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Clark Kent: Does this mean I'm going to have to give up my life?
Jonathan Kent: It doesn't matter where you were, or what you can do, you'll always be Clark Kent. Superman just helps out now and then.
Martha Kent: Still, it would be bad if people knew a little more about Superman. I don't want anyone thinking you're like that nut in Gotham City.

Superman: The Animated Series (or The New Superman Adventures in its second season) is an animated television series than ran from 1996 to 2000 on Kids' WB!. After Batman: The Animated Series proved to be an enormous success, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini turned their attention to DC Comics's other major hero: Superman. The new series would use the same "back to basics" approach to storyline and art stylings, giving the Superman mythos the same timeless feel that they brought to the Batman mythos.

Kal-El, Last of His Kind, is sent away from the dying planet Krypton and lands on Earth, where thanks to the bright yellow sun he develops famous abilities far greater than a normal human. He grows up in Smallville, Kansas, where he was found and raised as a human ("Clark") by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who instill within him a powerful sense of right and wrong. As an adult he defends the city of Metropolis as an honest, virtuous hero christened "Superman" by its inhabitants. Not like that nut in Gotham City.

Since Superman's A-list Rogues Gallery is smaller than Batman's, the creators chose to largely dispense with the stand-alone Monster of the Week format of the previous series, instead focusing a more continuity-heavy story of intersecting plotlines. In this series, there are four concurrent Myth Arcs:

  • The first arc of the series concerns Lex Luthor, the most powerful man in Metropolis before Superman's arrival. The Corrupt Corporate Executive version of the character from the Post-Crisis DC Universe, he is ever the Magnificent Bastard. With heavy doses of the Villain with Good Publicity, he immediately sees the man flying around righting wrongs as a threat and he begins a number of plots to either destroy Superman or get him on his side. These attempts include utilizing an unusual rock from space that seems to give Superman a hard time, cloning Superman (resulting in a creature that could only be described as "Bizarro") and recreating a foreign mercenary as an android assassin... All in the first half of the series.invoked
  • The second arc concerns the character of Brainiac. His origin was rewritten for the series, tying his origin far more closely with that of Superman. In this adaptation, he is the computer system responsible for the upkeep of the entire planet of Krypton and he darn well knows in the pilot episode that the planet is doomed. However, he does not want the people to know because he is too busy making provisions to save himself. After the planet explodes he becomes an Omnicidal Planet Looter, determined to repeat Krypton's fate ad infinitum: collect all the data in the universe, then destroy the originals to keep his collected info from becoming obsolete. His quest brings him into conflict with Superman a number of times—though, in practice, most of his schemes just involve him trying to rebuild himself after the last time Superman destroyed him. Again, and again, and again...
  • The third arc brought in the characters from Jack Kirby's New Gods. The intergalactic tyrant Darkseid (taking the role of the Big Bad for the overall series) sets his sights on Earth, and he wants Superman's help in conquering it. Darkseid is not the type to take "no" for an answer. This arc is usually regarded as the best of the series, as the drama and action were at its peak and the individual episodes collectively formed more of an ongoing story. This arc also brought in Supergirl.
  • The fourth one has Superman coming in contact with other heroes of the DC Universe who would later become his colleagues in Justice League. These episodes were largely standalone but in the course of the series, Superman met The Flash, Green Lantern, Doctor Fate, and Aquaman. Most important of all — "World's Finest", the three-part episode that crossed over into Batman: The Animated Series and finally established the DC Animated Universe as a Shared Universe. Superman and Batman would have other adventures while Supergirl would appear in The New Batman Adventures and Superman would also make an appearance in Batman Beyond which deals with Bruce's Legacy Character, and which was also production-wise the first appearance of the Justice League in the DCAU.

All of these arcs were later picked up and merged in the Sequel Series Justice League.

Standalone episodes were, of course, not unknown. An intergalactic bounty hunter named Lobo showed up to collect a Kryptonian pelt. Toyman was reimagined as a thoroughly creepy Psychopathic Manchild. A new female villain named Livewire was introduced and, while not as popular as Batman: The Animated Series's Harley Quinn, similarly made the jump to the main DC Universe. An imp from another dimension named Mr. Mxyzptlk showed up twice to give Superman fits. A pair of Kryptonian criminals were paroled from their extradimensional prison, only to wreak havoc on Earth. And, of course, Batman came to town, hot on the Joker's trail after the latter had gotten his hands on a massive chunk of Kryptonite. The more sci-fi feel of the show allowed DC characters that would have seemed out of place on Batman: TAS (like The Flash, the Green Lanterns, and Doctor Fate) to show up.

As befitting a DC Animated Universe installment, the voice work is absolutely top notch. Tim Daly plays both halves of the title character with authority and distinction. Dana Delany gives us an utterly no-nonsense Lois Lane who absolutely will not tolerate babysitting the newcomer from Kansas, and is skeptical about the man in the red cape flying around doing good deeds. Ultimately, Clancy Brown is the perfect Lex Luthor, smooth and cruel, slimy and utterly charming at the same time.

The series would be followed by Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.

A made for DVD movie was also made based on the series' style: Superman: Brainiac Attacks. It is not canon to the DCAU. The series also gave stillbirth to the N64 video game The New Superman Aventures [sic]. Titus Software, the company that made the game, also released Superman, a Game Boy game also based on the series, two years prior. It also had a comic book series, The Superman Adventures and may have inspired the DC Superheroes books based on the character. Interestingly, Superman would not get another animated series focused mainly on him for 23 years after STAS’s conclusion, when My Adventures with Superman released on [adult swim] on July 6, 2023.

This series contains examples of:

