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Western Animation / Spider-Man: The Animated Series

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"New York City. If only everything down there was really as peaceful as it looks from up here."

Spider-Man, commonly referred to as Spider-Man: The Animated Series after a certain other comic book cartoon that came out around the same time, is The '90s Animated Adaptation of the popular Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man. Premiering in 1994, it ran for five seasons on Fox Kids. The animated series chronicles the story of a single, nineteen-year-old Peter Parker attending his first year at Empire State University, trying to get by through his part-time job as a photographer for the Daily Bugle, adjusting to new relationships, and growing into his newfound alter-ego as the amazing Spider-Man. The production history has it meant to be a tie-in to a James Cameron made Spider-Man movie that was never made (eventually passed over to Sam Raimi to become the well-known film trilogy released over half a decade later).

Being made in the 1990s, and not being Batman: The Animated Series, the Saturday-morning cartoon came under heavy censorship — heavier, in fact, than even other Marvel cartoons of the time. Spider-Man almost never threw a punch, and most of the action sequences were either Deadly Dodging or swinging kicks. Never Say "Die" was in full force and there was even a joke among the staff that they couldn't even disturb any pigeons on the rooftops for fear one might have been hurt. The corner-cutting animation also often left a lot to be desired, featuring static movement, constantly recycled sequences, bewilderingly fast conversations and scenes, and all manner of video goofs.

However, even while hampered by the vehemently severe censorship and shoddy animation, even while given strict instructions to keep the cartoon as simplistic as possible, story editor John Semper and his writing team managed to "sneak in" everything that made Spider-Man the series it is, that being compelling character development and story arcs. It condensed the major Spider-Man stories from the comics in a very efficient manner, so much that this version of those stories became engrained over the originals. There was a great number of recurring characters from all over the Marvel Universe, each of whom have a particular spotlight episode or even story arc the series followed, all the time keeping a strong focus on Spider-Man and his interactions with all of them. This hit the spectrum from obscure minor characters to Captain America, Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., plus concurrent Marvel animated shows at the time like Iron Man: The Animated Series and X-Men.

The series' legacy lives on. Not only is it one of many '90s cartoons responsible for introducing a new generation of fans into the world of comic books, but several of its plot elements were later integrated into the blockbuster films that followed it. And despite getting Screwed by the Network, at 65 episodes, this was for the longest time the single longest lasting Spider-Man cartoon until Ultimate Spider-Man and the second-longest Marvel Animated Adaptation after X-Men: The Animated Series. Even after being cancelled, it continues to have reruns going to this day in the U.S. and in various other parts of the globe (of course, the reruns are even more censored). It also inspired the visual style of The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride at Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park, even after its 2012 refurbishment.

It is also noteworthy for being the first adaption of Spider-Man to feature the premise of the character teaming up with alternate versions of himself in the Spider Wars arc. This idea would later be used in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Spider-Men, before being taken to it's logical conclusion in Spider-Verse and Spider-Geddon. Spider-Verse would be loosely adapted as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse while Spider-Man: No Way Home would show three versions of the character from seperate film series.

A little over a year after the ending of the series, Saban Entertainment produced Spider-Man Unlimited, which is erroneously considered by many to be a sequel despite the continuity issues. Even although it managed to produce only 13 episodes before being cancelled as well, it gained somewhat of a cult following.

There's also an episode guide.

Not to be confused with the similar-named Spider-Man: The New Animated Series.

In the Marvel Multiverse, it was listed as Earth-92131 (the same as the X-Men cartoon, as they both coexisted in a Shared Universe).

