about environmentalism to be too much.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Frequently used by characters, but deconstructed each and every time.
    • The Flash was the first to explicitly point out the ridiculous nature of skepticism in their line of work since, as he points out to John Stewart, "we've both got a martian's phone number on our speed dial; I think I deserve the benefit of the doubt here."
    • In "Shadow of the Hawk", where Batman describes the academic humiliation of Carter Hall after he began to believe that aliens had visited Ancient Egypt, Shayera Hol mocks the idea that there is no such things as aliens, since she herself is from another planet and the conversation includes Green Lantern.
    • When Deadman mocks the idea of Gorilla City in "Dead Reckoning", Wonder Woman asks why he, as a ghost from the Himalayas possessing Superman's body, has a problem with this. Deadman concedes that she has a point.
    • The straightest example is when Batman seriously believes (and Alfred takes him seriously) that Superman can't be dead because of the implications of the laws of conservation of mass. Even though he routinely work against a supervillain and with several superheroes whose only power is to change their size whenever they want to.
  • Arc Welding: The long-running storylines of Justice League Unlimited were all connected back to the season two episodes of Justice League itself and were then pushed back even further into Superman: The Animated Series. Ultimately, plot points were developed directly from episodes of Superman that had aired eight years (And two series) before the current show. References are also made to episodes as far back as the beginning of Batman: The Animated Series, including "On Leather Wings", which was the very first entry in the DC Animated Universe—as well as direct connections to Batman Beyond, which preceded Unlimited in broadcast order, but in-universe is chronologically the final entry.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • In "Patriot Act", a random bystander gets the Well-Intentioned Extremist villain to stop fighting and leave the city with one.
      Little Old Lady: Tell me, son: how many of us do you have to kill to keep us safe?
    • When the Watchtower is sabotaged and opens fire on American soil in "Panic in the Sky", Superman says they need to turn themselves in to the government until they've been cleared of complicity. Green Lantern protests:
    Green Lantern: We're not here to be liked! We're here to make the world a safer place!
    Superman: How are we doing so far today?
  • Armor-Piercing Response:
    • Lord Batman drives home one of these to his regular universe counterpart, to the reason why he helped create a totalitarian state. This was such an armor-piercing question that the writers couldn't come up with a way to beat it. They had intended Batman to win the argument, but after that line they couldn't think of a response:
      Batman: You grabbed power!
      Lord Batman: And with that power, we made a world where no eight-year-old boy will EVER lose his parents because of some punk with a gun.
      Batman: [drops Batarang dejectedly] You win.
    • Batman turns it back on him later, though, after stopping by a cafe and seeing a guy get taken away by masked police for complaining about the bill:
      Batman: They'd love it here, don't you think?
      Lord Batman: Who?
      Batman: Mom and Dad. They'd be so proud of you.
      Lord Batman: ...Just drive.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: After taking over Tartarus and perusing Hades' Library, Faust lists off texts that "make the Necronomicon look like a children's book": the Lost Scrolls of Herculaneum, Merlin's juvenilia, Pierre Menard's Don Quixote!note 
  • Art Evolution:
    • Superman was originally designed to be slightly bulkier than he was back in Superman: The Animated Series in addition to having some additional lines on his face and a change in coloration. The negative fan reception to the design (the lines made him look older/recovering from Kryptonite-tainted clams) led to them tweaking the design slightly by altering the face, making Superman to resemble how he looked back in Superman: The Animated Series, though his design still retained the bulk of his season one design. Here is one image of the first design used in Justice League and here is an image of the redesign for the second season and Justice League Unlimited.
    • Wonder Woman also had a tweak for the second season and Unlimited, losing the cheekbones she had in the first season.
    • Batman was slimmed down from his previous DCAU appearances and his suit appears to be a hybrid of his Batman: the Animated Series and New Batman Adventures costumes, with the overall design resembling the latter (plain black Bat symbol, pouches on the utility belt), but the black parts of his suit sport the blue highlights of the former (though they are more of a bluish-purple color instead of the electric blue of BTAS). They also took some cues from the Batman Beyond design in how the cowl ears looked (tall and spaced out from his head slightly) and gave his shoes some heels.
    • When Darkseid appeared in "Twilight", he had a smaller mouth and more craggy lines on his face compared to his Superman: TAS design, leading to speculaion that it was from his injuries in Superman: TAS's finale, "Legacy". Word of God on the commentary for "Twilight" was Darkseid's redesign was that while it could be that, the intent was more this, trying to bring Darkseid closer to how Jack Kirby drew him.
  • Artificial Gravity: The Watchtower's gravity can be switched on and off with the press of a button. During "The Great Brain Robbery", this becomes a plot point, as it enables Mister Terrific to nullify Flash's powers while the latter's body is under Lex Luthor's control.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • The show has a biological inaccuracy serve as the key plot-point to a season one episode. In "Fury", Arisia attempts to wipe out all men on Earth with a deadly "allergen". Allergens are not contagious; different people (and different species) have different allergic reactions to the same substance.
    • In the series premier, Batman helps defeat the Imperium by exposing them to sunlight. He reasons that "coming from the depths of space, the invaders have no resistance to our sun's radiation." Coming from space should have given them more resistance to radiation, given that space lacks the protections that planets such as Earth have against solar radiation and cosmic rays (i.e., a magnetic field and atmosphere).
  • Artistic License – Military: In "Maid of Honor," John says that "astronauts are military" as part of his argument for a Shoot the Hostage approach to attacking the International Space Station. Most astronauts aren't any kind of military; they're civilian scientists and engineers with piloting experience.
  • Art Shift: Grodd's story about Prince Jon in "To Another Shore" is drawn in a more typical, realistic comic book style reminiscent of classic Viking Prince artist Joe Kubert.
  • Ascended Extra: The John Stewart Green Lantern, Wally West Flash or Hawkgirl had never been depicted as Justice League founders. Wally was ingrained into the role due to being the mainline Flash at the time, and trying to explain Barry Allen would have been Continuity Lockout. John Stewart was selected over the previously introduced Kyle Raynor specifically to add more racial diversity, and Hawkgirl was introduced completely separate from Hawkman.
  • Assimilation Backfire: During A.M.A.Z.O.'s first appearance, he copies the powers of all the League's members while fighting them. When he absorbs Superman's powers he also gets his vulnerability to Kryptonite, but quickly learns how to modify himself so it is no longer an issue.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The Christmas special where Green Lantern and Hawkgirl spend their holiday in an alien bar, asskicking.
  • The Atoner: Hawkgirl spends much of the first two seasons of Unlimited trying to win back the trust of humanity in general and her friends in the League.
  • Ax-Crazy: Killer Frost. According to Grodd, she has agreed to join the Secret Society not because she is seeking personal benefit, but because she likes to kill.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Binary Fusion Cannon, although incredibly powerful and effective, drains all the Watchtower's power for an hour, leaving it completely vulnerable to attack. The mere fact that it exists also undermines the Justice League's credibility, many people being justifiably nervous about them having a space laser with the punch of a nuke pointing down at their heads.
  • Back for the Dead:
    • General Hardcastle, who was a minor recurring character that was introduced back Superman: The Animated Series, returns in "Fearful Symmetry" and is killed by Galatea.
    • Dr. Milo, a minor villain that was introduced back Batman The Animated Series, comes back to release from Cadmus custody, and be killed off by, Doomsday.
  • Back for the Finale: J'onn J'onzz retires halfway through the final season, but comes back just in time to join Earth's forces against Darkseid.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Solomon Grundy Came Back Wrong as a mindless monster due to being resurrected with chaos magic.
    • Darkseid is accidentally resurrected by Luthor in "Alive!".
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: This happens in the final episode with Batman and Lex Luthor, who shield each other's backs from a swarm of Parademons.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: In "Flash and Substance", Central City is shown to have a bar frequented by the various Flash rogues. The Flash is well aware of where it is and who drinks there, occasionally popping by to arrest a villain when he feels it necessary.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: ]
    • Lord Superman. In the comics, Doomsday killed Superman after already defeating the entirety of the Justice League of America, but Lord Superman lobotomized him five minutes into the fight once it became apparent that his strength approached Superman's own.
    • The Legion of Doom essentially does the dirty work to itself. While set up as the main opposition to the Justice League in the final season, the League never fights the full force of the Legion. Instead, it's the Enemy Civil War between Grodd and Lex Luthor, followed by the mistaken resurrection of Darkseid that reduces the Legion of Doom from 60 members to 12, in one episode.
  • Bad Guys Play Pool: The Bad-Guy Bar in "Flash and Substance" has a pool table constantly in use in the background. When the Flash convinces the Trickster to help him out, the pool table is destroyed.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Lex Luthor, when he is not wearing his military style fatigues, Institutional Apparel or Powered Armor. Lampshaded with "I had to get my power suit."
  • Badass Normal:
    • Batman, of course, but also a fair number of Unlimited League members. The latter are spotlighted in "Patriot Act", and The Question sometimes seems to be the real star of the series.
    • Superman in "Hereafter", who proves he's more than capable in a post-apocalyptic wasteland full of dangerous predators without superpowers.
    • John Stewart reminds the audience that he's an ex-marine when stuck in WWII with a dead power ring.
  • Badass Creed:
    • Green Lantern is a main character, so obviously you'll hear one of these.
    • Our heroes are unimpressed when they first hear the Justice Guild's corny: "Let justice prevail!" but when it gets repeated at the climax of the episode suddenly it's pure badass.
  • Bait-and-Switch: As payment for changing Wonder Woman back from a pig, Circe demands Batman give up something "soul-shattering" that he can never return. Cut to him singing "Am I Blue?"
  • Bait the Dog: Deadshot spends most of "Task Force X" flirting with Plastique but at the end of the episode detonates an explosive a few inches from her face.
  • Barbarian Hero: Superman in "Hereafter" turns into one on the post-apocalyptic Earth, complete with a sword, a Beard of Barbarism, wild hair and a pack of trained canines.
  • Bar Brawl: Hawkgirl seems to enjoy a good brawl, as she starts a fight (In anger) in "In Blackest Night" and starts another one (Just for fun) in "Comfort and Joy".
  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: General Wade Eiling, after his transformation, catches Shining Knight's sword with one hand and throws him to the ground. It had previously been established that Shining Knight's sword was the one weapon present which could injure the General, after bullets, explosions and even Quantum Arrows did not even mark him.
  • Barrier Warrior: A shield is the most common construct employed by the Green Lanterns, Sinestro and Star Sapphire.
  • Bash Brothers:
    • Flash and Green Lantern were the most-often paired of the main team
    • Vigilante and Shining Knight are frequently shown fighting together in Unlimited.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • In "Injustice for All," Joker manages to pull one on the Bat himself, figuring out that Batman would have planted a bug on Luthor and using that to lure Batman into the Injustice Gang's clutches. Of course, then Batman got to work on the Gang from the inside.
    • In "Wild Cards", The Joker sets up several bombs across the city and challenges the League to disarm them all before they explode, broadcasting their work on national television. However, it's later revealed that his true intention was amassing a large viewing audience, which he could then hypnotize using his minion Ace's psychic powers.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: Superman attempts to lobotomize Doomsday in the "Doomsday Sanction," just as his Justice Lord counterpart did in "A Better World". It is pointed out by other characters that this is but one commonality between the two, and that Superman might not be as different from his Lord counterpart as they would all like to think.
  • Battle Couple: Pretty much every Official Couple in the show. In the first series, this was limited to John Stewart and Hawkgirl following the episode "Wild Cards", but Unlimited introduced Black Canary and Green Arrow, Huntress and the Question and brought along Vixen as part of the love triangle between Green Lantern, Shayera and herself.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: "Only A Dream." The Leaguers have to engage in a fight with Dr. Destiny in their own (and each others') minds while Batman tracks him down in the real world.
  • Batty Lip Burbling: The Joker does this when he reveals that Ace has been hypnotizing everyone watching his show.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Hath-Set follows through on his loyalty to his Thanagarian pharaoh Katar-Hol with brutal efficiency. When Katar discovers his wife and best friend are in love with each other he offhandedly wishes they were dead while overcome with rage. Hath-Set, who was eavesdropping, makes it so... to Katar's intense dismay.
  • Beam-O-War: In "Only a Dream", John Stewart and Volcana square off against one another. Volcana seems to be on the verge of overpowering John, but she is knocked down by Batman and John is able to gain the upper hand.
  • Beautiful All Along:
    • There was never any implication that she was actually ugly, but Hawkgirl wore her mask for every single scene in the first two seasons that never revealed what she really looked like and leading some fans to think that her mask was her face. When she and John Stewart finally admit that they have feelings for each other, she points out that they are too different and not even the same species, but John says that all he sees are a man and a woman as he slowly takes off her mask. Beneath the mask, she is a very beautiful woman with long red hair and piercing green eyes.
    • When the Question and Huntress team-up in "Double Date", she theorizes that he must be the ugliest person in the world in order to hide his face like he does. There was a brief glance at his unmasked face earlier in the series in "Fearful Symmetry," but "Flashpoint" has his dramatic unmasking. At that point, he has been beaten so badly his face is almost unrecognizable as the same man and he sourly comments that Huntress was right, he is "the ugliest guy in the world." Huntress disagrees.
  • Beautiful Singing Voice: Of all people, Batman is shown to have this in the episode "This Little Piggy." The sorceress Circe curses Wonder Woman, turning her into a pig, but is not so petty as to not give Batman a chance to restore her to normal. The terms? Batman must sing "Am I Blue?" at the Amphitheater on Mykonos. His performance is so riveting and suave that it moves both Circe and Zatanna to tears.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Hawkgirl and Green Lantern bicker and argue so much throughout the first two seasons that Flash actually compares them to an old married couple. The two eventually realize their feelings in "Wild Cards", near the end of the second season, and are a couple in "Starcrossed", the season finale. Even The Joker notices their relationship before they finally admit it:
    The Joker: Is it just me, or is there something going on between those two?
  • Beneath Notice: When running from the Thanagarians in "Starcrossed", J'onn points out that the Thanagarians are looking for the Justice League, not six regular people. By taking off their costumes and walking down the street they are able to avoid notice. Unfortunately, the Thanagarians are aware that the League will take off their costumes, so they have soldiers stationed at train stations checking identification.
  • Benevolent Alien Invasion: Subverted with the first Thanagarian invasion. The Thanagarians pretended to be trying to protect Earth from a race of galactic conquerors, when in reality they were planning to destroy the planet. Played straight in Season Three of Unlimited, which reveals that two Thanagarians had been benevolent rulers thousands of years ago when they were worshipped as gods, but their empire crumbled shortly after their death.
  • Betrayal Insurance:
    • When A.M.A.Z.O. copies Superman's powers (and weaknesses), Batman uses a piece of kryptonite on it.
      Hawkgirl: Do you always keep that in your belt?
      Batman: Call it... insurance. [grapples away]
      ** Discussed in one episode where Batman asks Superman what's to keep him from becoming a Justice Lord. Superman half-jokes that there's always the Kryptonite that Bruce carries around, but Bruce yells that it's no laughing matter.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • The Flash, the goofy, light-hearted member of the League, is the one to finally defeat Brainiac/Luthor after the entire rest of the League has failed (when Luthor ends up in Flash's body in a later episode, and uses his powers without regard for the damage they can do, we again see that Flash is a lot more powerful and potentially dangerous than is usually thought).
    • The series seems built on the principle that the nicer you are, the more epic your eventual rages are. Darkseid finds out the hard and painful way when Superman decides to finally stop holding back..
  • Big Bad:
    • Brainiac in the Cadmus Arc, though he ultimately fuses with Lex to acquire an imagination.
    • The Legion of Doom Arc started out with Grodd, and then switched to Lex, but ultimately defaulted to Darkseid.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: Six episodes involve the League, or their allies, taking part in what can only be described as a war given the number of enemies and scale of the fight.
    • In "The Savage Time", the League is sent back to World War II and takes part in the struggle between the Allies and the Axis. They fight off fighter squadrons, armored battalions and even War Wheels.
    • In "Maid of Honor", Wonder Woman and Batman stage what is, in essence, a full invasion of Kasnia. They wind up fighting the air force, infantry and tanks. All set to the marriage of Princess Audrey and Vandal Savage.
