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.
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.
Vandal Savage. His HeelFace 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 FaceHeel Turn after feeling "betrayed" by Superman back in the 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 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, hes 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?
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: 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.
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.
Bizarro Episode: "This Little Piggy" (with Wonder Woman transformed into a pig and Batman singing) is this for some fans.
"Clash" created this for some fans. 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" also gets some of this: 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).
Additionally, "Epilogue" also takes a lot of flak for revealing that Terry McGinnis was really the biological son of Bruce Wayne, the original Batman, all along, due to the machinations of Amanda Waller injecting the late Warren McGinnis with Bruce's DNA to override his genetics - thus explaining how a red headed man and brunette woman (Terry's Mother and Warren's ex-wife, Mary) produced two sons with black hair - and then trying to stage a similar tragedy to propel Terry down the path of the Dark Knight, which fate ultimately did for her anyway when her plans fizzled out and she abandoned the idea. After learning all this when he thought Bruce might have been manipulating him to his own ends and considered the damage that the cape and cowl did to his predecessor, Terry - who as an adult now looks a lot like Bruce in his prime albeit with a different hairstyle - ultimately decides to continue being Batman but on his own terms, such as not alienating those closest to him (such as his long time girlfriend Dana Tan). 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/Nature vs Nurture (A recurring theme within the Cadmus arc: Is the Justice League becoming another Justice Lords inevitable?) that ultimately leaned toward the belief in choice, others saw it as a slap in the face to Terry and undermining 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. It also undermines some of Batman's own achievements by implying Bruce Wayne had some kind of genetic superiority that had to be passed on and diminishing his status as a Badass Normal.
Lord Orm, from "The Enemy Below", 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.
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.
John Dee, from "Only a Dream", as well as 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.
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.
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.
Ear Worm: Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Come to Jon's. Dine at Jon's to the tune of "Frère Jacques". Batman uses it to keep Dr. Destiny's powers at bay while closing in on him and eventually passes it onto him after being apprehended.
Dr. Destiny: What's that stupid song going through your mind?
Of the Original Seven, Flash is the less focused character, but the most loved from the fans. In the first season of JLU, he infamously didn't have any starring roles (only appearing once as part of a crowd of easily-defeated heroes with no dialogue), causing many fans to loudly complain about his lack of screentime. When he finally started showing up again, much cheering ensued.
Green Arrow is very popular with the fans due to his cool yet comic book accurate design, skills with archery, great personality, sarcastic sense of humor, Odd Friendship with Supergirl, and romatic relationship with Black Canary.
Black Canary herself is popular with the fans due to her very beautiful design, attractive personality, voice, superhuman ability (which is her trademark "Canary Cry"), and martial arts skills along with her relationships with Green Arrow and Huntress.
Huntress is popular with the fans for her attractive design, voice, sympathetic backstory, and wonderfully cool personality. She gains more popularity for her great dynamic with both The Question and Black Canary (along with the well-written relationship she has with the former).
As she was in her previous appearance in the DCAU (which was back in Batman: TAS), Zatanna is very popular with fans due to her attractive design, voice, cool magical abilities, kind personality, and friendly relationship with Batman.
Amanda Waller, as voiced by C.C.H. Pounder was regarded by fans to be a highly well developed and interesting character who, as a mere human, outwitted and kept the League in check. She was already well known in the comics, but the DCAU version of her brought a new legion of fans.
Giganta. Fans find this version of character attractive and adorable. She has also Ship Tease with the fan-favorite Flash in the last episode.
Galatea, an evil version of Supergirl whose appearance is based on Power Girl (bob haircut, white leotard, Cleavage Window). Beyond this, her fight with Supergirl is a fan-favorite.
Vigilante. Being a superhero cowboy voiced by Nathan Fillion will do that for ya.
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.
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 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.
Evil Is Sexy: There are so many attractive villains that it'd be easier to list all the villains that are not sexy.
Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Though this probably wasn't intentional, the first episode can fairly easily be seen as having a pro-nuclear weapons slant. That same general actually inspires Batman to get on board with funding the Justice League. In a universe where alien supergods regularly try to conquer the Earth (not to mention all the ordinary alien threats that try to conquer regularly), having extremely powerful weapons (such as nukes) probably isn't a bad idea, and the League comes around to building their own BFG, a "gun with the punch of a nuclear weapon" Kill Sat that proves to be handy fighting the Dark Heart, citing the Thanagarian invasion as their main reason for doing so.
Faux Symbolism: The Thanagarian generator in "Starcrossed" looks like a swastika.
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.
While searching GL's apartment, the Flash has to fend off John Stewart's landlady and her mop, and his parting line is quite a bit harsh in hindsight:
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. Even the Depending on the Writer issues even in the comics, his 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 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, early seasons depict him as easily dispatched 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.
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 Part 1 of "The Savage Time", 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 Part 2 of "Hearts and Minds", 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",
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?
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 "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.
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 This version's Watchtower is on Metropolis not on orbitafter 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.
In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, the reborn Joker criticises the differences in Terry's costume compared with Bruce's from The New Batman Adventures (seen in flashback form in the film itself). One he notes is that the ears of Terry's cowl are too long. Come this series, Bruce's Batman costume now does have cowl ears of comparable length to Terry's.
This dialogue between Speedy and Green Arrow, in light of Young Justice.
Green Arrow: You wanted Superman? Now you've got—
[pauses to let the two teleport in.]
G.A.: [flat, disappointed] ...the Crimson Avenger and my ex-sidekick.
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.
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 (*punch* *collides with office building* *building falls down* repeated ten times), and in one instance Superman is knocked back into a bank and is stopped only by the heavily armored vault. note It's stated that the community was recently built and largely vacant, but there were still people around for the opening ceremony.
"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.
"The Doomsday Sanction" ends with Superman & 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.
Oddly enough, there IS a decision that could have made for a reasonable What the Hell, Hero? from Batman (Superman trying to lobotimize Doomsday with his heat vision not unlike his Justice Lord version attempted) but given nobody was there but Superman and Doomsday and neither were likely to tell anyone afterwards, its been hard to justify Batman knowing in order to react on it.
The Cadmus arc itself seems to present the government and miltiary as wrong for wanting precautions against the League—despite the Justice Lords' actions, Hawkgirl turning out to be The Mole, and the League itself having a Kill Sat during the early episodes of Unlimited, so the government has very valid reasons for wanting precautions against the League.
The arc doesnt really portray having a check on the League as wrong insomuch as Cadmus taking it too far with illegal genetic experiments and allying with criminals like Luthor and Dr. Milo.
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. Jon expresses Sympathy for the Devil on learning that Ray was trying to recreate his childhood.
After being pardoned by the US president for his aid of stopping the Justice Lords, Lex Luthor finally becomes a Diabolical Mastermind like his comic book counterpart. He secretly finances Project Cadmus to be a constant thorn in the Justice League's side while also running a fake presidential campaign to personally rile up Superman, culminating into open warfare between the two factions. Luthor uses that conflict as a cover for his real plan: steal Cadmus technology and upload his mind in an immortal android body. When Brainiac took over his body as its new vessel, Luthor convinces the Kryptonian AI to share control and become a god together. After being defeated and exposed as a criminal, Luthor joins the Legion of Doom as Gorilla Grodd's subordinate, only for him to quickly usurp leadership after Grodd's plan to turn mankind into apes fails. To solidify his authority, Luthor creates secret contingency plans for each Legion member. In the series finale, when his plans accidentally revive Darkseid, Luthor and his followers team up with the Justice League to stop the New God's conquest of Earth. At the climax of battle, Luthor is able to convince Metron to lead him to the forbidden Source Wall. Despite the dangers, Luthor survives the ordeal and returns to Earth with a prize in his hand: The Anti-Life Equation. Knowing that Darkseid could not refuse the offer, Luthor is able to take the Lord of Apokolips with him into the Source Wall, thus putting an end to Darkseid's reign forever and saving the universe in the process.
