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Recap / Superman: The Animated Series S3 E12-13 "Legacy"

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Superman's absence ends with him returning to conquer the Earth in the name of Darkseid. Although Lois manages to break the brainwashing, the Man of Steel's reputation is shot and he goes to confront Darkseid.


  • A God Am I: Darkseid declares himself to be one, at least on Apokolips. His people's response to his brutal defeat by Superman suggest his claim may have some merit.
  • Aborted Arc: Originally, this two-parter was meant to kick off a season's worth of episodes about Superman regaining the world's trust. Plans changed when this got bumped back to the show's final two episodes, though Justice League would later explore some of the fallout of this storyline.
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  • The Bad Guy Wins: To an extent. Not only does Darkseid (the primary Big Bad) brainwash Superman into thinking that he's HIS adopted son and turn him into a pariah, but Lex Luthor (Superman's Arch-Enemy) got pretty much everything he could ever achieve from DARKSEID'S HANDIWORK. The whole ordeal strengthened Lex's opinion about the Man of Steel, most of the people now have his back, and he didn't have to lift a finger.
  • Badass Boast: It's a two-parter with Darkseid, after all.
    • "I am many things, Kal-El. You couldn't begin to imagine half of them. But for now, I shall take the role of executioner."
    • "Had I known one human's death would pain you so, I would have killed more. And kill more I shall. Carry that agony with you to oblivion, Superman."
    • "I am many things, Kal-El... but here, I am God."
  • Beware the Nice Ones: After Superman overcomes his brainwashing, he opens a boomtube to Apokolips, vaporizes the army sent to meet him, electrocutes Granny Goodness, knocks the Terrible Trio through a building, swats away Kalibak without a second thought, and burns Darkseid's face and eyes.
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  • Beware the Superman: Superman is a serious menace to the world until he finally breaks free of his brainwashing, and the incident leaves a legacy of fear and mistrust that is revisited later in Justice League.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Lois and Superman kiss for the first time in the last shot of the series.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Superman finally gives Darkseid a terrible defeat and reduces him to a bleeding pulp and he does legally clear his name. However, despite defeating and injuring Darkseid, the masses of Apokolips are so brainwashed that they raise Darkseid to their shoulders and carry him off to heal, as they leave, Darkseid speaks one final line to Superman: "I am many things Kal-El, but here, I am god." At earth, Superman is convicted by public opinion, with his friendship with Emil Hamilton permanently ruined, and it's clear that he'll be dealing with the fallout of the brainwashing for years and possibly the rest of his life. However, he still has Jimmy to defend him, and he and Lois finally kiss and begin a relationship.
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  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Darkseid (with help from Granny Goodness) rewrites Superman's memories. The rewrite keeps his original origin of being sent away from Krypton before it exploded intact, but instead of landing on Earth, Baby Kal-El lands on Apokolips, where he is raised by Granny Goodness (standing in for Ma Kent) and Darkseid (standing in for Pa Kent), and grows up a loyal follower of Darkseid's regime.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: After delivering a punch to Darkseid, Superman claims And This Is for... regarding Dan Turpin. Darkseid has no idea who he's talking about, but states, "Had I known that one human's death would pain you so, I would have killed more."
  • Cat Up a Tree: After Darkseid brainwashes Superman into attacking Earth, Supes end up being captured by the military and held prisoner in a facility built by Lex Luthor. When Superman asks for a chance to prove himself, a General sarcastically asks if he intends to do it by rescuing a cat from a tree.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Superman has little trouble working his way through Parademons, Granny Goodness, the Furies, and Kalibak. Darkseid, on the other hand...
  • Dirty Coward: In Part 2, the forces of Apokolips meet Superman head on, except for Granny Goodness. She panics, pleads, and tries to pull a sneak attack.
  • Easily Forgiven: Downplayed; Lois, Supergirl, and Jimmy are willing to forget everything Superman did while brainwashed, but not many others are. It took almost two years for the whole world to accept the truth about what really happened and forgive him. When it was brought up for the first time in Justice League, Batman being Batman, never believed from the very beginning that Superman actually turned against the people.
  • El Cid Ploy: Kara uses the Superman Robots to make the people of Metropolis believe Superman is still around.
  • Enemy Without: During a nightmare, the brainwashed Superman is attacked and finds he's fighting himself.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Darkseid believes Superman having to return Earth as a pariah is far worse than death, and he's willing to grant him a quick death to spare him of all that.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Superman has been brainwashed into believing he is Darkseid's son and Apokolips' greatest champion. After returning from conquering a planet:
    Lashina: [hugging Kal] This calls for a celebration! [Kal looks at his "father" nervously]
    Darkseid: Go on, savor the fruits of your victory, Kal. You've earned it. [The Female Furies drag Kal offscreen, while Kalibak growls and clenches his fist in jealousy]