    • "Hearts and Minds", opens with four Green Lanterns engaged against the entire military might of Despero, including dozens of his superpowered acolytes and an armada of battleships.
    • "Starcrossed" climaxes with a fight between the League and thousands of fighters of the Thanagarian Expeditionary Force.
    • In "Chaos at the Earth's Core", members of the League are present during the final battle between Deimos and forces of free Skartaris. Hundreds of people and Lizard Folk clash using swords, bows-and-arrows, laser weapons and giant monsters.
    • "Destroyer", the final episode, has the expanded League and the Legion of Doom teaming up against a full-scale invasion of Earth by Darkseid and the forces of Apokolips.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: John and Shayera at the end of "Wild Cards". Hilariously lampshaded when the scene immediately cuts to a woman getting a jackpot in a casino, causing her to happily proclaim "well, it’s about time".
  • Big Eater: Flash is one due to Required Secondary Powers (Which really does not nearly account for how much energy he uses, but hey, it is comic book physics, we are used to it).
  • Big in Japan: invoked Supergirl. Green Lantern describes her as such word for word when Stargirl is shocked to notice a Supergirl convention, complete with cosplayers.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The song that Batman is muttering at the end of "Just a Dream" is an ad-jingle parody of the old French song Frere Jacques, which is about a man who is asleep.
  • Bitch Slap: Downpour attempts to blow out Aquaman with a torrent of water. After Aquaman points out this follynote  Downpour rushes him with a few punches that do absolutely nothing to the far more physically powerful Aquaman - After an Oh, Crap! from Downpour, Aquaman finishes the fight by way of this trope; a bitchslap so hard it knocks Downpour out cold.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • "Paradise Lost" ends with Hades banished back to Tartarus and the Amazons freed from Faust's petrification spell. But by bringing the rest of the Justice League with her to help, Wonder Woman broke the Amazons' most sacred law, meaning Hippolyta has no choice but to exile her own daughter from Themyscira.
    • "Legends" ends with the Justice Guild teaming up out to take out Ray. As the real Justice Guild is 40 years dead by that point, the one we see is a construct of Ray's mind, and defeating him effectively erases them, right in front of Green Lantern's eyes (who as a kid idolized them). The people of Seaboard city are freed from 40 years of imprisonment in Ray's illusion, but their city is still in ruin from the war that wiped everything. They pledge to rebuild, the League goes home, and Green Lantern is left to grieve the twice-fallen heroes of the Guild.
    • The Justice League finale, "Starcrossed". It saw the rescue of the world and routing of the invading aliens, but Hawkgirl leaves the League and her relationship with Green Lantern ends.
    "... I love you too."
    • In "Ultimatum", Longshadow symbolically joins the League, but it is implied he and the rest of the Ultimen die extremely soon after.
  • Black Blood: In "Twilight", Darkseid can be seen bleeding black blood when hit. This is especially noticeable near the end when Brainiac is about to explode and Batman forces Superman to get out.
  • Bland-Name Product: Flash finds a container of Bob & Terry's ice cream in Green Lantern's freezer.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Played straight for most episodes, with occasional aversions (John Stewart did look pretty beaten after his fight with Hro Talak, who himself had a nosebleed after the fight) or justifications (Captain Atom cannot bleed since he does not have blood).
  • Boarding Pod: Seen in the season 2 finale. Each pod was loaded with cloned Ultimen, and had triple buzzsaws for cutting through the Watchtower's hull. But given that their goal was shooting down the Watchtower, the question has to be asked why they didn't just fire normal missiles.
  • Body Wipe: The last episode ends with the League members running toward the camera in its final, trope naming "And the Adventure Continues" scene. It notably ends with Batman's logo, causing Batman to provide the Bookends to the DCAU.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Hawkgirl, who loves fighting so much she uses a Bar Brawl as a holiday celebration. Maria Canals, her actress, explained that she personally felt stress-relieved when she was allowed to give Hawkgirl's war cry.
  • Bond One-Liner:
  • Bookends:
    • Justice League begins and ends with alien invasions. The first causes the formation of the League, while the second sees it lose a member.
    • The ending of "Epilogue" has Terry McGinnis flying past a flying police car, confusing the pilots. This mirrors the opening scene of the very first episode of Batman: The Animated Series, "On Leather Wings" (right down to the line spoken by the policeman - played both times by Kevin Conroy, no less - who notices Batman). The original plan was for this episode to be the finale for the series, only for another season to appear.
    • Batman does provide a book end in the actual final episode for the DCAU, as when all the heroes rush out the image fades to black by going into his logo.
    • If Justice League and Justice League Unlimited are taken as one series, then it begins and ends with alien invaders setting up giant structures meant for Hostile Terraforming and unexpected team-ups for fighting the threat.
  • Boomerang Comeback: Flash tries to deal with a swarm of exploding boomerangs by throwing them away.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: The Cadmus Arc. J'onn, Question, Batman, and Green Arrow concede that Cadmus is right to be afraid of the League if they ever went rogue and preparing for that possibility is reasonable. But Superman is also right in pointing that Cadmus is in essence a shadow cabinet, illegally operating without Congressional approval, that's basically decided to bring them down with no justification or provocation.
  • Bowdlerise: The show suffered this back when it was on The CW's Vortexx block. Real firearms were changed into family-friendly ones, Never Say "Die" was in full effect, some of the more blatant double entendres were cut, overall violence was toned down with either cuts or Hit Flash, and Fanservice was censored to the point of being nearly non-existent.
  • Boxed Crook: Task Force X, which is an adaptation of the Suicide Squad.
  • The Boxing Episode: "The Cat and the Canary" sees Wildcat get involved in an underground fighting circuit, while Black Canary and Green Arrow try to convince him to get out before he seriously hurts someone or vice-versa.
  • Brainwashed: Despero was converting entire populations to his will using "The Flame of Pytar" in the season two episode "Hearts and Minds."
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The Flash in "The Brave and the Bold" gets brainwashed by Gorilla Grodd.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: How the Justice Lords dealt with their Rogues Gallery. And by "brainwashing" we mean "lobotomy"; Lord Superman uses his heat vision to burn into a villain's skull, such as Doomsday, and make them much more receptive to commands and therapy.
  • Brandishment Bluff: In "Chaos at the Earth's Core", Supergirl's powers are reduced, with a comparable reduction in her vulnerability to Kryptonite. When she faces Metallo, who is unaware that the environment has impacted her powers, she claims that she is simply immune to Kryptonite and threatens him to surrender or be destroyed.
  • Brick Joke:
  • Broken Pedestal: Billy Batson, aka Captain Marvel, always considered Superman to be the example to follow. But when the hero he admired actually attacks him, it hurts him much more deeply than the beating he received.
  • Brought Down to Normal:
    • Green Lantern in "The Savage Time," where his ring runs out of energy, and "Hearts and Minds", where Despero affected his ability to use it.
    • Superman in "Hereafter", where he loses all his abilities after being transported to a planet with a red sun. Not that it does anything to hinder his determination, or his awesomeness.
    • Supergirl in "Chaos at the Earth's Core." She herself describes it as "half strength," but she lacks the ability to fly more than a few feet or lift a stone larger than herself, so her power is much closer to human-normal than "half" would imply.
  • The Brute: Solomon Grundy, who is the dumb muscle for whichever supervillain has hired him this week.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Superman purposefully stepped in front of a group of soldiers to shield them from a hail of bullets. Since he is Superman, it made more sense than many other human shields.
  • Bus Full of Innocents: A bus full of nuns is about to collide with a truck full of dynamite in "Legends". Even the Flash realizes that it's a Contrived Coincidence.
  • Buy Them Off: In an episode where Batman was kidnapped by Luthor and his fellow villains, he not only manipulates half of the villains there to either turn against each other or help him in some way, for his final masterstroke he gets Ultra-Humanite to backstab Luthor... By promising him double what Luthor was paying.
  • Call-Back:
    • Batman sings "Am I Blue" in "This Little Piggy". The song made an earlier DCAU appearance in the DTV film Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero.
    • In "Twilight", Batman mentions an incident where Darkseid captured Superman and Brainwashed him into acting as his puppet. This is in reference to "Legacy", the two-part Grand Finale of Superman: The Animated Series.
    • Superman is the only member of the League to recognize the sound of a Boom Tube. This is thanks to his encounters with the New Gods back in Superman: The Animated Series.
    • Superman is shown to know Aquaman and Doctor Fate, both of whom he met back in his own series.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Crime Boss Steven Mandragora's son, Edgar, appears at the end of "Double Date." Edgar would "later" appear in the Batman Beyond episode "Mind Games".
    • Batman does not enjoy travelling via boom tube, referencing a line of his future self in Batman Beyond.
    • Amanda Waller mentions attempts to splice human and animal DNA. This "Splicing" would become popular with criminals in Batman Beyond.
    • The Justice League trains with "Z8 Trainer" robots, early models of Zeta from The Zeta Project.
    • At numerous points in the series, Batman uses electric brass knuckles while fighting. They were later used by Mr. Fixx in the pilot to Batman Beyond.
  • Came Back Wrong: Solomon Grundy. First as a zombie of a gangster, then as a mindless killing machine capable of going toe to toe with the likes of Superman and A.M.A.Z.O.
  • The Cameo:
    • Hal Jordan makes a brief appearance in "Once and Future Thing" when Chronos' messing with time causes him to get retconned into the JL in place of John Stewart.
    • There is an appearance by a much older Andrea Beaumont, AKA The Phantasm in "Epilogue".
    • "Grudge Match", which takes place in Bludhaven, has a split second appearance of Nightwing hiding among a row of gargoyles. This is especially notable because of what became known as the "Bat-Embargo," the producers couldn't use any Batman-family characters outside of Batman himself. These is a similar cameo in "Savage Time" where characters looking suspiciously like Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon were among Batman's resistance group.
  • Canon Foreigner: The Ultimen (who were incarnations of the Canon Foreigners from Super Friends), Tsukuri, and Galatea. Yet all of them look strangely familiar...
  • Canon Immigrant: The Justice Lords were officially made canon in The Multiversity. They currently reside on Earth-50 of the Post-Flashpoint Multiverse.
  • The Caper: Four normal humans, managed by the Clock King and under orders from Amanda Waller, make a raid on the Justice League headquarters to steal a suit of Animated Armor. Not that it does them much good in the long run, when the suit is hijacked by Faust.
  • Captain Ersatz:
  • Captain Obvious: Flash after seeing the stuffed T-Rex in the Batcave:
    Flash: That's a giant dinosaur!
    Alfred: And here I thought Batman was the detective.
  • Captain Superhero: Captain Atom (Who actually held the rank of captain in the United States Air Force) and Captain Marvel.
  • Card-Carrying Villain:
    • The show lampshades it when an evil race of snake spirits want to possess the League.
      General (under possession from the spirits): How would one contact this "Just-Us League?"
      Sergeant: I don't know, sir. Wear a gaudy costume and threaten a bunch of people?
      General: Thank you Sergeant, you've been quite a help.
    • Lampshaded yet again in Unlimited by Flash, during his "Freaky Friday" Flip with Lex Luthor:
      "Luthor": [Walking out of the bathroom] What?
      Polaris: You gonna wash your hands?
      "Luthor": No...cause I'm EVIL.
  • Car Fu:
    • Question fights off the Parademons in "Destroyer" by running them over with his car.
    • Lobo in "Hereafter"... by throwing the car.
  • Casanova Wannabe: In "Secret Origins", the Flash immediately puts his arm on Wonder Woman, much to her shock.
    Flash: "Dibs on the Amazon!"
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • In "The Balance":
      Shayera: How'd you do that?
      Wonder Woman: Magic lasso. Who knew?
      Shayera: If you don't want to tell me, fine.
    • When Darkseid asks the League's help to fight Brainiac, Superman's the only one to call out that Darkseid's conning them. Everyone else thinks Superman's history with Darkseid is clouding his judgment, but Darkseid nearly conquers the universe by pretending to be cowed by Brainiac's power.
  • Cast from Calories: The Flash is frequently seen eating high-calorie food whenever he's not actively performing deeds of superheroics. He is, on at least one occasion, seen devouring an armful of hot dogs, which he comments is for keeping up his caloric intake which, as a speedster, is understandably high.
  • Casting Gag:
    • The Royal Flush are each voiced by a respective actor from the Teen Titans cast.
    • Fred Savage and Jason Hervey's most famous roles are bickering brothers Kevin and Wayne Arnold on The Wonder Years. Originally they were going to read for the opposite part to go in line with their characters on said show, but after changing voices for a non-recorded read-through, everyone realized they liked the new voices a lot better and went with it. Hence the otherwise meek Savage played the violent Hawk and previously belligerent Hervey played the pacifistic Dove.
    • Vigilante's voice Nathan Fillion plays a cowboy who lives in space. It's highlighted in at least one episode when he teams with Vixen, who's played by Gina Torres.
    • J.K. Simmons voices General Wade Eiling, who has a massive hatred of metas. Not the first time he played someone who hates superheroes.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: In "Dark Heart", after Batman ejects from the Batplane and has his parachute destroyed, he calmly calls all his allies and says he could use some air support, since he can't fly at all. Before Superman can rescue him and when nobody seems to answer his call, he nonchalantly states that "now would be good".
  • The Cavalry: From The Savage Time, Hawkgirl is in trouble with three Me109s on her tail shooting at her accurately enough that she has taken a bullet through her wing, and gets two of these:
    • Suddenly more tracer fire comes in from offscreen and through the Luftwaffe planes. Cue dramatic music as the Blackhawks swoop in.
    • The Flash shows up, and he's brought the U.S. Navy with him!
  • "Cavemen vs. Astronauts" Debate: In "Patriot Act", Shining Knight and Vigilante talk about Dirty Harry. Vigilante likes the film, but Shining Knight feels that the Cowboy Cop tendencies of the character "besmirch" his role as a police officer. Vigilante then warns Shining Knight that if he ever wants to watch any more movies on Vigilante's big-screen TV, he better watch what he says about Clint Eastwood.
  • Celebrating the Heroes: One episode of Justice League Unlimited is about the Flash's Rogues Gallery trying to kill him on the day of the opening of the Flash Museum.
  • Celibate Hero: Batman gives Wonder Woman an entire laundry list of reasons why they will not be dating. The best is probably, "You're a princess from a society of immortal warriors; I'm a rich kid with issues. Lots of issues."
  • Censor Steam: Fire's fire. They had to do several redesigns to make sure her naughty bits were covered. Batman: The Brave and the Bold later took a different approach.
  • Chain of People: When the Flash is about to be absorbed by the Speed Force, the other Leaguers join their hands and pull him back to safety.
  • Chandler's Law: After Green Arrow, the Question and Supergirl were unable to get anything to genuinely prove that something was going on in "Fearful Symmetry" Cadmus conveniently sent teams of soldiers and robots to attack them which got them out of the rut they were stuck in.
  • Character Development:
    • Superman retains the same goals and desires that he had back in his own series, but his experiences with Cadmus teach him to go about his heroics in a manner that will not cause fear and distrust from those he wishes to help.
    • Batman begins to cooperate with other people and learns to appreciate friendship and camaraderie in addition to working partnerships. (Unfortunately, he will inevitably become isolated and alone again in the future.)
    • Wonder Woman gains an appreciation for man's world and men in general and gradually learns to integrate into other societies while retaining her cultural identity as an Amazon.
    • Green Lantern learns to accept himself as a Lantern without fearing the loss of his own personal identity, but then becomes despondent again following the end of his relationship with Hawkgirl. He eventually becomes determined to live his own life no matter what, but retains conflicted thoughts and feelings for Hawkgirl.
    • The Flash is initially the inexperienced comic relief. A number of times early on, he appears more interested in showing off and impressing women. However, over the course of the series, he learns to use his brain in a fight and not just his speed. He also develops into The Heart and "the conscience" of the team, becoming a far more selfless hero.
    • Hawkgirl has the most profound and fundamental character shift. Starting as an aggressive, self-confident warrior she grows depressed and self-critical while suffering an identity and personality crisis during the shift to Unlimited. Ultimately, she accepts her place in Earth society, but as a much calmer and internally settled character that no longer identifies as "Hawkgirl" at all.
