Follow TV Tropes


Series / Stargirl (2020)
aka: Stargirl

Go To
"The Justice Society must live on. Its legacy must survive. Someone with honor and strength must carry the torch."
Sylvester Pemberton / Starman

DC's Stargirl, or simply Stargirl, is a superhero teen drama, based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Geoff Johns, who co-created Stargirl, also created the show and serves as an executive producer. It premiered on May 18, 2020.

Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger), a high school sophomore, moves from Los Angeles to the town of Blue Valley, alongside her mother, Barbara (Amy Smart), stepfather, Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson), and stepbrother, Mike (Trae Romano). Her life takes an unexpected turn when she discovers a powerful staff of cosmic power and learns Pat used to be the sidekick of famed superhero Starman (Joel McHale). With the staff now in her possession, Courtney decides to inherit Starman's legacy as Stargirl and inspire a new generation of heroes. Joined by her new friends from school: outcast Yolanda Montez (Yvette Monreal) as Wildcat, nerd Beth Chapel (Anjelika Washington) as Doctor Mid-Nite, and delinquent Rick Tyler (Cameron Gellman) as Hourman, she reestablishes the Justice Society of America, a superhero group that Pat and Starman were members of.

The first season has the group battling the Injustice Society of America, the one responsible for the destruction of the first JSA ten years ago. The ISA includes Jordan Mahkent aka Icicle (Neil Jackson) and Henry King aka Brainwave (Christopher James Baker), both of whom have children who attend Blue Valley High: Cameron Mahkent (Hunter Sansone) and Henry King Jr. (Jake Austin Walker). In the second season, the JSA find new allies in Jakeem Williams (Alkoya Brunson), Mike's friend, as well as former ISA members Lawrence Crock/Sportsmaster (Neil Hopkins) and Paula Brooks/Tigress (Joy Osmanski), as they face off against a newly-reformed ISA, led by Cindy Burman (Meg DeLacy), the school's most popular student and daughter of the villainous Dragon King, who teams up with the demonic creature Eclipso (Nick Tarabay).

Originally announced in 2018 to be streaming exclusively on the DC Universe platform, it was later revealed that Stargirl would also be broadcast on The CW the day after each new episode drops. The first two episodes had some scenes removed to allow commercials to be broadcast, but according to Johns, the show would be "almost identical" in both platforms starting from the third episode onward. In July of 2020, it was announced that the show has a permanent residency on The CW from Season 2 onward.note 

The show's cast made their debut in the final part of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which placed it in the Arrowverse's Earth-2. It is otherwise distinct from that franchise, although John Wesley Shipp crossed over in the second season of Stargirl, reprising his role of Jay Garrick.

The series ran for three seasons, though according to Bassinger, Geoff Johns had enough plans for at least five seasons of the show. However, on October 31, 2022, it was announced that the third season was also the last one; with the series finale airing on December 7.

Official trailer.

Not to be confused with the 2000 middle grade novel Stargirl, nor its (coincidentally timed and similarly distributed) 2020 film adaptation on Disney+.

Stargirl contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Possibly related to the initial plans for five seasons, Season 3 has Artemis seemingly starting down a supervillain or at least rather dark road by mercilessly burning Icicle to death in revenge for him killing her parents. However the Distant Finale has her as a hero and member of the JSA, suggesting she she never did go bad (or at least that her doing so was temporary).
  • Abusive Parents: Bad parents/guardians are quite common in this show, whether biological, fosters, or adoptive. Examples include Yolanda’s mother and Rick’s uncle. Villains like Brainwave and the Dragon King also qualify, to a greater extent.
  • Accidental Murder: Cindy Burman killed her mother during a tantrum when she was young and still learning to control the modifications done to her body by her father. It is one of the few crimes she truly regrets.
  • Actor Allusion: Meg DeLacy is cast as a teenage sociopath with no qualms about killing a classmate for pissing her off. The producers must have been impressed with her performance in "I Remember Her Now".
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Brainwave in the comics is a diminutive man with a bulbous bald head, while his incarnation here is much more normal-looking, if not particularly handsome, while still retaining his green-clad mad scientist look.
    • Joar Mahkent was a rather old man and had quite a gangly look to him, with very pointy features. Jordan Mahkent is middle-aged and quite handsome-looking. Even with the addition of having his son's usual physical mutation, he can turn it on-and-off to hide among normal people without any issue.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Downplayed as she was never a complete Jerkass originally, but after initially butting heads with Pat, Courtney warms up to him much more quickly in the show than she did in the comics, and is by and large a whole lot less hostile. For one thing, in the comics, she immediately planned to rat his superhero past out to her mom and was excited at the prospect of breaking them up, and only fails because her mom was giving her the Not Now, Kiddo treatment. Here, though she does lightly blackmail him with it, she promises to keep his secret and doesn't actively try to break them up because while she doesn't like him, she can tell he makes her mom happy.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Henry King Jr. was initially a superhero in the comics, but here is an obnoxious high school bully who starts following his father down the slippery slope to villainy.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance:
    • Courtney herself is this, being that she has her superhero origin before Rick Tyler, Beth Chapel and Yolanda Montez; by the time she was active in the comics, Beth and Yolanda had both already died, and only Rick survived long enough to be present for her debut. Similarly, she's debuting during a time where the Justice Society are MIA/KIA, and is directly responsible for its revival; in her comic, a point was made that they were already recently returned, and Courtney would join a later revival of them.
    • The Cosmic Staff and 'Stargirl' name are also debuting much earlier; originally she called herself Star-Spangled Kid and used the Cosmic Converter Belt of the original. However, 'Stargirl' and the Cosmic Staff are much more iconic and well-known and she spent most of her history using them, so it's pragmatic to skip over.
  • Adaptational Romance Downgrade: Cameron Makent and Artemis Crock are boyfriend and girlfriend in the comics, even having a child together at one point. They have no such relationship in this series where Cameron is paired with Courtney Whitmore.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The show is primarily adapting Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E, Courtney's original comic appearance, though it takes cues from her later experience with the Justice Society, as well as blending stories together.