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  • Abusive Parents: Darkseid is, quite simply, not a nice person, and his children get no special treatment.
  • Accidental Incantation: In the episode "The Hand of Fate", the plot is started by a guy who reads out loud the incantation on a stone tablet he stole. Turned out there was an Eldritch Abomination sealed in it.
  • Action Girl:
    • Lois Lane, though traditionally a woman in need of rescuing, also has basic hand-to-hand combat training and some proficiency with light firearms. She is outclassed by the supervillains of the show, but when faced with normal human opponents, or when she is pushed into a corner without Superman to save her, she does well all by herself.
    • Mercy Graves does not get many opportunities to show them off, but she has an impressive array of martial skills. In the comics she's a literal Amazon.
    • Superman's cousin Supergirl managed to beat the Female Furies, Volcana and an Alien entity trying to assimilate humans. She and Batgirl also took down Livewire, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.
  • Acquitted Too Late: When Superman and Lois Lane have found the proof to exonerate a man on death-row, they find that the governor is not at home because he decided to attend the execution personally, and Lois laments that they barely had time for him to make the phone call stopping the execution. Walker is already in the gas chamber and the switch had already been thrown. It is a good thing Superman is able to save him anyway.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection:
    • In this version, the failure to evacuate Krypton is due to Brainiac's deliberate suppression of Jor-El's theories, making the comic-book Coluan robot into a Kryptonian example of A.I. Is a Crapshoot. As such, Brainiac is responsible for Superman's status as (initially) the Last of His Kind. Brainiac goes on to be one of the series' Big Bads alongside Lex Luthor and Darkseid.
    • Titanos the Super-Ape is given a past connection to Lois, who used to have him as a pet before he was sent to space.
    • This continuity gives Green Lantern Kyle Rayner a decidedly different origin from what he had in the comics, where he was given a ring by Ganthet during a time where the Green Lantern Corps was disbanded. This version of Kyle Rayner's origin has closer ties to Superman, Abin Sur and Sinestro by establishing Rayner to be a co-worker of Clark Kent's to explain his presence in Metropolis, having his ring given to him by a dying Abin Sur due to being a Composite Character with Hal Jordan and having Sinestro indirectly responsible for Kyle being inducted into the Corps because Sinestro was the one who killed Abin Sur in the first place (in the comics, Sinestro had no involvement in the death of Abin Sur and was even established later on to consider Abin Sur a friend in spite of his own betrayal of the Green Lantern Corps).
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: The Legion of Super-Heroes aren't as tight with Superman as their comic counterparts. In the original comics (aside from various Cosmic Retcons that downplayed or outright discarded their ties to Superman, usually in relation to the established continuity at the time choosing to disregard Superman's history as the original Superboy), the Legion of Super-Heroes was inspired to form by Superman's boyhood exploits as Superboy and appreciated his hand in their existence so much that they used time travel to recruit the young Superman-to-be into their team and regularly allowed him to participate on missions. In this continuity, their interaction with the Man of Steel is limited to three of them visiting him as a teenager once in the episode "New Kids in Town".
  • Adaptational Angst Downgrade: As this show's interpretation of Kyle Rayner is given Hal Jordan's origin rather than the origin he had in the comics, the Kyle Rayner of the DCAU doesn't suffer the tragedy of Major Force murdering his girlfriend and leaving her body in a refrigerator for him to find.
  • Affably Evil:
    • Lex Luthor, who hides his villainy beneath a thin veneer of courtesy and suave sophistication.
    • Edward Lytener, who even when making declarations of absolute hatred and murderous intent is always so briskly, cheerfully polite. This continues after he becomes Luminus.
  • The Alcatraz: Stryker's Island. There there were only three known escapes from the island, the first involved a missile strike, the second involved an attack by Livewire and the third was part of a plan to blot out the sun.
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: Maxima will only mate with a man who can equal her in combat.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Lana Lang explains to Lex that she likes dangerous men, except it turns out she only likes dangerous men because she could never snag nice guy Clark Kent.
  • Alternate Universe: The show featured a universe where Lois died, prompting Superman to team up with Luthor and take over Metropolis.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Italian version has a different opening theme song.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Lex Luthor. Fan speculation often mistook him for a light-skinned African-American, but Word of God says he is Greek and his appearance was based on Telly Savalas, a Greek-American actor. He was given a lighter skin tone in Justice League, probably to rectify confusion like this. Clark Kent/Superman had the same skin tone, which the creators refer to as a "reddish" tone in DVD audio commentary, but no fan ever confuses his intended color.
    • The misconception was also probably partially based on the fact that, in addition to a darker skin tone, Lex had noticeably fuller lips than the other white characters.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: When Metallo surfaces after being lost at sea in his premier episode, he has forgotten who and what he is. He is christened "Steelman" by the pair of children who find him and is (briefly) a hero, rescuing a truck driver from a flaming wreck. However, he recovers his memory at the end of the day and resumes his vendetta against Superman.
  • Amusing Alien: Mr. Mxyzptlk is a being from the fifth dimension who causes all sorts of amusing antics with his reality-warping abilities.
  • And I Must Scream: Metallo's predicament at the end of "Action Figures", buried in freshly cooled lava. He gets better.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Played for laughs in "Identity Crisis", when the clone Superman gives a speech about dares and courage to a group of kids. Their reactions are mixed.
  • Answers to the Name of God: Variation; when Bruno Mannheim finds himself on Apokolips, he asks "Where in God's name are we?" to which Kanto replies "That depends. To which God are you referring?" right before introducing him to Darkseid.
  • Arms Dealer: Luthor apparently has numerous sources of income, since he claims to employ two-thirds of Metropolis whether they know it or not, but the only one that gets any screentime is his weapons manufacturing.
  • The Artifact: Referenced—in one episode, Clark tries to run to a phone to change into his costume, a riff on the classic phonebooth transformation, but since they're big-time journalists in The '90s, Lois has a cell phone on her.
  • Artistic License – Physics: It is Superman, so one has to expect an elastic relationship with the laws of physics.
  • A-Team Firing: Averted throughout most of the series (not that they would actually need to play it straight, with a bulletproof hero), except for the crossover "World's Finest," which brought Batman and the Joker to Metropolis and seemed to be trying to make up for not using the trope before. When the Joker kidnaps Lois his henchmen shoot at Bruce Wayne and, though they initially appear to be firing at his feet in a deliberate attempt to force him to fall off the roof, by the time he actually falls they are firing dozens of shots at him from five feet away, outlining his entire body, without hitting him even once. When he finally does fall off the roof he lands on a scaffold and the criminals continue to shoot at him, firing so many bullets they knock the scaffold off the building and actually demolish the wooden floor he is standing on, still without hitting Bruce.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Titano's a gigantic ape.
  • Attentive Shade Lowering: "The Main Man" sees a gag where — in response to Lois wondering how he's able to get such good news coverage of Superman — Clark confesses to Lois right to her face that he's Superman in disguise, prefaced by him slyly lowering his glasses — those glasses, mind you. Lois doesn't catch it and just assumes that Clark's being a troll.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: It might not have reached the point of actual "love" just yet, but Lois's teary-eyed confession to Superman about her feelings towards his alter-ego Clark Kent (who at the time was believed to be dead) in the episode "The Late Mr. Kent" reveals that she is starting to think about him as more than just competition from a small town in Kansas. Word of God said they wrote Lois as being attracted to Clark but in denial.
  • Bad Boss:
  • Badbutt: Lobo is an amoral bounty hunter who claims to have wiped out his own species, but doesn't do anything too horrific on-screen.
  • Bald of Evil: Three guesses who. (You also get credit if you guessed Brainiac.)
  • Bandage Wince: Lois threatens Batman with iodine for his wound after she finds out he's Bruce Wayne.
  • Bat Deduction: Superman (ironically) does this in "Knight Time," when he's filling in for Batman - he knew he needed to deploy microscopic vision on a random piece of paper, then the phone, to find out that Bruce had been mind-controlled.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Averted. One way of killing Superman is to make him suffocate, and he is shown to need an air supply to survive in space (Lobo, on the other hand, doesn't).
  • Batman Gambit: Done to Mr. Mxyzptlk, getting him to proof read his name backwards.
  • Battle Butler: Mercy Graves, Lex Luthor's chauffeur and right-hand woman.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: In "Two's a Crowd", Rudy and Earl Garver battle in order to take control of Parasite. Garver wins.
  • Battle Tops: Toyman unleashes a gigantic top that generates electric fields against Superman.
  • Beam-O-War: Twice in "Ghost in the Machine." Mercy Graves attempts to shoot Brainiac with her pistol, but he easily overpowers her. Superman, however, activates the Sky Sentry and subsequently overloads Brainiac.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Maxima will only marry a man that can defeat her in combat.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • Lois and Lana can slip into this when they are in the same episode. At first sight, Lana would be Betty and Lois would be Veronica as in the comics. However, Lois's proximity makes her more attainable, while Lana grew from Clark's tame childhood friend into someone who freely manipulates through sexuality, in stark contrast to the comics of the post-Crisis DC Universe.
    • Clark and Bruce Wayne are the Betty and Veronica to Lois's Archie in World's Finest. Lois goes on several dates with Bruce and they share some steamy kisses, to Clark's frustration. Loves My Alter Ego is played interestingly here; as Bruce puts it, she's fond of Bruce Wayne and Superman—it's the other two guys she doesn't like. (Although, according to Bruce Timm, it's only Batman she really doesn't like.)
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • In "Legacy, Part 2", after Superman overcomes his brainwashing, he opens a boomtube to Apokolips, vaporizes the army sent to meet him, electrocutes Granny Goodness, knocks the Female Furries through a building, swats away Kalibak without a second thought, and burns Darkseid's face and eyes.
    • "Little Girl Lost, Part 2": Even without any actions, Superman's reaction to the Female Furies beating up Supergirl tells you that he does not take kindly to people messing with his family.
  • Big Bad: Darkseid, whose schemes drive the ongoing plot-arc, as opposed to Brainiac and Luthor, whose schemes are more self-contained.
  • Big Damn Hero: When an innocent man is about to be executed, Superman breaks into the gas chamber after the gas has been released and blows it outside to let it dissipate in the atmosphere.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Dan Turpin's funeral is accompanied by the Kaddish, the Hebrew mourning prayer. They got an actual rabbi to recite the prayer.
  • Bittersweet Ending: To the Superman: TAS within the continuity as a whole. Superman repels Darkseid's invasion, but due to the time he was brainwashed combined with Luthor's lies about him, nearly everyone but his closest friends hates him. It’s not until Justice League that he begins to regain people's trust.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Sqweek and Gnaww from "The Main Man" each have two faces: the normal, humanoid one, and one in the upper-left corner of their skull, with their eyelid forming the "mouth." They eat with the larger mouth and speak out of the smaller one.
  • Blessed with Suck: Metallo. In exchange for super-strength, nigh-invulnerability and immortality he gives up his senses of touch, taste and smell, and slowly goes insane from the sensory deprivation.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Used several times on the Man of Steel himself to show the strength of his foe.
  • Bond One-Liner: After the Joker is apparently blown up along with the LexWing:
    Harley Quinn: Puddin'!
    Batman: At this point, he probably is.
  • Boring, but Practical: When Lois Lane needs to go out in a heavy storm she dresses in an unflattering plain yellow rain poncho, pointing out that even if it is not particularly attractive or special it will keep her dry.
  • Boss-Arena Idiocy: In "World's Finest", the Joker chooses to try to kill Superman in a laboratory filled with canisters of Hollywood Acid powerful enough to dissolve his kryptonite.
  • Bouncer: The Metropolis Yacht Club had a bouncer outside its exclusive gala who refused to allow even people who bribed him to gain entry. Of course, Volcana got in anyway.
    Bouncer: "Behind the rope."
    Snooty Quest: "But I just gave you a hundred dollars!"
    Bouncer: "Thank you."
  • Boxing Kangaroo: In "Obsession," Toyman deploys a mechanical kangaroo with boxing gloves to capture Darci. It matches up pretty well against Superman.
  • Brainwashed: Superman is brainwashed into being Darkseid's servant in the Grand Finale "Legacy"
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Darkseid brainwashes Superman to lay waste upon Earth in the Grand Finale "Legacy".
  • Briar Patching: When Superman has lost his powers after being brought to an alien habitat that simulates Krypton's environment, he explains to his assailants that they really do not want to throw him into the other habitat that he was trying to break into. It happens to be an Earth habitat, complete with yellow-sun projector. The villains realize their mistake pretty quickly.
  • Bridal Carry: True to general form, Superman's default carrying position for people he likes is in his arms, supported under the shoulders and knees.
    • "Feeding Time": Superman lifts Jimmy under the knees and back when he's evacuating him before dealing with Parasite.
    • "Brave New Metropolis": Superman carries Lois princess-style as he flies away from the lab after having been called to rescue her when she got pulled into an alternate dimension.
    • "Monkey Fun": Superman catches Jimmy in midair after he slips and falls from the roof trying to get away from Titano. The next shot shows him carrying his younger coworker in his arms as he goes to survey the damage.
  • Broken Pedestal: The writers explained that they wanted Jimmy Olsen to be a member of the resistance in "Brave New World," and explicitly wanted it to be him who began throwing rocks at Superman, because they felt that nothing would better demonstrate Superman's fall from grace than losing the adoration of his biggest fan.