Spider-Man: The Animated Series provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The last season introduced elements that indicated they were going to develop The Clone Saga with a cloning scientist getting a sample of Spider-Man's blood. The plot of the Grand Finale even included took this story in The Multiverse as another incarnation of Spider-Man (fused with the Carnage symbiote) having an identity crisis from his universe's Clone Saga and trying to go Omnicidal Maniac.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: In many The Lizard-related episodes, there are scenes taking place in the sewers that show sewers to be way more spacious than they are in real life.
  • Action Girl: The series features several, such as the mercenary Silver Sable. The most important is Black Cat, Spider-Man's mildly anti-heroic fellow superhero and Love Interest.
  • Actionized Adaptation: The two-part story "Make a Wish"/"Attack of the Octobot" was based on the classic comics story "The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man" from Amazing Spider-Man #248. But rather than a quiet tale of Spider-Man discussing his life with a fan, he agrees to take her webslinging and gets attacked and mindwiped by Doc Ock. Taina then has to stop him from becoming a Criminal Amnesiac.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • John Phillip Law plays Felicia's father, who in his prime was a master thief. Not unlike Diabolik. (Ironically, Saban Entertainment produced an Animated Adaptation of the original Diabolik in 1997, though it's never aired in the US.)
    • As J. Jonah Jameson, Edward Asner is, once again, in charge of the news.
    • This wasn't the first time Flash Thompson's voice actor Patrick Labyorteaux played a Jerk Jock..
  • Adapted Out:
    • Aside from an alternate reality version appearing in the two-part episode "Spider Wars", Gwen Stacy never appears in this series.
    • The villain Sandman was declared off-limits from appearing in the series because James Cameron intended to make a Spider-Man film featuring Sandman and Electro as villains. Unlike Electro, Sandman never appeared in later episodes once it became clear that Cameron's movie wouldn't come to be.
    • The three-part episode adapting Secret Wars (1984) dispenses with a lot of characters from the original comic book storyline. The most notable and understandable omissions are the Hulk (who couldn't appear because of his own show airing on UPN and had the Lizard take his place) and most of the X-Men (as it proved expensive to have the Canadian cast of the concurrently airing X-Men cartoon flown in to reprise their roles in "The Mutant Agenda" and "Mutants' Revenge").
  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • Despite the heavy censorship, the writers still managed to incorporate the Punisher into the show (complete with laser guns, see above) and make him both completely credible and sympathetic.
    • Similarly, Carnage may not be shown actually killing people left and right (merely "draining their life energy" for Mordo), he was portrayed as unhinged and callous enough that it wouldn't surprise you if he went on a rampage. Cletus Kasady was in fact introduced as a Mad Bomber who, when cornered, laughed at the idea of taking out Spider-Man and any number of police with himself.
    • The Black Suit Spider-Man storyline streamlined the whole arc from the comics so well that this incarnation is the one usually referenced for future adaptations. Specifically it dropped the entire Secret Wars (1984) origin of the black suit, instead having it brought to Earth in a space mission. The sentience of the suit manifests as Peter's aggression building to a fever point before he realizes what is happening, whereas in the comics the suit being discovered as sentient was after a number of traditional Spider-Man stories.
    • One particular incident of this was born out of mishap. When the series tie-in toys were being made, somebody's mistake led to action figures of The Hobgoblin being ordered instead of The Green Goblin. This meant that the show had to follow suit. However, this kept Hobgoblin out of Green Goblin's shadow, and allowed him to blossom more as a character until "The One True Goblin" could be properly introduced.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: The Mega-Slayer has three screens on the front of its "head". In the comics (where it's the Spider-Slayer Mark XIV) this is because it was designed and operated by an associate of Alistaire Smythe with multiple personality disorder, and one of their personalities appeared on each of the screens. In the series, it's designed and operated by Smythe himself, who appears on the centre screen, and the purpose of the side screens is never explained.
  • Adaptational Dye-Job: Aunt May is blonde while Eddie Brock is a redhead.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Abraham Erskine, the scientist who turned Steve Rogers into Captain America was renamed "Joseph Reinstein". Downplayed in that "Dr. Reinstein" is a code-name Erskine used during his participation in Project Rebirth in the comics.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection:
    • Similar what was later done in The Spectacular Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man, the spider that bit Peter in this series was tied into the research of Curt Connors, the Lizard. The same neogenetics research later resulted in the creation of the Scorpion and Morbius, and both Vulture and Silvermane showed interest in Connors's work.
    • In the original comics, Black Cat was already in action on her own when she first appeared and turned to Kingpin to try to get superpowers after being badly beaten in a fight by Dr. Octopus. In the show, Kingpin is directly responsible for her creation, using Felicia as a guinea pig to test the recreated Super Soldier formula, a link which also connects her directly to Captain America.
    • Inverted with Hydro-Man; in the comics, Spider-Man was responsible for causing the accident that caused Morris Bench to obtain his Elemental Shapeshifter powers. In this series, the two never met until Morris first attacked Mary Jane.
    • An odd reversal with the Hobgoblin and the Green Goblin. In the comics the Hobgoblin used repurposed versions of the Goblin's tech for his criminal career, which he stole after Norman's death. Here the Hobgoblin's gear are prototypes that Norman provided Macendale with, before going on to rework it for his own villainous identity as the Green Goblin.
    • In the comics, Calypso had no connections to Kraven's creation. In the series, Dr. Mariah Crawford, Calypso's counterpart, created Kraven by giving Dr. James Reeve's "wonder drug" to her mortally wounded lover, Sergei Kravinoff.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Peter Parker is shown to be more buff and handsome in this series, compared to (at least initial) traditional depictions of the character.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Chameleon had no comic book tech in the comics, he relied on his disguise belt and needed time to take a new form. In the cartoon he has a belt that can instantly take the form of anyone he says, and some inanimate objects.
    • The comic version of Electro could be defeated quite easily for someone with his powers (controlling electricity) to the point where even Daredevil brought him down in their first encounter. The cartoon version of him? He brought down the entirety of S.H.I.E.L.D. single-handed. It probably helped that the cartoon version was literally a different person from the comics incarnation, and thus lacked his comic counterpart's crippling mental issues.
    • Stupid name aside, the Spot went from a C-list member of Spidey's Rogues Gallery, to an antagonistic (but not evil) foe of his able to run circles around Webhead through the use of portals.
    • What should be noted is that in the comics, Black Cat has no powers; she's simply very skilled in fighting and acrobatics. She did make a bargain with the Kingpin to be amped up with Winds of Destiny, Change! powers that made her The Jinx during the time she and Spider-Man were a couple, but these were retconned out fairly quickly afterwards. In the show, she's given the same Super Serum formula that was given to Captain America.
    • Scorpion. He was always intended to be a tough opponent for Spidey, but by the time this show came along, he had become more of a joke. This series presented him as a dangerous (if not intelligent) threat that was capable of smacking Doc Ock or the Lizard around.
    • Originally Tombstone was just a a shrewd criminal mastermind, and later was written to have some degree of Super-Strength. Here he's The Brute for Silvermane, but is portrayed as much stronger than Spider-Man and curb-stomped him twice.
    • The Prowler in the comics is a Badass Normal Gadgeteer Genius. Prowler in the cartoon was granted all sorts of super abilities from his costume, including Super-Strength, flight, and power blasts, and easily handed Spidey his rear the first time they fought.
    • In the comics, the Black Marvel and the Thunderer had no powers, although the latter did have a glorified flashbang setup he used to tilt the odds in his favor. In the series, they possess Captain America-like super-physiques and sonic blast abilities respectively.
    • In the comics, Kraven was originally a Badass Normal, although he would later gain Super-Strength and increased longevity by consuming a mystical potion granted to him by his lover Calypso Ezili. In this series, he begins with Super-Strength and Super-Senses as a side-effect of the wonder-drug created by Dr. James Reeves.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • In the comics, Kraven was a legitimately unhinged man who hunted Spider-Man first out of ennui and for the challenge, and then because he became fixated on Spider-Man as the human avatar of a demonic force he blamed for all the suffering in his life. In this series, Kraven is introduced as a Tragic Monster corrupted by the drug that gave him powers, allies with Spider-Man in his second appearance, and is antagonistic in his third appearance only due to Poor Communication Kills.
    • Kraven's lover Calypso Ezili in the comics was an evil Haitian Voodoo priestess who reveled in suffering, goaded Kraven into his more monstrous acts, and had a backstory that involved making a Human Sacrifice of her own little sister to gain her Black Magic abilities. She was reinvented in this series as Dr. Mariah Crawford, a noble medical scientist who reluctantly created Kraven and then sought help to cure him, helped Spider-Man with his mutation disease, and ultimately became empowered with similar abilities to Kraven's own.
    • In the comics, Dr. Jonathon Ohm, the Spot, was a willing associate of the Kingpin's who attempted to defeat Spider-Man to earn his boss's respect, whereas in the cartoon, he is tricked into assisting him and initially tries to leave Fisk's employee before being forced to battle Spider-Man to save the woman he loves. He ultimately makes a Heroic Sacrifice to prevent the planet from being swallowed by a pseudo-black hole.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Mary Jane's Aunt Anna was bad-tempered, arrogant and condescending, treating Peter like yesterday's garbage even though he was never anything but polite to her. In the comics, on the other hand, she was a sweet lady much like Aunt May, who even developed a very positive opinion of Spider-Man after he saved her from a Spider-Slayer, and was one of the matchmakers for Peter and MJ.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: In the comics, Hydro-Man and Mary Jane have never even met, and they have no connection to each other in the slightest. In this series, Hydro-Man is reimagined as Mary Jane's crazy ex-boyfriend turned super-powered Stalker with a Crush.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Hobie Brown aka The Prowler. In the comics, Hobie stole items in his Prowler persona and returned them as Hobie to accept rewards but never did anything excessively evil. The Hobie of this show is a power hungry crook who plans on usurping his boss, Iceberg and taking over his criminal empire. That said, he still pulls a Heel–Face Turn like his comic counterpart.
  • Affably Evil: How Kingpin is often portrayed. The Spot as well.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Mysterio, who in his final episode is simply trying to keep the disfigured woman he loves content with a scheme he knows will not work, and who ultimately sacrifices his life to die with her when it fails.
    • Spider-Carnage, who is literally a Peter Parker pushed to the breaking point, and then given the Carnage symbiote.
  • Alliance of Alternates: The finale had Spidey teaming up with multiple alternate dimension versions of himself to save the universe with the help of Madame Web and The Beyonder. They include a Tony Stark style inventor engaged to Gwen Stacy (who "our" Spidey had never even met), a version of Ben Reily, a Spidey still having multiple arms due to a mutation problem, a Spidey with Doc Ock arms, and an actor with no powers who plays Spidey on TV, hailing from a universe where Spider-Man is just a famous comic character created by Stan Lee.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Jameson, of course. Added to in one episode where he goes back into action as a reporter to uncover the conspiracy against Robbie, and reveals that he used to have a Red Baron of "Jigsaw". Yes, J. "Jigsaw" Jonah Jameson.
    • For that matter, Robbie (Robertson). Peter Parker as well.
    • Let's not forget Robbie's son Randy Robertson, as well as Otto Octavius, Spencer Smythe, Michael Morbius, Lonnie Lincoln, Glory Grant, Cletus Kasady, John Jameson, Curt Connors, and in guest appearances, Reed Richards, Sue Storm, "Rhodey" Rhodes, Scott Summers, and even Stephen Strange. (Of course, Robbie and Rhodey are nicknames based on their last names; their first names are Joseph and Jim, respectively.)
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Peter Parker during his high school years.
  • All Part of the Show: The reaction when Kraven crashes a fundraising fashion show and starts fighting Spider-Man in front of everyone.
  • Alternate Universe: The final arc has versions of Spider-Man from several universes team up to stop Spider-Carnage, another alternate Spider-Man, from destroying all reality. There's the Scarlet Spider, a Spidey in Powered Armor that sounds like he's that world's version of Tony Stark, one with Doc Ock's tentacles, a version that still has four extra arms, and most surprising of all, an actor from a universe where Spidey is just a comic character. So basically, it was Spider-Verse before Spider-Verse.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Felicia Hardy starts out as an ordinary (but still very pretty) friend and classmate of Peter, then becomes the Black Cat thanks to a Super Serum based on Captain America's. As a result, her golden locks turn white, she gains increased strength, acrobatic prowess, and reflexes (not unlike that of Spidey and Cap), her personality changes to that of a self-confident Femme Fatale (complete with a huskier and more sultry voice), and she grows taller and more muscular. This change in her physique is readily apparent thanks to the skin-tight leather Spy Catsuit Felicia wears, as well as her change from her civilian persona being accompanied by a quick Transformation Sequence where her body glows a pale yellow as her muscles grow.