    • Martian Manhunter slowly realizes the implications of what it means to be the Last Martian, doomed to be eternally alone on Earth, and simultaneously grows detached and unfeeling towards humanity at large. He finally leaves the League in order to find some connection to humanity; when he reappears as a 'guest star' in the final episode, he has found a personal life and honest emotional companionship on Earth.
  • Characterization Marches On: Zatanna goes from being an extraordinarily skilled but decidedly mortal, realistic magician in Batman: The Animated Series to being an actually magical and very powerful wizard in her appearances here. An issue of The Batman Adventures does show what seems to be an early instance of actual magic use, so her skills possibly grew from that.
  • Charge-into-Combat Cut: This takes place in the episode "Flash and Substance", when Batman Dual Wielding batarangs is about to face Captain Boomerang dual wielding boomerangs.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Several heroes who are ostensibly Badass Normals can punch dents into steel or craters into concrete.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In "Hereafter", the assertion that Vandal Savage's Zero Generator is a "miniature sun". As soon as Superman gets near it, he regains his yellow sun-induced powers.
  • Christmas Episode: "Comfort and Joy" follows the Leaguers as they celebrate Christmas. Superman invites Martian Manhunter to spend the day with the Kents, Flash visits an orphanage, and Hawkgirl and Green Lantern go on a date.
  • Civilization Destroyer: The three-part premiere episode "Secret Origins" shows that the same aliens that decimated the Martian civilization (leaving J'onn J'ozz as the sole survivior) are awaken on Earth.
  • Civvie Spandex: Upon returning to the Justice League midway in the 3rd season, Hawkgirl ditched the helmet and traded her earlier outfit for something you might go jogging in.
  • Claustrophobia: Hawkgirl almost has a heart attack when Dr. Destiny invades her dreams and traps her in a coffin.
  • Clothing Damage:
    • Wonder Woman gets her gown torn to shreds in "Maid of Honor."
    • Supergirl and Galatea's fights often had their clothing torn in places. Their clothing damage makes their outfits more closely resemble each others', reinforcing what The Question believes is the bleeding together of their personalities.
  • Cockroaches Will Rule the Earth: In one episode, Superman finds himself on Earth After the End thousands of years after an apocalyptic event caused by Vandal Savage (the only other person alive) and with a race of intelligent giant cockroaches as their enemies.
  • Collective Groan:
    • In the "Doomsday Sanction", after Batman informs the League that he has the Question on the case. After the groan he admits that the Question is wound a little too tight.
    • In "Panic In the Sky", when the power went back on in the Watchtower, a group of heroes cheered right before the power went out again, causing them to groan.
  • Colony Drop: Batman uses this to save the world in "Starcrossed", piloting the Watchtower out of orbit and into the Thanagarian hyperspace array before it could activate and cause an Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
  • Color-Coded Eyes: John Stewart has inhuman bright green eyes, which the producers explained was because he had been a Green Lantern for so long that the energy had become a part of him. When the ring is depowered, his eyes return to normal.
  • Combat Breakdown: In "Patriot Act", the fight begins with the League members present all using their various gimmicks and abilities. As the episode progresses, they are each defeated one by one and the ones still standing run out of ammunition. Ultimately, it ends with the last men standing fighting with blunt instruments and their bare hands.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • In "Chaos at the Earth's Core", Supergirl loses her powers while in Skartaris. She compensates by grabbing whatever weapon she finds at at hand, including swords, laser guns, and even Stargirl's staff.
    • Devil Ray, when confronted by a sword-bearing monk who explains that entrance to Nanda Parbat must be earned, shoots the monk and keeps walking. Later, when the Old Master is able to block his attacks, Devil Ray just collapses the roof on him instead of continuing the fight.
    • After Captain Cold, Captain Boomerang, Mirror Master, and the Trickster take turns trying to defeat the Flash one at a time, Captain Cold points out that taking turns is dumb and they agree to jump the Flash together.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When the Joker seeds bombs throughout Las Vegas, he finds one old woman who is still feeding a slot machine when everybody else in the city has fled. When he asks her why she remains, she points out that the slot machine has to pay out sooner or later. Even the Joker appreciates this level of dedication.
  • The Comically Serious: Batman and Martian Manhunter, though not quite to having no sense of humor. Ocasionally Green Lantern will serve as the Straight Man to Flash's Wise Guy.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames:
    • J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, is only called "J'onn" or "the Martian" here. He is referred to as "The Martian Manhunter" once in the entire series during the briefing in "Task Force X".
    • Wonder Woman is usually referred to either as "Diana" or "Princess" by the League members and people who know her personally. It is only the public at large and many enemies who refer to her as "Wonder Woman".
    • A.M.A.Z.O. is universally referred to as "the Android" (and occasionally "Ivo's Android" to clarify which android they're talking about at the time). The word "A.M.A.Z.O." is seen written once in his introductory episode, when Lex Luthor looks at his blueprints, and spoken aloud once when Luthor is later building a new model.
    • Orm is never once referred to as Ocean Master; in fact, Bruce Timm is on record as saying he finds the name silly.
    • In the "The Once and Future Thing, Part 1", Ohiyesa Smith is known only by that name. His comic book counterpart's moniker of "Pow Wow" is only uttered once and by a villain who is using it mockingly to boot (Ohiyesa makes it clear he finds the nickname racist). The villain in question, Tobias Manning, is himself an example of this as his comics codename, Terra-Man, isn't used.
    • The giant robot that the League faces in the first episode of Unlimited is supposed to be Brimstone from Legends, but that name is never used.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Flash in the first season of Unlimited. Voice-actor Michael Rosenbaum was unavailable for the role, so the Flash only appears in background and group shots without any lines throughout the entire season.
  • Complaining About People Not Liking Hawkgirl: invoked Hawkman keeps getting banned from the "I Hate Hawkgirl" websites because he is constantly flaming their members for their dislike of Hawkgirl.
  • Composite Character:
    • An example that works as such even in-universe, Loana, Superman's wife in his dream state during "For The Man Who Has Everything". She is explicitly a combination of Lois Lane and Lana Lang. Appearance wise, she looks a lot like Lois (even having Dana Delany as her voice actress), but has red hair like Lana.
      • A more downplayed example from the same dream state - at one point, Superman's father Jor-El speaks with the voice of his adopted father, Jonathan Kent.
    • Doomsday gets combined with the Kon-El version of Superboy, being a modified Superman clone created by Cadmus.
  • Conflict Killer:
    • Implied in "Starcrossed, Part 2". The USA has apparently set up mutual communication and coordination of armed forces with both China and Russia under the threat of Gordanian invasion.
    • In the climax of the Cadmus arc, when it looks like the Justice League and government might actually turn on each other and destroy the world, Brainiac shows up and puts all previous rivalries on the back burner.
    • In the finale "Destroyer", the League and the Secret Society of Supervillains team up against Darkseid.
  • Conqueror from the Future:
    • Vandal Savage's gambit in "The Savage Time". He could not actually time-travel on his own, but he could only send technology and messages to himself in the past.
    • From the episode "The Once and Future Thing", where a Wild West outlaw robs a time traveler and uses his access to time travel to get a few future guns and robots to take over a Western town. The time traveler himself becomes another straight example, using his time travel powers to take over the far-future.
    • Booster Gold is an inversion of this idea. He is a physically fit, but otherwise normal citizen from the future who uses relatively common technology from his time to travel back in time and become a superhero so that he can become rich and famous.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: "Twilight" demonstrates this trope in stages with the Brainiacs. When there was just one, it put up quite a fight against Superman, J'onn and Hawkgirl, requiring a vicious beatdown to destroy. Then there was several, and each put up considerably less of a fight. Then there were dozens, and the heroes were destroying at least one with each attack.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: The Question.
    "The little plastic tip on the end of a shoelace is called an aglet. Its purpose is sinister."
  • Contemporary Caveman: Vandal Savage, an immortal Neanderthal who engages in scheme after scheme to take control of the world.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In "Hereafter", the trunk of the car Superman is driving has a box of the energy bars Flash was hawking in "Eclipsed", and Deadshot smuggled a gun into the watchtower by hiding the parts in wrappers of the same bars in "Task Force X." "Flash and Substance" featured a cardboard cutout of him in his apartment, still advertising the same energy bars, which is destroyed when it startles Orion.
      Flash: [Bummed out] Dude, that was my last standee.
    • In "Clash", Superman brings up deodorant advertisement deals in his lecture to Captain Marvel—the way Flash covers his face indicates that he takes this as a dig against his energy bar commercials.
    • In "Hearts and Minds", Katma Tui brings up that John Stewart sent Green Lantern Kyle Rayner to Oa for training after receiving his ring, accounting for his absence since his introduction in "In Brightest Day..." back in Superman: The Animated Series.
    • In "Question Authority", Huntress uses Jimmy Olsen's signal watch to call Superman; the watch first appeared in "Superman's Pal" back in Superman: The Animated Series.
    • Another reference appears in "Only a Dream" when, during his nightmare, Superman calls Jimmy "my pal."
    • In part two of "The Once and Future Thing," Green Lantern alludes to a past team-up with Static. This references "Fallen Hero", an episode of Static Shock that Green Lantern guest-starred in.
    • Lex Luthor has cancer from manipulating kryptonite for years. The first mention of the disease was in Superman: The Animated Series, when the Joker stole a jade dragon statue. Every past owner fell ill and died, because it actually was made of kryptonite.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode, "Blasts from the Past, Part 1", Lois Lane makes a snarky remark, saying, "Yeah, and I'm Wonder Woman," which suggests that Wonder Woman was already active in the DCAU. In this installment, Diana is presented as a rookie and a newbie to Man's World. Lois might know Wonder Woman as a historical figure due to the League's time travel adventures into World War II, in "The Savage Time", where the League helps shape an Alternate History of World War II (which is canonical to the DCAU).
    • The Superman: TAS episode "Apokolips... Now, Part 2" features Forager among the New Gods from New Genesis, yet here, he's not yet among their numbers until the end of "Twilight".
    • Originally just a random alien who came to Earth looking for a challenge, Doomsday's backstory is retconned in Unlimited so that he was one of Cadmus' first attempts at creating a warrior capable of defeating Superman. However, this creates a plot hole in that Doomsday's first appearance coincided with the Justice Lords' invasion of the main universe, which was the event that led to the Cadmus Project being brought into existence in the first place.
  • Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story: Hawkgirl's cover story is that she was teleported to Earth by Zeta beams. The truth is that she is a spy who was sent to Earth to facilitate a future Thanagarian invasion.
  • Cool Car: The Question's Pontiac GTO. And he's VERY good at using it to kick butt.
  • Cool Old Lady: By the time of "Epilogue", Amanda Waller's definitely mellowed out compared to the present.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: The first half of "The Once and Future Thing" is absolutely made of this. Cowboys and superheroes versus outlaws, dinosaurs, and ROBOTS!
  • Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: The Flash does this for one episode, which gets him chewed out by Batman. Later on, Captain Marvel/Shazam finds himself unintentionally doing this simply by defending Luthor from the League's skepticism, which earns him a chewing out from the League as well.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Lex Luthor, Simon Stagg, Morgan Edge, etc. Luthor even funds Cadmus and orchestrates an extensive PR campaign to rehabilitate his image so he can run or President... which is false because he's doing it to ruin tge Justice League's reputation.
  • Cosplay Otaku Girl: Supergirl, who is Big in Japan, is surrounded by an Instant Fan Club of young girls all dressed in one of her early costume designs after she helps defeat a rampaging monster near a Supergirl convention.
  • Couch Gag: In the first season of Unlimited (the third season overall), nearly half the opening would be composed of "action" clips from that very episode. After that, though, they got lazy and just started using the same clips over and over again. (Although there were still slight variations from episode to episode, you'd pretty much need to watch the openings side-by-side to pick up on the differences.)
  • Courtroom Episode: Flash defends Green Lantern when he is accused of murder. "If the ring wasn't lit, you must acquit!"
  • Cowboy Episode: "The Once and Future Thing, Part 2: Weird Western Tales" features a lengthy segment in the Wild West, complete with a western rendition of the original Justice League title sequence.
  • Cradling Your Kill: In "Only a Dream", Superman, having lost control of his strength, crushes Jimmy Olsen to death while hugging him. When he realizes what has happened, he cradles Jimmy's body and desperately apologizes. Luckily, as implied by the title, it's All Just a Dream.
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • Batman, after having Medusa brought up from Tartarus in order to provide information on the recently released Circe, gives Charon the required two pennies. In the DVD audio commentary, the producers feel it is only natural that Batman would happen to be carrying exactly two pennies in his utility belt, just in case he had to cross the River Styx.
    • Green Arrow reflects on this nature during a quite amusing moment in "To Another Shore";
    Green Arrow: And Black Canary said a buzz-saw arrow was self indulgent.
  • Crazy Survivalist: The Question, rampant conspiracy theorist that he is, is convinced that everyone wants to take him down. Then again, he has been right before...
  • Create Your Own Hero: The darkest version of this trope is presented in "Epilogue". Well-Intentioned Extremist Amanda Waller reveals to Terry McGinnis that when she noticed Bruce Wayne was getting too old to be the Batman, she decided to create her own hero by taking Bruce's DNA and overwriting Warren McGinnis's gametes with said DNA, meaning his child by Mary was genetically Bruce Wayne's; when Terry was 7 years old, Waller then commissioned an aging Phantasm to assassinate Terry's parents in his presence. Thankfully, the Phantasm decided to abort the operation.
  • Creative Sterility: Lex Luthor accuses Brainiac of this. Brainiac agrees and they decide to combine their respective strengths for their mutual benefit.
  • Creepy Monotone: True to form, Brainiac is never once emotive in his speech, just as he was in Superman: The Animated Series. When he takes over Lex Luthor's body, even Luthor's voice turns flat and emotionless.
  • Crimefighting with Cash: Batman and Green Arrow (who started out as a virtual carbon-copy Expy of Batman by, interestingly, the same company) both use their wealth for crime-fighting.
  • Criss-Cross Attack: Done piecemeal in the episode "Divided We Fall, Part 2", where in The Villain Lex Luthor usurps Brainiac's technology to transform himself into a pleomorphic cyborg that can keep the Justice League at bay. The Flash, however, runs at Luthor from different directions at increasing speed, until he's circling the Earth to deliver his next blow. In less than a minute, nigh-omnipotent Luthor is reduced to gasping and naked in a blast crater. Viewable on YouTube here (spoilers, obviously).
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Flash is often seen as quite goofy by his peers, but when the time comes to throw down, he can tangle with anyone. Brainiac-Luthor found this out the hard way.
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Even Superman does some wrist-massaging when any cuffs come off. Only once, in Starcrossed, does it seem to be justified, since he had been held in a room filled with red sun radiation.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • In "Ultimen", Downpour attempts to blast Aquaman with a geyser of water. Though the blast had enough power to knock down a concrete wall, so it is not as if Downpour expected him to drown, Aquaman was unmoved and unimpressed. He then knocked Downpour out with a single backhand blow.
    Aquaman: King of the seas, remember?
    • In "Panic in the Sky", three clones of Wind Dragon are blowing away members of the League using their wind-based powers when Red Tornado steps in and blocks their three wind blasts with one of his own. After a quick struggle, all three of the clones are blown away. Double points considering Red Tornado only used one hand to do it
    • Wonder Woman is on the receiving end of a rather brutal one courtesy of Mongul in "For the Man Who Has Everything", to the point she had to crawl afterwards because she could barely stand.
  • Curse Cut Short: Wonder Woman is about to tell Etrigan to go to Hell, but the Flash interrupts her.
  • Curtain Call: "Destroyer" ends with the entire League running down the stairs of the Hall of Justice/Metro Tower in a sort of Curtain Call.
  • Custom Uniform: The first two appearances of the Green Lantern Corps feature a conspicuous absence of this trope, unlike the Corps' depiction in the comics. A few notable members are later given custom uniforms in later appearances.

  • Damsel in Distress:
    • Booster Gold points out that the ones in distress are his favorite type of damsel.
    • Hippolyta becomes this in "Fury".
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Lord Superman is ready to kill The Flash, whose counterpart's death was the reason for their Face–Heel Turn in the first place:
    The Flash: You can't do it, can you? I'm the last piece of your conscience. And this is the one thing you'll never do.