  • Brought Down to Badass: Even without his powers, Clark is still over 6 feet tall and built like a truck. So when Edward Lytener puts on a suit of armor that projects red sunlight to rob Superman of his powers, Clark is still' able to beat him senseless. In the series finale, he's again depowered and beats Lex Luthor so badly he's in a neckbrace the next time you see him.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Several episodes revolve around Superman losing his powers, either through the lack of a yellow sun or when they are stolen.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": Obviously applies to Superman's iconic outfit.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Lex Luthor's favorite sport. Granted, Superman would probably never actually do anything — but that doesn't change the fact that Luthor is harassing a guy who could kill him in any number of ways before he could even blink, let alone do anything.
  • Butt-Monkey: Kenny Braverman in "New Kids in Town".
  • Cain and Abel: In "Speed Demons", Weather Wizard tries to kill his younger brother when he backs out of his mass-murdering plan.
  • Canon Foreigner: Volcana, Luminus, the Preserver, Sgt. Corey Mills, General Hardcastle, Detective Kurt Bowman, Darci Mason, Angela Chen and Unity. Mala is a somewhat complex example; see her entry under Composite Character.
  • Canon Immigrant: Mercy Graves and Livewire originated in the series and became comic book mainstays in the following years.
  • The Cape: The original and still the best.
  • Cape Busters: The Special Crimes Unit is the branch of the Metropolis Police tasked with combating criminals beyond the scope of traditional law enforcement. Over the course of the series, they evolve from fighting organized crime (With tanks) to combating alien invasions and clones of Superman.
  • Captain Ersatz: Lobo's employer, Emperor Spooj, bears a certain resemblance to Jabba the Hutt.
  • Car Bomb:
    • The Alternate Universe of "Brave New Metropolis" spun off from reality after Lois Lane was killed by a bomb that Intergang placed in her car.
    • In "The Late Mr. Kent," Clark Kent is "killed" by a bomb placed in his car by the real murderer behind the crime he is investigating.
  • Cardboard Prison: Averted. There are only three prison escapes at all throughout the show's run, and they each feature equipment and abilities that would be required for such an escape.
  • Car Fu:
    • Superman himself uses a car to knock Metallo out of their fight when the Kryptonite has made him too weak to continue the confrontation. Afterwards he actually apologizes to Lois for the damage to her vehicle.
    • Cosmic Boy actually hurls cars at Brainiac when they are fighting in Smallville.
    • Superman sandwiches Kalibak between two cars when he decides to attack the town the day his parents are visiting.
  • Cat Up a Tree: After Darkseid brainwashes Superman into attacking Earth, Supes end up being captured by the military and held prisoner in a facility built by Lex Luthor. When Superman asks for a chance to prove himself, a General sarcastically asks if he intends to do it by rescuing a cat from a tree.
  • The Cavalry: In "Apokolips... Now!", Earth has refused to submit to Apokoliptian rule and Darkseid is about to annihilate the entire planet, with the implication that he really is able to do it, when the forces of New Genesis arrive. Orion explains that Earth is now under Highfather's protection, and any aggression against it will lead to all-out war between the New Gods.
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • Jimmy's friend Kyle draws superhero comic books and gets a rejection letter from DC Comics.
    • The "Mr. Mxyzptlk" comic is written by Siegel and Schuster.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The first appearance of Darkseid. Until then, Superman had faced various foes, but none of them could withstand him in a conventional fight for long - not even Brainiac or Metallo. In “Father's Day”, Superman fights off Darkseid's son Kalibak with some difficulty, but then he meets the lord of Apokolips himself and is laid low in seconds as a warning and a command to bend the knee. Darkseid's next appearance sees him outright defeat Superman and string him up for the world to see and despair at. He leaves after humanity tells him to get lost, but not before murdering Dan Turpin for leading the shouts of defiance.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Superman's new lead-alloy suit in "Feeding Time."
    • The broken hangar door in “World's Finest, Part 3”.
    • Spanning two seasons, in the opening arc "The Last Son of Krypton" Jor-El tries and fails to convince the Kryptonian leadership of the planet's oncoming destruction and suggests that everyone can be saved by transporting them into the Phantom Zone with one person left outside it to flee Krypton in the rocket that will instead transport baby Kal-El to Earth. In the second season premier, "Blasts from the Past", Superman and Dr. Hamilton find a Phantom Zone projector stowed in the rocket.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Detective Bowman had a minor appearance in "Target" before his primary role in "The Late Mr. Kent".
  • Chekhov's Lecture: The museum tour guide mentioning that the civilization that created the metal goblets died out from lead poisoning in "A Little Piece of Home".
  • Chick Magnet: Clark Kent was irresistible in high school and Lana Lang even complained about his ability to attract every woman in the area.
  • Chores Without Powers: Mister Mxyzptlk is punished in the Fifth Dimension for invading the Third Dimension (and bothering Superman with his antics) by making him stay in the Third Dimension without his powers for 90 days, during which he must perform a good deed for the beings he tortured there.
  • Civilization Destroyer: Brainiac who kills every sentient life form on the planets he collects knowledge from. Brainiac's reasoning is that "the fewer beings who have the knowledge, the more precious it becomes".
  • Clark Kenting: Lampshaded in "My Girl". Clark's friend Lana Lang does not buy his act for a second.
  • Clear Their Name: A thief is sentenced to death for theft and murder. Clark, and later Superman, spend the whole episode trying to clear his name. Turns out the thief has been framed by a Detective Bowman who committed both the theft and the murder.
  • Closer to Earth: Of the two Intergang members that Jimmy asks for help in "Little Girl Lost," the boy runs off while Amy (the girl) stays behind to help. She explains that it is only right that she try to fix the problem she helped create, which is odd since she showed no concern while creating the problem, namely when she was committing robbery and attempting to kill Superman earlier in the episode.
  • Clothing Damage:
    • When John Corben becomes Metallo, Luthor explains that his new body and skin are composed of metallo, an almost indestructible new alloy. However, his clothing is normal fiber and is reduced to tatters when he is hit by a train.
    • Clark Kent's clothing is burned off and ripped to shreds when Brainiac tries to ambush him as a teenager in Smallville.
    • Clark's civilian clothes are frequently destroyed, revealing his (undamaged) super suit underneath. When Superman's costume is damaged, it really shows the seriousness of the attack; the outfit has been shown to withstand fire, bullets, lasers, and all sorts of attacks that destroyed everything else in their path.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Bruno Mannheim, with Apokolips.
  • The Collector: The Preserver in "The Main Man" collects the last surviving specimens of wiped out species, including Superman due to his status as the last surviving Kryptonian and Lobo because of him being the last surviving Czarnian.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: The show recieved a comic book tie-in titled The Superman Adventures (which lasted 66 issues, one annual and two one-shots titled Superman vs. Lobo and Dimensions of the Dark Shadows). There was also a one-shot that adapted the "World's Finest" three-parter that crossed over with Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting:
  • The Commissioner Gordon:
    • Superman spends most of his time working with Captain Maggie Sawyer of the Special Crimes Unit. Inspector Dan "Terrible" Turpin, Captain Sawyer's right hand man, was originally vehemently opposed to officially including Superman in police activities, but eventually accepted his assistance when it became clear that the superpowered and alien enemies were simply outside the weight class of the SCU.
    • Commissioner Gordon himself appears in "World's Finest" during the initial Gotham scenes, and in a later episode he assists Superman when Superman is impersonating Batman.
  • Composite Character:
    • Mala is named for an obscure male character from the 1950s, the leader of a trio of the first evil Kryptonians Superman battled in two stories. The more famous Phantom Zone idea and villains like Zod came later in the Silver Age and utterly eclipsed the original trio of Mala, U-Ban, and Kizo. However, in terms of her gender and relationship with fellow Composite Character Jax-Ur, Mala is based primarily on the evil Kryptonian Ursa from the film Superman II. Interestingly enough, Ursa was probably very loosely inspired by the comics' evil Kryptonian villainess Faora Hu-Ul; unlike Ursa and Mala, who like and respect their male allies, Faora was a man-hating Serial Killer back on Krypton.
    • Kyle Rayner is a combination of Kyle, Hal Jordan, and John Stewart from the comics (Later, in Justice League, John Stewart is a main character and Hal Jordan gets a minor cameo). When Kyle Rayner appeared in JLU ("The Return"), he was redesigned to look less like Hal Jordan and more like his comic book counterpart.
    • The Flash. Although it is never stated which Flash is in "Speed Demons", he is confirmed to be Wally West in Justice League. His personality has a lot in common with Bart Allen and he has Barry Allen's day job as a forensic scientist.
    • Jax-Ur is a mash-up of his comic-book incarnation and the better known General Zod. Zod is clarified to have existed much later on in Justice League Beyond 2.0, but apparently as a historical criminal that Superman never encountered.
    • "New Kids in Town" has two-thirds of the classic Legion of Super-Heroes trio visiting a young Clark Kent. While Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl are retained, Lightning Lad is replaced with Chameleon Boy, though this overlaps with Decomposite Character since Lightning Lad is still present, but only in a brief cameo among the rest of the Legionnaires.
  • Continuity Cameo: In the three-part pilot, the El family have a puppy, presumably named Krypto.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In "The Last Son of Krypton, Part 3", when Clark Kent and Lex Luthor meet for the first time Luthor, irritated by Clark, remarks that he will remember the name "Kent." Throughout the series he refers to Clark only as "Kent," never by his first or both his first and last name, despite routinely varying how he addresses other characters.
    • After one final strong gust of wind in "Superman's Pal", Lois comments that she needs to start wearing pants. In the next episode, "A Fish Story'", for the first time in the entire series (Except when she was undercover and in disguise) she wears pants. In the same scene, Jimmy Olsen uses the signal watch he received in that same episode to call for help from Superman.
  • Cool Plane: The LexWing, which the Joker steals in the finale of "World's Finest."
  • Crapola Tech: Lex, would it kill you to hire a QA department? Whenever a new piece of Lexcorp tech shows up, it has a better-than-even chance of malfunctioning and requiring Superman to deal with it.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Creating typos that spelled Mr. Mxyzptlk's name backwards right before he re-appeared
  • Creepy Monotone: Brainiac speaks in a sinister, emotionless inflection.
  • Crossover: The series had three crossovers with Batman: The Animated Series, confirming the existence of the DC Animated Universe.
    • The season two three-part episode "World's Finest," which featured characters from Batman traveling to Metropolis.
    • The season three episode "Knight Time," in which Superman teams up with Robin (Tim Drake) to hunt down a missing Batman.
    • The season four episode "The Demon Reborn" in which Batman and Superman team-up to fight Ra's Al Ghul.
  • Cryonics Failure: Supergirl was the only one of her family to survive cryostasis.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "Superman's Pal," which focused heavily on Jimmy Olsen.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lois Lane. Clark (And Superman) often matches her snark-for-snark.
  • Death by Adaptation: Dan Turpin gets killed by Darkseid, when he was still alive in the comics.
  • Death by Secret Identity: Detective Bowman is executed mere seconds after figuring out Clark's secret.
  • Death Trap: Not quite once-an-episode, but explored. The episode "Target" featured several unique traps all focused on killing Lois Lane that were set up at an awards reception, her car, her office and finally in the lab of the man plotting her death.
  • Defiant Stone Throw: Dan Turpin, which lead to the below trope.
  • Defiant to the End: Earth is facing complete subjugation and annihilation, but Dan Turpin refuses to give Darkseid an inch, much to Darkseid's surprise and shock.
  • Demographic-Dissonant Crossover: "The Main Man" featured Lobo, who is a more adult oriented character. It doesn't help that the Lobo (Webseries) is rated TV-MA.
  • Despair Event Horizon: As the series ends in “Legacy”, with Darkseid finally defeated and tossed to the masses of Apokolips for judgement, the people he has long enslaved do not rebel against Darkseid, but instead carry him on their shoulders to his recovery. As he is carried off, he speaks one final line: "I am many things Kal-El, but here, I am God." Even after he has been crushed and beaten, Darkseid still wins!
  • Destination Defenestration: Clark Kent was tossed through a window by Bizarro, but thankfully Superman was able to save his life.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Yes, Dan Turpin did. And paid with his life.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In their first meeting, Batman judo-flips Superman across the room. The look of shock on Superman's face is priceless.note 
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: This continuity gives a different explanation for Abin Sur's death than what was given in the comics. The Emerald Dawn miniseries revealed that the reason Abin Sur was dying in the first place was because he sustained mortal injuries from fighting a villain called Legion (which would later be retconned after the DCAU ended its run when Geoff Johns established in the "Secret Origin" arc that it was instead Atrocitus, future founder and leader of the Red Lantern Corps, who was responsible for Abin Sur being mortally wounded). Here, Sinestro is responsible for Abin Sur dying.
  • Dirty Cop: Detective Bowman. He made detective by framing a man for murder and "solving" the crime, got said innocent man sent to death row, then attempted to kill Clark Kent when he could prove the man's innocence.
  • Disney Villain Death: The Preserver, assuming he is dead.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Volcana gains entry to a private party and draws the eye of on-duty photographer Jimmy Olsen through raw sex appeal.
    Rejected Party Guest: Hey, what's she got that I haven't got?
    Bouncer: Everything.
    • Averted in "Mxyzpixilated". After being tricked by Superman again, Mister Mxyzptlk starts to construct a giant robotic suit. Meanwhile his partner Ms. Gsptlsnz tries to grab his attention by changing into many sexy outfits. He doesn't notice. Not even when she summons a plate to drop onto his head.
  • Damsel in Distress:
