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Justice League / Tropes M to Z

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

This series provides examples of:

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  • Macross Missile Massacre: In "Panic in the Sky", transport vessels full of Super Soldiers are sent to kill the League.
  • Mafia Princess: Huntress was one of these—and did not know. She finds out the hard way.
  • Magic Pants:
    • Mandragora's pants alone among his clothes survive Black Canary's Canary Cry, thank God.
    • Also used in the case of Eiling's monster form in "Patriot Act".
  • Magic Versus Science: Tala and Luthor argue about this in "Alive". Ultimately, Luthor combines both, using Tala as a living battery to magically empower a device with the intent of reviving Brainiac.
  • Magicians Are Wizards: When Zatanna closes out her show, she tends to perform actual magic to give the audience a big finale. Instead of grabbing a rabbit, she pulled a member of the audience out of her hat. This is different from how she was back in Batman: The Animated Series, where she was depicted as just a Stage Magician, although it is consistent with the original version of the character from the comics.
  • Magic Is Feminine:
    • Wonder Woman is the girly girl to Hawkgirl's tomboy and is the only one of the seven founders with a mystical origin, being a clay statue brought to life by gods.
    • Later seasons add Zatanna and Vixen who are also more feminine than Hawkgirl and have powers related to mysticism.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout:
    • Black Canary's Canary Cry is powerful enough to shatter a barrier that resisted multiple strikes from Hawkgirl's mace.
    • Silver Banshee's scream literally drains the life away from those who hear it.
  • Male Gaze: All super-heroines and most villainesses are often subject to camera angles focusing on their busts or their derrieres, particularly Wonder Woman and Black Canary.
  • Man Bites Man: When tied up in "Starcrossed", Wonder Woman bites the hand of the guard who is feeding her. After she told him that she would not bite him.
  • Maniac Monkeys: Gorilla Grodd (an ape, not a monkey, but it is the closest trope we have) is one of the primary villains that the League faces.
  • Marshmallow Hell: Wonder Woman is carrying a shrunk-down Atom in her hands. She needs both of these to fight. Guess where she stuffs him?
  • Mass Hypnosis: Joker tries this in "Wild Cards", though it is more of Mass Insanity.
  • Master of All: The second appearance of A.M.A.Z.O. is this with a bullet, thanks to Power Copying turned up to eleven.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It is never definitively established if Hawkman's theory about his and Hawkgirl's past lives in Ancient Egypt is true or not. The other characters are never truly convinced, and his beliefs might all be the result of damaged Thanagarian technology, but much of the story of their past lives does match their current relationships and characters.
  • Meaningful Funeral: In "Hereafter". Of course, Superman comes back.
  • Mechanical Evolution: A.M.A.Z.O.'s ability to evolve was so potent that, by his second appearance, he was already beyond being a machine, explicitly being referred to as a god.
  • Megaton Punch: Superman delivers one to Darkseid in "Destroyer", the final episode of the series, after giving the famous speech.
  • Men of Sherwood: The Watchtower staff are non-powered technicians working for superheroes in a show that averts Never Say "Die" and get drawn into the fray during a few super villain attacks. However, they're shown as brave, useful, and (with one exception) loyal people who keep things running on a day to day basis.
  • Mercy Kill: Hawkgirl is forced to put the reanimated Grundy out of his misery. (She even compares it to Old Yeller).
  • Mercy Lead: After the Legion of Doom help save the world from Darkseid's forces in the finale, the League tells them they are going to be arrested anyway. Atomic Skull protests, and Batman gives them a five minute head start before they go after them.
    Skull: Five minutes? Are you kidding?
    Wonder Woman: Four minutes, fifty seconds.
  • Merlin and Nimue: Tala was instructed in the ways of magic by sorceror Felix Faust.
  • Mind Rape:
    • Doctor Destiny gains the power to enter and twist peoples' dreams in "Only A Dream."
    • In "Hearts and Minds", Despero is using the flame of Pytar to empower legions of soldiers, but instead decides to mentally rape Katma Tui and Hawkgirl into personal slaves.
    • Gorilla Grodd, after he eschews Mind Control and just uses his Psychic Powers to cause debilitating pain in his enemies. He got those powers after the Flash had messed with his Mind Control helmet.
    • Ace of the Royal Flush Gang has the ability to make you insane just by looking at you, even when not in her physical presence. Simply seeing her on television can transfer her powers to you.
    • When J'onn J'onzz really needs to learn how to pilot a spaceship, he forces his way into Kragger's mind, whose Thanagarian physiology normally makes him immune to telepathy. It leaves Kragger catatonic immediately afterwards, and when he returns two seasons later, he is brain-damaged.
  • Mirror Self: In "A Better World", the Justice Lords are mirror versions of the Justice League. They show up again when Brainiac-Luthor tries to stop the League from interfering in his ascension. Originally, there was no Flash Justice Lord, as he was killed in that universe; when Brainthor creates a fake Justice Lord mirror self, the copy's outfit is identical to that of Flash villain Reverse Flash.
  • Mission Control: J'onn functions as one in Unlimited. After he takes a sabbatical, the role is taken up by Mr. Terrific.
  • Mission Creep: The League was originally founded by Superman and his new friends to better defend earth from threats that none of them can individually tackle. To achieve this purpose, they build a Watchtower, their own special spacejet, expand their roster to Heroes Unlimited, get a huge support staff, with a bigger fleet of jets and also create their own BFG in the wake of the Thanagarian Invasion. By which time, the League isn't Superman and his Friends so much as an N.G.O. Superpower with an arsenal and superpowered army beyond all jurisdiction, regulation and checks and balance. This leads to Cadmus forming itself in fear of the League's growing power, a sense among civilians that the League is growing more and more aloof and distant and dangerously close to overreaching and compromising its ability. Eventually the League realize this at the end of the fourth season, by starting a new base in Metropolis, regulating their roster to a 9-5 gig and submitting their actions to government review.
  • Mistaken for Clown: In "The Once and Future Thing, Part 1", when Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern accidentally travel to the old west, the cowboys that come across them think they're circus folk and proceed to attempt at intimidating them.
  • Mistaken for Profound: When Forager says that Orion, a New God, is far above him, Wonder Woman believes that he is displaying a belief in his own inferiority. He has to clarify that she misunderstands, Orion and the other New Gods are literally far above them in their floating city.
  • The Mole: Up until Starcrossed, Hawkgirl has her own agenda. Downplayed in that she doesn't know the true purpose of her mission and is horrified to find out that her race intends to destroy Earth and all its inhabitants in order to further their war against the Gordanians.
  • Moment Killer:
  • Monowheel Mayhem: Due to Vandal Savage's time-tampering, World War II is filled with Nazis War Wheels, mammoth war machines that overwhelm Allied tanks and infantry alike. The War Wheels are originally from the Blackhawk series, and the Blackhawks themselves appear to help defeat the Axis.
  • Monster Clown: The original. Due to the Bat-embargo, however, he only appeared in two storylines.
  • Monumental Battle: In "Destroyer", the Justice League and Legion of Doom team up to repel Darkseid's worldwide invasion. Glimpses of monuments like the Great Wall of China and the Big Ben are peppered all over the episode, sometimes receiving some damage thanks to the all-out war.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • "Hereafter", an otherwise very somber story about what everyone thinks was Superman's death, is quite literally interrupted by Lobo's brash and obnoxious entrance. Action scenes and scenes of Superman's wake are interspersed with the League's beleaguered attempts to deal with Lobo.
    • Going the other direction, "Kid Stuff" is a mostly lighthearted romp where Superman, Green Lantern, Batman and Wonder Woman are turned into preteens, and a lot of the humor comes from the fact that the other three act like kids, while Batman still acts like Batman. And then at the end of the episode, Wonder Woman notes it was fun to be a kid again, and Batman responds darkly that he hasn't been a kid since he was 8 years old.
  • Mook Chivalry: When Captain Cold, Captain Boomerang, Mirror Master and the Trickster decide to kill the Flash once and for all, they each takes turns with their own death traps one at a time. Eventually, Captain Cold points out that taking turns is dumb, and they decide to jump him together.
  • Monochrome Past:
    • In "For The Man Who Has Everything", Batman has an extended flashback to the day his parents died. Everything is, naturally, in black and white.
    • In "The Ties That Bind", Mr. Miracle's flashbacks to this time in the X-Pit are all tinted blue.
    • "Patriot Act" opens with a scene showing the Spy Smasher stealing the Captain Nazi formula during World War II. The scene is in black and white, and also has different music and fight effects to emulate the style of film serials of the time.
  • Morality Chain:
    • Supergirl's Twin Telepathy with her clone Galatea was slowly causing Galatea to develop a conscience, making it harder for Galatea to work as a hit man.
    • Flash in the Justice Lords' universe. His death served as a catalyst for the Justice Lords to go from heroes to dictators.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Destiny gave himself the title; it wasn't granted by an authority.
  • Most Common Superpower:
    • Wonder Woman is very buxom. Lampshaded when the Atom found out in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Dark Heart".
    • Lampshaded with Galatea, which makes sense since she is pretty much a villainous expy for Power Girl.
    • Otherwise mostly averted with any female character (except for Black Canary, Zatanna, and Vixen) due to the art style used in the series.
  • Most Definitely Not a Villain: "The Great Brain Robbery" has Flash — body swapped with Luthor — trying to convince the Legion of Doom that he, Lex Luthor, is their evil, evil leader.
  • Motive Decay:
    • Sinestro appeared in Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League solely in pursuit of his vendetta against the Green Lantern Corps, and he only worked with other villains in pursuit of that goal. However, by the time of the third season of Unlimited, he works for profit and world domination/saving alongside the Legion of Doom even when it has nothing to do with the Corps.
    • Bizarro back in Superman: The Animated Series was a complicated character whose attempts to do good resulted in destruction because of crippling mental disabilities. By the time of Unlimited, however, he transforms into his comic book counterpart (one version of his comic book counterpart, anyway) who simply has a bizarre tendency to reverse the intention of words and emotions, confusing "like" with "hate" and "good" with "bad." Although, it's implied that Luthor manipulated him into this.
    • Luthor and Grodd notwithstanding, most of the villains in the Legion of Doom in the final season suffer from this as few of them have any stated motives other than profit and "Wants to be able to commit crimes without being caught". This is understandable though since it would take up huge amounts of screentime to give them all separate motives.
  • The Movie: There was a plan for a movie to bridge the change between Justice League and Unlimited, titled Justice League: World's Collide. Ultimately the movie never materialized, but according to the Word of God, the majority of its content was incorporated into Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Though the final production does not fit into the DCAU continuity, it addresses the expansion of the League's roster, the construction of a new, bigger Watchtower, and even where Wonder Woman got the Invisible Jet that she uses for the first time in "For the Man Who Has Everything."
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Wonder Woman. She is a tall, very beautiful raven-haired Amazonian woman who gets a significant amount of Male Gaze in the series due to the fact that she usually wears a strapless leotard that highlights her bust and voluptuous yet athletic build. The second episode, "Secret Origins, Part 2", features Wonder Woman pretty obviously getting naked when she drops her robe to put on her costume. In "Dark Heart", The Atom gets a ride to the fight in Wonder Woman's cleavage.
    • Black Canary. A beautiful blonde heroine with a voluptuous yet athletic body and long legs who is dressed like a cocktail waitress. Her character design has to be the most obvious Fanservice of the series. Her initial conversation/sparring session with Green Arrow in "The Cat and the Canary" — sans jacket — is jaw-dropping, all blonde hair and curves flattening on the mat. She lets him get on top of her and pin her arms behind her back, to convince him to do her a favor. Really, any episode with Canary in it is made for fanservice.
    • Huntress. She is a very beautiful woman who wears a costume that highlights her voluptuous yet toned body, toned stomach, long legs, and nice backside. She doesn't get the amount of in-universe attention that Wonder Woman or Black Canary do, but the camera does develop Male Gaze when she's in an episode.
    • Zatanna. She is a very beautiful woman who has a very voluptuous body and long toned yet shapely legs and wears a costume comprised of a tuxedo that has tails, a white bossier, black panties, and fishnet stockings instead of pants.
    • Vixen. She is a very beautiful woman who wears a very form-fitting costume with a Navel-Deep Neckline and often teases her boyfriend Green Lantern.
    • Giganta. She has a buxom figure, especially compared with Killer Frost in the Secret Society, and wears a tiny dress. Only the Magic Skirt trope prevents panty shots, even when she falls over. She attracts a few men in the show including Flash.
  • Muggle Power: This is addressed very directly with the story arc about the US government and Amanda Waller's distrust of the League.
  • Mundane Utility: John Stewart sometimes uses his power ring for minor everyday tasks that people use their regular arms and hands for, including picking up newspapers ("Legends") and to hold open elevator doors ("Task Force X").
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Both played straight and subverted:
    • In the episode "Metamorphosis", a squicky example occurs when an extremely Overprotective Dad (who loved his daughter maybe a bit too much) did not like Rex Mason, his daughter's fiancée. He attempted to have Mason killed, while also forwarding his research outside of standard safety protocols, and when that failed he pretended that the one who told him to do it was Green Lantern, Mason's old friend. He then shows Rex a photo of John Stewart and his fiancée embracing, which had been a brief hug to support her following Mason's accident but was taken out of context, and Rex then went after Green Lantern in a rage.
    • In "Starcrossed" - while Shayera had already declared Hro was no longer the man he loved, this definitely factored into his decision to fight John Stewart one-on-one.
