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Western Animation / Guardians of the Galaxy (2015)

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Rocket: What are we, heroes or outlaws?
Star-Lord: Why not both?
— "The Road To Knowhere"

Guardians of the Galaxy is an animated series created for Marvel on Disney XD. Described as a loose sequel to the film, but set in the same Shared Universe as its fellow animated series, before being Retconned to share continuity with Marvels Spiderman and the last season of Avengers: Black Panthers Quest, the show follows Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot as they fight the forces of Thanos.

A series of animated shorts has been released through Marvel's YouTube channel. The series premiered on September 5, 2015 and ran for three seasons, finally ending in June 2019 with 77 episodes total.


The series provides examples of:

  • Absolute Cleavage: Mantis
  • Action Bomb: Episode 11 has a herd of moombas which have been given a special chemical which reacts to proteins in meat, causing them to explode. The Collector planned to deliver them to his brother.
  • Actor Allusion: In the first episode Star-Lord calls Korath "Cory-something." Will Friedle played Eric, brother of lead character Cory, in Boy Meets World, a role he reprises as a Recurring Character in the Sequel Series Girl Meets World.
  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • The series appears to mix elements from the movie and the comics. For example, Star-Lord's design, personality and backstories are almost entirely taken from the movie, but he retains his Elemental Gun from the comic, and the Nova Corps is depicted as a Space Police force in the vein of the movie, but retains the iconic helmets from the comics. Season 2 later adds the Flying Brick Nova Corps wielding Centurion Helmets as they were portrayed in Comics existed as an elite branch, but were retired a long time ago, leading to their depiction in this series.
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    • Though, as it's set in the same universe as Avengers, Assemble!, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., the Nova helmets (via Sam Alexander) and the Element gun (via the Guardians' earlier appearances) are a case of Grandfather Clause. In addition, Ronan's design is based off of his movie counterpart, as opposed to how he was designed in Agents of SMASH.
    • The original plot surrounding the events of Rocket Raccoon's homeworld of Halfworld are incredibly distilled and compressed into something that could tie in with the already existing plot, as well as something that could be introduced and resolved in the span of a single episode. As a result, a lot is changed or cut out completely.
    • Because the series had been written prior to Vol 2, it is established that J’son of Spartax is Peter’s father (as per the comics) and not Ego the Living Planet.
      • Speaking of the stories in Spartax, the Asgardians take the place of Ariguans from the comics as the Spartoi enemies.
    • Cul's machinations in Fear Itself are almost completely removed, instead becoming a conspiracy to take over Asgard and the galaxy with robotic duplicates created from an attempt to replicate the Destroyer. In this way, everyone else involved is also entirely removed and it largely comes to the Guardians to resolve it.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Xeron, who in this version is much less evil than her male comic counterpart and more or less misguided.
    • The Klyntar here are presented as a normally peaceful race who live in harmony with their host, with the more traditional depiction of the symbiotes being the result of Thanos experimenting on them to create a living weapon.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Uncle Pyko, the leader of the Halfworld Rebels. While in the original comics he wasn't completely innocent either, he was ultimately a good and peaceful man by the end, not like his portrayal here.
    • As of the film, Ronan the Accuser and Yondu end up contrasting their comic counterparts, though the former was almost always portrayed as a villain in Agents of S.M.A.S.H.. In this series, they verge on the territory of card carrying villainy.
    • Mantis is portrayed as a zealous leader of an antagonistic cult, which is a clear departure from her comics characterization and her depiction in the MCU.
    • Yondu. While the film version is ruthless and greedy, he genuinely cares for Quill. In this series, Yondu has no problem selling him out, or even actively trying to kill him.
    • This version of Thanos is far worse than his canon comic book and MCU counterparts.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: In this continuity the Darkhawks are creations of Odin's evil brother Cul rather than a prehistoric Shi'Ar black ops organization.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: Judging by dialogue in "Hitchin' A Ride" and "Accidents Will Happen", Kree are established to be Jerkasses who get easily offended and can kill anyone on sight.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Like Rocket, Cosmo the Soviet space-dog was experimented on by extraterrestrials. This granted him human-like intelligence, along with telepathy and telekinesis.