    • Lois Lane is the traditional damsel, frequently being rescued by Superman, but the trope is discussed in the episode "Target." Despite a madman consistently attempting to murder her she remains defiant, continuing her own investigation against the advice of others. Also gets a massive Lampshade Hanging at the start of "Prototype", when Luthor comments that with her tendency towards this trope she might appreciate a few more rescuers.
    • It happens so often, that it kind of works in her favor. During "World's Finest" Lois is on Airforce One when it's hijacked and she tries to send out a distress call, but is caught.
    Hijacker: Let's make an example of this hero. A very tragic example, I'm afraid, Miss...?
    Lois: Lane.
    Hijacker: Lane? Lois Lane? The one Superman always saves?
    Lois: Afraid so.
  • Destroying a Punching Bag: In one episode, Lex Luthor is discussing a job with a mercenary while the latter works out at a punching bag. In the middle of the talk, the merc decides to hit on Lex's chauffeur and assistant, Mercy. She naturally shoots him down; and when he doesn't take the hint, her response is to aim a high kick next to his head and send the bag flying all the way to the far wall.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: When his powers first began to manifest, Clark Kent had a lot of trouble adjusting to his newfound strength. When engaging in a "friendly" game of basketball, he accidentally threw his opponent across the court and through a refreshment table.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "Double Dose", Livewire makes it pretty clear she likes to associate her powers with her... femininity. Which adds a whole rape subtext to Parasite attempting to forcibly take them from her. It goes way into creepy territory when he tells her "You've said no to me for the last time."
  • Do with Him as You Will: Superman attempts this with Darkseid. It does not work.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Dan Turpin stands up to and taunts the new god Darkseid, only to be disintegrated.
  • Downer Ending: As the series ends in “Legacy”, Superman has finally defeated Darkseid, free of the brainwashing that forced him to lead an invasion of Earth, and he tosses Darkseid to the masses of Apokolips for judgment, freeing the planet after eons of slavery. However, instead of dethroning their oppressor the people of Apokolips raise Darkseid to their shoulders and carry him off to heal, begging for his recovery. As they leave, Darkseid speaks one final line to Superman: "I am many things Kal-El, but here, I am God." Unable to defeat Darkseid, even after physically crushing him, Superman returns to Earth where he has lost the trust of humanity and will be feared and hated for years to come. At least he has Lois and Jimmy's support and the issue of the public's trust of him is resolved later in Justice League.
  • Due to the Dead: After Dan Turpin is killed, the episode ends with Superman and others grieving at his funeral. His tombstone reads: Earth's Greatest Hero.
  • Dystopia Justifies the Means: Darkseid. Apokolips is a nightmarish hellhole where he rules as a God, and he plans to conquer the Earth and enslave the human race purely For the Evulz. To say nothing of his ultimate goal of finding the Anti-Life Equation to eliminate The Evils of Free Will, so that he may remake the universe in his own twisted image.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference:
    • The Flash as depicted in "Speed Demons" looks slightly different from how he'd be depicted in Justice League, with the outline of the circle portion of his chest insignia being colored black instead of yellow, the yellow ornaments on his temples being shaped more like wings than lightning bolts and his chin being less narrow.
    • Brainiac 5 and Bouncing Boy's cameos in "New Kids in Town" differ considerably from how they would later appear in the Justice League Unlimited episode "New Kids in Town". Brainiac 5 has a mullet, his eyes are completely white, his belt is of a different design and includes a buckle shaped like the Legion of Super-Heroes insignia, plus he lacks his ancestor the original Brainiac's iconic diodes on his forehead while having a chest insignia resembling them. Bouncing Boy, meanwhile, wears a gloved costume colored light blue and white that is more akin to the Silver Age aesthetic of the Legionnaires' uniforms and has a body that is noticeably more spherical.
    • Aquaman's debut in "A Fish Story" sports his classic clean-shaven, short-haired look wearing an orange and green costume, while his Justice League appearances take more after his long-haired, bearded and shirtless depiction from the 1990s.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The early episodes flip-flopped on Superman's Skintone Sclerae and on whether to depict his heat vision as visible laser beams, or as items simply heating up as he stared at them.
  • Easily Conquered World: Almarec. When Maxima leaves, her maid and enemy take over by... you know, it is never revealed. They are just in charge when Maxima gets back later on the same day, with no explanation for how they executed their coupnote .
  • Easily Forgiven: "Legacy" plays this straight with Supergirl, Lois, and Jimmy, but averts it with everyone else.
  • El Cid Ploy:
    • In "Knight Time"... as Batman!
    • In "Legacy," Kara uses the Superman Robots to make the people of Metropolis believe Superman is still around.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • The Cthulhoid Karkull. He and his shoggoth minions were pretty much straight out of a Lovecraft story and compare quite blatantly to Nyarlathotep.
    • Unity, sort of a mix of Shub-Niggurath and Yog-Sothoth. This is not the first or the last time the DCAU would go to the Lovecraft well, but probably one of the freakiest. The Preacher/Great Old One assisting Unity was an even more blatant Nyarlathotep Expy.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: When Superman goes to the frozen planet Argo, he finds a doll trapped in ice.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Entirely too many episodes to list. The series loves to end the episode on a shot of the Toyman's discarded mask, or Metallo walking slowly through the ocean depths, or the supposedly-catatonic Parasite's eyes beginning to glow...
  • Establishing Character Moment: Sergeant Mills in "Prototype" is first shown as a relatively clean-cut if cocky police officer, and works well with Superman in his debut when rescuing civilians from a fire. Establishing his personality early shows that he's not the one at fault when With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.
  • "Eureka!" Moment:
    • In "Target," Lois Lane realizes the identity of her stalker when she is told to relax and watch some TV, which makes her recognize the lie that she had been given earlier.
    • In "The Late Mr. Kent," Clark Kent is reaching for a slice of pizza when he realizes that the man on death-row could be exonerated if somebody could verify his alibi, that he was eating pizza when the murder was being committed.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Bruno Mannheim, otherwise highly irredeemable, doesn't allow his mooks and bodyguards to follow him into a charity event because he doesn't want them to scare the children. Though this may have been so he could uphold his already crumbling Villain with Good Publicity appearance.
  • Evil Brit:
  • Evil Gloating: Lampshaded and averted in "In Brightest Day":
    Kyle Rayner: "Wait! Don't you want to talk first? You know, banter back and forth to show me your innate superiority?"
    Sinestro: "No."
  • Eviler than Thou: When the Joker goes to Metropolis, Lex Luthor at first considers him beneath his notice due to his inability to destroy his "mere mortal in a Halloween costume". Eventually, they strike up a partnership and the entire time, Lex believes that he's got the Joker's strings. After the Joker fails to kill Superman (though he came close), Lex decides to betray the Joker. The Joker anticipates this and turns it right back on him, taking Lex prisoner and stealing a bomber he was building, with the intent to kill Lex and level all of the buildings he built in Metropolis (half of the city). He's only stopped by the timely intervention of Batman and Superman.
  • Exact Words:
    • When John Corben, reborn as Metallo, complains his new robot body lacks the ability to feel, Luthor assures him there's "adjustments" to be made. Later, Corben barges in and demands those adjustments — only to learn that Luthor meant he needs to adjust to it.
    • Karkull's promise to whoever frees him. He said he was "power beyond understanding", not that you would get any of that power, foolish mortal.
    • In "Apokolips... Now!", Darkseid promises Bruno Manheim that in exchange for his help in weakening Earth for an invasion, he'll be made a king. When he abandons Manheim in a nuclear plant with a reactor about to explode, Darkseid crowns him a king... of fools.
  • Expy:
  • The Ex's New Jerkass: Clark is surprised to find out that Lana Lang, his ex, is dating Lex Luthor, Clark/Superman's Arch-Enemy and one of the main villains of the series.
  • Fairplay Whodunnit: The clue to the culprit in "Target" is revealed early in the episode, and ongoing information is presented to the viewers along with the characters.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: The show generally averts this trope, many characters wield normal firearms and are explicitly using advanced weaponry when lasers are shown, but “Heavy Metal” plays the trope straight. Intergang initially wields traditional machine guns that are shown to fire bullets and eject spent casings when they are firing into the air to intimidate their hostages, but when they actually shoot at Superman and Steel they are inexplicably firing lasers instead.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The series actually shows two scenes of a gas chamber execution. The first is of an innocent man accused of a crime, in which they show him desperately trying to keep his face away from the inrushing gas until Superman breaks in to save him, then in the very last seconds of the episode, as the corrupt cop really responsible awaits his death, he figures out how Clark Kent, who he tried to kill for finding out the truth, was able to survive. Then the scene immediately cuts to the executioner's hand pushing the switch over, and fades out
    • Dan Turpin, after he frees Superman, and the timely arrival of the forces of New Genesis, Darkseid is forced to withdraw, but not without firing one final Omega Beam, which streaks toward Superman before curving around and instantly vaporizing Turpin.
    • Mala and Jax-Ur go out by getting sucked into a black hole. This would perhaps be acceptable, except that, well...
  • Fanservice: "Obsession" starts off with a swimsuit fashion show. While it's there to set up the characters for the rest of the episode, it's also a place to show off attractive women in swimsuits.
  • Fantastic Nature Reserve: Supes and Lobo were put in one by a collector of Last of His Kind species. Superman is forced to keep one in his Fortress of Solitude because some of the beings don't have homes.
  • Fantastic Racism: Most of Superman's enemies hate him for personal and direct reasons, but General Hardcastle dislikes and distrusts him solely because he is an alien, with a history and motivation that can not be trusted.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The ship which brought Superman to Earth as a child was refurbished with the help of S.T.A.R. labs, and is used occasionally during the series to transport Superman through space. In its first re-appearance, "Stolen Memories," Superman travels five and a half light-years, just past Alpha Centauri, and returns to Earth in under four hours.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: Jax-Ur claims that "death is better than the Phantom Zone".
  • Faux Affably Evil: Metallo is often friendly and grinning, but he is usually assuming the pleasant persona to mock and insult his foes.
  • Fiery Redhead: Volcana, literally. Also, Maxima and Orion.
  • Fighting from the Inside: In "Two's a Crowd", Rudy begins to fight back against Earl Garver after Garver has taken control of the Parasite, giving Superman the time and opportunity he needs to get rid of the bomb and save the day.
  • Five-Episode Pilot: "The Last Son of Krypton" took place over three:
    • Part One portrayed the last days of Krypton, ending with baby Kal-El being launched into space to escape the planet's destruction.
    • Part Two shows how Kal was adopted by the Kents and grew up in Smallville, as well as how he discovered his heritage and came to terms with his powers.
    • Part Three cuts ahead a few years to Clark Kent signing on with the Daily Planet, and showcases him as Superman in costume for the first time, as well as marking the first appearance of Lex Luthor (although in this instance his role was very small). In the final moments, Brainiac's satellite is found by extraterrestrials in space, and he seizes control of their ship...
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In "World's Finest", Alfred's research shows that all previous owners of the "Laughing Dragon" statue have died young from illness. Luthor should have done the same reading; by Justice League, carrying kryptonite around for years has given him cancer just like in the comics.
    • In the episode "Little Girl Lost," the model of the comet breaking the globe hints at the upcoming impact of Fleischer's Comet.
    • Brainiac at one point shoots Luthor in the back. A later appearance ("Knight Time") shows Brainiac probably has the ability to outright destroy a human being if he wanted to, with the only reason he failed being that it was Superman he was blasting. Justice League would later reveal Brainiac put a sample of himself within Luthor, just in case he died.
  • Forced Transformation: Mr. Mxyzptlk has a tendency to transform people into random animals, creatures and paintings as part of his crusade against Superman. When his bosses get involved, they turn his wife into a tree.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Averted with Dan Turpin. In the second season finale, Darkseid murdered him to spite Superman when he was forced by High Father to leave Earth. While he wasn't mentioned during the majority of season three, when Superman clashed with Darkseid in the Series Finale, he reveals that he had never forgotten the friend Darkseid had murdered.
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Livewire's outfit is created by ionizing the air around her, and she herself describes it as "form fitting."
  • For Science!: Weather Wizard accuses his brother of being willfully blind and naive when he was building the weather control machine, as he always knew that the Wizard planned to use it for crime and did not care, only interested in the science. His brother, however, never believed he would really go this far, and abandons the machine once its threat becomes clear.
  • For the Evulz: In his second appearance, Edward Lytener becomes the villain Luminus, just to get back at Superman.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the episode “Mxyzpixilated”, Jimmy hands Clark a comic strip page featuring the titular Mr. Mxyzptlk. There are other comics on the page, Dini The Meany (parodying Calvin and Hobbes and Dennis the Menace (US)), Gleen (parodying Peanuts), Dan Danger (parodying Dick Tracy) and Zub Street (Parodying Momma). The Mxyzptlk strip itself is by Siegel and Shuster, the creators of Superman. Check out the screengrab! It gets better: "M'Gurk", the character Mxy is hollering for in the strip, is, presumably, the same M'Gurk he was looking for in his first comic-book appearance back in the 40's.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Most humans use traditional firearms, but as the series progresses energy weapons are gradually introduced being used by LexCorp and the Special Crimes Unit.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Lois lives in a large, two-story apartment on a newspaper reporter's salary.