Just as ruthlessly efficient as her comic book counterpart, Amanda Waller is one of the few to stare Batman down without being remotely intimidated. Waller repeatedly acts to keep the League and other superpowered beings under control, creating multiple countermeasures and plans against them, even designing disposable superheroes with short lifespans as Project Cadmus's own personal attack force. Even in old age, Waller manipulates the implantation of Bruce Wayne's DNA into a man to father a child who will be Bruce's son, while planning to have the parents murdered to recreate Batman for the future.
Vandal Savage is an immortal conqueror who seeks total dominion over the earth, all while keeping up a composed, respectable demeanor. Granted immortality as a caveman, Savage has spent millennia educating and bettering himself in countless aspects of human culture, and finally makes his move for domination as he uses a time machine to grant a version of himself during World War II knowledge of future events and weapons. Taking over the Nazi regime, dubbing Hitler a "raving lunatic" as he overthrows him, Savage slowly but surely turns the tide of the war in his favor, reformatting the Nazis into his own army before being stopped solely by the arrival of a time-travelling Justice League. In the present, Savage maneuvers himself into marrying into Kaznian royalty, posioning the current king to grant himself the throne before trying to use a rail gun to wipe out Paris and cow the world into submission. In his final appearance, Savage, in a future timeline where Superman was seemingly killed, easily murdered the entire Justice League and conquered the planet, only for his technology to go out of control and wipe out humankind except himself. Spending tens of thousands of years in isolation, Savage rebuilds cities, amasses libraries, and builds massive gardens to try to make amends for his crimes, and sacrifices himself to bring Superman back to his own time and stop his younger self from killing the League, thus saving humanity, with his final words thanking Superman for fulfilling his wish.
"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.
"At the very least, I can learn the Flash's secret identity. [unmasks self]...I have no idea who this is.", for a moment where Lex and Flash switch bodies and Lex figures he could try to find out who Flash is, except Reality Ensues since he has nothing but a face to figure out his identity off of.
From the same episode, Flash-as-Lex telling Polaris he isnt going to wash his hands in the restroom because hes evil.
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.
Some - if not all - of the many things that the Justice Lords (counterparts of the League) did in "A Better World". Lord Green Lantern when attacking League Lantern attempted to stab in League Lantern's neck for his first move. Not trying to disarm him or to knock him out. He chose to go immediately for the kill. Also, when Lord Wonder Woman knocks League Batman down, she picks up a building rubble to straight away attempt to kill the latter. From the DVD commentary, the writers did that on purpose so that it showed that the Justice Lords while having good intentions, they ultimately are truly heroes turned villains who deserve to be defeated.
In the same episode, Lord Superman had Flash by the neck with Flash trying to appeal to any remaining good in him. Also, 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 told him that "one more won't hurt", that this universe's Flash's death was just another means to an end. This contrasts him with the more-redeemable Lord Batman, who's visibly horrified when he thinks Flash's heart has stopped.
The true Start of Darkness is probably when Superman kills Lex Luthor, who was elected president. However, it's ambiguous since Luthor was about to hit the Big Red Button, probably to start a nuclear war. Afterwards, even Batman says that Supes made the right decision.
John Dee in "Only A Dream", where he "operated" on his wife in her dreams via torturing her until she died of right shortly after he had found out that she was planning to leave him for another man.
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.
Subverted when Amanda Waller hired the Phantasm to kill Terry McGinnis's parents. Phantasm realized that she couldn't kill two innocent parents and leave their child bereft, and called out Waller for her plan. Waller decided she couldn't recreate Batman with planned murder and abandoned the project.
Also subverted when a dying Ace has the power to cause psychic backlash that would kill thousands. She really doesn't want to hurt anyone, and when Bruce comes to comfort her she asks him to Stay with Me Until I Die.
Narm: During the end of A Better World, Superman tells Flash he knew Flash wouldnt 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.
"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.
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 gameappearances, 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 did not 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.