  • Arc Villain: While Thanos is the Big Bad of the galaxy, other villains have major Story Arcs of their own:
    • Loki is the main antagonist of the Asgard War arc within Season 1, as he masterminded the war between Spartax and Asgard, putting the Guardians on the path to foolishly make Spartax look bad, then have his brother Thor killed with the Destroyer Armor amongst all the fighting so that he can take over Asgard while Odin still sleeps.
    • Thanos can be considered the main antagonist of the first season since he is in relentless pursuit of the Cosmic Seed, assisted by Nebula, Korath, Ronan the Accuser, and the Black Order. The latter serve him in episodes he doesn't appear in and Supergiant is seen separated from the rest. Thanos is buried alive under New York at the end of the season, but reappears in Season 3 which isn't technically cannon but makes sense with his appearance in Avengers Assemble.
    • The Guardians face many foes in Season 2 and they're mostly under leadership of Quill's dictator father J'son, who sways the Universal Believers, takes command of the Black Order, and possesses Adam Warlock.
    • The beginning of Season 3 has The Collector, who plotted to frame the Guardians so that the Kree could eliminate them.
    • The second half of Season 3 introduces Cul Borson, aka the Serpent as the main villain for the rest of the show. He is Odin's brother who attempts to conquer the universe using the Darkhawks, a race of shape shifting robots of his creation that take the form and memories of the public in a similar fashion to the Skrulls. This leads to the Guardians and many of their allies including the Avengers, Xandarians, Ravagers, and Asgard to stand their ground against him. When Serpent proves too powerful, they even ask Thanos for help.
  • Arch Nemesis Dad: Inevitably, Star-Lord's father Emperor J'son of Spartax is an agent of Thanos, and he only wanted to use his son to steal back the Cosmic Seed.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Destroyer armor makes the user practically invincible. It also dials up aggression and can be hijacked by Loki.
  • Artifact Title: The third season's subtitle "Mission: Breakout" becomes The Artifact real quickly. We open the season with everyone captured by the Collector, with Groot reduced back to twig status. (No, we don't get an episode about them ''getting'' into that condition, as awesome as it would have been.) After a two-parter in which they break out, there's no further reason to hang on to that name. (There is another instance in which they get captured and must break out well into the season, but still, that's not the whole season.)
  • Art Shift: The "Black Vortex" arc, which features the Guardians getting stuck in a prison dimension, with each prison tailor-made for them, and with a different artstyle:
    • Peter Quill ends up in a stop-motion styled world.
    • Groot is in an all CGI world.
    • Rocket Raccoon gets stuck in a 50s-styled Rubberhose Cartoon.
    • Drax's prison takes on a much more comic book style in regards to its shading and proportions, and even features halftones.
    • Gamora ends up stuck in a Disney Princess styled world with very round character designs, resembling (and animated by) Mercury Filmwork's Tangled: The Series.
  • Back from the Dead: Ronan the Accuser, with some help from the Cosmic Seed energy that gave life to a rogue moon.
  • Backstory: The series also features the events and circumstances that led Loki to betray Thor, leading to their enmity in the other series in this Shared Universe.
  • Bag of Holding: Rocket has a dimensional storage device which he uses to hold his many, many weapons. And pellets. Lots of pellets.
  • Batman Gambit: Yondu issues a bounty on himself in case he's thrown in jail, knowing Star-Lord would try to bust him out for the payday. Furthermore, Star-Lord's DNA is the key to unlocking the container for the Cosmic Seed, which Yondu needs help stealing from Korath.
  • Big Bad: Thanos is the Guardians' main threat, and they have to keep the Cosmic Seed from him.
  • Big Bad Wannabe:
    • Loki appeared to be the Arc Villain of the Asgard War arc, focused on his Evil Plan to start a war between Asgard and Spartax, but he's caught halfway, and Thanos takes over as the main threat.
    • Ronan is a major threat in the series, but he is too overconfident in his own skills and resources such that for all his ambition, he stubbornly doesn't know when he's way beyond his depth. When his former boss Thanos shows up, the Mad Titan does him in twice and shows him who the real Big Bad is.
  • Blob Monster: The alien version of symbiotes show up in Episode 8, existing in the same setting as the artificially created Venom and Carnage symbiotes from Ultimate Spider-Man.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In the film (and as an offhand comment in episode 2), Quill mentions having dated an Aaskvarian. She shows up in episode 4, with Gamora commenting that she thought he was kidding.
