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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.
  • A Friend in Need: Jimmy proves his status as Superman's friend by defending the disgraced hero on public television, standing alone against every other person interviewed to insist he get a second chance.
  • And This Is for...: When Superman goes to settle with Darkseid after breaking free of his mindwashing, he does this.
    Superman: [punch] That's for Dan Turpin.
    Darkseid: ...Who?
    Superman: The good man you murdered!
    Darkseid: Had I known one human's death would pain you so, I would have killed more.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: To an extent.
    • Darkseid (the primary Big Bad) brainwashes Superman into thinking that he's HIS adopted son and turn him into a pariah. The worst part is that even after getting his ass handed to him, his slaves come to support him.
    • Lex Luthor (Superman's Arch-Enemy) got pretty much everything he could ever achieve from Darkseid's handiwork. He was finally given the chance to kill Superman and came close to it, but Superman living as a pariah works out well for him. The whole ordeal strengthened Lex's opinion about the Man of Steel, most of the people now have his back more than ever, 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.
  • 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 ruined (revealed later in Justice League Unlimited), and it's clear that he'll be dealing with the fallout of the brainwashing for years. Possibly even the rest of his life. However, he still has Jimmy to defend him, and he and Lois finally kiss and begin a relationship.
  • 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.
  • Brought Down to Normal: After being knocked out by the Kryptonite missile, Superman wakes up in a cell lit by red-sun lamps. Being kept within the confines of the base, away from natural sunlight, Superman becomes no stronger than a regular human being, allowing soldiers to restrain him with little to no difficulty. He is able to exploit this situation, as right before his execution, lethal injection by liquid Kryptonite, he sucker punches Luthor, who allows him one last moment of joy before death.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: After delivering a punch to Darkseid, Superman claims And This Is for... regarding Dan Turpin. Darkseid, despite having only killed two people (one of whom he was acquainted with by name), has no idea who he's talking about. Despite that, he 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...
  • Did They or Didn't They?: It's very heavily implied that after helping conquer a planet for Darkseid at the beginning of the two-parter, Superman and the Female Furies head off to enjoy some Victory Sex. While it's obviously never made explicit due to the series' rating, the fact that Lashina refers to him as "boy toy" during their climatic fight leaves little to the imagination.
  • 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.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Legacy" referring both to one's progeny, which Darkseid brainwashes Superman to believing he is, and one's reputation, which is now ruined thanks to Superman's attack on Earth.
  • 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. Problem is, if Superman dies, he’d forever be remembered as a pariah.
  • Karma Houdini: Due to the series being Cut Short, it ended with Lex Luthor never significantly punished for any of his schemes (except for a serious punch in the face), along with 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.
  • Kiss Diss: When Superman is confronted by the Furies on Apokolips, Lashina mockingly welcomes Superman back, calling him "lover" and asking him for a kiss while puckering up and leaning in for one. Superman just tells her to get out of his way and flies past her, to her annoyance.
  • 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.
  • Ironic Echo: Darkseid warned Superman, when they first met, that if the Man of Steel refuses to be his knight, then he would be made his pawn. That's exactly what happened here.
  • Last Request: Superman is depowered, captured by the military, and about to be executed. He asks Lex Luthor for a last request. Luthor leans forward and asks what it is, and Superman punches him in the face.
  • Mama Bear: Lois stops Superman (who was brainwashed at the time) from murdering Supergirl, (a teenager), even though she's not her kid, and keeps her protected while Superman fights off the military.
  • Montage: News clips of various people discussing Superman's betrayal 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, or saving a heroine who had risked her life to protect Earth from her brainwashed cousin.
  • 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.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Superman beats Darkseid, but it's not enough to undo the damage to his reputation thanks to his Brainwashed and Crazy rampage on Earth.
  • Recycled Animation:
    • Footage from the scene in "My Girl", in which Mr. Eelan blows a vat of hot lead off its support, is reused in Part I when Superman blasts his way through the palace wall of the invaded aliens, and again in Part II when Granny Goodness' rod blows up.
    • Footage from "Where There's Smoke" when Volcana blasted Superman with a fire ball in the parking lot is reused several time throughout this finale. In Part I, when the Parademons are blasting the aliens in the beginning (there's a full screen frame of a fire cloud), during Superman's dream when he is blasted by Superman's "real" version, then when Supergirl blows up Lex Luthor's control, and finally when the military start bombarding Apokolips's invasion front. In Part II: during Superman's nightmare; when Lois Lane shoots Superman's ankle-cuffs; the various times when the military opens fire at Superman, Lois, and Supergirl; and finally three more times during the final showdown.
  • 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.
  • Regime Change: Superman attempts to bring regime change to Apokolips after he defeats Darkseid. However, the people of Apokolips themselves defy this trope by expressing deep concern for their defeated leader and carrying him back to his palace. Superman is dumbfounded.
  • 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.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: When the Furies confront Superman when he returns to Apokolips, Lashina, who was implied to be in a relationship with the brainwashed Superman, mockingly welcomes him back while calling him "lover" and asks for a kiss, puckering up and leaning in for one until Superman tells her to get out of his way.
  • They Would Cut You Up: When Hardcastle and Luthor go into Superman's cell to carry out the execution, via lethal injection using liquid kryptonite, Luthor gloats that once he and Supergirl are executed, LexCorp will make a fortune from whatever information can be gathered through their dissections.
  • Title Drop: Done courtesy of Darkseid.
  • Too Powerful to Live: After tribunal, lead by General Hardcastle, declares that Superman is lying when he said he was brainwashed by Darkseid into attacking earth, and after a failed escape attempt, a consensus is reached: that it's too risky to even keep Superman locked up, so he'll be executed via lethal injection, with a liquid kryptonite syringe Luthor developed, with Supergirl being next.
  • 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, puckering up and leaning in for one, 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.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Downplayed, but Clark's biggest handicap going into the climax on Apokolips is that he just spent the last few days being held prisoner and exposed to artificial red sunlight by Hardcastle. So, despite exposure to normal solar radiation after escaping, Clark's power reserves are still not back at 100% yet. This doesn't pose too much of a problem at first when going up against the comparatively weaker Parademons, Granny, the Female Furies, or Kalibak. By the time he gets to Darkseid, however, reality ensues (and it's another factor in Darkseid kicking his ass so thoroughly).
  • 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.


Video Example(s):


Darkseid's Son, Kal-El

Granny Goodness brainwashes Superman into believing he crash-landed on Apocalypse instead of Earth and was raised by wise and benevolent Darkseid.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / ReforgedIntoAMinion

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