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For the animated series:

  • Adaptation Displacement:
    • The popularity of the series pushed the John Stewart version of Green Lantern into the minds of the mainstream audience. It got to the point that when trailers for the 2011 Green Lantern movie were released, many people wondered why the Green Lantern wasn't a black man.
    • Hawkgirl. Many viewers were unfamiliar with her character before this show, but she was so awesome and memorable that she quickly became a fan favorite. Many did not know that Hawkman was the original main character of the comics.
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    • The Question has gone through a lot of interpretations: extreme borderline-Jerkass objectivist avenger in the early Steve Ditko comics, mellowing out under Denny O'Neal into a Zen-like investigator, eventually becoming cheerfully fatalistic before passing on his name to Renee Montoya. However, the most famous one by far is Justice League Unlimited's take of a Lighter and Softer Rorschach, voiced by Jeffrey Combs and obsessing over shoelaces.
    • This show's version of Ace is so much more well known and popular than the original version that she's the first thing that shows up when you type "Royal Flush Gang Ace" into Google images.
  • Adorkable:
    • The Flash is the one guy with a runner's build in a group of Heroic Build types and a cheerful man who's still just a boy in many ways.
    • Not as often, but Wonder Woman does show this at times, usually when she shows a more playful side (like how her child self was crushing on child Bruce) or is a Fish out of Water.
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    • Unsurprisingly from a teenage heroine, Miss Martian's into whatever teenage girls are also into, like mochaccinos and feeling awesome after taking down some bad guys. At one point, she tries to do a high five with Batman, who leaves her hanging.
      Miss Martian: Killed it! Team Supreme! [holds up hand for a high five]
      Batman: ...
      Miss Martian: [disappointed, puts her hand down]
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The Flash acts flippant, flirtatious, and downright not serious as he does presumably because he's fully aware that one day he may run fast enough that he'll vanish into the Speed force. He knows that his power could eventually kill him — though the Speed Force seems like a neat place for his kind to end up, and he probably knows that, too. He's keeping the "every moment counts" mentality: no sense in wasting time being angsty — you might run out of time to laugh and have fun. "Divided We Fall" supports this.
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    • Vandal Savage. His Heel–Face Turn in the Bad Future of "Hereafter", having had 30,000 years of solitude to regret his past actions, begs the very real question that Savage's villainy and attempts to take over the world might simply be because there is nothing left for him to occupy his endless existence with. Since (in the present) he's been around for 25,000 years already, he's probably been pretty much everywhere, seen pretty much everything, and done pretty much everything else worth doing.
    • Superman's actions during the Cadmus arc are very much open to interpretation when it comes to how forgivable his intentions really were. Is he an essentially good but sometimes stubborn and shortsighted man thrown into a political and moral wringer who still manages to get out the other side with his soul intact? Or is he a short-tempered, condescending, borderline authoritarian who only maintains his grip on his morals from the shame of literally seeing the man he could become?
    • Relating to Professor Emil Hamilton and his Face–Heel Turn after feeling "betrayed" by Superman back in the series finale of Superman: TAS, one has to wonder if Hamilton was always a narcissistic Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who took too much pride in being Superman's personal Mr. Wizard ally, or if he was a genuinely good man who sadly never overcame the trauma of seeing just how destructive and dangerous Superman could be if he were evil or brainwashed into being evil. If the latter, did he really join Project CADMUS in JLU of his own free will or was he manipulated by Lex Luthor and Amanda Waller for their own ends? If the latter, does that make him a victim as well as a villain?
    • When Captain Atom is conscripted back into the Air Force, he's ordered to keep Question from being rescued from the Cadmus detention facility. While he gets into a vicious fight with Superman, not once does he manage to actually impede Huntress from getting Question out. Is he genuinely trying to follow his orders or is he purposely focusing exclusively on Superman to give them time to escape?
  • Angst? What Angst?:
    • The Justice Guild is surprisingly quick to accept that they died in a nuclear war, one of their fans brought them back to life and has them go through the motions of saving the city. They accept the explanation readily after seeing the newspaper recording their deaths. When Ray attacks the Justice League, the Guild quickly decides that it's more important to save the world again than to preserve their own lives.
    • In "Epilogue", Terry takes the fact that Waller tried to have his parents killed surprisingly well. This may be due to the fact she didn't and thus has no reason to be as angry as he would've been had the plan gone through.
  • Ass Pull:
    • Amazo gaining the Justice League’s weaknesses as well as their powers (at first). It comes out of nowhere because nothing at any point hints that Amazo copies both the powers and weaknesses of the heroes. Before then, all that was shown was that Amazo could copy a hero’s powers without any significant drawbacks. There’s no build-up to it and it ends up coming across as a thinly veiled excuse to make Batman look more useful at the expense of his teammates by pulling out a kryptonite shard to hurt the Android when no one else could, because otherwise Batman wouldn’t have stood a chance against Amazo. And to make it even more blatant, Batman had never encountered the Android before, nor had he ever had a chance to properly study and analyze it, so there’s no way he could’ve known that Android had both the powers and weaknesses of the heroes it copied.
    • Solomon Grundy being able to syphon AMAZO's energy comes out of nowhere and is a thinly-veiled excuse to write the overpowered android out of the show.
    • The power disruptor from the Justice Lords episode. It appears with little to no build-up and is a thinly-veiled excuse to end the episode quickly. It also makes no sense because it even affects members of the Justice Lords who don’t have true super powers and derive their “powers” from technology, like Lord Green Lantern.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • When Brainiac makes his return, he created a skullship. Its design is more closer to the comics and is meant to address complaints some people had with the other skullship that appeared in Static Shock.
    • During the first season, Superman had the tendency of being defeated by a number of villains frequently, sometimes in ways that wouldn't logically incapacitate him, which resulted in complaints from fans. The writers caught on and the second and Unlimited seasons brought him more in line with how he was back in Superman: TAS, which resulted in him not being knocked down as easily. They also pit him against foes with less physical powers like Dr. Destiny, and foes like Darkseid and Kryptonite-armored Lex Luthor who could legitimately go toe-to-toe with the Man of Steel.
