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Western Animation / Birdman (1967)

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Birdman was the headliner of Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, part of Hanna-Barbera's brief Super Hero cycle in the mid-1960s.

Birdman is a Winged Humanoid that can fly, shoot solar rays from his fists and project "solar shields" to defend himself against attacks. He was recruited by a top-secret government agency, Inter-Nation Security. Together with his eagle companion, Avenger, they fight crime wherever he is sent by his superior, Falcon-7. Birdman had one weakness: He gradually lost his strength if he is away from direct sunlight for an extended period. The villains often exploited this by capturing Birdman and keeping him in a poorly lit room.

For the supporting segment, see The Galaxy Trio.

Cartoon Network later "reimagined" the Birdman character as a practicing attorney in the Affectionate Parody cartoon series Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law for its [adult swim] block. See that page for more information. A much more heroic/accurate version appeared as part of DC Comics' Future Quest series.

Not to be confused with the 2014 Black Comedy film Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) or the manga BirdMen.

Tropes in Birdman:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: Episode "The Quake Threat". When Birdman is trapped in an Elaborate Underground Base, Avenger the eagle breaks in through an air vent to save him.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Birdman to DC Comics' Hawkman, at least on a superficial level.
  • All There in the Manual: Alex Toth wrote a complex backstory for Birdman, including his real name (Ray Randall) and origin story, but they were only vaguely alluded to in the show itself.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Avenger was pretty smart for an eagle. He also wore a collar with a communicator in it.
  • Any Last Words?: In the episode "Professor Nightshade", after the title villain captures Birdman, he asks Birdman this question before trying to send him into the fourth dimension (time) to be lost forever.
  • Artistic License Military: In "Professor Nightshade", a U.S. military officer addressed as "Admiral", a Navy rank, is clearly wearing an Army uniform.
  • Aside Comment:
    • "The Quake Threat". After Birdman destroys several of Dr. Kiroff's robots:
    Dr. Kiroff: He's destroyed my metal men [turns to face the camera] but there's more than one way to catch a bird!
    • "The Brian Thief". When Doctor Shado sees Birdman approaching his laboratory:
    Doctor Shado: It's Birdman, all right. He's finally arrived. [turns and looks at the audience] At long last!
    • "Meets Reducto". The title villain does this after completing his Reduction Machine Shrink Ray device.
    Reducto: With this Reduction Machine I will soon have this country, [turns to look at the camera] perhaps the entire world at my mercy!
  • Attack Reflector:
    • "Vulturo, Prince of Darkness". The title villain develops a energy shield that can reflect Birdman's solar energy beam attacks back at him.
    • "Professor Nightshade". When the title villain tries to use the Solar Box to send Birdman to the fourth dimension, the beam bounces off Birdman's energy glow and hits the villain, sending him to the fourth dimension instead.
  • Awesome Backpack: "Meets Reducto". The title villain's Shrink Ray device is a pistol connected to a backpack that holds the Reduction Device's electronic components.
  • Caps Lock, Num Lock, Missiles Lock: The mock episode "Coffee Break" features a keyboard with a coffee button surrounded by buttons for lasers, missiles and one for doomsday. Trying to convince his boss it's safe, Birdman commands Avenger to push the coffee button. At first, it seems Avenger pushes only the button he's supposed to, but then he accidentally presses the doomsday button as well.
  • Egyptian Mythology: Birdman received his powers from the falcon-headed Egyptian sun god, Ra (thus the bird and sun motifs).
  • Elaborate Underground Base: In a series full of Supervillain Lairs to begin with, in the episode ("Number One") that brought them into the open and really defined them as a threat, F.E.A.R. turned out to have one of these. One also appeared in the episode "The Quake Threat" (belonging to Dr. Kiroff).
  • Elemental Shapeshifter: The episode "Skon of Space". The title villain is a triple threat version of this. He can change himself into fire, water and stone.
  • Evil Counterpart: Vulturo, to Birdman. Also Birdgirl, to a lesser extent.
  • Expo Label: "The Constrictor". In the title villain's submarine is an escape hatch which is helpfully labeled "Escape Hatch" to let the audience know what it is.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Falcon-7 wore one.
  • Fed to the Beast
    • In the episode "Hannibal the Hunter", Hannibal traps Birdman in a net and arranges for him to be dropped into a pit with two lions in it so they can eat him.
    • In "The Empress of Evil", the title villain tries to have Birdman thrown into a pit filled with giant cobras while he's low on solar energy. Luckily, Avenger just happens to have a diamond that contains the light of the sun.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Birdman can only recharge his solar powers in sunlight. This means that in almost every episode he runs out of power, is captured by the villain and he has to re-expose himself to the sun's rays to regain his powers. In episode 20, "The Wings of Fear", he develops "Solar Energy Storage Bands", which provide him with solar energy to replenish his powers when he's out of the sunlight. After this episode they're never mentioned again, even though they would have been incredibly useful.
  • Freeze Ray: Two episodes have this.
    • "The Pirate Plot". The pirates use a freeze ray to encase in ice several armed officers of the ship they're attacking.
    • "Skon of Space''. The title villain uses a "cold ray" to freeze Birdman solid.
  • Harmless Freezing: In the episodes "Versus Cumulus, the Storm King", "Versus Dr. Freezoids", "Train Trek", "The Empress of Evil", "Skon of Space" and "The Pirate Plot".