    • Subverted in "Hunter's Moon". When the Love Triangle between Shayera Hol, Mari and John Stewart begins to develop, the two women are ambushed by Thanagarian soldiers who want to put Hawkgirl on trial for war crimes. Vixen is captured and immediately offers to help the Thanagarians capture Shayera in exchange for her own freedom; she even points out that they want the same man as a reason for the Thanagarians to trust her. However, as soon as she gains their trust, she disables her guards and hijacks their ship in order to save herself and Shayera. The two women actually become good friends, despite the continuous friction of the tension between Shayera and John. When the triangle evolves into a Love Quadrilateral with the addition of Carter "Hawkman" Hall, who believes himself to be the reincarnated true love of Shayera, the trope is subverted again when the Shadow Thief offers him John's life. Hawkman, being the hero, refuses and frees Stewart so they can defeat the Shadow Thief together.
  • Must Make Amends: Hawkgirl was already torn between loyalty to her home planet and her feelings for the teammates on whom she was spying. After she sold out the Earth and the League to her Thanagarian brethren, she discovered to her horror that they intended to destroy Earth in a bid to save Thanagar. Hawkgirl turned on them and provided the League with information crucial to defeating the Thanagarians. Ashamed by her prior actions, Hawkgirl resigned from the Justice League and secluded herself in Dr. Fate's household in order to think long and hard about what to do with the rest of her life. She came to the conclusion that resuming superheroism would be her best means of atoning for her wrongs and reconciling with the League. In a heartwarming moment, the League let her know that they voted to let her stay a Leaguer with Superman being the tiebreaker ("I believe in second chances").
  • Mutual Envy: In the episode "Metamorphosis", John Stewart sees that his former Marine buddy, Rex Mason, has it nice:
    John Stewart: I've never thought much about the choices I've made. Maybe if I'd taken the other road, I'd be where Mason is now. Rich, successful...
    Hawkgirl: (wryly) And engaged to a beautiful woman?

    After John promises Sapphire Stagg he'll bring Rex home safe
    Sapphire Stagg: No wonder he always looked up to you.
    John Stewart: (puzzled) Me? He's the one who had it made.
    Sapphire Stagg: No. He watches you on the news all the time. He still misses it - being in action, saving people's lives. I think he'd trade places with you in a minute.
    John Stewart: Guess it's true about what they say about "the grass always being greener."
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Captain Atom is manipulated into turning against the League and fighting Superman during the Cadmus arc by General Eiling. When Huntress mocks him, he simply replies "I've got my orders, Ma'am."
    • My Planet, Right or Wrong: Hro Talak in the "Starcrossed" three parter. He seems to genuinely regret his actions: the use of humans as slaves to build his hyperspace bypass, the impending destruction of Earth when the bypass is activated, and the anguish it causes Hawkgirl.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: In "This Little Piggy", Zatanna says a variation of this line to B'wana Beast when he stares at her sexy legs. The line even provides the page quote.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Vandal Savage is a bit unhappy that he (accidentally) destroyed the world and wiped out humanity.
    • Superman had a bit of this in "Clash" after he realized he'd been tricked into trashing Luthor's reconstruction benefit because he thought he saw a bomb down there and beat up poor Captain Marvel for nothing.
  • My Grandson, Myself: Vandal Savage poses as his own grandson during his Falsely Reformed Villain stage in "Maid of Honor".
  • Myth Arc: The second season episode "A Better World" began a storyline that reached through the following two seasons. It was unintended by the producers; they were just trying to make a couple of good episodes and did not plan to continue the story past those episodes. The arc eventually (retroactively) was pushed back to the final episode of Superman's series, as his actions in that episode prompted much of the government involvement that was expanded when the U.S. government realized how much of a threat the expanded JL potentially posed to the population. Again, the entire thing was unintentional, but it fit together awfully well.
  • Mythology Gag: The series has its own page.
  • Nay-Theist: Hawkgirl, and Thanagarians in general, renounced Ichthultu and no longer bow down to any higher power. She believes in Ichthultu, though—enough to smash his brain in with her energy mace.
  • Necktie Leash: Huntress likes to do this to The Question.
  • Never Heard That One Before: In "The Greatest Story Never Told", Booster Gold tells the transporter technician to "Energize!", which is the command used in Star Trek. The technician in turn calls Booster a "doofus".
  • Never Say "Die": Completely averted, as characters never shied away from talking bluntly about death or killing and there's even an episode revolving around Superman's apparent death (complete with funeral). It's relatively rare for anyone to actually die though. Played straight with the name "Suicide Squad" however. The team is simply referred to as "Task Force X" in order to avoid the repeated use of the word "suicide" in a children's cartoon.
  • Never Sleep Again: In "Only a Dream", Batman and the Martian Manhunter fight Doctor Destiny, a villain who can trap people within their dreams, and they have to try to stay awake to fight him.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • In the first episode, Superman's assistance in dismantling Earth's nuclear arsenal in pursuit of world peace removes the planet's defenses against the Imperium invasion.
    • Hawkgirl in "Eclipsed" when she smashes the crystal, which turns the one-possession device into a multi-possession device. An Oh, Crap! by the Flash follows as soon as he realized what she had done.
    • Superman destroying Lexor city while fighting with Captain Marvel in "Clash".
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Blackhawk Island is protected by, among other things, Flying Robot Gunsharks. In "The Once And Future Thing, Part 1", Batman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman end up fighting cowboys who are riding on robot dinosaurs.
  • No Body Left Behind: In "Destroyer", countless supervillains are Killed Offscreen during the mutiny and several other are blown to pieces when Darkseid detonates their base.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Harv Hickman in "A Knight of Shadows" used the Philosopher's Stone to wish for money and women. By the time the episode takes place, he is a magazine publisher (Flash reads it for the articles), owning a familiar-looking mansion complete with a Grotto.
  • No Fame, No Wealth, No Service: Parodied in "Maid of Honor" when Princess Audrey tries to hop the line at an exclusive club. She asks the bouncer if he knows who she is, and he immediately lets her in...because she's with Wonder Woman.
  • No Gravity for You: When Lex Luthor and The Flash go through a "Freaky Friday" Flip, Mr. Terrific pulls this to try and stop Luthor. Lex figures out how to fly in the zero gravity, but Mr. Terrific uses that against him too. An interesting use of dueling brains by two of the smartest humans.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: When Shayera and Mari are exercising in the League gym, Mari, while running on a treadmill, advises Shayera to go easy on the weight machine since men often do not enjoy the ripped, bulky look.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Pretty frequent. There's a wide range of power levels, and sometimes a gross mismatch turns up. Further, the animators had mastered a style which was meant to really sell the force of super-strong people beating each other senseless.
    • Solomon Grundy tends to do very badly against Superman. (Though he's always ready to try again.)
    • Galatea administers one of the most graphic ones to Steel and Supergirl, sequentially, in "Panic in the Sky".
    • Colonel Rick Flagg (a Badass Normal) gives Vigilante a pretty extended and brutal one in "Task Force X".
    • And, of course, in the series finale, Superman puts aside his concerns about collateral damage and mauls Darkseid.
  • No Immortal Inertia: This happens to Mordred in "Kids’ Stuff" after he breaks Morgan's eternal youth spell to make himself older.
  • No Medication for Me: The Trickster suffers from delusional episodes that are treated with regular medication; when he stops taking his medication, he relapses into villainous activity. He explains that he feels he no longer needs his medication, since he takes them when he is feeling "down." Flash points out to him that he is wearing his villain costume again, which the Trickster was not even aware of, and that it is important he turn himself in to the police and resume his medication. Trickster agrees after Flash promises to visit him and play darts (the soft kind).
  • No Name Given: The android Amazo was never named as such in his debut appearance, "Tabula Rasa." Similarly, the Question was not addressed by name in his first appearance, "Fearful Symmetry." Both were addressed by name in later episodes.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Batman believes this of Darkseid in "Twilight", but Superman is more skeptical. Oddly for this trope, Darkseid does not survive. He is only brought back to life in the franchise's finale. They learn from experience, though; when much is made about Darkseid having been stopped by the sacrifice of Luthor (of all people), there is the calm prediction, "They'll both be back."
  • No Romantic Resolution: There is a love triangle between Green Lantern, Vixen, and Shayera throughout Unlimited. Though Green Lantern is dating Vixen for the duration of Unlimited, there is clearly still a connection between him and Shayera though it's still somewhat strained. However, during an episode where he ends up in the future, Green Lantern finds that he had a son with Shayera. That future turns out to be a Bad Future and at the present GL says he's not gonna let destiny decide who he ends up with, but he is clearly still attracted to Shayera. The series never definitively says who he ends up with in the end.
  • No-Sell:
    • Downpour tries to drown Aquaman. The latter mocks him for it.
      Aquaman: "King of the Seas, remember?"
    • In the first episode, Batman tosses a Batarang at someone he thinks is an ordinary mook, but is actually a White Martian in disguise. Instead of dodging out of the way or going intangible, the Martian just lets the Batarang bounce harmlessly off her forehead.
  • No Swastikas: In "The Savage Time", the words "Nazi" nor "Hitler" are never uttered, even though we see Hitler in a jar in one point. No swastikas are seen in flashbacks where they would be expected (one shot of Hitler speaking at a rally has a large backdrop German Eagle clutching an empty wreath, for instance). Later uses of the Vandal Savage symbol, however, are justified in that he replaced the swastika with his emblem after usurping Hitler. However, the effect is the same as if they had used swastikas, as his logo is essentially the S-rune of the SS on a white disc on a red background. When Savage reappears in "Maid of Honor" however, Wonder Woman directly calls him out as a Nazi, the first time the term is used in the series.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: God makes no appearances in the show and gets no explicit references, but when Hawkgirl is in Tartarus the demons mistake her for an angel and flee when she makes reference to "the boss." Greek deities, however, are fair game.
  • No Water Proofing In The Future: In "Injustice For All", Batman shorts out Lex Luthor's stasis field by spitting a mouthful of water into it.
  • Noble Demon: Etrigan, literally. He's a "good" guy who happens to be a fire-breathing monster from Hell.
  • Nobody's That Dumb: In the season one episode "Injustice For All", when Lex Luthor and the Injustice Gang captures Batman, the Joker insist to Luthor that they kill Batman, knowing full well what he's capable of but Luthor ignores him.
    Joker: Lex, Lex, take it from someone who knows: (whispered) don't wait, do it now.
    Luthor: You don't like my decisions? Leave.
    Joker: (walking off) And they say I'm crazy...
  • Noodle Incident:
    • "The Savage Time" begins with most of the League returning from a mission in space. Green Lantern complains about how he had to use his ring to drag everybody else across the galaxy, and Flash consoles him with the fact that they at least won the battle, but what they actually did is never expounded upon.
    • In "The Great Brain Robbery", when Flash is trying to prove he is really Flash and not Lex Luthor:
      Flash: Until he went off to the Marines, GL's nickname was...
      Green Lantern: Stop! It's him! You promised never to repeat that story!
      Flash: I know. I was just messing with your head.
  • Not Brainwashed:
    • Grodd's accomplice in "The Brave and the Bold" has not been brainwashed at all, she is a completely insane woman who fell in love with him.
    • Of the "Not Blackmailed" variety, Task Force X is filled with criminals forced into service to the US government, led in the field by Colonel Flagg. At the end of the episode, Deadshot asks Flagg just what it is that Amanda Waller has on him which makes him such a loyal and determined lackey. Flagg explains that she doesn't have a thing on him; his loyalty is genuine.
  • Not His Sled:
    • Doomsday doesn't get to kill Superman here.
    • Hawkgirl is a spy for Thanagar, not a cop — and unlike Batman in Justice League of America: Tower of Babel, she's allowed to stay on the League and her temporary departure was by her own hand.
  • Not Quite Flight: The Flash once improvised "flight" when falling to his death during "I Am Legion". By spinning his arms, he created a cushion of air, likening himself to a helicopter before comically falling to the ground.
  • Not So Above It All: The normally stoic Martian Manhunter invites the Flash to play Brawlin' Bots with him.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: Wonder Woman rescued Steve Trevor after he was forced to abandon the plane he was flying, and caught him with only a few feet to spare before he hit the ground. He showed absolutely no negative effects from his sudden deceleration.
  • Not What I Signed on For: Lex Luthor's reaction when he finds out what Grodd actually has planned for their Legion of Doom. Not because he felt it was too evil, but because turning the world into apes was really stupid.
  • Nothing Personal:
    • When Hawkgirl says that her attacking Green Lantern was not personal, his only response is "keep telling yourself that."
    • Although the Question explained that his hatred of Lex Luthor was brobdingnagian, he points out that his actions are not personal, but just a necessary step to keep the League from turning on humanity.
  • Now I Know What to Name Him: Implied with Shayera at the end of "Ancient History", after John tells her about his meeting of Warhawk (their future son) and that even though he loves her he will not be destiny's puppet. She goes to Batman, sits down beside him and gently requests; "Tell me about my son".
  • Now or Never Kiss: In "Far From Home", Kara kisses Brainiac 5 before going into battle against the entire brainwashed Legion of Super-Heroes plus Green Lantern which is foretold to lead to her death.
  • Nuke 'em: General Wade Eiling's first thought after he is told to fix the Doomsday situation is to drop a nuclear warhead on Doomsday and, by extension, Superman and San Baquero. Since Eiling planned to get to Superman eventually and had long wanted to stop drug smuggling from San Baquero, he considered it killing three birds with one stone.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The episodes "The Brave and the Bold", "Divided We Fall", and "Flash and Substance" shows that Flash only acts like a fool.