  • And This Is for...:
    • "THAT was for Aunt May!"
    • When Iron Man blasts Venom at the Daily Bugle building: "That was for War Machine! This is for me!"
  • Animation Bump: The early episodes are of the same quality as most of TMS Entertainment. Then they outsourced to Seoul Movie, budget problems set in, and Stock Footage use went way up.
  • Anti-Climactic Unmasking: Spider-Man is unmasked by the Insidious Six, but because he is suffering from Power Incontinence, they believe that it's just Peter Parker (whom Doc Ock knows) in a costume playing the role to try and save his aunt, whom they are holding hostage. Silvermane mocks Kingpin over this, accusing him of strong-arming some poor teenager because he couldn't find the real Spider-Man.
  • Anti-Climax: The "Grand Finale" of Mysterio's act in his debut episode was anything but this in the worst way possible. With a lethal weapon aimed at him, Spider-man has only one chance to strike the real Mysterio amongst multiple impostor illusions. This could have been suspenseful in a "do or die" way, but the pacing was far too quick to even understand what's going on.
  • Anti-Hero: The Black Cat. Unlike her comic book counterpart she only resorts to theft once to protect her father from the Kingpin. Aside from that it mostly comes down to her more reckless attitude in contrast to Spidey as well as nabbing a man's motorcycle in her first episode.
  • Anti-Villain: Several.
    • In particular, this is possibly the most sympathetic version of Norman Osborn, especially as the series goes on to establish the dichotomy between himself and his Green Goblin alter-ego.
    • The Prowler was a late-series villain who started off as a petty crook caught by Spider-Man and was given legal help to get out of prison and Powered Armor by the Kingpin (which could match Spider-Man in battle), all because he protected Kingpins' son while in prison. It was interesting because he had every reason to become a real villain (including a potential Create Your Own Villain grudge) but when the Kingpin revealed the armor was on an Explosive Leash, he sought Spider-Man for help in resolving the matter as well as redemption for his own mistakes.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
    • After Felicia is kidnapped by Doctor Octopus (the first time around), Peter gives his account to the authorities and... is promptly laughed at. Because in a world that has seen Spider-Man, the Lizard, the Scorpion, giant Spider-Slayer robots and various unrelated super heroes (who have their own super villains), how could a guy with four mechanical arms grafted to his body possibly exist?
    • Another example is in "The Return of Hydro-Man", when Mary Jane is arrested by the police and tells them about how Hydro-Man was after her. They don't believe her for a second, despite the fact that Mary Jane being a former target of Hydro-Man was pretty damn well publicized.
    • A less direct example is how, at some points, people would instantly decide that any villain that exhibits superpowers has got to be Spider-Man somehow. Most ridiculous how Felicia and the police decided that Morbius was actually Spider-Man, despite the two blatantly looking absolutely nothing alike.
    • Doctor Kafka didn't believe Eddie's stories about Venom - thinking "Venom never existed." Instead, she thinks that Eddie was deluded because of Spider-Man's "horrible persecution" of him. This is odd because not only is Eddie completely upfront about it, but there were a number of witnesses that actually saw Venom (including Jonah and Robbie). Her skepticism doesn't last long, though.
      • And then, when Harry Osborn ends up in her care, she similarly insists that the Green Goblin isn't real, but just a psychotic delusion of Harry's. Which is pretty strange, considering the Green Goblin terrorized the city and kidnapped multiple people.
  • Arc Villain: While the Kingpin is the overall Big Bad, each season (save the fourth) has an additional prominent threat:
    • Season 1: Venom
    • Season 2: Morbius
    • Season 3: The Green Goblin
    • Season 5: The Red Skull and Electro for the Six Forgotten Warriors arc; Doctor Doom during the Secret Wars three-parter; and Spider-Carnage in the Spider Wars finale.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In "The Night of the Lizard", despite his wife's objections, the Lizard keeps insisting that his plans to turn humanity into lizard creatures will actually help people.
    Lizard: I can make people well again! And I won't stop for anything!
    Margaret: Not even for Billy? You want him to be like you, too?
    Lizard: My son... I have a son...
  • Ascended Extra: Alistair Smythe was minor in the comics compared to his father Spencer, but here it's the other way around. Ironically, many fans found him a much cooler character before he became the Ultimate Slayer.
  • Assimilation Backfire: In the "Neogenic Nightmare" arc, Spider-Man is attacked by the Vulture, a villain who uses advanced technology to steal vitality from others. Unfortunately for the Vulture, the mutation that gives Spider-Man his powers is particularly unstable at the time of the attack, and he absorbs some of Spider-Man's DNA, causing him to mutate into a monstrous man/spider hybrid.
  • Atrocious Alias: Everyone's favorite superhero The Whizzer.
  • Ax-Crazy: Carnage! He even lampshades it:
    Carnage: Guess I could say you axed for this, web-man!
  • Back from the Dead: Hydro-Man, appearing in the first and last seasons. Unusual for this trope, the actual nature of his return is crucial to the story.
  • Badass Bystander: Spider-Man notes that Mary Jane was the one who was able to set up Hydro-Man's defeat, as she led him away from any significant water source and he continued to use up what reserves he had fighting Spider-Man.
  • Badass Longcoat: The Punisher wears an overcoat in this series and as always is an intimidating vigilante.
  • Badass Normal:
    • The Hobgoblin manages to be a legitimate threat for Spider-Man without having his comic book abilities.
    • Also, as in the comic, the Kingpin. He once describes himself as having very little fat and Spider-Man gets to see what 350 pounds of muscle can do.
    • The Spidey actor from the dimension in which Spider-Man is a fictitious character also managed to have his moments.
    • And don't forget The Punisher, of course. Sure, he doesn't get to kill anyone on-screen, but he still has the sheer balls to face down and take a swing at a horrifically-mutated Spider-Man.
  • Bad Butt: Venom and Carnage, so so much...
  • Bash Brothers: True to the comics, when Daredevil shows up him and Spider-Man prove to be a formidable and awesome team.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Silvermane's attempt to restore his youth ends up de-aging him into a baby.
    Spider-Man: Incredible! He wanted his youth back; he got it...
  • Between My Legs: Black Cat gets subjected to this camera shot in the episode "Secret Wars: The Gauntlet of the Red Skull" when her long muscular legs frame a vent where one of Doc Ock's mechanical arms were about to exit from in order to grab her from behind.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: When Mary Jane is lost in limbo, presumed dead by the characters, Spider-Man starts going after the Green Goblin with the exact same rage as when he was manipulated by the Symbiote. Except, obviously, this is purely Peter doing it.
  • Big Bad: Many of the more noteworthy members of Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery make appearances, but the most frequently appearing was "the Kingpin" Wilson Fisk (whereas the other villains dropped by once or twice a season). He even plays a sizable role in several of the series' most notable story arcs. After Peter himself, he was actually the most frequently appearing character.
  • Big Budget Beef-Up: Despite the generally shoddy animation later in the shows run, most big episodes were fully animated and looked rather great. This includes the conclusion of the WWII arc with Captain America and the Grand Finale.
  • Big Damn Villain: Vulture in "Partners".
  • Big "NO!": Blade lets out a particularly, unintentionally hilarious one of these in the season four episode, "The Vampire Queen". And Spider-Man has a far more effective one when the Mary Jane clone dies.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: From "The Spider Slayer":
    Jonah: The other networks are laughing at me, Brock! Even Fox! Can you imagine the humiliation?!
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The Latin American Spanish translation, while extremely popular, is riddled with mistranslations, gaffes and outright puzzling, inexplicable dialogue, but chief among them is the way they handled the Goblins. When Hobgoblin shows up, he's called "Duende Verde", which means "Green Goblin". He continues to be called by that name until the episode in which the actual character named Green Goblin is introduced, at which point they suddenly start calling Hobgoblin simply "Duende" (Goblin). This would be already bad enough, but the very first time Hobgoblin is named in that very episode, he's still referred to as "Green Goblin". Furthermore, when later in the episode the Green Goblin mentions Hobgoblin he does so by his original name in English. Count them: that's three different ways the name of the character is translated in one episode, despite being always the same word in the original version. All of this results in an extreme amount of confusion for anyone who's not familiar with the characters and their original names.
  • Blood Knight: In the episode "Doctor Strange" featuring the titular sorcerer, his Battle Butler Wong seems to be this. Doctor Strange has shades of it as well:
    Doctor Strange: Here we are again, Wong. Leaping into the unknown to fight the deadliest battles of our lives.
    Wong: Exciting, is it not, Doctor?
    Doctor Strange: It is.
    Spider-Man: No offense, but you guys are really weird.
  • Bluff the Impostor: In Doc Ock's first appearance, Peter (a former student and huge fan) attempts to negotiate with him over the phone, expressing his admiration for Octavius' work. Ock tries to trip Peter up by mentioning a paper he never wrote: when Peter calls him on it, he knows Peter's telling the truth.
  • Body Horror:
    • The "Neogenic Nightmare" arc has Spidey eventually mutate into the mindless Man-Spider. It is not pretty.
    • At the end of this arc, the defective gene responsible for this change is transferred to the Vulture because of his energy absorption technology. He retains his mind, but is shown flying away in horror at what he has become. When he reappears, while he's human now, he shifts back-and-forth between his true, aged form and a younger form repeatedly.
    • The Scorpion gets a higher dose of this than usual. In his first appearance he doesn't stop mutating, gradually growing into a monster complete with fangs, claws, yellow eyes, green skin and standing at least twelve feet tall. He's partially cured by the end of the episode but is still trapped in his suit and with scorpion powers.
    • Michael Morbius. Getting bitten by a vampire bat that fed on some of Parker's irradiated blood turned him into a "living vampire" that needed plasma to live. He had chalk-white skin, an upturned bat nose, fangs, pointed ears... and suckers on his hands which he used to feed! Later he was further mutated into a hulking man-bat, though that was eventually undone and he was restored to his normal sucker-handed vampire self.
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens to random civilians and side characters on some episodes and two times to Black Cat.
  • Bowdlerise: The ABC Family run of the show heavily censored several episodes to get it Distanced from Current Events, due to 9/11. Some episodes were even completely taken out. Thankfully, later runs on the channel (as well as its run on Toon Disney) would be shown uncut with all episodes intact and shown.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Spider-Man and Mary Jane, briefly, in the third season opener "Doctor Strange".
  • Bullying the Dragon: J. Jonah Jameson sure has a way with words when calling out Doctor Octopus for kidnapping Felicia Hardy.
    Doc Ock: You dare talk that way to a scientist?!
    Jameson: Scientist? You're just some coward who kidnapped an innocent girl!
    (Doc Ock crushed his portable TV)
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When Mysterio claims that Spider-Man ruined him on the Brooklyn Bridge, Spider-Man couldn't remember who he was until his Friend on the Force went through police records and reminded him. As Spidey put it, he has people swear revenge on him two or three times a week.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: Spider-man inverts this when someone compares him to Peter Parker; instead of trying to defend or play up Peter, which might sound suspicious, Spidey acts insulted.
  • Canon Immigrant: Whistler, best known from the Blade movie series, for which he was created, actually made his first official appearance on this show, under permission from David S. Goyer.
  • The Cavalry: In "Framed," Peter Parker is trapped and suffocating in a superstrong airtight chamber strong enough to contain Spider-Man; fortunately Daredevil comes to rescue him.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower:
    • Despite only having years of training under his belt, the Kingpin is every bit as strong as any genuinely superpowered character on the show. A great example is when the Kingpin, Spidey, and the Insidious Six are shackled. Despite this group including the likes of Scorpion, Doc Ock, and freaking Rhino, Kingpin is still the first one to bust loose.
    • When temporarily returned to his prime, Silvermane was a good example as well. Hell, immediately after the transformation, he decides to pick a fight with the Lizard for the hell of it, and proceeds to toy with him.
  • Chekhov's Gunman / Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Eddie Brock appears for several episodes as a reporter crossing paths with Spider-Man before the Alien Costume arc, unlike in the comics where he was an example of Remember the New Guy?.
    • Both Felicia Hardy and Michael Morbius debuted as Peter's classmates before developing superpowered personas.
