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Western Animation / The Superhero Squad Show

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The Super Hero Squad Show (2009-2011) is an animated television series by Marvel Animation based on the Marvel Super Hero Squad action figure line from Hasbro and a humorous take on the Marvel Universe. The series' animation is produced by Film Roman. While at first coming off as a ridiculous Disneyfication, especially since it began airing about two weeks after Disney announced it would buy Marvel (though this was in production way before that and Disney had nothing to do with it), it turns out to be more of a series full of jokes only the older comic book fans will get. Taken like this, it's surprisingly funny.

Prior to the beginning of the series, the villainous Doctor Doom, in pursuit of universal domination, attempts to acquire the limitless reality-bending power of the "Infinity Sword". He is stopped by Iron Man, but as a consequence of their battle, the sword is shattered into numerous "fractals" that rain down on Superhero City.

As the series begins, Doctor Doom has forged alliances with just about every supervillain, forming the Lethal Legion in order to hunt down the scattered fractals, each of which possesses dangerous and different powers of their own. Doom's forces, including his two primary henchmen M.O.D.O.K. and the Abomination, dwell in Villainville which is separated from Superhero City by a giant wall erected at the start of the series premiere. Once again opposing Doom's plan is Iron Man, now leading the elite team known as the Super Hero Squad, consisting of The Falcon, The Hulk, Silver Surfer, Thor, and Wolverine. The Super Hero Squad are headquartered in the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, and are frequently aided in their defence of Super Hero City by their superhero friends, including their boss Captain America, rookie "Squaddie" Reptil, S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Ms. Marvel, and many more.

The second season starts after the Infinity Sword is reforged; it's taken by the Silver Surfer when he rejoins Galactus as his herald. The plot focuses on Thanos, who wants to complete the all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet to become supreme ruler of the universe. The Scarlet Witch takes the Silver Surfer's place as the Squad travels across the universe to foil Thanos' plan.

Originally aired on Cartoon Network, being the last Marvel cartoon to do so. Later aired on The Hub. Currently on Disney+.

This series provides examples of:

  • 24-Hour Armor: In one episode where the team is awoken at night, we see that they all wear their pajamas over their masks, costumes, and yes, armor. (Possibly justified, in that a very young audience could get confused by seeing them "out of uniform".)
    • In another episode, the team is visiting a construction site and wear hard-hats. Thor and Iron Man wear them on top of their own helmets!
  • Action Girl: Ms. Marvel and The Wasp are both women who do well in a fight.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • This exchange between Iron Man and War Machine:
      Iron Man: [to War Machine] Stop talking like you're on Reading Rainbow!
    • In "Too Many Wolverines", Egghead tries to stop Reptil with a can of Dinosaur Spray, only for it spit out whipped cream. This is a nod to Wayne Knight's role as Dennis Nedry in Jurassic Park, where he tried to smuggle dinosaur embryos in a can of shaving cream.
  • Actually a Doombot: Well, sure, you'd kind of expect robot double fakeouts to show up a lot in a show where Doom is the villain...
  • Adam Westing: In "Whom Continuity Would Destroy", Adam West plays Nighthawk, who is treated as an Expy of Batman.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • While Songbird later did a Face–Heel Turn while as Songbird, in the comics, she started out a criminal; here, she's revealed to be The Mole for S.H.I.E.L.D. and is hence a heroine from the start.
    • The Space Phantoms in the comics were minions of the villain Immortus, while the ones that appear in the episode "Revenge of the Baby-Sat!" are good. While the Squaddies initially attack them under the belief that the Space Phantoms are evil, they do not hesitate to cooperate with the Space Phantoms after learning that they are not evil.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Name a female character wearing a revealing costume and chances are it's been modified to cover them up more in the toyline, the show, or other related media. This is basically done by adding tights under a leotard and make them the same color (which is done for Ms. Marvel and Storm).
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: The Hulk is portrayed as friendly and more laid back in contrast to the mindlessly destructive and perpetually angry brute he's usually portrayed as.
    • Abomination is nowhere nearly as Ax-Crazy as his comics counterpart.
  • Adapted Out: Spider-Man and related characters never appeared on the show in spite of being featured in the toyline and the show's tie-in video games because of rights issues involving Sony that still needed to be worked out.
  • Affectionate Parody: The show serves as a lighthearted spoof of the entire Marvel universe.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: The Impossible Man does this in "Missing: Impossible".
  • Almighty Janitor: Beta Ray Bill, literally. Even before his toilet scrubber turns into the Stormbreaker.
  • An Ice Person: Iceman has power over ice.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In "Election of Evil", the Mayor alludes to someone gaining powers from being bitten by a radioactive bug. In spite of witnessing such things as evil sorcerers and shape-shifting aliens, Wolverine assumes that the Mayor is making stuff up.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "You are under arrest for curfew violation, resisting a Sentinel, and carrying duct tape without a proper license."