    • After fans complained about the lack of imaginative constructs from Green Lantern in the first season, later seasons would include more constructs such as electric drills and catapults.
    • Many Wonder Woman fans didn't care for the show stripping away the Lasso of Truth of its powers and just making it a glorified rope. Near the end of the last season of JLU, the lasso's truth-telling powers are unlocked by Hippolyta.
  • Awesome Ego: Princess Audrey from "Maid of Honor" manages to make the Lovable Alpha Bitch plain fun to watch. She's shallow, self-centered, and completely oblivious to threats, but the humanizing factor of wanting to cut loose before her Arranged Marriage and her genuine friendliness toward Wonder Woman make her ego endearing instead of annoying.
    You couldn't have had this much fun before. You've never partied with me before.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Some fans love Wonder Woman's depiction as a confident, fierce warrior whose abilities are almost on par with Superman, while others feel her aggressive attitude made her an unlikable Adaptational Jerkass, given that her Friend to All Living Things traits from the comics are heavily downplayed on the show.
  • Bizarro Episode: "This Little Piggy" is centered around the antics of the Justice League as they try to find and catch Wonder Woman, who has been transformed into a powerless pig by Circe. The premise of the episode is silly enough, but the resolution is even more bizarre: Circe agrees to break the curse after Batman performs a singing number to her.
  • Broken Base:
    • "Clash". Some fans absolutely love the episode for the epic smack down between Superman and his old Fawcett Comics "rival" Captain Marvel and love it for depicting Superman being cynical, jaded and generally paranoid rather than the nice, affable boy scout he tends to be. Other fans absolutely hate the episode for rushing Superman's descent into jaded, cynical paranoia when the last time he'd been seen four episodes earlier he was still more or less himself and still sensible enough not to be suckered into such an obvious smear campaign trap.
    • "Epilogue":
      • Some fans love it and see it as the definitive end of the DCAU, while other fans hated it for being all about Batman's legacy, essentially feeling more like a lost episode of Batman Beyond and not a true finale to the actual Justice League (Unlimited) series that it was supposed to serve the role as (before it got renewed anyway).
      • The episode reveals that Terry McGinnis was the biological son of Bruce Wayne all along, due to Amanda Waller injecting the late Warren McGinnis with Bruce's DNA to override his genetics. Her intention was to stage a similar tragedy to propel Terry down the path of the Dark Knight, which fate ultimately did for her anyway when she came to abandon the idea. Learning all this when he thought Bruce was manipulating him to his own ends and considering the damage that being Batman did to his predecessor, Terry ultimately decides to continue working as a hero but on his own terms, such as not alienating those closest to him. While some fans felt that this twist allowed for a compelling story about Terry's identity crisis, his feelings towards Bruce, and determinism vs free will, others saw it as a slap in the face to Terry's character that undermined the idea of passing on the torch, by basically saying that you can't be worthy of being Batman unless you are literally a blood relative.
  • Can't Un-Hear It: As with the other DCAU installments, this show has a large supply of people imagining the voice actors from this show as their comic counterparts and viewing them as their definitive voice actors, including Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman, Michael Rosenbaum as the Wally West Flash (along with the Barry Allen Flash if you have watched Justice League: Doom and/or played Infinite Crisis), Phil LaMarr as John Stewart, Carl Lumbly as the Martian Manhunter, and Maria Canals Barrera as Hawkgirl. Thanks to his performances in this series, Superman vs. the Elite and Injustice: Gods Among Us, George Newbern has also begun to overtake his predecessor, Tim Daly, as Superman's definitive voice actor for many fans (but there are fans who like Daly and Newbern equally).
  • Character Rerailment: After his last appearance when he crossed the Moral Event Horizon and considered Beyond Redemption, Clayface not only returned to his Tragic Villain status, but has Took a Level in Kindness to further enforce this in "Secret Society" in contrast to his past egotistical and obnoxious self in prior appearances in Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Complete Monster (besides the returns of The Joker, Darkseid, and Brainiac):
    • "The Enemy Below": Lord Orm is the treacherous and power-hungry half-brother of Aquaman. Resenting his brother for having never wiped out the surface-dwellers, whom Orm despises, Orm seeks to usurp the throne from his brother and wage a war against the surface-dwellers to eradicate them. To achieve this end, Orm hires Deadshot to assassinate Aquaman, blaming the attack on the surface-dwellers and using this as a means to justify war, forcing Aquaman's wife Mera to cooperate by threatening her infant son. When Aquaman returns, Orm reveals his treachery by abducting him and chaining him to a cliff near a volcano. To ensure his place as ruler over Atlantis, Orm attempts to plunge both Aquaman and his son into the volcano, forcing Aquaman to severe his own hand to save his son. Orm then arms an Atlantean thermal reactor to melt the polar ice caps, thus submerging the entire planet underwater and sentencing all surface-dwellers to death.
    • "War World": Mongul, cruel dictator of War World, forced warriors to fight to the death in order to take his people's minds off his oppressing them. When Superman refuses to kill the former reigning champion, Draaga, after succeeding to defeat him, Mongul threatens to destroy Draaga's planet if Superman doesn't allow Mongul to defeat him in his next match. After his efforts were foiled, Mongul returned for revenge against Superman, using a plant called the Black Mercy to trap Superman in a perfect dream world. With Superman out of the picture, Mongul planned on turning Earth into a second War World. Superman was eventually able to free himself from the dream world—but not before Mongul delivered a brutal beatdown to Wonder Woman—but the emotional pain of doing so was enough to make Superman actually try to kill Mongul before returning to his senses.
    • "Only a Dream": John Dee, who also made several cameos as a member of the Legion of Doom, started out as a minor convict who only fantasized of killing the Justice League to make a name for himself among super villains, but after an experimental machine gives him ESP, Dee quickly decides to make his fantasy a reality. Becoming Doctor Destiny, his first action is to take revenge on the wife who left him while he was in prison. As she's sleeping, Destiny goes into her dream and begins to torture her for hours. Eventually, the nightmare causes her to have a cardiac arrest and die of terror. Destiny then invades the dreams of each member of the Justice League, trying to use their worst fears to kill them one-by-one. These nightmares include making Superman think he killed his friends with out-of-control superpowers; and burying the claustrophobic Hawkgirl alive.
