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     The comics 
  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: While Detroit-era Vibe wasn't exactly popular, his death is so graphic and brutal most people tend to sympathise with him.
  • Angst? What Angst?: The current version of Johnny Quick apparently had a pretty horrific past that he is very keen not to talk about. His psychological scarring comes out in his willingness to kill people and laugh about it.
  • Ass Pull: The Justice League of America once went up against Despero (an alien with vast mental powers, at the time recently powered-up to be almost as strong and invulnerable as Superman) with a mostly C-List team. How to beat him? With an innate Martian power that the Martian Manhunter had never before mentioned that he had, because using it was so stressful that any given Martian can only do it once in their life. Despite that, it was still a fairly well-received story. Another weird power of his was the ability to see through the flow of time. This somehow resulted in him being immune to the powers of an opponent who completely rewrote reality. Pulling never before seen powers out of his ass is the Martian Manhunter's shtick. And then getting lit on fire the next time said power would have been useful.
  • Author's Saving Throw: For a few years, Prometheus was portrayed as much less competent than in his first appearance and spent most of his time as a hired goon for other villains. This was Retconned into being Prometheus' wayward apprentice, who had stolen the real Prometheus' gear while he was locked up physically and mentally.
    • Considering that in said first appearance (written by his own creator) Prometheus' biggest triumph was murdering Retro (who wasn't an actual super-hero, just a JLA fan who entered a contest) before failing to complete his takeover of the League Moon Base and getting whipped in the groin (literally) by Catwoman....well, his own competence is more touted than verified.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Pre-Crisis:
      • The bloodthirsty Commander Benn Blanx, from issue #71 ("... And So, My World Ends") and in a flashback in issue #144 ("The Origin of the Justice League—Minus One!"), is the Evil Counterpart and Arch-Enemy of J'onn J'onnz. Blanx restarts a war between two races of Martians and exiles J'onn, whom he later tracks to Earth to kill, murdering countless humans in the process. Becoming the planet's dictator, Blanx uses the powerful Blue Flame to set all of Mars ablaze, leaving the civilization in ruins and leading to J'onn returning to find his people on the verge of extinction. When J'onn demands an explanation for Blanx's cruelty, Blanx reveals a mining corporation offered to purchase the planet from Blanx, but he had to be "the last living Martian".
      • The evil star-like being Aquarius, from issues #73 and #74 ("Star Light, Star Bright—Death Star I See Tonight!" & "Where Death Fears to Tread!"), swept through existence, sowing chaos and destruction until his people judged and exiled him. Coming to Earth, Aquarius sways people to chaos and murder until he faces the Justice League, trying to annihilate the Earth before he wipes out existence. At last, Aquarius simply wipes out the entire universe before seeking another to destroy, even trying to use the Justice League to kill their counterparts on another world, all for his own amusement.
    • Post-Crisis:
      • Felix Faust is one of the most power-hungry sorcerers alive. Kicking off his career by selling his infant son's soul for his own ability, Faust committed many acts of cruel murder and torture to fuel his black magic. When he finally realized he could no longer bargain with his own tainted soul, Faust resorted to harvesting the soul of an innocent little girl to trade to demons. Faust offered his assistance to Black Adam to help resurrect Black Adam's wife Isis, but deceived Adam into thinking Isis's revival had failed, while Faust kept a paralyzed Isis to serve as his personal sex toy.
      • JLA: Earth-2: Brainiac's Antimatter Universe counterpart, an organic syntellect who was captured by Ultraman and forced to be his slave, schemed to not only escape his bonds, but to upgrade himself into an "Nth Level Intelligence". In order to do this, he swapped a plane in the Antimatter Universe for one in the Matter Universe, killing all the passengers on both in the process, and triggering a war between the Justice League and the Crime Syndicate. While the teams were busy fighting, Brainiac set in motion a plan to merge the Matter and Antimatter Universes, a move that would have resulted in the annihilation of all reality, plotting to use the energy from the resultant explosion to complete his upgrade and become a god. Willing to destroy all life in order to better himself, Antimatter Brainiac was every bit as vile as his Matter Universe twin.
  • Dork Age: The Detroit-era is generally (though not universally) held as a low point in the League's history.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Tomorrow Woman of Grant Morrison's run on JLA. Originally debuting and making a Heroic Sacrifice in the same issue, she was so popular she reappeared in a special one-shot dedicated to her, was briefly brought back in Hourman #2 by the main character, and then was brought back in Trinity, where she was permanently revived as a human woman with superpowers after the series ended. She even received a DC Direct action figure in the early years of the toyline (even before big name Leaguers such as Aquaman and Flash).
    • Once he was retconned out of being a founding member in the New 52, Martian Manhunter defaulted into this role. It's almost impossible to find a discussion regarding the New 52 League and not have someone bring up wanting J'onn back to replace Cyborg. Many fans collectively rejoiced when J'onn was finally added back to the lineup with the 2018 relaunch.
  • Narm: The circumstances causing John Stewart to join the League as Hal's replacement. See, Hal was unable to attend a summons. Was he held up with work? Personal problems? A super-villain attack? His duties as a Green Lantern? Uh... no. He slipped on a bar of soap in the shower, because he wasn't looking where he was standing.
  • Vibe, a member during its "Detroit" era, was widely hated for being a "hip", slang-spouting caricature of Puerto Rican youth whose power was basically super-breakdancing. His inevitable death, though, is one of the saddest moments in the League's history. Ironically enough, in the New 52 continuity, he's been given a big push by the company and is already enjoying more popularity than his original ever did.
  • Fans and editorial alike loathed Triumph. According to creator Christopher Priest, they missed the point that he was supposed to be a jerk.
  • Take That, Scrappy!:
    • Vibe and Steel from the reviled Justice League Detroit were killed off several years after they were created due to negative fan reaction. Decades after their deaths, the characters are almost never mentioned in-universe unless in a negative manner. This itself got lampshaded when Black Lantern versions confronted the surviving Detroit Leaguers and basically asked why they were remembered as jokes while their teammates, Gypsy and Vixen, got to join the "real" League.
    • Triumph, in almost any appearance not written by Priest.
  • Technology Marches On: Fire's cellphone in JLA: Classified #6 was from Verizon.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
  • Vindicated by History: In retrospect, Vibe wasn't that bad. He just needed some work.
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     The Made-For-TV Movie 
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: A Justice League series that didn't feature Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman? Gee, we wonder why it didn't catch on.
    • To be fair, it's worth noting that the run the series is based on only had Batman for the majority of itnote . Then why wasn't he present, you might ask? Blame Batman & Robin - Warner Bros has a strict policy of only allowing 1 live-action incarnation of Batman at a time, and films get first dibs on him.
  • Snark Bait: Likely the main reason (in combination with So Bad, It's Good) it hasn't completely faded into obscurity.
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