  • Chic and Awe: In one episode, Peter reluctantly agrees to go on a blind date with the daughter of one of his aunt's friends only after everything he planned to avoid it falls through. He hears his aunt talking about the girl and opens the door... only to gasp as he sees a red-headed model, Mary-Jane Watson, for the first time.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The Hobgoblin would often enter into an alliance with another character, then betray them in short order. In his first appearance he was hired by Norman Osborn to kill the Kingpin, but failed to do so and was fired, though he kept his glider and other equipment. He then started to work for Kingpin, who ordered that Harry be kidnapped and used to blackmail Norman. Hobgoblin then made a deal with Osborn to get rid of Kingpin and rescue Harry. Hobgoblin ousted Kingpin from his command center and briefly took command of the New York underworld, inheriting the kidnapped Harry in the process. He then went back on his deal with Osborn, saying he will return Harry in exchange for control of Oscorp. Odds are he would have double-crossed Norman again, but Spider-man rescued Harry and defeated the Hobgoblin, forcing him to abandon his new command center.
  • Classy Cat-Burglar: Three guesses.
  • Clear My Name:
    • Kingpin and his son manage to frame Peter Parker for treason, completely unaware that he's also Kingpin's biggest enemy.
    • On his debut episode, Mysterio framed Spider-Man for his crimes.
    • Eddie Brock framed Spider-Man for stealing the mineral John Jameson brought to Earth.
    • Tombstone made a deal with the Kingpin to frame Robbie.
    • Not to mention all occasions Spidey is being blamed for things nobody ever deliberately tried to frame him for.
  • Companion Cube: Spider-Man occasionally talks with Bruce, the gargoyle. No, not that kind of gargoyle.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: The Scorpion tends to wear these as a disguise.
  • Cosmopolitan Council:
    • The mob leaders, including the Kingpin (who was kicked out), Silvermane, and Hammerhead.
    • Oscorp stockholders, which includes the Kingpin, Anastasia Hardy, and J. Jonah Jameson.
  • Could Have Been Messy
  • Criminal Amnesiac: Spider-Man in the Season 3 episode "Attack of the Octobot".
  • Crossover:
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: In one episode, Jameson briefly goes back to being a reporter to uncover a conspiracy against Robbie. He actually does a pretty damn good job at it, successfully finding the necessary information largely on his own, and handling himself reasonably well for an unpowered guy years out of action. (Even Spidey is impressed with ol' flat-top.)
  • Cultured Badass: Kraven the Hunter.
  • Dartboard of Hate: Mysterio has three of these in his warehouse in his first episode. "Beck's a one-man Spidey fanclub..."
  • Dating Catwoman: Spider-Man and Black Cat have a large amount of UST throughout the series, starting with their first encounter (as temporary foes). Despite a few kisses here and there, nothing long-lasting develops from it other than friendship and Felicia eventually realizes that she has feelings for Morbius instead.
  • Deadly Dodging: Spidey takes out the Hobgoblin this way.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • One of the few incarnations where Peter can be just as mouthy and sarcastic as his wall-crawling alter-ego.
    • Some villains could be this as well, especially Smythe toward his boss, the Kingpin.
  • Declaration of Protection: Norman Obsorn's Green Goblin Split Personality is obsessed with protecting him from harm by attacking anyone who dares to oppose him like Spider-Man, Hobgoblin, and Kingpin.
  • Decomposite Character:
    • The show didn't use Gwen as a regular character because all roads with her lead to death so instead, they gave her Ditko-era characterization as Lovable Alpha Bitch of Peter's college and character design to pre-Black Cat Felicia and her sweet, wholesome Girl Next Door characterization to Mary Jane.
    • The Golden Age super hero Black Marvel is split into two different people. Dan Lyons, the hero's identity from the comics, is made into a separate character only posing as the real Black Marvel, while his true identity in the cartoon is Omar Mosely, an Afro-American friend and chauffeur of Lyons. The split is explained as being necessary because A: Lyons' father didn't want to risk his son's life on the untested Super Serum, and B: people wouldn't have accepted a black superhero in those days, so Mosely got the treatment and Lyons became his Secret-Keeper.
  • Destined Bystander: Much like future adaptations, this series not only keeps the existing Spidey examples but introduces several other characters long before they take on their classic identities.
    • Harry and Norman Osborn, as per the comics. Unlike the comics, Norman funds the creation of the Hobgoblin years before donning the green mask.
    • Eddie Brock's grudge against Spider-Man is built up over the course of season one, beginning with the first episode. In the comics, Peter had never met him or even heard of him prior to him becoming Venom.
    • Felicia Hardy takes the place in the cast you'd expect Gwen or Liz Allen to occupy, and gets three seasons of screentime before becoming the Black Cat. Michael Morbius, etc.
  • Dirty Cop: Federal Agent Susan Choi, who turns out to be The Mole for the Kingpin in "Framed".
  • Disabled Snarker / Servile Snarker: Smythe spends most of his time in Crime Central trading snark with Kingpin.
  • Disability Superpower: Daredevil shows up in two-part episode, covering his origin. He demonstrates his enhanced senses and even Spider-Man is in awe, noting that it puts his Spider-Sense to shame.
  • Dramatic Irony: Several interactions between Dr. Landon and his assistant Genevieve in "The Mutant Agenda" become a sad version of this after The Reveal. Landon's chief ambition is to destroy the Marvel mutants, something the seeming Knight Templar Genevieve does not oppose. It is then shown that she is secretly a mutant herself — but troubled and filled with self-loathing because of it. In one of their final dialogues, when he is about to launch his purge, she works up her courage and almost asks him not to do it... Only to withdraw when he responds with hostility.
    Genevieve: (Hesitantly) Are you sure we are doing the right thing—?
    Landon: (Hatefully) This is no time for second thoughts! Mutants are a curse on the human race!
    Genevieve: (Quietly, looking down) To be a mutant... Is to be cursed...
  • Driven to Suicide: Miranda Wilson in "The Haunting of Mary Jane Watson". While capable of escaping, Mysterio declines so they can be Together in Death.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?:
    • Well, whose show did you think this was? Spidey himself even lampshades it more than once.
      Spider-Man: It's always the same! I can save the world ten times over, but when I need help, I'm on my own! Thanks... for nothing.
    • Subverted in "Day of the Chameleon." After saving the peace talks and swinging off, Spidey figures he won't get his due. All of a sudden, Nick Fury himself catches up with him to congratulate him.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After Spider-Man stops Spider-Carnage from destroying all reality, and after his meeting with Stan Lee, the series ends with Madame Web promising Spidey that they will find the real Mary Jane Watson.
  • Egopolis: During the Secret Wars, Doctor Octopus's conquered territory is called Octavia.
  • Embarrassing Rescue: In "Shriek of the Vulture", the Vulture placed a device on Spider-Man's forefront that rendered Spidey immobile until the device was removed by Flash Thompson. Spidey didn't like being rescued by someone who bullies his alter ego.
  • End-of-Series Awareness: The second part of the two-part finale "Spider Wars" had the subtitle "Farewell, Spider-Man", which was likely to acknowledge that it was the show's last episode.
  • Energy Ring Attack: The crossover with X-Men: The Animated Series has a woman named Genevieve who serves as an assistant to an anti-mutant racist. It is revealed that Genevieve is a mutant herself with telekinetic powers which manifest as a concentric circle beam that levitates anything it hits.
  • Enemy Mine: Happens often, usually due to the allied villain's Hidden Depths or the fact that they just hate the other villain more than they hate Spidey. Also of note is that, when the planet itself is in jeopardy, the Kingpin tends to be the first one to step up to deal with the problem. As he himself puts it, "There's no profit to be made in the destruction of the planet. It's bad for business." In "The Wedding," Kingpin operates a Mega-Slayer robot to aid Spidey and Black Cat against the new Green Goblin and Smythe's robots.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Many people get closer to discovering Parker's true identity, but end up guessing it wrong.
    Punisher: I think I know who you really are, Peter Parker. (Peter Parker looks shocked) The way I figure it, you're really the Green Goblin.
    Parker: That tranquilizer must have gotten to your head too.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The Scorpion hates it when people make fun of him, but nobody gets away with talking trash about his mom.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • The Kingpin loved his wife Vanessa dearly, as well as his son Richard.
    • Smythe was motivated by what happened to his father.
    • Scorpion and Mysterio also had Love Interests.
    • Venom's apparent attachment to his therapist actually lead to his Heroic Sacrifice to keep Carnage from unleashing Dormammu from the Dark Dimension.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
  • Evil Costume Switch: Spider-Man after wearing the Symbiote version of the suit. Ironically it was this animated series that created the idea of the Symbiote suit affecting its wearer's mind, which was used in the third live-action film, The Spectacular Spider-Man, and the Ultimate comics line.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Felicia's father doesn't want his daughter to repeat his mistakes as a cat burglar and would rather have her live an honest life.
  • Evolutionary Levels: Invoked between, of all things, two humans when, after revealing to Harry that he was his father, the Green Goblin exclaims, "I am the ultimate evolution of Norman Osborn! Smarter, stronger, able to be more ruthless than he ever was." Although it deserves to be mentioned that "evolution", when not specifically referring to biology, can be defined as synonymous with "growth" or "development" — so the Goblin wasn't speaking nonsense after all.
  • Exploited Immunity: At one point, Tombstone, who doesn't need to breathe, catches the hero in a chokehold inside a room that's filling up with toxic gas.
  • Expy:
    • The show had a minor recurring expy of Sharon Carter named "Agent 1".
    • A more recurrent character was Detective Terri Lee, who was an expy of Captain Jean Dewolff.
  • The Faceless:
    • Shocker is never seen without his mask on — even during his stint in prison.
    • Ditto for the Chameleon.
  • Fake Identity Baggage: In "The Spider Slayer", Flash Thompson in a misguided attempt to stick up for Spider-Man dresses up as the Web-Slinger and tries to intimidate Peter Parker to make him stop taking pictures of Spider-Man that Jameson will use to slander his hero. Unfortunately for Flash, this results in him being captured by Spencer Smythe who mistakes him for the real Spider-Man. After rescuing Flash, Spider-Man tells Flash "Now you know what kind of trouble this costume attracts".
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Handled somewhat better than X-Men: The Animated Series — at least the guns actually look futuristic. Plus, with so many other "super-science" type things going on in this series, it's perhaps justified (compared, at least, to shows where phasers are the only divergence from the present day). It does, however, make the occasional normal-looking revolver that appears (but is then never fired) seem somewhat odd among the rest of the ray guns.
  • Figure It Out Yourself: Madame Webb was training Spider-Man for some great mission to come, and being generally omniscient she would leave hints as to how he should approach a current situation. A combination of Stealth Mentor and Secret Test of Character.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: At the end of Attack of the Octobot, Peter casually unmasks himself in front of Taina, a young girl who he spent time with for much of the episode. Seems rather brazen, doesn't it? Then when he leaves we find out she's a patient at a hospital for terminally ill kids.
  • Forced Transformation: Due to his mutations Spider-man grows an four extra arms and eventually becomes Man-Spider, a hulking monster with immense strength but lacks Peter's mind to control it. It's not easy for Pete in any way.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In "Return of the Spider Slayers", after Spider-Man's actions got Eddie Brock fired from his new job only a few minutes after he was hired, Eddie swears he'll get back at him.
    Eddie: I'll get even with you! I'll get even with you if its the last thing I do!
    • In "Goblin War", Felicia says she feels like a black cat, bringing bad luck on all who know her. Next season, she becomes the Black Cat.
    • In a single line, Dr. Connors talks about the possibility of receiving a grant from the Toomes Foundation to save his Neogenic Research, several episodes and two mini-arcs away from its actual appearance.
    • The Scorpion's sudden and unplanned continued mutation in his debut episode sets things up for the reveal of Spidey's own ongoing mutations in the second season, as they were both created by neogenics.
    • At the end of his guest appearance episode, Doctor Strange sensed that they were being watched by a powerful entity. Not only do we see a glimpse of Madame Web who shows up in the next episode, but later in the "Secret Wars" and "Spider Wars" arcs, we learn that she's a cosmic being similar to the Beyonder (who's her lover here).
  • Fourth Reich: During the "Secret Wars" arc, the Beyonder forces a group of superheroes to fight a group of supervillains on an alien planet. Although it's not shown in much detail, the empire carved out by the Red Skull shows that the aliens have started Putting on the Reich.
  • Fully-Embraced Fiend: Morbius in the first Blade tie-in, where he has accepted his vampirism and turned against humanity.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: The new field of "Neogenics", vaguely defined as altering a subject's DNA, is responsible for creating several vilains, such as the Lizard, Scorpion and Morbius, though it is also responsible for Peter becoming Spider-man as well.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Felicia exclaims "that maniac nearly killed you," in The Return of Kraven. The show is infamous for Never Say "Die". Another episode has Liz Allan use the word kill again but in Pig Latin.
    • In Scorpion’s debut, prior to his transformation, he says “he’d kill for a chance to get back at Spider-Man” and later, as Scorpion, he threatens Spider-Man by calling him “dead meat”.