    • In "We are the World Tree", Peter attempts a Shoo the Dog on the Guardians by claiming he's only staying on Spartax for the warm beds. After getting back the Crypto Cube, he goes right back to the Guardians to explain everything, but they don't buy it... until he shows them all the Spartax bedding he smuggled out.
  • Broad Strokes: Certain elements of the live-action movie still happened in this continuity, such as the Guardians saving Xandar and killing Ronan. But other elements (such as Korath's death) are ignored.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: Peter has accidentally revealed several secrets the other Guardians have told him due to Saying Too Much. Though according to Gamora, the only member of the Guardians that can keep a secret is Groot, which is why she only told him her plan to pit Korath and Nebula against each other by pretending to betray the team.
  • Canon Discontinuity: This show's depiction of Spider-Man being more akin to Marvel's Spider-Man suggests that Ultimate Spider-Man is no longer canon—despite Ultimate being the first show in this universe and hence starting it in the first place.
  • The Casanova: Star-Lord
  • Casting Gag:
  • Cephalothorax: The Kree Supreme Intelligence is a giant head in a jar.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The first two episodes are a bit of a re-telling of the movie only with the Guardians already together. It also implies that the Guardians came together in a more or less similar fashion as they did in the film and are now dealing with the fallout.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In "Undercover Angle", Titus ends up betraying the Guardians and Nova Corps. That was the betrayal the Guardians referred to during their second appearance in Ultimate Spider-Man, where they face Titus.
    • The Avengers already knew who the Guardians were during their first appearance in Avengers, Assemble!, and we find out how Thor met them during the "Asgard War" Arc and how some of the other Avengers met them in the Season 2 premiere.
    • At the end of "Rock Your Baby," Adam Warlock takes the Nova Corps helmet to find it a wielder, Nova from Ultimate Spider-Man. His backstory is also featured here too.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • If this is set before Ultimate Spider-Man (as the presence of the Nova Corps suggests) then it's hard to explain what an adult Triton is doing in the Inhumans episode, since he appears as a teenager in Ultimate Spider-Man and Hulk and The Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Of course, even Avengers, Assemble! made the same mistake too.
    • Likewise, the Symbiotes exist as an alien race, and a feared one at that, when in Ultimate Spider-Man they are artificial life-forms created by Oscorp. While these two races aren't by any means mutually exclusive, the fact that they have the exact same physical features and both are called Symbiotes In-Universe is rather contrived.
    • Meanwhile, the Collector is portrayed much like his movie self, and proves himself to be a villain, unlike his more comic-based near-god-tier Agents of SMASH portrayal, who had made a Heel–Face Turn by then. Similiarly, the Grandmaster is an alien who runs a Deadly Games arena instead of being like his cosmic-grade self as seen in Ultimate Spider-Man. In fact, even as the Contest of Champions arc was going on in USM with the cosmic Grandmaster versus the reformed Collector, their very different Guardians incarnations were being encountered by this team for the first time - it all aired on the same weekend. Sure enough, the only thing retained from Ultimate Spider-Man, is that Grandmaster and the Collector are brothers with a Sibling Rivalry. His villainy can only be plausible if this took place before USM, which is believed to be the case.
    • When the Avengers meet the Guardians, their membership status is not explicit, but it's a different roster from Avengers Assemble, and the characters who met the Guardians in Assemble and SMASH do not know them in this series. Only Thor, who had encountered them in the first season of Guardians, has met them. Yet, they've got their Assemble costumes, and all but Iron Man have their Assemble voice actors.
    • Similarly, the Black Order have most of the same voice actors (all but Ebony Maw), though their designs aren't a match. Biggest difference is Supergiant, a Green-Skinned Space Babe with psychic powers in Avengers Assemble to being much more alien in appearance and earning her name with size-changing powers in Guardians.
    • Really, the only reason not to consider it a fully separate series is that the Guardians in the other series were retooled to be like the movie versions (and therefore this show's version) in their later appearances, complete with recasting, and guest stars in this series typically have the same actors as in other series. Maybe the idea was to make it less confusing, but it only serves to make it more confusing when, in a show with the same animation style, costumes, and (usually) actors, this character or that element is very different in one show than in the one that follows on the same night.
