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YMMV / Superman: The Animated Series

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Livewire's deserving of sympathy or lack thereof. Now, the main view is that she's a belligerent mean-spirited bigot who became a supervillain and she has no right to be angry with Superman, having "saved her life after all." However, her last facial expression before the lightning strike conveys the emotional expression of someone anticipating, with glee, a lethal event. Some might argue that Superman stole that from her, not to mention that she accidentally lost her biological humanity in the process (not that she often seems bothered by her new metahuman status, brief moments of revenge-seeking for it aside).
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    • Relating to Professor Emil Hamilton and his Face–Heel Turn in Justice League Unlimited, after feeling "betrayed" by Superman in the finale, 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?
    • Volcana may have become a more generic villain after her debut episode but she's never shown attacking Superman directly again. Is this just coincidence or did she avoid attacking him out of gratitude?
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  • Angst? What Angst?: For someone who came out of cryosleep (which for her would be like going to sleep and suddenly waking up) and finding out the rest of her family is dead, her world is now a complete lifeless husk, and she's been trapped on ice for years, Supergirl seems to take things remarkably well. Possibly justified in that what she had to endure before was like hell and living with Martha & Jonathan Kent on the Kent Farm in Smallville (plus superpowers) must seem like heaven.
  • Animation Age Ghetto: Most of the series was made to the producers' satisfaction, but they were forced to change Supergirl's introductory episode (See What Could Have Been on the trivia page) and obscure Maggie Sawyer's sexuality (See Hide Your Lesbians on the main page) because they were deemed inappropriate for a children's show.
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  • Base-Breaking Character: Livewire. Bruce Timm said in an interview that he and the guys hoped fans would embrace her as "the Harley Quinn" of Superman's series and, while she has some fans and did eventually get added to the comics (even becoming a member of the Superman Family for a while), Livewire was never as popular or well liked as Harley, seeing as how she had none of the tragic sympathy that made Harley endearing; she tended to be more obnoxious than funny, and she gained her powers from, quite frankly, being a complete idiot and blamed Superman when he, you know, saved her life from being a complete idiot.
  • Broken Base: The "Legacy" two-part series finale. Was it an awesome, emotional, action packed, bittersweet finale to the series or was it a rushed, sloppily written mess filled with plot holes and firm grasps on the Idiot Ball that shouldn't have been made as the finale? Some fans are divided between these two opinions.
  • Can't Un-Hear It:
    • Just like Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and Joker, respectively, Clancy Brown is often seen as having one of the definitive interpretations of Lex Luthor, perfectly mixing a fierce thuggishness with haughty megalomania.
    • The same counts for Dana Delany as Lois Lane, particularly because Delany has regularly voiced Lois over the years, and her voice-acting handles Lois' snark incredibly well.note 
    • Nicholle Tom as Supergirl was also very popular and iconic for the fans due to the fact that this version is the most beloved incarnation of the character.
    • And then you have Michael Ironside as Darkseid, whose even, diabolical take is often considered to be the definitive iteration of the character. It helps that he has some of the series' greatest lines.
    • However, in regards to Superman himself, it can be a bit contentious. While Tim Daly still has fans who prefer him, in recent years, thanks to Justice League (Unlimited),Superman vs. the Elite and Injustice: Gods Among Us, his successor in JL/JLU, George Newbern, has seen an upsurge in popularity, with many viewing Newbern as Superman's definitive voice actor. And then you have fans who like Daly and Newbern equally...
  • "Common Knowledge":
    • "Girls' Night Out", the episode of DC Animated Universe featuring Batgirl and Supergirl against Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and Livewire is commonly thought to be a Superman: TAS episode, but in reality it is officially a Batman: The Animated Series episode, according to both the episode list on the official website and the fact that it was on the BTAS Volume 4 DVD rather than Volume 3 of Superman: TAS (which included the last third of the series, including Supergirl's debut).
    • "Knight Time" (where Superman teams up with Robin to find out what happened to a missing Batman, even impersonating him briefly) is similarly confused as a BTAS episode. This one's a bit more understandable, since it does take place in Gotham from beginning to end.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Darkseid, who later appeared in Justice League and was the top threat of the entire DCAU, is the Evil Overlord of the wasteland planet Apokolips, and ultimately desired total dominion over all life in the universe. To achieve this end, he forever seeks the cosmic power of the Anti-Life Equation to use as the ultimate weapon. Incapable of love or empathy, he abused his loyal son Kalibak, handed over his adopted son Scott Free to be tortured and brainwashed by Granny Goodness, and attempted to murder his other son, Orion, for opposing him. His servants are likewise subjected to torture or death should they fail or even question him. Setting his sights on conquering Earth, Darkseid launched a full-scale invasion, only relenting when the planet was declared off-limits by Apokolips's sister planet, New Genesis. To compensate, Darkseid murdered Dan Turpin solely to spite Superman. He would make numerous more attempts to conquer or annihilate the planet, including attempting to destroy it with an asteroid and brainwashing Superman into leading an attack on his adopted world, turning the Man of Steel into a pariah for years. He later attempted to use Brainiac's programming to collect the Anti-Life Equation and bend the universe to his will, leading to his death in a battle with Superman. Upon his resurrection, Darkseid immediately launched another invasion on Earth, not out of a desire for power, but solely to make Superman suffer. Ruthless and tyrannical, Darkseid is Superman's greatest enemy, and one of the few villains he has outright tried to kill.