    Lord Superman: (grimly) I've done a lot of things I thought I'd never do in these last two years. One more won't hurt.
  • Dark Reprise: When the hybrid of Brainiac and Lex Luthor transforms several newly-created nanomachine constructs into doubles of the Justice Lords, a darker version of the opening theme plays.
  • Darker and Edgier: Imagine if Super Friends was much more serious.
  • A Day in the Limelight: As an ensemble show, each episode focuses on only two or three members of the cast, giving each character several episodes where they rise to prominence over the other characters. Even moreso in Unlimited as it focuses more on the new recruits with at least one founding member acting as a supporting role.
  • Day of the Jackboot: The altered present-day section of "The Savage Time" features a period in which Vandal Savage led the Nazis to vidtory in World War II.
  • Daydream Surprise:
    • "Only a Dream" opens with John Dee dreaming of being congratulated by supervillains like Luthor and Joker after defeating the League.
    • In "The Doomsday Sanction", Professor Milo briefly fantasizes about taking out a gun and killing the Cadmus board that had just fired him.
  • Daylight Horror: Director's commentary of the episode "A Better World" said that, for them, it was far creepier when we see Alternative Universe Gotham entirely by daylight, which added to the dystopian feel that the universe's Justice League had created. In addition, the episode in question sets all events in the Justice Lord universe in the daylight and all in the Justice League at night.
  • Dead Alternate Counterpart: In "A Better World", where the Justice Lords turned into an authoritarian group that controlled the world. When looking for leads about this world, the League finds out that their Flash had been killed, forcing the others to this style. Once he found this out, the Flash capitalized on this to break free from their control and get the others out as well.
  • Deadly Doctor: Doctor Destiny
  • Deadly Dodging: Batman famously dodges one of Darkseid's Omega Beams by using a Parademon to absorb the blast as he leaps away.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • The Flash, most frequently, as well as Hawkgirl and Deadshot.
    • On the rare occasion that he is not The Comically Serious, Batman is capable of hilarious snarking. His butler Alfred has a particularly sharp wit/tongue in the few scenes he's given.
    • When together, Huntress and The Question seem to take turns trying to out-snark each other. Of course, knowing them, it is probably some kind of foreplay...
    • Lex Luthor gets off a good one when he takes an octogenarian hostage:
      Old Man: If I were 20 years younger -
      Lex Luthor: You'd still be ancient.
    • Even Martian Manhunter, on occasion.
      Batman: [while helping J'onn fight a bunch of Brainiac drones] Having fun?
      Martian Manhunter: [completely deadpan] Yes.
  • Death By Man Scorned:
    • That was the Start of Darkness for Doctor Destiny.
    • Hro Talak could accept Hawkgirl's decision to save humanity, but not her decision to choose Green Lantern over himself.
  • Death Seeker: The Viking Prince.
  • Death Trap: It would not be a superhero show without them.
  • Deconstruction: The Trickster in "Flash and Substance" deconstructs the idea of a supervillain being "insane." Rather than the usual cruel, amoral, giggling villain traditionally thrown into Arkham Asylum, the Trickster is a quiet, awkward villain who tends to Poke the Poodle and make jokes that nobody gets. It turns out that he is a diagnosed mental patient who reverts back to his "villainous" personality when he is off his medicine, and is unaware that he is even wearing his supervillain costume. The Flash talks him down gently and treats him respectfully, which is shown to be far more effective than the standard Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique favored by Batman when dealing with somebody who has genuine mental problems. The character is even portrayed by Mark Hamill, who usually plays "comic book insane" villains like The Joker.
  • Defiant Stone Throw: Several children throw rocks at General Eiling to distract him in "Patriot Act".
  • Defiant to the End: Hawkgirl to Ichthultu in "The Terror Beyond".
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: "Legends," where Hawkgirl, J'onn, Flash and Green Lantern are sent into a 60's-style alternate dimension which is actually an illusionary construct. Hawkgirl is ticked at the gender standards, and Green Lantern is unironically called "a credit to his people."
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Mr. Miracle's flashbacks to his time in the X-Pit on Apokolips are all blue-tinted.
  • Delivery Guy: Booster Gold has to become one, in addition to handling several other crises, when most of the league is away from Earth dealing with an extraterrestrial threat. He fares as well as expected for someone with no training or experience.
  • Democracy Is Flawed: In the episode "A Better World", when League!Batman fights and argues with Lord Batman, they briefly touch on the topic of democracy, which Lord Batman quickly dismisses, because "it has other virtues, but it doesn't keep you very safe". He eventually defeats League!Batman by pointing out that in his totalitarian world, no eight year-old boy would lose his parents because of some punk with a gun. League!Batman has to admit that he has a point.
  • Demoted to Extra: Aquaman was left to be a Recurring Character instead of a League founder and series lead, expressly for the reason that the creative team didn't want to fall into This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman. He remained an outlier character in the first two seasons and didn't officially join the League until the Unlimited phase. This proved to be beneficial overall, letting the character shine in spotlight episodes instead of always being out of his element.
  • Dénouement Episode: The Cadmus Myth Arc wrapped up with one episode left in its season. The last episode of that season, appropriately titled "Epilogue", jumped decades into the future to give Batman Beyond a Fully Absorbed Finale. It was nearly this for the entire DCAU, had Justice League not been renewed for one more season.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Hardcastle's kryptonite bullet, Cadmus's kryptonite tipped nuclear missile etc.
  • Determinator:
    • Batman, logically, as seen on the quote page.
    • Captain Atom, after being soundly beaten by Superman in a fight throughout the Cadmus headquarters, refused to give up even after Superman was clearly the victor. He had been beaten nearly senseless and lost the ability to even throw a punch, but he refused to stop.
      Superman: You fought a good fight, stay down.
      Captain Atom: I can't do that Superman.
    • Shining Knight. In "Patriot Act" he is the last Leaguer standing before the General, having already lost his sword and been severely beaten, and explicitly states that the General might as well give up because no matter what happens, Shining Knight will not.
      The General: Why don't you give up?
      Shining Knight: Why don't you?
    • Supergirl. In "Chaos at the Earth's Core", already nearly powerless and being poisoned by kryptonite, responds to an immobilized Metallo's taunts with a teeth clenched "I won't quit!" and continues to struggle till Stargirl makes the save.
    • Solomon Grundy, surprisingly, in "The Terror Beyond". Superman is trying to convince him to stand down, and he simply responds "Grundy won't quit!" before attacking again.
  • Deus Est Machina: A.M.A.Z.O. was created by Professor Ivo to learn, and he not only learned thousands of times faster than humans, he was able to learn powers of everyone he met so became sufficiently more advanced than anyone or anything to the point he said "There's nothing I want from you anymore, none of you have anything for me now." However he struggled with philosophy and purpose and moral absolutes, as things he couldn't grasp not because he was an android, but because every sentient being struggles with this.
  • Deus ex Machina:
    • Darkseid's final defeat in "Destroyer" will probably seem like an especially egregious example of this to anyone who is not sufficiently familiar with Darkseid.
    • At the end of "A Better World" the Justice Lords are defeated without lethal force simply because Lex Luthor just so happens to have a gun that can PERMENANTLY depower superhumans. It also works on people who don't actually have superpowers (Martian Manhunter, Diana, Hawkgirl) and Green Lantern rings. This device never came up before or after this moment.
  • Deus Exit Machina: In the episode "Chaos at the Earth's Core", the miniature red sun of Skartaris weakens Supergirl's powers almost to nothing.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • In "Tabula Rasa", Lex Luthor finds the late Arthur Ivo's android A.M.A.Z.O. and manipulates it into believing the Justice League are evil as his latest plan to defeat the heroes. He eventually encourages A.M.A.Z.O. to copy J'onn J'onzz's powers after realizing that doing so will make the android unstoppable, but failed to consider that A.M.A.Z.O. would use J'onn J'onzz's telepathy to read Luthor's mind and learn that it was deceived.
    • "Only a Dream" has Copperhead attempt to gain leverage for an escape by jumping onto Hawkgirl's back and threatening to poison her with his bite if she doesn't fly him out. Hawkgirl simply flies high enough that, if Copperhead does bite her, they'll both die from the fall.
    • In "Ultimatum", Downpour of the Ultimen tries to kill Aquaman by hurling a torrent of water at him. Since Aquaman's place is in the seas, this obviously has no effect. Downpour then tries to rush at Aquaman and punch him, but that isn't any more effective.
    • In "The Balance", Tala thought it was fine to trust Faust's instruction-incantation in an attempt to remove the Annihilator armor's weakness of being fueled by rage which seemed simple enough, only for it to do nothing to the armor and instead freed Faust from the mirror he was trapped in. No points for guessing what Faust did afterward.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?:
    • Yes, Hawkgirl did.
      Icthultu: "Speak to me, child of Thanagar."
      Hawkgirl: "Nothing to say. I've got a gesture for you, but my hands are tied."
    • In the series finale, Batman manages to knock Darkseid back and avoid his Omega Beams.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: "The Terror Beyond" (Not quite the Trope Namer but close enough).
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Green Arrow sings a bit from the leitmotif that serves as his personal theme tune when he rides down a zipline and kicks a mook in the face.
  • Disabled in the Adaptation: The Trickster is a sane criminal in the comics. Here, he's so out of touch with reality, it takes the Flash pointing out that he's in the costume to realize that he's indeed wearing it.
  • Disappears into Light: Darkseid and Luthor.
  • Discriminate and Switch: The superheroes Fire and Ice have been close friends and partners for the entirety of their tenure in comics. This has, over time, given rise to a lot of romantic/sexual subtext between them and corresponding theories in the fandom. When they were added to the expanded roster of Justice League Unlimited The Flash began to nurse a not-so-subtle crush on Fire and Hawkgirl tried to prod him into action as best she knew how.
    Shayera Hol (Hawkgirl): "You'd probably be wasting your time anyway. I hear she's... y'know... Brazilian."
  • Disney Villain Death: Deimos in "Chaos at the Earths Core".
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength:
  • Doesn't Like Guns:
    • Batman, obviously, who refuses to take an offered gun on two separate occasions.
    • Green Lantern, who is a former marine, has zero compunctions about using firearms and is possibly the only hero in the whole DCAU that actually succeeds in shooting someone in "The Savage Time".note 
  • Does Not Like Men: Aresia from "Fury" is such a misandrist that she wants to kill every man on Earth.
  • Does Not Like Shoes:
    • Gypsy always goes around barefoot as to authenticate her gypsy attire. Aquagirl too from the Future Justice League Unlimited as seen in a flashback in "Epilogue".
    • Villainous examples include Cheetah and Tala (extra points for going to the snowy regions of Nanda Parbat completely barefoot and barelegged). Another villainous example is the Ten from the second incarnation of the Royal Flush Gang (or third, Future Amanda Waller can't remember which). Like JLU Aquagirl, she just wears a one-piece swimsuit and nothing else. Unlike JLU Aquagirl, her powers have nothing to do with water
  • Domestic Abuse: The character of Hro Talak in "Starcrossed" gradually progressed to violence when the truth about Shayera's relationship with Green Lantern came out, something which was particularly difficult for Victor Rivers to voice since he is a leading crusader against domestic abuse.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • A No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Hugh Hefner is turned into demon form, where he looks like a giant worm.
    • The Thanagarian's wormhole bypass generator looks remarkably like a swastika.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: The Joker, of all people, violates this trope in "Wild Cards", where he makes a joke about Batman getting warmer and has to explain to the camera crew that he said it because Batman's near a prop volcano.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You:
    • When Captain Atom has his military commission reactivated by General Wade Eiling he ends up coming to blows with Superman who, after one of the most brutal fights in the series, emerges as the clear victor.
      Superman: (To Captain Atom) You fought a good fight, stay down.
      Captain Atom: I can't do that Superman.
    • When General Eiling has been transformed into a hulking monster and is rampaging through Metropolis he is left facing Shining Knight after he has already defeated several other heroes.
      "Save yourself a hospital stay and stand down."
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: "Flash, stop heckling the supervillain!"
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Batman to Flash in "Paradise Lost" and the third part of "Starcrossed," too.
  • Dope Slap: Green Lantern to Flash in "The Brave and the Bold".
  • Doppelgänger Gets Same Sentiment: The Justice Lord version of Batman panics when Flash fakes flatlining by speeding up his heart rate, because the Justice Lord universe's version of Flash was killed by Lex Luthor.
  • Double Entendre: "Yeah, you'd probably be wasting your time anyway. I hear she's... you know... Brazilian." See also Discriminate and Switch.
  • Dramatic Unmask:
    • Hawkgirl had worn her mask for every scene in the first two seasons, never letting viewers know what she looked like, and some viewers were convinced that she did not wear a mask, that that was her natural appearance as a Thanagarian. In "Wild Cards", when she and Green Lantern finally admit their feelings, he slowly reaches forward and takes off her mask, revealing that the two of them are exactly what he said they were: A man and a woman in love.
    • During the climax of the Cadmus story arc, after he had taken a severe beating and was recuperating in the Watchtower medical bay, the Question has Huntress remove his mask for the first time.
  • Dream Intro: Episode "Only a Dream" starts with John Dee having an Dream Sequence about curb-stomping the League.
  • Dual Wielding: Several times in the series, including in "Secret Origins", Batman wields a pair of electrified knuckle duster weapons when fighting super powered foes. In "Dark Heart" he also duel wields a pair of what are either bat themed blade weapons or oversized batarangs in close combat with the alien spiders.
  • Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: By Wonder Woman in "Starcrossed".
  • Dying Declaration of Love: It takes being in the center of a massive explosion and having his heart stopped to finally convince John Stewart that there is no reason to wait or hide, and he confesses his feelings for Shayera, getting her to take off her mask for the first time and kiss.
  • Dynamic Entry: Solomon Grundy enters a battle by attacking Superman from behind. Through a door.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The original team: two Last Of Their Kind, The Exile, an orphan, an alien stranded on the other side of the galaxy from her homeworld, a Casanova Wannabe, and a Jerkass with a Hidden Heart of Gold.
  • Ear Worm: Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Come to Jon's. Dine at Jon's to the tune of "Frère Jacques". Batman uses it to keep Dr. Destiny's powers at bay while closing in on him and eventually passes it onto him after being apprehended.
    Dr. Destiny: What's that stupid song going through your mind?
    Batman: It's what's keeping you out, Johnny.
  • Early Installment Character Design Difference:
    • Superman and Wonder Woman were shown with cheekbones in the first season, which were removed because they made them look too old.
    • Before receiving a major role starting in "Double Date", Huntress has a different appearance (among other changes, she had a white-eyed mask instead of actually showing her eyes, for example).
  • Earth All Along: Superman in "Hereafter" is transported to a post-apocalyptic planet orbiting a red sun that he learns is Earth is the very distant future.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom:
    • In one episode, Green Lantern inadvertently destroys an inhabited planet with a stray blast from his power ring... or so it seems, until the rest of the League finds evidence that the planet's destruction was but an illusion.
    • Mongul once held an entire planet hostage by threatening it with this.
    • The Thanagarian's wormhole bypass generator is exactly what they say it is, a way to get their forces behind enemy lines. It's just that it will also destroy the Earth when it's activated.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • Icthultu, who was a rather transparent Captain Ersatz of Cthulhu.
    • The Dark Heart. It apparently warps the very nature of reality, as every close-up has the screen distorted and visibly pulsing while the surface of the creature itself does not appear to move at all.
  • Elite Agents Above the Law: Project CADMUS are portrayed this way, as being an off-the-books cabal of people with serious bones to pick with the Justice League all coming together to act as the government's response if the Justice League go rogue, and they answer only to the US President.
  • Emperor Scientist: Chronos becomes one via Time Travel.
  • End of an Age: The Martian Manhunter used this term almost verbatim on Lex Luthor in the first season of Justice League, when Lex Luthor is outwitted for the first time by the teamwork of the Justice League. In the days of Superman: The Animated Series, Superman alone was never able to get Luthor indicted for any crimes. This marks the shift of Luthor's grudge from Superman to the entire Justice League. Luthor's hiring of other supervillains to take down the League also marks the new trend of supervillain team-ups since the existence of the Justice League made it tougher for the villains to act alone.
