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- Awesome Art:
- It's widely agreed the comic worked because average storytelling was hugely augmented by Todd McFarlane's pencils.
- Many also think the book took another step up when Greg Capullo took over; the most popular era of the book, including a number of iconic cover images, was during Greg's tenure on pencils.
- Creepy Awesome:
- Probably a large part in what makes Spawn such an appealing character.
- The Violator. Also sometimes dips into Crazy Awesome.
- Dork Age: The period after Spawn killed Malebolgia, where he teamed up with Ab and Zab and fought vampires and British cannibals.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: Burkles and Twitch. To the point they ended up with their own comic.
- Growing the Beard: Like other Image Long Runner, The Savage Dragon, the earliest issues are considered the weakest.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Twitch's first name is Max. And since his partner is named Sam, it evokes another New York police duo.
- Jerkass Woobie: Al Simmons, the main character himself. He ended up this way because he died, was sent to Hell for murdering innocents and being an abusive husband and got his powers from making a deal with a demon. In other media, people have been labelled asshole victims for less.
- Nightmare Fuel: Almost everything in the comic. Even some of the regular humans are scary just to look at.
- Awesome Music: Satan by Orbital, the song in the opening credits. The soundtrack version with Kirk Hammett is cool, too.
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The scene with Clown wearing a cheerleading costume doing a dance number which comes out of nowhere, serves no purpose and which the protagonist doesn't even see happening. The devil himself ends the moment by dragging the clown back to hell to tell him to quit fucking around.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: While the film had mixed reactions from moviegoers, fans, and critics alike, one character that stood out was Jessica Priest, who was liked enough that she later became a Canon Immigrant. The fact that she wasn't hard on the eyes didn't hurt either.
- Harsher in Hindsight: Spawn is very close with Cyan, with the obvious implication that she's his daughter. But later in the comics, we learn that she is not Al's daughter and he had been in denial about the fact that he was an abusive husband who caused Wanda to miscarry when she was pregnant with his child. Though Resurrection does mitigate this by revealing the abuse was actually a lie itself to manipulate Al.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- John Leguizamo playing someone of little-person size as The Clown; he would play a little person a few years later in Moulin Rouge!.
- Martin Sheen as Jason Wynn, considering in another comic book movie, he's played someone who's Wynn's opposite in many ways.
- This wouldn't be the last time Michael Jai White butted heads with a Monster Clown. Although the second time wouldn't go as well for him.
- Ham and Cheese: John Leguizamo as the Clown.
- Idiot Plot:
- Especially the last third of the film. Clown has convinced Jason Wynn have the trigger to a bio weapon implanted that will be set off if his heart stops beating, which he plans to have happen by having Al Simmons do the deed. Later Simmons goes to rescue Wanda and her family when Wynn shows up for little to no reason and then Clown starts a fight with Simmons which prevents him from being able to seek to kill Wynn.
- Malebolgia's master plan is to choose a skilled operative to lead Hell's army and jump-start the apocalypse. In order to do that he has to have that operative killed, sent to Hell, and then make a deal with him to turn him into a Spawn and then return him to Earth to kill Jason Wynn. The entire plan hinges on getting Simmons to kill Wynn, but Simmons still has a conscience and a living family to consider, and so the plan fails. If Malebolgia had instead simply chosen someone skilled who was completely amoral and had no human connections, and was possibly also power-hungry, this plan would have gone off without a hitch. In fact, if Malebolgia had just selected Jessica Priest to be Spawn instead of Simmons, the forces of evil would have won. She would have been perfect.
- Jason Wynn's Establishing Character Moment, which tries way to hard to show him as Obviously Evil; he has scorpions in his ashtray, his henchwoman plays with a tarantula, and his office has pictures of nuclear explosions. The ridiculously over-the-top of this scene was mocked by both ERod and Doug Walker.
- As seen in the below trope, the CG that the movie indulges in so heavily looks absolutely terrible nowadays. It's pretty hard to care about the drama of the plot, or even to enjoy the fight scenes, when the CG for your dark, gritty, anti-hero movie looks worse than the animation in ReBoot.