    • Brainiac, who also appeared in Justice League as a threat surpassed only by Darkseid, is a Robotic Psychopath and collector of data who views himself as superior to all organic life. Once the supercomputer responsible for running Krypton's day-to-day affairs, Brainiac lied to the Council of Elders about the planet's impending doom, prioritizing saving himself over preserving the lives of his creators. Escaping into space, Brainiac roams from world to world, assembling all of a planet's information, and then destroying the original in order to increase the value of his stolen memories; his objective is to repeat the process across the universe until he has "destroyed all of creation". Along the way he murders the crew of a spaceship that was investigating his presence, tries to steal Superman's body for himself, and eventually, after fusing with Lex Luthor, tries to wipe out the entire universe in one fell swoop, aiming to rebuild it in his own image.
  • Creepy Awesome: Toyman. A Psychotic Manchild who averts Expressive Mask, causing a rather disturbing case of permanent Slasher Smile, and later creates a Ridiculously Human Robot who he has a disturbing crush on. And fans love him for this.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • Livewire and Lex Luthor make sure that villainy is done with lots of exposed skin and style.
    • Lashina, a member of the Female Furies.
    • Volcana. She is literally hot and also flirted with Superman.
    • Maxima, although she isn't evil so much as she is self-centered and apathetic to everyone around her.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: A large number of fans ignore that Supergirl is Kara In-Ze, not Kara Zor-El. She is treated as being from Krypton and being Superman's biological cousin.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Almost literally; Lana Lang is at one point accosted by two female thieves wearing extremely bizarre outfits.
  • Gateway Series: The series served the role as the introduction of the Superman mythos for a lot of modern fans and provided many people’s first glimpses of Brainiac, Mr. Mxyzsptlk, Toyman, and the Jack Kirby "Fourth World" and his extended cast: Dan Turpin, Intergang, Darkseid, Apokolips, New Genesis, the Mother Box, Boom Tubes and other amazing concepts. In addition, the DCAU version of Luthor was the first one to emphasize his scientific acumen (which the movies never tackled) and his Corrupt Corporate Executive revision of The '80s (or as Neil Gaiman called him "skinny Kingpin").
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The second episode has a passenger plane hit with a missile and nearly crash into Metropolis. To make it worse the missile was fired by a terroristnote . Similarly, the first part of "World's Finest" has a scene where terrorists take over Air Force One.
    • The finale of "World's Finest" has the Joker firing missiles on multiple buildings, sending them crashing to the ground.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Dan Turpin's funeral in "Apokolips... Now" has become this, following the death of his voice actor Joseph Bologna.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • When Jor-El is surveying the planet at the start of the first episode, the creature that attacks him looks very much like a Hunter Metroid.
    • In "New Kids in Town", one of Clark's classmates screams at Brainiac, calling him Darth Vader as a joke. Corey Burton will later on voice his predecessor, Count Dooku.
    • In the same episode, Martha wants to give Clark and Lana some alone time so they can talk. So she tells Jonathan that The Dukes of Hazzard is on. And who plays Jonathan Kent a couple years later in Smallville? John Schneider, of course.
      • Another Smallville-related one in the same episode: young Clark informs Lana Lang about how he is seeing through things; she asks if he's looked towards the girls' locker room. This ended up becoming Hilarious in Hindsight just five years later, when in the Smallville episode "X-Ray", Clark discovers his x-ray vision by accident and ends up inadvertently seeing into the girls' locker room... directly at Lana.
    • In "Knight Time", Brainiac's line to Superman disguised as Batman, "You are every bit the detective your followers on the Internet believe.", has gotten funnier in light of the rise of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and their copious use of the Memetic Badass trope.
    • The first episode's ending of Superman simply staring at Luthor who becomes enraged at his silence is very similar to the ending of Lex Luthor: Man of Steel released nearly a decade later.
    • A female Guardian (seemingly head of the council) appears in "In Brightest Day...".
    • In "Double Dose", Livewire sees Superman wearing a rubber suit and jokes that "the Boy Scout brought protection". Starting in 2002, the scouts would mandate that condoms be available at the World Scout Jamboree and all other large enough events.
  • Inferred Holocaust:
    • In 'Bizarro's World' a nuclear missile detonates a few miles above Metropolis. A few months later, in "Apokolips... Now!: Part 1", a nuclear power plant melts down just off the coast. To put it mildly, the cancer rate in Metropolis is about to become... impressive.