    • This is compounded when Lashina refers to Superman as "lover" and "boy-toy" during a later encounter after Superman has escaped the brainwash.
      • And it actually becomes even more obvious later on when we see Superman in his underclothes having a conversation with a partially-dressed Lashina, while sitting on a bed.
      • Which, considering that Superman was mind-controlled at the time, he could not and would not have consented, and Lashina knows this, means that Superman was raped on a children's show.
  • Karma Houdini: Due to the series being Cut Short, it ended with Lex Luthor never significantly punished for any of his schemes, along all his suspicions of Superman seemingly publicly vindicated. What's more, while Supes does give Darkseid a pretty brutal beating, in the end, he is still the ultimate ruler of Apokolips, his legions of subjects as devoted to him as ever.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: While obviously important, not even the creators were thinking about the future implications these episodes would have, when they factored into the Cadmus Myth Arc on Justice League Unlimited, eight years later.
  • Montage: News clips of various people discussing Superman appear toward the end of the episode.
  • Morality Chain: When the slaves take Darkseid away, Superman isn't content to leave it at that, but he's suddenly grabbed on the shoulder.
    Supergirl: Don't, Clark.
    Superman: Kara?
    Supergirl: You fight by Darkseid's rules, you're gonna kill somebody, and it won't be him. Let it go. Let's go home.
  • Mythology Gag: Superman's armor and fake backstory as Darkseid's adopted son are almost the same as in the Elseworld story "Superman: The Dark Side."
  • Never My Fault: Emil Hamilton justifies siding with Cadmus in Justice League by blaming Superman for threatening his life in this episode. The reason Superman threatened Hamilton in the first place is because Hamilton initially refused to help save a wounded Supergirl's life, not wanting to be charged with treason for helping superbeings (a state brought on by Superman being temporarily Brainwashed and Crazy), and was more concerned about saving his own ass than helping someone he'd previously called a friend.
  • Not So Stoic: Darkseid remains largely composed, until Superman gets in a few hits.
    "You dare strike me?!"
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Luthor fully recognizes that Superman isn't acting like himself, but he gladly uses the opportunity to try to kill his hated enemy. But instead, the fact that the whole world hates him gave him more leverage.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: When Superman begins his rampage on Apokolips, his face is covered in shadow and only his heat-vision powered eyes are visible, as they prepare to take out several parademons.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The final 10 minutes see Superman completely storming Apokolips and taking down all its defenses in retaliation after everything Darkseid has put him through in the past several episodes.
  • Sitting on the Roof: Superman stands on the roof listening to all the horrible things that people are saying about him after his Brainwashed and Crazy rampage. Goes without saying that it sucks to have super hearing. Luckily, Lois turns up to comfort him.
  • Title Drop: Done courtesy of Darkseid.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: After rescuing an unconscious Kara from her military cell, Superman takes her to Professor Hamilton in the S.T.A.R. Labs. The next we see of her, she's naked on an examination table while Hamilton and the others check on her condition, with only Scenery Censor preserving her modesty.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • The darkest version of this trope imaginable. Darkseid is about as evil as you can get and treats his slaves horribly. Yet even after Superman beats him and throws him down to the slaves' mercy, they pick him up to treat him. Why?
      Darkseid: I am many things Kal-El, but here I am god.
    • Jimmy Olsen. His loyalty to Superman never wavers, not even after Darkseid's brainwashing him has made him a pariah to most of the planet. Although (understandably) reluctant to approach the Brainwashed and Crazy Superman, when the hero returned to normal, Jimmy was one of his only friends. When asked for his opinion by a news crew, he vehemently retorts, "Superman's saved the world a million times. We owe him another chance!"
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Lashina appears to have started a relationship with the brainwashed Superman, saying that him being rewarded by Darkseid calls for a "celebration" and the two are later seen partly dressed together in Kal's bedroom. She later asks Superman for a kiss once he's returned to normal while still calling him pet names like "lover."
  • Wham Shot: the episode opens with an Alien Invasion, the forces of Apokolips against an unnamed planet. The leader of the invaders takes his helmet off... and it's Superman.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Darkseid brainwashes Superman and turns him against humanity. If Superman wins, then Darkseid can claim Earth without having technically broken his treaty with New Genesis, since it was Earth's own hero that conquered it. If Superman is defeated, then one of Darkseid's enemies is destroyed and Earth is laid to ruin in the conflict, which means he'll just find another way to conquer Earth without anyone as powerful as Superman in his way and without breaking the treaty. If (as actually happens) Superman eventually breaks free of the brainwashing, and comes to him, it won't matter if Darkseid kills him or not (the former being Superman's only escape from it all); he's still led an army against Earth under his own banner, greatly compromising their faith in him as a defender, but he gets deprived of that victory by the time Justice League occurs.


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