  • Continuity Lockout: Many episodes rely on references to events from earlier in the DCAU, a franchise that would take about six full days to marathon from start to finish, so good luck keeping up with all the continuity references. The single biggest example is probably the Cadmus arc, which deals with the repercussions of the finale of Superman: The Animated Series.
  • Crack Pairing:
    • In the few fanfics that feature her, Supergirl's clone Galatea is paired up with Nightwing for reasons undefined.
    • For whatever reason, Supergirl/Flash exists despite Kara deciding to stay in the future with Brainiac 5 and the fact that the two of them have rarely, if ever, interacted.
    • Hawkgirl/Flash also has a bit of a following despite both characters saying that they view each other as siblings. Although, to be fair to shippers, the two did have some flirtatious dialogue, especially on Flash's part, early in the series. However, as they get to know each other and become closer it's clear that they do begin viewing each other as surrogate siblings, even before either one says so.
  • Crazy Awesome: The Question, who has been reimagined as a crackpot Conspiracy Theorist....who is still a brillant, if unorthodox detective. His crimefighting techniques include interrogating someone while playing bland teen pop and using whatever he has on hand to help him in a fight whether it be a bedpan or his car.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The Cadmus arc can be filled with this as it focused on Good vs. Good and how both sides dipped down into He Who Fights Monsters, especially Superman's negative change in character showcased in "Clash" and how a American government agency like Cadmus resorted to shady and illegal tactics to get the job done (including one of members used to be Superman's Absent-Minded Professor ally before he Took a Level in Jerkass).
  • Escapist Character: The entire Justice League. They are an N.G.O. Superpower with the best minds and best technology gathered in one place, and individually and collectively defend the world from multiple threats and carry out their tasks with competency and efficiency, and by Season 5 shut down single-villain crime altogether and more or less keep the world safe in 9-5 shifts. It's about the only time you see superheroes actually coming close to ending crime altogether and in a manner that is believable.
  • Evil Is Cool:
    • Darkseid, the galactic conqueror with a hellish army to spread his will over the universe, who is also incredibly intelligent, composed, and in control, and with a skill for manipulation and voicing eloquent Breaking Speech that is memorable and unforgettable.
    • The Legion of Doom, a powerful Evil Counterpart to the Justice League made up of major criminals across the DC Universe.
    • The Justice Lords, dark reflections of the League who take a serious stand against their enemies while conquering universes, and also coming across as highly competent, efficient, and believably self-righteous.
    • Vandal Savage for being the rare single villain who is a League-level threat by himself (even Luthor is only a major threat when combined with Brainiac and the Legion of Doom) and who is an Immortal caveman with a Healing Factor that makes Wolverine's look like chump change. Like Doctor Doom, he's a villain who can fit in a wide range of plots, from Alternate History (The Savage Time), to James Bond international intrigue (Maid of Honour) to post-apocalyptic buddy comedy with Superman in Hereafter and his appearances are considered among the best episodes even if he appeared in just three of them.
    • Back in Superman: The Animated Series, Lex Luthor was a Kingpin-esque Greater-Scope Villain who was often dwarfed and outsmarted by Metallo, Joker, and Brainiac and was often saved by Superman from his own arrogance. By the time of Justice League, he has taken many levels in badass, becomes a Magnificent Bastard during the Cadmus arc, proves to be a Villainous Underdog scientist-inventor from the Silver Age and solves the Anti-Life Equation.
  • Faux Symbolism: The Thanagarian generator in "Starcrossed" looks like a swastika.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Batman and Wonder Woman, by a large margin. Unfortunately, it's Doomed by Canon not to happen.
    • Throughout JLU, many fans were rooting for Green Lantern to get back together with Hawkgirl, and didn't like that he was in a relationship with Vixen. Unlike Batman/Wonder Woman, this one does eventually happen.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Despite "Clash" being part of the Cadmus arc, some would pretend it never existed due to Superman's Jerkass Ball, his poor treatment of Captain Marvel and causing the Downer Ending.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    Flash: If we ever need a replacement for Hawkgirl, we'll give you a call!
  • Gateway Series: Justice League (Unlimited) was the main exposure that people had to the wider parts of DC Universe. It was the first exposure many had of Green Lantern and the Corps (see Adaptation Displacement above), Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, J'onn J'onzz and in the Unlimited phase, the Question, Green Arrow, Black Canary and Booster Gold among many others. Likewise, it introduced many unknown and little regarded areas such as Amanda Waller and Suicide Squad, Vandal Savage (who was once seen as Poor Man's Substitute to Ra's Al Ghul even if he came first), Solomon Grundy, Dr. Destiny, and Amazo. Heck, even The Warlord got an episode that had him as a major character!
  • Growing the Beard: This trope is expressly discussed in the season two DVD. The producers felt that season one of Justice League was a competent production, improving as it progressed, but that it was in season two that the show became what they always wanted it to be. Many of the changes came about from their own disapproval and from listening to fan complaints. Bruce Timm explained that much of season one was just trying to get the series started and they ended up rushing things where they should have taken more time. The second season opened with "Twilight", a Darkseid episode, and the level of quality leaped over the best of the first season. Among the items discussed:
    • They made a policy decision to avoid "Super-wimp" with Superman, which had a much larger effect on the first season than they had realized. In the first season, Superman's primary job in fights was to get thrown into buildings or otherwise knocked around with relative ease (he was beaten up back in Superman: TAS in a similar way, but always came back to win the fight. In Justice League, another hero would just step in for him). A noticeable example appeared in "The Enemy Below" where Superman is incapacitated by Deadshot's electrified manhole cover trap. By the time of the second season, he was more likely to tank or quickly recover from any attack that came his way, including Darkseid's Omega Beams and catching thrown vehicles instead of being hit by them. This is especially seen in “The Terror Beyond” where he treats back-to-back brawls with Grundy and Aquaman as mere annoyances.