  • Enemy Civil War: On Apokolips after Darkseid's death, and also between the Grodd and Luthor factions of the Legion of Doom.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • In order to defeat the Justice Lords, the League cuts a deal with Lex Luthor.
    • Kalibak quotes the actual "Enemy of my enemy is my friend" maxim when Mr. Miracle, Big Barda, and the Flash rescue him on Apokolips.
    • The Legion of Doom go to the Justice League after accidentally reviving Darkseid.
  • Engineered Public Confession: What sends Luthor to prison for the first time.
  • Enhanced Punch: The Flash once ran around the world to build up enough momentum to punch the Brainiac out of Brainthor.
  • Et Tu, Brute?:
    • This happens in the episode, "Starcrossed", when it's revealed that Hawkgirl had been spying on the League for the Thanagarians.
    • Luthor actually uses this classic line on Ultra Humanite, in "Injustice for All", after finding out he betrayed him.
    • Bonus points for the Ultra-Humanite literally stabbing Lex in the back (of the power armor, anyway) when he does it.
  • Evasive Fight-Thread Episode: "Grudge Match", which revolves around numerous heroes being brainwashed to fight one another, closes with Huntress and Black Canary agreeing to one last fight in order to settle their contest. The episode ends before they make contact.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Steven Mandragora, for being a world class sleaze and murdering sociopath, appears to be a truly loving and dedicated father.
    • Galatea gives her "daddy" a hug before going off to destroy the Watchtower
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • In "In Blackest Night", Kanjar Ro claims that this is why he, a pirate, comes forward as a witness at John Stewart's trial when he is accused of destroying a planet. He was lying, though; he was helping to frame John for the crime.
    • In "Fury," Star Sapphire turns against Aresia once she learns the full extent of her plans. She is evil, not gendercidal. Except she is, and actively looks forward to a world without men. She was just luring Diana and Hawkgirl to Aresia so that they could be invited to join them.
    • In "Epilogue" when Amanda Waller attempted to turn Terry McGuinness (a genetic clone of Bruce Wayne) into the next Batman, he attempted to give Terry Bruce Wayne's same tragic back-story. She hired Phantasm to kill Terry's parents years before the events of Batman Beyond but Phantasm refused.
  • Everyone Can See It:
    • Before John and Shayera ever admit their feelings Flash is teasing them that they are acting like an old married couple and, when Hro Talak enters the scene in "Starcrossed", Batman and J'onn each spontaneously approach John to give him advice and consolation. The Joker himself actually comments on the tension between them, wondering if they have a history behind the scenes. Ironically, when they finally become a couple it was the Flash who had no idea they were involved, despite being the first one to comment on their tension.
    • Bruce and Diana. However obvious they are about it, they refuse to admit it to themselves.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Entire episodes center around Gorilla Grodd, Ultra-Humanite, and Gorilla City. And the brief but very fun shout-out to J. L. Apes in an otherwise rather sad episode centered on Deadman. Ape!Luthor is, of course, entirely devoid of fur.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Happens when the heroes turn into the Justice Lords in an Alternate Universe.
  • Evil Learns of Outside Context:
    • In another dimension, Lex Luthor gets elected President of the United States and kills the Flash. This proves to be too much for Superman, and he finally breaks his rule against killing to murder Luthor. He thus discovers that Evil Feels Good and leads the heroes, known now as the Justice Lords, in conquering the planet with their power (and lobotomizing anyone who dares to cross them). Both the Justice League of "our" world and the Lords learn of each other's existence simultaneously, with the Lords deciding to conquer Earth while the League desperately works to stop them.
    • The above meeting of the Justice League and Justice Lords leads to another example of this trope: namely, the CADMUS arc. When Amanda Waller, who already distrusts the League, learns about what happened in the Justice Lords' dimension, she starts considering what would happen if the League ever also lost control. After computer simulations show that the League would inevitably defeat the United States military in any given scenario, Waller creates CADMUS, a top-secret project specifically designed to defeat the Justice League through the creation and cloning of superhumans loyal to the U.S. government alone.
  • Evil Me Scares Me: The Justice Lords. Even merely mentioning similarities between the Leaguers and the Lords causes League members to stop and reconsider their current course of action.
  • Evil Plan: Parodied with Grodd's "master plan". Turns out he had formed the Legion of Doom because he needed an army to assist him in his plan to turn every human on Earth into sapient gorillas. Once the other villains realize his true intentions, they immediately support Lex's coup.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Most notably Circe, Felix Faust, and Tala. Magic looks to be one of the most effective weapons against certian League members, which makes these sorcerers that much more dangerous.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Darkseid, which Phil Lamarr lampshades it in some DVD commentary.
  • Evil Twin:
  • Expecting Someone Taller: In "Starcrossed", Hro Talak, after hearing about John Stewart from Hawkgirl, is surprised he is not taller.
  • Expy:
    • Hro Talak is not quite Katar Hol, but his name is an anagram and he was also given a past relationship with Hawkgirl.
    • Galatea is not exactly Power Girl, but she wears a similar costume, which one scene made identical with the addition of a red towel hanging over her shoulder in place of a cape. She shares the background of "not exactly Supergirl, but close."
    • The show's version of Aquaman is a violent, isolationist warrior king who cares first and foremost about Atlantis, and is kind of a Jerkass. So basically, they made Aquaman into Namor.
    • See also Doctor Fate's Alternate Company Equivalent version of the The Defenders (Doctor Fate for Doctor Strange, Solomon Grundy for Incredible Hulk, Aquaman for Namor, and Hawkgirl for Nighthawk). In the same episode, the screaming minions that the heroes fight in Icthultu's world are clearly based on Marvel's Mindless Ones. And of course Icthultu is Cthulhu with the serial numbers filed off.
    • The Justice Lords from "A Better World" were heavily inspired by The Authority, which the producers had begun to read between seasons one and two, and one idea they had was to see what the world would be like if the League ever tried to emulate their tactics.
    • When Brainthor summons up robot versions of the Justice Lords to distract the League, he has to create a new one for Flash (since Flash of that universe died before they became the Lords). The costume he gives Flash is identical to the costume of famed Flash Villain Professor Zoom, The Reverse-Flash.
    • The giant turtle that attacks Japan in "Chaos at the Earth's Core" is an expy of Gamera, as well as being a Mythology Gag to Jimmy Olsen's comic book.
    • The Ultimen are based on characters created for the Super Friends show: Long Shadow/Apache Chief, Wind Dragon/Samurai, Juice/Black Vulcan, Downpour/Zan, and Shifter/Jayna.
    • Devil Ray is based off Black Manta, who was unavailable to use.
    • The unnamed alien invaders in the three-part series premiere "Secret Origins" functionally are the same as the White Martians from the comics, who are a violent subspecies to J'onn Jonzz's Green Martians who were also responsible for the devastation of Martian culture. The reason behind the Canon Foreigner aliens is likely to avoid confusion with the introduction of J'onn himself.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    Shining Knight: "I'll die as befits a knight, defending the weak."
  • Face–Heel Turn - Professor Emil Hamilton
  • Fake Memories: The Ultimen are implanted with this, to disguise the fact that they are clones only a few months old.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Batman and Wonder Woman kiss in "Starcrossed" to avoid being recognized by the Thanagarians.
  • Fake Static: When Amanda Waller tries to order Galatea to abort her attack on the Watchtower she claims that she cannot understand the transmission, then says that it was a wrong number.
  • Falsely Reformed Villain: Lex Luthor, after being pardoned and while running for president. He claims to have changed, but he's lying through his teeth and still concocts nefarious plans towards Superman and the Justice League to the series' end.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: There is too much to even count.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: The series has a bad habit of playing incredible violence against minimally superpowered foes as being slapstick or perfectly harmless, even when it should have maimed or killed the person. Countless guns are blown up in people's hands with little more than a flinch, thieves slipping and landing on their heads, entire blocks being blown up complete with people panicking, that sorta thing. A nasty example would be the fate of the vile Steven Mandragora. The episode "Double Date" holds him as the Huntress's target, someone she is willing to kill to avenge the parents he killed before her very eyes, and while tough enough to take a punch or sonic wail, not particularly superpowered. The Huntress plans to kill him with a few crossbow bolts. In the episode's denouement, she has the option of killing him in front of his son or letting him back into police custody. Instead of executing him with the crossbow bolts, she refuses to kill and instead... drops a ton of steel I-beams on his head from at least a hundred feet up.
  • Fan Disservice: Black Canary's sonic scream ripping the clothes off Steven Mandragora.
  • Fanservice:
    • After Wonder Woman fights off the terrorists in "Maid of Honor"— her dress is really torn with one of the straps off her shoulder, exposing a bit more skin.
    • Whenever Black Canary has time to prep for a fight — sparring with Huntress or Green Arrow — she starts by removing her jacket, fighting only in a bustier, panties, and sheer leggings (the fishnets were impossible to animate).
  • Fantastic Fragility: The flaw in Hephaestus's armor. Enforced by the man himself, who specifically states that he includes flaws in his creations, though he never explains why.
  • Farmer's Daughter: Galatea (and, by extension, Supergirl) is described as "blonde hair, blue eyes, real farmer's daughter type."
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel:
    • In "War World", it appears that Green Lantern's ring lets him do this.
    • It seems to be quite a common feature of spaceships in the DCAU, to the point where even the League's Javelin can do it.
  • Faux Action Girl: Queen Hippolyta is this. Despite being the queen of the Amazons, she loses every fight she ever gets into, and most of the time she only puts up a token resistance, She even succumbs to the Standard Female Grab Area despite Amazons universally having Super Strength and the man grabbing her being an ordinary human with unremarkable physical ability (sure, he shocks her unconsious, but it takes him a moment before he can do so and she doesn't even try to get free before he does).
  • Fearful Symmetry: Supergirl vs. Galatea in the episode "Fearful Symmetry".
  • Fictional Counterpart: In "A Knight of Shadows", Flash and Wonder Woman visit the house of Harv Hickman, a Hugh Hefner expy who publishes a Playboy-style periodical.
  • Fictional Country: The isolationist, highly militarized asian country in "Initiation" is an interesting example, since the Watchtower's map shows its location to be that of real-world North Korea. For added points, the crisis the league deals with there is a nuclear weapons program gone out of control.
  • Fiery Redhead: Hawkgirl, and (quite literally) Volcana.
  • Final Battle: In the Grand Finale, the entire Justice League joins forces with what's left of the Legion of Doom to repel Darkseid's planet-wide invasion.
  • Finger Poke of Doom: Superman, because of just how strong he is, once defeated the villain with a literal flick of his finger. Provides the page image.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: Subverted with Galatea. The very last shot does show her twitching, but she does not get back up and she never returns in any later episodes.
  • Finish Dialogue in Unison: Happens in "Patriot Act" (Shining Knight: "Even thought that ogre was—" All: "Morgan Le Fey.") and "Far From Home" (Brainy and Supergirl: "A quantum tunneling RF transponder!")
  • Finish Him!: The gladiators in "War World" are forced to execute their opponents at the end of the battle. Superman, of course, refuses.
  • First-Name Basis:
    • Starting in Unlimited, most of the characters hardly addressed each other using their superhero identities, often opting to use their real names instead ("Diana", "Shayera", "John", "J'onn", "Wally"). Superman and Batman were the characters most often referred to by their superhero names, but they would occasionally address each other personally.
    • The Question was the only person in the series to ever call Huntress "Helena", until Black Canary does so during their reconciliation in "Grudge Match".
  • Flame War: One of the many items on Batman's "Carter Hall is Hawkgirl's Stalker" list is the fact that the man will go to anti-Hawkgirl sites and get involved in these.
  • Flanderization: The audience that entered the DCAU through this series wouldn't pick up on it, but more than a few of the characters appear and act completely without reference to their backstory, such as Volcana, who's Anti-Villain backstory was stripped of her character whenever she made cameos in this series.
  • The Flame of Life: The Flame of Py'tar, a white flame that is the life force of the planet it is named for.
  • Flash Step: Superman to Darkseid in "Destroyer".
  • Flight of Romance: Inverted. In the reincarnation flashback in "Ancient History", Shayera and the captain of the guard share a romantic moment on horseback, which is apparently more interesting to the winged Shayera.
  • Flipping the Bird:
    Ichthultu: "Speak to me, child of Thanagar."
    Hawkgirl: "Nothing to say. I've got a gesture for you, but my hands are tied."
  • Fly-at-the-Camera Ending: The last episode ends with Batman running into the screen.
  • Flying Firepower: The Ray and Dr Light make appearances, but not in speaking roles. Booster Gold has an episode. Fire is present in multiple instances.
  • For the Evulz: Famously played with when Flash ends up in Luthor's body.
    Doctor Polaris: You gonna wash your hands?
    Luthor!Flash: No... 'cause I'm evil.
  • Forced Prize Fight: The plots of "War World", "The Cat and the Canary", "Grudge Match" involve several League members having to duke it out either against each other or against villains of their episode (though in Draaga's case, "villain" is stretching it, as he's being forced to fight too).
  • Foregone Conclusion: The show has a large amount of Ship Tease between Batman and Wonder Woman as it goes on. But we already know from Batman Beyond that Bruce Wayne will end up all alone, without even friends due to his obsession with fighting crime as Batman.
  • Foreshadowing: Commentary on the DVD release of Justice League reveals that the producers intended to have Hawkgirl be a spy from the beginning of Season Two. As such, throughout the season there are plenty of hints that supported that plot point, including contradictory backstories, behavior and evidence that they had something to hide. As a lucky break, "The Brave and the Bold" (a season one episode) also had a scene that only helps with the foreshadow.
  • Forging Scene: Superman, finding himself thousands of years in the future against giant mutant animals and without his powers, forges a blade using road flares, a sledge hammer, and a metal rod. It was pretty epic.
  • Forgot to Gag Him: Batman has been known to use this approach whenever he turns out to be not QUITE Crazy-Prepared enough. This includes that time he was caught by the Injustice Gang, and proceeds to (overtly) seduce one member of the crew while (covertly) bribing another.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum:
    • The disempowerment gun used in "A Better World" is never seen again for the rest of the show. While it is unclear whether it would work on other super powered individuals, what is clear is that it works on the original seven Leaguers (well, except Batman), so it is strange that Cadmus or Luthor do not even reference it.
    • In "Wake the Dead", A.M.A.Z.O. is forced to flee after Solomon Grundy uses chaos magic to absorb his cosmic attack. Dr. Fate later tells Hawkgirl that only she can defeat Grundy because her mace is made of Nth metal. It is too bad the writers and Dr. Fate forgot that A.M.A.Z.O. can replicate her mace, and use it to better effect.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The second half of "Wild Cards" revolves around Ace, whose Mind Rape powers work even through the television and is attacking the viewing audience.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: "The Great Brain Robbery".
  • Free-Range Children: "Patriot Act" gives the trope a minor deconstruction when Vigilante asks a group of children where their parents are and the kids explain that they all ran off after the monster appeared, apparently leaving all their children behind to be killed. However, even at the end of the episode, after the monster is defeated and the police and rescue workers are cleaning up, the same kids are still running around without supervision.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • In "Starcrossed, Part 3", during the climactic final fight there is a single "white frame" inserted into a shot of Shayera being shocked by an Nth-metal weapon.
    • Nightwing, who could not appear as a character due to the "Bat Embargo," had a brief cameo skulking atop a building in Bludhaven, which in the comics is "his" city after he stopped being Robin.
    • If you look at all of the lobotomized inmates at the Other Dimension Arkham, you will notice that Arnold Wesker isn't lobotomized, but the puppet Scarface is.
    • In "Kid Stuff", there is also a couple of black-and-white reversal frames when Superboy fires his heat vision.
    • At the end of "The Once and Future Thing", Batman traps time-travelling thief Chronos in a time loop to prevent things from happening that would have ended all of existence. Right after Chronos presses the button on his time suit during one of these loops, a one-frame shot of his unmasked face appears between the white "flash" frames. Not only is he stuck in a time loop with his wife yelling at him until (presumably) the end of the universe, but judging by the look on his face during that shot, he knows he's stuck in the loop.
    • In "Destroyer", when Darkseid gets flung through some skyscrapers by Superman, you can briefly see a random Parademon perched on a streetlight as a crowd of people watch.