    • The season 1 finale titled Day of the Chameleon shows Nick Fury’s obituary printed in the Daily Bugle. On pausing the video at the right moment, viewers can read that Fury “died in a violent crash” and that his “body was completely burned and identified with dental records”.
  • The Ghost: Bruce Banner/The Hulk is mentioned in some episodes, but couldn't physically appear because of his own show airing on UPN.
  • Good Parents: Norman Osborn, of all people. The demands of his work caused him to neglect Harry during his childhood, but Norman deeply regrets it and is willing to risk his own life to protect Harry. His desire to protect his son is even part of the reason he becomes the Green Goblin, in a stark contrast with the next animated version of Norman Osborn.
  • Gollum Made Me Do It: Though he is involved in various shady businesses well before his personality split, Norman Osborn still tries to be a relatively decent person for the most part and blames his alter ego The Green Goblin for his more ignoble ventures.
  • Grand Finale: The series ended with the two-part episode "Spider-Wars", which had Spider-Man team up with several alternate versions of himself to stop Spider-Carnage (an alternate Spider-Man bonded with the Carnage symbiote) from destroying the multiverse and concluded with Madame Webb deciding to reward the web-slinger for his efforts by helping him find Mary Jane. Spidey even gets to meet his creator Stan Lee.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • The Kingpin, from personally commissioning the creation of the Insidious Six and the three original Spider Slayers, pushing Alistar Smythe into villainy, tormenting Norman Osborn leading to him becoming the Green Goblin (which lead to Harry becoming the second Green Goblin and Mary Jane's disappearance as well as everything that happened because of those two events), killing Matt Murdock's and tormenting Felicia Hardy's fathers (which led to them becoming Daredevil and Black Cat), his gang war with Silvemane causing him to adopt more destructive and fantastic schemes to gain more power, his abuse of Smythe causing him to ally with Silvermane (which ties in with the "Return of Hydro Man" arc), it's hard to find some major event in the series that Kingpin wasn't a part of in some way, directly or indirectly.
    • Nazi archvillain Red Skull predictably turned up in the Captain America crossover arc—but also turned out to be behind a whole lot of trouble that was not directly related to that, including the fate of Peter Parker's parents, the origin stories of several supervillains and (indirectly) even that of the Black Cat.
    • Everything related to Madam Web and Beyonder and their cosmic manipulations, including the "Secret War" crossover arc, eventually turned out to be part of a desperate scheme to stop the omnicidal alternate-universe Spider-Carnage from destroying all the universes.
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: This is how The Kingpin came to be — originally sent to prison for larceny, after one of his dad's scams went south, and his bulk prevented him from following his father up a fire escape. Once he comes out, he'd got "connections", and used what he'd learned to begin building his criminal empire.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Spidey and Black Cat.
    Motorcycle owner: You miserable thieves!
    Spidey: We're not thieves! Well. Well, I'm not, but — her, I'm not so sure about.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Quite a few. Spoilers, obviously:
    • Nobody dies, but John Hardesky voluntarily returns to prison to prevent anyone else threatening his family or attempting to get the Captain America formula from him.
    • A post Heel–Face Turn Eddie takes up the Venom symbiote again and tackles Carnage through the portal to Dormammu's dimension to keep either of them from menacing humanity. He's lucky if death is as bad as it gets for him.
    • The Spot's unstable portal could only be prevented from becoming a full-on black hole from the inside. He enters it to close it, knowing it means there's no coming back.
    • In the dimension-hopping finale arc, Spider-Carnage regains his senses after meeting Uncle Ben, but the alternate Peter ultimately can't throw off or rein in the Carnage symbiote. He instead enters an unstable portal while he has control of himself, being disintegrated.
    • Instead of being frozen in ice, we find Captain America has been trapped in an extra dimensional limbo with the Red Skull since World War 2 as it was the only way to stop him. At the end of the arc, he makes the same decision again.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Thanks to Felicia, the vampire Morbius realizes he's become a plague, like the one in his home country. The reason why he came to America was to work on a cure.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Mysterio was just a vindictive jerk, albeit a fairly smart and effective one, for most of the series. Then came the episode where it turned out that he'd been living in the catacombs beneath an old film studio, where he'd fallen in love with a disfigured actress...
    • The Kingpin was as ruthless as they come, but several later episodes showed he genuinely cared for his wife and son.
    • The Scorpion seems generally considered Dumb Muscle, but when the Insidious Six first team-up, he's the one to think of exploiting the known "connection" between Peter Parker and Spider-Man (even before Doc Ock). A later episode also reveals that he's engaged and that his criminal life is to fund a way to return himself to normal.
    • Jonah Jameson hates Spider-Man and verbally abuses his staff in every episode he appears in, but he loves his son, goes out of his way to prove Robbie innocent of a frame-up and (secretly) pays Peter's legal bills. And, after Peter and Mary Jane get married, his gift is a Daily Bugle van for them to take a honeymoon in. It's occasionally implied that he sees Peter as a surrogate son.
    • Felicia Hardy is introduced as a spoiled rich girl but beneath her more confident than thou exterior it is shown that she is genuinely lonely, has some family issues (like a thief for a father), wishes she had something more fulfilling in her life and after she becomes Black Cat she does try to help ex-flame Morbius.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Breaking into the Kingpin's computer system, Spider-Man somehow gets a few letters of the word "PROGENY" and guesses the rest, as if password cracking worked like Wheel of Fortune.
    Small Screen Spidey: Apparently [Spider-Man's] idea of hacking is to go through every word in the dictionary.
  • History Repeats: When Wilson Fisk was a boy he was abandoned by his father to the police after a heist went wrong, with the last works his father said to him being "sacrifices must be made," and Fisk refusing to name his dad as an accomplice. After he finally got out of jail he began his criminal empire as The Kingpin and destroyed his previous criminal record. The last step was having his father murdered after finally reuniting with him, both to tie up the last lose end to his past and as revenge for abandoning him. At the end of the episode Fisk's own son takes the blame when one of Fisk's schemes fails and refuses to name Fisk as one of his accomplices, with Fisk merely whispering to him "sacrifices must be made." Fisk is last seen looking at a photo of his family and sadly wondering to himself how long he has left until his own son takes revenge on him.
  • Hot Teacher: In the episode "Rocket Racer", Peter becomes a science teacher. It is shown he fits the bill on this trope.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When the Scorpion (who looks like this) meets up with the Vulture, he has this to say. Then again, Gargan didn't want to wear that outfit, he is mocking The Vulture for putting it ''on purpose''.
    Scorpion: What's with them wings? And how come you're wearin' that dumb green costume? You some kind of a nut?
  • I Just Want to Be Normal:
    • Peter tries to quit the superhero gig so often his Catchphrase might as well be "Hello Peter Parker, goodbye Spider-Man."
    • It's also the Scorpion's motivation for most of the series; he just wants to turn back into regular old Mac Gargan.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: In "Doctor Octopus: Armed and Dangerous", Jameson tries to warn Doc Ock is he does anything to hurt Felicia, but got interrupted and Doc Ock insults him.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Christopher Daniel Barnes, who provided Spider-Man's voice, and Robert Hays, the voice of Iron Man, had previously starred together in Starman. Both were reportedly thrilled at doing a team up.
  • Inner Monologue: The majority of Peter's lines. A necessity as his Secret Identity means that the only person he can freely converse with is himself.
  • Insane Troll Logic:
    • The Green Goblin "charges" the Oscorp stockholders with the crime of hypocrisy. However, the hypocrisy he accuses them of is illogical.
      • He blames Jameson for ruining Osborn's reputation by reporting on Oscorp's creation of chemical weapons. However, as Jameson said he has an obligation to inform the public on things like this as a journalist.
      • The Goblin accuses Anastasia Hardy of funding Dr Octopus who is a criminal. However, as seen in Octavius' debut episode he became Dr Octopus after Anastasia stopped funding his work before he was a villain. Ironically, funding criminals is something both Jameson and Fisk are guilty of, but Norman/The Goblin don't know about Jameson's hand in creating the Scorpion and the Green Goblin doesn't mention any of Fisk's crimes that he is aware of and simply mocks him for his weight.
      • Another display of Insane Troll Logic comes from the Scorpion in his debut episode. When he starts mutating further, he fixates on the idea that since being exposed to radiation created him, then another dose of the stuff should undo it. So he tries to set off a nuclear meltdown to get himself a good solid dose of radiation. In his defense, it's explicitly called out that his mutation is driving him insane.
  • Instant Sedation: Knockout gas. Always effective.
  • Insult to Rocks:
    Hobgoblin: (to Landon) You didn't think I'd fall for that old exploding warehouse trick, did you? What kind of a fool d'you take me for?
    Spider-Man: Personally, I'd never call you a fool. That'd be an insult to fools everywhere!
  • Internal Reveal: Early on the show's run, the audience knows that Wilson Fisk is the main bad guy controlling most of the criminal activities, but Spider-Man himself doesn't know about him until Daredevil shows up.
  • Intra-Franchise Crossover: Predating Spider-Verse by decades, the series has the "Spider Wars", in which Madame Web (and later the Beyonder) first recruited Spider-Man from main universe of the series and later recruiting various alternate versions of him, including Armored Spider-Man (a kind of "Tony Stark" version of Peter Parker), Six-Armed Spider-Man (mutated version of him that only stays with the six arms, seen in comics and the same series but Gone Horribly Wrong), Spider-Man with Doctor Octopus' arms (also predating Superior Spider Man by decades), Spider-Man as an actor and even the Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly as in The Clone Saga). This group is simply known as as the Spider-Men.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifter: The Lizard.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One:
    Dr. Octopus: Back off, you pea-brained, uncoordinated, absurdly-dressed excuse for a man!
    Scorpion: Who are you calling "absurdly-dressed"?!
  • It's All My Fault: Spidey blames himself for everything, no exceptions. Particularly egregious is the whole business with Morbius; Spider-Man goes so far as to state he created Morbius as if he shoved the guy in a tube and shot him with the neogenic recombinator personally, even though in reality, all he really did was fail to anticipate Morbius trying to steal his work. Morbius was the one who stole the blood samples and operated the neogenic recombinator by himself in an unsecured lab full of vampire bats.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Jameson gets a lot of these. The show repeatedly makes it clear that he sincerely believes all the actions he takes are right, and on at least one occasion he calls off a bounty on Spidey upon discovering that Eddie Brock had withheld evidence that put Spidey's guilt into question.
  • Joker Jury: The Green Goblin gives this to the board members who he blames for the 'death' of Osborn, where he is Judge. He even has a Justice Statue with his face.
  • Just Hit Him: Spider-Man seems to be borderline pathologically averse to throwing punches. Or kicks. Or really, most things aside from shooting webs at people and occasionally tackling them. According to the producers, this was to make the fights more creative rather than censorship, but it has rather mixed results.
  • Kidnapped by an Ally: Used by S.H.I.E.L.D. If Nick Fury wants to have a word with you, your next taxi might be a Flying Car in disguise.
  • Killed Off for Real: Yes, the series did suffer heavy censorship, but that didn't stop a few real fatalities from occurring.
    • Most notable the clones of Hydro-Man and Mary-Jane. The latter of which was a pretty big Tear Jerker.
    • Miranda actually commits suicide by not escaping a collapsing underground lair, as does Mysterio, who chooses to stay with her. We also get a Continuity Nod to something you'd think they'd want swept under the rug, as Mysterio being "no longer with us" is why the Insidious Six is in need of one more member.
    • Also Spider-Carnage's Redemption Equals Death in the Grand Finale.
    • Jameson's wife was killed in a gang crossfire, giving him a distaste for "people in masks who think they're above the law," while no other version, even Darker and Edgier versions, gives Jameson any Freudian Excuse for hating Spidey.
  • Killer Bear Hug: The Kingpin's favorite use of his Stout Strength is to wrap his arms around someone and crush them against his massive frame.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Tombstone in this series has an origin very similar to The Joker's... his skin is bleached after falling into a vat of chemicals. At the end of his title episode, he almost falls into the vat again, but Spider-Man saves him, saying:
    Spider-Man: Another dip in that chemical soup, and your hair might turn green!
  • Large and in Charge: The Kingpin, easily the tallest and widest character in the series, barring giant robots, of course.
  • Large Ham:
    • A lot of the other characters were Hammy as well (Blade being a good heroic example, as well as mostly anyone with an accent). All the villains, particularly, even The Kingpin, fell into ham at least once in the series, and both Goblins practically ran on the stuff, especially Green Goblin whose voice and extreme performance were an intentional contrast to Norman Osborn's usually even temperament.