    • They wanted to increase the scale of the stories with larger backgrounds, more character models animated in critical scenes, bigger stakes, a visceral sense of physical contact and added emotional conflict even between the heroes. The rationale was "the show doesn't necessarily have to be dark, but it has to be intense" in order to make sure viewers were engrossed. The action became faster, more chaotic, more creative, and less repetitive. Green Lantern was even chastised for being too straightforward with his ring.
    • They featured a lot of the Call Backs to Batman: TAS and Superman: TAS along with some Call Forwards to Batman Beyond, that had not been included in season one. Originally, they wanted Justice League to stand on its own merits, but understood fans are generally watching the show to see their favorite characters.
    • They began laying the groundwork for many future story arcs, while the first season had episodes largely self-contained. In particular, many hints about Hawkgirl's history would come to a head on "Starcrossed" (the season two finale). Likewise, the flirtation between Green Lantern and Hawkgirl became more obvious until they finally admitted their feelings to each other.
    • Bruce Timm said that he was often spurred on by Mel Brooks's advice to Ring the Bell; if a scene seemed like it might be too much and you were having second thoughts, do it anyway and make it bigger. It was the official mantra of the production team that "Good enough isn't good enough". The animators had specific instructions to work until a scene was good enough and then make it better.
    • This happened again during the relaunch of the series as Justice League Unlimited. The first season was slightly more shaky with the writers getting used to the new half-hour format, greatest emphasis being put on Characters of the Day instead of the original seven, and the fan-favorites Hawkgirl and Flash being Put On The Bus. The second half of the first season rectified this; Flash and Hawkgirl were back full-time, the series focused on a continuous storyline instead of self-contained episodes, and the writing and characterization got better.
    • Speaking of the Flash, the first season presented him getting easily defeated usually by tripping over things and generally being clumsy as a superhero. This, along with his bad jokes and arrogance, were designed to make him the Plucky Comic Relief but made him come across as incompetent to many fans. Starting in the second season, steps were taken in "Maid of Honor", "A Better World", "Hereafter", and "Eclipsed" to make him not just more effective but as The Heart of the team that keeps them from going too far. After his relative absence in the first Unlimited season, he returns to save the day in a major fashion in the Cadmus arc. In the final season, the Flash has become a well-respected veteran of the team with no less than three Character Focus episodes about him in a season of 13 episodes.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Batman dodging Darkseid's Omega Beams. It didn't go so well in the comics.
    • When Wally is almost taken by the Speed Force but is saved by his friends. It didn't turn out as well for his Young Justice counterpart.
    • In "The Savage Time, Part 1", an alternate-universe Batman leads a resistance to fight a regime, and is helped by the other members of the League. Same thing happens in Injustice: Gods Among Us, except some of those League members are leading the regime.
    • In "Hearts and Minds, Part 2", John Stewart complains to Hawkgirl that Katma, his old instructor, still thinks of him as a raw recruit. Hawkgirl calmly notes that "we tend to cling to images from when we knew them best, forgetting that they do change". This comes off a bit harder to take after Shayera's own ordeal with this in "Starcrossed".
    • The League calling out Batman on his I Work Alone attitude becomes a bit harsh when in Justice League: Doom he goes through with quitting the team.
    • Robert Foxworth voicing a character who bares Fantastic Racism against the Justice League and part of an opposing secret government agency would eventually become ironic as Foxworth would later voice Ratchet in the Transformers Film Series and unfortunately would end up on the receiving end of the wrath of a Fantastic Racist government agency who would eventually kill him around the beginning of Transformers: Age of Extinction.
    • In "In Blackest Night", when The Flash offers to speak for John Stewart, who is being accused for the destruction of a planet, the alien judge reminds him that if the accused is found guilty, anyone representing the accused will share the same penalty. Sounds exactly like the Defense Culpability Act, doesn't it?
    • "Kids' Stuff" was a largely lighthearted episode dealing with a child making the world a sort of Neverland, but any negative side effects of losing all the adults on the planet for an unknown period of time isn't really addressed for the sake of that tone. When Klarion the Witch Boy pulls a similar stunt in Young Justice we actually do see exactly how terrifying (and dangerous) it was for both sides of the adult/child split.
    • Jeremy Piven voicing the Elongated Man, given both Identity Crisis revealed that Ralph's wife Sue was raped by Dr. Light (the villain who'd appeared in Teen Titans) and the allegations of sexual assault levied against Piven.
    • In "The Savage Time", Diana crosses paths with Steve Trevor while having an escapade in World War II. The two are forced to part once Diana and the League complete their mission and return to the present day, but Diana searches him up and reunites with him at a retirement home. Come Wonder Woman (2017), where we already know that Diana lives to present day, and we see that Steve never lives to old age, Diana witnesses his death, and in the present day, all Diana has left of him is a photograph.
    Steve: I wish we had more time. I love you.
    • In "Far from Home", there's a subplot where it's feared Supergirl would die after traveling to the future. Sequel film Justice League vs. The Fatal Five, Star Boy travels back to the past and unlike Kara, who merely chose to stay in the future, Thomas really did die in the past, far from home.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight:
    • In "To Another Shore", Diana is concerned of J'onn being cooped up at the Watchtower for two years and advised him to take some time off. At the end of the episode, J'onn decided to go on leave from the League for some soul-searching and ended up having a relationship with someone as seen in the Grand Finale. In a Season 9 episode of Smallville, J'onn is the one who concerned of Chloe being isolated in the Watchtower note  after her husband's death in the Season 8 finale. Chloe grows out of it thanks to Clark and Oliver, who ended up having a relationship with her as well.
    • The last time we saw Phantasm, they had decided to pursue revenge and fight Batman for getting in the way, with Andrea apologizing to Bruce and saying goodbye to him. Andrea then refuses to gun down Terry's parents after Amanda Waller hired her, knowing what it was like to lose parents and what that could do to a child.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • In "Patriot Act", the featured heroes (and villain) have designs and powers that bring to mind the main cast of The Avengers: STRIPE = Iron Man, Stargirl = Captain America, Vigilante = Black Widow, Shining Knight = The Mighty Thor, Green Arrow = Hawkeye and General Eiling = Hulk.