    • It's been confirmed at NYCC 2017 that the show will crossover with Marvel's Spider-Man for the "Symbiote War" storyline, which will be affected by this trope.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The Asgardians deliver one to the Spartaxian armada after they go to war in the mid-season finale. Then Thanos shows up and gives an even worse one to the Spartaxians, Guardians, and Asgardians.
    • When Thanos shows up in the finale, he strangles Ronan and blasts him onto a mountain.
  • Death by Adaptation: Mantis crumbles to dust in "Knights in Black Helmets", having never become a hero in this continuity.
  • Dirty Cop: Titus.
  • Discontinuity Nod: The Avengers line up shown in the season 2 premiere (Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, and Thor is mentioned) seems odd if you've seen the show, but matches a potential line up from The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, which Avengers, Assemble! was originally going to be a sequel to before being retooled to be in the same universe as Ultimate Spider-Man
  • Disney Creatures of the Farce: After the Cold Open in "The Black Vortex Part 1", Gamora finds herself in a cottage full of cute talking animals. There is an Art Shift similar to Tangled: The Series, and the animals even insist Gamora is a princess, since her father rules a planet, she has a wicked stepsister, and she has long, flowing hair. They also try to get he to engage in a song, and make her act like a proper Princess Classic, complete with a frilly Pimped-Out Dress. Yet they are also trying to hide her sword from her, and this scene finally gets Played for Horror, as it turns out the animals are demons. Though the horror doesn't do much on Gamora, who proceeds to Curb-Stomp Battle the monsters.
  • Doomed by Canon:
    • In Ultimate Spider-Man, Sam Alexander states all he's that's left of the Corps. Since this series takes place long before Ultimate Spider-Man, it's more or less guaranteed that Nova Corps will either not survive past the series' end or will get wiped out during the time gap between the two series.
    • Likewise, the same holds true for Thanos and Ronan the Accuser: Thanos was disintegrated in Avengers, Assemble!, but it will take centuries for him to come back. Ronan was killed during the Kree invasion in the series finale of Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.. So no matter what, they won't be killed off by the end of the series.
  • The Dragon: Korath to Thanos. Before then, he was the right hand to Ronan the Accuser, and Ronan himself was this to Thanos prior to his death. There's been a power vacuum over this position between Korath and Nebula, because Gamora tried to invoke it between them.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Nebula may have seemingly flocked back to Thanos after Ronan got killed, but she needs his universal weapon for some unfinished mission. It later turns out Nebula plans to use Mandala and the Cosmic Seed to resurrect Ronan the Accuser.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Rocket thinks that Duct Tape is the best creation ever, despite saying it has a dumb name. He even says he could build an entire ship using it.
  • The Empire: The galaxy features the Kree Empire and the Spartax Empire.
  • Enemy Civil War: Turns out there's been one within Thanos's inner circle after Ronan the Accuser having betrayed Thanos; Nebula joined Ronan while Korath remained loyal to Thanos. Then there's one again, but between Nebula and Korath that Gamora started. Now that Ronan is back, he's plotting to overthrow Thanos and get the Cosmic Seed before he does.
  • Evil All Along:
    • Titus was revealed to be working for the black market and infiltrated Nova Corps, and set up both the Black Order and the Guardians to get him Ronan the Accuser's hammer.
    • Inevitably, Peter's father J'son of Spartax, who is so vile and deceitful that he was the one who stole the Cosmic Seed.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: With Ronan dead, there's been a power vacuum over the position of Thanos's top general. However, one of them is trying to overthrow Thanos.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Star-Lord's Element Gun, adapted from the comics.
  • Festering Fungus: In "Can't Fight This Seedling", a meteor has brought a persistent fungus which creates rock monsters to defend itself. Then it infects Groot, turning him into a giant.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • Titus turning out to be a Dirty Cop since when he first appeared in Ultimate Spider-Man he was the episode's villain.
    • The same goes for Ronan the Accuser being brought Back from the Dead in episode 10. Never mind that the show's premise advertised it, but the heroes can't prevent his resurrection, nor can they kill him all over again, since it's necessary for his story to happen in Hulk and The Agents of S.M.A.S.H. and it won't be until then that he's permanently killed.
    • Thanos can't be permanently killed either, due to his appearance in Avengers Assemble. The Guardians hold no illusions that Thanos is gone for good, and they explicitly state that Thanos is still digging his way out since the Season 1 finale, and he does find his way out by Season 3.