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: In "Hannibal the Hunter", the title villain lured Birdman to his island and trapped him. When Birdman escaped the trap the hunter became the hunted.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: "Hannibal the Hunter". The title villain lures Birdman to his island and traps him, then tries to have him fed to some lions. Birdman escapes and destroys Hannibal's base, freeing the captive wild animals held in it. While fleeing the animals Hannibal is captured by one of his own traps. Luckily this is a children's show, so Birdman captures Hannibal and saves him from the same fate he was trying to inflict.
  • Jet Pack:
    • At the end of "The Purple Moss", the villains escape their ship by donning jet packs and flying away. Unfortunately they're too high in the atmosphere and end up going into orbit around the Earth.
    • Several FEAR mooks in "Wings of FEAR" fly using a combination of wings and a jet pack. They use them to kidnap people by swooping down, grabbing them and flying away.
  • Just Between You and Me: "The Wild Weird West". After Birdman is captured by Dr. Kordo and Jesse Johns (a descendant of Jesse James), Johns tells Birdman that their next job will be kidnapping the state governor and holding him as a hostage. Dr. Kordo lampshades it by telling Jesse that he talks too much.
  • Kid Sidekick: Birdboy, though he was a relatively late addition (first appearing in the 27th episode out of 40) and didn't show up much (only appearing in five episodes total).
  • Light 'em Up: Most of Birdman's powers were, unintuitively, light-based (see Egyptian Mythology for the reason). He also did have bird-like wings and Super Strength, though.
  • Look Behind You: "Monster of the Mountains". While the villain Chang is covering Birdman and Birdboy with a uranium ray gun, Birdboy points behind Chang and says, "We have Avenger!" [Birdman's pet eagle]. Chang says, "That's a very old trick," and Avenger swoops in from behind him and knocks the ray gun out of his hands.
  • Monster-Shaped Mountain: FEAR's secret base in "Wings of FEAR" is inside a mountain called Death's Head Peak which has a giant skull at the apex.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Nitron the human bomb is example of this type of character.
  • The Power of the Sun: The source of Birdman's powers.
  • Rapid Aging: The title villain of "Versus the Speed Demon" can travel at Super Speed. While trying to escape a pursuing missile, he travels too fast and ages so quickly that he becomes an old man.
  • Ray Gun: "Monster of the Mountains". The villain Chang threatens Birdman and Birdboy with a "uranium ray" gun, but Avenger, Birdman's pet eagle, swoops in from behind him to knock it out of his hands.
  • Red Right Hand: Every villian shows a physical defect or tip-off to his monstrous nature except Hannibal the Hunter. Medusa was also a beautiful woman, but had green skin.
  • Required Secondary Powers: In "Versus the Speed Demon", the titular villain wears a titanium suit to protect his body from friction whenever he uses his Super Speed.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: "The Empress of Evil". The prince of the Maja Raja saves the day when he gives Birdman a diamond from his turban that he says came from the sun god, Ra. Holding the diamond powered Birdman up with its stored solar energy.
  • Say My Name: BIRRRRRD-MAN!
  • Seize Them!: In "Versus Cumulus, the Storm King" a U.S. Army officer orders his guards to do it to the title villain, and in "The Empress of Evil" the title villain commands her minions to do it to Birdman. In both cases it works about as well as you'd expect.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: In "Versus Dr. Freezoids", "Number One", "The Deadly Duplicator", "Avenger for Ransom" and "Serpents of the Deep".
  • Shrink Ray: The villains in the episodes "The Ant Ape" and "Meets Reducto" each have one of these.
  • Sidekick: Birdman has Avenger, his powerful Golden Eagle companion, who can understand human speech and follow orders. In some later episodes, he is also aided by Birdboy.
  • Something Person: Birdman, with his little-used sidekick Birdboy and one-shot character Birdgirl.
  • Standard Power-Up Pose: The title character adopts this pose when he recharges his solar energy by bathing in sunlight.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Although Birdman doesn't normally do this, he does at the end of "Versus the Speed Demon" while the prison warden is telling him what will happen to the re-captured villain.
  • Submarine Pirates: Episode "Serpents of the Deep". Dr. Shark operates from a submarine that has a weapon that can cut through objects. He uses it to steal a bathyscape so he can mine gold from the ocean floor.
  • Super Hero Origin:
    • Birdman received his powers from an Egyptian god.
    • Birdboy obtained some of Birdman's powers after he used them to heal him from illness. After asking to become his sidekick, Birdman gives him a copy of his costume with mechanical wings.
  • Super Speed: "Versus the Speed Demon". The title villain's power was moving and acting so quickly that no one could see him.
  • Tempting Fate: After the pirates in "The Pirate Plot" capture Birdman, Captain Kidd's first mate warns him that Birdman's eagle companion Avenger has escaped. Captain Kidd says, "What can an eagle do to harm us? Let it go!" After the pirates make Birdman walk the plank, Avenger swoops in, flies underwater (!) and bites through the ropes tying Birdman's hands, freeing him.
  • That's an Order!: "Vulturo, Prince of Darkness". After Birdman has been defeated by Vulturo, he orders his eagle sidekick, Avenger, to leave him and try to save some people nearby. When Avenger is reluctant to abandon him, Birdman makes it an order.
  • This Cannot Be!: From "Vulturo, Prince of Darkness": right after Birdman has his solar powers renewed by the nearby passage of a comet, Vulturo says, "No! It cannot be!"
  • Three Shorts: Traditionally the first and last with an episode of The Galaxy Trio in the middle.
  • Timmy in a Well: Birdman's sidekick eagle, Avenger. Not only can he understand English and follow orders, but Birdman seems to understand what his screeching cries mean.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Birdman losing power from lack of sunlight. Makes you wonder why his enemies didn't act at night more often.
  • We Meet Again: "The Empress of Evil". When Birdman meets Medusa (whom he has fought before) he says, "So, Medusa, we meet again." She responds, "Yes, and for the last and final time."

Alternative Title(s): Birdman