  • In "The Savage Time":
  • In "The Enemy Below", both the human doctor trying to treat Aquaman and the doctor in Atlantis who gives him his hook hand sound suspiciously like Jeffrey Combs. Moreso after Combs actually joined the cast later on.
  • Batman's disarming of the nuke in "The Doomsday Sanction" is extremely similar to the climax of The Dark Knight Rises, down to escaping by ejection, though in the former case everyone knew he lived.
  • The producers of the show said they tried to make Aquaman an "underwater Conan". Then in 2014, Jason Momoa was cast as the sea king in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. When his first official picture for the movie came out, his design is closely similar to his DCAU counterpart which is also based from his 90's outfit minus the Hook Hand.
  • In "In Blackest Night", there is a legal system which solved its lawyer problem by sentencing the lawyer to the same punishment as the defendant if found guilty. This is the central plot of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, where this law is known as the DC Act.
  • After the large amounts of destruction from Superman's battles in Man of Steel causing significant backlash, seeing the fight between Superman and Captain Marvel in "Clash" is rather amusing. Dozens of buildings are literally shredded, and in one instance Superman is knocked back into a bank and is stopped only by the heavily armored vault. note 
  • Hawkgirl and Vixen spend the last season or two being friendly rivals in a love triangle. Jump forward to DC Comics Bombshells, and their counterparts are in a relationship with each other.
  • Two episodes are named "In Blackest Night" and "Flashpoint". Neither have anything to do with Zombie Lanterns or Flash-created alternative timelines.
  • Star Sapphire claims she doesn't believe in love. Very ironic considering what the Star Sapphire corps represent and are powered by nowadays.
  • In "Double Date", Huntress and the original (male) Question became a couple. Years later, in Convergence, Batwoman erroneously thinks that Huntress is sleeping with Renee Montoya (Batwoman's ex), who, in that story, is the second Question.
  • Phantasm had a vendetta on the Joker and failed. "Epilogue" reveals that Phantasm's final(?) years included working for Amanda Waller, who would have the Joker's ex, Harley Quinn, as a central member of her Suicide Squad.
  • The story "Hereafter" involves Lobo trying to join the Justice League following Superman's presumed death, with the rest of the League doing everything they can to get him away. Many years later in the mainline comics, Lobo would actually end up joining the Justice League (albeit for a short time).
  • The 'Bat Embargo' preventing any Batman villains from showing up in the final season actually saved them all, in-universe, from dying in outer space along most of the Legion of Doom.
  • Idiot Plot:
    • "In Blackest Night" relies entirely on no one checking to see if a destroyed planet is, well, destroyed. Everyone thinks it's gone, but it turns out to be a holographic projection. Meaning no one went to the planet to look for survivors (or to loot), no one received any radio signals, or noticed any thermal or gravitational differences. Also, hitting a fault line wouldn't destroy even a geologically-active planet since the crust is a tiny, tiny fraction of the whole thing. (Given comic events that one is probably Artistic License, though.) On the bright side, Superman gets to be the one who solves the mystery for once, an honor that usually went to Batman.
    • The Hyperspace Bypass that the Thanagarians want to build. It turns out using it will destroy Earth, just so the Thanagarians can wipe out the Gordanians. Not once do they stop to consider that maybe asking the Justice League to contribute their manpower in the war would be much more favorable for everyone involved.
  • Informed Wrongness:
    • "The Doomsday Sanction" ends with Superman and the rest of the Original Seven members of the Justice League, sans injured Batman, sentencing Doomsday to the Phantom Zone since they have a strict No Killing policy, and later on the injured Batman chews Superman and Wonder Woman - and by extension the rest of the League's founders - for doing this, saying that they were playing judge, jury, and executioner themselves instead of letting the law handle it. Now earlier Batman had been having a chat with Amanda Waller that hit closer to home than he initially realized, but the problem with this is... Doomsday is a really big, really strong, and really destructive monster who was on the rampage and clearly could not be contained by conventional methods, it's not like they tossed an ordinary criminal in there for shoplifting.
    • The Justice Lords' lobotomizing all the inmates at Arkham Asylum into model prisoners was treated as horrific, and rightly so. The trouble is...the supervillains in question were all mass murderers incapable of being reformed, especially the Joker. Arkham Asylum is a Cardboard Prison that can't possibly contain them, never mind cure them of their laundry list of psychoses. And if the only other option was execution, well....
  • Inferred Holocaust:
    • In "Only a Dream", Superman would have killed hundreds of people besides the three seen if it hadn't been, well...
    • "Kids' Stuff" is a relatively lighthearted episode at first glance. A bratty little kid gets rid of all adults, and four members of the League are turned into kids so they can go and return the world to normal. Good guys win, everyone's fine. Except for the fact that every adult on the planet was gone for at least a few hours, if not days. How many toddlers, especially those in undeveloped regions, ended up dying without supervision? How many newborns and babies starved to death? And what the heck happened to all the pregnant women and their children, especially those in labor at the time of the incident? Driverless cars (some with kids as passengers), planes falling out of the sky?
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • The real villain of "Legends", a Reality Warper mutated by a nuclear apocalypse, who recreates his childhood heroes who died trying to save the world. This means Ray also forces the other survivors to act out mundane roles for forty years, which the ice-cream man said was like a nightmare, rather than build their city. He makes himself appear as a Kid Sidekick to the Justice Guild and makes them fight various villains. Flash expresses Sympathy for the Devil on learning that Ray was trying to recreate his childhood.
    • Tala is a backstabbing, self-centered member of Project Cadmus, and then the Legion of Doom, but she can still inspire some pity after being betrayed and trapped in a mirror by her mentor Felix Faust, putting up with Luthor's Bastard Boyfriend behavior and finding out Luthor planned to sacrifice her to retrieve Brainiac the whole time. 
  • Like You Would Really Do It: J'onn J'onzz and Diana are safe on one side of a barrier, while Batman is trapped on the other side and facing the Imperium. J'onn and Diana hear Batman get attacked and J’onn tells Diana that the Imperium killed Batman. But any fan would probably suspect that Batman was still alive. And of course, in the end Batman was still alive, with J’onn concealing his survival until the time was right.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Has its own page.