    • Any villain who appeared in Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Avengers Assemble, or Ultimate Spider-Man who ended up imprisoned in Warlock's pocket dimension (The High Evolutionary or Titus) will end up escaping, which is what ended up happening.
  • For Science!: About the only reason given for all the things the robots do on Rocket's homeworld of Halfworld, including forcibly engraving a complete history of weaponry and mechanics into the brain of a raccoon, buying a sentient, regenerating tree monster from space pirates, or using mysterious ore to evolve the entire population of fauna on the planet. About the only time any of their science makes sense was when they decided to reverse said population evolution, and that was only because said suddenly civilized fauna decided to rebel against them.
  • Forced Prize Fight: Gamora and Drax are forced to fight to the death by the leader of an alien Las Vegas, lest he kill the people in the stadium. They only have to keep up the act long enough for the rest of the team to bring down the barrier over the stadium.
  • Foreshadowing: In "Can't Fight This Seedling", the fact that Titus defies Nova Corps and fires an anti-matter missile is not a coincidence—we find out his true nature in "Undercover Angle".
  • Funny Afro: In "Space Cowboys", Rocket cooks up a formula that makes Groot grow a full head of leaves that looks more like this trope.
  • Fun with Homophones: Apparently, homophones confuse Drax as much as expressions if the speaker doesn't make clear of it's context:
    Gamora: Drax! Brake! Brake!
    Drax: (breaks off the lever) Broken.
  • Furry Reminder: There are loads of jokes about Rocket being a raccoon in this show.
  • Genius Loci: Mandala, a rogue moon given life by the energy of the Cosmic Seed.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The science robots of Halfworld used strange ore tainted by energy from the Cosmic Seed to super-evolve the animals of the planet. It works ... however said animals then turn on their creators and rebel, successfully go into hiding, and their leader, Uncle Pyko, uses the robot's own technology against them to further evolve the animals into unstoppable juggernauts bent on the robot's destruction.
  • Grand Theft Me: J'Son's presence inside Adam Warlock turned him into Magus and control him. However, control is only partial. Magus is still an independent entity from J'Son.
  • Healing Factor: The Cosmic Seed emits life energy which can supercharge the healing ability of anything it's exposed to. The long dead Celestial head was briefly reanimated by some leftover energy in the box, and Groot was regenerated from a twig in moments and went crazy as he lost control of his regeneration.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • The robots on Halfworld who experimented on Rocket realized the horrific results of their experiments, as making them too intelligent led the animals to rebel against them. They decide to cure them and afterwards, promise to protect the animals.
    • Kree Accuser Phyla-Vell starts out as being on a murderous rampage to execute the Guardians just because they found themselves in the wrong place, but she eventually sees the error of her judgement, learns to act like a true hero, and warms up to the Guardians to the point that she is completely saddened by their supposed sacrifice.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: "You Don't Owe Me" has the Guardians attempt to save the re-growing Hala from the Collector's citadel, which is about to self-destruct and attempt to move it away from the planet. When Rocket's plan fails, there is little time left and they realize the only way to ensure Hala is safe is to stay on board, but it will mean their deaths. They all decide that this is the better option and seemingly perish in the blast. However, the strange mirror Gamora took a look at earlier and the sound of Star-Lord's tunes indicate this is surely not the last we've seen of them.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: A strange situation where Quill is the leader of the team but also seems to be its least competent member.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode takes its title from (or has a Punny Name based on) an old pop song.
  • Inspector Javert: Titus the Nova Corps officer. He really wants to send the Guardians back to jail, if not kill them. When Groot is driven crazy by an alien fungus, Titus tries to use anti-matter missiles on his ship to destroy him, even though this would also destroy the village below. It's eventually subverted when we find out he's really evil and had more sinister reasons for chasing them.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Gamora, Rocket, and Drax qualify since they badmouth Quill, but his careless actions come off as a valid reason.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: In "I've Been Searching For So Long", Thanos strangles Ronan, sends him flying towards a mountain, and takes the Universal Weapon. Regardless, Ronan very much deserved it.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: To amuse himself, the rogue moon Mandala makes the Guardians, save Quill, regress to a teenage mindset. Groot becomes clumsy, Drax thinks he's back in his gladiator days before his family was killed, Rocket turns feral, and Gamora still thinks she's in Ronan's and Thanos's service.