  • Obligatory Joke: From "Dead Reckoning". The Trope Namer.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • Romantic variation is shown with Huntress and the Question. The only common ground they seem to have is that other League members consider them both - for different reasons - to be a bit nuts.
    • The titular characters of Supergirl and Green Arrow bond in "Initiation", the first episode of Unlimited, and are frequently shown conversing and cooperating throughout the series. She and Green Lantern also spend a lot of screen-time together and banter freely and warmly, but they have a more traditional mentor/student role instead of partnership.
    • Hawkgirl and Solomon Grundy.
    • Vigilante is a stereotypical cowboy, Shining Knight is a medieval knight. In "Patriot Act", they were watching a movie together before a mission.
  • Officer O'Hara: One is featured in "Legends".
  • Official Couple: Several, including Superman/Lois, Green Arrow/Black Canary, Supergirl/Brainiac 5, and Question/Huntress, also Warhawk's existence implies John Stewart and Shayera, though at the end of the series they are no longer a couple. Word of God has stated they will get together eventually.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When Cronos throws Chucko into the Cretaceous period.
      Chucko (to a T. Rex): You think I'm scared?! I'll be running this place in a we-
      * looks up to see a meteor*
      Oh phooey.
    • Green Lantern and Green Arrow, when Superman asks them the name of the "boy" who kept Supergirl in the future. He is named Brainiac, but is a nice version of him.
    • Lex Luthor and the Legion Of Doom travel halfway across the universe to find Brainiac, who Lex Luthor wants to fuse with to recover godlike power. They find the supposed essence of Brainiac in the cosmic dust and reconstitute him... only to find out it is NOT Brainiac, but DARKSEID. Mass "Oh, Crap!"!
    • Waller realizing that Luthor played her, immediately followed by Hamilton realizing Luthor's plan. He's stolen enough Cadmus tech to build himself a second, mindless A.M.A.Z.O., and then transfer his mind into it.
    • In "Grudge Match" after Black Canary and Huntress have worked to free Vixen and Hawkgirl from Roulette's mind control, the cage opens and in walks a brainwashed Wonder Woman.
      Vixen: Does anyone have a plan?
      Hawkgirl: Yeah, stay alive.
      Huntress: Does anyone have a good plan?
    • In "Divided We Fall", when Luthor believes he killed the Flash he chuckles to himself before looking up to see that Superman is...displeased.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Wonder Woman is a serial offender ("Great Hera!" "Hera, give me strength!"), to the point Hawkgirl lampshades and mocks her for it. It becomes a plot point in "The Terror Beyond".
  • Old Master: Named, appropriately enough, The Master. He was one of Batman's martial arts trainers and also serves as an advisor to the deceased Deadman.
  • Old Shame: invoked After the events of the Thanagarian Invasion, Shayera considers her original costume and even the name "Hawkgirl" to be this, changing into a new, more down-to-earth outfit and referring to herself only by her real name.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: In the climax of "The Once and Future Thing: Time Warped" when Chronos attempts to remake the Universe in his own image.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten:
    • Flash still gets flak for his corporate endorsements as late as the second season of Unlimited.
    • Shayera's role in the Thanagarian Invasion, which she is reminded of by others on a semi-frequent basis in Unlimited.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted, as both John Stewart and J'onn J'onzz regularly go by their real names, though the pronunciation is slightly different (J'onn is pronounced closer to the French Jean.) Flash sneaks in a gag about "the Two Johns" at one point.
  • One-Winged Angel:
    • In their confrontation with Hades, he first appears as a big, handsome, sinister fellow in Greco-Roman armor. Yet when defeat looms, he transforms into a grey-skinned demonic monster.
    • At the climax of the Cadmus arc, Luthor is abducted by Brainiac, first becoming a monstrous human/mechanical chimera, then becoming a true union of flesh and steel when he unites with Brainiac for the final conflict with the Justice League.
  • Only in It for the Money: Batman is able to convince the Ultra-Humanite to double-cross the Injustice Gang by offering double what Lex Luthor was paying. Humanite then donates it to public broadcasting.
  • Opponent Switch: When the seven heroes went up against Brainithor (the fusion of Lex Luthor and Brainiac) and his robot duplicates of the Justice Lords (with a Justice Lord version of The Flash added to make things even), Wonder Woman and Superman trade off, as well as Hawk Girl and Green Lantern (which has the added benefit of letting them let off some steam over their breakup). Batman and Flash already destroyed their opponents, J'onn beats his off screen.
  • Opt Out: Captain Marvel likes being a hero. When the League starts going in an Anti-Hero direction, he resigns in disgust.
    • Hawkgirl makes this choice willingly out of shame for betraying the league. It was revealed later that if she hadn't, she would have remained in the league, as the founding members voted for her to stay.
  • Our Hero Is Dead: Superman is presumed dead in "Hereafter".
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: They not only provide Faster-Than-Light Travel (which the League does not share with the world), it also sucks nasty dark matter out of the Sun.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Solomon Grundy is a Prohibition-era mobster who was shot dead, then dumped in a mystically charged swamp. He emerged decades later with no memory of his mortal life.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Flash finally recognizes that the person they are speaking to is not Batman, despite the fact that they are obviously the same person, when he grabs a gun from a subordinate and wields it himself.
  • Outside-Context Problem: "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.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: In the episode "Hawk and Dove", the Annihilator defeats entire armed factions by feeding off aggression and hostility. When Dove faces the machine and neither attacks it nor fights back in self defense, the machine shuts down.

  • Papa Wolf: Never threaten Aquaman's kid.
  • Parental Bonus: Despite appealing mainly to a young demographic, Justice League has more than enough moments to entertain older viewers.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • Wildcat helped train and mentor Black Canary when she was just getting started.
    • Oberon to Mister Miracle.
    • Galatea calls Dr. Hamilton "Daddy". Hamilton is visibly unnerved by the situation, since he is potentially sending her to her death.
  • Pendulum of Death: In "The Ties That Bind," when Granny Goodness captures Oberon, she places him in a deathtrap with three three large blades swinging back and forth above him and slowly descending.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Ace's permanent frown is so pronounced it is funny.
  • Personal Horror: In "Only A Dream", Superman's nightmare has him dealing with Power Incontinence. His heat vision kills Lois Lane and he accidentally breaks Jimmy Olsen's back when attempting to give him a hug. Meanwhile Green Lantern is dreaming about losing his identity to the ring to the point where he becomes transparent.
  • Phantom Zone: A slightly ironic use, where Batman becomes disgruntled with Superman after he sends Doomsday into the literal Phantom Zone. The plot really isn't trying to cover up the fact Batman's anger is treating it as giving someone an actual death sentence.
  • Physical God:
    • Ares and Hades are the actual deities from Greek mythology.
    • Darkseid and the New Gods aren't exactly divine, but identify themselves as such and have the power to back it up.
    • Future Ace from the Royal Flush gang had her powers evolve to the point she could telekinetically remodel reality itself.
    • A.M.A.Z.O., as a result of years of power copying, is nothing short of a God by the time he returns in Unlimited.
  • Piano Drop: In "This Little Piggy", Zatanna attacks Circe with with a barrage of items (Chair, table, tablecloth) as Circe keeps trying to get out a "Who Dares?" exclamation. She caps it off with a piano, which finally gets Circe to stop trying to complete her line.
  • Pietà Plagiarism:
  • Piggybacking on Hitler: In "The Savage Time", Vandal Savage in the present builds a time machine and sends a laptop back to himself during World War II, containing future history and schematics for technology. Past-Vandal then joins the Nazis and rapidly rises through the ranks until he usurps Hitler himself, becoming the new Führer. Vandal Savage does not really care about Nazi ideals; he just wanted to use them to conquer the world for himself.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Of a sort. After they both run completely out of arrows in "Patriot Act", Green Arrow and Speedy charge at their enemy swinging their bows as blunt instruments. They are both effortlessly knocked down without actually hitting the enemy.
  • Planetary Relocation: "The Return" sees Amazo making his way back towards Earth, apparently for revenge against Lex Luthor. The planet Oa is directly in his path and he apparently vaporizes it, much to the horror of John Stewart and the League. At the end of the episode, as the crisis is resolved, Green Lantern is still upset about this, but Amazo admits he never destroyed Oa, merely moved it as it had been in his way. At John's insistence, the android puts the planet back.
  • Playing with Fire:
    • Fire can transform into a being of green flames.
    • Volcana returns, this time much less sympathetic and far more willing to use her pyrokinesis in lethal ways.
  • Plug the Volcano: Inverted in "The Doomsday Sanction." A volcano is about to erupt, but rather than plug the volcano, Superman drills holes in the mountain to allow the lava to escape, thus reducing the pressure of the magma, and delaying the eruption of the volcano.
  • Poirot Speak: The Germans in "The Savage Time" speak English, even amongst themselves, but occasionally slip in a "Jawohl" and "Mein Fuhrer."
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Aquaman antagonizes Shayera Hol when they are playing chess, making sexist remarks regarding her skill as a warrior and worthiness as an opponent, but is really just trying to get a reaction out of her since she is in an emotional funk.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Mongul spends most of his fight with Wonder Woman making sexist cracks.
  • Possession Implies Mastery: When in Flash's body in "The Great Brain Robbery," Lex Luthor is a lot better at speed manipulation than Flash himself, immediately figuring out how to do several cunning tricks with speed and vibration. He quickly proves a match for most of the Justice League put together.
  • Post-Victory Collapse:
    • Professor Hamilton in "Question Authority".
    • "Only a Dream" had Batman, who'd been awake for three days straight before having to face Dr. Destiny, a villain who can creep into a sleeping person's dreams, must take measures to keep himself awake even longer: a triple-strength coffee, a broken windshield which gives him a rush of cool air to keep him awake, and Frere Jacques playing in his mind. Once Dr. Destiny is defeated through accidentally sedating himself, Batman is seen asleep at the Watchtower Sickbay, snoring.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep:
    • In his own series, a tough enough Mook could give Batman trouble (or at least slow him down). By the time of this installment, he can land kicks on Darkseid - okay, it does not really do anything, but still.
    • Superman, on his show, moves so blazingly fast it's sometimes difficult for normal people to even see him, and is frequently shown completely ignoring various kinds of attacks because they have no chance of hurting him. Here his speed and invulnerability are much less impressive.
    • In-Universe, gradual power creep is shown in "Only a Dream" to be Superman's greatest nightmare. He keeps getting bigger and stronger and is unable to control his powers. Used as a great Mythology Gag, no less: "I started with no power at all, and I kept getting more. What if it never stops?"
  • Power Loss Makes You Strong: Green Lantern in "The Savage Time", Superman in "Hereafter", Supergirl in "Chaos at the Earth's Core".
  • Power Nullifier: Luthor uses one on the Justice Lords to drain their powers, essentially turning them all into simple humans.
    • The magic that powered the revived Grundy in "Wake the Dead" did this to the near omnipotent AMAZO, of all beings. The android had to leave the dimension to think of a way to defeat Grundy because his powers were unable to kill him.
  • Power Trio: DC's "Big Three" (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) are spotlighted in "For the Man Who Has Everything".
  • Power Walk: The opening intro for Seasons One and Two featured this in slow motion.
  • Powered Armor: This is worn by Luthor and Steel. S.T.R.I.P.E starts of as more of a Mini-Mecha before gradually becoming more like this in the final season.
  • Present Peeking: Superman/Clark Kent's parents use lead foil which blocks his x-ray vision so he can't peek.
  • President Evil: Lordverse Lex Luthor. Main universe Luthor runs as well, but has no actual interest in being president and only ran for the sake of ticking off Superman. It works quite well.
  • Princeling Rivalry: Aquaman is the strong first born betrayed by his scheming younger half brother Orm/Ocean Master. Orm chains Aquaman and his newborn son to the side of a cliff that's falling into magma. Aquaman gets one arm free and uses it to chop off his other hand so he can get out in time, and then goes to attack Orm directly.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: Cheetah was desperate and didn't have the funding to conduct controlled experiments, so...
  • Prophecy Twist: In "Far From Home" Supergirl travels to the future of the 31st century to help the Legion of Super-Heroes. All their records indicate she won't come back. She doesn't come back, because she decides to stay in the future, as she had fallen for Legionnaire Brainiac 5.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Thanagarians' defining flaw is their pride and bloodlust. Rather than asking the group of heroes who repelled countless alien invasions previously to assist them against the Gordanians, they intend to take matters into their own hands, even if it means commiting genocide against Earth to achieve their personal victory.
  • Psychic Block Defense: All Thanagarians are born with inherently strong mental barriers, meaning their minds can't be read or influenced, except by particularly strong telepaths like Dr. Destiny. The barriers can be overcome by force, but this approach leaves the subject physically and mentally impaired, as exemplified by Kragger, who was rendered in a catatonic state after Martian Manhunter violently probed his mind.
  • Psychic Static: Batman hums "Frère Jacques" to block out Doctor Destiny's influence on him.
  • Psychopathic Manchild:
    • Toyman is most certainly this.
    • Ray in "Legends". He would have been around fifty by the time of the events of the episode, but continued to live out his fantasies as a young teenager.
  • Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat: When Zatanna is closing out her performance, she proclaims that she will pull a rabbit out of her hat. She grabs someone from the audience instead.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...:
    • It happens to Superman during the prison break in "Starcrossed"; his cell was specifically designed to sap his powers and he had not fully recovered yet.
    • It happens rather humorously to Downpour against Aquaman in "Ultimatum". Downpour tried to crush Aquaman by turning into a tidal wave, which did nothing, followed by Aquaman backhanding him.