  • Memetic Molester: Batman of all people gets this in “Ultimatum”.
    Batman: (Smiling smugly): Mine are bigger than yours.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Wonder Woman punching a TV screen and declaring "I will not tolerate this!", usually after showing a clip of Batman making out with someone like Catwoman or Cheetah.
    • "Wally West, Clark Kent... BATMAN!", from "Starcrossed" where Batman reveals the identity of the Flash, Superman, and himself, except edited to him to take off his mask to reveal another mask, because Batman is the goddamn Batman.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • The Thanagarians in "Starcrossed" get this from a large number of fans, despite the fact that they considered destroying the Earth an acceptable sacrifice for winning their war over the Gordanians. In addition to that, being shift and sneaky (with Hro lying to Shayera and clearly avoiding telling her the truth about the Bypass), general superior racists not to Earthlings but also to Martians and Kryptonians (such as when Paran Dul mocks J'onn's interest in Thanagarian tech) and using human slave labour to build their bypass while converting Earth into a totalitarian government. Fans justify this by insisting that the Gordanians are Always Chaotic Evil basing themselves entirely on the words of the Thanagarians (who are proven Unreliable Narrator) which doesn't even square with what we see. "Hunter's Moon" says the Gordanians defeated the Thanagarians and have conquered the world, but the existence of a Resistance implies that the Gordanians are conquerors which makes them bad guys but far less dangerous than the Thangarians who wanted to exterminate a random planet just to win a war.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Most of the Justice Lords get one scene in "A Better World" to establish them as irredeemably evil. From the DVD commentary, the writers did that on purpose so that it showed that the Justice Lords, while having good intentions, ultimately are truly heroes turned villains who deserve to be defeated.
      • Lord Green Lantern when attacking League Lantern attempted to stab his neck for his first move. Not trying to disarm him or to knock him out. He chose to go immediately for the kill.
      • Lord Wonder Woman knocks League Batman down and picks up a building rubble to straight away attempt to kill the latter.
      • Lord Superman had Flash by the neck, with Flash trying to appeal to any remaining good in him, reminding him that the Flash in their world had been killed and his death was one of the main reasons why they all became such cynical Knight Templars. However, Lord Superman, referring to moral lines he never thought he'd cross, coolly tells him that "one more won't hurt", that this universe's Flash's death was just another means to an end.
    • John Dee in "Only A Dream", where he "operated" on his wife in her dreams via torturing her until she died of fright shortly after he had found out that she was planning to leave him for another man.
    • Orm tried to kill his brother and his brother's infant son.
    • Luthor crossed it by killing Tala. He had to pay the price for it when Darkseid came along. Granted, Lex Luthor is not as bad as Darkseid, but this was by far the most despicable and heinous thing he's ever done.
  • Narm:
    • During the end of "A Better World", Superman tells Flash he knew Flash wouldn’t be able to talk Justice Lord Superman down from killing him because Superman deals with the same strong temptations. The vague wording makes it sound like Superman is constantly thinking about just murdering the Flash.
    • The infamous scene in "Starcrossed" where Wonder Woman escapes from her cell. Diana bites a Thanagarian's metal gauntlet, causing him to somehow feel pain and drop the knife he was holding. She then grabs the knife in mid-air with her teeth and hurls it towards a control panel, managing to hit precisely the one button that sets her free. The scene is supposed to display Wonder Woman as a badass, but the sheer absurdity of her plan and the fact that it miraculously worked make it much more comical than intended.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Hal Jordan's cameo in the second part of "The Once and Future Thing." He shows up for less than a minute when time shifts and temporarily causes him to replace John Stewart, but it's still considered a highlight. Adam Baldwin's performance as him was so well-liked he even reprised his role for Hal in Injustice: Gods Among Us.
  • Paranoia Fuel:
    • "Only A Dream" in a nutshell. Thanks to his newfound telepathic powers, Dr. Destiny can invade the dreams of his victims and induce horrific nightmares they cannot wake up from. There are no explicit restrictions when it comes to how many people he can influence at once or how far they are from him, so if you go to sleep, he will find you and torture you until your heart gives out.
    • The Question is a walking version of this trope. His crazy conspiracy theories would be comical if the episodes centered around him didn't prove that he is a remarkably efficient detective.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Vixen got some hate for replacing Hawkgirl as Green Lantern's love interest.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • John Stewart was initially greeted with disdain from fans who either instead wanted the more well-known Hal Jordan or (in a follow-up to "In Brightest Day") Kyle Rayner. Not helping was the creators admitting to adding him to the roster solely because of the color of his skin - making him look like merely a Token Minority. However, over the course of season one, Stewart received a good deal of Character Development - becoming a well-rounded character and a fan favorite, to the point that he started getting some more face time in the comics. Years after the show finished, you can find people utterly convinced that John Stewart is the Green Lantern & DC are being racist by "changing" Green Lantern into a white guy for the 2011 film & any video game appearances, despite Stewart being the fourth human Lantern introduced in the comics.
    • Aquaman was also helped by the DCAU, although some of the heavy lifting to rescue him from the Scrappy heap had already been done in comics continuity. The DCAU version was Darker and Edgier in all the right ways - one of the few characters that could plausibly appear as a hero or a villain.
    • Superman initially had a poor reception from fans in the first season due to his redesign and tendency of suffering severely from The Worf Effect. It also didn't help that Tim Daly couldn't reprise his role and there was a distinct lack of follow-up to the way Superman: The Animated Series ended, making the show feel less connected to the DCAU. This was rectified in the second season when the return of Darkseid fully bringing back memories of what he did to Superman last time. The second season also allowed George Newbern to grow more into the role as Superman gets more emotional in the face of his old nemesis. The writers also gave Superman a better design that was more closer to how he looked back in Superman: TAS and prevented him from continuing to suffer from The Worf Effect.
