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Western Animation / Spider-Man (1981)

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A Spider-Man animated series by Marvel Productions that ran from 1981 to 1982 and aired in syndication.

The series isn't as remembered as Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, a Spin-Off that aired concurrently.


This show provides examples of:

  • Actually a Doombot: The trope namer himself pulls this off in the episode "The Doctor Prescribes Doom", where Spider-Man confronts Doctor Doom at the end of the episode, only for him to turn out to be a robot double.
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  • Adaptational Villainy: The Lizard is depicted as a straight-up madman bent on helping reptiles overthrow humanity from the get-go, when the comics portrayed him as an innocent scientist whose transformations were a side effect of attempting to regrow his lost arm. For all we know, this incarnation of Curt Connors may have even deliberately caused his transformation into a humanoid reptile.
  • Brown Bag Mask: After losing his mask while fighting the Sandman in "The Sandman is Coming", Spider-Man is forced to wear a paper bag mask to keep his secret identity safe.
  • Canon Foreigner: J. Jonah Jameson is given a nephew named Mortimer, a relative he never had in the comics.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Jameson's nephew Mortimer stops appearing in the series after the episode "The Hunter and the Hunted".
  • Clear My Name: In "Carnival of Crime", Spider-Man has to clear his name when the Ringmaster and the Circus of Crime frame him for their crimes by using a gas to make everyone hallucinate Spider-Man as the perpetrator.
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  • Did Not Get the Girl: Spidey and Medusa grow fond of each other in Under the Wizard's Spell, but she's unable to stay in New York.
  • Eenie, Meenie, Miny Moai: "When Magneto Speaks...People Listen" at one point has Spider-Man fight a bunch of missile launchers shaped like Easter Island heads.
  • Explosive Leash: In "Under the Wizard's Spell", the Wizard uses an explosive collar to force Medusa of the Inhumans to be his accomplice in crime.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The episode "The Capture of Captain America" at one point shows graffiti reading "jackass" in the background.
    • In one episode featuring Black Cat, she attacks Jonah, and is seen grabbing him. In one shot, her hand goes off panel, and she delivers a telling smirk. While it wasn't shown on screen, the obvious intent was that she'd grabbed his crotch.
  • The Ghost: Harry Osborn is mentioned in "The Vulture Has Landed", but is never seen.
  • Grand Theft Me: The Red Skull's plan in "The Capture of Captain America" was to switch minds with Captain America.
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  • Halloween Episode: The episode "Revenge of the Green Goblin" took place on Halloween.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: In contrast to his tendency to have it in for Spidey in spite of the web-slinger time and time again stopping criminals and saving the day, J. Jonah Jameson always thinks that Doctor Doom is a good person. You'd think that the name would tip him off.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In "Revenge of the Green Goblin", one scene has Spider-Man run into a black cat. He notes that it's a good thing he isn't superstitious, then he crosses his fingers.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: Spider webs are used for the scene transitions.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: "The Incredible Shrinking Spider-Man" had Spider-Man shrink to the size of two inches after being zapped with a shrink ray by a villain called the Gadgeteer.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: "The Sandman is Coming" has two cases of unscrupulous characters immediately getting their just deserts. J. Jonah Jameson sees Spider-Man about to get hit by a truck and refuses to help him, only to get arrested because a bystander saw him gloat about photographing Spider-Man's death and reported him to the police. Peter Parker's mean-spirited classmate also tries to get Peter expelled by claiming that he left her at the mercy of the Sandman, but she ends up expelled instead when Spider-Man presents the teachers with photographic evidence that she shoved Peter into harm's way.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: In "Curiosity Killed the Spider-Man", Spider-Man at one point encounters a well-built man in a blue suit with a red tie and glasses using a phone booth, noting that there's something familiar about him. The obvious implication is that the man is Superman in his civilian identity Clark Kent.
  • Mythology Gag: "The Sandman is Coming" has Spider-Man forced to flee from fighting the Sandman after losing his mask to avoid having his secret identity exposed. The same thing happened during Spidey's first fight with the Sandman in the comics.
  • Officer O'Hara: Spider-Man encounters an Irish-accented cop in "Revenge of the Green Goblin".
  • Plot Allergy: In "Lizards, Lizards Everywhere", Spider-Man has difficulty bringing down the Lizard because of sneezing fits. After he finally defeats the Lizard and consults a doctor, it turns out that the constant sneezing was because he was allergic to reptiles.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Unlike the comics, Medusa is not married and becomes Spidey's love interest for an episode.
  • Robotic Reveal: In "The Doctor Prescribes Doom", Spider-Man accidentally knocks Robbie Robertson out of the window. Upon crashing to the ground, he is revealed to be a robot duplicate of the real Robbie Robbertson, but Spider-Man is unaware of this and believes he killed Robbie Robertson before meeting the real Robbie and finding that he's the genuine article when he tears off his shirt to try and expose his mechanical insides.
  • Rogues-Gallery Transplant:
    • Doctor Doom is featured as a recurring villain in the series with no mention ever made of his usual enemies the Fantastic Four.
    • Spider-Man fights Magneto in the episode "When Magneto Speaks...People Listen", with Magneto's usual enemies the X-Men being nowhere in sight.
    • Spider-Man deals with the Wizard, a Fantastic Four villain, in "Under the Wizard's Spell".
  • Shout-Out: In "Dr. Doom, Master of the World", an elderly pilot retorts to Spider-Man's remark about his beat-up plane by asking if he was expecting the Starship Enterprise. The end of the episode also has Peter Parker ask Betty Brant if she'd like to see a movie about a super-guy from another planet who is allergic to green rocks.
  • Spin-Off: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, a concurrently airing series which had Spider-Man team up with Iceman of the X-Men and an original character named Firestar (who later made it into the comics). In spite of a few minor discrepancies between the two series, it is generally believed to be in the same continuity.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Magneto ends up escaping Spider-Man at the end of the episode "When Magneto Speaks...People Listen".
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