    • Firstly, Sylvester Pemberton is now the previous owner of the Cosmic Staff, and this is the power-granting MacGuffin that enables Courtney's superheroing; originally it was his Cosmic Converter Belt she used, which granted her enhanced physical abilities. Sylvester's second identity is also given as Starman rather than Skyman, merging him with Jack Knight, and Courtney skips over going by 'Star-Spangled Kid' to instead call herself Stargirl from the beginning; this is still established as having been Sylvester's original identity, at least.
    • The Injustice Society, enemies of the Justice Society of America, are the villains secretly in control of Blue Valley instead of Dragon King; he's instead a member of theirs. The Injustice Society also take cues from their successors and legacies, with Icicle being a metahuman like his son Icicle Jr (and is depicted as a ruthless killer, where the original Icicle was notably a Thou Shalt Not Kill type, and takes on the role Johnny Sorrow had as the modern-day Injustice Society's leader), and Paula Brooks's Tigress dressing in her daughter Artemis Crock's Tigress costume.
    • Courtney's friend Mary is instead someone she was friends with before she moved to Blue Valley, ensuring that when Courtney gets there, she has no friends and becomes an immediate social pariah. Yolanda, Rick, and Beth instead are set up to become her friends at school, with Beth seemingly taking cues from Courtney's later friend Maxine Hunkel/Cyclone as the talkative girl with a Friendless Background.
    • The ISA and JSA are transplanted from the 40s to the 60s, to account for the age issues. The members would otherwise be 60+ years old.
    • The ISA's members' abilities and backgrounds change considerably. In the comics, the Gambler dressed like a riverboat gambler and was not a computer hacker, and Green Lantern rather than Dr. Mid-Nite was his nemesis; Icicle was not a businessman; Sportsmaster/Larry Crock never went straight; Artemic Crock took on the identity of her mother Tigress insteead of her father Sportsmaster; and so on.
    • Wildcat did not have any superpowers, from a costume or anything else. This was changed both to cash in on the popularity of Black Panther (who has a similar powerset), and to give him powers that could be transferred to Yolanda.
    • Starman/Sylvester Pemberton in any incarnation was not a member of the original JSA.
    • In the original JSA, Johnny Thunder's magic word to summon the Thunderbolt is (phoenetially) "So cool". In the comis book, it is "Cei-U" (pronounced "Say You), and didn't become "So cool" until the later incarnation.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Sportsmaster goes by Larry Crock rather than Lawrence. Downplayed compared to the others though, since Larry is just a common shortening of Lawrence.
    • Wizard goes by William Zarick rather than his Punny Name William Zard.
    • Icicle's first name is Jordan, rather than Joar.
    • Pat implies that some members of the Injustice Society are living under assumed names, presumably those such as Brainwave and Wizard whose identities were publicly known. Downplayed in that their real names are never actually mentioned, and it's unclear which ones are using aliases to begin withnote .
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: The members of the second Justice Society all attend Blue Valley High together; in the comics, they were from various places and didn't have connections to each other prior to joining the JSA. Justified, rather than being a Contrived Coincidence, since Courtney and Rick were both brought to Blue Valley by their parents (or step-father, for Courtney) during the latter's hunt for the ISA, while Yolanda and Beth were local recruits.
  • Adapted Out:
    • The original Justice Society is introduced with the classic Golden Age lineup. However, in the iconic "table" picture, the Atom and the Spectre (two of the JSA's founding members) are nowhere to be seen. A possible reason for Spectre's absence is that Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019) portrayed the Spectre as an ultra powerful being that can rival the Anti-Monitor, making the Injustice Society seem like common thugs to the hero if they were to face him. That being said, both are mentioned later on as being part of the JSA, implying that they probably joined later.
    • Possibly due to not wanting to overuse them since they have been main villains in the Arrowverse, Vandal Savage and The Thinker do not appear among the members of the Injustice Society.
      • Subverted with The Thinker in Season 2, where old ISA show he was once a member, and with a comic accurate design. The same goes for Per Degaton, who was mentioned.
    • Similarly while the children and successors of the Injustice Society are shown like Cameron Mahkent, Artemis Crock, Henry King Jr. etc. Rebecca Sharpe, the granddaughter of The Gambler is also absent in the series as she was a recurring character on Season 4 of The Flash (though she is mentioned in Season Three). Although it's unknown if it also applies to his grandson, Becky's brother, Steven Sharpe V.
    • Averted when we learn of the Seven Soldiers of Victory; rather than remove Green Arrow and Speedy due to the versions of Oliver Queen and Roy Harper from Arrow, the two are shown to have been part of that team like in the original comics. It likely helps that their present day status is unknown and that their existence in this continuity is only confirmed in photos and newspaper clippings.
  • Adults Are Useless: Courtney is punished for standing up for herself to a Jerk Jock and accidentally knocking over a lunch lady, but the principal turns a blind eye to that same Jerk Jock calling another student a "slut" and trying to get his hands on Courtney's phone, and only gives a token warning to a girl who calls Courtney a bitch. It's later revealed that the principal is part of the Injustice Society, and was probably covering for the families of her teammmates, as the Jerk Jock and girl are Brainwave's son and Dragon King's daughter, respectively.
    • Subverted with Pat; Courtney repeatedly ignores him but without him showing up, she'd have gotten killed multiple times. However, it's equally clear that without Courtney, Pat wouldn't be able to do a damn thing to stop the ISA.
  • Adventure-Friendly World: Stargirl is set on the Arrowverse's Earth-2, and unlike Earth-Prime, it does not try to be Like Reality, Unless Noted. While the show is set ten years after the disappearance/death of the Justice Society of America, it's also confirmed that the world also was home to the Seven Soldiers of Victory (which means Shining Knight, Vigilante, Green Arrow and Speedy, among others), Red Bee (and likely by association, the All-Star Squadron), and even other heroes like Merri of 1000 Gimmicks. It's not Secret History either; while she wasn't very familiar with them Courtney had at least heard of the JSA before learning of Pat's connection with them. Science Fiction, Magic, and anything in-between are abundant, and though there's some semblance of modern reality (such as being set in 2020 and having modern-day video game consoles), there's a lot of Retro Universe tropes in play too.