    • Don't forget the Joker's rampage in "World's Finest". He blew up quite a few buildings before he was taken down.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Nice 'S'".
  • Moral Event Horizon: Darkseid nonchalantly vaporizing Dan Turpin as he leaves Metropolis. That Psychotic Smirk on his face really clinches it.
    • Really, everything Darkseid does is this: he gives weapons to Intergang that cause considerable damage to Metropolis, attempts an Class-4 Apocalypse How on Earth, and later a Class 5 by crashing a comet into it to wipe it out without breaking his treaty with New Genesis, and in the finale brainwashes Superman and turns him against Earth.
  • Narm:
    • In Parasite's debut episode, when he starts absorbing Superman's energy right in front of a crowd a female bystander watching screams "Good Heavens" in a Dull Surprise manner, coming off as a little silly in an otherwise serious scene.
    • 'Prototype' has the infamous moment where Superman is temporarily blinded by the insane Sergeant Mills, leading to a bunch of sporadic piano music to start playing, but instead of coming off as creepy, it's unintentionally hilarious - as is the way Superman gets smacked around by Mills while blinded.
    • Superman's Roaring Rampage of Revenge on Apokolips in "Legacy" comes to an unintentionally hilarious halt when the Furies appear and Superman actually tries to ignore them after he got done killing a bunch of Parademons with his heat vision, so they just attack him anyway and he actually lets them cling to him as they try to kill him and he continues to allow them to go on attacking him until he just crashes into a nearby statue. His encounter with Granny Goodness is also pretty bad and ends up not being as chilling as it was meant to be. TV censorship at its worst.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: The tie in game Superman 64 is the poster child for bad adaptations and bad games in general.
  • The Scrappy: Considering the way he thought Superman "betrayed" him in the finale and his subsequent Face–Heel Turn in Justice League Unlimited which is considered a major Took a Level in Jerkass move, it's highly doubtful you'll find someone who likes Professor Hamilton ever again. Bruce Timm stated in his Modern Masters book that THEY didn't like Professor Hamilton in the first place. That's why, when debating who Darkseid should kill, they finally came up with Dan Turpin because they weren't allowed to kill Ma and Pa Kent and they felt if they killed Professor Hamilton, it wouldn't have any impact, because they never liked him anyway.
  • Squick: In "The Main Man: Part 1", Lobo defeats a giant snakelike creature by ripping its skin clean off its body, exposing the pulsating veins underneath.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Volcana; introduced as an Anti-Villain with a sympathetic motivation, who had interesting interactions with Superman. All of this is only explored in her debut episode, and all her appearances after that in the DCAU depict her as a straight villain who only cameos. At the end of her debut episode she was shown to not only be on friendly terms with Superman, but to engage in playful flirting with him that he actually returned. If done right she could have been a romantic rival for Lois or an ally to be added to the expanded League in JLU.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: In "Little Big Head Man", Mister Mxyzptlk's powers are taken away by his superiors and has to spent three months on Earth powerless. During that time, he must at least do one good deed. This alone would have been a good plot that might have explored Mxyzptlk's character and his fifth dimensional home. Unfortunately this is just used as a Deus ex Machina so that Superman can win his fight against Bizarro. It doesn't help that this is Mxyzptlk's last appearance in the DCAU.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Just like its predecessor (Batman: TAS), Superman: TAS is very popular with fans and considered to be the definitive Superman adaptation. There is also the fact that the subsequent different adaptations focusing on the character (particularly the live-action ones) tend to be negatively compared to this series and considered inferior to it. It does help that Superman: TAS managed to be more grounded (by Superman standards) compared to most adaptations while still being lighthearted, entertaining, idealistic, relatable, adventurous, and extremely faithful to the source material and mythology of the original Superman comics with only some minor deviations (some of them have made it into the comics no less), which is one of the many things that the live action adaptations have failed to accomplish (as they tend to be either too campy, dramatic, or, as of recently, depressingly Wangsty and too different from the source material).
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Lois Lane in "Target". She's put herself in danger multiple times, but at least usually she didn't know how dangerous it was or at least tried to take some kind of precaution. Here, she knows exactly how dangerous her unknown enemy is and she's actually has police protection. During a phone conversation with Clark she suddenly realizes who's trying to kill her. What does she do? She sneaks off to confront them face to face. While Clark and everyone else still thinks she's under police protection. If it hadn't been for Luthor just happening to call Clark to give him a vital piece of information, she would have been dead by the end of the episode.
    • In "The Main Man", Lois goes after Lobo with a metal pipe... after she's already seen him shrug off multiple punches from Superman.
    • Pre-Livewire Leslie Willis for thinking it was a good idea to hold a gathering of her fans in the middle of a storm. Look where that got her...
    • The Janitor who hands his Walkman headphones to Livewire in "Double Dose". There's a "No Electronics" rule for a reason, pal. For that matter, the security guard who takes said janitor's watch, but fails to also collect the Walkman. How do you miss that?


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