    • In the first season, Lex loses his status as a respectable businessman and becomes the Diabolical Mastermind of the Silver Age, a move many fans had long hoped for. However, the first season makes Lex look incompetent via presenting him being easily deceived by Batman and a later episode shows the Injustice Gang much prefers one-off character Aresia as a leader. However, following his pardon at the end of "A Better World", Lex became a morally unpredictable Machiavellian schemer playing both the Justice League and Cadmus before almost destroying the world by merging with Brainiac. The fifth season maintains his status as a Magnificent Bastard by having him outmaneuver the entire Legion of Doom and shown to be as deadly competent as his comic book counterpart.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Romantic Plot Tumor:
    • Quite a few, depending on the fan - Batman/Wonder Woman (Loving a Shadow) and Supergirl/Brainiac 5 (both Strangled by the Red String).
    • The Vixen/Green Lantern/Hawkgirl triangle. The writers themselves admitted that they really backed themselves into a corner with this one when they were trying to tie up the series. First they treated Vixen as just being a rebound for John after the fallout between him and Shayera at the end of the second season (after two seasons of build up), but then by the end it was shown that John had truly grown to love Vixen and their relationship blossomed to the point that they were either living together or at least involved enough that they had access to each other's apartments. However, the future had also shown that John would reunite with Shayera and have a son with her, though many details were still up in the air, and it seemed that no matter how they approached it there was no way that John could not come away looking like a jerk no matter which heroine he chose to be with, so they went with the only option that seemed both in character and least offensive by having John choose to stay with Vixen, telling Shayera that he won't abandon Vixen and rush back into a relationship with the winged red head just because destiny says so. Whatever happens has to happen naturally and because they want it. Word of God is that John and Shayera do eventually get back together after the series end.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat:
    • The Green Lantern-Hawkgirl ship versus the Green Lantern-Vixen ship. Hawkgirl won.
    • To a lesser extent, Batman-Wonder Woman vs. Batman-Cheetah.Nothing comes of either because Bruce is Doomed by Canon.
  • Shocking Moments:
    • In the teaser for "A Better World, Part 1", Superman uses his heat vision to burn Lex Luthor into ash.
    • "Starcrossed" brings the revelation that Hawkgirl was The Mole the entire time, and her race is planning to destroy Earth. Though she ultimately pulls a Heel–Face Turn and helps defeat the invaders, the preceding events cause both the Thanagarians and earthlings to view her as a pariah. The series is never the same afterwards.
  • Signature Scene:
    • The opening intro is this, especially the Power Walk of the Original Seven as the sun rises with their monumental silhouettes enlarging in synch with the theme music.
    • John Stewart reciting the Green Lantern oath in "In Blackest Night".
    • Batman and Lord Batman having a dialogue match in "A Better World".
    • The Question going through everyone's trash and the aglets moment in "Fearful Symmetry".
    • The Flash defeating Luthor/Brainiac by running several times around the world and nearly bonding with the Speed Force in "Divided We Fall".
    • Superman's "World of Cardboard" Speech and his ensuing beatdown of Darkseid in "Destroyer".
  • Signature Series Arc: The Cadmus arc which runs across the third and fourth seasons is considered this for the entire series as whole.
  • Spiritual Adaptation:
    • With Aquaman having the violent, arrogant and aggressive demeanour of Marvel's Namor "The Enemy Below" seems like a story that would have had Amalgam's Aqua-Mariner as the protagonist.
    • The showrunners openly admitted that "The Terror Beyond" was their take on The Defenders with Dr. Fate (as Doctor Strange), Aquaman as Namor, Hawkgirl as Nighthawk and/or Valkyrie (even being described as "birdnose") and Solomon Grundy transformed into the Hulk, complete with an opening scene of him escaping the military led by a Thaddeus Ross analogue.
    • "Starcrossed" noticeably borrows elements from Justice League of America: Tower of Babel, with Hawkgirl and Hro Talak taking the places of Batman and Ra's al Ghul, respectively. In both works, a leaguer's actions lead to a villain learning the heroes' secret weaknesses, which are exploited in order to ensure minimal opposition during a world-endangering scheme. Both stories also end with the League taking a vote to decide whether the traitor deserves to remain in the team, with Wonder Woman voicing her strong disapproval of her former friend, Superman acting as the tiebreaker, and the defector leaving before hearing their decision.
  • Strangled by the Red String:
    • John Stewart and Vixen. Vixen had previously only made a handful of silent cameo appearances, but without any buildup or reference to it, she and John are already in a serious relationship by her first speaking role. For bonus points, his behavior towards her for most of the show screams "rebound".
    • Poor Supergirl - she meets a guy in the future, has a few lines with him, and is suddenly so in love that she abandons all she knows and cares about by staying in the far future. They tried to justify the suddenness by saying that she felt out-of-place and stuck in Superman's shadow on Earth, but the only time that ever came up was during the episode in question. Braniac-5 is hit pretty hard by this too: he's barely spoken to her, has only known her for a few minutes, and suddenly he's agreeing with Green Arrow's suggestion that he's fallen for Supergirl.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Wonder Woman was introduced as a newly-debuting hero at the start of the show so, unlike her Trinity counterparts of Superman and Batman, much of the traditional elements associated with her origin story were discarded, to the ire of fans from the comics and previous versions. Some of the most contentious elements include Steve Trevor not crashing on the island and being rescued by Diana, the Amazon Contest being replaced with Diana stealing the Wonder Woman outfit, and the Magic Lasso not having the ability to force people to tell the truth until near the end of the last season.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • The Cheetah is Wonder Woman's Archenemy in the comics, so a lot of fans assumed she would get more character development after receiving a lot of focus in her debut episode. However, she got Demoted to Extra... although Word of God is that she was meant to be Killed Offscreen by Solomon Grundy in her debut two-parter and was only saved by an animation error showing her alive later on, so getting to appear several times more was an unexpected boon for her.
    • Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner only appear as cameos in the entire series, and have very little interaction with the League. One episode even teased at Kyle switching out with John, only for it to be shot down as the Guardians call John out on trying to use it as an excuse to get a break from his messy love triangle.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • In "The Savage Time", history is changed so that the Nazis won World War II. The Justice League is protected from changes to the timestream and granted Ripple Effect-Proof Memory, except for Batman, whose altered counterpart is leading a resistance against the Nazis. Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon, Tim Drake, and Cassandra Cain are shown in a cameo as part of Batman's movement too. However, this potentially interesting plotline is dropped entirely as soon as the Justice League minus Batman travel back in time to World War II, as the remainder of the arc centers on the team's efforts to return things to normal. Batman remains behind in the future, reasoning that if they fail he can still fight the Nazis, but his adventures along with the other members of the resistance are not touched upon.
    • Captain Marvel only appears in a single episode, which ends with him getting disillusioned by the League. It would've been interesting to see him return especially with the latter revelation that Lex was pulling the puppet strings. This one has more to do with red tape, as the creative team had been wanting to use Captain Marvel since they were working on Superman: The Animated Series, and would've had him again if they could. Just getting him in that one episode required them fighting tooth and nail for it.
    • Superman's descent into cynical paranoia during the Cadmus arc suffered a bit from not having more episodes that showed him gradually losing it, opting instead to shoehorn the bulk of his Sanity Slippage into one episode ("Clash").
    • The real story of "Legends" is that the world that Flash, Hawkgirl, and Green Lantern stumble into is a Stepford Suburbia created by a Psychopathic Manchild Reality Warper keeping all of its inhabitants trapped. Unfortunately, this takes a back seat for most of the two-parter to Flash, Hawkgirl, Green Lantern, and the Justice Guild fighting a Legion of Doom Expy, with John spending only a couple of minutes investigating the town.
    • After much build-up, Luthor does not become a president, nor does he turn back into a Mad Scientist in the next season, despite the many interesting stories and conflicts between JL and the USA that could have been told.
    • The Legion of Doom story arc was wasted on account of the Bat-Embargo preventing the original members Scarecrow and Riddler from joining. Also, the fact that the writers had the majority of the Legion's original members, but failed to do anything important with most of them. Then, the whole Legion arc was thrown out the window in the finale when Darkseid returned and took over as the main villain for the final story instead of creating a battle between both teams. Apparently the original plan was that Luthor would've succeeded in bringing back Brainiac, but for whatever reason, these plans fell through.
    • Hawkgirl's nightmare in "Only a Dream". The other characters' nightmares were based on their deep-seated fears and insecurities. Hers was... getting stuck in a box. Granted, claustrophobia is a thing, but since she'd never given any indications that she suffered from it... Then again, given her true identity, a more personal nightmare could have been too much of a spoiler.
    • "Epilogue" served as a Fully Absorbed Finale for Batman Beyond, but The Zeta Project fans feel that the episode could've served as a Fully Absorbed Finale as well and were disappointed as a result since it was the only DCAU show to be Left Hanging. Since Zeta's fate was left unresolved by the end of his series, it would have been a nice touch to see him as a member in the scene with the future Justice League to show that he was able to prove his innocence to the government and earned his happy ending with Roe. Too bad he's not seen or mentioned at all in this.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Justice League was very popular and is widely regarded as one of the best superhero shows ever made. Such reasons include, but are certainly not limited to: Their creative, compelling plots that manage humor and tragedy, bringing many heroes and villains into the spotlight, creating a very interesting and believable dynamic with their cast especially the core seven, and introducing many aspects of characters that were popular enough to turn into Ret-Canon. Unsurprisingly, many people are eager for the original cast to reprise their roles whenever any DC animated adaptation is announced. As such, many of the series that came afterwards often get some flak for not attaining that high bar that they felt the series set.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Word of God has stated that Project Cadmus, the anti-Justice League government think tank in the fourth season, were supposed to be sympathetic Anti Villains with a strong point about the dangers of unrestricted superhumans. In fact, the writers found Cadmus so sympathetic that they introduced a Conflict Killer in the form of Brainiac so he could be revealed as having been manipulating both sides to avoid having to paint either Cadmus or the League as in the wrong. Fans, on the other hand, overwhelmingly sided with the League, considering Cadmus's deeds included attempting to nuke an inhabited island simply to kill Superman and Doomsday, creating Doomsday to begin with, manufacturing an army of cloned Slave Mooks and sending them to massacre the League, including the completely innocent Watchtower staff, and teaming up with supervillains including Lex Luthor, all before the League had done much of anything to them. If anything, the audience viewed Cadmus causing all that shit just to get justification for what they do.
    • The ending of "Fury" attempts to elicit some sympathy for Aresia, as Wonder Woman laments that her fall from grace could have been prevented had she been exposed to men's world and their more noble qualities. However, it's really hard to see Diana's point of view given that, misguided or not, Aresia is by far one of the most heinous villains to be created for the show, as she attempts both genocide and matricide and doesn't give up on her schemes even after Hippolyta points out the flaws on her logic.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: The Question. To his teammates including the founding seven think he's antisocial nut job, and even Batman of all people thinks he's "wound too tight". But the fans loved him because of his Crazy Awesome tendencies.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?:
    • The show sways between children and adult entertainment. The writers have admitted that they knew adults would be watching the show so they perfectly made it acceptable to both groups. However, it still doesn't stop parents from complaining about the Family-Unfriendly Death and demographically inappropriate humour.
    • By season three of Unlimited, the show had been eclipsed in the network's eyes by the Lighter and Softer Teen Titans as the premiere superhero show for kids, pushing JLU to one late night airing a week. As such, the creative team started making pretty blatant sexual references, openly displaying multiple deaths onscreen, and generally making a show pretty squarely directed at teens and adults.
  • The Woobie: Ace of the Royal Flush Gang. Poor, poor Ace... As she described it in "Epilogue", she was a Child Soldier who was forced by Cadmus to do tests, to play their games and to move what they wanted. They robbed her of a childhood. Then the Joker tried to use her in a scheme to hurt others, and when she was free she only wanted friends. The only people that would stay with her were criminals, just to have her powers. After all this, she develops an aneurysm that is most likely incurable since Waller didn't even mention operating on Ace to save her life, and is scared. She bonds with Batman who comes to convince her to change the world back to normal before she dies.

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