  • Punched Across the Room:
    • A staple of the series as superpowered beings, and even some non-superpowered beings, toss people hither and yon.
    • Played for the most drama in "Question Authority"; the audience learns that Luthor has somehow acquired super strength when he knocks Question flying with a single punch.
  • Pun:
    J'onn: I was just thinking: You, me, Wonder Woman, Superman... we are, all of us, orphans and exiles.
    Hawkgirl: Maybe we should call ourselves the Just-Us League.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: Eclipso.
  • Put on a Bus:
  • Putting on the Reich: "Hearts and Minds" features this.
  • Race Against the Clock: "Wild Cards", which takes place in Real Time as the League attempts to defuse several bombs that the Joker has placed throughout Las Vegas. The whole thing is being televised and there is even a countdown clock in the corner of the screen.
  • Race Lift: Copperhead is white in the comics. In this adaptation, Copperhead is Hispanic.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: The League's Space Base. Vandal Savage notes it did not fall out of orbit for quite close to 30,000 years, and after all that time and going through re-entry, some technology in it still works. "A marvel of engineering" indeed!
  • Raised Hand of Survival: In "Maid of Honor", Vandal Savage emerges from the rubble of the Kaznian royal palace fist-first. In an unnerving Double Subversion, he is not exactly OK—the explosion has disfigured his body in a rather horrifying fashion—but his Complete Immortality keeps him alive and conscious, regardless.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: The Flash's primary combat tactic, given that his sole superpower is his speed.
  • The Real Heroes: "Patriot Act".
  • Real Men Wear Pink: "Double Date" opens with two of Mandragora's bodyguards discussing a recipe for scones.
  • Real Time: The majority of "Wild Cards" takes place in real time, with a ticking clock on screen keeping track.
  • Reality Warper:
    • Ace develops reality warping powers some time after "Wild Cards", which also leads to her death.
    • Mordred in "Kids’ Stuff" with an Amulet of Concentrated Awesome.
  • Really Gets Around: Tala. Luthor, Grodd, alludes to past history with Felix Faust (All apparently more power plays than anything else) and even manages to sneak in a quickie with The Flash.
  • Really 700 Years Old: J'onn, Vandal Savage, Morgaine le Fey and her son Mordred. Mordred ultimately undoes the spell that keeps him eternally young in the episode "Kids’ Stuff" and ends up rapidly degrading to his true age.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • The Mirror Universe Luthor gives one to that dimension's Superman at the beginning of a "A Better World", pointing out that he could have stopped Luthor years ago if only he had killed him. This version of Superman takes him up on the suggestion.
    • Captain Marvel gives one to the Original Seven in "Clash" (particularly Superman) over their recent actions.
      Captain Marvel: My whole life, I've looked up to the League. You were my heroes. Every one of you. (to Superman) And you, you were more than a hero. I idolized you. I wanted to be you. Whenever I was out there, facing down the bad guys, I'd think, "What would Superman do?" Now I know… I believe in fair play. I believe in taking people at their word and giving them the benefit of the doubt. Back home, I've come up against my share of pretty nasty bad guys, but I never had to act the way they did to win a fight. I always found another way. I guess I'm saying I like being a hero. A symbol. And that's why... I'm quitting the Justice League. You don't act like heroes anymore.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Hawk and Dove, who are colored according to the philosophies they personify, but coincidentally embody many of the personality traits of this trope as well.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Solomon Grundy dies clearing a path to Ichthultu. Hawkgirl finishes the horror off and then stays with him as he finally dies from his wounds.
  • Reformation Acknowledgement: In "Wake the Dead", Hawkgirl makes her return, after her actions in "Starcrossed" where she had betrayed the Justice League to the Thanagarian military, before turning on her own people in the end. Much of the world still weren't ready to forgive her, even as she stopped a rampaging Solomon Grundy. She even says she deserves the verbal abuse hurled her way. But then a grateful mother thanks her for saving her and her daughter from Grundy.
    Green Lantern/John Stewart: You deserved that, too.
  • Refuse to Rescue the Disliked: Superman is against helping Darkseid when he comes to the League to ask for their assistance defeating Brainiac before he destroys Apokolips. The others call him out and they go anyway. It turns out to be a trap.
  • Reincarnation Romance: Between John Stewart and Hawkgirl... maybe.
  • Relationship Upgrade: In "Wild Cards", John and Shayera go from teammates who bicker and argue a lot to an Official Couple.
  • Religion is Magic: When Felix Faust begins wreaking havoc in Tartarus, only the magic-based heroes are affected.
  • Remember the New Guy?:
    • Hawkgirl had never shown up anywhere onscreen in the DC Animated Universe continuity prior to her first appearance in the three-part premiere episode "Secret Origins", but the other main characters evidently already knew who she was.
    • John Stewart, the Green Lantern, also counts, though his example isn't as obvious because the Green Lantern Corps and their various members had already been shown back in the earlier Superman: The Animated Series episode "In Brightest Day".
  • Rescue Romance: The precise details are not revealed, but Big Barda mentions that she was a slave on Apokolips before Scott Free, her future husband, freed her from her brainwashing.
  • Reset-Button Suicide Mission: one episode sees Batman, Wonder Woman, and John Steward travel to a Bad Future, where they team up with the future League to prevent it from ever occurring in the first place. Many of the future League members die in the battle, but the proper timeline, as seen in Batman Beyond, is ultimately restored.
  • Ret-Canon:
    • Not long after the series premiered, in comics canon John Stewart returned to being an active Green Lantern with his haircut and costume from the series and joined the JLA. While the comics have yet to shave him bald and give him a beard ala the JLU seasons, his Mirror Universe counterpart, Power Ring, sports a similar look and John joked about it with Black Lightning (who is currently bald) when he replaced Hal Jordan in the post-Infinite Crisis version of the League.
    • Vixen's current 'superpowered Josephine Baker' look came to the comics from here.
    • The Hawkman series would take after the show making Hawkman and Hawkgirl being made Composite Characters with the Golden Age Hawks by retconning that Katar and Shayera were indeed among Carter and Kendra's past lives.
  • Retraux Flashback: "Patriot Act" opens with a scene of the Spy Smasher stealing the Captain Nazi formula during World War II. Not only was it in black-and-white, but they used different music and fight effects from the rest of the series in order to emulate film serials of the time.
  • Retro Universe: The well-loved episode "Legends".
  • The Reveal: From "Starcrossed" Hawkgirl has been spying on Earth and the League all along for the Thanagarians, who are planning to destroy the Earth as part of their war with the Gordanians.
  • Revealing Cover-Up: In "Fearful Symmetry" it was Cadmus sending soldiers and robots to attack Green Arrow, the Question and Supergirl that hinted to them that they should investigate the general who had commissioned those robots when the three had just run into a dead end.
  • Revenge Against Men: The plot of "Fury". A rogue Amazon, blinded by misandrist rage, develops a plague that only affects males and intends to use it to wipe out all men.
  • Riding into the Sunset: "Starcrossed" (And, by proxy, Justice League) ends with Shayera Hol flying into the sunset as John Stewart watches.
  • Right Behind Me: Batman starts a speech about how much he admires Wonder Woman in "The Once and Future Thing", realizing too late that she was standing right behind him.
    Green Lantern: What's going on between you and Diana?
    Batman: Nothing. She's a respected colleague.
    Green Lantern: Uh-huh.
    Batman: I don't have time to pursue a relationship. My work is too important to allow any distractions. Diana is a remarkable woman, she's a valued friend. She's... standing right behind me, isn't she?
    Wonder Woman: Don't let that stop you — keep digging.
  • Rings of Activation: The Atom is surrounded by yellow rings resembling the one found in the Rutherford model of the atom whenever he shrinks or grows.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: In "The Savage Time," a force field that Green Lantern was using to guide a spaceship in for a landing protects him and everyone in it from the effects of a timeline change.
  • Road Trip Plot: When the Flash buys a van in "Eclipsed", he says that he and Green Lantern should take a road trip "looking for America". Green Lantern dryly remarks that he will let Flash know as soon as his schedule clears up.
  • Robot Buddy: Skeets to Booster Gold, also Brainiac in Superman's Krypton fantasy.
  • Rocket Punch: S.T.R.I.P.E. has one.
  • Rogues Gallery: Flash's Rogues Gallery, in particular, makes a memorable appearance.
  • Round Table Shot: For both the League and Cadmus in "The Doomsday Sanction".
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens
  • Rubber Man: Elongated Man and Plastic Man.
  • Running Gag: In "The Greatest Story Never Told", several characters mistook Booster Gold for the Green Lantern, even lampshaded at the end of the episode.
  • Ruritania: Kasnia.
  • Sacrificial Planet: The first episode of the cartoon displays an invasion of aliens coming to Earth. These aliens previously had taken Mars, leaving the Martian Manhunter as the sole survivor, who comes to Earth to warn the planet and helps form the Justice League to fight them off.
  • Sadly Mythtaken:
    • The Greek pantheon received a general re-writing to fit the good/evil dichotomy of the story (See Hijacked by Jesus). When Circe appears in "This Little Piggy" she is repeatedly referred to as a "Goddess." In The Odyssey, the actual Circe, though powerful, was merely a human witch with a penchant for turning people into animals.
    • The series takes many liberties with Arthurian legend, introducing Morgan Le Fay as an antagonist of the League and tying Etrigan's origin into the fall of Camelot. Most of the changes, however, were first made in the comics before being adapted into the show.
  • Salt and Pepper: Reversed. Green Lantern is the straight man, while Flash is the goofball.
  • Sand In My Eyes: Nicely subverted after Superman comes back from the dead.
    Superman: I'm fine. Very glad to be home... Flash?
    Flash: [sniff] Something in my eyes.
    Green Lantern: Yeah, tears. It's OK, man. We all feel the same way.
  • Save This Person, Save the World: In Unlimited, the Flash explicitly points out that since his death was what caused the Justice Lords to go rogue, if everybody just concentrates on keeping him alive then there is no chance of the League overthrowing the government.
  • Scenery Censor: It happens to Lex Luthor in "Divided We Fall".
  • Screaming Warrior:
    • Hawkgirl is most certainly this.
      Maria Canals Barrera (Hawkgirl's Actress): "I have this war cry that I love when I get to do. It relieves a lot of stress when I do it."
    • Supergirl, believe it or not. When she loses most of her abilities in "Chaos at the Earth's Core", Green Lantern tells her to stay back out of the fight, but she picks up a sword and literally leaps into battle, screaming at the top of her lungs before Lantern can even finish the sentence.
  • Screw Destiny: When John tells Shayera about their future son, Rex Stewart (aka Warhawk) he also tells her that although he still loves her, he "won't be destiny's puppet" and will be staying with Vixen. However...
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In "Wild Cards", when Superman points out that he will be killed along with the heroes if he stays until the bomb goes off, Ten doesn't care, but King turns and flees the fight.
  • Sdrawkcab Alias: Greek deity Ares passes himself off as 'Mister Sera'.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: "Secret Origins", "Paradise Lost", "Secret Society".
  • Seen It All:
    • The Kents had a notable moment when J'onn came to visit for Christmas.
      J'onn: Hello... My name is J'onn. I am a Martian.
      Jonathan Kent: (not missing a beat) Well come on in, we're no strangers to aliens in this house.
    • Jonah Hex, in a Mythology Gag to his comic book counterpart, easily recognizes the JL as time travelers. "I've had an interestin' life."
  • Secret Identity:
    • Superman was the first character to reveal his identity to another member of the League during the show. In "Comfort and Joy", he brings J'onn J'onzz home with him for Christmas, introducing him to his parents and including him in his life as 'Clark'.
    • In "Starcrossed" when the League is on the run, they realize that they can easily blend in with the populace.
      J'onn: They [The Thanagarians] are looking for the Justice League. Without our costumes, we are merely ordinary citizens.
      Wally: Hold on a second here. What about the whole "secret identity" thing? I mean, I trust you guys, but I'm not sure I'm ready to—
      Batman: (impatiently) Wally West. Clark Kent. (yanks off his own mask) Bruce Wayne.
      Flash: (muttering) Show off...
    • Parodied. After accidentally getting a hold of Flash's body, Lex Luthor realizes he can use this moment to discover the Flash's real ID and promptly removes his mask, revealing... well, that he has no clue who this red-headed kid is.
  • Secret Test of Character:
    • J'onn J'onzz had criminal Steven Mandragora moved from his hideout and placed in protective custody, but withheld that information from the Huntress to see if she would attempt to kill him for the murder of her parents. She tries to and is kicked out of the League for being willing to cross that line.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: In "Patriot Act", Shining Knight and Vigilante spend an elevator ride talking about Dirty Harry. Vigilante is a fan of the film and Clint Eastwood, but Shining Knight believes that his refusal to play by the rules besmirches himself and his profession.
  • Self-Serving Memory:
    • In "For The Man Who Has Everything", Mongul tries to accuse Superman of falsifying their previous encounter, calling Batman's description of Superman humiliating Mongul a "jaundiced account". In "War World", Superman had humiliated Mongul, and Mongul only ever held his own when he was blackmailing Superman into deliberately losing the fight.
    • In the series finale "Destroyer", Darkseid pulls this, erroneously recalling that last time they met ("Twilight"), Superman could barely hold his own against him. The truth was that in "Twilight", Superman fought him much closer to a draw or victory and would have killed him, had not Batman dragged him away through a boom tube.
  • Sensor Character: J'onn J'onzz often fulfills this role, thanks to his telepathic abilities.