  • Artistic License – History: Lampshaded in the Marvel 1602 episode.
    Scarlet Witch: I don't think pirates ever attacked the Pilgrims. In fact, I don't think the pilgrims even landed until—
    1602!Mayor: What am I, a history major?
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: As a dinosaur-themed shapeshifter, Reptil is the major offender. To protect himself, he grows "Stegosaurus armor". Stegosaurus' plates were thin and covered barely anything. And that doesn't even consider the time he grows stegosaurus plates on the bottom on his feet SO HE CAN SKATE. To fly, he grows "Pterodactyl wings". Pterodactyls were not dinosaurs, and their wings didn't look like bat wings (with multiple bony "fingers" going through the middle). And then there's the time he morphed a hadrosaur's beak to use it as a shovel. Brilliantly, all of these examples occurred in the same episode.
  • As You Know: The pilot has the Squaddies briefly discuss the main plot of gathering the fragments of the Infinity Sword, sometime after Iron Man and Dr. Doom's initial battle destroyed it.
  • Atrocious Alias: M.O.D.O.K. and Abomination waste no time in heckling new villain Paste Pot Pete's choice of villain name. Even when he decides to change his name to Trapster.
  • Badbutt: Wolverine, and every other anti-hero who guest stars in the show (e.g. the Punisher) is dialed down a bit to be more kid-friendly.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Happens to Wolverine of all people, in "Revenge of the Baby Sat!" where Iron Man, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch are transformed into toddlers because of a time mishap.
  • Bad Future: Falcon and H.E.R.B.I.E. are sent to one in which the Superhero Squad never existed, Wanda became the villainous ruler of the world, and Sentinels roam the streets.
  • Bad News, Irrelevant News: Done at the end of "The Devil Dinosaur, You Say" as the Mayor says he has good news and bad news. The heroes already know the bad news is the Dark Surfer is sending Earth out of orbit, further out until everybody freezes to death. The Mayor says the good news is, it's a snow day, and then he gets down and makes a snow angel.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Doom in the first season, Thanos in the 2nd. The theme song even changes to reflect this between seasons. Dark Surfer takes role for remainder of Season 2.
  • Big Fancy Haunted House: Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum.
  • Big Red Button: There's one in Iron Man's room that ignites a fusion reaction that can end all life on earth as we know it. So, naturally, Brynnie Bratton in Episode 6 pushes it anyway.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Thor fills this role for the heroes.
  • Book Ends: Season 1's arc starts, as shown in the intro, with the Infinity Sword being shattered as a consequence of Iron Man and Doctor Doom fighting over it. In the Grand Finale, Earth is returned to normal when the Infinity Sword (this time with the Infinity Jewels) is shattered as a consequence of Iron Man and Doctor Doom fighting over it.
  • Bowdlerize: James Rhodes only goes by Rhodey while wearing the armor. He's never referred to as War Machine.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Episode 6 introduces us to Brynnie Bratton, who gives both sides a hard time over a fractal in a tiara she wears that her father gave her.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Comes up in "Days, Nights, and Weekends of Future Past!"
    Falcon: I thought the future would be flying cars, not vacuum cleaners with death blades.
    Magneto: You should see the flying cars with death blades.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • Happens at least once per episode in the 2nd season. The Mayor of Super Hero city does this frequently.
      Stan Lee: If I was writing this episode, we'd all be a lot funnier.
    • Ms. Marvel berates Impossible Man for breaking the fourth wall for no good reason. He does it all throughout the episode that he shows up in, including revealing that he is the head writer of the show.
    • After one character makes a comment that breaks the fourth wall, other characters literally crash through a wall and Iron Man says "You know that's the fourth wall we've broken today."
    • Exaggerated in the beginning of "Mother of Doom" where Doom not so much breaks the fourth wall but blasts it to pieces.
    • In the series finale, the team repeatedly tells Iron Man that it's too early in the episode for his catchphrase.
  • Butt-Monkey: Being constantly subjected to humiliation seems to be M.O.D.O.K.'s role. On the good guys' side, we have the Falcon. And more so his pet, Redwing, who suffers Amusing Injuries constantly. (At one point, he's sucked into the Helicarrier's rotors!)
  • Cain and Abel: Loki and Thor are brothers who don't get along well, seeing that the former is evil and the latter is good.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Thanos and Dark Surfer do this — Thanos likes to call his Reality Stone attacks "do-overs".
  • Captain Ersatz: Wolverine serves as this for Guardian when he takes the moniker of Captain Canada.