The Flash in the first season was perceived by fans as both a somewhat annoying and relatively incompetent hero, but he became popular over the course of the subsequent seasons since the show rectified this via emphasizing his status as The Heart of the team and showing him to be dangerously effective when he decided to be. By Divided We Fall, hes clearly the most powerful member of the Justice League beyond perhaps Superman himself.
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.
Ron the Death Eater: Superman received this treatment in JLU's second season, particularly during the Cadmus arc. While there were legitimate criticisms of him becoming more jaded, angry, and eager to jump to conclusions (most notably when he and Captain Marvel destroyed a city to rubble as result of fighting on one another), some fans got so overzealous as to make him out to be the bad guy for every little thing. The most notorious example was when he teamed up with Huntress to rescue The Question from Cadmus where Captain Atom initiated a fight with him by throwing the first punch. It should also be noted Atom seemed to ignore the fact that his bosses had obviously been torturing Question. Superman beat him to a pulp, but he only did so because Atom had decided My Master, Right or Wrong and was defending himself plus his non-powered (and one severely injured) teammates. This turned him into evil incarnate for some fans.
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.
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.
Gordon Godfrey. Readers of the New Gods mythos know that his name is the alias of Darkseid's servant Glorious Godfrey (he actually refers to his real name several times in the show), but instead of being Apokaliptian, he's simply an unscrupulous TV show host fishing for ratings by spreading propaganda against the Justice League.
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 beKilled 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.
Longshadow, a former Cadmus agent and the show's version of Apache Chief, is shown joining the Justice League in the end of his debut...and is never seen or heard from ever again. There isn't even any confirmation as to how long he lived or what he even accomplished during his time as a true hero.
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. Heck, at least Kyle and Hal got cameos in the series, poor Guy Gardner doesn't even exist in the DCAU it seems!
Speaking of the Green Lanterns, Star Sapphire appears as a villain several times, but as for who she actually is (if she actually is Carol Ferris) or what her vendetta against the Green Lanterns is never explored.
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. Said Batman's altered counterpart is busy kicking tail and leading a resistance against the Nazis, which does in fact involve frequent use of guns. Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon, Tim Drake, and Cassandra Cain were not only shown in a cameo, but also confirmed in to exist in that universe as part of Batman's movement by Word of God. Great first ten minutes, right? Well, the League minus Batman goes through a time tunnel to World War II and attempt return things to normal. Batman remains behind in the future, reasoning that if they fail he can still fight the Nazis, but he can't go because the Resistance needs him.
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 ManchildReality 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.
When Captain Atom was originally reimagined for DC Comics in the late 1980s he was a soldier framed for a crime he didn't commit and forced into an experiment that reincarnated him as a god like superhero who only reluctantly did the government's bidding because they were blackmailing him. Here, he's portrayed as a spy and a My Country, Right or Wrong type. This borders on They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character as a much compelling subplot and dynamic characterization could have been had from following his original characterization.
Some fans were disappointed that Luthor didn't became a president and turn back into a Mad Scientist in the next season. They argue that many interesting stories and conflicts between JL and the USA 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 Darkseidreturned 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.
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 abut 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.
For some viewers, Solomon Grundy and his Alas, Poor Villain moment came across as this. Grundy is a homicidal killing machine who enjoys murdering others and profiting off of crime and is show smiling every time he does it. Yet, when Dr. Fate recruits him we're meant to see him as this poor, tortured soul who just wants to be a normal man again. When he dies saving the world it's meant to be seen as his tragic fall, but many have also pointed out that he could've avoided his death had he listened to his teammates instead of rushing in to kill in brutal rage. This isn't helped that his flashbacks show he enjoyed being a savage criminal in the exact same story this happened in.
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.
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 Getting Crap Past the Radar.
By season three of Unlimited, the show had been eclipsed in the network's eyes by the Lighter and SofterTeen Titans as the premiere superhero show for kids, pushing JLU to one late night airing a week. As such, the creative team stopped even pretending to care about the radar, 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.