  • Literal-Minded: Drax
  • Macguffin: The Cosmic Seed. They thought the seed was in the box, but something happened to it. It later turns out the box contains the map to the seed. This means Korath was worried over nothing, because the map is just what Thanos needs.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In "Don't Stop Believin'", Peter makes a quip about the king of Spartax—who turns out to be his dad—having an ego the size of a planet. In the second movie, it turns out his MCU dad is Ego the Living Planet.
    • In "Accidents will Happen", Rocket is forced to turn out his pockets and dump every weapon on his person, which for some reason includes the prosthetic leg from the movie.
    • "Black Vortex, Part 1" sees Drax's segment refer to the comics character, including his "Draxman" look being based on Drax's original outfit and his comics origin of being a resurrected human named "Arthur Douglas" who was killed directly by Thanos.
  • The Napoleon: Rocket Raccoon. Turns out this isn't just in reaction to being a raccoon among tall, humanoid aliens, he was also the runt of his family back on Halfworld and its insinuated that even as normal raccoons his family gave him grief over his height.
  • New Season, New Title: "Mission Breakout" for the third season. Largely to tie in with the ride in Disney California park.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Episode 7 is pretty much a parade of well-meaning decisions that backfire. Gamora's plan to turn Korath and Nebula against each other results in both learning of the map to the Cosmic Seed, and Drax throwing the Universal Weapon to disable Nebula's ship results in her taking it for herself. Fortunately, Korath was on a wild goose chase as much as the Guardians were, as the map was never leading them to the Cosmic Seed.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Peter Quill got a ban from Xandar effective on the Day of the Feast of the Three Moons, because it used to be in honor of four moons, and he accidentally blew up one in a prank attempt. No mention is made of the ecological damage a planet losing a moon's gravity would entail, nor of the debris.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: When Ronan comes back, he is portrayed in such a matter that he will not fall for any dirty tricks the Guardians have, be it Quill dancing or a regressed Gamora thinking she's still in his service.
  • No-Sell:
    • Korath attempts to use a telepathic parasite on Quill which will make him relive all his guilty moments. Gamora had to relive all the moments she worked under Thanos and was appropriately horrified. For Quill, this is a few childhood memories and some random flings which he treats flippantly. Gamora quips that Quill has no guilt about anything he does.
    • When the rogue moon Mandala causes the Guardians to regress to teenagers, Quill is unaffected. Gamora quips that it's because he lacks maturity to begin with, though Quill surmises that the residual energy in the cube protected him. In general Mind Control of any kind doesn't work on him, or at least not very well.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Star-Lord engages in this so much it tends to bite him on the ass as even though he is ostensibly the leader no one listens to him because they can never tell when he's serious and when he's screwing around.
  • One Steve Limit: Peter Quill a.k.a. Starlord and Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man. Played for laughs when both of them respond to Gamora calling for "Peter".
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Rocket gets Drax to participate in some gladiator games under the alias of "The Pulverizer", which is just Drax in a luchador mask. Gamora lampshades how transparent it is.
  • Pardon My Klingon: Rocket with any variation of "Flaarg".
  • Parents Know Their Children: In "You Can't Always Get What You Want", Rocket's mom now recognizes him, even without her being evolved, as opposed to running away like before.
  • Posthumous Character: Ronan the Accuser was killed sometime after the events of Origins. His Universal Weapon was the plot point of an episode. Unfortunately for the galaxy, this does not last.
  • Powered Armor: The Asgardian Destroyer is reimagined as this here. Unfortunately it comes banded with The Corruption.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Spoken of about Collector, as in, it's very difficult to believe someone with an obsession with collecting rare stuff would actually destroy a planet "full of stuff". (When Drax offers a twisted rationale, Peter, who's trying to cool off the situation just a bit, growls that that's not helping.)
  • Prequel: This series is one to Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers, Assemble!, and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., especially since this is during the time Nova Corps are still around. As such the series showcases the Guardians' early career before they met the heroes of the aforementioned series, their first time on Earth, and the backstory of how Loki betrayed Thor.
  • Reality Ensues: When Asgard declares war on Spartax, Spartax promptly scrambles its entire armada to meet the Asgardians over Spartax. Asgard's attack force consists of (as Victoria puts it) "one open ship and a handful of warriors". Those warriors are Hogun, Fandral, Heimdall, Angela, Thor, and the Destroyer; Victoria is incredulous, and even tries to take Thor on one-on-one. Three guesses who wins.