  • A God Am I: Darkseid has something of an ego — a completely justified ego — and rules over Apokolips by asserting his own godhood. Even when he is physically defeated and thrown down to the clutches of his oppressed slaves, he points out, as they gently tend to his wounds and carry him away on their shoulders, he cannot be beaten since, as he says: "I am many things, Kal-El, but here, I am God."
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The origin of maybe a quarter of Superman's enemies.
  • GPS Evidence: Jimmy Olsen finds a game token dropped by Intergang in "Little Girl Lost" and believes that tracing its source will lead them to Intergang. He and Supergirl travel all over Metropolis looking for an arcade that uses that particular token, but when they find it it is just an average arcade that some members of Intergang happen to patronize. Including two members who are there right at that very moment.
  • Groupie Brigade: Jimmy gets chased by a mob of lovestruck teenage girls in "Superman's Pal" after Angela Chen blows his relationship with Superman out of proportion.
  • Ham and Deadpan Duo: When Joker comes to town to make an alliance with Lex, Joker remains his hammy, over-the-top self, while Lex is stoic and only barely tolerant of his new partner.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Brainiac gives one to Jor-El in the pilot, in order to convince him to let him escape Krypton.
  • Heel Realization: You can actually see Bizarro's heartbreak when he sees Superman saving Lois Lane and recognizes that he himself is not Superman.
  • Hello, Attorney!: Mr. Mxyzptlk's wife appears at his trial to offer up evidence that his obsession with Superman means he is not responsible for his actions. She is turned into a tree.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Lobo. Since the show is intended for kids he's not allowed to do anything truly horrific, and comes across as mostly Played for Laughs instead.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: Maggie Sawyer is an imported character from the Superman comics who first appearing in the 1980's and has been an out-lesbian since 1988. However, this could not be explicitly stated in a kids show and the closest they get to covering this point is in “ Apokolips... Now!” when she is visited in the hospital by a woman who comforts her throughout both parts of the episode. In a future episode, her arm is around Maggie during Dan Turpin's funeral. The woman is unnamed in the show, but DVD commentary and the credits reveal that she is Toby Raynes, Maggie's long-time girlfriend in the comics, and was included as a reference to their relationship.
  • Hit Them in the Pocketbook: In the pilot episode, Luthor arranged to have his high tech battlesuit "stolen" by Kaznia, with the additional windfall, as Clark Kent points out, of having the government ask him to build a bigger and better one later. After Superman destroys the suit, he cannot prove Luthor's crooked involvement, despite knowing about it, a fact Luthor points out to him. However, Luthor will not be receiving his backdoor payment from Kaznia, since, as they argue, they never received the goods in question. And in addition, Superman promises that he'll be watching Luthor very closely from that point (a promise he keeps).
  • Hitchhiker's Leg: In "World's Finest", the Joker, of all people, pulls this off while acting like a hitchhiker to stop Lex Luthor's car (driven by Harley Quinn) to pick him up.
  • Homage: The diner scene in "New Kids in Town" is taken directly from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Except that Brainiac wears pants (hey, it is a family show).
  • Hometown Nickname: Lois calls Clark "Smallville".
  • Homeworld Evacuation: Jor-El had a practical plan to evacuate the entire population of Krypton before it exploded: cast everyone into the Phantom Zone, have someone travel to a suitable planet and release them. However, the thought of being stored with the worse criminals of Krypton and Brainiac's self-serving lies made sure it wouldn't be used.
  • How Do I Shot Web?:
    • Parasite figures out his ability to drain energy rather quickly, but was confused when he began to lose what he had gained after a few hours. It took him a while to recognize the time limit and need to re-drain people.
    • Mala initially needs some coaching from Superman on how to use her Kryptonian powers, and falters when she first tries to fly.
  • Human Aliens: Kryptonians, of course, as well as the New Gods (Apart from the Parademons and a few of the ruling class).
  • Humongous Mecha: Superman's first battle is against the Lexo-Suit 5000, a combat machine which, at this point, is regarded as the most powerful weapon on the planet.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: Chameleon Boy always wanted to say "Up, Up and Away!!"
  • Identity Impersonator: Superman masqueraded as Batman in the episode "Knight Time". Batman being invincible served to spook the villains of Gotham even more, enhancing Batman's legendary status.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Lex Luthor explains to Lois in "Target" that, if he were really behind the most recent attempts on her life, he would never have left such a blatant trail that would lead back to himself.
  • I Gave My Word:
    • The Main Man's word is his bond.
    • When Mr. Mxyzptlk is put on trial by his superiors, they list numerous charges against him, but cap it off with the most heinous of all his actions: going back on his word.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: When Clark and Lois notice a breakout from Stryker's Island, Clark runs off to turn into Superman by telling Lois that he will find a phone to call this in. Lois pulls her cell-phone from her purse, but Clark is already gone.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: In "Target", Lois finds out it was her acquaintance Edward Lytener who is trying to kill her when he says he watched Lois's award on the TV while in his workshop. But he does not have a TV in his workshop.
  • I Own This Town: Luthor states it outright in the pilot.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: In "Knight Time":
    Robin: He's really being controlled by aliens? Eugh!
    Superman: I'm deeply hurt.
    Robin: ...Sorry.
  • Ignored Enamored Underling: Mercy to Lex, the latter using it to his benefit.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Mr. Mxyzptlk's wife blatantly attempts to seduce him, magically changing into a dozen revealing Sexy Whatever Outfit, but he does not even look up from the Killer Robot he is building. Eventually, she smashes a plate on his head and walks away.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue: This exchange in "My Girl:"
    Clark Kent: I know you'll find that special someone someday.
    Lana Lang: So will you. You deserve it. Someone quiet, understanding, patient...
    Lois Lane: [yelling impatiently from across the room]: Hey Smallville, get your tail in here! Perry's got an assignment for us!
    • From "Little Big Head Man":
    Museum Tour Guide: Once a savage beast, man is now a civilized creature.
    [Superman and Bizarro crash through the roof]
  • In-Series Nickname: In "Identity Crisis":
    Clone!Superman: What... am... I?
    Mercy Graves: Bizarro is what you "am".
  • Indignant Slap: In the episode "Brave New Metropolis," Lois goes into an alternate reality where Superman went off the deep end and partnered with Luthor to make Metropolis into a police state. When Superman tries to justify how he's trying to make the world safer after his Lois was killed by using more heavy-handed tactics, she slaps him saying he was using her death as an excuse to abuse his powers.
  • Insult Backfire: In the episode "Girls' Night Out", Batgirl and Supergirl fight Livewire, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn. Harley rescues Livewire by spraying her with water. Livewire gets up and grabs Harley, preparing to fry her:
    Livewire: Are you outta your mind?!
    Harley Quinn: <thinks hard for several seconds, then smiles broadly> Yes!
  • Intrepid Reporter: Lois Lane, whose introduction revolves around her discovery of a wide-spread gun smuggling ring, and Clark Kent himself. In fact, it kind of bothers Lois that he is the only person who can out scoop her.
  • Invincible Hero: Averted. The writers were generally quite good about coming up with new ways to challenge him, ranging from kryptonite, to red sun rays, to messing with his head and/or senses, attacking him with things his powers don't cover, to villains who were simply more powerful than him.
    • The producers mentioned in behind the scenes interviews that it was a matter of pride for them to have a good variety of villains on the show without every villain having kryptonite bullets.
  • Invoked Trope: Ra's al Ghul wants to arrange a meeting with Superman and, since he does not have the personal relationship with him as he does with Batman, he kidnaps "Lois" and leaves her in mortal peril, since he knows Superman always shows up to save her.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Martha calls Jonathan out for calling baby Kal-El a "thing."
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: This is not something Superman does regularly, but in "Fish Story," he explains that he "squeezed" Lois' location out of a couple of Lex' thugs.
  • Just a Flesh Wound: Subverted. Dan "Terrible" Turpin is shot in the knee while trying to storm Garver's base in "Two's a Crowd," but he explains to Captain Swayer that it is "just a singe." However, he then limps away, assisted by another officer, and is absent from the rest of the episode.
  • Kangaroo Court: This was Zig-Zagged with Mr. Mxyzptlk's trial in his second appearance, where he was charged with "meddling with an underevolved species", violating interdimensional travel laws, and breaking his word (which is considered a very serious crime in his dimension, apparently). The trial consisted simply of the three judges reading the accusations, scolding him, and finding him guilty (and when his wife Gsptlsnz tried to defend him by arguing "extenuating circumstances", they responded by turning her into a tree - clearly they aren't fond of lawyers). Of course, Mxyzptlk was obviously guilty of these charges, and the sentence he received could be viewed as lenient, considering all the trouble he caused. (Superman compared it to "three months of community service", although it Mxy probably didn't like it very much.)
  • Karmic Death:
    • Kurt Bowman tried to send a man to the gas chamber... and got sent there himself after Superman revealed the plot.
    • Bruno Mannhiem is thrown under a bus and left to die in circumstances that are very similar to the way he had exploited and abandoned Toyman's father.
  • Killed Off for Real:
  • Knight Templar: "Brave New Metropolis" shows us the possibility of Superman himself becoming this.
  • Kryptonite Factor:
    • Kryptonite will remove Superman's powers while causing great pain, and eventually death after lengthy exposure. The solar radiation of a red sun will likewise remove his powers, but without additional consequences.
    • Livewire has an absolutely crippling weakness to water. A tiny touch will cause her powers to flare up painfully, and being fully drenched will cause her to go catatonic.
    • Parasite gains the abilities of those he copies, but also gains their weaknesses. Throughout his three appearances, he suffers the effect of both of the aforementioned Achilles Heels, both times with enough damage to make him go catatonic and conveniently lose his memory of Superman's identity.
  • Kryptonite-Proof Suit: Superman wears a lead-lined suit to protect himself from actual Kryptonite, and also has an insulated plastic suit that protects him from both Livewire and Parasite (Although they never get around to explaining how he can breath through the plastic).
  • The Lancer: Inspector Dan "Terrible" Turpin of the Special Crimes Unit serves as the lancer to Captain Maggie Sawyer, Superman's contact on the police force, and occasionally to Superman himself.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In "Obsession," a snobby rich lady parks her expensive car in a fire zone and airily tells off a passing man who chides her for it...right before Superman drops one of the Toyman's robots on the car and smashes it flat.
  • Last of His Kind: It's revealed that Lobo is one of these, and seems at first that this would be a point that reveals why Lobo's as psychotic as he is... until he nostalgically reflects on how he destroyed his entire planet for a school science project.
    Lobo: Gave myself an "A".
  • Left Hanging: The episode "The Prometheon." It ends with Superman and Dr. Hamilton subduing the eponymous creature, a heat-absorbing android the size of a skyscraper, by freezing the entire Metropolis Reservoir. And that is it. Fade to black. What do they do with it? They do not say. How do they keep it from waking back up when the water melts? They do not say. And how do they deal with the fact that, until they do figure out a solution, they have frozen the entire Metropolis water supply? Again, they do not say.
  • Leitmotif: Most of the villains have their own motifs, as does Superman himself, naturally. Supes is the most prominent motif in the show, consisting of the first few notes of the show's opening. This is occasionally played with - for example, Bizarro's theme is Superman's theme played backwards or off-key.
  • Let No Crisis Go to Waste: In "Legacy," Lex Luthor immediately figures out that something's off with Superman when he starts attacking the Earth and that it's not him behind it. He doesn't care - it's a good opportunity to finally destroy him.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Including turn people into lightning — though in that case it's implied that the lightning first passing through Superman had something to do with it.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Lana Lang explains that if Clark says he loves her like a sister, she will go right back to dating Lex Luthor.
  • Limited Wardrobe:
    • Except for two scenes, one where he is undercover with Lois Lane and once when he is attending a funeral, Jimmy Olsen wears the exact same outfit for literally every scene in the entire series.
    • Lois actually has a very varied wardrobe of different styles of clothing (Shorts, skirts, dresses, gowns, etc.) and Clark mixed his wardrobe up on occasion. It is mentioned on the commentary of "The World's Finest" that the creators tried very hard at averting this trope, but were limited by budget constraints, so instead of getting different outfits they would just change the color of their regular clothes to give them several different combinations.
  • Little "No": When Mala hears of Krypton's destruction, a shocked, mournful "No..." is the only response she can muster.
  • Living Lie Detector: Clark Kent, using his super-human senses, can gauge heart-rate and eye-level to make a fairly accurate deduction of a person's honesty.
  • Living Museum Exhibit: In the episode "The Main Man", an alien known as the Preserver keeps endangered aliens in his zoo, in which he hired Lobo to capture Superman. The Preserver also betrayed him after finding out that he is also endangered (by his own volition) but the two escaped and defeated him. Superman took his zoo and placed them in the Fortress of Solitude.
  • Loophole Abuse: Darkseid tries this in "Little Girl Lost". Following the events of "Apokolips... Now!", Earth is now under the protection of New Genesis. Darkseid can't revenge himself upon Superman or humanity without breaking his truce with Highfather. But if the Earth were to be destroyed by a natural disaster, like a stray comet... well, he couldn't be held accountable.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Occurs in "World's Finest". If the Joker had just run a check around the room...he woulda killed the Batman.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Lois Lane breaks up with Bruce Wayne once she discovers his identity as Batman. Bruce and Clark lament together that she likes Bruce and she likes Superman, but not the other halves of their identities.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Lois Lane has an infatuation with Superman throughout the series, but in keeping with the Post-Crisis interpretation of the characters she begins to develop feelings for Clark Kent as the series progresses. This is also a facet of her Betty and Veronica tension with Superman and Batman in “World's Finest”—as Batman points out, Lois likes Superman but not Clark Kent, and also likes Bruce Wayne but not Batman.