  • Advertising by Association: The official trailer prominently notes it's from the producers of The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl and Batwoman.
  • Affirmative-Action Legacy:
    • Courtney inherits the Starman mantle, becoming Stargirl.
    • Yolanda Montez and Beth Chapel are also this to the original Wildcat and Dr. Mid-nite. On top of being girls, both are women of color who're taking up the mantles of Caucasian men.
    • Anaya Bowin is this to the original Fiddler, who was said to be a white man of Irish descent; he's not yet named, though she named her son Isaac Bowin (the Fiddler's real name in the comics).
  • Age Lift:
    • Icicle had grown old and passed away by the time Courtney even debuted, but here is about her parents' age.
    • Rick Tyler is typically a few years older than Courtney, being a young adult while she's in her teens. Downplayed as he wasn't that much older than she when she was introduced (he was roughly college-aged, though because of Comic-Book Time, while he seemed to age into his early 20s, she remained 16), and Rick's exact age hasn't ever been stated.
    • In the same vein, Yolanda Montez and Beth Chapel are also reimagined as Courtney's classmates, though they're both adults in the comics.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: A new wave of superheroes rises to battle the fiendish villains who murdered most of their predecessors in... a fictional small town in Nebraska.
  • All Therapists Are Muggles: Yolanda desperately needs someone to help her get her head on straight about how having killed Brainwave in self-defense was the right thing to do given the circumstances. She tries going to confession, but quite understandably can't tell the priest about how she killed someone in a superhero vs. supervillain fight!
  • Almighty Janitor: A literal example. Blue Valley High's janitor is Sir Justin, the Shining Knight.
  • Alternate Continuity: Despite footage being used in Crisis on Infinite Earths, it's unrelated to any other DC show like the Arrowverse outside of being an Alternate Universe.
  • Ambiguous Situation: As stated above, Stargirl is set on Earth-2, which, as Arrowverse fans know, was destroyed in the first episode of the final season of Arrow. As Stargirl is set in Nebraska, it's unknown whether the Earth-2 that exists now is the same Earth-2 that we're familiar with, or a result of the Cosmic Retcon at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019). Jay Garrick's appearance in Season 2 suggests the latter, as it was implied that pre-Crisis, he didn't exist on Earth-2.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The flashbacks in Season 2 regarding Rebecca McNider and Bruce Gordon. The clothing and furniture seen make it look like they are set in the 50s, but the title cards only state it was "decades ago".
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: “A monster in a diamond? How is any of this even possible?” Says Jenny, the girl who was exposed to a green lantern that gave her the ability to shoot energy beams and fly.
  • The Artifact: Starman's original superhero name was The Star-Spangled Kid, which unfortunately left Pat with the now nonsensical Stripesy when he changed it.
  • Artifact Title: The subtitle of the second season, Summer School, becomes this when Courtney and Yolanda attending summer school becomes irrelevant after Eclipso is freed.
  • Badass Adorable: Courtney is a teenage girl who becomes a mighty superhero.
  • Big Bad:
    • Season 1: Icicle and the Injustice Society (consisting of Brainwave, The Gambler, Sportsmaster, Tigress, Dragon King, Solomon Grundy, The Wizard, and The Fiddler II).
    • Season 2: Eclipso, a demon accidentally released by Cindy in a failed gambit to start her own "Injustice Umlimited" team.
    • Season 3: The formula is switched up with a Hidden Villain, ultimately revealed to be a Big Bad Duumvirate between the Ultra-Humanite and a Not Quite Dead Icicle — and later on in fact revealed to be a triumvirate with another Not Quite Dead villain from season 1, Dragon King.
  • Boom Stick: The cosmic staff can shoot energy blasts.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: Courtney puts her gymnastics training to use as Stargirl. Inverted in that she was already trained in gymnastics before being chosen by the staff.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: The ISA's plan turns out to involve this. People will be brainwashed to create a better America without homophobia and racism, which fights climate change.
  • Captain Patriotic: The iconography of Starman/Stargirl evokes the American flag. Cindy refers to her as a "Star-Spangled Bitch" as a result.
  • Central Theme:
    • Season 1: Legacy. Specifically, the primary conflict is between a group of adults trying to leave behind a good legacy for those who come after them (by any means necessary) and a group of teenagers trying to live up to the heroic legacy of those who came before them.
  • Character Title:
    • In addition to the series being named after the primary protagonist, all of the episodes of the first season with the exception of the pilot are named after the character they focus on.
    • Averted in season 2, where each episode name is "Summer School: Chapter -" in numeric order.
  • Clark Kenting: Any heroes who don't wear masks in the comics still don't wear masks, but people still don't typically recognize them outside of costume. This is justified by Pat early on, however, by the fact that heroes wore such brightly colored and often kinda ridiculous costumes that people were too busy looking at what they were wearing to remember their face, and even the few photographs that exist of them are often unclear or blurry. Ironically, the one person who has the most difficulty not being recognized is Courtney, who actually does wear a mask, though even there it's justified by other variables.note 
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: The source material (well, first appearance of the character) was in a Justice Society of America title by DC Comics in 1999, but the current print version is a re-telling of the show, hewing closer to the canon of this show than the original comic book although it is not a 1:1 adaptation and ambiguous if it fits in series canon or not. It's also notable as being the first standalone title for Stargirl, since she has always been part of a team in various DC Comics continuities and although a major character, not always The Protagonist.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: As the show is set in a Adventure-Friendly World completely filled with superheroes, it's strongly averted. Courtney goes by Stargirl, the man she believes was her father is Starman, his sidekick/her stepdad was Stripesy and now goes by S.T.R.I.P.E., all of the Justice Society of America are referred to by their codenames and so are their legacies, and the Injustice Society are as well. This is fairly justified not just in the fact it's repeatedly stated there are many other heroes out there, but also because the show is focused on Legacy Character heroes, so they need to use the names to establish what it is they're following on fromnote . Meanwhile, most of the Injustice Society's real names are unknown to the heroes, so they only have their codenames to go one.