  • Friendly Enemy:
    • Flash and the Ultra-Humanite. They agree to a Christmas truce and, afterwards, the Ultra-Humanite helps Flash deliver a toy to orphans before peacefully allowing himself to be taken to jail. In jail, Flash gives him an aluminum Christmas tree, just like the one he had when he was a child.
    • Flash and Trickster. Flash manages to convince the Trickster to go back on his medication, turn himself into the police, and tell the Flash where the other villains are. In return, Flash promises to visit him in the hospital and play darts (the soft kind).
  • From My Own Personal Garden: In the episode "Hereafter", after Superman realizes the futility of fighting Vandal Savage, the latter invites the former to lunch. Food's great because he has had 30,000 years to rediscover the principles of agriculture.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Dr Destiny. Literally. He was originally a harmless mook who was arrested for guarding stolen property, but he gained telepathic powers after undergoing experiments in prison.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale:
    • The divisive episode "Epilogue", a finale for Batman Beyond. It was originally intended as the JLU series finale, after the originally planned finale "Starcrossed," but the series was renewed again.
    • Season two of Unlimited is pretty much a wrap up for Superman: The Animated Series, dealing with both a rematch with Darkseid (he returns in season 3 but very late as a Hijacked by Ganon Final Boss to be plot relevant) and the fallout of "Legacy" in the midst of the Cadmas arc, something that they wanted to explore in season 3 of STAS before it got cancelled.
    • The episode "Flash and Substance" closes up a minor dangling plot thread featured the Evasive Fight-Thread Episode "Speed Demons" in Superman: The Animated Series. That episode had ended with Superman and the Flash starting a new race to determine which of them is the Fastest Man Alive; a banner hanging in the Flash Museum here indicates that the Flash was the winner of their contest.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Binary Fusion Generator.
  • Funbag Airbag: Nearly happens to Flash with Fire in "I Am Legion" when Fire tries to get his attention. Flash turns and his face was a mere few inches away from her breasts before slowly looking up. Followed by Distracted by the Sexy when Fire tries to chat with him.
  • Funny Background Event: In "Chaos at the Earths Core", when Travis Morgan is explaining to Green Lantern the threat of Deimos, Supergirl is visible in the background trying (and failing) to lift a boulder as she practices with her reduced Super Strength.
  • Fur Bikini: Worn by some of the inhabitants of Skartaris.
  • Fusion Dance: Brainiac has been fused with Lex Luthor for years, but his presence is only revealed during the climax of the Cadmus arc, where he mutates the human's body into a monstrous amalgamation of them both.
  • Gaining the Will to Kill: An episode involves an Alternate Universe version of the League called the Justice Lords. At the beginning, we see a flashback showing Superman make this decision and killing Lex Luthor at Luthor's goading. After that the League has no problem killing (or lobotomising) criminals, justifying it as the greater good.
  • Galactic Conqueror: Mongul and Darkseid are overlords who have conquered dozens of planets in the past and have each also set their sights on Earth.
  • Gendercide: In "Fury", an Amazon, Aresia, with a serious bent against the male gender decides to release a disease into the atmosphere that nearly kills off all of the men on the planet. This includes the male members of the Justice League (even Superman and the Martian Manhunter are affected, despite not being human, and Solomon Grundy, who is The Undead. It's implied magic is involved). It's up to Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl to save the day.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain:
    • Doomsday shows in "A Better World" and rampages through Metropolis, forcing Lord Superman to lobotomize him. He is given no backstory or context, and his only motivation is a vague reference to power. Later episodes of Unlimited would delve into his origin and reasoning.
    • The show's version of Brimstone, a superweapon that went berserk for no identifiable reason. Even when the League speaks to scientists involved with its creation, they never learn what actually caused the problem.
  • Genius Ditz: The Flash. Despite his goofy behavior throughout the series, it is revealed in one episode that he works in police forensics, analyzing crime scene evidence.
  • Genre Savvy: Clayface, due to his history as an actor. He explicitly points out that the villains in his movies were always defeated because they made very stupid decisions like leaving the heroes alive, and if this team wants to succeed they need to act smarter. Except that's not Clayface talking in that particular case, but J'onn J'onnz posing as him...
  • Gift of Song: The song J'onn sings at the end of "Comfort and Joy" doesn't seem to be deliberately intended as such, but Clark describes it that way as he and his adoptive parents listen:
    Clark: And he said he didn't bring a gift....
  • The Ghost:
    • Plastic Man couldn't actually appear in the show due to rights issues, but he is referred in a few episodes. In "The Greatest Story Never Told", Elongated Man is relegated to crowd-control duty with Booster Gold, and is told this is because Plastic Man is already engaged in the main battle and "We don't need two stretchy guys."
    • Similarly Tommy Monaghan, the lead character of Hitman (1993); Teth-Adam, the alter ego of Black Adam; and Amos Fortune, an early League baddie (and original founder of the Royal Flush Gang), got namedropped: Tommy in "Double Date" when Mandragora is listing off a name of former associates, Teth-Adam in "Ancient History" as an ally of Katar Hol, and Fortune as an owner of a casino in "Wild Cards".
  • Glamour Failure: In "Legends," after Roy is exposed as a psychic mutant who reconstructed a giant illusion of his dimension from before a nuclear war destroyed everything, all just so he could go on adventures with his favorite heroes, he reverts to his true form.
  • Glory Hound:
    • Booster Gold, one of the most iconic iterations of the trope, appears.
    • Stargirl is a minor example. Altruism guides most of her actions, but she does want the recognition and adoration that she feels her heroics deserve.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: Katma Tui is subjected to this by Despero.
  • Godzilla Threshold: To defeat the Justice Lords, Superman is forced to make a deal with Lex Luthor to defeat them.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Due to the gradual defeat of all the League members with weapons and technology throughout the episode, "Patriot Act" ends with the last two combatants fighting bare-handed one-on-one.
  • Googling the New Acquaintance: When the archaeologist Carter Hall asks Hawkgirl out on a date (and she accepts), Batman looks up the man online—and finds that he has a long history of starting flame wars by white knighting on "I hate Hawkgirl" web forums. This is the first evidence that Carter is a little bit obsessed with Hawkgirl.
  • Go Through Me:
    Shining Knight: "Do your worst, I'll not let you harm another."
  • A God Am I:
    • Vandal Savage, when faced with the looming specter of his own defeat, proclaims that gods do not grovel.
    • Darkseid returns in season two of Justice League.
    Super or not, you are merely a man. Whereas I am a god.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop:
    • In "The Terror Beyond", Hawkgirl explains her aggressive questioning of Queen Mera by saying that she was playing Bad Cop in a standard interrogation technique. When Wonder Woman points out that she always plays Bad Cop, Hawkgirl says she should not play against type.
    • Captain Atom and Supergirl in "Initiation":
      Captain Atom: What are we up against?
      Supergirl: He asked you a question!
      Officer: Don't answer them! That's classified informa- *Supergirl does Neck Lift*
      Supergirl: I just about had it with you guys! You've got to the count of five. One... four... *Eyes glow*
      Captain Atom: I'd speak up if I were you.
    • In the case of Bruce Wayne of today and Bruce Wayne of the future; Bad Cop/Worse Cop.
      Static: Wow. Batman playing "Good Cop".
      Green Lantern: Everything's relative.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: In "Flash and Substance", Orion asks why Central City would honor a buffoon like the Flash, "who makes bad jokes, who concerns himself with pitiful men like the Trickster." But the Flash is anything but dumb—he is able to handle the Trickster without throwing a single punch. In fact, he convinces the Trickster to happily turn himself in to the police.
  • Good Is Old-Fashioned: General Wade Eiling accuses Shining Knight of being a relic after the Knight continues to rush at the General, even after already losing his weapon and being viciously beaten, to protect the locals and innocent bystanders.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Heavily implied in "The Great Brain Robbery". Hawkgirl also is apparently particularly good at causing men to not be... restful.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • When Aquaman cuts his own hand off, it only shows his face before cutting to the next scene.
    • In the first part of "War World", we see Mogul's reigning champion Draga defeat an octopus-like opponent. He asks if he should spare the creature's life, which is met with a resounding boo from the audience. We see his axe go down, and a splatter of what is either ink or blood, and then a cut to the next scene.
    • In "Destroyer", Commander Steel throws an Apokoliptian shield at a Parademon. In the following shot, the weapon is shown piercing a metallic structure that was behind the monster, implying that the creature was decapitated.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Superman doesn't trust Lex "flippin'" Luthor.
  • Graceful Loser: A comic book example. After his first defeat, Mr. Deacon calmly decides he'll learn from it "and try again".
  • Grand Finale: Three separate mini-arcs were intended as the final finale of the series, but the show kept getting renewed so they had to do it all again the next season.
    • The first was "Starcrossed (Parts 1, 2 and 3)", which were the final episodes of the second season of Justice League.
    • "Question Authority", "Flashpoint", "Panic in the Sky" and "Divided We Fall" was the planned final arc at the end of the second season of Unlimited. Technically "Epilogue" was the actual final episode of the season, but was concerned with Batman Beyond.
    • "Alive" and "Destroyer" were the final Grand Finale in season three of Unlimited.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: Superman takes Lois for a picnic... atop a suspension bridge.
  • Gratuitous Disco Sequence: Mirror Master's discotheque of doom in "Flash And Substance".
  • Gravity Master: Vandal Savage, offscreen (and even then, only 'sort of') in "Hereafter". He kills the entire League with it, but also terminally destabilises the Solar System and wipes out humanity by accident.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: In "Clash," Superman seriously doesn't like Captain Marvel stealing his schtick, causing him to go extremely hard on Captain Marvel and call the latter in for a full captain's mast when he accidentally endorses Lex Luthor. Later, his distrust draws him into a knock-down fight with Captain Marvel that wrecks Lexor City (to Luthor's great happiness).
  • Green Lantern Ring: Obviously. Also somewhat shows up with Sinestro's power ring and Star Sapphire's head-jewel-thing.
  • Green Thumb: In the two-parter "Twilight", one of the children of New Genesis was having trouble working in the garden, complaining that it was difficult. High Father explains the virtue of hard work by accelerating the growth of the plant she was tending.
  • Gunboat Diplomacy: Batman to Amanda Waller
    Mine are bigger than yours...
  • Guns Akimbo:
    • Vigilante wields a pair of revolvers as his standard weapons.
    • Lex Luthor also wields a pair of handguns in "Destroyer", even going so far as to offer his spare to Batman when Batman has exhausted his supply of batarangs.

  • Half-Human Hybrid: Rex Stewart aka Warhawk, is the son of John Stewart, who is a human, and Hawkgirl, who is from the planet Thanagar.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The series has a habit of introducing a plot in the first scene of an episode, and then immediately transferring the story of the episode to a new plot.
    • "Starcrossed" opens with the League patrolling Washington, D.C. because Batman has received a tip that terrorists are planning to attack a summit of world leaders. In the first scene they are instead attacked by a Gordanian spaceship and are rescued by the Thanagarians, who explain that Earth has now been dragged into their interstellar war.
    • In "This Little Piggy", Batman and Wonder Woman are staking out a museum because J'onn received a tip that Intergang was going to try and steal the Rosetta Stone. Instead Circe arrives and transforms Wonder Woman into a pig, and the rest of the episode revolves around trying to undo this spell.
  • Handsome Lech: Flash. When he stops hitting on everything that moves he ends up a bit of a Chick Magnet.
  • Hannibal Lecture: The fake Justice Lords constructed by Brainiac. Also President Lex Luthor makes a very effective one with Lord Superman at the beginning of "A Better World".
  • Happily Married: Big Barda and Scott Free are a Battle Couple with absolutely no inter-personal strife. They might be invading the X Pit in the heart of Apokolips, but their relationship is solid as a rock.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The Justice Lords became totalitarian overlords on their world in their attempts to preserve peace and security.
  • The Heart:
    • The creators admitted that Flash was killed in the Alternate Universe of "A Better World" partially because they could not imagine him becoming evil "for the greater good," and it was made clear that because he was not around the original seven became KnightTemplars.
    • Green Arrow was recruited to the League partly because he would look at the expanded League with a critical eye, keeping them in check.
  • Heart of the Matter:
    • One two-part episode had its own Heart of Darkness, this one a fist sized jewel that housed the collected souls of a race of snakemen,"The Ancient Enemies of Man," who could possess anyone who held it. Their plan was to snuff out the sun and kill off humanity. Even shattering the gem didn't stop them, merely allowing them to possess ANYONE touched by one of the shards. Exposure to sunlight was the only thing that could drive the spirits out of their victim's body.
    • Later series Justice League Unlimited saw a technological variant when a swarm of seemingly unstoppable alien nanobots attack Earth in a threatened Grey Goo scenario. The swarm is apparently empowered by a single master bot called The Dark Heart, the destruction of which by the Atom caused the invasion to come to an abrupt and immediate end.
  • Heel Realization:
    • The Cadmus arc plays with the trope, as both sides believe that they are the righteous and that the other is in the wrong. Cadmus has the more traditional "Heel" aspects, with secret genetic experiments, torture, and generally morally questionable behavior, but when Batman confronts Amanda Waller with this she retorts with everything that the League does wrong. Her argument is so convincing that it leaves Batman shaken, and he visibly leaves through the door.
    • Eiling has one in "Patriot Act", after his drive to protect humanity from the super powered heroes leads him to gaining super powers and thrashing several human heroes without powers. He even lampshades it:
    Alright, I've become what I hate. I'll give you that.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: A theme throughout the entire show. As the series opens, Superman is still dealing with his poor image following "Legacy" back in Superman: The Animated Series. The Flash gets flak in "Eclipsed" for taking corporate endorsements and making stupid comments on live television. The entire League and Shayera in particular take a further hit after the events of "Starcrossed", and things just escalate as Unlimited progresses.
  • Heroic Bystander:
    • In "Starcrossed", when Wonder Woman and Batman are on the run in civilian clothing, a restaurant owner calls them inside to hide. His wife helps them disguise themselves and the rest of the patrons all support the 'there's nothing going on here' story.
    • In "Wake the Dead", a car is thrown off a bridge and plummets to the water below. Shayera, making her return, swoops down and cleaves off the roof with her mace to rescue its occupants. The mother in the car, instead of waiting for Shayera to grab her daughter, picks her up and throws her to Hawkgirl before pushing herself out of the falling vehicle.
    • In "Patriot Act", when the various B-list heroes are fighting General Eiling, a group of kids twice attempt to attack the general, first by pelting him with rocks and then by hitting him with a wrecking ball (How the heck do they know how to work a wrecking ball?). Later, when Shining Knight is the last man standing, a crowd of civilians gather around him and state their protection.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The unnamed ship captain in "Fury" dies out of exhaustion after swimming for miles while transporting Aresia to safety. There is a reason he is the only man buried on Themyscira.
    • Batman intended to perform one at the end of "Starcrossed" by crash-landing the Watchtower onto the Thanagarian army's hyperspace bypass, but Superman came and saved him before it impacted.
  • "Hey, You!" Haymaker: Superman taps Darkseid on the shoulder to get him to turn around and clobbers him when he does during the finale.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: It is revealed that Lex Luthor was being manipulated by Brainiac to build him a new body. Luthor had been infected by a copy of Brainiac's programming after Brainiac had exploded the last time he and Luthor had met. The writing staff admitted on the DVD commentary that they had no idea how to make the plot of season two of Unlimited untangle on its own due to the Grey-and-Gray Morality situation that had arisen, so they went with an 'old reliable' and let a Black-and-White Morality villain take over so they could have a proper fight finale.
  • Hijacked by Jesus: Hades and the Greek Pantheon in general. Hades in particular rules only over Tartarus (i.e. Hell), not the virtuous dead, and is portrayed as able to breathe fire and with devilish goat horns in his "true form". Hawkgirl manages to convince a few mooks in Tartarus that she is a Judeo-Christian angel and harming her would unwisely piss God off.
  • Historical Domain Character: In "The Savage Time", "Josef" is given the assignment of retrieving information from a captured J'onn J'onzz.
  • Hit Flash:
    • Used regularly throughout the show, but not universally. The hit flash is left out of certain fight scenes when the creators felt that they need to give more impact to the ...impacts.