- Special Effect Failure: The computer effects—the majority of which were done by ILM—have not aged well since the movie's 1997 release. Spawn's cape only appears when in use (either for dramatic effect or when he makes use of its shapeshifting power), since it was difficult to animate. Plus, Malebolgia'snote mouth does not remotely sync with his words, and Hell just looks like something out of a (subpar, mind you) Playstation 1 game. It's especially jarring considering the great practical and make-up effects for Spawn and the Clown.
- Squick: You know the part where Clown eats a piece of pizza he found a dumpster? The one covered in maggots? Leguizamo really ate that.
- Let's not forget about Clown sharting himself, and then showing his soiled underwear afterwards. Disgusting. Even the hard boiled Spawn/Simmons is abhorred by it.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Leguizamo's portrayal of Clown is one of the most consistent complaints of the film. The Black Humor and unsettling aspects of his character were removed and replaced with him constantly cramming in Vulgar Humor, sometimes during moments when Simmons is lamenting about the situation he has found himself in, that is simply annoying instead of funny.
- Visual Effects of Awesome: Despite the failures of most of the CG, the animation on Violator is actually pretty well done. The practical effects are also good, given make-up and costumes force Michael Jai White and John Leguizamo to become comic book characters.
The HBO series
- Awesome Art: The show's animation is amazing.
- Can't Un-Hear It: Keith David as the title character may be the voice people think of the most when they think of what Spawn sounds like.
- Creepy Awesome: Clown/Violator is terrifying beyond all reason in this series, but it's part of what makes him such an appealing villain. The same can be said of Spawn himself.
- Crosses the Line Twice: A shot of the Clown vigorously massaging his undergarments to a picture of Al's wife is more than a little unnecessary and gross, him doing it right in front of Al and then wiping his palms on Al's cape goes so far beyond "wrong" that it lands in hilarious.
- Cult Classic: Thanks to being much Darker and Edgier than any other Western Animation of its timenote and among one of the only Western Animation series to bring such genuinely mature and sophisticated themes to the table, the Spawn animated series fits this trope like a glove; It took nearly twenty years for another Western Cartoon to be taken this seriously and be dark.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: One of the bums in the first season likens Spawn's appearance to a vampire. He later fights a vampire in season 3 that looks nothing like him.
- Nightmare Fuel: The comic already had some scary stuff, but Violator's transformation (which depicts him as tearing through the body he has like its paper) and Creepy Monotone arguably make him more terrifying here than in the comics.
Billy Kincaid: Time to have that ice cream. Such a pretty one. Do you like the music? I like the music very much. Would you like to you dance? Just you and me. But first...I scream, you scream. We all scream for ice cream! Chocolate pecan, strawberry whirl! All...very good!
- Some of the human villains also count. Namely, Billy Kincaid. Especially when he kidnaps Cyan. His dialogue and behavior when he's talking to her make's him sound like a child molester. Not helped by the eerie echo his voice has.....
Chapel: Kill me... KILL me, Finish It! There's no going back.Spawn (Al): No. I'm going to let you live, longer than you like.
- Hell, even Spawn gets one in the animated series, he basically had Chapel, his former partner and killer, dead to rights and Chapel realizing who Spawn is, tried to commit suicide, but fails since his gun has no bullets left. Chapel literally begs Spawn to kill him, knowing what he learned will forever haunt him, what does Spawn do? He let Chapel live, leaving him to wander away crying, knowing that death would have been kinder.
- Paranoia Fuel: Walking into the wrong alley just might get you killed by a Hellspawn.
- Strangled by the Red String: The kiss Jade shares with Spawn and subsequent implied relationship between them... really comes out of nowhere. Even when she was shown to be sympathetic towards Spawn and having doubts about her job to kill him, they only briefly met in person once before and there was never any mutual attraction implied. Even Spawn and the Vampiress showed more chemistry, at least before she tried to kill him.
- The Woobie: Spawn is an even bigger woobie here than he is in the comics.