  • Company Town: The American Dream Company is Blue Valley's major source of stability and income. The company is initially run by a super villain with sinister Well-Intentioned Extremist goals, but after his death, the company sticks around under equally well-intentioned but far less extreme management.
  • Composite Character:
    • As a Composite Team example, the new Justice Society of America pulls members from both the late 90s JSA (Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E.) and the 80s series Infinity, Inc. (Wildcat II, Doctor Mid-Nite II). Hourman II was on both teams.
    • Sylvester Pemberton, Courtney's alleged father and the second Starman, was known as Star-Spangled Kid, then Skyman, and never used the Starman identity in the comics. He takes these from Jack Knight, Ted Knight's younger son, the second Starman of the Justice Society and wielder the Cosmic Staff before Courtney.note .
      • Additionally, the Cosmic Staff itself is composited with the Cosmic Converter Belt, the original tool of Sylvester Pemberton that Courtney found and began using. Like the Belt initially, the Staff is tricky and prone to misuse; uniquely, it's also now an Empathic Weapon, meaning it often acts out and embarrasses Courtney, something neither the original staff or the belt did.
    • Similar to the Cosmic Staff and Cosmic Converter Belt, Hourman's Hourglass has been composited with Miraclo; in the comics Rick and Rex used Miraclo to gain powers for an hour a day, while Rick's hourglass granted him precognitive visions. Here, the Hourglass is what grants the hour of power.
    • Icicle is a metahuman like Icicle Jr. from the comics rather than using a freezing gun.
    • Paula Brooks' Tigress costume is the same one that the Artemis Crock version uses, while originally her costume is more cat-like, almost resembling the Golden Age Cheetah.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In the first seven episodes, every time Courtney and/or her friends run up against the ISA, she gets her ass kicked. Brainwave tosses her around, Sportsmaster and Tigress practically dance around her and the JSA recruits, and Shiv utterly demolishes her in their fight. Of course, Courtney knows karate and gymnastics and is armed with an Empathic Weapon, but she's still also only been doing this for, in her own words, "like, a week", and the ISA have been active longer than she was even alive. As they collectively killed the JSA, it's not surprising they'd easily overpower an inexperienced young girl.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: In contrast to the other ISA members' kids, Cindy Burman is well aware of her father's true nature and is desperate to join him.
  • Death by Adaptation: The premise of the series is the original JSA are all killed, including several characters who survived to present day in the comics. This is Played With though as there has been one or two occasions where the JSA did suffer a Total Party Kill (most notably, the time they all sacrificed themselves to prevent Ragnarok), but these were a quick Comic Book Death that was quickly undone, and only a handful of the team have ever remained in a way that was intended to be permanent. Notably, Ted Grant, Alan Scott, and Jay Garrick are among the ones explicitly killed in the show, even when they've been consistently among the "living" JSA. Conversely, there's some exception to this; see Spared by the Adaptation.
  • Disappeared Dad: Courtney's father has been gone for years. While she has a very romantic notion of him, her mother reminds Courtney he rarely visited even before disappearing. On discovering Starman's staff, Courtney starts to think he might have been her father, citing their similar appearances and the fact they disappeared/died on the same day. Pat is skeptical because he knew Starman personally and Courtney's father went by a different name. Despite her mother insisting her father was no hero when she asks about it, Courtney is convinced he was Starman and introduces herself as his daughter to her opponents and teammates. It's later confirmed that Sam Kurtis, her actual father, is indeed alive and a different individual entirely, meaning Courtney was wrong when she assumed "Sam Kurtis" was simply an alias of Starman's. He then briefly reappears, disappointing her deeply, and disappears again.
  • Downer Beginning: Most of the JSA is wiped out in the pilot's opening. Hourman is stated to have been killed offscreen eight years later.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Stargirl makes her debut in the final scenes of the last episode of the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event ahead of the series' official debut. That scene also establishes that the show takes place in Earth-2 of The Multiverse.
  • Empathic Weapon: Pat tells Courtney that the staff is "extremely temperamental" and seemingly sentient. It has a tendency to 'argue' with Courtney and doesn't always do what she wants.
  • Epic Fail: The Gambler, who is a Badass Normal, attempts to charge directly at Starman during the latter's Big Damn Heroes entrance despite seeing the hero blasting away the Wizard. He gets sent flying away when Starman smacks him with the Cosmic Staff.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: If there's one thing to be said about the murderous supervillains in the Injustice Society, it's that they don't discriminate based on race or ethnic background, considering their combined Caucasian, East Asian, and South Asian members.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: With the exception of Brainwave, all the members of the Injustice Society that have children seem to genuinely love them. Steven Sharpe has no children that is stated, but he does have a cat that he seems to love very much.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Wildcat's Wikipedia page in Episode 4 can be read in its entirety, revealing the in-universe history of the character.
    • Dr. Mid-nite's goggles add plenty of split-second humorous asides when scanning Courtney's room, such as tagging a photo of a mall Santa as Santa Claus (impersonator) .
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Lampshaded, discussed, and justified. When they move to Blue Valley, Mike is blown away by how big the house is... which is a pretty standard-sized house for a TV family to live in, but quite fancy for a regular working class household like the Dugan-Whitmores. Apparently, Blue Valley just has really low house-costs compared to bigger cities thanks to its small-town status, as a deliberate part of the Injustice Society's New America/The American Dream foundation and their 'revitalisation' of the town.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Joey Zarrick, son of the Wizard, is shown doing a magic trick in front of his classmates.
    • Larry "Crusher" Crock, the civilian identity of Sportsmaster, owns a gym.
    • In "Wildcat", shortly after we hear a mischevious chuckle come from Johnny Thunder's pen, Mike mentions he has a friend named Jakeem.
  • Genre Shift: Eclipso is practically a walking one. Every time he's in play, the mood takes a turn from superhero/action to supernatural horror.
  • Hour of Power: Rick's Hourman abilities.
  • Humongous Mecha: Pat's S.T.R.I.P.E. mecha is two stories tall.