  • Magic Skirt:
    • Lois Lane gets this all the time, as most of the time she is falling from high heights, getting caught in gusts of wind, being carried by Superman, and being attacked by bad guys, all while wearing these short skirts. She eventually gives up and starts wearing pants.
    • Mercy Graves, Lex Luthor's bodyguard. She is always running around doing high kicks, being beaten up, and sent flying by people, all in an outfit that looks more like a tight top than a full chauffeur's uniform.
    • Lana Lang as well when she shows up.
    • Maggie Sawyer. It was anyone's guess what she was supposed to be wearing under her jacket (which was too short to really be considered a trench coat).
    • And finally Supergirl, which makes it pretty much every major female character on the show. (Somebody among the creators really had a thing for short skirts.)
  • Make Sure He's Dead: When Bruce Wayne is in Metropolis and gets forced out a window by Joker's gang's gunfire, Joker says to make sure he's "street pizza," because until he saw the body, he couldn't be sure that Superman hadn't saved him. He was right; Bruce had survived. Though when Bruce survived the next attack, Joker just laughed it off and left without killing him.
  • Mama Bear: When Brainiac comes after her son, Martha Kent picks up a shotgun and gives him both barrels.
  • Manly Tears: At Dan Turpin's grave, Superman's eyes are full of tears for his old friend.
  • Marilyn Maneuver: Frequently, considering how often Lois is swept into the air by heroes and villains while her skirt flutters about.
  • Mirror Scare: One of Mxyzptlk's arrivals has him appear in a mirror in this fashion, even though he's not behind Superman; then the reflection gets out of the mirror.
  • Mirror Universe: "Brave New Metropolis" features this.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family:
    • The vicious alien beast Bizarro names "Krypto."
    • The Reverend Powell in "Unity."
  • Motive Decay: Metallo. His origin episode that transformed him from John Corben into Metallo ended with his vendetta focused on Superman, but also on Luthor for transferring his mind into the strong-but-numb Metallo body. However, by his second appearance the "vengeance against Luthor" angle has been dropped entirely and in his fourth appearance he even gets a girlfriend, despite the fact that his inability to feel anything at all when kissing a woman was one of the things that originally drove him nuts. His original motive does return in the video game Superman: Shadow of Apokolips, which debuted in 2002. Recruited by a disguised Luthor and told to destroy Superman, Metallo demurs and goes after Luthor himself.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
  • Mundane Utility: In one episode, after quietly making sure no one's looking, Clark lifts his entire desk over his head to retrieve a pencil that fell underneath.
  • Murder by Remote Control Vehicle: In "Target", a remote control device planted by a stalker causes Lois's car to go out of control while on an overpass. When Clark attempts to save her, the airbag is triggered, trapping her in the car.
  • My Suit Is Also Super: It was never explicitly stated so but Superman's blue and red number was shown to survive things that destroy his tougher looking space-suit and metal lined Kryptonite-Proof Suit. Indeed the fact that Darkseid can cause damage to Superman's suit is a show of how powerful he is.
  • Mythology Gag: It has its own page.
  • Navel-Deep Neckline: Livewire's outfit is cut with a wide lightning-shaped V that goes all the way down to her belly button, although with the character design there is no actual drawn cleavage.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The episode "Absolute Power" brought Superman to an alien planet that had been conquered by Jax-Ur and Mala, two Kryptonian criminals that had escaped from the Phantom Zone. The parallels with Nazi Germany are present but vague in the beginning, there are stories told of economic depression and social unrest that were corrected when a new discipline-obsessed regime came to power, but it becomes patently hard to miss the symbolism when they start using the Hitlergruß (Nazi Salute).
  • Nerf: In the DCAU, Superman has a considerably lower power level than his comic book counterpart and most versions. On multiple occasions, he is knocked out or otherwise incapacitated by a sufficiently strong enemies who lack the benefit of exploiting his Kryptonite Factor. He also can't breathe in space.
  • Never Be a Hero: As Supergirl has all the powers of Superman, and a love for the big city, yet Superman still forces her to live her life on the Smallville farm under a secret identity (even though such an identity is even MORE useless for her). There was perhaps some justification for Superman getting her to sit things out for a while- she wasn't nearly as powerful as him, and came uncomfortably close to getting herself killed on multiple occasions. After she had gotten a bit more acclimated to her powers and Earth in general, she did get into the game in Justice League Unlimited, and with her cousin's full support.
  • Never My Fault: Several villains play the blame game rather than taking responsibility for their own actions, the two most prominent examples are probably Lex Luthor and Livewire.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted. The word itself pops up with stunning regularity and this is probably one of the only American cartoons to show a criminal being executed.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "The Prometheon," Superman and Dr. Hamilton are directly responsible for the monster waking up and rampaging through Metropolis. The jerkass military man accompanying them wants to leave it where it is and blow up the asteroid it's lashed to (which is what they were sent out to do in the first place), but Hamilton objects and has Superman push the asteroid out of Earth's path...and right into the path of the Sun, which wakes it up.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The trio of alien bounty hunters have the powerless Superman at their mercy, primed for the kill, but they decide to throw him into the animal habitat that he explained they really did not want to throw him into. When the Dodo bird appears and Superman explains that it is an Earth habitat, complete with yellow sun generator, they realize their mistake.
  • No Body Left Behind: Abin Sur in "In Brightest Day." He does leave his uniform behind, for some reason.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Fictional character version — Dan Turpin's funeral is attended by Jack Kirby characters such as the Fantastic Four in their civilian identities; sadly, later versions of the episode remove these characters to avoid lawsuits. Bruce Timm admitted that Dan Turpin was modeled on Jack Kirby himself.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Titano is just a baby monkey given an Applied Phlebotinum-induced growth spurt, and the chaos and destruction he causes are because he doesn't know any better.
  • Nosy Neighbor: A 50-year-old wife is watching Superman and Maxima fight at a construction site. Her husband, newspaper blocking his view, tells her to stop spying on the neighbors.
    Wife: Now they're hugging!
    Husband: Don't get any ideas!
  • Not Me This Time:
    • Lois Lane and Clark Kent frequently go to Lex Luthor to learn the truth behind the current villainous scheme, but several times he explains that no, he is not the one trying to kill somebody and/or blot out the sun... this week.
      • The most notable of this is "Target" where Lex says he respects Lane and currently has no reason to kill her. Despite Clark claiming he's just trying to keep Lois from investigating him, she believes Lex as it's not his style to try to torture a target instead of killing them quickly. On the other hand, in the follow-up episode “Solar Power” (the "blot out the sun" plot), it's more played with - everybody assumes that Luminus, who is using LexCorp satellites and used to work for Lex in his pre-supervillainy days, got Lex's direct help in prison with his plot. Lex claims he's losing millions and would never endanger the Earth, but nobody believes him. Lois and Jimmy continue to investigate the connection with Luthor and eventually find Luminus at an abandoned LexCorp lab, but whether he commandeered it and the satellites or is there with permission is never answered, and Lex never comes under any scrutiny for it.
    • In "The Late Mr. Kent", Walker, who is on death row, admits that he was a thief who committed robbery plenty of times, but he never hurt anybody and did not kill the woman he was convicted of murdering.
    • In "Knight Time", Superman and Robin notice that there are mind control machines on Bruce Wayne's phone in his office. They track down the Mad Hatter but, upon capturing him, he states that the technology used is beyond anything he could build, and also beyond the capabilities of everybody that he has stolen mind control technology from in the past.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: No matter what poor Ms. Gsptlsnz tries, she can't get Mr. Mxyzptlk's attention when he's obsessing over Superman.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Unusually, Superman gets this from an ally. When he goes to Doctor Fate for help, Fate explains that he has retired from superheroics, weary from the endless battle. He tells Superman that the two of them are similar, both masters of their own fate, and Superman should join him and likewise leave behind the petty conflicts of humanity. Superman, of course, explains that they are nothing alike.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: In "World's Finest", when the Joker arrives in Metropolis, the mob, Luthor, and Superman all assume that he must be, at best, a minor irritant, just a powerless whackjob in a weird suit. By the end of the three-part series, he has taken over the Metropolis mob, almost blown up half the city, and nearly killed both Luthor and Superman. When Batman shows up, it's pretty clear that Superman and Luthor don't take him seriously either. At first.
  • Not-So-Innocent Whistle: Bizarro whistles, to himself, before knocking a boulder down a hill so he can "rescue" the 'city-zens' of his planet.
  • Not Used to Freedom: This happens on the series finale. After Superman finally defeats Darkseid, he leaves him at the mercy of the slaves he ruled over. However, they instead help Darkseid, showing they were too broken and only knew of being ruled by Darkseid.
  • Not What I Signed on For: Weather Wizard's little brother abandons the weather control machine because, even though he always knew his brother would use it for a criminal scheme, he never thought it would involve murder and wholesale destruction.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Clark Kent wore a sling around his "injured" arm after Superman saved him from falling to his death in "Target."
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: How Clark deals with Mxyzptlk the first few times in “Mxyzpixilated”, by pretending to be ignorant enough that Mxy slips up trying to "explain" things to him. Eventually Mxy catches on, but Clark continues to get him by feigning disinterest instead.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Mxyzptlk spent three months building a Mini-Mecha to fight Superman. He then bid farewell to his wife Gspy and headed off to destroy Superman. Three seconds later, Mxyzptlk immediately returns to his dimension, having been outwitted by Superman. We're never shown how Superman got Mxyzptlk to say his name backwards, let alone avoid getting hit by the Mini-Mecha.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • "Mxypixilated" gives Mxyzptlk multiple moments of dismay right as he realizes Superman tricked him into banishing himself again. —>Mr. Mxyzptlk: "Aw, nuts."
    • "Knight Time": Brainiac has a deadpan reaction of dismay upon discovering "Batman" is really Superman.
    Brainiac: "Kal-El. This development was highly improbable."
    • "New Kids in Town": Teenage Clark loves freaking out Brainiac. First by ripping his arm off; Brainiac's expression turns to shock. Then when Clark hurls him into the Sun, Brainiac has another one as he melts away from the heat.
    • "Solar Power": Luminus' expression becomes unnerved when he realizes that the depowered Superman is returning to normal.
    • Same reaction for several alien bounty hunters in "The Main Man", Superman, weakened by exposure to simulated red sunlight, tricks them into throwing him into an Earth-like habitat aboard the Preserver's ship. Cue theme music.
    • "Superman's Pal" gave Metallo a brief one when he realized that Jimmy Olsen had just removed his Kryptonite power source with a splash of battery acid. He has time for a brief shriek before he collapses.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Brainiac's goal is the eventual destruction of all existence after he has collected its data.
  • One-Winged Angel: The Preserver from "The Main Man", once he finally loses his temper, turns into a red alien Hulk and proceeds to Curb Stomp both Superman and Lobo.
  • Papa Wolf: Jonathan Kent is ready to go out and clobber Brainiac with a shovel when he thinks Clark is in danger, but Martha recommends a shotgun instead.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Mxy summons a bucket of popcorn while watching Superman and Bizarro fight in "Little Big Head Man."
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Even though Luthor honestly had nothing to to do with Livewire's attack on Superman, he still picked up her medical bills due her habit of bad mouthing Superman when she was a DJ.
    • When Metallo lost his memory, he saved a couple of children from a landslide and later rescued a truck driver from a crash.
  • Phantom Zone: The Phantom Zone appears numerous times throughout the series. Jor-El originally planned to use the zone to save all life on Krypton, as they would place the population of the planet into the zone and, using the ship he had built, fly to a new home and retrieve the people. Though the Kryptonian government refused this plan, Jor-El's ship still had a Phantom Zone projector which Superman would use on Earth to parole Kryptonian criminals who had served their sentence, and also to help human research progress in the area of inter-dimensional travel and observation.
  • Physical God: Darkseid. Superman himself is an arguable example, though he never calls himself a god or accepts worship.
  • Planet Looters: Brainiac travels from planet to planet, collects it's knowledge, and then destroys it to move on to the next.
  • Planetary Relocation: In "Little Girl Lost: Part 1", when Superman goes to the remnants of Krypton, he detects a distress signal from a nearby planet called Argo. When he gets there, discovers he finds a message from a scientist named Kala In-Ze pleading for help and explains that the explosion that destroyed Krypton devastated Argo's surface and pushed the planet out of orbit, away from their sun. Far from their sun, Argo's people slowly froze to death in the ensuing ice age, until only she and her family remained. Superman finds that the stasis chambers malfunctioned, with the exception of one, which contained Kara, aka: Supergirl.
  • Police Are Useless: Sometimes. The SCU tend to be seriously outmatched by supervillains, and the big attempt to make them effective again relied on Lexcorp technology that didn't work out. However, the cops are pretty helpful against ordinary crooks. And then they prove themselves to be a vital ally during the invasion from Apokolips.
  • Powers as Programs: Generally averted, if a villain seeks to remove Superman's powers they need to remove their source (the sun), but villain Parasite plays the trope perfectly straight. He can drain the powers of any character and then use them himself, leaving the other person powerless while he gains fantastic abilities. Ra's al Ghul also once attempted to drain Superman's powers and take them into himself, but his methods were outside the ken of science.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The producers realized that Jor-El and Lara wouldn't be good parents if they allowed the ship carrying Kal-El to simply crash on Earth. So, we see it land smoothly on the planet and thus Supes has a spaceship in perfect working condition into adulthood.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: After giving Bruno Mannheim Apokoliptian technology, Darkseid is not pleased to discover he's been using it to commit crimes, viewing even a $20 million haul as chump change and stating he "plays for bigger stakes".
  • Preserve Your Gays: In a show that is not afraid to say "die", lesbian cop Maggie Sawyer is blown out of her car during an attack by Intergang and the next shot has her badly burned and motionless beneath a crushing pile of rubble, without moving her eyes or her fingers. Dan Turpin even calls the attackers "murderers" as he screams at them, so everything seems to be indicating that she is really dead... except she is alive, and she returns later on in this and future episodes. The intent of the trope, to hide or eliminate homosexuality in a work, is then reversed, as her subsequent recovery in the hospital features the very first appearance of a woman the credits and DVD commentary identify as Toby Raynes, her partner in the comics. Toby is later see comforting her at Dan Turpin's funeral.
  • Private Eye Monologue: Superman does one in "The Late Mr. Kent".
  • Pronouncing My Name for You: When Superman mispronounces Mr. Mxyzptlk's name as "Mix-ill-plick", Mxyzptlk uses helpful visual aids to demonstrate that the correct pronunciation is "Mix-yes-spit-lick."
  • Pure Energy: Livewire describes herself as such and, though it makes for a very interesting character, it does not make any more scientific sense than every other "energy being" out there.
  • Putting on the Reich: In "Brave New Metropolis", the alternate Superman wears a black costume with a new shield resembling the zigzagged S of the SS logo.
  • Race Lift:
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: The machine designed to measure the airspeed of Superman's spaceship gives this as a number, which is actually pretty bad since the ship clearly wasn't moving that fast. Either the machine was broken or designed to stop at a speed under what most cars could do.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: At one point Superman flies a spaceship out of a black hole's gravity well. This looks fake, but black holes aren't vacuums. It takes thousands of years for things to fall into a black hole unless they're already moving towards it because the gravitational pull isn't any stronger than it would be for any regular object of the same mass.
  • Reality Warper: Mr. Mxyzptlk, a trait that comes from being from a dimension twice removed from ours, where everyone is this.
  • Reconstruction: The series as a whole is a reconstruction for the modern version of Superman from the Post-Crisis comics. While there are many deconstructed elements within the series and a lot of things where surprisingly realistic outcomes that were previously hand-waved during the silver age of comic books then being deconstructed during the bronze to dark age of comic books, the series overall is firmly on the ideal side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism with Superman being more down to earth and normal yet still being the Big Good everyone expects him to be. In spite of the darker moments in some of the episodes, there is always an underlying theme of optimism, idealism, and hope.
  • Recruited from the Gutter: In the episode "Ghost in the Machine", Mercy Graves explains to Superman that Luthor took her in off the streets, explaining her loyalty to him. Unfortunately, Luthor doesn't return the sentiments and abandons her when the room collapses, prompting her to turn on him in Justice League. (Unfortunately, this didn't stick.)
  • Redemption Equals Death: After Bizarro realizes that he is not Superman, he stays behind to hold up a collapsing ceiling so Superman and Lois Lane can escape a massive explosion. Do not worry, he reappears later.
  • Red Herring: Detective Bowman is introduced in "Target" as already having a grudge against Lois Lane, and is later seen watching her in her apartment as she begins to break down from the repeated attempts on her life. However, he has no connection to the attempted murders, and would return in a more prominent role in "The Late Mr. Kent".
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: While most of Superman's powers don't really lend themselves to a technological revolution, he never seems to think of sharing the orb containing the complete knowledge of Krypton with the rest of the world.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Doctor Fate, whose sole appearance is treated as a return to the series.
  • Ret-Canon:
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Queen Maxima's handmaiden Sazu helps De'Cine to take over Maxima's throne and De'Cine rewards her by having her imprisoned with the dethroned Queen.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: A variation in Livewire's introductory episode. When Clark becomes distracted during an interview when his super senses realize that a construction crane is collapsing, she sarcastically asks if she is boring him. Needing to leave to rescue the people in danger, Clark flatly responds that yes, she is boring him, and he gets up and walks out of the interview.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The final 10 minutes of "Legacy pt. II" see Superman completely storming Apokolips and taking down all its defenses in retaliation after everything Darkseid has put him through in the past several episodes.
  • Rogue Agent: The villains in "Where There's Smoke" are rogue agents of an unnamed government agency.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Played with. One example is seen in episode 8 of season 2, which turns out to be Shmuckbait for Mr. Mxyzptlk.
  • Running Gags: In the process causing considerable damage to the LexCorp building in "The Main Man"
  • Ruritania: Kaznia (which plays a larger role in Justice League).