  • Related in the Adaptation:
    • Just as in Ultimate Spider-Man, the Collector and the Grandmaster are brothers.
    • Inverted; the series sticks to the comics lore of Quill's father being J'son of Spartax, rather than the MCU's depiction of him being the son of Ego the Living Planet.
  • Running Gag:
    • Like in the movie, not many people know who Star-Lord is.
    • Also back from the movie, not many people understand Star-Lord's terran colloquialisms.
    • His taste in music continues to baffle most beings, or be met with disapproval.
    • "You're welcome."
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Drax
  • Same Character, but Different:
    • Played with. The Guardians are very different in both personality and appearance than how they've previously been seen in Ultimate Spider-Man and the first season of Avengers Assemble as they're being based more on their movie counterparts but more recent episodes of Avengers Assemble and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. have featured the updated Guardians.
    • But played straight in the cases of the Collector, Grandmaster, The Supreme Intelligence and Ronan the Accuser who like the Guardians have extremely different personalities and appearances than they did in Ultimate Spider-Man and Hulk and the Agents of SMASH, which is especially jarring when the former and this show go back to back and feature both versions of the characters, not to mention that the season finale of the latter featured the redesigned Guardians and the original version of Ronan.
  • Saved by Canon: Although the Black Order (sans Supergiant) appear to have perished at the might of Magus towards the end of season two, they still have to come back from the dead somehow and begin working for Thanos by the end of Avengers, Assemble! season two.
  • Shared Universe: It's more or less confirmed this series takes place in the same universe as Avengers, Assemble!, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., but before the events of those series occurred.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Let's start with the fact that every episode title is either a pun or a direct reference to classic songs from the 70s-80s.
    • Rocket Raccoon's brother is named Ranger, obviously a nod to another famous raccoon character Ranger Rick (amusingly, Ranger is Rocket's older brother; Rocket was created in 1976, while Ranger Rick first premiered in 1967, so Ranger is the older of the two).
    • In the episode "Fox on the Run", Rocket delivers this gem, in exactly the same inflections as Isabella Garcia-Shapiro:
      "Hey, Gamora! Whatcha steeeeealin'?"
    • Korath's parasite in episode 2 is a twofer - its ability brings to mind the Black Mercy from DC, but appearance-wise it's a tiny Shuma-Gorath.
    • Lunatik from episode 4 looks more like Nathan Explosion than he did in the comics. And then he starts yelling "I AM THE ONE WHO LOOKS!!"
    • A particularly shameless one in "Come and Gut your Love" when Supergiant grows giant, grabs Peter, starts climbing up a rocky spire, roaring and beating her chest...
    • Episode 22 has Cosmo conveniently accompanying Peter to Earth, and using telekinesis to jump across a broken bridge, supposedly borrowing from "Peter's favourite TV show". Then Peter pulls a brake and spin with the car while shooting out the window at Korath, borrowing from "pastel-wearing cops in Miami".
    • In "Mr. Roboto", Quill asks if the sentry robots can turn into things, like trucks and planes. Rocket says it's the stupidest idea he's ever heard, but JaKyee likes it. Later, Rocket rigs 5 robots to combine into one big robot, similar to The Transformers.
    • In the same episode, Quill gets the idea to stymie the robots by teaching them the futility of Tic-Tac-Toe. It doesn't work.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: In "Asgard War Part One: Lightnin' Strikes", after Peter calls out his father, J'son tells him he talks too much like his mother (which sets Peter off).
  • Stock Scream: Drax screams out, of all things, a classic Wilhelm Scream in "Undercover Angle."
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: Drax and Groot are left on the Milano when they're visited by two of Peter's psycho ex girlfriends, just after Drax sets off Peter's music player, leading to the speakers blasting "I Will Survive" while they rain gunfire on the Milano.
  • Terms of Endangerment: Star-Lord and his Archnemesis Dad J'son still call each other "son" and "dad" respectively as insults to highlight the fact that no such connection exists between them.
  • The Alleged Boss: Quill is the official leader of the Guardians but, due to his immaturity and recklessness, actually commands very little authority within the group.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Peter seems to get the brunt of criticism from all his friends.
    • Also, Rocket in One in a Million You, with the exception of Groot, but everyone starts to respect him a little more by the end of the episode.