  • I Am Not Your Father: Revealed in episode 11, Starman was not Courtney's father. Her father was just a guy named Sam who only came back to get the locket with his photo in it that Courtney always wears so he could sell it.
  • Improbable Food Budget: It seems unlikely that Rick, an unemployed high school student being raised by a poor, neglectful uncle, could afford the massive quantities of fast food we see him feeding to Solomon Grundy in season 2.
  • Improv Fu: Most of Courtney's fights incorporate a bit of this, as while she does know kickboxing and karate and is a very skilled gymnast, most of the people she's fighting massively outclass her; as a result, most of the time you'll see Courtney being tugged out of harm's way by the staff, or tossed around to help her land a kick, or just in general seeing the Staff doing a lot of the work. When Tigress attacks their home, this works to Barbara's advantage too, as the staff quickly moves to protect her too.
  • It's Always Spring: While exact timelines are a bit vague, 1x05 is confirmed to take place on Halloween, and 1x12 is confirmed to still be in November. Despite this, and despite taking place in Nebraska, the outside always seems to contain lush, green foliage.note 
    • The epilogue to the Season 1 finale is set at Christmas and the landscape is finally covered with several inches of snow. However, this doesn't stop Courtney from flying around in her belly tee and shorts costume and sitting on top of a large, metal water tower.
    • Season 2 is explicitly set the following summer, as the theme is "Summer School." Ironically, the trees and the way people are dressed are indicative of colder weather (as the season was filmed between October and March), but this is actually explained In-Universe by the presence of Eclipso.
  • Jerk Jock:
    • Henry King Jr and his friends are obnoxious bullies who harass both Courtney and Yolanda, as well as anyone else who bothers them.
    • Larry Crock is an adult subversion; as Sportsmaster, he should be this trope taken to supervillain proportions, but in his civilian guise he's actually quick to befriend Pat and tries to welcome him into town. His Jerk side mostly comes off as him being overly enthusiastic and oblivious to how obnoxious this makes him seem to others, even though he clearly means well in his efforts to help Pat be his better self.
    • Larry's daughter Artemis fits the bill tenfold. She's an aggressive athlete who tackles boys twice her size and laughs about it. She punches a teammate to the ground with one hit for insulting her.
  • Jock Dad, Nerd Son: Inverted with Henry King Sr./Brainwave and Henry King Jr.; the former is a respected neurosurgeon in Blue Valley while the latter is a Jerk Jock.
  • Kid Hero: Courtney is 15 years old when she starts her superhero origin.
  • Lamarck Was Right: Double Subverted. Brainwave clearly hoped that his son would inherit his abilities, and is frequently testing him, but Henry Jr has no apparent powers. After Brainwave is hospitalized he starts developing powers.
  • Leaking Can of Evil: The Black Diamond. This artefact is supposed to be a prison for Eclipso, but who ever gets hold of it can use his evil powers. Even being near it once is enough for Eclipso to plant seeds of corruption in someone.
  • Legacy Character: Courtney takes up the mantle of Stargirl from a previous hero named Starman. In addition, the original Wildcat, Hourman, and Dr. Mid-nite all have these in Yolanda Montez, Rick Tyler and Beth Chapel.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: The Cosmic Staff chooses Courtney Whitmore to be its next wielder.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Cindy Burman, Alpha Bitch of Blue Valley High, is the daughter of the reptilian supervillain Dragon King.
  • Mind over Matter: Brainwave is capable of stopping things like cars with just his mind.
  • Mind Rape: Brainwave can use his telepathy to cause intense pain to people, and if he tries hard enough he can cause a stroke or other serious brain trauma.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Sportsmaster and Tigress murder any football coach that dares to penalize their daughter Artemis. Icicle calls them out on their unnecessarily high body count.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In the comics, Isaac Bowin/Fiddler gained his abilities after being imprisoned in India and studying under a fakir who taught him the mystic art of Indian music. Here, his successor Anaya Bowin is Indian-American.
    • In the pilot, the moving company the truck belongs to is "Action Movers", a reference to Action Comics. It even shares the same logo design.
    • Like Smallville, Sylvester Pemberton takes on Starman/Jack Knight's role as a Justice Society member and wielder of the cosmic staff.
    • Paula Brooks/Tigress is played by an actress of East Asian descent, while her daughter Artemis is shown to be biracial. Tigress and Artemis were given a similar Race Lift previously in Young Justice (2010).
    • In the second episode, Pat mentions the Cosmic Staff was built by Ted Knight, the original Starman in the comics.
    • Pat's old address was "1941 Siegel Way," a nod to his creator, Jerry Siegel, as well as the year the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripsey debuted in the comics.
      • 1941 is also the entry code to Empire Enterprises in Episode 6.
    • In Episode 5, the A.I. in Doctor Mid-Nite's goggles mentions a dead superhero called the Red Bee, one of DC's more obscure Golden Age characters.
      • Additionally, the Red Bee's year of death is listed as 1956, the year the character's publisher, Quality Comics, was acquired by DC.
    • The way Hourman's powers come from a special hourglass instead of a pill is taken from Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
    • Artemis Crock is shown dressed as Robin Hood for Halloween, referencing her role as Green Arrow's protege on Young Justice (2010).
    • Movies advertised at the Dallas have included The Liberty Files (a JSA Elseworld), Strange Adventures (one of DC's fifties sci-fi comics), Unknown Soldier, Prez, GI Robot and The Haunted Tank.
    • In "Shiv Part 1", the Blue Valley Prarie Dogs are playing the Civic City Atoms. Civic City was the location of the JSA's original headquarters, and the team name is probably a reference to Al Pratt, the Golden Age Atom, an original JSA member who hasn't been directly referenced thus far.
    • Matt Harris is a Canon Foreigner, but his name comes from "Matthew", the identity taken by the DC One Million Hourman android in his own book.
    • Yolanda mistakenly refers to the Shining Knight as the Silent Knight, another DC Arthurian hero.
    • In episode 13, Mike Dugan hijacks a car and runs over Icicle. In his first appearance in Infinity, Inc. #11, Mike hijacks a car to help his dad beat a stereotypical gang of robbers.