    • Hobgoblin is voiced by none other than Mark Hamill. (Yeah, we mostly think of him as Luke, but fans of the Joker and the Trickster know that he more often plays villains who bring a Death Star-sized helping of ham.)
  • The Last Thing You Ever See:
    • Hydro-Man tries this in his first appearance.
      Spider-Man: Did you say "Hydrant-Man"? The dogs must love you!
      Hydro-Man: It's Hydro-Man! And it's the last name you'll ever hear.
      Spider-Man: For somebody new to this super-villain gig, you've sure got the clichés down.
    • Also the Hobgoblin's reason for his mask, explaining it to be the last thing he intends his enemies to see.
  • Laughing Mad: Harry Osborn, especially during his Villainous Breakdown near the end of the series.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • After Robbie has been arrested for apparently masterminding a naval robbery (long story, BIG conspiracy), he tries to explain how he only remembers being restrained and knocked out after getting in a random cab:
      Prosecutor: Strange cabs? Knockout gas? Mr. Robertson, this is a court of law, not a Saturday morning cartoon!
    • When the Insidious Six is first gathered. While agreeing to team up with the other villains, Mysterio has this to say (justified by the fact that, as a former stuntman, he thinks in terms of a director):
      Mysterio: The plot seems clever enough, the climax ought to be intriguing.
    • When the Scarlet Spider explains where Spider-Carnage came from:
      Spider-Man: This is starting to sound like a bad comic book plot!
  • Legacy Character: Harry Osborn replacing his father as the Green Goblin.
  • LEGO Genetics: Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard. He added the DNA of a reptile to himself to grow a new arm when his was severed, and it turned him into a whole reptile.
    • The Neogenic Recombinator is basically a Lego Genetics Raygun that many arcs revolve around. First and foremost, it turns out a spider passing through its beam on the way to Peter's hand is how Spidey's story began! (It involves a kind of radiation, so he can still be said to have been created by a 'radioactive spider,' but we step away from the 'radiation is magic' idea of the 60s and into "neogenics" as an emerging science, with the Recombinator being the easiest way to apply it.)
  • Leitmotif: Most characters have a recurring theme that plays every time they are onscreen. This is especially noticeable with Spider-Man, Black Cat, and Morbius.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Just about every time Spidey came across another hero. Amusingly, Daredevil believed he had helped frame and kidnap Peter Parker (it was Chameleon, of course).
    Spider-Man: Just my luck. This guy thinks I kidnapped me!
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • The Punisher. The series had to do this to even get him on the show. He's restricted from using proper firearms, and doesn't kill anyone, but it does slightly imply that he has done so in the past (his partner convinces him to use the nonlethal ordnance for once). And he looks like he's about ready to off a crook in his first appearance, the crook having to jump out the window and run to the police himself instead.
    • Also Carnage. Most likely he was brought in as part of a Mordo/Dormammu plot so that he would spend his time "draining life energy" from victims rather than going Ax-Crazy on them in a more... direct manner.
  • Likes Clark Kent, Hates Superman: JJ hate Spider-Man with a passion, but has soft spot for Peter, though will deny it, very much the same as his comic counterpart. However, this trope also applies ot this version of Aunt May. She loves Peter, but it terrified of Spider-Man, as in, she was once kidnapped by Scorpion, and when Spider-Man came to rescue her, she was far more afriad of Spidey than the Scorpion.
  • Lizard Folk: The Lizard is once again a human mutated into a reptilian monster, and also a race of sentient humanoid lizards he accidentally created when mutagenic fluid from his experiments got into the sewers in the episode "The Lizard King".
  • Limited Wardrobe: Pretty much everyone appears in the same clothes all the time.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: In one two-part episode, Peter responds from a request from a little girl who wants to meet Spider-Man. She helps him during a fight and learns Spidey's secret identity... turns out at the end of the second episode she's terminally ill and living in a hospice. It was an adaptation of one of the best-loved Spider-Man stories: "The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man".
  • Lost in Imitation: Most tellings of the Black Suit Spider-Man and Venom's origin story after this series are at least partly based on this show's version of events. The comic-book Symbiote never actually made Peter more aggressive or enhanced his powers, though it did take his body on joyrides and tried to permanently bond with him when he learned it was alive. Some of this was simply streamlining the existing elements from the comics into a more cohesive whole (it originated from alien manufacturing equipment in Secret Wars (1984), a whole other arc the show adapted much later, whereas this show had astronauts bring it back from a space mission), and being the first adaptation of that story helped a lot there.
  • Making a Splash: Hydro-Man and his and Mary Jane's clones.
  • Meaningful Name: Felicia Hardy becoming Black Cat.
  • Men Can't Keep House: Aunt May is rendered comatose for an episode at the sight of Peter and Harry's bachelor pad.
  • Mental Monster: In the "Secret Wars" arc, Doctor Doom manages to absorb the powers of the Beyonder and become a Reality Warper. However, his mortal mind was ultimately incapable of controlling these new abilities properly, causing him to inadvertently create gargoyle-esque monsters in his sleep, stated to be manifestations of the darker elements of Doctor Doom's psyche, who proceeded to wreck havoc on his utopian kingdom.
  • Merchandise-Driven: The show had its own toyline, which even featured figures of characters who never appeared in the show, such as the Sandman and Spider-Woman.
  • Meta Origin: Spider-Man's powers and a number of other villains (such as Scorpion, Morbius and the Lizard) are connected to a specific branch of Mad Science called Neogenics. Spidey's powers were a complete accident due to a spider being caught in an experiment, just like the comics, while Scorpion was an intentional creation gone wrong and the Lizard was a side effect of Curt Connors' experiments.
  • Modesty Towel: Felicia Hardy wore a light blue towel in the opening of "The Vampire Queen" before suiting up in her Black Cat attire.
  • Motive Decay: At first Morbius wants to find a cure for his vampiric hunger. By the time Blade shows up, though, Morbius has already tasted Spider-Man's, plasma. Stronger than he had ever been, he liked it and set out to turn the entire city into vampires. The downside of course is that he remains a villain for a more extended period of time, and a lot of viewers grew sick of him as a result. He eventually just wants to be left alone, and with the Blade arc, goes from there to becoming another heroic vampire.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Pete's a pretty hunky guy here, and not just in the Nerds Are Sexy way.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Felicia Hardy/Black Cat and Mary Jane Watson are made for this trope as they are very beautiful and voluptuous women, just like how they are in the comics.
  • Multiarmed And Dangerous: Doc Ock has his robo-tentacles while Peter develops two extra pairs of arms (much like his alternate universe counterpart). In Peter's case, however, this is a sign of his mutation into Man-Spider.
  • The Multiverse: The end of the show featured a team-up of several Spider-Men to prevent Spider-Carnage from destroying a multiverse. One of them didn't have any powers and was really an actor playing Spider-Man on television.
  • Murder by Mistake: In "The Return of the Green Goblin", Spidey believed Norman did this when he threw a bomb at Peter and Harry's rented apartment. In fact, the Green Goblin believed he had killed Spidey until our hero showed up to fight him. Spider-Man unmasks the Goblin only to learn Harry took in Norman's footsteps.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • JJJ, when the Scorpion goes on a rampage.
    • Spider-Man after a medical lab is destroyed following a battle with Doc Ock.
  • Mythology Gag: Has its own page.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Both Peter and Dr. Connors are presented as physically fit and very attractive individuals.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Mysterio blames Spider-Man for ruining his life by exposing an unethical stunt that nearly killed one of his actors. When called on this, he admits his psychiatrist told him the same thing, but "his sessions never made me feel this good."
    • Silvermane and his daughter kidnap Dr Connors to activate the Tablet Of Time. They ignore his warnings and don't even let him finish the process, accusing him of stalling. When the Tablet activates and ultimately turns Silvermane into a baby from this error, his daughter not only blames Connors, but Spider-Man and pretty much everyone else in the room but herself, ordering the building to be destroyed with them in it.
  • Never Say "Die":
    • In spite of the heavy censorship, there were a fair few actual deaths, and at least a couple of spoken aversions.
      Spider-Man: If you work for the Kingpin, why don't you wanna kill me?
    • Vampire characters would always say they need "plasma" instead of "blood."
    • Regarding Tombstone's dip in chemical soup:
      Robbie: I didn't think Lonnie survived. They told me he was—
      Spidey: Maybe they really thought so. He sure looks it! Anyway, he came back.
    • Robbie tells Jameson that The Punisher is wanted for questioning over the "disappearance" of crime bosses.
    • When recounting his origin, Spidey explained that his Uncle Ben tried to stop the Burglar, but "the guy was armed".
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • In "Armed and Dangerous", Spider-Man followed Jameson giving Doc Ock the ransom. It led to a brief fight in which Doc threw Spider-Man out the window. When Spider-Man ran back, he finds them both gone, realizing he blew it. Felicia's mom calls him out, saying no-one asked him to help.
    • In "Make a Wish", Spider-Man accidentally caused the destruction of a new facility while fighting Doc Ock, who gets away with what he stole. A furious Jameson plans to further condemn Spider-Man for his actions. Robbie defends Spider-Man for trying to stop Doc Ock, but Jameson argues that no one even asked for Spider-Man's help. Peter, angry at himself for his recklessness, decided to give up Spider-Man (again, but only temporary).
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Spider-Man tells the newly-acquired symbiote to make him look like "the guy from Aerosmith", and it obliges - with a riff the show's theme playing in the background.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: The episode "The Lizard King" featured a group of lizard people who were created when Curtis Connors discarded some chemicals that ended up mutating lizards in the sewers. The sole female mutant lizard is named Gila and she has breasts. Justified since the entire idea is that they are lizards who were evolved into humanoid forms by being infused with human DNA.
  • No Smoking: Due to the censorship, JJJ's is never seen with his iconic cigar.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Anna Watson
  • Old Shame: invoked In "The Mutant Agenda", Henry McCoy tried to create a cure to eradicate the mutant gene, which would ultimately kill the carrier. It comes back to bite him later on when his former partner Herbert Landon recreate it.
    • For Spider-Man, it would be his wrestling career prior to becoming a superhero. After all, it was from the studio that the crook who stole money from them was getting away, he refused to provide assistance. It was only until he tried to avenge the murder of Uncle Ben that he discovered it was the same crook he saw escaping the studio that he realized, that if he'd have used his powers for good then instead of self-interest, his uncle would still be alive.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Spider-Carnage, the final Big Bad. An alternate Peter Parker, he was at the end of his rope due to his world's Clone Saga (which included the death of Aunt May) before being possessed by the Carnage symbiote and acquiring dimension-travel tech. When Spidey goes to one of the alternate universes and brings back a still alive Uncle Ben in tow to try to reach the man inside of Spider-Carnage, that Peter finds his efforts to fight the influence of the Symbiote to be all for naught and subsequently sacrifices himself to save the multiverse.
  • Once More, with Clarity: The origin story that Parker tells at the Make A Wish foundation is a more thorough version of a story the viewer has already seen.
  • Only Flesh Is Safe: The "Argon Matrix Laser" was explicitly incapable of harming organic matter but it could damage clothing and even severed two of Doctor Octopus' cybernetic limbs.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Venom, in his first full appearance in "The Alien Costume" series. After the symbiote bonds with Eddie Brock, Venom locates Spider-Man in the midst of losing a two-on-one battle against Rhino and Shocker. Prior to this, both Rhino and Shocker were easily defeated by a black costumed Spider-Man in separate fights, and decided to team up to take Spider-Man out. When Venom arrives, he takes out both villains and goes after Spider-Man himself.
  • On the Money: When J. Jonah Jameson offered a thousand-dollar-bonus for the first one to bring him a photograph of The Lizard, Peter was thinking about the stuff he could buy with the money until he learned Aunt May will need almost all of it to pay her bills.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Spider-Man, natch. "Turning Point" probably has the best example after Spider-Man fears the worst for Mary Jane:
    Green Goblin: (laughs) What's wrong, Spider-Man? No quick comebacks? No clever one-liners?
    Spider-Man: You think this is a game, Osborn?! IT'S NOT!
    • Another good example is in the Alien Costume story arc. Shocker is actually one of Spider-Man's more minor foes, but no thanks to the Venom symbiote making Peter more aggressive, he suddenly starts acting like he's a horribly evil mortal enemy that he's been battling for years.
  • Ordinary College Student: Peter Parker, naturally. He even wears the uniform.
  • Paint It Black: Again, Spider-Man after coming into contact with the Symbiote.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Several seasons of fighting the Kingpin and all his evil schemes, including his elaborate skyscraper base with an extending "secret" landing pad, and they finally acknowledge that Fisk is known as a wealthy philanthropist to the public. But Peter is also shown as being deceived by the ruse, despite the fact he fought Kingpin several times and he does nothing to hide his 400 pound appearance, wearing the exact same suits. This, of course, was the arc where Kingpin is slowly exposed for who he was.