  • Series Fauxnale: "Starcrossed" serves as this for the first series, while Unlimited has "Divided We Fall" and "Epilogue" in particular. In the latter case, there was still a whole season before the continuity formally ended.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: In "Hereafter", Superman is sent back to the day of his disappearance by Vandal Savage to avert a Bad Future where Savage disrupts the entire solar system's gravity and wipes out mankind. The lead-up to this scheme involved the death of a scientist named Ray Palmer, so that's a bonus, too.
  • Sex–Face Turn: Batman seduces Cheetah when he is being held prisoner by the Injustice Guild, and she is subsequently torn when Luthor plans to destroy the Watchtower. Ultimately, the Justice League receive a warning about the bomb and are able to survive, and Solomon Grundy drags Cheetah off-screen to punish her for her betrayal. It was not her, but the Ultra-Humanite who warned the League.
  • Sex God:
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: When Shayera and John finally admit their feelings to each other they kiss passionately, and the scene cuts to an old woman hitting "Jackpot!" on a slot machine.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: In "Destroyer", during the scene where members are being teleported to the Watchtower, Ice and Fire are hanging in the pool in their swimsuits. Fire in particular is seen emerging from the pool while dramatically throwing her long hair in a backward arc before she's teleported away.
  • Shadow Archetype: Shadow Thief to Hawkman.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: Mandragora killing The Huntress' parents in a flashback.
  • Shag Wagon: The Flash uses money he earned as an advertising spokesman to buy one of these. Green Lantern questions why a speedster would need a vehicle before realizing that he probably doesn't want to know.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Galatea's kryptonite is boredom. Actually, her kryptonite is kryptonite, but that is hardly relevant to the conversation.
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: Acknowledged and played with by J'onn. His "superhero" form is merely a slightly more humanoid version of his true martian form; it allows him to have some bit of identity without having to look too human. However, this also led to a minor production error, which the producers admitted on the DVD commentary: In "A Better World", the Justice Lords' J'onn J'onzz is shot by a power-disrupting beam and instantly loses the dragon-shape he had changed into. However, instead of reverting back to his actual Martian form, he returns to his Justice Lord costume and shape that he adopted to fit in with the rest of his team. The commentary reveals this just slipped by and was not noticed until the episode had already been completed.
  • Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: The drones in "Divided We Fall".
  • Shapeshifter Showdown: In "Secret Society", between the Martian Manhunter and Clayface. The Martian wins... by turning into Clayface.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: Wonder Woman, Hawk, and Dove face an unstoppable magical robot that feeds on aggression. Dove beats it by... not fighting, or rather by getting analogues of North and South Korea to stop fighting.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Hawkgirl, or as Green Lantern put it;
  • She-Fu: In their conflict in "Double Date", Huntress uses handstands, spins, and high kicks, while Black Canary fights like a real-world well-trained martial artist and wins hands-down.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Batman, about Wonder Woman. Zatanna wasn't too sure about this though, considering he said the same thing about herself as well.
  • Ship Tease: Between Batman and Wonder Woman get a fair amount of this from "The Brave and the Bold" onward.
  • Shipper on Deck: The Joker wonders aloud whether there is something going on between Hawkgirl and Green Lantern... then declares "Not on my show!"
  • Shoot the Dog:
    • Hawkgirl and Grundy play the trope painfully straight, and the trope namer was even referenced.
    • The Question attempts to avert a Bad Future by killing Lex Luthor so that Superman will not find himself pushed into doing it. It backfires spectacularly.
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: Vigilante shoots the gas tank of his own motorcycle after he drove it right at the General. It does explode, but it has no effect.
  • Shoot the Hostage: When Vandal Savage puts a railgun on the ISS, J'onn worries about the possibility that Savage's men might have hostages. Green Lantern responds by saying "they're military, they knew the risks," but the others insist that they at least try to save the hostages instead of just writing them off.
  • Shooting Gallery: The episode "Secret Society" had Green Lantern pitting the League against one of these as a team-building exercise, using both cardboard cut-outs of supervillains and training robots that fought back, with mixed results. Later the Secret Society ambush the League in the same training area and booby-trap an 'innocent' target to take out Hawkgirl, knowing she'll instinctively refrain from destroying it.
  • Shooting Superman: Way too many to count, but one of the best actually comes from Aquaman, of all people.
    Aquaman: King of the Seas, remember?
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Secret Origins":
    • In the episode "The Brave and the Bold", Solovar's first line, "Get your stinking paws off me, you filthy human!" is a tribute to a famous line from Planet of the Apes, spoken by the human character to the apes, and surprising them with the fact that humans can talk.
    • In "Injustice For All" after Batman beat him up the Joker used Daffy Duck's catchphrase of "YOU'RE despicable!"
    • Moments earlier, in "Injustice For All", Lex is defeated and falls to the ground, but not before turning to the traitor and quoting William Shakespeare.
      Lex Luthor: Et tu, Humanite?
    • In the episode "Legends", the giant robot at the beginning was explicitly modeled on the Eva's from Neon Genesis Evangelion, a popular anime series Bruce Timm has drawn fan art of in the past.. Also, J'onn's line "It seems we are not in Metropolis anymore" is a reference to the line "we're not in Kansas anymore" in The Wizard of Oz.
    • Quite a few to Watchmen, especially in episodes with The Question, who is pretty clearly written as a family-friendly Rorschach analogue. He's even drawn as a redhead when unmasked. The episode "Fearful Symmetry" is a reference to one of the chapter titles in Watchmen. In "Question Authority", The Question threatens Luthor with his tie in a shot that's framed almost identically to a panel in Watchmen where Rorschach does the same to a nameless thug. Luthor's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of The Question in his office while monologuing also feels very similar to Ozymandias doing the same to Rorschach.
    • In "Metamorphosis", the climactic scene of the mutated monster climbing the tallest tower with a screaming women is an obvious visual parody of King Kong. While climbing up the side of the building, Metamorpho quips "what I wouldn't give for a couple of bi-planes right about now". Also, Rex calls Java "Flintstone", referencing the famous Hanna-Barbera cartoon series.
    • In the World War II battles of "The Savage Time", Superman flies directly through a German plane and emerges from the inevitable explosion covered head to toe in flames - which makes him a dead ringer for the Marvel Universe's original, Nazi-fighting Human Torch. An unidentified Allied solider later in the episode is shown injured and clutching his eye in reference to Nick Fury. In the same episode, the Flash heckles the Nazis by yelling "Over here, Colonel Klink!"
    • In "Only a Dream", Batman relates the story of Odysseus and the cyclops Polyphemus from The Odyssey after Green Lantern dismisses John Dee as "a nobody".
    • In "Eclipsed", G. Gordon Godfrey reads an anti-superhero diatribe from a book titled "Innocents Seduced." by "Dr. Fredrick". This is a riff on "The Seduction of the Innocent" by Dr. Fredrick Wertham, an infamous book about the negative effects of superhero comics on children.
    • In "A Better World", the Flash deduces that he is the conscience of the team when he learns that it was his death that caused the Justice Lords to overthrow the government. John Stewart then calls him "Jiminy."
    • "The Terror Beyond" is an extended homage to the Marvel Comics team The Defenders. Doctor Fate stands in for Doctor Strange, Solomon Grundy for the Hulk, Hawkgirl for Nighthawk, and Aquaman for Namor. Grundy even refers to Hawkgirl as "Bird Nose", Hulk's nickname for Nighthawk. The villain this team fights? An octopus-headed god known as "Ichulthu". The same team returns in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Wake the Dead", with A.M.A.Z.O. now added to the group as a stand-in for the Silver Surfer.
    • "Wild Cards":
    • "Comfort and Joy": Hawkgirl's entrance into the alien bar is very reminiscent of Series/Cheers:
      Hawkgirl: Hi, guys!
      Crowd: SHAYERA!
    • "Starcrossed":
      • The Thanagarians' ultimate goal was to blow up the Earth to make a hyperspace bypass, which is how every incarnation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy begins.
      • One Thanagarian is a corpulent figure with a bushy beard, looking very much like the King of those other Hawkmen.
    • "The Return":
    • In "This Little Piggy", when Zatanna is trying to grab a rabbit in her hat, she calls out for "Bugs." Later in the episode, Circe is crushed by a flung piano and her feet, which are sticking out from under the piano, go flat and roll up under the piano.
    • In "The Greatest Story Never Told", Booster Gold tells the transporter technician to "Energize!", which is the command from Star Trek (The technician calls him a doofus). When Skeets later emerges from of a black hole, he proclaims "My God, it was full of stars...", a line from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    • In "Question Authority", the Question refers to his hatred for Lex Luthor as being "brobdingnagian". In Gulliver's Travels, Brobdingnag was a country inhabited by giant humans, and the term "brobdingnagian" has come to refer to things as being very large.
    • When the Flash runs so fast he nearly enters the Speed Force in "Divided We Fall", the rapid montage of the world as he runs around it is reminiscent of Mike Jittlov's The Wizard of Speed and Time, another story about a speedster.
    • In "Epilogue", the Royal Flush Gang features a Jack that is also a samurai, and his normal human form looks like Phil LaMarr, who voiced the title character in Samurai Jack. Ten looked like Bo Derek's character in the movie 10 (1979). The Queen turned out to be a male in normal form, and both forms resemble the deceased actor/performer/drag Harris Glenn Milstead, a.k.a. Divine. invoked
    • The giant flying turtle that attacks Japan in "Chaos at the Earth's Core" is both a Mythology Gag and a shout out to Gamera.
    • In "Dead Reckoning", Superman, currently possessed by Deadman, says when he, Batman and Wonder Woman are transported to Africa, "You know, when they beam down on that TV show, they never miss."
    • "Patriot Act" features Vigilante and Shining Knight discussing Dirty Harry.
    • The final two episodes of JLU, "Alive" and "Destroyer" are references to the titles of two KISS albums. Darkseid's outfit is also a direct reference to Gene Simmon's on the cover of Destroyer. In the episodes themselves, Captain Steel mimic Captain America by flinging a Parademon's shield.
    • The poem Wonder Woman recites at the end of "To Another Shore" is part of Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • In "The Balance", Diana has a lovely painting of a woman on a bull on the wall of her Watchtower quarters. Those with a background in Greek history will recognize it as a fragment of a bull-jumping mural from the ancient ruins on Minos.
    • In the World War II episodes, it is clear that the artists took the effort to study genuine artifacts of the war (such as the lovingly-rendered Messerschmitts and Shermans) to get the look right, rather than make "good-enough" versions. This shows even in the less glamorous vehicles (the Opel Blitzes and Dodge 6x6 trucks) that most people who are not rivet counters would not pay attention to.
    • In "Hawk and Dove", some of Dove's fight moves resemble Real Life judo techniques. Makes sense that an advocate of peace would use "the gentle way."
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Steve Trevor plants one on Wonder Woman and she returns the favor later in the episode.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Flash to a robotic duplicate attempting a Hannibal Lecture on him.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: Aforementioned V-Formation Team Shot that's featured in the opening of the first two seasons of Justice League had them silhouetted.
  • Sinister Stingrays: During the final season, a Black Manta Expy known as Devil Ray was included among the ranks of the Legion of Doom (a result of Aquaman and his characters being tied up in a series that never get off the ground). A cold and ruthless villain, his arsenal includes poisoned barbs, and he freely admits to having killed many people.
  • Sizeshifter: The Atom, who shrinks, and Atom-Smasher, Giganta and Longshadow, who grow.
  • Sleep Cute:
    • A platonic — but adorable — one with Hawkgirl and The Flash in "Only A Dream".
    • John and Shayera have a more intimate one after a Bar Brawl.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The Justice Lords are a two-episode alternate-universe threat, but their arrival plays heavily into the reasoning behind the Cadmus arc. Knowing that six of the original seven (let alone the expanded league) conquered the world in their timeline, the American security apparatus had a very good reason to consider how to respond if their League went rogue.
  • Smart People Know Latin: Batman and Green Arrow exchange Latin proverbs to demonstrate their intelligent rivalry.
  • Smart People Play Chess: "Wake the Dead" features Hawkgirl, A.M.A.Z.O. and Aquaman playing chess against one another. It is used to establish that Hawkgirl is in a psychological funk, as Aquaman cannot elicit any kind of emotional reaction from her despite his provocations, and she loses their game despite previously being able to defeat Batman. A.M.A.Z.O. defeats Aquaman at their game, but says that Aquaman is improving.
  • Smokescreen Crime: In "Wild Cards", the Joker takes over TV stations in Las Vegas and announces that he has placed a series of bombs that will destroy the Vegas Strip in 22 minutes and 51 seconds if they are not stopped by the Justice League. The League succeeds in locating and disarming the bombs, only for the Joker to reveal that the bombs were not the real threat — that would be his metahuman minion Ace who has the ability to hypnotize people through eye contact and since everyone in Vegas has been glued to the screen since the Joker's plan went into action, they are now under Ace's thrall. Thankfully, Batman is able to foil Joker's plan by turning Ace against him.
  • Smug Super: Gorilla Grodd is the most arrogant character of the series, who frequently exposits at length about his own intelligence and the inferiority of everybody around him.
  • Snowball Fight: There is one between Green Lantern and Hawkgirl in the episode "Comfort and Joy".
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Wonder Woman and Batman's invasion of Kasnia, complete with engaging enemy jets, infantry, and tanks, is accompanied by the reverent wedding ceremony of Princess Audrey and Vandal Savage.
  • Sparing Them the Dirty Work: The Question discovers that, in an alternate universe, Lex Luthor successfully ran for US presidency, and that universe's Superman subsequently killed him, becoming The Unfettered in the process. When Luthor runs for presidency in the Prime Universe too, the Question decides to kill him before Superman can, judging that the League's reputation wouldn't suffer much for the actions of a known crackpot like him.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Wonder Woman objects to the wedding of Princess Audrey and Vandal Savage. Strenuously. With a tank.