    • In the Season 2 premiere, the Eclipso entity poses as a child named Bruce in order to tempt a young girl in a flashback. In the comics, Eclipso's most famous host is a man named Bruce Gordon. Three episodes later, it's revealed that an explorer named Bruce Gordon was the one who discovered the diamond that held Eclipso.
    • The orphanage Jade grew up in was called the Ordway Home for Children, a nod to her co-creator, Jerry Ordway.
    • The used bookstore where Courtney encounters the Shade in "Summer School: Chapter 4" is called the House of Secrets, which is the name of the supernatural comic book anthology series where Eclipso first appeared in 1963.
    • In the second season finale, Beth's mom suggests a new costume with a black and yellow color scheme. Those were the colors of Beth's costume in the original Infinity Inc. comics.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Whenever Pat shows the photo of the members of the Seven Soldiers of Victory team, people point out that the photo shows eight members.
  • No Social Skills:
    • Larry Crock is very quick to try and befriend Pat, but also basically forces him to join his gym and accept him as a personal trainer, taking on far more responsibility than is needed, pushing Pat very hard from the get-go and even trying to control what Pat eats, and doesn't register that he's annoying. Pat outright comments that the man is insane. The fact he's a retired supervillain might explain his questionable personality. Later on, it's implied that he and Paula are supervillains in large part because they simply don't get how wrong their actions are.
    • Beth Chapel definitely has problems with socialization, though it seems she doesn't even realize it. She's a Motor Mouth, which overwhelms people and make them want to avoid her, which she doesn't seem to realize is their intention; she has no friends and considers her parents to be her best friends, being quite clingy to them to the point of video calling them during lunchtime so they can all have lunch together and even visiting them at work to eat with them there, which both annoys and worries them. She also seems to have no concept of privacy, as seen when she wanders Courtney's house and enters her bedroom without permission.
  • Omniscient Database: Dr. Mid-Nite's goggles know practically everything ever recorded via a connection to the JSA database.They are unable to identify the chemical formula in Hourman's journal, though that can be chalked up to Hourman writing it in a code that the goggles aren't privy to.
  • One-Steve Limit:
    • Henry King Sr and Henry King Jr.
    • Cindy Burman's Beta Bitch Jenny Williams (sister of Jakeem Thunder) and Green Lantern's daughter Jennifer-Lynn "Jennie" Hayden.
    • Original Wildcat Ted Grant and the Cosmic Staff's inventor Ted Knight.
    • The original Doctor Mid-Nite's daughter Rebecca McNider and the Gambler's daughter Rebecca.
    • Yolanda's mother Maria Montez and Maria the waitress at Richie Rock's Diner.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield:
    • Starman is adamant that the owner of the staff must have a strong sense of heroism and honor and be full of strength and grace. It chooses Courtney.
    • The same applies to a fair number of items in the JSA's arsenal. The hourglass only works for Rick because it is locked to his father's DNA, the Thunderbolt doesn't respond to Courtney (it's later revealed that it bonds with lonely people who need the genie as a friend), and for whatever reason the goggles decide to start working for Beth. Pat also immediately believes that Jennifer is Alan Scott's daughter when he sees her wielding the Green Lantern ring, claiming that Alan was previously the only person who could make it work.
  • Opponent Instruction: Injustice Society member Sportsmaster relishes a good fight. When sent out to kill Stargirl's stepfather, Pat Dugan, whom Sportsmaster had rather taken a liking to, the villain had no qualms about actually carrying out his mission, but he gave Pat a chance to fight back and even gave him pointers on how to properly throw a punch.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse:
    • Courtney is tiny (Brec Bassinger is 5'2), but her gymnastics and the Cosmic Staff let her fight off several much larger Jerk Jocks.
    • Played straight with Artemis Crock (played by 5'4" Stella Smith) who plays football. On the boys' team.
  • Posthumous Character: Starman is already dead when the series begins, seen only through flashbacks.
  • Power Glows: The staff glows bright orange.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • Courtney's character arc and origin is a bit more condensed, skipping over the Cosmic Converter Belt and Star-Spangled Kid identity to get straight to her as Stargirl with the Cosmic Staff. This is done primarily because she got the staff and name change rather quickly in her character history and has, for nearly two decades, been primarily known as Stargirl; it just makes things simpler to skip over what's basically Early-Installment Weirdness. Unlike past adaptations though, this stuff is still acknowledged as Sylvester Pemberton is still the inspiration of her legacy and his past as the Star-Spangled Kid is mentioned. Pat's status as Stripesy and being the older sidekick of a young hero is referenced.
    • Like with Smallville, Sylvester is the former Starman, not Jack Knight, and he doesn't appear to have gone by Skyman. This is because the rights to Jack Knight are tied with James Robinson, his creator. It should be noted that in DC continuity Jack was the only reason that Sylvester didn't go by Starman; he was offered the legacy and only took the Skyman name because he wanted to support Jack's right to be Starman. Additionally, his costume is shown to be a completely accurate remake of the Skyman costume, so despite the change it's still a more accurate depiction of him than in Smallville.
    • Hourman's Hour of Power comes from his hourglass; typically the Hourglass granted Rick future-sight while he used the Miraclo drug for his Hour of Power, but considering the iffy implications of the latter, merging the two makes a simpler and less troubling power source.
  • Protagonist Title: Stargirl is the series protagonist Courtney's superhero name.
  • Race Lift: The Paula Brooks version of Tigress was originally white but is played by Joy Osmanski, who is Korean-American. Likely because Paula is now better known from the animated Young Justice (2010), where she's of Vietnamese descent.
  • Redhead In Green: Brainwave has red hair and his supervillain costume is green.