  • Parents as People: This is one of Norman Osborn's most sympathetic portrayals, though mainstream Osborn has been kicking so many dogs lately he's not hard to beat.
  • Path of Inspiration: A strange cult that ensnares Mary Jane and later Spidey himself. It turns out to be run by Baron Mordo, who turns them against their better natures by letting them see their fondest dreams come true.
  • Pink Means Feminine: prior to her career as Black Cat, rich girl Felicia Hardy was frequently seen wearing pink skirts in her civilian attire.
  • Poor Communication Kills: it's almost astonishing how often Spider-Man gets into a fight with someone, both hero and villain, because no one thought to ask "What's going on?", including and especially with his allies such as the adaptationally-heroic Kraven in his third appearance
  • Portal Cut: When the Hobgoblin goes on a crime spree using the Time Dilation Accelerator, he realizes the device is running out of power when a portal closes sooner than he expected, taking part of his cape with it. "This could have been my arm! Or leg!"
  • Power Dyes Your Hair: Felicia has blonde hair in this series via Adaptational Dye-Job. It turns white when she transforms into the Black Cat.
  • Powered Armor:
    • Iron Man and War Machine appear in a couple of episodes.
    • Another arc has several alternate universe versions of Spidey, one of whom wears a high-tech suit of armor.
    • One-shot character The Prowler also had one of these.
  • Power Makes Your Voice Deep: Felicia's voice deepens when she becomes the Black Cat.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: When it came time to adapt Secret Wars, the Hulk couldn't be used due to appearing on a show on another channel. The solution was to bring in another green character with a split personality that the audience was already familiar with: the Lizard.
  • Previously on…: Every multi-part episode would have the parts after part one begin with a narrated recap of what happened in the previous episode.
  • Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Kingpin ended up in prison because he couldn't lift his own bulk onto a fire-escape ladder. By the present, he can bear-hug Spider-Man into submission.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: In addition to the classic example of Dr. Curt Connors, who turned himself into the Lizard this way, this series invented the character Dr. James Reeves. Dr. Reeves was a medical scientist who went to Africa to further his research into creating a kind of miracle drug, a universal panacea that could accelerate physical healing and cure any disease. He was so confident of his creation's success that he used it on himself, and it did work... but it also had a side-effect in that it would devolve the imbiber into a Beast Man, granting them superhuman physical traits, but also powerful animalistic instincts, which eventually turned him into a feral monster that fled into the African bush after giving Dr. Mariah Crawford the last samples of his wonder drug.
  • Psycho for Hire: Hobgoblin and Carnage are two different takes on this. The former enjoys what he does but is ultimately in it for the cash, whereas the latter is just full-on Ax-Crazy.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The Spot initially only steals to fund his research, and then later only because the Kingpin forced him to do it. Otherwise he's an extremely amiable guy, who even saves Spider-Man when he gets into mortal peril during their fight. He eventually switches sides to save his girlfriend from The Kingpin and even pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to save the planet from being devoured by a portal he created.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Discussed after Spidey chases Hobgoblin out of Crime Central.
    Kingpin: It worked. Exactly as planned.
    Smythe: (looking at their smouldering base) Ever hear the phrase, "pyrrhic victory"?
    Kingpin: You're wrong, Smythe. We're going to rebuild it, bigger and better than before. The main thing is, it's mine again.
    • However, the "Tablet of Time" two-parter was also a pyrrhic victory for Fisk, and he couldn't deny it. In his goal to obtain the Tablet, his wife was kidnapped, and though she is rescued unharmed, she decides to leave him at the end, despite his pleas. Fisk winds up with the Tablet, which he had wanted in the first place, but he orders Hammerhead to get rid of it. "The sight of it sickens me," he growls.
  • Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: Doctor Doom is anything but weak-willed. Yet when he tries to steal the Beyonder's power, his new utopia is soon assaulted by demons born out of his nightmares and subconscious fears. This is pretty much what happens in the original Secret Wars (1984) comic book too, which that ep was based on.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Venom, Mysterio, and Spider-Carnage.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: In "The Spot," Spider-man convinces Spot to help him take down Kingpin. So, Spot brings an apparently unconscious Spider-man to Kingpin. Upon revealing the ploy, Spider-man delivers this line.
  • Retired Badass: J. Jonah Jameson gets this treatment, particularly as seen in the first episode of Season 4. "Jigsaw" Jameson used to be one of the toughest journalists in town, and arguably still qualifies as a Badass Normal. Robbie Robertson in this show apparently had something of a brief military career as seen with him still having a service pistol. There are also the Six Forgotten Warriors who were superheroes during World War 2.
  • Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony: In "The Hobgoblin," Wilson Fisk partakes in a ground breaking ceremony at a new school for criminology. Suddenly the Hobgoblin appears and attempts to kill him, with Peter Parker diving to save Fisk at the last second, unaware that he's the Kingpin.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: The Green Goblin calls Jameson and Anastatia hypocrites. He is right about them being hypocrites, but wrong about what their specific hypocrisy is:
    • He calls Jameson a bad friend to Norman for reporting Norman's creation of chemical weapons, but that doesn't make Jameson a hypocrite or a bad friend, just a journalist who does his job. If the Goblin had called out Jameson for creating the Scorpion, he'd have had a point. However, neither the Goblin nor Norman is aware of the Scorpion's origins.
    • The Goblin accuses Anastasia of funding Dr. Octopus, but Octavius became Dr. Octopus because Anastasia stopped funding his work. In Season 4, it is revealed that Anastasia was married to the Cat, who was a thief and it is implied much of the Hardy fortune is from things he stole. Had the Goblin known about this, it would have made for a much more reasonable charge to levy at Anastasia rather than falsely blaming her for creating a supervillain.
  • Rogues Gallery: As usual for a superhero.
  • Say My Name:
  • Scotty Time: During the Secret Wars arc. Spidey = Kirk, Curt Connors = Scotty, the Enterprise = Iron Man's armor.
  • Sealed Evil in a Duel: Captain America and the Red Skull found themselves trapped in an energy vortex while in the middle of a battle. They are freed, but Cap later pulls Red Skull back into the vortex, so they find themselevs in the same situation as before. Eventually, Electro is thrown into the vortex as well.
  • Self-Made Orphan: The Kingpin is as strongly implied to be this as the censors would allow. After being left for the police by his father in a robbery gone south, he walked out of prison with the physical strength, connections and mentality needed to build his empire. It's not made clear what he did to his father, but Smythe is shocked that even Kingpin could be so ruthless. Near the end of that storyline, the Kingpin makes his own son Richard take the fall for Kingpin's exposed scheme. After his wife leaves him for this betrayal, the Kingpin is left alone holding a photo of his shattered family, bitterly wondering when his own son would take his revenge.
  • Sequel Hook: Along with Left Hanging, Madame Webb was going to lead Spider-Man to Mary Jane and it's implied that is what they do. More ambiguous is the end of "The Return of Hydro-Man" where the doctor responsible for cloning Hydro-Man got a sample of Spider-Man's DNA, supposing they would pick up with the Clone Saga had the series continued.
  • Series Continuity Error: "In The Sting of the Scorpion", Gargan has his breakdown when Stillwell tells him he's bonded to the Scorpion costume and can't remove it. In "The Insidious Six", he's in a prison uniform and retrieves the suit from storage. In "The Final Nightmare", he's wearing a trenchcoat over the suit and tries to get Stillwell to reverse the process.
  • Shared Universe: With the concurrently aired X-Men: The Animated Series and Iron Man: The Animated Series; the show featured the titular characters of both guest-starring.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Ship Tease: Rogue flirts with Spider-Man in the X-Men: The Animated Series crossover.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: A whole arc of episodes featuring Daddy issues. "Sins of the Fathers" was actually its name.
  • Skepticism Failure: Doctor Crawford didn't believe Eddie's stories about Venom — proposing more rational psychological explanations. The episode is titled "Venom Returns", so that viewpoint proves extremely short-lived.
    Venom: Do you believe us now, Doctor?
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The armored Spider-Man from the Grand Finale. In all fairness, though, he came from a universe where absolutely everything always worked out for him perfectly. He didn't really have any way of knowing he would be much less effective in a universe that wasn't stacked completely in his favor (or even that there was such a thing as a universe that's not stacked in his favor).
  • Spin-Off: A UK comic which followed the continuity of this show, Spectacular Spider-Man Adventures has outlived the show by almost a decade.
    • However, it's now based on Ultimate Spider-Man, having had to end the continuity based on this show in 2011 when Disney banned non-US material from appearing in Marvel comics (they switched to Marvel Adventures and then Ultimate).
  • Split Personality: "I'm not Osborn! I am the Green Goblin!" Unsurprisingly, leads into Split-Personality Takeover.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Despite being introduced as a trendy overindulged rich girl, Felicia "Black Cat" Hardy is surprisingly polite.
  • Spot the Imposter:
    • "Day of the Chameleon" is built on this trope. The most memorable specific example would be his impersonation of Colonel Fury.
    • A variant appears in the climax of "The Menace of Mysterio". After saving Terri and Jonah, Spider-Man is confronted by five well-armed Mysterios — one real and four illusions. The real one is certain Spider-Man won't be able to pinpoint him in time, but one Spider-Sense-guided jump and kick later...
    • Subverted when Chameleon tried this against Daredevil. Spidey couldn't zero in on the fake due to all the movement, but the real Daredevil didn't need any help proving who was the genuine article.
  • Spotting the Thread: When Chameleon copies Nick Fury based on his obituary picture, he doesn't notice that the picture was accidentally flipped. Spider-Man notices the difference immediately.
  • Stalker with a Crush:
    • Hydro-Man. The guy only ever shows up to chase Mary-Jane around. He was so obsessed over her that after his clone heard she may have died, he forced Dr. Miles Warren to create a clone of her based upon his abilities. Didn't really work out for him, as she still loved Peter and they both died anyway.
    • Felicia Hardy/Black Cat towards Spider-Man, though not to the same self-destructive extreme as the above example.
  • Status Quo Is God: Invoked at the end of the Secret Wars, in a departure from the source it was based on which had several lasting repercussions, the Beyonder tells the heroes that despite their victory, all the changes that took place will be restored back, and they will have no memories of the events that took place. Ben Grimm (who could change back and forth to his human and Thing forms during the war) is unhappy to find this out:
    Ben Grimm/The Thing: So, I'm gonna lose the power to change back to normal?
    Beyonder: Yes. Everything must be as it once was.
    Ben Grimm/The Thing: Well, easy come, easy go...
  • Stock Footage: One of the most infamous examples. It got to the point where upwards of 25 percent of a given episode, especially action scenes, consisted of recycled animation.
    • In particular, the scene where Spidey does some high-speed dodging of Doc Ock's tentacles was reused with nearly every Doc Ock episode. Especially funny in "Battle of the Insidious Six", where Peter is supposed to have lost his powers, which they Hand Wave by shoehorning in the line "Lucky for me, I have a little bit of my Spider agility left."
    • Hope you liked that close-up shot of The Lizard's face as he attacks that's seen in the first episode, because it will be there in every single appearance by the character.
    • In "Tablet of Time", besides stock footage of characters like Spider-Man, Kingpin, Hammerhead and the aforementioned Lizard close-up there's a scene in which Spider-Man is buried below a bunch of rubble. The scene where he escapes it is simply the previous shot reversed, complete with rubble escaping upwards perfectly vertically.
    • The worst was when Green Goblin got his upgraded glider. Every Gobby episode after that would have him switch from one to another from one shot to the next as old footage was slipped into new battles.
  • Story Arc: Several. Multi-episodes storylines were appropriately titled. In the final story arc, Spider-Carnage wants to kill himself, the planet, and the entire multiverse because he cannot cope with his own pain. He ultimately just kills himself, sparing the multiverse. It helps that he's completely insane.
  • Strapped to a Bomb: It had the hero and J. Jonah Jameson strapped to the same bomb in a Chained Heat fashion. However, Alistair Smythe decided to use a countdown as a trigger for the detonation, and gave Spider-Man enough time to remove the bomb, and then later use it to destroy Alistair's Spider Slayer robots.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Invoked by Spider-Man in regards to the Punisher after barely escaping a suitcase bomb: "I'm getting really tired of that guy blowing stuff up around me!"