  • Same Content, Different Rating: Originally rated TV-Y7. Its rerelease on HBO Max has been bumped up to TV-PG, possibly because it's not being shown on a kids' network anymore (and also because the censors for the DCAU were famously sleepy).
  • Sarcastic Confession:
    • "The Last Son of Krypton":
    Lois: How'd you get here before me?
    Clark: Well, I just flew.
    • "The Main Man" (watch it here):
    Lois: I'm confused, Kent. See, I've lived in Metropolis most of my life, and I can't figure out how some yokel from Smallville is suddenly getting every hot story in town.
    Clark: Well Lois, [lowers his glasses] the truth is I'm actually Superman in disguise, and I only pretend to be a journalist in order to hear about disasters as they happen and then squeeze you out of the by-line.
    Lois: [Beat] You're a sick man, Kent.
    Clark: [with a sly smile] You asked.
  • Save the Villain:
    • Happens all the time. Superman is always having to save Luthor, usually from a villain he either created or funded in the first place. Oh, and also that one time he had to save Bruno Mannheim from the Toyman.
    • In "World's Finest," when the Lexwing is about to blow, Superman saves Lex and Batman saves Harley Quinn. Joker is on his own.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Brainiac's reaction to discovering Krypton's eventual destruction is to download himself into a satellite and jettison himself into space. In the meantime he stops the authorities from finding out and making a formal evacuation plan, as it would divert energy away from his own escape plan.
  • Second-Person Attack: Done frequently.
  • Secret-Identity Identity: Clark Kent makes it pretty apparent that he is the "real" identity, whereas Superman is the costume; when Pa Kent is unconcerned that Clark has "died," since he can just pick a new name, Clark explains that he is Clark, he could never stop being who he is.
  • Self-Constructed Being: The entity Karkull possesses a random thief, then transforms the Daily Planet building and has his mook "children" possess Daily Planet employees in one episode.
  • Shared Fate Ultimatum: In "Worlds Finest: Part-3," after Batman fires missiles from the Batwing at the Lex-Wing bomber the Joker and Harley Quinn stole from Luthor, who was unwillingly brought along for the ride:
    Joker: Batman! It's always Batman. What do you got in the way of air-to-air missiles, Lex?
    Luthor: You're asking me for help?
    Joker: If I go down, you go down.
    Luthor: It's a red switch.
    Joker: [Sees console full of red buttons] Which red—? Oh, the heck with it. [Presses several buttons which launch missiles, with one disabling the Batwing].
  • Shiksa Goddess: Mr. Mxyzptlk is married to the tall, leggy, red-headed Gsptlsnz.
  • Ship Tease: Between Lois and Clark/Superman. It's very telling that any time, every single time she needs an escort or date to some function she always calls Clark.
  • Shock and Awe: Livewire gains electric powers after being struck by lightning.
  • Shooting Superman: Obviously, and he regularly points it out. In one episode, a thug brandishes a club at Superman, who just responds with an annoyed, "You're kidding, right?"
  • Shout-Out:
    • Superman's face design was in part modeled after the look of Hercules from the 1960s cartoon The Mighty Hercules. Bruce Timm was unsatisfied with early sketches until the crew watched a tape of the cartoon and he took inspiration from that.
    • In "The Last Son of Krypton, Part 3", Martha Kent tells Clark, "I don't want anyone thinking you're like that nut in Gotham City."
    • In "My Girl", Lex Luthor is overheard explaining to his henchman that he wants him in Central City by that night.
    • In an example mixed with a Take That!, another episode has Supergirl reading a comic book about a spider-themed superhero before disgustedly stating that the character is gross.
    • In "Monkey Fun," Colonel Lane's Air Force C.O. looks exactly like Colonel Bellows from I Dream of Jeannie.
    • At one point in "Tools of the Trade", Dan Turpin swear by his "Aunt Patty's pension" — given who he's based on, this is undoubtedly a reference to Ben Grimm's Aunt Petunia.
  • Silly Simian: "Monkey Fun". Yes, the episode's name is actually "Monkey Fun". The episode is about the monkey Titano, and is more of a comic relief episode.
  • Smug Super: "New Kids in Town" reveals that, as his powers began to manifest, Clark Kent became a jerk in high school. Even Lana Lang, his girlfriend and best friend, found him arrogant and hard to be around sometimes.
  • Something Else Also Rises: In "Where There's Smoke," Jimmy photographs Volcana for "his private collection," and then she comes over to flirt with him. When she leaves, his camera lets out a puff of smoke. It's actually because she burned the film to ash.
  • Space Jews: If Mxy and the High Council are anything to go by, the members of the 5th Dimension are apparently all stereotypically Jewish imps. Except for Gsptlsnz, Mxy's Shiksa Goddess.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: Earl Garver takes control of Parasite after Parasite tries to absorb Garver's memories. Eventually, the two of them duke it out for control of the body.
  • Spotting the Thread: Lois Lane recognizes that Edward Lytner was lying about something when he congratulated her on winning the Excalibur Award, since he claimed to have been in his lab for twenty-four hours without any television or radio to connect him to the outside world.
  • Stalker with a Crush:
    • Lytner (Luminus) leaked confidential corporate secrets to Lois Lane hoping to win her affection, and when she never even noticed he was interested he began to methodically plot her death with numerous high-tech gadgets and schemes
  • Starfish Aliens: Including Starro itself in one brief scene. Unity is one of the strangest.
  • Subtle Superpowering: In one episode, Clark drops his pen while working at his desk. After carefully looking around to make sure no one is watching, he lifts the desk using Super-Strength.
  • Super-Empowering: Accidentally; when Superman gets struck by lightning the electricity passes through him and hits Leslie Willis. His being part of the circuit not only causes her to survive, but somehow gives her electric powers.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Averted. In one episode, Superman had to go to Gotham and fill in for Batman during a crime spree while trying to investigate his disappearance.
  • Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: For some reason, Toyman thought it was a good idea to give Super-Strength and combat programming to a Sex Bot (And not a Bodyguard Babe either.) He was smart enough to program in an override to protect himself from her, but he didn't think of protecting his toys from her attack.
  • Super Rug-Pull: Superman tries it on Darkseid.
  • Super-Speed: Superman himself, and he even has a race with the Flash in one episode to see who has the title of "Fastest Man Alive."
  • Super-Strength: A classic Superman ability.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Superman learns, to his chagrin, what happens when he tries to stop a crashing passenger jet by grabbing it by the tail;
    • People born after the age of payphones probably wouldn't understand, but the reason for the popular image of Clark Kent dashing to the nearest phone booth to change into his costume (and the reason it was a good excuse for Clark to disappear) was because, back in the day, any reporter witnessing a crisis would be expected to find the nearest phone immediately so their newspaper could get to work on the story before they were scooped by another news outlet. The thing is, this series aired in the '90s, so the one time Clark tries to use "gotta find the nearest phone" as an excuse to leave, Lois just pulls out a cell phone.
    • Also shown when a villain puts Superman under red sun radiation and picks a fistfight with him. Yes, Superman loses his powers under a red sun. But even without powers he's built like Schwarzenegger and more than capable of beating the snot out of the villain anyway.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: Lampshaded by Lois after someone broke into her apartment for the second time in the same episode. "I need to get better locks."
  • Sympathy for the Hero: Darkseid, of all people, expresses a moment of admiration for Superman during their confrontation.
    You're a magnificent opponent, Superman.
  • The Syndicate: Intergang at first appears to be a typical crime syndicate operating out of Metroopolis. However, it is eventually reveealed that they have been getting advanced technology from Apokolips and are being manipulated by Darkseid.
  • Tailor-Made Prison: Livewire's cell and the surrounding hallways.
  • Take That!: "Spider powers? Ew."
  • Taking the Bullet: Superman dives in front of Bizarro to take a sonic cannon shot that probably would have killed the already-weakened Bizarro. When Bizarro asks why, especially when they had been fighting only moments ago, Superman explains that it is because he is Bizarro's friend, and he knows Mr. Mxyzptlk tricked him.
  • Talking to the Dead: Dan Turpin's funeral
    Superman: "Goodbye, old friend. In the end, the world didn't need a super man, just a brave one"
  • Tank Goodness: Intergang commits its first on-screen crime by robbing a bank with a tank.
  • Tearjerker: The ending to "Apokolips... Now!" has Superman crying within the episode.
  • Technology Marches On: Lampshaded in the incident mentioned under I Need to Go Iron My Dog.invoked
  • Teleporters and Transporters:
  • Tempting Fate: This exchange between Bruce and Clark:
    Bruce: Come to make sure I'm leaving?
    Clark: Actually, I thought we worked pretty well together...Not that I want to make it a regular event.
    And then we got Justice League.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Doctor Fate abandoned the war against evil after he grew weary of the endless conflict that never changed anything. He tried to get Superman to likewise step back from humanity, but Superman's refusal to do so inspired Fate to return to the war.
  • Terminator Twosome: Targeting teenaged Clark in "New Kids in Town", with the Legion of Super-Heroes as the good and a Brainiac drone as the bad. The villain is even a stoic, implacable robot.
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: John Corben and crew, Luthor's buyers in "My Girl", and the hijackers in "World's Finest, Part 1".
  • That Man Is Dead: "Steelman is dead."
  • There Is Another: Supergirl, surviving as a Human Popsicle.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: In "Ghost in the Machine," Brainiac tries to assassinate Clark Kent (who he thinks is just a mild-mannered reporter) with a missile strike.
  • There Was a Door: When Bizarro takes Lois Lane out to dinner, he enters the restaurant by smashing through the wall next to the door. When they leave, Lois asks him to use the door this time and, happy to oblige, he smashes through the door.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: From Luminus. After his ploy to remove Superman's powers fails, but before those powers fully return, Lytner makes a last ditch attack. Superman catches Lytner's fist, then spends a very long time getting back to his feet and slowly cocking his fist... during which Lytner cringes and winces because he knows what's coming next...
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Superman, of course, is a prime follower of this philosophy. He eventually makes an exception for Darkseid, and he also won't Save the Villain if it's Joker.
  • Thrown from the Zeppelin:
    • The Weather Wizard drops a blizzard on his brother when the latter tries to quit their plot to extort Metropolis with a dealy hurricane.
    • Lex is not afraid to do this, or to make sure that there is nothing left of someone for the police to find.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: This is how Lobo beats the Preserver's One-Winged Angel form.
  • Time Travel: In the third season, Brainiac from the thirty-first century goes back in time to Smallville to kill Clark Kent before he can become Superman. Three Legionaires travel back as well to make sure he does not succeed.