  • The Starscream: Nebula plans to resurrect Ronan the Accuser which she does and overthrow Thanos. However, Ronan reminds Nebula that's his goal and his alone.
  • The Symbiote: Superficially identical to but otherwise unrelated to Venom and Carnage from Ultimate Spider-Man, the Klyntar — referred to as symbiotes in their debut — are an amorphous symbiotic alien race who were originally peaceful but were corrupted into monsters by Thanos, who destroyed their homeworld.
  • The Worf Effect: Want to know how dangerous Thanos is? One of the first people we see Thanos curbstomping (with one hand!) is Groot. The Mad Titan then makes short work of The Destroyer and Ronan, both of whom are established to be really tough and powerful.
  • Tempting Fate: Star-Lord assures his crew that Knowhere is perfectly safe, as the Celestial head has been dormant for thousands of years. Naturally, dragging along the Cosmic Seed provided a wake-up call.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: In "Knowhere To Run":
    Star-Lord: You know, when I was a kid every time I'd stick up for someone weaker than me, my mom would always say, "You remind me of your daddy." But she also said that every time I'd lose my temper or do something reckless and foolish.
  • The Unfavorite: Rocket is this to his family.
  • Villain World: Much of the galaxy the Guardians are travelling in is ruled by Thanos the Mad Titan.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Uncle Pyko. He wants to lead the animals of Halfworld in a rebellion against their tyrannical robot overlords, which of course everyone (especially Rocket) can get behind. However, his methods of rebellion involved using the same technology the robots used to further evolve and mutate the animals into unstoppable juggernauts, which was quite obviously crossing the Moral Event Horizon (in-universe) regardless of any good intentions. Especially considering that the robots had seen the error of their ways and were trying to undo the damage they had done to the animals on Halfworld.
  • Wham Episode: We meet Peter Quill's dad, King J'son of Spartax, and he's a thrall of Thanos.
  • What Does She See in Him?: In "Asgard War Part One: Lightnin' Strikes", Peter Quill wonders what his mother saw in J'son, after all that he's done.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: When the Guardians finally find the Cosmic Seed, they're forced to engage in a pitched battle with Ronan to take it back after he steals it from them. Then Thanos shows up, curb stomps Ronan, and takes the seed and the Universal Weapon for himself, setting up the next episode.

The webisodes provide examples of:

  • Apocalypse How: Groot's homeworld is firebombed by Ronan, destroying the entire surface of the planet and all life but one Groot.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Groot becomes friends with Rocket after the latter gives him water and helps him break out of the laboratory where they were being kept.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: One of the aliens in "Star-Lord Origins" removes one of his eyes for a retinal scan, which young Peter Quill (reluctantly) uses.
    Peter: Seriously?! Your eyeball is a key?
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: Just before Drax slaughters a room full of guards, he tells the little girl on his back to cover her eyes.
  • Death by Origin Story: As in the movie, Peter Quill's mother was terminally ill when he was abducted from Earth.
  • Gladiator Games: Drax is introduced fighting in Ronan's games. The winner gets to serve as his right hand, while the losers get to be slave labor.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Rocket Racoon, based on the webisode on his friendship with Groot and later escape from the Halfworld's prison.
    • Drax, especially his decision to spare the child's father in gladiatorial battle in spite of his bloodthirsty tendency.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Ronan decides against engaging the Nova Corps when Drax pilots a slave transport to one of their outposts. A few lost slaves isn't worth the trouble of picking a fight with them.
  • Last of His Kind: Groot, according to the "Groot Origins" shorts. But as long as one Groot survives, there's a chance to save the species.
  • Lemony Narrator: Rocket in the "Groot Origins" shorts.
  • Pet the Dog: Drax gives up a shot at Ronan and turns himself into the Nova Corps to save a transport full of slaves.
  • Shaking the Rump: Rocket does this when breaking away from the laboratory guard robots.
    Rocket: Talk to the tail!
  • Uplifted Animal: "Rocket Raccoon Origins" shows that Rocket was once part of a family of feral raccoons kept in a lab.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: When Rocket hijacks the Ravager ship, he turns its ion engines on the grunts surrounding it.
  • Webisode: The Marvel YouTube channel released two-part shorts explaining the origins of the main characters in the lead-up to the first episode.

Alternative Title(s): Guardians Of The Galaxy


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