  • Captain Ethnic: Ruthlessly parodied in the form of the All Captains Squad, which includes established heroes Captain America and Captain Britain... as well as Captain Australia, a boomerang slinging hero, Captain Brazil, a senorita who can dance a samba that causes sonic booms, and the diminutive but powerful (and economically prosperous!) Captain Lichtenstein. While Wolverine was a part of that squad, he became known as Captain Canada.
  • Canon Foreigner: The Mayor of Super Hero City, Captain Australia, Captain Brazil, Captain Lichtenstein and Brynnie Bratton were all created for this show and never appeared in official Marvel comics.
  • Canon Immigrant: Reptil was created for the show, but was introduced in the original comics in a spinoff issue of Avengers: The Initiative months before the show even premiered.
  • Cardboard Prison: Subverted. Every time Doom tries to escape prison in season 2, he fails. He is finally freed by Molecule Man because he's a reality warper.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Catchphrase: "Hero up," and "No problems... adamantium skeleton." (The latter is given by you-know-who in a pained or dazed manner whenever he suffers Amusing Injuries... which is often. He also says "Don't call me 'Wolvie'" often. Doom will often be heard yelling "Nuts!" after an Off Screen Crash. Lampshaded by himself as his own catchphrase at the end of the final episode.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Basically every scene with Dr. Doom in it. (Just goes to show that they understood the character.)
  • City of Adventure: Superhero City, occasionally crossing over the segregatory wall into Villainville
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Doctor Strange when under the effects of an Infinity Fractal. Not that he's all that focused normally...
  • Companion Cube: Mjölnir at times (it's an Empathic Weapon, but Thor has drawn a face on it).
  • Composite Character: Scorpio in the show is a disguise used by Nick Fury, which is kind of fitting as the two are brothers in the comics (and Nick has disguised himself as Scorpio in the past). Nick Fury himself could be deemed a composite of his Ultimate and Classic selves.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment:
    • In the intro for a second season episode, Dr Doom is seated on an electric chair, the camera zooms in as we hear:
      Any last words, Doom?
      Do your worst...
    • Then it's revealed that that "worst" is an psychotherapy session with Captain America.
  • Couch Gag: In the opening of every season one episode, Hulk is transformed into something else; including the original Jack Kirby drawing of Hulk, Joe Fixit, and... a baby. Sometimes doubles as a Shout-Out, such as Simpson-Hulk.
  • Counting to Potato: Hulk demonstrates an odd way of counting in "The Final Battle! ('Nuff Said!)" while counting the Infinity Stones.
    Hulk: One, seven, fish, two thousand, negative three...
  • Covered in Kisses: The montage of M.O.D.O.K. and Ms. Marvel being a couple in "Mental Organism Designed Only for Kisses" at one point has M.O.D.O.K. strolling happily with his face covered with lipstick markings.
  • Covered in Mud: Abomination, in response to being compared unfavorably to a dog, digs a huge pile of dirt and covers Reptil, Wolverine, and Thor in dirt to the point only their eyes are showing.
  • Creator Cameo: Stan Lee voices the mayor of Superhero City.
  • Crossover Cosmology: Zeus and Odin are rivals.
  • Curse Cut Short: In "The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill!", the Stranger starts to call Thor a "piece of" something. When Thor starts to admonish him for using inappropriate language, the Stranger starts insisting that he was going to say "piece of work".
  • Da Chief: Ms. Marvel and Captain America. Both of whom answer only to Nick Fury.
  • Defeat by Modesty: Fin Fang Foom flies away after losing his pants while fighting Galactus in "This Al Dente Earth".
  • Demoted to Extra: Reptil has a much smaller role in season 2.
  • Denser and Wackier: The entire show is a Super-Deformed and slapstick-filled form of the Marvel universe.
  • Did Not See That Coming: Doctor Doom, word for word, in the Black Widow episode when Captain America reveals his own double agent. Screaming Mimi is really Songbird. Also Loki when Enchantress orders Odin to destroy both his sons.
  • The Ditz:
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Iron Man gets the bright idea to make fun of Galactus's appearance. For his trouble, he's sent flying solar systems away into Thanos's windshield.
  • Dumb Is Good: Hulk chooses to invoke this trope when his Infinity Fractal-induced brilliance in "Hulk Talk Smack!" makes him an ineffective know it all who can't even fight properly.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: At the end of "Mother of Doom", Doctor Doom's mother gets back at her son by posting embarrassing pictures of him on Maskbook, which are not visible to the audience.
  • Embarrassing Slide: In "The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill", Bill uses a Viewmaster to show Thor the history of his people. However, one of the slides shows Bill on holiday, riding a surfboard in a Hawaiian shirt.
  • Enemy Mine: Occasionally, the heroes would team up with the villains against a common threat.