  • Super-Powered Alter Ego: It's not particularly explicit but Felicia's personality appears to change into a more casual, reckless, confidant, slightly more amoral and sexually forward version of herself upon turning into the Black Cat. This is shown best after her initial bank robbery where the Cat smugly boasts about her success but quickly becomes indignant and outraged after turning back into Felica.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: While a lot of the villains qualify, Symbiote Spider-Man takes the cake.
    Spider-Man: (to Eddie Brock) You?! I'll save you for dessert... (to Shocker) And you... You're the main course!
  • Super Wheelchair: Spencer Smythe only worked for Kingpin so he could afford to build one of these for Alistair. He didn't live long enough to see Alistair in it, which in turn drove Alistair to work for Kingpin.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Detective Terri Lee fills the Reasonable Authority Figure spot that would usually be filled by George Stacy or Jean De Wolff.
  • Take That!:
    • invoked In the episode, "I Really, Really Hate Clones", after he heard the Scarlet Spider's story, the original Spider-Man said, "This is starting to sound like a bad comic book plot!" This was a reference to the infamous Clone Saga arc, which ran from 1994 to 1997. (The episode title itself also qualifies, naturally.)
    • In the "Six Forgotten Warriors" arc, the Whizzer is shown to have become an art teacher after retiring from his superhero days. He criticizes the art of one of his students for being unrealistic due to drawing the hero's hands larger than his head. "Bobby" simply claims that's just how everybody draws superheroes in comics nowadays.
    • The producer of the show reportedly disliked the Hobgoblin as a character. When the Hobgoblin and Green Goblin finally clash in "Goblin War", the latter refers to the former as an impostor and the Green Goblin is depicted as easily being the Hobgoblin's superior in terms of weaponry and powers.note 
  • "Take That!" Kiss: In Spider-Man's first encounter with Black Cat, she easily overpowers him and knocks him out. She almost unmasks him but stops halfway, believing it will be more rewarding for him to unmask himself willingly for her and instead gives him a quick kiss goodbye before escaping.
  • Taking You with Me: At the climax of the Alien Costume saga, Peter decides dying to stop Venom will be worth if it if his plan backfires.
    "Hope this launch doesn't fry my molecules, but if I'm gonna go, at least I'll take him with me."
  • Talking to Themself: Norman and the Goblin.
  • Tanks for Nothing: In the episode "Carnage," tanks are sent in to stop the titular character. Carnage easily overturns one tank, rips open the underside, and feeds on the souls of the crew inside.
  • Tell Him I'm Not Speaking to Him: In "The Spot," Peter ends up abandoning his date with MJ for Spider-man related business. The next day, he approaches MJ, who is walking with her friend Liz. She then tells Liz to tell Peter how angry she is.
  • That Man Is Dead:
    • During their final battle, the Green Goblin tells Spider-Man, "There's no Osborn anymore, Parker! There is only the Green Goblin!"
    • "There's no more Eddie and no more symbiote! Only... Venom!" In fairness, though, the symbiote causes severe personality changes and causes Eddie to become mentally unstable without it...
    • Wilson Fisk was reunited with his father after becoming The Kingpin, and his father happily declares he always knew his son "Willy" was the famous Kingpin. Fisk however angrily declares that as far as the world knows "Willy" ceased to exist when he was left in prison by his father, and had his father killed to get rid of the final link to his past and as revenge for abandoning him.
  • There Can Be Only One: Played straight in the episode "Goblin War" where Green Goblin proves to Hobgoblin that he's "The real deal."
  • They Called Me Mad!: Doctor Octavius and his cold fusion reactor. Led to fusion experiments with improper safety protocols and eventually an explosion that fused his harness to his body.
  • Title Drop: Multiple times.
    • Once during the first episode of the "Secret Wars" arc, with the episode ending with Spider-Man declaring his intentions to keep a record of the events he witnesses, so that the battle will not become "a secret war."
    • Another occasion was during the "Neogenic Nightmare" story arc. After first battling with Morbius and realizing that the blood sample Spidey himself left in the Empire State University lab was what started the events leading to Morbius's change, Spidey says, "Now Morbius is in the same neogenic nightmare I'm in."
    • "I really - REALLY - hate clones!"
  • Tragic Monster:
    • The Lizard; a good and noble scientist who gained a Superpowered Evil Side as a result of a moment of weakness leading to him testing his limb-regeneration project on himself.
    • Kraven the Hunter, due to Adaptational Heroism, is depicted as a noble man who is being driven mad by the dangerous side-effects of a miracle cure that functions like Super Serum.
    • The Man-Spider, which is Peter Parker devolved into a horrible humanoid arachnid as a result of his genes being destabilized and reconfiguring into a form in which the spider DNA takes precedence over the human.
    • Spider-Carnage; an alternate version of Peter Parker pushed to the very limits of his sanity by great tragedy, and then taken over by a psychotic, murder-loving alien parasite.
    • The second Green Goblin; Harry Osborn, a lonely and mentally unstable guy being pushed into villainy by the original Green Goblin, who is the psychotic version of his father.
  • Transferred Transformation: One plotline shows Spider-Man is suffering from a mutation disease, making him transform into a monstrous Man-Spider sometimes. Vulture, who steals youth from other people to keep young, doesn't know about this when he steals Spider-Man's youth. He asks Curt Connors for help, but Connors double-crosses the Vulture, modifying his equipment to return Spider-Man's youth to him, but not the rogue gene responsible for the Man-Spider transformation.
  • Transformation Discretion Shot: In the episode "Enter The Punisher", Spider-Man's growing spider mutation kicks in at a bad time while he's trying to get away from the Punisher. Eventually he ends up in a warehouse and the transformation begins to ensue to which we see his hands ripping through his costume as they turn to claws. We only see him from his back afterwards as he grows bigger, his arms change colors and he rips through his face mask. By the time Punisher has found Spider-Man, he finds himself face to face with him, who is now turned into a Man-Spider.
  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects:
    • The majority of web-slinging through New York had the background as CG, which allowed some aerial angles that would be very difficult in traditional animation.
    • Also used pretty much anytime something was viewed under a microscope.
  • Two-Faced: Herbert Landon after his partial mutation.
  • Two-Person Love Triangle: Peter's relationship with Felicia. While she does occasionally show some interest in Peter, it becomes obvious Spider-Man is who she really wants. Lampshaded by Peter.
    Peter: Friend? Unbelievable. As long as she's in love with Spider-Man, that's all Peter Parker will ever be. Now I'm competing with myself!
  • Unanthropomorphic Transformation: Played for tragedy in the episode "The Lizard King." Spiderman discovers a primitive society of lizard/human mutants living under New York, a by product of the experiments of Dr. Curt Conners, aka The Lizard. Viewing him as a father, they kidnap Conners to try understand their origins and gain a purpose in life. Unfortunately a combination of learning they were nothing but an accident and Conners' Lizard persona encouraging their more brutal aspects for his own benefit causes one of their number to become disgusted with her people. Thus does she detonate a gene bomb and return all the lizard people back to normal lizards.
  • Unobtainium: The first two parts of "The Alien Costume" heaviy feature a newly discovered substance brought back to Earth from space. Prometheum X as it is called, is a highly fissile material, that is also non-reactive unless heated, which means it can be used to make a massive explosion, yet you can also carry it around in your pocket.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The Fisk building has a fold-out hangar and has insane guys on hoverboards flying in in broad daylight as well as giant spider-robots, and yet no-one suspects he might not be totally on the level.
  • Villains Want Mercy: In The Alien Costume three-parter, Spidey acquires the black suit and he ends up fighting Rhino and, later, Shocker. He becomes straight up ruthless and has both of them begging for mercy. With Rhino, Spidey runs off upon realizing what he was about to do, while with Shocker, he refrains from throwing the villain from a bell tower, but then the suit throws Shocker off for him, and Spidey is only narrowly able to save Shocker from becoming a stain on the lawn.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The crime-boss "The Kingpin" is known to the public as Wilson Fisk, the philanthropist. Peter Parker even saves his life from the Hobgoblin, and it isn't until the third season until Peter finds out Fisk's criminal identity.
  • The Voiceless: Chameleon never speaks in his normal body, always changing to someone else even for brief comments.
  • Walk the Plank: The episode "The Return of Hydro-Man, Part 1" opens with Mary Jane Watson having a nightmare which ends with her walking the plank from a pirate ship into a dark abyss.
  • The Warlord: In the series' version of the Secret Wars, several heroes and villains are transported to another world by the Beyonder. He deliberately gives the villains a year to prepare, and when the heroes arrive they've essentially become warlords ruling over whatever territory they could seize. Doctor Octopus is forced to ally with Red Skull and Alistair Smythe when Doctor Doom manages to defeat him and take over his holdings.
  • Watch Where You're Going!: Spidey uses some Deadly Dodging to trick the Scorpion and the Lizard into running into each other during the Finale of the Neo-Genic Nightmare arc.
  • Water Tower Down: In "Sting of the Scorpion", the titular villain knocks down a water tower and it falls on Spider-Man before breaking and releasing all its water. The impact itself knocks Spider-Man out cold.
  • Weaponized Camera: During a battle between Venom an Spider-man at the J3 news station, Venom grabs a large camera an is about to smash Spidey with it, before Iron Man blats it out of his hands.
  • We Gotta Stop Meeting Like This: Spider-Man quips this after saving Jameson once again in "The Sting of The Scorpion".
    Spider-Man: We've got to stop meeting like this, or else tongues will start to wag.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy:
    • Even though Norman was a considerably better person on this show, Harry still had some of these issues, though to a lesser degree.
    • Kingpin initially, when he recounts his backstory. Ironically, when he actually did get his father's respect, he had him killed.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Lizard in his first appearance. He plans to turn everyone in the city into creatures like himself ("a better race"), but he honestly thinks doing so will spare people suffering and pain.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Hydro-Man evaporates at the end of his debut episode, but Spider-Man infers that he isn't dead. While the Hydro-Man that appears in the two-part episode "Return of Hydro-Man" turns out to be a clone and ends up dissolving, the current whereabouts of the original Hydro-Man remain uncertain.
    • Venom and Carnage to some extent. While they were warped into a vortex, it is not entirely clear if it actually erased them from existence (like Spider-Carnage), or if it just dumped them into a parallel world.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: Lonnie Lincoln and Robbie Robertson were childhood friends until one day Lonnie got arrested for trying to steal ice-cream after the store window broke. While Lonnie was in juvie, Robbie became studious and eventually graduated from college before working as an intern at the Daily Bugle. Lonnie would eventually walk back into Robbie's life and try to frame him by breaking in to the chemical plant for abandoning him all those years ago (Robbie left his fingerprints in the plant), but fell into the chemical vat and became Tobstone, the underworld hitman.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • Spider-Carnage, an alternate version of Peter. He wants to destroy all reality, but he lost both Uncle Ben and Aunt May, as well as faced the possibility of his life being a lie. Being possessed by the Carnage Symbiote pushed him into complete insanity. Even Ben Reilly (who this Peter tried to kill) sympathized with him.
      Spider-Carnage: Ever since that spider bit me, the world has misunderstood me and tormented me! Now, it's my turn. I'm gonna obliterate you all!
    • The Lizard in "Night of the Lizard" (at least when Curt's mind has control). His ultimate goal is to use the Neogenic Recombinator to transform everyone in the city into creatures like himself, but he honestly believes doing so will spare people suffering and pain. Also, despite his behavior throughout the episode, he still cares for his family.
      Lizard: I can make people well again. And I won't stop for anything!
      Margaret: Not even for Billy? You want him to be like you, too?
      Lizard: My son. I have a son.
    • The Scorpion. As mentioned in Body Horror above, he gets turned into a freakish monster and at best he reverts to the usual levels for the character: Stuck in a suit with a giant tail. To make matters worse this version of Mac Gargan didn't really want to become the Scorpion anyway, he was bullied into it by Jameson. Compare this to the comics version, who was perfectly happy to be experimented on with radiation for money.
  • World of Muscle Men: While it's not as extreme as say, He-Man, one has to wonder if the only reason Peter Parker manages to keep his ID a secret is because apparently all newspaper workers and science nerds are buff to start with.
  • Xanatos Gambit: The Kingpin uses one of these in his introduction.
    Osborn: Something occurs to me. Either Spider-Man is destroyed or you get Oscorp. Either way, you win.
    Fisk: That's why I'm the Kingpin.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Naturally. It's Spider-Man, after all.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Spider Man 1994


The Kingpin

Wilson Fisk (formerly Wilson Moriarty) started out as an apprentice to the small time crook that was his father. After being abandoned by his father and being left to rot in prison, he acquired the skills needed to become a criminal mastermind and the head of New York City's underworld.

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Example of:

Main / HadToComeToPrisonToBeACrook

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