  • Retro Universe: The show and setting has a distinct 80s feel, particularly with the style of cars largely being dated, as well as the look of the town, and even the design of S.T.R.I.P.E. resembling something from an 80s cartoon. However, the show also has social media, smart phones, modern game-consoles like the Nintendo Switch, and other modern-day cultural norms. It also has advanced robotics, sci-fi concepts, transforming cars, and other future-tech. As the show is explicitly set in the 2020'snote  on an alternate Earth in the DC Multiverse (specifically Earth-2), it's likely this is just how their world is. Part of this can also be attributed to the ISA itself, as their engineering of the town is intended to hearken back to a better time.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: When Brainwave and the Icicle first learn that the Cosmic Staff has been seen in action once again, they assume that this means that a new Starman is active; in reality, the Cosmic Staff has just chosen a new bearer who initially doesn't have specific plans to continue the legacy, but their attacks reinforce the necessity for the JSA to reform.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: Originally the Gambler was a Golden Age Green Lantern villain, but in the show he is the arch enemy of Dr. Mid-Nite. Icicle was originally a Golden Age Green Lantern villain, and was transferred over to the JSA in general and Starman in particular.
  • Sacrificial Lion: In-universe. Starman's supposed death serves to setup Courtney's plot.
  • Ship Sinking:
    • Though it was one-sided, Jordan was clearly attracted to Barbara and she was beginning to become a Morality Pet for him. Discovering that her daughter is Stargirl and that Barbara now knows who he is and what he's doing, he decides to give the go-ahead to Brainwave to kill her, Courtney and Pat, and also Mike, rationalizing that they need to prevent a possible legacy coming back for revenge. He still tries to offer her We Can Rule Together after this, but she rejects him and he tries to kill her. Mike accidentally runs over him not long thereafter.
    • Likewise, Courtney was beginning to crush hard on Cameron Mahkent, due to him being a Nice Guy who was interested in her and had been reasonably welcoming. This ends when Courtney realizes who his dad is, as it's possible he's aware of his father's identity and OK with it, meaning he's probably not a good choice for romantic attraction. However, by Season 2 she's pretty sure he was in fact Locked Out of the Loop and they start dating - but calls for JSA business frequently interfere.
    • It was never going to happen, but the Shade is quick to cut off any indication of a possible repeat of Jordan's one-sided interest in Barbara, as he instead sees her as a reminder of his late sister whom she resembles, and his interest in her is purely platonic.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In Episode 3, Pat explains that he used to be obsessed with Paperboy when he was a kid.
    • The design and abilities of the Wildcat suit, (particularly the glowing energy effects, shock-absorbing feet and retractable claws, which the costume doesn't have in the comics) were inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the Black Panther suit.
    • Yolanda mistakenly calls Jade the "Green Llama," the name of a public domain Golden Age hero.
    • When Rick fails to show up for class, the Summer school teacher quips "Bueller? Bueller?"
  • Slapstick: The Cosmic Staff is very pushy with Courtney, and has an amusing tendency to pull her around, knock her over, and generally embarrass her.
  • Slut-Shaming: Yolanda suffered mockery and widespread shaming when a nude selfie that she'd sent to her boyfriend is leaked, not only from other kids but also her parents, who are Catholic. She loses both him and many friends over it.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Though the series explicitly killed off the entire JSA in the backstory, as the show goes on it reveals some who survived, namely Dr. Charles McNider/Doctor Mid-Nite and Sylvester Pemberton/Starman, who ironically are two that didn't survive in the comics, and unlike many of the companions, they were never brought Back from the Dead.
    • Also, both Yolanda and Beth were Killed Off for Real before Courtney even debuted as a superhero, but are alive and well here. Those goes double in the second season when they take on Eclipso, who was the one who killed them in the comics, but they both survive to the end of the season.
  • Sports Dad: Larry Crock and Paula Brooks are jointly sports parents for their daughter Artemis. Of course, they're also supervillains, so they're not above secretly murdering unsympathetic coaches to help her out.
  • Starter Villain: Brainwave serves as this for Stargirl, being the first member of the Injustice Society she runs into and a demonstration of the dangers the villains pose.
  • Summer School Sucks: The second season was subtitled Summer School. After being busy with hero-ing and fighting against the Injustice Society from the previous season, Courtney has to attend summer school after failing two classes. Each episode is syntaxed as "Summer School: Chapter [episode number]".
  • Super Special Move: In the episode "Frenemies Chapter Two: The Suspects", Starman teaches the titular heroine his special move, the Shooting Star. By fueling with positive feelings the most basic ability of the Cosmic Staff, canceling gravity, the user can turn into a streak of cosmic energy and get launched very high into the sky. As Courtney demonstrates later, the user can then land and release that energy as an omni-directional shockwave, sending their foes flying.
  • Take Over the City: The Injustice Society runs nearly every aspect of Blue Valley, from the government to its largest employers. This is the first step in their plan to create a "New America".
  • Telepathy: Brainwave can read people's minds, or communicate to theirs.
  • Talk to the Fist: Pat punches Sam in the face after telling him never to come back into Courtney's life. Sam says he never planned on it now he'd gotten her locket and then starts talking about how good Barb used to look. Pat decks him to the ground and laments he doesn't have the time to properly kick his ass.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: One of the Central Themes of Season Three is that if you treat someone like an enemy, you'll get an enemy.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Pat keeps a signed photo of himself and Starman in his chest full of other JSA memorabilia and related files.
  • Truer to the Text:
    • According to Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019), this series is set in Earth-2. Given its focus on the Justice Society of America instead of being a place filled with evil versions of the heroes like in the Arrowverse's pre-Crisis Earth-2, this is more in line with the comics' Earth-2.
    • Solomon Grundy being a hulking zombie is much more in line with his comic book counterpart compared to his past live-action incarnations in Smallville, Arrow and Gotham.
    • Icicle, despite gaining a new first name and his own successor's powers, is still an adaptation of the original character, which contrasts how The Flash made Icicle into a villain identity for the character Thomas Snow instead.
    • Stargirl/Courtney Whitmore is back to being a modern-day Legacy Character in high school, as opposed to her WWII based portrayal in Legends of Tomorrow. She's also the step-daughter of Pat Dugan/Stripesy with no prior history or connection to Sylvester Pemberton, or the Star Spangled Kid/Starman legacy, making her more accurate than her Smallville counterpart.