  • Spoiler Opening: For the first few seasons of JLU the opening would play numerous key scenes from the upcoming episode, essentially spoiling the entire show you were about to watch. This would later be changed to just showing various scenes from other episodes.
  • The Spook: The Imperium Horde are this.
    J'onn: Where they came from, no one knew.
  • Spotting the Thread: Batman notices that Clayface is in disguise when he overdoes his acting... yo.
  • Stage Magician: Zatanna is a primary guest star in "This Little Piggy", where she is introduced performing her act on stage.
  • Stating the Simple Solution:
  • Stationary Wings: Hawkgirl and the rest of the Thanagarians. The ancient Thanagarians used to wear artificial wings and hover via an anti-gravity device, but they have since bio-engineered organic wings into their species.
  • Statuesque Stunner:
    • As always, Wonder Woman is tall, toned, and very beautiful.
    • Big Barda, the page image, appears in season two of Unlimited.
    • Fire, the object of Flash's not-so-subtle affections, is the tallest one on the team when she, he, and Hawkgirl go to Blackhawk Island.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: The previous incarnations of Hawkgirl and Hawkman were Thanagarian police officers stranded on Earth before human civilization arose. They founded the first human state (in Ancient Egypt) and, despite their sincerest efforts to avoid it, were worshiped as gods in return.
  • Story Arc: Unlimited had two.
  • The Story That Never Was: In the episode "Time, Warped", Batman tampers with the villain's time travel belt so that instead of going on his time traveling crime spree, as he did at the beginning of the previous episode, it locks him in a time loop at the point where he would have started.
  • Straw Feminist: Aresia, an orphan raised by the Amazons, took their distrust of men to the ultimate extreme by releasing a deadly allergen to kill all males on the planet. Even after learning that it was a man who saved her life and helped her reach the safety of Themyscira, she still claimed that the good deed of one could not atone for the sins of the others.
  • Stripping the Scarecrow: In "Flash and Substance", Captain Boomerang grabs and uses the boomerang from the exhibit mannequin of himself at the Flash Museum.
  • Stupid Evil: Parodied in "The Great Brain Robbery." 'Lex Luthor' is so evil that he does not wash his hands!
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler:
    • Vandal Savage's time travel activities end up equipping Nazi legions with War Wheels, machines the size of buildings that overwhelm any Allied tanks or infantry they come up against.
    • In Unlimited, it is revealed that the Nazis were experimenting with a Super Serum, creating the "Captain Nazi" program to turn regular soldiers into unstoppable monsters. Fortunately, Spy Smasher was able to destroy the laboratory and take the only existing sample of the formula back to the USA.
  • Stupid Sacrifice:
    • In "The Savage Time", Steve Trevor plans to sacrifice himself to delay a group of German soldiers so Wonder Woman can escape, and when she tries to explain to him that there is no need for such an action he interrupts her before she can finish. Thankfully, she stops him anyway and defeats the soldiers herself.
    • In "Starcrossed", Batman decide to stay behind in the Watchtower to guide it until the last second towards its target. Which is heroic and all, except they could probably have controlled it remotely. Or let the Martian Manhunter do the job, since he's both competent enough to pilot the Watchtower and able to get out of it alive without much trouble.
  • Super Serum: The Captain Nazi serum which turned Eiling into a hulking monster.
  • Super Soldier: The whole point of Cadmus and its offspring is to develop soldiers capable of going toe to toe against the League should the heroes go rogue.
  • Superhero Speciation: Lampshaded when John Stewart sends Elongated Man on crowd control during an epic battle. Stewart explicitly states that they already had Plastic Man there as a fighter and "We don't need two stretchy guys."
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • It turns out carrying a chunk of radioactive rock in your pocket for years will not only fend off a Kryptonian, but also give you cancer. Batman at least had the good sense to store his chunk in a lead-shielded compartment in his utility belt.
    • When Lex and the Flash switch bodies, Lex tries to take advantage of it.
      Lex: If nothing else, I can at least learn the Flash's secret identity.
      (takes mask off)
      Lex: (beat) I have no idea who this is.
    • When the League unleashes its giant death ray to stem the machines in episode 1 it's very successful, but when the government witnesses this needless to say they are very concerned. It seems that having a secret giant death ray capable of annihilating any target on Earth not in any form of government control is going to turn a few heads. The kicker to the government is the fact that the weapon is pointed DOWN towards the Earth, and not towards the stars where an alien invasion would likely occur. Needless to say this among many other reasons is why Cadmus, a government black op against superhumans is formed in the DCAU.
      • When Batman confronts Amanda Waller about the existence of Cadmus, she points out that while Cadmus very existence, let alone the things they do, are morally suspect in extremis, the fact remains that without Cadmus the only check on the Justice League's power is the conscience of the individual members. This is enough to give Batman pause, and his actions later in the series prove that while he might not like the existence of Cadmus, he sees the need for it.
    • Can a traitor be Easily Forgiven? Not if you're Shayera. While her Thanagarian superiors kept her in the dark about the full implications of her mission, and she turned on the Thanagarians as soon as the full scope of their plans became clear, she was never fully trusted again. She was let back in the League, but only after a vote which passed by a very slender margin, Wonder Woman never fully co-operated with Shayera again, and even a season later Shayera gets significant amounts of hate mail.
  • Survivor Guilt: Vandal Savage in "Hereafter". All 30,000 years of it.
  • Swiss-Army Weapon: Hawkgirl's Energy Mace is made of energy-dispersing Nth Metal and can be electrically charged with a thought. So it functions as a light source, protection against magic, and a Magical Defibrillator. When she isn't using it to smash things.
  • Sword of Damocles:
    • Vandal Savage uses his marriage into the Kaznian Royal Family to install a Rail Gun into the International Space Station and, as he now has "the ultimate high ground," declares himself ruler of the world.
    • Cadmus fears that the League itself will become a hanging Sword, particularly with their Binary Fusion Generator pointing down at the world; the original story is namechecked as LexCorp Damocles-class missiles are used to attack the League when Amanda Waller feels they have crossed the line. Waller and compatriots were partially inspired by the actions of the Justice Lords, who did take control.
  • Symbolic Blood: The end of the flashback in "Ancient History" shows past-incarnation John and Shayera dead with a pool of red... poisoned wine.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Hawkgirl for Solomon Grundy.

  • Take My Hand!:
    • In "The Enemy Below", Aquaman's brother extends his hand to Aquaman and asks to be pulled up from the ledge. Aquaman grabs his trident back from his brother and lets him fall to his death.
    • At the end of "Divided We Fall," after Flash has vanished into the Speed Force Shayera asks him to take her hand as she tries to pull him back. Ultimately, she and the rest of the League grab his arm and pull him out of the Speed Force, but a close-up reveals that Flash never did grab Shayera's hand.
  • Take That!: When the League first forms, Flash scoffs at being "a bunch of Super Friends." In the same episode, one plot point consists of a massive dig at Reeve's Anvilicious Superman IV— Superman is manipulated into disarming the world's nuclear weapons by an alien in disguise so that his species can invade the Earth.
  • Taking You with Me: Simultaneous example. In "Chaos at the Earth's Core", Metallo is in the process of killing Supergirl with his kryptonite power source when she pries out his power source using a knife. Metallo will die when his reserve power runs out, but he notes that the kryptonite is still killing Supergirl regardless. Unfortunately for Metallo, Stargirl arrives to save Supergirl.
  • Talk to the Fist: In the episode "This Little Piggy", Circe is performing at the Amphitheatre. Zatanna starts magically chucking furniture at her during her "acceptance" speech.
  • Taunting the Unconscious: In the animated adaptation of For the Man Who Has Everything, Mongul knocks out Wonder Woman, then picks her up and starts handling her body as if it was a child's toy. He calls her an "inferior specimen" and states that, if this is the best Earth has to offer, he will easily be able to conquer it.
  • The Team Normal: Batman is the only member of the original league to lack superpowers. This becomes a plot point in "Injustice For All", where he feels underestimated by his peers as a result.
  • Technical Pacifist: Every single member of the league. While they do take a lot of liberties with the law, trying to murder someone is considered grounds for expulsion.
  • Technicolor Fire: Fire's flames are colored green.
  • Telepathy: One of the Martian Manhunter's many powers. It kickstarts the plot of the first episode, as he communicates with Earth's heroes to bring them all together against the impending invasion of the white aliens.
  • Teleportation: Transporters are featured in Unlimited as a means of teleporting the league members to any location in the world.
  • Teleportation Sickness: Using Boom Tubes always makes Batman sick.
  • Tell Me About My Father: Inverted as Shayera asks Batman about her son.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Hawkgirl leaves the league in "Starcrossed", but returns shortly into Unlimited. Martian Manhunter retires in the last season, but comes back into action just in time for the finale..
  • That Man Is Dead: In "Wake the Dead", Shayera Hol remarks that she is not, and never really was, "Hawkgirl". When other characters refer to her as such in later episodes she stresses that she told them not to call her that anymore.
  • Theme Naming: Trickster notes how most of the Flash's Rogues Gallery are Captains, and complains that they would probably treat him with more respect if he were a captain. Of course, Mirror Master is also outside the pattern and gets plenty of respect, so maybe there are other reasons.
  • Theme Tune: Both Justice League and Justice League Unlimited have their own.
    • When the League travels to the wild west, a country-tinged version of their original theme plays as they ride into action.
  • Thememobile: The Batmobile, obviously. Parodied with the Flashmobile, a souped-up shaggin' wagon The Flash bought with the money he made shilling for an energy bar company.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Though John Dee had occasional fantasies of power and vengeance on the Justice League, when "Only a Dream" began he was a well-behaved prison inmate who even the guards liked and believed should be released. However, his parole is turned down again, his wife leaves him, and then the prison erupts in a full scale riot. From all indications he really was a rehabilitated convict, but when the system would not even give him a chance he decided to go whole-hog and cut loose.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted, as both Martian Manhunter and Dr. Fate serve as official therapists to the League and its members. Wildcat, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, and A.M.A.Z.O. are all shown under their care at one time or another.
  • There Is No Cure: "Injustice for all Part I" has Lex Luthor discover to his horror that he has terminal cancer as a result of carrying Kryptonite for so long. After blaming Superman for his condition, he demands his doctor for a cure, only to be told there is no cure and there is nothing he can do. This is subverted later when his cancer is mysteriously cured in "Question Authority" and we later find out in "Divided we Fall" that this is because Brainiac was hiding within Luthor and had cured his cancer in addition to giving him Super Strength.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: In part two of "The Once and Future Thing," Lord Chronos sends his turncoat henchman Chucko to the age of the dinosaurs... just before the world-shattering meteor impact... at ground zero. Resulting in an understated "Oh, phooey.'' from said clown.
    Chronos: "Do you know what killed the dinosaurs? Well, Chucko does."
  • There Was a Door: Frequently. In "Injustice For All", Hawkgirl smashes through the door and is followed by the Flash, then Superman smashes a hole through the wall next to the already-made hole where the door was, and then Green Lantern and Wonder Woman smash another hole through a window, next to the already-existing hole in the wall which is itself next to the already-existing hole where the door once was.
  • They Do: The Hawkgirl/Green Lantern relationship was hinted at throughout the first two seasons with their constant bickering and fighting, and after John nearly dies in "Wild Cards" in season two the two finally confess their feelings to one another and kiss.
  • Third-Person Person: Flash does this when he tries to prove that he is Most Definitely Lex Luthor.
  • This Is the Part Where...: In the Justice Lords universe, Superman killed Lex Luthor after he killed The Flash. In "Divided We Fall" a defeated Lex Luthor says, "I think this is the part where you kill me" while facing an angry Superman who thinks he's just seen The Flash die.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill:
    • Despite the trope's general presence and frequent mention, this commandment apparently does not apply to Nazis. Everyone present is shown performing clearly lethal actions in "The Savage Time", including ripping engines off troop transport planes in the middle of the Atlantic.note 
    • Wildcat gives up underground metahuman boxing events when he realizes that if he keeps this up he will in all likelihood kill someone, and is really off-put by the prospect.
    • After Lex Luthor laughs at Flash's apparent death, Superman explains how he is different from the Justice Lords' dimension's version of himself:
      Superman: I'm not the man who killed President Luthor. Right now I wish to Heaven that I was, but I'm not.
    • Supergirl does not follow this policy. Though generally averse to killing when possible, and she is disturbed when she dreams that she might have been killing indiscriminately and without remorse in "Fearful Symmetry", in "Chaos at the Earth's Core" she takes up a sword without reservation and cuts her way through the final battle when she no longer has her powers to resolve the situation non-lethally.
    • Wonder Woman came dangerously close to crossing this line when Toyman supposedly killed Superman in "Hereafter". Flash had to talk her down and remind her that it's not what Superman would do.
    • Superman sticks to this policy — except when it comes to Darkseid. He's the one villain in the DCAU that Superman would, and has, gone out of his way to try and kill.
    • There are actually a surprising number of instances when the League resorts to lethal force or performs actions which would ordinarily result in a villain's death, without the smallest hint of gravitas. Examples include the war against the Imperium in "Secret Origins," the deaths of Thanagarians Paran Dul and Kragger in "Hunter's Moon," the killing of Morgaine de Fay's trolls in the Watchtower in "A Knight of Shadows," the destruction of Aresia's plane in "Fury," and the extermination of the One One Icthultu in "The Terror Beyond." Nost of these instances involve beings that wouldn't exactly be regarded as human, but not all. Nevertheless, if what happened to Huntress is any indication, you can still get kicked out of the League for killing in cold blood, or otherwise escalating to lethal force before absolutely necessary.