    • In "Starcrossed, Part 3", there is a single "white frame" inserted into the fight scene when Hawkgirl is shocked.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: In "The Savage Time", Vandal Savage replaced Hitler as the Fuhrer of Nazi Germany, but ultimately he is defeated by the League and Hitler becomes the leader again.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Ray Thompson re-created the Justice Guild with his powers, including the ideals that they gave their lives to defend. Those ideals required them to take a stand and bring him down.
    • Dr. Destiny murdered his own wife via Mind Rape and attempted to do the same to the League. This fails miserably when he attempts the same treatment on Batman and ends up a slobbering vegetable.
    • The Joker attempted to use Ace of the Royal Flush Gang to drive millions of TV viewers insane, but wound up a drooling, catatonic wreck himself when Ace learned that he was just using her.
    • Hro Talak has a powerless John Stewart at his mercy and charges at him to deliver a killing blow. However, in his blind rage, he fails to notice his opponent is standing right in front of the Thanagarian Shield's main generator. When Stewart dodges his attack, Hro crashes into the machine, being shocked into unconsciousness while simultaneously destroying it; thus fulfilling John's mission himself.
  • Hoist Hero over Head: Darkseid does this to Superman in the last episode, mirroring the famous scene from the comics where Bane lifts Batman before breaking the hero's back by smashing it against his knee.
  • Homage:
    • The giant robot fought in the opening to "Legends" is inspired by the Humongous Mecha of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
    • Ichthultu. Seeing the name, you know it's going to be a horror. Said name is anagrammatic for "It Cthulhu".
    • "This Little Piggy" is one large homage to a variety of TV shows and movies stretching across approximately seven decades. Producer Bruce Timm had the original idea for the episode after watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, two action/adventure Joss Whedon shows that were never afraid to shift the paradigm and abandon 'normal' action/adventure plots in favor of more creative, not to say bizarre, storylines. The story itself was an homage to the 1960's sitcom Bewitched, and during the scripting stage the writers even imagined the characters as reimaginings of characters from the original show: Wonder Woman was Samantha, Batman was Darrin, and Circe was Serena. Jack Carter, who voiced the magical supplier Sid, was a veteran actor of such classic sitcoms, and the episode ends on a musical cue that the producers actually referred to as a Bewitched musical cue. The character design of Medusa, whom Batman and Zatanna go to for information, was designed to look similar to a character from I Love Lucy, another classic sitcom, and the producers remarked that the voice actress even spoke in a manner reminiscent of the original model, even though they did not decide on that image until after the recordings had already been done. Medusa's dialogue, though tame by necessity, was inspired by prison slang and the HBO series Oz, since the writers felt that mythological characters would not necessarily speak exactly the same way they would have a thousand years ago, and since Medusa is in mythological prison she should speak like a convict. The rest of the episode is full of one-off gags that refer to other movies, including the admonition of "that'll do, pig" and Circe's feet rolling up beneath a piano as the Witch's had done in The Wizard of Oz.
    • From the comics adaptation, the end of issue #34 of Justice League Unlimited includes several references to one of the last scenes in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, specifically Mxy's fate.
  • Homemade Sweater from Hell: J'onn receives one from the Kents in the Christmas Episode, but is able to literally grow into it.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Kragger toward Hro Talak. He has a bad habit of interrupting moments between Talak and Hawkgirl, and his Mental World has huge statues of Talak and Kragger side-by-side, with a crushed statue of Hawkgirl at their feet. Word of God is that this was very deliberate.
    Hawkgirl: You're in my way.
    Kragger: Likewise, I'm sure.
  • Honor Before Reason: The Amazons exile Wonder Woman from Themyscira for breaking the law and bringing men to Paradise Island, even though all the Amazons would have been slain and a mad god would have conquered the world if she had not done so.
  • Hope Spot: In "Flashpoint," Luthor hijacks control of the Watchtower's orbital weapon of mass destruction. The computer's locked so securely that even J'onn, who has complete sysop privileges, gets nowhere. Muttering about doing it "the hard way," he rips key parts out of the computer. For an instant, everything goes dark and everybody relaxes. Then the computer coolly states, "Rerouting," and the Watchtower incinerates the abandoned Cadmus headquarters.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: In "Dark Heart". The implication is that the locusts have been spreading across planets for ages.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: Felix Faust turns the residents of Themyscira into stone, but promises to turn them back into normal in exchange for Wonder Woman retrieving some items that will release Hades.
  • Hostile Terraforming: The Imperium attempted to do this in the series premier and for Bookends the denizens of Apokolips attempted it in the series finale.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E. She is a teenager and he is her stepfather, even though he is also her sidekick.
  • Human Aliens: In addition to Kryptonians, denizens of New Genesis and Apokolips also look almost identical to humans, except for individual outliers.
  • Human Popsicle: Adolf Hitler makes a cameo in storage after Vandal Savage assumes command of Nazi Germany.
  • Humanity's Wake: "Hereafter" features an Earth 30,000 years after the extinction of mankind. True to humor, cockroaches now rule the planet.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: This is a stance held by many of the non-human people of Earth, including the Gorillas of Gorilla City and the people of Atlantis. Both change their tune somewhat after the Justice League helps them fight internal enemies, but Aresia (An Amazon) goes to her death believing all men are bastards, despite the fact that she learns a man gave up his life so that she could live. J'onn had an emotional breakdown when he tried a massive psychic scan of a city, frustrated over human pettiness. This became a bit of a Character Development as he learns that the only friends he has are part of the league and if he was going to live among humanity, he has to learn to like at least some of them.
  • Humiliation Conga: Wonder Woman being turned into a pig - and Batman having to keep it under wraps - in This Little Piggy certainly counts.
  • Humongous Mecha:
    • The first large mech fought was controlled by Lex Luthor, and explicitly modeled on Neon Genesis Evangelion, in the first season episode "Legends."
    • Toyman had a heavily armed Transformer-bot in "Hereafter".
    • There was a truly massive mech in "Initiation".
  • Humorless Aliens: Martian Manhunter seems to respond to Flash's attempts at humor with either confusion or disdain.
  • Hurl It into the Sun:
    • When Grundy came back from the dead Hawkgirl comments on A.M.A.Z.O. "before Golden Boy teleports him into the sun..."
    • Flash's suggestion for getting rid of a giant alien machine. It was inspired by a Usenet discussion of an earlier episode, in which the poster wondered why Green Lantern hadn't done just that. Writer Dwayne McDuffie responded that the animated GL's ring wasn't that powerful: "Although it does suggest a really interesting spin-off, where every week GL throws whoever is attacking into the sun."
  • Hurricane of Puns: The Silver Age villains in "Legends" love doing this. Even the Flash gets in on it when fighting one of them.
  • Hyperlink Story: The show is a large ensemble story of a group, their friendships and their relationships and adventures which they share with each other. It's one of the few Justice League renditions that really makes it a team story rather than the adventures of Superman and Co. This became even more pronounced in the Unlimited run where the League expanded from 7 to 70 and featured many minor heroes and side characters, likewise the League's opponents Cadmus and Luthor also got their own Story Arc during the entire run.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: This is the subject of the famous "world of cardboard" speech, where Superman sees that he doesn't need to hold his power back against Darkseid.
  • An Ice Person: Ice and Killer Frost are both capable of firing freezing blasts, but the former is a hero and the latter is a villain.
  • I Choose to Stay: Supergirl decides to stay in the future in "Far From Home".
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Said by the hero during the climax of the Justice League/Cadmus conflict in "Panic in the Sky." After the former Cadmus headquarters is destroyed by the Justice League Watchtower Batman points out that the League has been monitoring Cadmus for months and knew they had already moved their headquarters. When Waller then suggests that it was a warning shot Batman tells her "Don't be dense." If the League had wanted to attack Cadmus they would have attacked Cadmus, not what is now an abandoned and empty warehouse.
  • If Only You Knew: Characters respond with the phrase "You have no idea" when people unknowingly make reference to an aspect of their super-human backstory.
    • In "The Savage Time", J'onn J'onzz sees a video of Vandal Savage from sixty years in the future and notes that "you age gracefully". At that time, J'onn has not yet learned that Savage is immortal.
    • In "Maid of Honor", Princess Audrey promises not to reveal that Wonder Woman has 'feet of clay' (i.e. that she is not as perfect as people believe she is). Audrey is unaware that Diana was literally sculpted from clay before being given life by the Greek gods.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: In "Starcrossed, Part 2" Kragger asks Hawkgirl if it would not be better for her to kill the captive Justice League, rather than risk them escaping. He is clearly testing her, and she clearly does not want to comply, so she advances a practical reason not to.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: After Brainiac first shows himself within Luthor's body, the League tries to reach Luthor and motivate him to resist Brainiac's control. Luthor confirms that he is still in there, but he likes it in there.
  • I Like Those Odds: In "Starcrossed, Part 3", Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern are heading straight for the Thanagarian mothership (and the dozens of smaller ships around it). Wonder Woman says that the odds are pretty bad, to which Superman agrees: the invaders don't stand a chance.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: After Flash is Thrown Out the Airlock and rescued by Green Lantern, his first words are to say how cold he is.
  • I'm Standing Right Here:
    • Aquaman is trying to prod Shayera out of her funk by provoking her anger, and mocks her when she cannot even banter back.
    Aquaman (to Hawkgirl): Such scintillating repartee. I get better conversation from the android.
    Amazo: You are aware I'm in the room.
    • Wonder Woman confirming that Batman had, indeed, tap-danced in the conversational minefield in the opening moments of "The Once And Future Thing":
    Batman (to Green Lantern): I don't have time to pursue a relationship; my work is too important to allow any distractions. Diana's a remarkable woman, she's a valued friend, she's—*shot pans around to show his face, brow raised followed by a wince as it pulls back to show*—standing right behind me, isn't she?
    Wonder Woman: Don't let that stop you; keep digging!
  • Impending Clash Shot: In the episode, "Grudge Match". Villainess Roulette makes two female heroes fight each other, and they decide to do it for fun. And they did it a la Rocky III to boot.
  • Implausible Deniability: After Galatea claims she cannot hear Amanda Waller's orders she turns to Supergirl and says that the call (in space, directed to her earpiece that she just crushed between her fingertips) was a wrong number.
  • Important Haircut: In the switch from JL to JLU, which saw the League transform into a larger, more rigid organization with a cleaer hierarchy and authority, John Stewart shaved his head and grew a goatee.
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: Pretty much the entire female cast, except the younger ones like Supergirl. It is a standard part of Bruce Timm's drawing style.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness:
    • The Flash. DVD commentary reveals that they had him die in the alternate reality of "A Better World" because they simply could not conceive of anything that would cause him to become a Knight Templar.
    • Superman is not an example; it is directly discussed in "A Better World," where Lord Superman is unable to be talked down from his Knight Templar ways. League!Superman explains that he has felt the same urges and compulsions himself, and he knows just how hard they are to resist. If he was ever put into that same position, he knows himself well enough to admit that he would break, too.
    • Captain Marvel. Some of it is childhood naiveté, but part of his pureness is his ability to retain such naiveté, even when everybody around him has become jaded and cynical.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: The Atom
  • Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Milo in "The Doomsday Sanction".
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: When Lois Lane approaches Captain Atom and Superman for an interview after a supervillain fight, Atom realizes that this is personal for the two of them and quickly excuses himself.
    Captain Atom: I'm pretty sure there's something I have to do someplace.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Copperhead gradually becomes more and more ineffectual after his first appearance. He never loses his malice, but does lose his competence. The Flash's Rogues' Gallery are also noteworthy for this in "Flash And Substance," although they're not entirely harmless.
  • Informed Attractiveness:
    • When Batman and Wonder Woman travel to New Genesis Wonder Woman is awe-struck by its splendor and magnificence, never having seen anything like it before. The floating city itself is... okay. It is not bad, it is a technological marvel unequaled in real life, but it is also a rather generic "future city" that has been seen in fiction countless times before and is overshadowed by many of the fantastic locations seen elsewhere in Justice League.
    • To a degree, Atlantis suffers from this as well- parts of it look like some of the more out-there architecture of Metropolis (which New Genesis also looks like).
  • Ink-Suit Actor:
  • Innocent Bigots: The Justice Guild in "Legends" — telling Green Lantern he's "a credit to his people", asking Hawkgirl to bake cookies...
  • Innocuously Important Episode:
    • "A Better World" turns out to be one of the main motivation for the formation of Project Cadmus, the main villains for the first two seasons of Unlimited. It also begins to sow seeds of distrust within the League itself, who fear that the League might go in the same direction and wonder how they might change events.
    • "Dark Heart" is just your standard Monster of the Week episode, right? Wrong. The weapon the JLA uses to slow the monster's advance becomes Luthor's means of framing them in "Flashpoint" and the monster itself returns to give Brainithor a massive powerup in "Divided We Fall."
  • In Spite of a Nail: In the alternate reality of "The Savage Time," the Allies lost World War II and the world is dominated by Vandal Savage, but Bruce Wayne's parents were still killed when he was eight years old. Afterwards, the world returned exactly to its previous "real" nature after the League traveled back in time to thwart Vandal Savage, despite the repulsion of the Allied landing at Normandy.
  • In-Series Nickname: The Leaguers abbreviate each others' codenames a lot. Huntress calls Question "Q," Green Arrow calls Vigilante "Vig," Batman is "Bats," Superman is "Supes," Mr. Terrific is "T," Green Lantern and Green Arrow are "GL" and "GA..."
  • Instant Fan Club: Supergirl has one of these in Japan, with one Cosplay Otaku Girl even attacking a jealous Stargirl who was badmouthing her. It turns out there was a Supergirl Convention happening next to their battle.
  • Instant Flight: Just Add Spinning!: The Flash used his arms as a helicopter. He lost control and crashed in short order.
  • Institutional Apparel: Lex Luthor wears prison grays in "Injustice For All" but changes to orange fatigues in "I am Legion".
  • Intellectual Animal: Gorilla Grodd and the other denizens of Gorilla City.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Between John Stewart and Hawkgirl and, it is implied, also between John Stewart and Katma Tui.
    • The relationship between Superman and Lois Lane appears in a few small-but-important scenes.
    • Grodd and Tala had a sexual relationship, which even people within the show find unsettling.
    • Grodd and Giganta is an unusual example, as Giganta was once an ape, but now looks human. She also has super powers, so it is not entirely clear what, exactly, she is.
    • Bizzaro was in love with Giganta, but she was just using him to break Grodd out of prison.
    • J'onn and his unnamed human companion, who he refers to as his wife, in the finale.
    • Supergirl (Kryptonian) and Brainiac 5 (Coluan).
    • Carter Hall and Shayera Hol, but that is another rather confusing example. Is Carter an insane human or reincarnated Thanagarian?
  • In the Back: All of Star Sapphire's on screen defeats were the result of someone sneaking up on her and landing a blow while she was busy fighting someone else.
  • In Their Own Image: Lord Chronos' desperate endgame in "The Once and Future Thing" is to go back to the beginning of time and reshape the entire reality into one where he is seen as a God.
  • Intimate Telecommunications: Huntress attempts to do this to her boyfriend, the Question.
    Huntress: So, what are you wearing?
    The Question: Blue overcoat, fedora.
    Huntress: You really suck at this.
    The Question: Orange socks?
  • Intra-Franchise Crossover: The episode "Legends" was initially intended to feature the Justice Society of America. The rights weren't cleared (possibly because the superheroes involved were portrayed as somewhat bigoted), so the writers instead used a Captain Ersatz version called "The Justice Guild".
  • Inverse Law of Sharpness and Accuracy: Vigilante and Shining Knight, armed with pistols and a sword respectively, are up against people they could actually hurt with them in "Task Force X," and thus never manage to make contact with their weapons. They do, however, do quite well when it comes to their fists and lassos.
  • Invisible President:
    • He gets a small cameo towards the end of season two of Unlimited as the crisis approaches its climax, but the president's face is never seen and he is never named, only referred to as "Mr. President."
    • The Justice Lords president does get some face time, and is pretty obviously an expy of George W. Bush, kowtowing to Superman by saying "elections are traditional, kind of like Thanksgiving".