    • The Squad teams up with Chthon in "Mother of Doom" to help him get his powers back from Doctor Doom.
    • All the heroes and villains join forces in "This Al Dente Earth" in order to stop Galactus.
  • Eviler than Thou: This happens to Doom when Dormammu comes to town.
  • Face–Heel Turn: The Silver Surfer, after being corrupted by the Infinity Sword.
  • Faux Horrific: In "Mother of Doom!", Doctor Doom comes across an imprisoned Don Heck and is horrified for whatever reason.
  • Flight, Strength, Heart: Doctor Strange's mystical abilities include "levitation, travel to other dimensions, transformation of matter, Bulgarian cow-tipping... and he's great at Sudoku."
  • Foreshadowing: In "Mysterious Mayhem at Mutant High", Reptil laughs off the divining rod that Ringmaster was using to locate fractals and tosses it in the trash. As he and Wolverine are flying away, the rod begins to shake and twitch violently and point towards Reptil in the sky, and the rock he wears around his neck begins to react as well in a subtle manner. There had been many subtler hints. Reptil is the only one not depowered by Brynnie Bratton's fractal powered tiara and when he and Wolverine golf with M.O.D.O.K. and Abomination he picks up a fractal and he is unaffected but Abomination is.
  • Fountain of Youth: "Revenge of the Baby-Sat!" had Iron Man, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch turned into toddlers. By the end of the episode, this fate befalls Doctor Doom after Iron Man, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch are restored to their true ages.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Made more obvious by the fact that the Infinity Gauntlet has all six gems placed on the back of the hand when, traditionally, each gem is placed on the knuckle of each finger with one more on the back of the palm.
  • From Bad to Worse:
    • It was bad enough that Thanos got the Infinity Gauntlet with all 6 Infinity Gems. But when Face–Heel Turn Silver Surfer defeats Thanos and takes the gauntlet, he seizes the moment by destroying the Helicarrier v.2 and banishing the Super Hero Squad to another dimension of Time, Space and Reality.
    • When the Mayor tried to reason with the Dark Surfer, he threw the Earth out of its orbit, nearly destroying its atmosphere from that alone, and slowly sending it further and further away from the sun.
  • Future Badass: In an alternate future at least, Reptil. Since the Squad itself (and presumably, the individual Squaddies) never existed in this timeline, he stands as the only identified superhero and singlehandedly takes on the Scarlet Empress and her army of Sentinels.
  • Good Is Old-Fashioned: Taken to hilarious lengths with Captain America, who reminisces and asks everyone if they remember them building a dam... during the Depression. Also, he's not accepting President Roosevelt's calls. And multiple stories about "The War"; "During the war..." is almost a catchphrase for him.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: As you'd expect, but one line from MODOK is "How in the Don Heck are we supposed to do that?" in the Marvel Comics artist (who had appeared earlier in the same episode, trapped in a prison by Chthon).
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The first season seems to deal with gathering pieces of an all powerful sword. The Infinity Gems in the second season.
  • Grand Finale: "The Final Battle! ('Nuff Said!)", where the Squaddies finally stop the Dark Surfer and undo all the damage he's caused to the universe using the Infinity Sword and the Infinity Gauntlet.
  • Grand Theft Me: Baron Mordo possesses Iron Man's armor, anyway.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: The Impossible Man and Dark Surfer end up throwing Skrulls at each other in "Missing: Impossible".
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: They don't call Ms. Marvel "Ms. Crankypants" for nothing.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X":
    Beta Ray Bill: I was genetically enhanced to be a janitor, in order to take care of the Spacestation Scuttlebutt.
    Thor: Hehe, thou said scuttle.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: When Black Widow (who is Mystique in disguise) briefly joins the team. Except Wolverine. He stays away from dating superheroes and villains alike (and backup dancers), which is the exact opposite of his portrayal in the comics.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In "Double Negation At The World's End!", Wolverine sets a trap string at the doorway to blast Annihilus. Somehow Annihilus got in the room from a different direction, and Wolverine ends up running around in a way that causes him to be blasted by his own trap.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • In "This Forest Green", the Abomination makes fun of Egghead for being bald, only for Doom to point out to him that he doesn't have hair either.
    • Iron Man mocks Doom for wearing a metal suit in "The Ice Melt Cometh", but stops himself when he remembers that he wears Powered Armor himself.
  • Impossible Shadow Puppets: In "The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill", Thor, stranded on the far side of the galaxy, decides to practice his shadow puppetry. He starts with a rabbit ("Fluffy"), a detailed wolf ("Fenrir") and concludes with an impossible dragon ("Fáfnir"). Having mastered shadow puppetry in seven seconds Thor then goes mad with boredom.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Nearly said word for word in "Another Order of Evil". The ending of the two-part episode has M.O.D.O.K. insult Doom, who has become cellmates with M.O.D.O.K. and the Abomination by the end of the story and indignantly exclaims "I'm sitting right here!"
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: The show doesn't skimp on them.
    M.O.D.O.K.: What are the Super Hero Squad doing at the water and power building?
    Abomination: Paying their superpower bill?
    M.O.D.O.K.: [flailing uselessly] Want to hit you... but arms... too short!
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Infinity Sword.
  • Insufferable Genius: Flatman, but more "insufferable" than "genius", as he believes not only that global warming flat-out doesn't exist, but also that the Earth is flat.
  • I Want Grandkids: In "Mother of Doom", Doctor Doom's mother at one point remarks that her son neglected to give her grandchildren.
  • I Want My Mommy!: In "The Ice Melt Cometh", Pyro comedically cries "Mommy" when he sees that he's about be struck by lightning from Thor.
  • Kaiju: Mole Man uses giant monsters as part of his modus operandi.
  • Large Ham: Doom, naturally, is a scenery-chewing ham. And Thor. Ms. Marvel had her moments as well.
  • Lethal Chef: Silver Surfer's cooking tends to be disgusting slop that the other Squaddies don't want to eat.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Wolverine and Reptil face off again M.O.D.O.K and Abomination in a full game of golf to decide who gets control of a fractal. The villains lose and then subvert the trope by trying to take it by force. However, they seem to be ashamed of themselves since they decided to lie about it.
  • Lighter and Softer: The series is definitely more comedic than most Marvel Comics adaptations.
  • Limited Animation: Although the animation is generally of good quality, there are often times where a character conspicuously repeats an action (like firing an energy blast or pushing a button) repeatedly. There are also scenes of characters just staring at nothing, or even scenes being rewinded.
  • Made of Iron: Wolverine can recover from injuries easily because of his adamantium skeleton.
  • Medium Awareness:
    • One episode features Dr. Doom and Magneto joining forces to obtain fractals, and end up accusing each other of stealing the entire pot. They had Falcon supposedly imprisoned, but he suddenly appears out of nowhere and snatches the remaining fractal in front of them.
      Magneto: I did not steal your fractals!
      Falcon: Actually, it was me. Wish I could tell you about it, but... read the message boards.
    • Again in "Days, Nights and Weekends of Future Past":
      Scarlet Witch: What do they write about me on your message boards?
      Falcon: Uhh... nothing but positive things.
      Scarlet Witch: Liar! No one EVER writes positive things on message boards!
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Happens occasionally with Ringmaster's hypnotized victims.
  • Monster Mash: "This Man-Thing, This Monster!" featured a team called the Supernatural Hero Squad, whose members included Werewolf By Night and the plant monster Man-Thing, and had Dracula as the episode's villain.
  • Mythology Gag: The entire show is stuffed full of them.
    • Thor being turned into Throg, Frog of Thunder in the episode introducing Dormammu.
    • "Tales of Suspense" as an episode title, with an A-Plot focusing on Iron Man.
    • "So that is what happens when a toad is hit by lightning. What a letdown."
    • The title cards are a homage to the Marvel covers of the 1960's and 70's. In particular, the first episode, featuring the Mole Man, has one that pays homage to the famous first cover to Fantastic Four, with the featured superheroes standing in for the members of the Fantastic Four.
    • Captain America, talking on the phone about a reenactment of Gettysburg he's attending: "Relax, Brubaker! It's just a Civil War, what could go wrong?" It's also a nod to Ed Brubaker, long-time writer of Captain America.
    • A special one that doubles as a Shout-Out is during a trip to the Negative Zone when Iron Man sees a vision of himself as he looks on The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. His response:
      Iron Man: Such strange apparitions!
    • Remember that photographer that snapped a shot of the Squad during the first season finale? That's Phil Sheldon, from Marvels making his first appearance outside the comics.
    • Just as in the comics, Screaming Mimi turns out to be Songbird, although in this case she's a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and mole in Doom's operation.
    • Thanos punishing Nebula is straight out of Infinity Gauntlet, except there, he withered her into a living corpse (which they couldn't do on a kids' show).
    • invoked In "Oh, Brother!", Wolverine gets turned into an actual wolverine. The original idea in the comics was that Wolverine was an actual wolverine that was mutated into a human.
    • In the Squad's fight with the Skrulls in "If This Be My Thanos!", in a seemingly absurd attempt to get past the heroes' defenses, three of those aliens disguise themselves as cows. Definitely a gag at what happened to the Skrulls on their first appearance in the Fantastic Four when Mr. Fantastic hypnotized the four Skrulls into cows. And possibly a hint, as done in the Avengers: The Kree/Skrull War, that there is one particular Skrull missing and is disguised as someone, particularly a significant guest star, which in this case is "Thanos".
    • In a flashback that's obviously in this universe's equivalent of The '80s in "Mental Organism Designed Only for Kisses", Thor has his own rock band, and his attire is reminiscent that of Dargo Ktor (the guy in the future who possessed the power of Thor introduced in The '80s).
    • In "Too Many Wolverines!", one of said clones is none other than X-23 in a Wolverine outfit, manicuring her claws. Which doubles as Hilarious in Hindsight.
    • In "The Ice Melt Cometh", Captain America finds the Hulk frozen in ice at one point and states that he's "been there", alluding to how Captain America ended up frozen in a block of ice during World War II and ended up thawed out in modern times.
    • In one episode, Dr. Doom is deleting friend requests, noting one from "Magneto and Titanium Man". That's the name of a song by Paul McCartney, a big fan of Marvel.
  • The Napoleon: Captain Lichtenstein. Tiny, but economically prosperous!
  • Never Say "Die":
    • Parodied/played with:
      Gray Hulk: Ah, M.O.D.O.K. The Mental Organism Designed Only for Kick-ball.
      M.O.D.O.K.: Yes, it—Hey! That's not what it stands for!
    • Played straight when he once says the "K" stands for "Kick-butt".
    • In "Mental Organism Designed Only for Kisses!" when Ms. Marvel falls in love with M.O.D.O.K. (thanks to Amora of course) Hawkeye tells Iron Man that they cannot risk Ms. Marvel siding with the villains, since she knows all of the Squad's secrets. So he tells Iron Man that she must be... destroyed.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Flatman purposely calls Ben Stein to mind.
  • Non Sequitur, *Thud*: Thor gets one of these in episode 8:
    Thor: Of course, father Odin! What small child would not prefer a hammer to a new bicycle? Ooooooh, rainbow...
  • "Not Wearing Pants" Dream: In "Blind Rage Knows No Color", the Hulk's nightmare at one point has everyone laugh at him for being in his underwear.
  • Obviously Evil: Chthon. Doom. Dormammu. Most of the villains, really.
  • The Only Ones: The Squaddies have to take care of everything. Even those who have some sense that a big event is going down, such as Doctor Strange, wait until our heroes have come to them before offering to help.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Doom's reaction to the Infinity Sword breaking into fractals in the final episode.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In "Days, Nights, and Weekends of Future Past!", H.E.R.B.I.E. disguises himself as a Sentinel and manages to deceive other Sentinels in spite of the disguise only being a cardboard mask that's crudely drawn.
  • Prefers Going Barefoot: Reptil. Since his shapeshifting powers would either destroy his shoes or render his dinosaur feet pointless (if they were of the Magic Pants variety), it makes sense to go barefoot. When he surrenders the fractal that grants him his powers, he bemoans "Now I'm just some shoeless guy."
  • Previously on…: The final episode starts with a parody of this, full of moments that never happened.
  • Rapid Aging: In "Revenge of the Baby-Sat!", Doctor Doom causes Thor and Ms. Marvel to become elderly after becoming master of time.
  • Recurring Extra: A bratty little girl appropriately named Brynnie Bratton appears several times and is usually pouting because whatever she was doing is interrupted by the heroes and villains fighting. She eventually gets A Day in the Limelight in the sixth episode, where her dad gives her a tiara (with a fractal in it) as a gift, and she causes problems for both sides.
  • Right Behind Me: "A Brat Walks Among Us" has M.O.D.O.K. get in trouble when he makes fun of Doctor Doom and realizes too late that Doom had been listening to his mockery all along.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: During the chase scene in "Deadly is the Black Widow's Bite!"
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Literally. Doctor Strange has Baron Mordo sealed in a can of soda. It left him very gassy when released.
  • She's All Grown Up: Valkyrie. The last time Thor saw her was in high school.
    Thor: She's filled out nicely.
  • Shapeshifter Swansong: Invoked when Black Widow is revealed to be Mystique, and a blow to the head from Mjölnir causes her to shift into mishmashes of several Marvel characters - in a manner reminiscent of the Hulk fractal Couch Gag.
    M.O.D.O.K.: "My head isn't THAT big!!"note 
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "Mental Organism Designed Only for Kisses", SpongeBob SquarePants' iconic laughter can be heard when Hulk is channel surfing. Seeing as how Tom Kenny is the lead in the show, this isn't quite surprising. What is surprising though is that Nickelodeon is a rival channel to Cartoon Network.
    • In "Election of Evil", the Mayor references Spider-Man, the most major of missing Marvel characters, quite a lot. For starters, he tries to get superpowers by "getting bitten by a radioactive bug", and his campaign motto is "With great responsibility comes great power... and vice-versa."
    • Reptil's favourite cheese is Queso da Joe ("It's super-cheesy!")
    • M.O.D.O.K: "Ever since Knuckles Quesada got out of prison, he just hasn't been the same."
    • In "Soul Stone Picnic" there's a reference to the song "MacArthur Park" when Ms. Marvel says the Dark Surfer used the reality stone to turn the Kree empire into a cake and left it out in the rain. Hulk even adds, "But it took so long to bake it. Oh no!"
    • Also in "Soul Stone Panic", Thanos announces he's thinking about raising chicken and keeps talking about the different types in a way similar to Bubba describing shrimp in "Forrest Gump".
    • In "Missing: Impossible", Impossible Man alone makes impressions of Groucho Marx, Pee-Wee Herman, and Rod Sterling hosting "The Twilight Zone", not to mention he turned the helicarrier against the Squad in the style of "2001: A Space Odyssey".
    • In "Tales of Suspense", Doctor Doom gets a friend request from Magneto and Titanium Man. This is the name of a Paul McCartney song from the Wings era.
    • The Husky Russkie Crimson Dynamo says to Rhodey that he "am break you now."
    • In "The Ballard of Beta Ray Bill", the Stranger calls Beta Ray Bill "[his] little pony".
    • In "Deadly is the Black Widow's Bite!", Iron Man asks Black Widownote  if she can say "Moose and Squirrel". She refuses.
    • In "The Final Battle, 'Nuff Said!", the Squaddies warp to the end of the Universe. Scarlet Witch was hoping there'd at least be a restaurant there.
      • One scene shows Saturn in the Earth's sky like the ending of The Quiet Earth.
  • Shown Their Work: As evidenced by the huge amounts of in-jokes and Mythology Gags the show uses. One example that stands out is in "Enter: Dormammu", in which the Hulk is the only squaddie to notice Dr. Strange's astral form, as a gag. It's not one of the Hulk's better known powers.
  • Sizeshifter: The Wasp has the power to both shrink and grow.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Cynthia von Doom is usually dead in the comics, with one of Doom's goals being to rescue her from Gell. Here, she's very much alive (and prefers the name "Coco") and is a villain in her own right.
  • Spiritual Successor: The whole franchise is most likely to have been—at least partially—inspired by Mini Marvels. With that said, how much of a "successor" the series may be is debatable since Mini Marvels is still ongoing. Plus, Chris Giarrusso's style and approach are different, in that he depicts the heroes and villains (most of them, anyway) as kids rather than just Super-Deformed grown-ups.
  • The Starscream: M.O.D.O.K., both of which have now been voiced by the same man.
    • Granted, he only tries to overthrow Doom once. In every other episode, he's Doom's loyal Butt-Monkey.
    • The Face–Heel Turn Silver Surfer towards Thanos. Not only does he trick Thanos into giving him the Infinity Gauntlet, but he even banishes him into the Soul Gem.
  • Stock Footage:
    • If the hour-long pilot is a good indication, at least once per episode stock animation of the core characters posing with attitude while the theme song plays will be utilized. Ka-Zar manages to RUN AWAY during the footage.
      Falcon: He moved fast in just ten seconds.
    • "Mysterious Mayhem At Mutant High" does it with Reptil. Just Reptil.
  • Strapped to a Bomb: There's an episode where the Scarlet Witch is sent back in time to World War II, caught by the Red Skull and then tied to a rocket, but is then saved by Captain America and the Invaders (Bucky, the Jim Hammond Human Torch, and Toro).
  • Super-Deformed: Basically, the art style of the show.
  • Superheroes Wear Tights: It's a general rule of the toyline, the show and the games: if a heroine's uniform exposes the midriff or the tights on the comics, those parts will be covered (Storm also wears leggings, and in the MMOG, Tigra wears a one-piece swimsuit rather than the comics' bikini). It's kids merchandise, after all.
  • Take That!:
    • In "Tales of Suspense", Iron Man at one point makes a remark about his incredulity that The Family Circus is still in the newspaper.
    • Flatman's resistance to global warming is likely a subtle one towards people's dismissal of said theories.
    • Thor's theories explaining how Mjölnir could turn Beta Ray Bill's toilet scrubber into a mystical hammer in "The Ballard of Beta Ray Bill". "Or maybe it's sloppy continuity."
    • "Whom Continuity Would Destroy" comes off as a not-so-subtle jab toward DC Comics' superheroes, as it has Iron Man, the Hulk, and Scarlet Witch fight the Squadrom Supreme (Hyperion, Nighthawk, and Power Princess), who are treated as an Alternate Company Equivalent of the Justice League (with Hyperion as the Superman equivalent, Nighthawk as a stand-in for Batman, and Power Princess lampooning Wonder Woman's invisible jet by having an arsenal of invisible weapons and vehicles). The Super Hero Squad beat the Squadron Supreme effortlessly and continue dissing them after their victory.
  • Title Drop: The episode "Mental Organism Designed Only for Kisses" at one point has M.O.D.O.K. refer to himself as the episode's title.
  • Toilet Humor:
    • At least in the pilot. Not even Doom is exempt.
      Falcon: Redwing, take care of that jewel on his forehead!
      M.O.D.O.K.: THAT'S UNSANITARY! (though, it was an egg)
    • It also appeared in "From the Atom... It Rises", where the Mole Man grosses out the Squad with his farts and does the same with the other villains at the end of the episode.
    • In "This Silver, This Surfer", Human Torch and Silver Surfer destroy part of the Baxter Building. Cue a shot of Thing sitting on the toilet reading a newspaper only to have the bathroom crumble around him.
    • In "Fate of Destiny!", when Iron Man summons the squaddies it's likely Thor's on the... er... "throne of Asgard" when the alarm sounds. They don't show anything, but he is sitting down reading a magazine, and he lets out a barely audible grunt before leaving.
  • Training Montage: Doom gets one, including Rocky's sweater. His teddy bear (also with Doom armor) stands in for the trainer.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Averted for comedy's sake. Dark Surfer interrupts the Hero Up sequence by messing with reality and destroying the show's logo in the background. Ka-Zar manages to RUN AWAY during the Hero Up sequence.
  • Trojan Prisoner: In "Days, Nights, and Weekends of Future Past!", H.E.R.B.I.E. sneaks Falcon and Magneto into prison by pretending to be a Sentinel and marching them up to the doors of the prison.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: While in general a Lighter and Softer version of the Marvel Universe, The Red King in the Planet Hulk episode is played as a surprisingly straight-up monster until his Humiliation Conga.
  • Villainous Badland, Heroic Arcadia: The show takes place in the bustling and pristine metropolis of Superhero City. Separated by a wall is their close neighbor Villainville. The air pollution stays strictly in Villainville, and the grass doesn't grow there.
  • Visual Pun: At one point in "Enter Dormammu", Doctor Strange's fractal-corrupted magic turns the heroes into various other things. Wasp becomes an insect, while Iron Man becomes a clothing iron and then a golfing iron.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The first season starts off by indicating that the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier is the home of other members of the Avengers such as Hawkeye and Wasp. After getting a decent amount of focus for a couple episodes, they're never seen or heard from again.
  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Iron Man says this after the Infinity Sword breaks into fractals again because of his fight with Doom in the last episode.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Enchantress cast a spell on Odin to make her marry him so she'd become Queen of Asgard. With this, she became Stepmother of Thor and Loki. Unfortunately for her, because of a rule Loki invoked in an attempt to take the throne for himself, since she's a "peasant", Odin technically abdicated by marrying her. Loki even went as far as casting a spell to prevent Enchantress from breaking hers. However, before Loki managed to dethrone Thor, Enchantress decided she could use Odin to take over by force since he's the most powerful Asgardian. Fortunately Odin broke both spells.
  • Wipe That Smile Off Your Face: Nebula has her mouth removed from her face by Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet.
    Nebula: MMMRNN!
    Thanos: Ooh, that is a good look for you!
  • Witch Hunt: Scarlet Witch is subjected to one by the founding citizens of Super Hero City in the year 1602, despite the fact that she had only shown good intentions and helped defend the city against the dreaded pirate Captain Doom up until that point. The Mayor reasoned that even though everyone likes her on an individual level, she is still guilty of being a witch.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Averted, in that he doesn't hog screentime, but lampshaded and spoofed with the Trope Namer. When Wolverine finds himself unexpectedly alone with H.E.R.B.I.E. and forced to take on a threat, he sighs and pulls out his "Wolverine Team-Up" checklist; he's been on three teams in-series (the Superhero Squad, the X-Men, and the All-Captain Squad as Captain Canada); and when Superhero City is flooded with Wolverine clones in one episode, Thor muses that it would explain how he's able to appear in so many comic books.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Doctor Doom's mother attacks Hulk with her "sonic nag", to which Hulk responds that he doesn't fight girls. When she pours it on, he gets pissed and responds with his own sonic roar, properly causing a building to fall on top of her.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: The series couldn't use Spider-Man because of rights issues with Sony, but they manage to get away with two vague references to the hero in "Election of Evil", where the Mayor of Superhero City at one point mentions knowing of a hero who gained powers from being bitten by a radioactive bug and at the end of the episode states "With great responsibility comes great power....and, uh, vice versa."
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Doom's reaction to seeing the Infinity Sword break into fractals again in the final episode.