  • Throwaway Country: San Baquero, a volcanic island nation in the Caribbean Sea that is, according to General Wade Eiling, the source of much drug smuggling into the USA. It is destroyed in "The Doomsday Sanction" when the volcano erupts, assisted by a near-explosion from a nuclear warhead.
  • Throwing Your Gun at the Enemy: "Hawk and Dove" featured Wonder Woman deflecting bullets from a common mook with her bracelets. When he goes to throw the gun at her, even after seeing not a single shot hit, she sarcastically says to him, "Oh that's gonna work."
  • Thrown Out the Airlock:
    • The Flash in "Maid Of Honor".
    • Gorilla Grodd in "Alive".
  • The Thunderdome: The plot of "War World". Superman is held prisoner on the titular planet where he must compete in gladiatorial style games where competitors must fight to the death or have their home planet destroyed if they refuse.
  • Time Is Dangerous: In this episode "The Once and Future Thing: Weird Western Tales", Chronos breaks into a storage locker on the Watchtower by locally speeding up time so that a section of the door ages and disintegrates in a few seconds.
  • Time Loop Trap: How Chronos is eventually defeated.
  • Time-Traveling Jerkass: The two-part episode "The Once and Future Thing" has Chronos, a time-travelling villain from the future, who initially uses his technology to steal objects throughout time. However, his wife prods him into using his tech for bigger things than petty theft, and he ends up becoming Drunk with Power and nearly destroys time. Fortunately, Batman and Green Lantern stop him by trapping him in a "Groundhog Day" Loop arguing with his wife.
  • Time-Travel Romance:
    • For Supergirl in "Far From Home". She falls in love with Brainiac, opting to stay in the future as a result.
    • Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor in "The Savage Time". In this case they even meet up years later in the present-day.
  • Timeline-Altering MacGuffin: Vandal Savage sends a laptop containing the history of World War II and schematics for advanced war machines to himself in the 1930s. With this knowledge, Savage easily outwits the Allied forces, deposes Hitler and sets his sights on world domination.
  • Timm Style: Naturally, since it is part of the DCAU and the character designs were done by Bruce Timm.
  • Tinman Typist: Brainiac in the episode "Twilight". Said keyboard is even built into his own arm!
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Big Barda and Mr. Miracle, one of the original pairs, appear in the second season of Unlimited.
  • Title Drop:
    • While "Justice League" is a Team Title, and therefore most instances of the name being said on-screen wouldn't count, Superman's first use of it at the end of the series premiere when describing a hypothetical team-up of the seven to protect the world could easily count.
      The Flash: What, like a bunch of Super Friends?
      Superman: More like a... Justice League.
    • In "Wild Cards", the Joker refers to the Royal Flush Gang, who are dressed as playing cards, as 'wild cards.'
  • To Absent Friends: In "Hereafter", Superman is apparently killed. After the funeral the League gathers on the Watchtower, laughing and drinking while wearing black armbands and sharing stories.
  • Token Minority: John Stewart was chosen from Green Lantern for this series instead of the more popular Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner. The creators have confirmed that part of this decision was to prevent the team from being solely composed of white people and aliens. Fortunately, Stewart had worked with the JLA in the comics years before, which gave his inclusion some needed credibility.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Hawkgirl and Wonder Woman. Diana is an Amazon but wears very revealing outfits, is more likely to dress up, and embraces her feminity. Shayera is The Lad-ette and unlike Diana, who is a princess from a warrior race, she is actually a warrior from a warrior race. She's basically One of the Boys. That being said, both women are incredibly prone to aggression and Diana is actually the stronger of the two.
    • Hawkgirl and Vixen, to a lesser extent. The two act as foils as both are heroes of the league and girlfriends of John Stewart, but Vixen is a fashion model who wears a tight bodysuit, while Hawkgirl is an aggressive and fiery Thanagarian. Downplayed as Vixen isn't overly feminine overall, having animal-like instincts as part of her power set as well as Boyish Short Hair.
    • It's a minor and subtle example, as both probably lean a little more on the feminine side, but Black Canary and Huntress have moments of this. Huntress can be quite suggestive and lustful when interacting with Question, and her romance with him is mushy enough to gross Black Canary out. Canary also wears a blue jacket while Huntress wears a lot of pink. Huntress fights with an acrobatic fighting style while Canary mainly sticks with simple but effective strikes, and it was Canary who showed the most enthusiasm and eagerness of the two to slug it out with her rival at the end of "Grudge Match".
    • In the mass Villain Team-Up in the final season of Unlimited, there's the snarky, short-haired Dark Action Girl Killer Frost and the more feminine Dark Chick Giganta.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The classic example is given a Shout-Out in "The Balance":
    Felix Faust: listing the contents of Hades' library to Wonder Woman "... dark tomes that make the Necronomicon look like a children's book...'''
  • Took a Level in Badass: Lex Luthor gains Super Strength, surprising even himself, and proceeds to give The Question a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Wonder Woman started to have some issues with her temper in the Unlimited phase, most prominent in "Hawk and Dove". It's implied that Hawkgirl's reveal as The Mole and betrayal of the team in "Starcrossed" broke her naivete of the first two seasons. She doesn't fully get over it until "The Balance" where she and Hawkgirl mend their relationship.
  • Too Powerful to Live: A.M.A.Z.O., who gains the powers of the entire League (and then some), but who is consequently sidelined from the main story.
  • Torture Technician:
    • When Vandal Savage captures J'onn J'onzz in "The Savage Time", he has Josef get him to talk.
    • Dr. Moon in "Question Authority", who is assigned the task of getting information from the Question.
  • Transflormation: In episode "Hearts and Minds", to stop Despero's army of soldiers powered by the Py'tar, the Py'tar itself transforms them into trees, to prevent them from attacking other worlds.
  • Translation Convention: All the Germans in "The Savage Time" speak English with the exception of the occasional "Jawohl" and "Mein Fuhrer", even when speaking to one another.
  • Trash the Set:
    • In "Starcrossed", the finale to Justice League, the first Watchtower is destroyed.
    • In the final episode, fittingly titled "Destroyer", the Daily Planet office building is damaged. Darkseid picks up the giant stone globe on top of the building and hurls it through the roof, attempting to crush Superman. The whole building collapses.
  • Trick-and-Follow Ploy:
    • Batman tricks Harley into returning to the Joker's secret headquarters in the middle of the Royal Flush Gang's assault on Las Vegas. He does this a lot, actually, because the Joker immediately chews Harley on falling for the trick.
    • He also planted a tracking device on Lex Luthor in the episode "Injustice For All" (the Joker found it).
    • The Thanagarians use that trick with Hawkgirl, but it backfires (the heroes prepare an ambush).
  • Trust Password: In "The Great Brain Robbery", when Flash is trying to prove he is really Flash and not Lex Luthor:
    Flash: Until he went off to the Marines, GL's nickname was...
    Green Lantern: Stop! It's him! You promised never to repeat that story!
    Flash: I know. I was just messing with your head.
  • Truth in Television: In "A Knight of Shadows", the Hugh Hefner Expy refers to a statue he describes as "Greek." Wonder Woman corrects him, insisting that it is in fact a Roman copy. In real life, many of our surviving ancient "Greek" statues are in fact very good marble Roman copies of the bronze Greek originals.
  • Try Not to Die: Huntress, Black Canary, Vixen, and Hawkgirl against one enemy? Easy, right? Make that foe Wonder Woman (who we have seen is capable of going toe to toe with Superman) and really, all they can do is try to stay alive.
  • Twin Telepathy: In Supergirl's dreams, she relives the memories of her evil clone Galatea.
  • Twisting the Words: Captain Marvel mentions to a group of reporters that Luthor is reformed and now running for president, saying that people can change. The next day the headlines read, "Captain Marvel endorses Luthor for President."
  • Uncle Sam Wants You: In the Comic-Book Adaptation episode "Let Freedom Ring", General Mendenhall wants the Freedom Fighters to help him bring down the Justice League and the scene does look like the Uncle Sam poster.
  • Underestimating Badassery: In one story from the comics, The Joker and Harley Quinn break into the Justice League's watchtower. Hawkgirl, Zatanna and the Crimson Avenger underestimate them because they have no powers or magic and use rubber chickens. The Joker himself underestimates Zatanna after finding a way to prevent her from using her magic.
    Joker: You'd think those high heels would slow her down a little!
  • Unequal Pairing: When Hawkgirl decides to make a move on John Stewart during season two, she points out that while she and Katma Tui might both be telling him to get back to retraining, they have different reasons. Hawkgirl wants her companion to be at his best while Katma Tui is lecturing a wayward student. When Katma asks him to stay at the end of the episode, he refuses. It wouldn't work and he has his own job to take care of.
  • Unexpectedly Real Magic: One episode starts with a bunch of frat boys performing a necromantic ritual for fun. Unknown to them (until he came crashing through their door), the ritual revived a recently-Killed Off for Real Solomon Grundy and boosted his power to the point even Amazo can't stop him.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Diana and the League save Themiscyra in "Paradise Lost". Diana's reward? She gets exiled for the crime of bringing outsiders to the island. Flash is pissed.
  • Universal Driver's License: Subverted.
    • "Starcrossed, Part 3" has the League plan to fly using a Thanagarian shuttle, and it cuts to J'onn J'onzz sitting in the pilot seat. After a brief pause, he states that he has absolutely no idea how to fly that craft.
    • In another episode, the flying League members jump out of their spacecraft, leaving Flash to drive it...who then mutters that nobody on the team stopped to ask if he knew how.
  • Unknown Rival: John Dee was just one of Lex Luthor's Faceless Goons, who was busted by the Justice League for guarding a shipment of stolen weapons and has been stewing in prison and dreaming of his revenge ever since. When he gains superpowers and escapes, the Leaguers are all baffled as to why he wants to destroy them, since they do not remember arresting him at all.
  • Unmoving Plaid: This is the reason why neither Zatanna nor Black Canary wore fishnets just like their comic book counterparts.
  • Unpaused: In "Dead Reckoning", Superman gets possessed midsentence while talking about a restaurant in Smallville where "the milkshakes are so thick..." When he regains control of his body, Supe's first words are "... you have to eat them with a spoon! (Beat) Why am I in Africa?"
  • Unreliable Expositor: The origins of Cadmus and Doomsday as explained by Amanda Waller and Professor Milo do not exactly match the shown events or each other's stories.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Green Lantern and Hawkgirl (and later, Batman and Wonder Woman) put the "UST" in "Justice". And Black Canary and Green Arrow at first, but they eventually resolve theirs.
  • Unwitting Pawn: In the first episode, Superman assists in the dismantling of the Earth's nuclear arsenal to support world peace. Unbeknownst to him, the US congressman which spearheaded the initiative was actually setting up the planet for invasion by the Imperium.
  • Urban Ruins:
    • In "Clash", Superman and Captain Marvel's fight leaves Luxor City as nothing but dust and rubble after they fight each other,
    • In the series finale, the center of Metropolis gets reduced to this after Darkseid lands there and is on the receiving end of Superman's unrestrained power.
  • V-Formation Team Shot:
    • The former Trope Namer, the title sequence for Justice League and Unlimited had the League pose in the classic formation. The original opening had them in silhouette, the second opening had them fully lit.
    • The Thanagarian Strike Force in "Starcrossed, Part 3" enter Wayne Manor and then take a brief moment to pose.
  • Vapor Trail: In "Fury", fallen power lines ignite a trail of spilled fuel leading to a downed helicopter.
  • Vertigo Effect: On The Question when he attempts to assassinate Lex Luthor to prevent the Bad Future.
  • Vichy Earth: The Thanagarian Fleet occupy Earth in "Starcrossed," for their own safety. They're actually planning to destroy Earth.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment:
    • In "Hearts and Minds" when Katma Tui takes her Ring and places it somewhere around the crotch of her Stripperiffic Go-Go Enslavement outfit.
    • In "Dark Heart", Wonder Woman initially carries a shrunken Atom in her fist to escort him to the Dark Heart. When she realizes this heavily handicaps her combat ability, she instead places him in her cleavage so that she can use both fists without threatening to crush him.
  • Villain Episode: "Task Force X" and "Alive" focused on the villains.
  • The Villain Must Be Punished: In the episode "Twilight", the League has barely escaped a trap set by Darkseid and Brainiac, with Brainiac set to detonate and take everything in the vicinity with him. Darkseid tries to make his escape but is cut off by Superman, who tells him that he intends for Darkseid to die in the explosion. The two fight until Batman arrives and tries to convince Superman to flee, but Superman knocks Batman away and makes it clear he intends to stay and ensure Darkseid dies. Batman then uses a Mother Box to pull himself, Superman and Orion to safety, as Superman shouts "NO!"; back on Earth, Batman tries to assure an angry Superman that Darkseid couldn't have survived that blast, but Superman bitterly tells Batman that he's "not always right".[[note]]This is also in reference to the fact that Batman and the rest of the League decided to help Darkseid against Brainiac earlier against Superman's protests, only to find out that the two villains were leading them all into a trap.
  • Villain Song: Circe singing "Lulu's Back in Town" in "This Little Piggy".
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Darkseid tried to pull this off when the Brainiac asteroid was going to explode. Superman insists that he stays:
    Superman: Any minute now Brainiac will explode. And guess what, you're going with him.