  • I Read It for the Articles: Flash explains that he purchases a Playboy-style periodical by commenting that he reads it for the articles.
  • I See Dead People: After a fashion. After Brainiac is destroyed in the Unlimited season two finale Luthor can see his "ghost" and they have conversations, but to everyone else it looks like Luthor is talking to an imaginary friend. We never learn whether or not he truly can see Brainiac, especially since he lost him after Darkseid was free.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: "The Brave And The Bold".
    Gorilla Grodd: Humans are slow, ugly, immoral, and have an unpleasant body odor!
    Flash: Hey, who are you calling slow?
  • Ironic Echo: In "Twilight," Superman opens his fight against Darkseid with a Badass Boast ending in "let's go." Three seasons later, in "Destroyer," Darkseid echoes the line (and one-ups the Badass Boast) before attacking Supes.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: In "Flash and Substance", Linda Park is reporting on the opening of the Flash Museum and, after she finishs her report, gushes to her camerwoman about how attractive the Flash is and that she can't beleve the camerwoman doesn't have a thing for him as well. Once she finishes the camerwoman explains that now they're off the air.
  • It Gets Easier: In "A Better World", The Flash states that killing him, a close friend whose parallel universe death was the motivation for his Face–Heel Turn in the first place, would be a line Lord Superman would never cross. Lord Superman shrugs and says that he has done many things he once thought were over a line; one more will not hurt.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Batman plans to perform a Heroic Sacrifice in "Starcrossed". His last words before he cuts off communication with Flash and Martian Manhunter is to tell them it's been an honor to fight by their side.
  • It Only Works Once: In his first appearance, the Shadow Thief can be disabled with bright lights. In his second appearance, he advises against trying this tactic, since it hasn't worked "in months".
  • It's a Long Story: When Superman returns from the Bad Future in "Hereafter", he tells the rest of the League that it's a long story.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies:
  • It's What I Do: Darkseid in "Twilight".
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: The Cadmus facility which grew and managed the Ultimen was disassembled and moved after they discovered the truth, and when they returned to destroy it they only found empty offices.
  • Jabba Table Manners: Displayed by Villainous Glutton Steven Mandagora.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Superman tries intimidating Copperhead into telling him where Luthor is, but Copperhead calls him out on it, knowing that the Big Blue Boyscout won't actually hit him to get info out of him.
  • Jaw Drop: You would, too, if you watched an entire planet get obliterated before your eyes in a matter of nanoseconds. And you would do it again when you have been shown it was still there all along and you have been royally had.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • General Carter is a hard-edged military man who opposes global nuclear disarmament and is initially seen as a Commander Contrarian, but in the ending of "Secret Origins," when he points out that humanity got lucky and have to remain vigilant in case the Invaders return, Batman is watching. This is part of what inspires the creation of the Justice League itself.
    • When Batman questions Amanda Waller in "The Doomsday Sanction" about her activities with Cadmus, she points out that in another dimension, the Justice Lords overthrew the government easily with just several members, and in this dimension, they also have a gigantic, armed League satellite in orbit and a small army which includes numerous other meta humans. Batman tries to claim it isn't needed since this version of the League would never turn bad, but Waller points out that she and her country are protecting themselves from all possible scenarios so how "unlikely" it is doesn't matter. Notably Batman can't argue her logic there because he's just as Properly Paranoid, and it's common in other media for him to set up his own contingency plans against the Justice League going rogue, too.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope:
    • The Justice Lords of "A Better World" all did it following their Flash's death, an event that eventually led to every member shrugging off Thou Shalt Not Kill and taking over the planet by force, but Superman was the one who really went full-tilt.
    • After a history of friendship and cooperation with Superman and Supergirl, Emil Hamilton begins to question the trustworthiness and good intentions of superheroes after Superman is brainwashed and forced to attack Earth. He begins to clone, kidnap, torture and kill them as part of a government conspiracy.
  • Just Following Orders:
    • Hawkgirl explains the years-long subterfuge as being a soldier under orders, and expects John Stewart to understand given his history as a Marine.
    • In "Ultimatum", Maxwell Lord begins to tell the Ultimen that he was only following orders, but they interrupt him and scoff at the idea before he can even finish the sentence.
    • Captain Atom explains his working for Cadmus because he has official orders from General Eiling as an officer in the US Air Force.
  • Just Friends: Batman's description of his and Diana's relationship. Zatanna does not buy it for a second.
  • Just Ignore It: In "Hawk and Dove", it turns out that Ares' animated armour is left completely powerless in the absence of violence, so all it takes for the heroes to stop it is to refrain from fighting it altogether.
  • Just in Time:
  • Just Plane Wrong: The Green Guardsman tries to pop the villains' blimp with an arrow created by his power ring. Later Flash brings down the blimp by puncturing it. See this trope's page for why it shouldn't work, though since it's all a mentally-generated image, it makes sense that things in that world would react the way the average person would expect them to, not the way they would in real life.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Eiling gets one. After trying to kill a bunch of Leaguers, endangering innocents, and causing massive property damage, he takes off and is never seen again.
    • Ditto for Circe, who never gets apprehended.
    • After the conclusion of the Cadmus story arc Emil Hamilton disappears and is not seen or mentioned again, meaning there are no on-screen consequences for him betraying the League. Given that Waller and Eiling were not prosecuted it's probable that neither was he.
  • Kick the Dog: In "For The Man Who Has Everything", Mongul specifically uses the Black Mercy because he wants Superman to have to sacrifice his greatest desire in order to escape.
  • Kid from the Future/Luke, You Are My Father: Rex Stewart aka Warhawk, previously introduced in Batman Beyond.
  • Killed Off for Real: Heroes in the show invariably turn out to be Not Quite Dead, as one would expect on a superhero cartoon, but villains die surprisingly frequently. Bystanders and sympathetic bit characters are ambiguously or explicitly killed off from time to time, to keep the villains appropriately threatening.
  • Killer Yo-Yo: Used by Toyman to defeat Killer Frost in "Alive".
  • Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand: In "Fearful Symmetry", the Question tells Galatea to kill him, but he believes she will not go through with it because she is beginning to feel guilt over her actions. She does hesitate, but whether she would have gone through with it or not is ultimately unknown, as Supergirl attacks her when her back is turned.
  • King Arthur: Arthurian legend is mentioned and featured in three episodes, two of which involve his foe Morgaine le Fae and her role in the fall of Camelot, and the third features a retelling of his relationship with Sir Justin (Shining Knight), one of his vassals.
  • King Incognito: Villainous example. When Grodd's secret society broke in the headquarters of Crime Lord Morgan Edge, Edge tried to escape by disguising himself as a servant, but was detected because he forgot to put on shoes that weren't too fancy for a servant.
  • Kiss-Kiss-Slap: Big Barda is constantly at odds with her husband, Mister Miracle, over his increasingly dangerous Houdini-esque escape tricks
    Barda (elated): Scott! I thought you were dead!
    Barda (angry): You insufferable showboat! (lifts off feet) I thought you were dead!
  • Klingon Promotion:
    • Luthor takes over the Legion of Doom by shooting Grodd and placing himself at the head of the table. It makes a lot of sense, since Luthor is more or less as smart as Grodd, and the plan Grodd had been working towards for months proved both stupid and somewhat harmful to the rest of the Legion.
    • Polaris tries to do the same after Luthor swaps bodies with Flash and back. Luthor quickly reminds everyone why he's the one in charge.
  • Kryptonite Ring: Batman carries around a piece of Kryptonite in the event that Superman ever goes rogue, and Superman is aware and glad that he does so.
  • Lady Land: Themyscira.
  • Lame Comeback: Flash has a number of these.
    Flash (to a hologram of Mirror Master): "Oh yeah well... you're not really all there!"
  • Lame Pun Reaction:
    • In "Wild Cards," when the Flash briefly defeats King by wrapping him up in fake mummy bandages, he comments that it "wraps [him] up." Though the wrappings mean that King's subsequent comment is muffled and unintelligible, the Flash still apologizes, saying it was the only quip he could think of.
    • John makes his own "wraps them up" joke later, to Clark and Diana's visible surprise. He apologises and blames it on hanging out with Flash too long.
  • Lampshade Hanging: All the time, but one of the most direct ones was in the episode "Hereafter", when Wonder Woman stopped a lightning attack with her metal wrist bracers.
    Flash: "There are so many reasons why that shouldn't have worked."
  • La Résistance:
    • The anti-Despero resistance in "Hearts and Minds". John amusedly notes that there's always a resistance.
    • The alternate Batman runs one in "The Savage Time."
  • Large Ham:
    • Despero, Despero, Despero.
    • Most of the really big villains tend to have this quality, to a greater or lesser degree, which makes the ultimate Big Bad, Darkseid, much more imposing because he doesn't act this way.
    • Doctor Fate, of all people, gets quite a bit in 'The Terror Beyond'.
    Doctor Fate: So Fate demands, SO FATE DEMAAAANDS! SO FATE DEMANDS! (Commercial Break) SO FATE DEMANDS!
  • Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb: This version of Doomsday, a mutated clone of Superman whose creators conditioned him to hate the original. Interestingly, the original Doomsday was created on the Planet Krypton in its distant past (in the Comics,) so in both of these continuities, he is Kryptonian.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In the episode "Far From Home", when Supergirl was about to leave to attempt to stop the Legion of Superheroes, Brainiac 5 nearly said that he loves her, but swapped "love" for "lied to" at the last moment.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "Wild Cards", Joker's 22:51 time limit is an obvious reference to the runtime of a half-hour television program, although the episode itself is double-length.
  • Leave Him to Me: At the climax of "Starcrossed", Green Lantern fights his way into the Thanagarian command ship. Hro Talak countermands the order to send soldiers to stop him, and goes himself to fight one-on-one.
  • Left Hanging: There are a number of plot threads left dangling. Including Green Lantern, Vixen, and Hawkgirl's Love Triangle, the result of General Eiling's vendetta against Superman, and whatever happened to A.M.A.Z.O. after Grundy was taken care of.
  • Legion of Doom: The Injustice Gang and both Secret Societies. The name "Legion of Doom" was not allowed to be spoken within the show, but the producers have revealed that they consider the organization in season three of Unlimited to be the actual Legion. Furthermore, the season's DVD packaging explicitly calls the Legion "The Legion of Doom."
  • Leitmotif:
    • Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow all have their own musical motifs (Batman and Superman retain their melody motifs from their respective solo shows). Green Arrow even hums his own theme while swinging forth into battle at one point.
    • The Blackhawks have their own theme in "The Savage Time," and it is their real song. One of the classic comic teams from Golden Age, the Blackhawks had plenty of supplemental material released including, at one point, a song book. Though the music from this episode was composed by Lolita Ritmanis, she composed it to match the lyrics from the original Blackhawk Theme. An Easter Egg on the DVD plays the song as a music video, featuring it in its entirety over the aerial dogfight of the episode (It is quite epic).
    • A.M.A.Z.O. got one in his introduction episode that played whenever he assimilates any of the heroes' powers.
  • Leotard of Power: All over the place, though most often seen, of course, on Wonder Woman.
  • Let Me at Him!: Green Arrow lunges against the government agents interviewing Steven Mandragora when Mandragora continuously insults Black Canary, who is there with Arrow as special security. Arrow ends up pleading with them to leave him alone with Mandragora for just five minutes. Ultimately, Canary ends up smacking him one... and nearly breaks her hand in the process!
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: It is probably good to remember that Flash, as carefree and goofy as he is, can make you explode just by touching you.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Occasionally, including the Metamorpho episode and also in "The Terror Beyond". Deconstructed in "Clash".
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: For Aquaman.
  • Lighter and Softer: "Flash and Substance" shows that Central City is a 'lighter and softer' corner of the DCAU. Even the Flash's enemies tend to be pretty mundane guys when they're not in Card-Carrying Villain mode.
  • Lighthearted Rematch: In "Grudge Match".
  • Lightning Bruiser: Steven Mandragora. The guy is HUGE, but he moves just as fast as Black Canary when she attacks him. Foreshadowed earlier in the episode when, after she punches him, states that there is no fat, only muscle.
  • Lightning Lash: In "The Once and Future Thing" part 2, The Dee Dees fight using electric whips. They use these to kill Terry Mc Ginnis.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: The Flash points out that Green Lantern and Hawkgirl are bickering like an old married couple.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Flash and Hawkgirl.
  • Limited Wardrobe: The Flash and Hawkgirl wear their same costumes in literally every single scene until the end of Justice League. Hawkgirl does not remove her mask until the final scene of "Wild Cards" (Second-to-last episode), and the Flash does not take off his costume until Part 2 of "Starcrossed" (Last episode). The other League members are rarely out of costume, but it does happen on occasion when in disguise or "off duty".
  • Literal Metaphor:
    • When Green Lantern is fighting Star Sapphire he yells duck. Star Sapphire doesn't move and is hit by a statue of a duck. He says that he tried to warn her.
    • Brainiac 5 and Green Arrow try to sneak up on the Fatal Five only to find the villains waiting for them. Brainiac 5 utters "shoot". Green Arrow thinks he was upset at the circumstances but Brainiac 5 really wanted him to open fire.
    • When Forager says the New Gods are above him, it's not about the fact they're Gods and he's a bug. It's about the fact the New Gods' town floats in mid air.
  • Living Prop: Many superheroes introduced during Unlimited (who, in the comics, belonged to teams ranging from the JSA to JL Detroit) never progressed beyond this.
  • Living Shadow: Shadow Thief.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: From the third season on, the Justice League has over three dozen members.
  • Logic Bomb: Bizarro is assisting Giganta because he has fallen in love with her, and in "Ultimatum" he is helping her break Gorilla Grodd out of jail. When Wonder Woman asks him what will happen to his relationship with Giganta after they have rescued her boyfriend, Bizarro freezes in confusion.
  • Lost World: Skartaris and Themyscira.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The Black Mercy in "For The Man Who has Everything".
  • Loud of War: The Question once successfully tortured a man with the use of crappy, overproduced pop music. For added fun, he is later heard singing the same song softly as he is breaking into a secure facility!
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Stargirl. She is vain and fame seeking, has a large sense of entitlement, and mocks and belittles those around her to ease her own feelings, but means well beneath it all. She is aware of how her actions look and recognizes with frustration that her words make her "petty."
  • Love Cannot Overcome: No matter how hard she tries, Wonder Woman cannot get grumpy, antisocial Batman to give a relationship a chance. They do still go dancing once though. Or rather, Diana tells Bruce he's taking her dancing. And of course, at one point Bruce throws aside his scary exterior to sing a blues song to satisfy Circe to lift her spell on Diana. No matter how hard he tries to hide it, the man definitely cares.
  • Love Triangle: Green Lantern and Hawkgirl get romantically involved right before it comes out that Hawkgirl is a Thanagarian spy and engaged to another man. Although he does not quite lose his feelings for her, he does take up with Vixen before going into the future and learning that he has a son by Hawkgirl. Meanwhile, Hawkgirl picks up a stalker in Hawkman who believes (with more than a little justification) that he and Hawkgirl are reincarnations of Thanagarian lovers from ancient Egypt. Later in the series, it comes out that Green Lantern is (supposedly) also a reincarnation of one of the Egyptian Thanagarians' human friends who was having an affair with Hawkgirl's preincarnation which ended in the tragic death of all three of them. The series ends with Green Lantern and Vixen together, but with unresolved feelings between John and Shayera and the knowledge that they will somehow rekindle their relationship sometime before ''Batman Beyond''.
  • Loving a Shadow:
    Hawkman: "We are the reincarnations of Katar and Chayera Hol, and I love you."
    Hawkgirl: "You can't love me, Carter. You don't even know me."
  • Lower-Deck Episode: The Unlimited portion of the series focuses heavily on lesser-known members DC Comics, with many minor and supporting heroes receiving their own episodes throughout its three seasons. The episode "Patriot Act" starred seven of these characters, who had weapon- or gadget-based super powers: Green Arrow and Speedy, Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E., the Crimson Avenger, Vigilante, and the Shining Knight. Counts as a Mythology Gag because they note  starred in the comic Seven Soldiers.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: For Batman Beyond via "Epilogue." Hades also pulls this on Wonder Woman, only to have her shut him down by basically saying "Who cares?".


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