  • Tragic Intangibility: Clark is given an artifact that projects a pre-recorded message in his mind from his deceased parents from Krypton, Jor-El and Lara-El, who appear as holograms. After telling Clark about his true origins, Lara-El tells Clark they love him, always, while extending her hand towards him. Clark tries to take it, his hand phases through hers, and the message ends.
  • Truer to the Text:
    • While the series may have had the cases of Adaptation Distillation, Adaptational Origin Connection, Adaptational Wimp, Composite Character, and Canon Foreigner, Superman: The Animated Series is the most faithful (and influential) adaptation of the DC Comics series as well as Superman (along with his mythos, supporting characters, allies, rogue gallery, etc) in general in comparison to all of the Superman adaptations that have been created both before and after the show (particularly the live action ones).
    • The series' take on the Fourth World is more faithful to Jack Kirby's conception than the Comics' reworkings of Kirby after his departure and Aborted Arc. Darkseid is the Galactic Conqueror searching for the Anti-Life Equation, he and his agents operate behind the scenes of crime syndicate like Intergang, and he serves as The Corrupter and The Chessmaster. All the character designs of the New Gods: Darkseid, Desaad, Kalibak, Steppenwolf, Orion, Mr. Miracle, Big Barda, are very much in keeping with Kirby.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Inverted. Maggie Sawyer remarks that if she had a nickel for every time Dan Turpin turned in his badge of his own volition, she would be richer than Luthor.
  • Undressing the Unconscious:
    • In "Fun and Games", Lois answer her door wearing a bathrobe and receives a box with a Creepy Doll that sprays Knockout Gas on her and she blacks out. When Lois wakes up, she's dressed like an old-fashioned cupie doll in Toyman's warehouse.
    • In "Legacy" After rescuing an unconscious Supergirl from her military cell, Superman takes her to Professor Hamilton in the S.T.A.R. Labs. The next time we see of her, she's naked on an examination table while Hamilton and the others doctors check on her condition, with only Scenery Censor preserving her modesty.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Mr. Mxyzptlk, a man approximately three feet tall (half of which is his head), is married to the tall, leggy Gsptlsnz.
  • Underestimating Badassery: One of the primary themes of the "World's Finest" crossover is that both Superman and Luthor consider Batman to be a crazy guy with no powers and the Joker a wacko clown who aren't worth their time and energy. By the end, Batman has saved Superman's life and scared the crap out of Luthor (something even Superman never managed) by breaking into his penthouse, and the Joker comes closer to killing Superman than just about any other previous villain while also backstabbing Luthor and nearly destroying Metropolis.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • The end of the series has probably the darkest version of this trope imaginable. Darkseid is about as evil as you can get and treats his slaves horribly. Yet even after Superman beats him and throws him down to the slaves' mercy, they pick him up to treat him. Why?
    Darkseid: I am many things Kal-El, but here I am god.
    • Fortunately, the same episode provides a lighter example in Jimmy Olsen. His loyalty to Superman never wavers, not even after Darkseid's brainwashing him has made him a pariah to most of the planet. Although (understandably) reluctant to approach the Brainwashed and Crazy Superman, when the hero returned to normal, Jimmy was one of his only friends. When asked for his opinion by a news crew, he vehemently retorts, "Superman's saved the world a million times. We owe him another chance!"
  • Unflinching Walk: When Mannheim's thugs try to tackle Toyman in his introductory episode, he doesn't run: he just strolls casually out the door with them right on his heels.
  • Unwanted Assistance: When his clone's DNA begins to break down, Bizarro decides to prove to the world that he is Superman by going out and committing heroic deeds. This includes protecting a building that was under attack (that was being demolished) and fixing a broken bridge (that was opening to allow a ship to pass beneath it).
  • Up, Up and Away!: Superman's classic pose, and a line Chameleon boy always wanted to say.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Maxima and later Mala to Superman. And then Maxima met Lobo.
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • Luthor's rant in "Blasts from the Past" about how Superman should send Mala back to the Phantom Zone for Earth's sake. Her actions and those of her partner-in-crime, then and since, only served to vindicate his attitude entirely.
    • In "Warrior Queen," Daseen and Sazu were completely correct in that Maxima was not queen material and was letting Almerac rot because she was too busy seeking a mate. Daseen was far worse than Maxima ever was, though.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When Superman manages to stop his machine and return the sunlight to its normal hue, the usually Affably Evil Luminus goes into a full-on rage and tries to beat Supes to death with his bare hands before Superman's powers return. He is not fast enough.
  • Villain Team-Up: Several examples.
    • Livewire/Parasite, which laced their partnership with a lot of sexual innuendo and implied rape.
    • Mr. Mxyzptlk/Bizarro, a team up that the creative team later came to regret, as they felt it did not quite live up to previous independent episodes with each character.
    • Darkseid/Mannheim, but that was more lopsided than the human partner would have liked (though Mannheim was oblivious to the fact that he was just a pawn.)
    • Lex Luthor/Joker in "World's Finest," the first crossover with Batman and the official formation of the DC Animated Universe.
  • Voice Changeling: Superman could mimic voices thanks to precise muscle control and a really good ear, which creeps the hell out of Robin when he demonstrates it.
    Don't. Do that. Again.
  • Walk, Don't Swim:
    • Metallo, after falling into the ocean to his apparent death. He is made of metal, after all.
    • The Prometheon lands in the waters of Metropolis Bay and begins to walk towards land.
  • Wannabe Line: The annual gala of the Metropolis Yacht Club is exclusive enough to have a gaggle of tuxedo-wearing people held at bay by the rope and bouncer.
  • We Can Rule Together: Luthor, Brainiac and Darkseid all give this speech to Superman in separate episodes.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Superman brings out all the aliens, demons, and mad scientists. Lois Lane seems to attract more than her share of freaks and killers, too, as lampshaded by Dan Turpin:
    Lois Lane: Bizarro?
    Dan Turpin: You know this guy? Figures. All the whackos come to you.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Kalibak's original reason for attacking Supes was that he wanted to please Darkseid.
    Darkseid: I can't believe he's blood. (After watching his son get one-shotted by a furious Superman)
  • Western Terrorists: John Corben and crew, Luthor's buyers in "My Girl", and the hijackers in "World's Finest, Part 1".
  • Wham Line:
    Bizarro: Krypton pretty. So sad now it has to blow up.
  • Wham Shot: In one episode, Superman does what he does best: saving the day. Then he saves... Clark Kent from falling to his doom! It's later revealed that this Superman is actually a clone and Clark is the real Superman.
    • In "Legacy", the episode opens with an Alien Invasion, the forces of Apokolips against an unnamed planet. The leader of the invaders takes his helmet off... and it's Superman.
  • What Have I Become?: John Corben finally realizes what a monster he has become after he discovers he can not even feel a kiss.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Superman's Thou Shalt Not Kill rule tends to become more of a guideline when dealing with Starfish Aliens and artificial intelligences.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: Averted, despite public perception of Superman as a character who simply uses his ever-evolving powers to solve his current problems. Nowhere is this more apparent than in “Mxyzpixilated” where Superman not only continually tricks Mr. Mxyzptlk back to his own dimension, but successfully gambits him into staying there permanently. What is more, he convinces him that he was simply toying with the annoying imp the entire time (and very well might have been).
    • The overall pattern in this series is that it's not difficult to catch Superman off-guard with something he hasn't seen before, but if you try the same trick on him again, he'll have figured out some way to counter it. "Fool me twice..."
  • Why Won't You Die?: Livewire wonders why Superman refuses to die after she keeps shooting him with lightning.
  • Will Not Be a Victim: Lois Lane is the traditional damsel, frequently being rescued by Superman, but she is also a competent and driven woman all on her own. In the episode "Target," despite a madman consistently attempting to murder her, she remains defiant, refusing to sit still and taking the investigation into her own hands.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity:
    • When Rudy Jones was first introduced, his characterization was desperation instead of malevolence, and he stopped his partner when the latter tried to actually hurt people. After he became the Parasite, however, he became obsessed with draining anybody he could get his hands on and taking revenge on a world which hurt him.
    • Sergeant Corey Mills from "Prototype," who became violent, paranoid and obsessive after prolonged exposure to the suit.
  • Who Dares?: Darkseid's reaction to Superman hitting him. Unlike most examples, it's quite intimidating as Darkseid really can take whatever Superman dishes out.
  • Worth It: Mr. Mxyzptlk was stripped of his powers and sentenced to three months in our universe as punishment for breaking his word, but he proclaimed that it would all be worth it to see Superman get clobbered. He changes his mind pretty quickly.
  • Worthy Opponent: Lex Luthor once explained to Lois that, as much as he disliked her for the shots she takes at him and his company, he respects her for her skills and abilities.
  • Would Hit a Girl: When Superman tackled Livewire through a wall, she remarks "At least now we know you hit girls!"
  • Wrongful Accusation Insurance: In "The Late Mr. Kent," Superman saves a wrongly-convicted suspect from his execution, literally busting in to break the gas chamber. They've got the real killer, so the fact that Superman destroyed public property to stop a lawful execution isn't brought up.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Darkseid brainwashes Superman and turns him against humanity in the series finale "Legacy". If Superman wins, then Darkseid can claim Earth without having technically broken his treaty with New Genesis, since it was Earth's own hero that conquered it. If Superman is defeated, then one of Darkseid's enemies is destroyed and Earth is laid to ruin in the conflict. If (as actually happens) Superman eventually breaks free of the brainwashing, he's still led an army against Earth under his own banner, greatly compromising their faith in him as a defender.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • "Your usefulness to me has ended." — Brainiac to his brainwashed victim, Batman, in "Knight Time."
    • Darkseid does not say the actual line, but when Bruno Mannheim has served his purpose in "Apokolips... Now!", he is left to die on an island about to be destroyed by a nuclear explosion.
      Mannheim: You said you'd make me a king!
      Darkseid: And so you are. King of FOOLS! [teleports]
      • The DVD commentary suggests "King of Hell" as an alternative.
    • Dr. Vale in "The Way of All Flesh".
    Superman: It's only a matter of time before the cops find him!
    Lex: And what makes you think there's any of him left to find?
    [Superman looks startled by that]



The greatest evil in all the DC universe.

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