    (Darkseid reaches for Orion's Boom-Tube generator, but Superman destroys it with his heat vision.)
    Superman: No, Darkseid, to get off this rock, you'll have to go through me.
  • Villainous Glutton: Steven Mandragora. One would assume he is fat (just look at this picture), but it turns out that that is all muscle, to the point where Black Canary punched him as hard as she could and hurt her hand.
  • Villainous Underdog: In Season 5, which is mostly a villains season, the Legion of Doom become quasi-Villain Protagonist and the theme of the season is that the League has become so powerful and professional that single villain crime is finished and that the Legion are barely holding together keeping one step ahead.
  • Villain Reveals the Secret: In Unlimited, Lex Luthor, after treating The Question to a surprising Curb-Stomp Battle, smugly asks him whether he really thought his Presidential campaign was serious, showing that the whole thing was a $75 million plot to tick off Superman and use Cadmus to undermine him.
  • Violence Is Not an Option: In the Unlimited episode "Hawk and Dove", violence and anger power the Annihilator armor, something Ares uses to set loose the Annihilator loose in the Kasnian civil war. Sheathe Your Sword is enough to shut the armor down, but to drive Ares away, the two Kasnian factions stand down for the day and according to a later episode, open diplomatic ties to resolve the conflict.
  • Violence is the Only Option: Particularly in "The Terror Beyond". Inverted in "Hawk and Dove" where pacifism is the only option.
  • Voice of the Legion: The Brainiac/Luthor fusion. The voice in the foreground dictates which of them is presently in control.
  • Voices Are Mental: A notable aversion. During "The Great Brain Robbery", Michael Rosenbaum continued to voice Flash's body and Clancy Brown continued to voice Luthor's body despite the characters' mind getting switched. However, Brown would read Luthor-as-Flash's lines for Rosenbaum to imitate and vice-versa. DVD commentary says the producers were quite excited at this prospect, primarily as a Shout-Out to Michael Rosenbaum's role as Luthor in Smallville, but the episode eventually had very little dialogue for Luthor-as-Flash, with most of the attention on Flash-as-Luthor.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting:
    • J'onn J'onzz can transform into any shape he desires, along with becoming intangible and invisible.
    • Shifter and Downpour of the Ultimen can transform into any animal or form of water (respectively), based upon the Wonder Twins of Superfriends.

  • Was It All a Lie?: Green Lantern asks this of Hawkgirl at the end of "Starcrossed" regarding their relationship. It wasn't. She genuinely loves John, but even by the end of the series their relationship is unresolved.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Watchtower II's Binary Fusion Generator cannon, which proved to be way more trouble than it was worth. It was almost, but not quite, a Wave-Motion Tuning Fork - although the blast itself came from a barrel, the barrel emerged from the base of the station splitting open... and then the barrel itself split open on either side of the muzzle.
  • We Are as Mayflies: Martian Manhunter is already over a thousand years old, and he came to realize that he will likely outlive many of his current human friends so he had better learn to like humanity.
  • We Work Well Together: The heroes who would form the League joined together in the first episode in order to repel an alien invasion. Afterwards, Superman advanced the idea of forming an official, long-lasting partnership in order to respond to any threats too large to face individually.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Amanda Waller wants to protect the world by creating soldiers that are more reliable than the League. Unfortunately her means of doing so involve cruel experiments and often unleash horrors much bigger than the ones she is trying to prevent.
    • The Justice Lords. Batman sums it up well:
    Lord Batman: I didn't forget! I just chose peace and security instead.
    Batman: You grabbed power!
    Lord Batman: And with that power, we've made a world where no eight year old boy will ever lose his parents because of some punk with a gun!
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Starcrossed", the finale of Justice League, is this. It is revealed that Hawkgirl has been a mole the entire time, spying on humanity and the League for the Thanagarians. Her and John Stewart's relationship ends, the Watchtower is destroyed, and the League is reformed into the more powerful (and more feared) Unlimited form.
    • "Question Authority" in season two of Unlimited. The Question learns about the events of "A Better World" and decides that the same events will ultimately unfold in this reality as well. In order to prevent such destruction, he decides to kill Lex Luthor so that Superman will never be driven to such an extreme. The Question's beating at Luthor's hands leads to direct conflict between the League and Cadmus, and ultimately to the reveal of Brainiac having taken control of Luthor.
  • Wham Line:
    • From "A Better World": "I'm great." The Justice Lord Superman's complete lack of regret over killing President Luthor indicates that he has decided to no longer feel guilt or restrain himself from the use of his powers.
      • At the same time, Batman's casual, "Well, it had to be done" shows a callousness towards murder that the mainline Bats never showed.
    • "Ultimatum": It demonstrates not just that Amanda Waller knows Batman's secret identity, but is the first indication that Cadmus knows more about the League than the League does about them, that the organization is of a much larger scale than previously suspected, and that it might be able to do actual damage to the League. This secret becomes a key factor in the plot of "Epilogue".
      Batman: Who are you people?
      Amanda Waller: That's a national security matter. And if I were you, I wouldn't probe the situation too closely, rich boy.
  • Wham Shot:
  • What Does This Button Do?: The Flash, Martian Manhunter, and Batman are in the cockpit of a Thanagarian gunship. The Flash asks this before pressing a button which blows a giant hole in the wall of Wayne Manor. Batman immediately walks up to him, saying "THAT'S. NOT. HELPING!"
  • "What Do They Fear?" Episode: Doctor Destiny places the heroes in their own worst nightmares in "Only a Dream".
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human? and What Measure Is a Mook?: Rather uncomfortably applied. Killing named characters is a fall-to-the-dark-side event, slaughtering large numbers of intelligent aliens or Nazis hardly warrants any comment. Batman likewise thinks nothing of bombing and destroying Parademons or using one of them as a human shield.
  • What the Heck Is an Aglet?: According to The Question, the answer is something truly sinister.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Captain Marvel chews out the Original Seven before resigning from the Justice League for their paranoia and arrogance.
    • Played for laughs in the finale, where the villains, having just helped saved Earth, protest the League being so quick to arrest them after everything's back to normal. Batman decides to cut them a break and give them a Mercy Lead.
  • What Were You Thinking?:
    • Hawkgirl once chewed out Fire for dropping Flash into the sea after Flash told her to do it so she could help Hawkgirl, reminding Fire that Flash can't fly. Fire feebly responded that she figured she could trust a founding member of the Justice League to have a plan, not knowing that he didn't. Fortunately, Flash was able to think of something in the nick of time. Hawkgirl immediately switched targets to Flash and furiously ordered him to never scare her like that again.
    • Superman says something along these lines when he finds out his (former) friend Professor Hamilton betrayed him. He offers a weak defense, stating that Superman betrayed him first. After admitting that he'd placed Superman on perhaps too high a pedestal, then comparing Superman to Satan.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: Hawkgirl's initial stratagem for dealing with any given problem is to hit it really hard with her mace. If that fails, Plan B is to hit it with the mace... but harder.
  • White Man's Burden: The equivalent was Katar Hol's motivation to conquer ancient Egypt and then the rest of Earth — it's his and Chayera's responsibility to bring the peace and stability of Thanagarian rule to the "savage" world.
  • Who Dares?: Circe asks this after Zatanna interrupts her concert with a couple of tables to the face. Well, she tries to ask, anyway.
    Circe: Insolent trickster! You dare to strike—! (*chair*) You dare to stri—! (*another table*) You dare to strike—! (*tablecloth*) QUIT IT! (stares) Oh no. (*piano*)
  • Who Shot JFK?: "There was a magic bullet... it was forged by Illuminati mystics to prevent us from learning the truth!"
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Vandal Savage is normally an example of living forever is awesome. However, in the episode "Hereafter", he winds up as the last surviving person on Earth, and has absolutely no way to end his isolation.
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?:
    • Cadmus was formed to provide the US Government with viable defenses in the event that the superpowered beings of Earth ever turned against the government.
    • Discussed between Batman and Green Arrow, in the original Latin. It serves to imply that Green Arrow was brought into the League to be their watcher.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: "Secret Origins," the three-part pilot episode, is based on The War of the Worlds. Both are about alien invaders from Mars who want to sap the world's resources, both feature tripod crafts that level major cities, and when things seem the aliens have won, they are shown to be easily defeated due to a Weaksauce Weakness set up as a Chekhov's Gun in the first act. There is even a General Wells.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Suggested by the Joker of all people when Lex has Batman dead to rights, but keeps him alive because he thinks he may need to wring information out of him. Justified for two reasons: the first is that it was Joker's plan that got Batman caught in the first place, so he had his "victory" and thus no qualms about killing him then and there. Second, he knows from experience that a heavily-bound Batman is still Batman and will cause huge trouble if left unchecked (which is exactly what happens).
  • Wicked Cultured: The Ultra-Humanite appreciates classical opera and the works of Tchaikovsky. He betrays Lex Luthor for a higher payday, then gives the money away in a donation to public broadcasting. He exposits on the importance of literacy amongst children and agrees to a Christmas truce with the Flash in order to give a present to orphans, which he has modified to play a recording he made of The Nutcracker. Throughout the series, everything he does is motivated by an appreciation of fine art and culture.
  • Wire Fu: Not literally, since the show is animated and no special effects are used, but in "Dead Reckoning" the monks of Nanda Parbat are animated in their fight scene as if they were using wires to assist their movements. This is animated in a distinctly different style than the other characters who are able to fly or jump over great distances through their superpowers.
  • With My Hands Tied: In "Starcrossed", the League are captured by the Thanagarians. Wonder Woman manages to free herself while tied to a pole by throwing the enemy's knife at the control panel with her teeth.
  • The Worf Effect: This trope is used often. The commentary released on the DVD's reveals that the producers played the trope perfectly straight, they would have villains injure Superman to display how powerful they were, but that they did not realise at the time how often they were doing it, or the detriment to the show. When they started the second season of Justice League they made a policy decision to stop this particular tactic; it was only resurrected in "The Return" where, instead of defeating Superman, the Android defeated the entire League in order to show how powerful it was.
  • World of Ham: The world of the Justice Guild in "Legends" qualifies as this, although it is mostly a recreation of a world destroyed by a nuclear war with its survivors trapped in it.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Superman might not (at least, not when the girl points it out), but Wonder Woman has no problems with it.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: In "Chaos at the Earth's Core", Supergirl is legitimately weakened by Metallo's Kryptonite, but she exaggerates how much she is affected (Brandishing, but then being unable to support, a sword) so that he will approach her and not notice her secretly picking up a knife which she uses to carve out his Kryptonite power source.
  • Wrecked Weapon: In the final duel between Travis Morgan and Demos in "Chaos at the Earth's Core", Morgan cleaves Demos' sword in two after trapping it against the stone stairs they are dueling upon.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: In "For the Man Who Has Everything", Wonder Woman gives Mongul a full on German suplex. Solomon Grundy gives Superman a standard vertical suplex in "The Terror Beyond". In "The Cat and the Canary", Atomic Skull gives Wildcat a cage assisted back suplex. Upon recovering, Wildcat, a trained boxer and martial artist, responds with a clothesline. A few other pro-wrestling moves show up throughout the series as well.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Batman Beyond originally took place in the year 2039, being referred to as taking place 40 years after the end of Batman: The Animated Series (1999). Later on, the creators of the show announced that the show takes place 50 years after the end of Justice League Unlimited (2006), meaning that would place the date at 2056 instead. However, the characters make explicit references to events that happened in the previous series as being no more than 40 years. Certain sources even give Terry McGinnis a birthdate of 2023. And now, the 2010 Batman Beyond comic series once again confirms the date as being 2039 and thus only 40 years passing.
  • Xanatos Gambit:
    • In the episode "Wild Cards": If The Justice League succeeds they have created a media storm that Joker can hijack to make Ace drive a few million people incurably insane. Joker wins. If the Justice League fails they get blown up alongside large amounts of Las Vegas and the ensuing media storm will provide Joker even more victims for Ace. Joker wins.
    • In "Clash", Luthor sets up a situation where either Superman will humiliate himself and the League by destroying Luthor's prototype fusion generator...or he won't and Luthor will get great free P.R. himself as a philanthropist and inventor.
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race: The Streak tells Green Lantern, "You're a credit to your people, son," in "Legends". The writers probably got away with it because "your people" could easily refer to the League members, but the expression on John's face makes it clear how he took it. Of course, being that The Streak is a Golden Age-era hero, when such a sentiment was considered progressive, John doesn't make a fuss.
  • You're Insane!:
    • Occurs as an Insult Backfire in "Hereafter":
      Vandal Savage: The Earth belongs to the cockroaches now… Oh, and me.
      Superman: You're insane.
      Vandal Savage: ... True. But that doesn't mean I'm not good company. Say, you want to come over to my house?
      Superman: ...
      Vandal Savage: Like you've got something better to do.
    • Another one, in "Injustice For All"
      Solomon Grundy: [To Luthor] You're crazy!
      The Joker: [Bursts into the room] And what's wrong with that? It's done wonders for me!
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: When Martian Manhunter is trying to extract information from a captive's mind in "Starcrossed", the injuries inflicted by the mind's defenses also appear on his physical body, including his cape. As a shapeshifter, his "normal" appearance, even his uniform, is a creation of his mind and it can change at his will; when his mental self-image is being clawed by birds, his mind creates the slashes on his body (See also Body Horror).
  • Zerg Rush: The staff aboard the Watchtower in Unlimited are normal humans without either power or special skills and never even established as having basic combat training, but when the station is boarded in "Panic in the Sky" and a large group is cornered by a large dinosaur they look at each other and then charge at it en masse.