    • Though they've had a slight settings update, the Justice Society of America and their members are much more truer to the comics than they were in the previous Arrowverse shows, even if most of them are deceased.
      • The line-up of the original JSA is explicitly modelled on the Golden Age versions, with their membership consisting only of Golden Age heroes; though some are missing, like Black Canary I, the Al Pratt Atom, and others, it still separates the 'original' Justice Society line-up of consisting of Golden Age versions while their successors are the later legacies, not to mention the 'big three' of Jay Garrick, Ted Grant, and Alan Scott are explicitly shown among them. Contrasting their version in Legends of Tomorrow where they had Courtney and Obsidian as among the WWII-era versions, along with a Canon Foreigner version of Vixen, and Composite Character treatment for the Hourman and Dr Mid-Nite legacies, while the rest of the Golden Age versions were missing.
      • The Ted Grant Wildcat had his powers changed to match Yolanda's, but otherwise he wears a comic-faithful costume and from how he was described, he was The Big Guy of the JSA; a stark contrast to the 'realistic' redesign he got in Arrow, where he lacked the Wildcat identity and was simply a costumeless vigilante/gym owner. He's also explicitly an older man, in contrast to the Age Lift he got previously. Season 2 goes further and shows that, when in action, he was still a Boxing Brawler and it doesn't appear he even used much of the cat-like abilities the magic cat suit Yolanda later used had, so even the show's deviations with him are greatly reduced.
      • He's only been mentioned/seen in pictures, but Jay Garrick wears a comic-faithful sweater/jeans-looking costume instead of the Hell-Bent for Leather suit he had in The Flash, and is a prominent member of the Justice Society. He's also shown as the original Flash of this earth instead of another earth's version, which is closer to how he was depicted for much of the comicsnote . The second season does give him the Arrowverse suit, though, mostly as it reused the same actor and evidently decided to reuse the same prop, too, but it was evidently not the only suit he ever wore as he's still depicted with the comic-accurate shirt-jeans look in photos.
    • The Seven Soldiers of Victory roster consisted of the very original Golden Age version, meaning that there is/was a version of Green Arrow and Speedy on the team. Contrasting the darker, leather heavy costumes from Arrow, the two are shown to have worn cloth costumes modelled after their original designs, including the Robin Hood-like caps and domino masks and simple, old fashioned wooden bows. In addition, going off the actors in the photo showing the Seven Soldiers, it's clear that Speedy must have been a kid/teen working with Green Arrow to begin with, rather than an adult when he first became a vigilante, meaning they likely have/had their traditional "Hero and Sidekick" dynamic and backstory from the Golden Age.
    • The portrayal of Sportsmaster as a doting parent who loves Artemis despite his life as a supervillain is actually more in line with how he was presented in the comics, unlike his previous depiction in Young Justice (2010), where he was an outright Abusive Dad who had a strained relationship with her.
    • The Shade in terms of his power set, appearance, and Affably Evil demeanor is far truer to his depiction in the comics, than the Generic Doomsday Villain of same name who briefly appeared on The Flash.
  • Two Decades Behind: The show's tone and setting is intentionally modeled after 80s movies, with the look of Blue Valley even seemingly being lifted from Hill Valley from Back to the Future, and the style of the cars in the town range from truly vintage to still dated.
  • Unholy Matrimony: The Crocks are unrepentant supervillains Sportsmaster and Tigress and, by all accounts, their marriage is a healthy and stable one.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The civilian identities of the Injustice Society's members are respected members of the community in Blue Valley, which is specifically highlighted in the first few episodes.
    • Jordan Mahkent (Icicle) is the CEO of The American Dream and well-liked by his employees.
    • William Zarick (Wizard) is a councilman who is recognized for helping get Blue Valley High School the funding it needs to be a great school.
    • Henry King Sr. (Brainwave) is a revered neurosurgeon admired for his work at the Blue Valley Medical Center.
    • Larry Crock (Sportsmaster) and his wife Paula Brooks (Tigress) are respectively the owner of a popular gym in town called "Ripped City" and the gym teacher of Blue Valley High.
    • Anaya Bowin (the second Fiddler) is the principal of Blue Valley High.
    • Steven Sharpe (Gambler) is a downplayed example; although he's the CFO of The American Dream, he's a Jerkass who browbeats his employees.
  • Virtual Sidekick: Beth's superhero object is Dr. Midnite's goggles, which have an A.I. that acts like the goggles's previous owner, Charles. This supplies Beth (and the other superhero team members) with information and gives her advice in combat situations, and it also becomes Beth's new best friend as she appreciates how it never gets tired of talking to her.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The ISA, it turns out, doesn't want anything evil. Rather, their goal is to make a better America that works to stop climate change and has no homophobia or racism. However, they plan to do this through brainwashing people, the deaths of a percentage of their victims as a side-effect and murder of those who oppose them as well as their families.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Averted. Compared to many DC stories set in a fictional American location where the state is only vaguely hinted at occasionally if even mentioned at all, Blue Valley is explicitly stated from the get-go to be in Nebraska.
  • Wire Fu: Wire work plays a prominent role in the show's combat sequences, so expect a lot of characters to pull off some impressive gravity-defying moves. Or if a character is going up against someone with Super-Strength, expect to see them go flying one way or another.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Naturally in a superhero show with a female lead, the villains all have no qualms fighting her head on, even despite their Well-Intentioned Extremist nature. However, this also applies to the heroes too, as Rick shows no qualms fighting female villains, as seen in his truly brutal fight with Artemis Crock in the second season, Mike has no problem smacking Cindy over the head, and Pat explicitly leaves out her gender in his own fight with Artemis.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Conversely, though Pat may have no qualms fighting women, he does clearly draw a line at fighting youths, even villainous ones. When attacked by Injustice Unlimited, he repeats several times he will not fight children, and only begins fighting back when Artemis starts beating the crap out of him. Not that fighting back proves effective, mind.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Stargirl


What he really wants

The reveal of what the Ultra-Humanite really wants. The attention that UH got when he took advantage of the body of Hollywood actress Dolores Winters to get public fame.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / DesperatelyCravesAffection

Media sources: