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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Peter rambling on about childhood incidents when he was subjected to the brain worm. Was that really what he was seeing? Or was he reliving the death of his mother, but he simply just knew how to hide his guilt better? Episode 6 shows that Quill is particularly skilled at throwing off or ignoring Mind Control, so there's also the possibility that he was never affected at all, or only very briefly.
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  • Author's Saving Throw: Fans were dubious about how the Nova Corps were portrayed closer to their film counterparts in this series as opposed to their portrayal in Ultimate Spider-Man. Season 2 later explains that Nova Corps from their latter portrayal were an elite branch from their early days that utilized the Nova Force through their helmets, but are no longer in existence by the time of this series.
  • Awesome Art: The "Black Vortex" arc is going to feature the Guardians in different Art Shifts but Gamorra's deserves mention since she is essentially thrust into a classic Disney animated film. note 
  • Badass Decay: Rocket, somewhat. He's still plenty badass but he does tend to lose battles with much larger opponents more frequently than he ever did in the comics or film. Some examples include him trying to punch Drax only for Drax to not feel anything or being swatted away by an even larger Groot or Thor.
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  • Base-Breaking Character: Rocket, or at least his voice. Some find his voice in this show annoying while others are okay with it. Some are just bitter over the fact it's still not a Cockney accent.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal: The reveal of Titus betraying the Nova Corps' agenda and turning out to be a Dirty Cop isn't much of a surprise to many, especially if they have seen the Ultimate Spider-Man episode "The Return of The Guardians of The Galaxy", where they face off against Titus.
  • Complete Monster:
    • The Mad Titan Thanos is one of the Big Bads of season 1 and a truly depraved monster. Thanos is first and foremost an absolutely dreadful parent to his "children", torturously experimenting on a young girl named Gamora to turn her into his brainwashed weapon after butchering her entire race and using her and his other "children”, Nebula and Korath, to commit various atrocities across the cosmos, always subjecting them to horrific punishments should they fail him. Searching for the Cosmic Seed, an artifact of immense power, Thanos goes to any lengths to obtain it, leading assaults onto entire planets in his quest for the Seed. With a prideful nature matching his power, Thanos orders an entire space station annihilated just to prove his might, and is willing to kill his own soldiers in attempts on his enemies' lives. After torturing Peter Quill both physically and mentally for the location of the Cosmic Seed, Thanos arrives on Earth to steal the Seed, and immediately begins terraforming the planet with it, planning to use the Earth as a weapon to travel across the universe and destroy everything in his path as a show of his newfound power. Flashbacks only add to his evil, as Thanos is revealed to have captured the entire race of the Klyntar, wiped out their former host species, then experimented on them for years to drive them into insanity, hoping to use them to enslave worlds at a time to his will. Egomaniacal and psychopathic, Thanos is easily one of the worst villains any Marvel animated series has to offer.
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    • Ronan the Accuser is a former Accuser for the Kree Empire, the other Big Bad of the first season, and is just as vile as the aforementioned Thanos. First appearing in the Origins shorts, Ronan commits genocide against the entire Groot race and runs vicious Gladiator Games and slave camps. Returning from the grave thanks to his Dragon, Nebula, Ronan shows no appreciation or loyalty to her, regularly abusing her and even seemingly killing her when she outlives her usefulness. Attempting to destroy the entire planet of Xandar as his first crime when revived, Ronan later tries to force Black Bolt, a powerful Inhuman, to destroy his entire race due to Ronan's believing them to be filthy abominations, and follows this up by attempting to incite a war by killing hundreds of his own people, then framing the planet Spartax for it. Refusing to take blame for his crimes at all turns, Ronan tries to force Gamora, his former personal assassin, to accept the guilt from crimes she committed on his orders, including genocide, murder, and mutilation. After acquiring the Cosmic Seed, Ronan proclaims his plans to "cleanse" the universe of all those who he deems disgusting and unworthy of living, and, when Thanos steals the Seed from him, Ronan tries to blow up Thanos, the Guardians, and the entire Earth to wipe out all his enemies in one fell swoop. A genocidal maniac obsessed with forcing his personal view of "justice" onto the entire universe, Ronan the Accuser stood out as a disturbingly dark and wicked villain for this relatively optimistic and lighthearted series.
    • J'son of Spartax is a self-serving sociopath who starts out as an Arc Villain before graduating to the Big Bad of season 2. In his youth, J'son stole the Cosmic Seed from the realm of Asgard, hoping to kickstart a war between his homeworld Spartax and Asgard. When this failed, J'son set himself up as Emperor of Spartax, and turned the planet into a brutal dictatorship, subjecting any protesters against his rule to brutal torture and Mind Rape to make them his slaves. After allying with Thanos to wipe out Asgard, uncaring of Thanos's omnicidal goals, J'son is locked away until returning in the second season. There, he uses his brainwashed cult, the Universal Believers, to commit various crimes, having zero problem killing them should they fail him, and uses the young hero Nova's mother and sister as hostages in a quest for power. In his worst scheme, J'son takes control of the body of Adam Warlock, becoming the Magus and proclaiming his plans to rewrite reality until all worship him as a god, which he kicks off by attempting to wipe out every planet and loved one of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Both times J'son is beaten, he attempts to take hundreds of innocents down with him out of spite. J'son is also a monstrous father to his children Peter Quill and Victoria, subjecting the former to a childhood of brutal training and ultimately attempting to brutally murder him, and attempting to vaporize the latter when she turns on him. Though claiming his "vision" for the universe to be one of peace, J'son truly only wants total power and glory over all life.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Cosmo became one of the fan favorite characters from the show after the first episode's broadcast.
    • Though comic fans consider her one of the weaker members of the Black Order in terms of character and powerset, Supergiant's size-shifting powers and backstory with Peter Quill made her so much more popular.
  • Growing the Beard: Season 2 puts more focus on continuity and plot, and several one-off stories or plots are brought brought back and tied to current arcs, giving them more purpose. Also, Peter's Butt-Monkey Character Exaggeration is toned down, and he acts more like a responsible, badass leader.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Mantis turning to dust in "Knights In Black Helmets" becomes a lot harder to watch since Mantis goes out the exact same way in Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Despite being an Alternate Continuity from the MCU, it's funny to see how many plot points and other elements wind up getting reused in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 regardless. Special mention goes to "Undercover Angles", where the team debates on attacking a huge monster on the inside instead of the outside!
      • "Don't Stop Believin" has Peter saying of his Archnemesis Dad J'son, "this guy has an ego the size of a planet"! While the show doesn't change Peter's origin to match (and thus spoil) the second film, the line was originally a clear Shout-Out to Ego the Living Planet.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Rocket. He clearly doesn't have the healthiest of attitudes but considering the horrifying process he underwent, one can scarcely blame him. To put this in perspective, after he is changed his own mother does not recognise him.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Animation enthusiasts who would otherwise be apathetic to the series were interested in the Black Vortex event, due to the different artstyles for the various prisons, such as one of them being animated by Tangled: The Series' Mercury Filmworks (which also worked as a good intermission for that series' fans waiting for Season 3).
  • Magnificent Bastard: Loki is the suave and cunning God of Mischief, and the Arc Villain of the Asgard War arc. Amidst rising tensions between Asgard and Spartax, Loki manipulates the Guardians into exposing Emperor J'Son for stealing the Cosmic Seed from Asgard years ago. In reality, Loki had stolen the Seed back from J'Son, intending to start a war between Asgard and Spartax. When Thor goes to war, Loki hijacks the Destroyer Armor and tries to eliminate his brother which would leave him Asgard's wartime leader and sole heir to the throne. Although exposed by the Guardians, Loki "redeems" himself by aiding in stopping Thanos from invading Asgard. Later imprisoned for unknown crimes, Loki forms an Enemy Mine with the Guardians when Asgard was invaded by symbiotes, only to later betray them and attempts to send the symbiotes to Midgard instead. Thwarted and captured, Loki uses a binding spell he had casted on Star-Lord earlier, influencing him to request Loki be pardoned once again. A smooth-talker and opportunist, Loki always weasels his way out of any situation, claiming to be acting for what's best for Asgard.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Ronan undoubtedly crosses the line in Groot's backstory when he razes Groot's world and all its inhabitants, then has the planet strip mined of pretty much everything useful and leaves it to rot.
    • In "Can't Fight This Seedling", Titus crosses it by attempting to fire an anti-matter missile without authorization on village full of innocents.
    • In "We Are Family" Uncle Pyko crosses this in-universe when it's revealed he's using the same technology as the robots the animals of Halfworld are rebelling against to mutate said animals into mindless war machines. Out of universe, one could argue Uncle Pyko was more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist and didn't cross the line until he started mutating the other animals (Blackjack and Wal Rus after they saw what happened to Ranger) against their will.
    • Thanos crosses it in his backstory when he brainwashes Gamora as a young girl into becoming his loyal weapon and butchers her race.
    • J'son crosses it when allies with Thanos to wipe out Asgad, so he could rule.
  • Narm: The Nova Corp officer who arrests Drax at the end of his origin has a voice way too over-the-top and caricatural to be taken seriously.
  • Narm Charm: For Drax in his origin; however, his inability to understand the metaphor still did not tarnish his Hidden Depths.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: A three-episode arc of this series does more to let the viewer get to know and like Sam Alexander than the two whole seasons of Ultimate Spider-Man in which he was a main character, providing more context for his cocky, Jerkass behavior in USM.
  • They Copied It, So It Sucks!: Much like Avengers, Assemble!, a common criticism of that show is that it's trying too hard to emulate the movie rather than being its own thing.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Blackjack O'Hare gets a bit role in We Are Family when Rocket is forced back to Halfworld. In the comics, Blackjack is a mercenary and rival to Rocket, and could have been kept on as a foil for Rocket in this new series ... sadly by the end of the episode, the evolutionary Reset Button is pressed on Halfworld and Blackjack is reverted back into a harmless bunny. A similar argument could be made for Wal Rus, Rocket's first mate also from his comic book origin story who made a bit appearance in the episode, although Wal's basic role is pretty much filled by Groot.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: We Are Family features Rocket's homeworld, Halfworld, as well as multiple cameos of important characters from Rocket's comicbook origin story, however despite having enough material to easily devote at least a multi-episode plot (or even a small arc) to, everything gets wrapped up by the end of the one episode.
  • Uncanny Valley: The realistic art did make Rocket Raccoon and others seem creepy to look at.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • In Accidents Will Happen, J'Son of Spartax arranges for an asteroid refinery to be sent to the Kree Supreme Intelligence...with only Star-Lord, Captain Victoria, and workers, but no guards or escort from the Spartax Army. Sure, they would still end up beaten by Ronan, but something so valuable and an easy target for terrorists should never be without armed escort.
    • In Fox On The Run, Ronan thought he could succeed in spiting Gamora in front of everyone by broadcasting her crimes and sticking it to her, yet it did not occur to him that them announcing out loud that he ordered her to commit those crimes would bite him back.
  • Win the Crowd:
    • Fans were initially skeptical of efforts to make an animated series based off the Guardians in this continuity, particularly due to the very mixed reception of other Marvel cartoons such as Avengers, Assemble! and Ultimate Spider-Man, plus the poorly-received Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.. The teaser trailers focusing on the origins of Groot, Star-Lord and Rocket then won over a large number of people with a darker tone, well-written humour and good-quality animation.
    • In addition, the characterization of Drax and Rocket Raccoon with Hidden Depths also won over the fans, especially due to the concerns for Flanderization on their negative traits along with being based on the version written by Brian Michael Bendis that was widely despised compared to D'n'A's run.
    • Using some aspects from comics (Peter Quill's energy gun and his Spartoi heritage along with his father J'son, appearance of Moondragon, and Cosmo in first two episodes) in order to convince people that the show wouldn't just be a retelling of the film.
  • The Woobie:
    • Groot qualifies as this just from his origin story. His planet was razed by Ronan and then gutted of all necessary minerals, then after barely securing his race's survival he is captured by Ravagers and caged. The only upside to this story is that he met Rocket.
    • Star Lord also has it pretty rough. As in the film, his mother died of a terminal illness when he was a young boy, but we get shown how his abduction might have panned out. He utterly freaks after seeing loads of alien species, particularly one that tries eating his face, and upon running around the ship very nearly gets himself Thrown Out the Airlock by accident. Yondu then tries to reassure him only for the pirates to try and space him on purpose before trapping him in a shuttle and leaving him to die.
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